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Introduction

Texas ScholarWorks was established to provide open, online access to the products of the University's research and scholarship, to preserve these works for future generations, to promote new models of scholarly communication, and to help deepen community understanding of the value of higher education.

UT Tower and campus image credit: Earl McGehee, CC-BY, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ejmc/7452145850

 

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Recent Submissions

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Reckoning with the Past: German and American Memorialization through Physical and Digital Sites
(2021-05) Hua, Amanda
In Germany and the United States, memorialization of the Holocaust and slavery have evolved differently over the past several decades. Monuments and memorials carve out a particular national identity and historical narrative in both countries, and memorial sites that were once sites of atrocity play an important role in these memorial landscapes. How do sites of atrocity become sites of memory? This thesis attempts to answer that question by closely examining a former concentration camp and a former plantation: the Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum in Oranienburg, Germany and the Whitney Plantation in Wallace, Louisiana. The first half addresses traditional memorialization through these memorial sites, tracing their development over time and their operation in the present day. Both sites are also contextualized, and their roles in the broader memory cultures of Germany and the United States are explored. The second half then turns to more contemporary conceptions of memorialization. The concept of digital network memory is introduced, and social media is examined as a possible form of counter-monument. This thesis then returns to the Sachsenhausen Memorial and the Whitney Plantation and considers the relationship between physical sites and digital memory and the role of visitors, who both consume memory and produce memory by “remediating” the information and content at these sites and giving them a second life on social media. Throughout this paper, the ideas of authenticity, agency, and mediation in memorialization are discussed.
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When Politics Trumps Science
(2021-05) Holley, Catherine
The COVID-19 Pandemic disrupted life around the world and tested each country’s ability to mobilize its medical resources, scientific expertise, and political efficiency. The United States stood out among the international community for its inadequate response that seemed to be hampered by political partisanship and reluctance from the President himself to follow scientific evidence. As the American people inch toward herd immunity and the chance for “normal life” again, we must reflect on the COVID-19 Pandemic’s mishandling. This paper aims to recount and describe how partisan politics marginalized the role of scientific judgment and empirical evidence in policymaking during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, it aims to answer the question of how the Trump administration overruled the evidence-informed opinions of U.S. federal scientists during the policymaking process. This paper takes an analytical approach to describing how U.S. scientific authorities succumbed to political pressure and opposition when the country faced the greatest public health crisis in a century. This project will describe the influence of the Trump administration on COVID-19 policymaking. It will explore how the Trump administration convinced federal, state, and local policymakers to discount and disregard the evidence-based opinions of public health officials. In other words, I will collect and analyze new observations on the relationship between political and medical authorities. After conducting this analysis, this paper finds that the United States’ highly politically polarized environment enabled the Trump administration to overcome evidence-based opinions from U.S. public health experts. These outsized influence politics played in the U.S. should inform future pandemic preparedness planning.
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Hijacking Our Own Attention Controls to Curb Capitalistic Surveillance
(2021-05) Hilder, Jordan O'Dowd
There is currently a lacuna within the law with regard to the legality of the ethics of creating software with features that initiate and perpetrate addictive behavioral patterns: users are engaged in a perpetual scroll that allows for extensive free data mining that benefits the profit motives of corporations. The user is the product: in essence, the user’s attention is being mined, as the longer a user spends scrolling, the more profitable to a corporation he/she is. Internet companies are only concerned with how to best initiate, motivate and perpetrate addictive behaviors as strategies to mine data and in turn, optimize profits, and take no pains to protect or care for vulnerable populations that fall prey to the woes of addiction. This data is shared with corporations, institutions, and government agencies and used to modify behavioral changes and to classify, differentiate, and hierarchize individuals as they see fit. Knowledge is power. We no longer own our own data. We no longer own our own attention. Ethicists understand the need for enacting and enforcing policies and regulations that limit the data mining of Big Tech and limit the addictive potential of platform and app designs. In this paper, I examine the relationship between knowledge and power and its relevance and implications for the infiltration of surveillance as a mechanism of power in educational practices with the aim of increasing user conformity. I discuss the development of an app that helps redirect the obsessive-compulsive feedback loop of addictive thinking that benefits corporations and institutions into thinking patterns that help users control usage and break addiction, and in turn, generate positive physical, mental and socio-cultural benefits. Finally, I evaluate the positive and negative social implications of using attention distraction blocker apps.
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The Power of Impossibility: Magical Realism as a Reflection of Latin American Sociopolitical Identity
(2021-05) Haydon, Taylor
This thesis examines One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (1967), The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende (1982), and Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (1989). Each story offers commentary regarding the value in deliberately creating confusion through magical realism, as readers must actively work to question the validity of various occurrences and perspectives. As the“father" of the Boom, García Márquez represents an accepted magical realist template, while as Post-Boom authors, Allende and Esquivel deviate from this model on the dimensions of politics, gender, and history. The project offers a framework for understanding how Allende and Esquivel use magical realism to explore Latin American sociopolitical identity in comparison to García Márquez.