Sip and Chat Paper Competition

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The University of Miami Institute of the Americas (UMIA) wishes a warm congratulations to the winners of our paper prize competition. Prior to our Sip and Chat Networking Event, graduate students submitted their publishable quality research papers that focused on Latin American and Caribbean. We had over twenty paper submissions of prestigious papers that spanned from the Perú to Miami. After careful consideration of paper topics, data analysis, and contribution to the field of research, UMIA awarded paper prizes to five phenomenal graduate students. Congratulations to our students!

Brandon Paul Martinez ~ 1st Place
The Case of Cubans: Racial Inequality in U.S. Homeownership and Home Values 

Prior research finds that human capital may explain racial housing inequality, while others note the historical role that race played in creating unequal housing conditions. This study uses the case of Cubans in the U.S. to examine whether human capital explains Black-White housing inequalities, or if they are a result of nativity/cohort differences – a proxy for the federal policies that supported Cubans’ economic and social incorporation. Using pooled data from the American Community Survey, I examine how human capital characteristics and nativity/migration cohorts shape odds of homeownership and predicted home values among Cubans. Extended analyses using decomposition methods find that although human capital characteristics are important, they play a smaller role in explaining Black-White differences in homeownership and home values. Indicative of the changing structure of racial stratification in the U.S., results reveal substantial inequality among the oldest of Cuban immigrants and U.S.-born Cubans, despite a trend toward declining inequality among recent arrivals. Supported by the literature of systemic racism, the case of Cubans shows how human capital explanations do not sufficiently explain racial housing inequalities and how the future of racial stratification is one of inter and intra-ethnic group inequality.

Read the just published version of the paper, here:

Sarah Wenger ~ 2nd Place
Examining Variation in Intentional Cranial Modification in Actient Túcume, Peru

The purpose of this research is to analyze intentional cranial modification at the site of Túcume located in Peru. Intentional cranial modification is the permanent alteration of the infant cranium through the use of apparatuses that will alter the shape of the skull resulting in lifelong implications. This analysis serves to answer three research questions through testing the hypotheses in regards to the variation among individuals, the sex-based differences in the population, and how cranial modification patterns differentiate normal burials from sacrificed individuals at Túcume. The data include a total of 480 individuals with 375 crania observable. It was found that 26% of individuals with crania were modified. A sex-based pattern was identified since 47% of females were modified while only 18% of males were modified. There were 99 sacrificed individuals with only 6% of them being also modified. The data indicates that there was not a statistically significant difference in the modifications between the sacrificed and non-sacrificed individuals. There is also not enough evidence to indicate that the sacrificed individuals were from other locations. The individuals that were sacrificed were most likely from Túcume. In regards to classification type, it was found that fronto-occipital vault modification was the most prevalent at 56% regardless of sex or age. Fronto-occipital and lambdoidal modifications were more frequently performed on females while occipital was more frequent among males. From the data, this indicates that this was not a common practice at Túcume. There was enough variation in the types of modification that suggests it was not a universal practice. The practice of head shaping in past societies is an important aspect because it holds social implications. It is clear that this thesis provides important insight into Túcume’s past and contains important information in regards to sex-based patterns of head shaping as a marker of group identity.

Giovani Delgado ~ Honorable Mention
Adventures in Regional Integration: Unpacking the Central American Integration Plan

The ending of the Second World War left many profound changes in world history. One of those changes was the beginning and formalization of an integrated Europe. Countries in the European continent recognized the importance of coming together (or finding solutions) to overcome their economic and socio-political challenges. The harmonization of economies and polity that occurred in Europe during the 1950s and onward offered a new model for economic and social-political development in the international system. This model of development reached across the pond, in Central America, where the isthmus began a similar integration process. Using the European Union’s integration phases and methods, both past and present, as an analytical lens, the principal aim of this paper is to analyze which are the primary conditions required for an integration process to succeed. Similarly, this paper explores which lessons Central America can incorporate from the European experience on the eve of its two hundredth year of independence.

Saskia Vos ~ Honorable Mention
Venezuelan Migration and PTSD

The primary aim of this study was to examine the association between perceived discrimination and clinical levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among Venezuelan migrants in Florida and Colombia. The secondary aim was to determine whether, given the existence of an association between discrimination and PTSD, there was a moderating effect of gender or of country of relocation. This is the first study to examine discrimination and PTSD in Venezuelan migrants. In October 2017, 647 Venezuelan migrant parents (62% female, average age 33) participated in an online survey in the United States (primarily Florida) and Colombia (Bogotá). The survey was cross sectional and assessed mental health outcomes, cultural stressors, and participant post-migration concerns and needs before and after migration. There was a significant association between discrimination and PTSD outcomes when controlling for marital status, age, and college completion (β=.253, p<.001). Further, this relationship was moderated by gender, with the relationship between discrimination and PTSD symptom severity (β=.285, p >.001) and positive PTSD screen (OR= 1.07,95% CI (1.04,1.09)). both reaching significance for women, but not for men. Clearly understanding risk factors for PTSD among recently migrated Venezuelans informs interventions by providing specific targets. People who migrate and/or flee their home countries often leave social support networks behind, where such supports directly buffer against the impact of discrimination and trauma. (This conclusion seems disconected from the results and the social supports piece isn’t substantiated by our data). I’d keep the conclusions simple and talk succinctly about how discrimination may contribute to PSTD and why only for women.

Tarika Sankar ~ Honorable Mention
"A Creative Process": Indo-Caribbean American Identity as Diasphoric Consciousness

This paper examines contemporary cultural production by New-York based, self-identified Indo-Caribbean artists to understand how Indo-Caribbean identity is formulated in the double-diaspora, twice removed from the contexts of both India and the Caribbean. Specifically, I analyze Miranda Deebrah’s oral performance piece “Sounds From Home” and Lissa Deonarain’s short documentary film “Double Diaspora: A Portrait of Indo-Caribbeans in New York” using Aisha Khan’s framework of “diasporic consciousness.” I argue that in these pieces, Indo-Caribbean identity is constructed not around ethnicity, culture or Indian traditions, but as a process that recognizes the interlinking of multiple traumatic displacements and migrations in the history of descendants of South Asian indentured laborers. Deebrah and Deonarain narrate journeys toward understanding and embracing identity that follow a trajectory from alienation and psychic disavowal caused by the dislocation of migration to the United States, where Indo-Caribbeanness is largely invisible in racial discourses, to self-imposed exile and distancing from the community, which prompts a return to histories of indentured migration and ultimately a reconfiguration of Indo-Caribbean identity around notions of intergenerational trauma and multiple displacements. I argue that this conceptualization of Indo-Caribbean identity as a diasporic consciousness allows a generation of Indo-Caribbean artists and activists to flexibly navigate racial discourses in the U.S. by refusing to reproduce reified categories of race and ethnicity often demanded by a nationalist politics of recognition.