After two years of virtual gatherings, Ars Nova, the annual arts and scholarship showcase at Lincoln Center’s Fordham College returned to an in-person format on April 26.
The gathering, which took place in two sessions in the 12th floor lounge of the Lowenstein Center, featured 32 students who shared the results of their research with friends and colleagues.
“It’s so awesome. It’s really a relief to be able to get together in a room and talk to students about their research,” said Rebecca Stark-Gendrano, Ph.D., associate dean for juniors and graduates. transferred students.
“We’ve had Zoom events for the past two years, and these were a reasonable substitute, but there’s really nothing like having the energy that comes from being together in one room. .”
Stark-Gendrano said social justice was a common factor in many presentations this year, but the projects spanned many disciplines.
Misinformation over the years
Inspired in part by his experience interning with NBC News/MSNBC in 2019 and 2020, Gabe Samandi, a major in International Studies, presented “A General History and Theory of Mind Control”, which he completed under the mentorship of Mathias Klang, Ph.D.professor of communications and media studies.
The idea for the project, which traces the history of techniques associated with disinformation and the manipulation of public perception since the 1950s, came to him when he started hearing people say that critical theory of race (CRT) was taught in elementary schools. He had studied critical race theory during his time in Fordham’s study abroad program at the University of Pretoria in 2020.
“I can assure you that’s not the case,” said Samandi, who studied CRT through Fordham’s Ubuntu program in 2020, between her two internships at NBC News/MSNBC.
“I had to go all the way to South Africa to find out more, so I was really curious how misinformation could spread so quickly,” he said.
Critical race theory is not taught in elementary schools, but the anti-racism curriculum is, and the two are conflated in disinformation campaigns.
“A lot of conspiracy theories and misinformed narratives end up having a lot of grains of truth and, interestingly, common roots in real historical events that have historically been overlooked or underreported.”
One example, he said, is Operation Paperclip. The secret US intelligence program provided for the US government to recruit more than 1,600 Nazi German scientists, engineers and technicians after the end of World War II, to work in the Cold War arms race. This has been a common starting point for many right-wing misinformation and conspiracy theories, including QAnon, as it is presented as evidence of the US government’s willingness to work with criminals.
“I wanted to provide a historical record of some of the common avenues of these conspiracy theories and set the record straight on some of the most puzzling and truly alarming aspects of the history of psychological and information warfare to states. United,” he said.
Koreans who call Japan home
In addition to a billboard, Kia Fatahi Faz Abad, also an international studies student, had exhibited journals from his visit to Japan last summer. He traveled to Tokyo to conduct ethnographic research on “Zainichi Koreans” – Koreans who emigrated to Japan during the Japanese occupation of Korea and who have lived there since the early 1920s, along with their descendants. His completed project “What’s it like to be Korean in Japan?” Zainichi’s Complex Identity”, was overseen by Asato Ikeda, Ph.D.associate professor of art history.
Abad visited 10 schools in Tokyo that were originally established to promote the teachings of former North Korean President Kim Il-sung and interviewed people from Zainichi. But the idea that because the Zainichi attend schools, they are ideologically tied to North Korea, is a misconception shared by many Japanese.
“They have moved on from ideological upbringing and are more related to the perseverance of Korean identity as a whole, which dates back to when Japan occupied Korea,” he said.
Indeed, even though many Zainichi were born in Japan and spent their entire lives there, in the eyes of the Japanese state, they are still Korean.
“If you were born in America, you get an American passport and you’re considered American, whatever. But in Japanese immigration law, they consider you Korean,” he said.
“It creates a much more complicated identity. Zainichi has faced discrimination and hate speech from right-wing parties and Japanese nationalists. They are not seen as a different ethnic identity, but as a foreigner”.
The fate of the Zainichi begs the question: what does it mean to have a homeland you’ve never visited? For Abad, whose parents are from Japan and Iran, the question was worth the hassle of COVID-related travel restrictions that made travel difficult.
“It was one of the most important life lessons for me. It was my first time doing independent research. It took a lot of paperwork, but it worked.
A more inclusive dining experience
Hannah Kanga major in English, and Sayema Abedin, a political science student with a master’s degree in ethics and society, stayed close to home for his research. In “Islamic Foodways: Texts, Cultures, and the Practical-Political Ethics of Campus Dining,” they detailed the ways they thought Fordham could improve the dining of Muslim students like Abedin.
For the research, which they conducted under the direction of Associate Professor of Theology Christiana Zenner, Ph.D., the students surveyed schools and universities in New York to better understand how they welcome Muslim students. They also explored ways to help non-Muslims understand the importance of halal food, which is available on the Lincoln Center campus.
“Instead of seeing it as a restriction, we want people to see it as a way of life. Our main goal is just to educate everyone on what it is and why we follow these rules,” Abedin said.
“We also talk about the social life of the students and how we can make them feel comfortable.”
Although the University has made progress in welcoming Muslim students to campus, Kang and Abedin said additional measures to improve the dining experience, including lowering the price of halal meals and making them more widely available. They also advocate separate prayer rooms for men and women and a Wudu station, which allows washing before prayers.
Kang said he interviewed students from the Fordham Muslim Student Association and contacted the Interfaith Center of New York, which provided them with policy proposals for K-12 schools.
“We would like to do more quantitative work, but right now it was just to make sure we had a base for other people who wanted to do more research,” she said.
Look into the brain
On the other side of the room, Rabia Gondouran integrated neuroscience major, shared findings from “The Left Hand and Language: A Brainwave Analysis of Semantic Processing and Familial Left-handedness.”
Her research, which she conducted under the direction of Sarah Grey, Ph.D.., assistant professor of Spanish and linguistics, presented 25 volunteers who were asked to read sentences while their event-related potential (ERP) waveforms were measured.
In the majority of the population, language is thought to be primarily controlled by the left hemisphere of the brain, but in left-handed or familial left-handed people, it is thought to be controlled by the right hemisphere. The effect is thought to affect left-handed blood relatives as well, a phenomenon known as familial sinistrality. This means that they process language in a fundamentally different way.
The objective of the study was to see the effects of family claims on language processing in real time, via ERP waveforms. In the experiment, participants visited the lab at Grey’s Rose Hill campus and were asked to read a sentence aloud. Family sinistrals were expected to show greater N400 brainwave activity, while those who were not family sinistrals were expected to show smaller P600 or N400 waves.
Because the research was halted by the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, the number of participants who were family claims was below ideal, and as a result, Gondur said she did not get enough results to draw a firm conclusion on family claims. attendees. She was always happy to talk about the work in person.
“Although we could not see many significant results for our family sinistral group, we could see that the unfamiliar sinistrals showed a greater P 600 response. This shows that they use a different mechanism to process the semantic information They look at grammatical clues to pick up semantic information.
She said that while some people prefer Zoom, she thinks it’s easier to be in person.
“Because I speak so fast and I don’t know if everyone knows the terms and stuff, it gives me enough time to explain them,” she said.