Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Awards - JCURA

Third or fourth year undergraduate students with excellent academic standing may be eligible for the Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Awards (JCURA). This award experience allows students to undertake a research project and to be mentored by a faculty supervisor. Successful student applicants receive $1,500 credited directly to their UVic fee account.

Hispanic and Italian Studies JCURA recipients/scholars:

2019 - 2020

Schneider, Lindsey

Project title: ¿Y sí los facistas ganaran?/And if the Fascists Won? Spain and World War II Political Narratives
Department: Hispanic and Italian Studies
Faculty supervisor: Dr. Silvia Colás Cardona

"My 2019/2020 JCURA project will be an in-depth analysis of the political and social climate surrounding the Spanish Civil War. Spurred by the question, “How did fascism survive World War II in Western Europe?”, the investigation will draw on my undergraduate work in theatre and Hispanic Studies to analyze the sociopolitical environments of both Spain and the Allied Powers that enabled Francisco Franco’s dictatorship to survive well into the 1970s. As a theatre major, I was fascinated by the rich creative output of the Republican-leaning Generation of 27, especially when it came to their sometimes-revolutionary writings in the increasingly hostile environment of Spain in the 1920s and 1930s. This JCURA will blend my Hispanic Studies minor with technique from my theatre major–the Spanish-language research and translation work will fuel the creation of a performance piece that incorporates historical research, texts from contemporary Spanish dramatists, first-person accounts from the period, and my own writing. Inspired by performance styles such as vocal masque that I have studied throughout my theatre major, The Living Essay-style, one-woman performance will address the research question ‘Did the fascists win? And why?’. The final piece will take place at the Phoenix Theatre on Presentation Day, a celebration and exhibition of the theatrical work of the department’s newest graduates."   

2018 - 2019

Duquette, Rosalie

Project title: From Novel to Film: A Study of Angeles Mastretta's Arráncame la vida
Department: Hispanic and Italian Studies
Faculty supervisor: Dr. Dan Russek

"This project will explore the adaptation of Mexican writer Angeles Mastretta's novel Arráncame la vida (1985) into film. Mastretta's work will be explored through its political and social context and tied to the modern Mexican feminist movement as it developed and found its voice by the end of last century. I am interested in exploring how the personal and the political are interwoven in the story, as it follows the life and struggles of its female protagonist, Catalina Guzmán. Comparing the novel and the film, released in 2008, will also allow for exploring the director's choices in terms of message and impact on the audience."

Maslova, Layma

Project title: A City Loved to Death: The Impact of Overtourism on Barcelona
Department: Hispanic and Italian Studies
Faculty supervisor: Dr. Silvia Colás Cardona

"This project will discuss the phenomenon of overtourism, and focus on its effects on Barcelona, a city of 1.6 million citizens that received 32 million visitors last year alone. Through my research I hope to identify the main causes of overtourism, shed light on the consequences it has had, and continues to have, on the city and its inhabitants, and explore some of the proposed solutions to the problem."    

2017 - 2018

Bagan, Stephen

Project title: In Ruins: A Visual Display of Spain's Recent Housing Bubble
Department: Hispanic and Italian Studies
Faculty supervisor: Dr. Silvia Colás Cardona

"The purpose of this investigation is to explore some of the implications of Spain’s recent economic crisis, focusing on practices of overdevelopment and speculative demand during the period of 1998-2008. More specifically, how the economic, political, and cultural practices turned the building boom into a real estate bubble after the financial market crash of 2008. The burst of the bubble left Spain with physical remnants of developments that do not serve their intended purpose: both finished and unfinished residential areas as well as underused infrastructure now in decay. My interest in this topic is rooted in my own observation of one of those unfinished urban areas south of Madrid. Many of the sights and landscapes have a beauty to them despite their tragic narratives. This analysis will include several case studies from the crisis, including both  small and large-scale projects. The accompanying images often say more than the textual analysis. The deserted landscapes serve as reminders of the dangers brought by overdevelopment."

McDonough, Courtney

Project title: The Fighting Cholitas; How Indigenous Bolivian Women Found Themselves in the Wrestling Ring
Department: Interdisciplinary Program (Latin American Studies)
Faculty supervisor: Dr. Beatriz Alba-Koch

"This project aims to explore the tumultuous and complicated history of the Cholas, a group of Indigenous Ayamaran women in Bolivia. Easily recognizable in their traditional dress of bowler hats and colourful skirts, I intend to research and deconstruct the history of the unmistakable Cholas. A term once used pejoratively to classify and discriminate Indigenous women in Bolivia, Chola is now used by politicians and the tourism industry as a representative of Indigenous nationhood. I aim to explore how these women, are used as a commodity to promote indigenous culture and authentic Bolivian tradition. My research on the commodification of the Cholas will be largely done by examining Cholita Wrestling. This weekly event, charges audiences of over five hundred people to watch as Ayamaran women in full traditional wear, wrestle one another in the ring. Often described as a platform for Indigenous female empowerment, the fighting cholitas is an extremely popular event. My research will examine the event’s popularity, to determine if there is a legitimate shift from gendered racism to empowerment or rather, the commodification of the traditional oppression of Indigenous women."

Ricciardi, Giorgia

Project title: Mediate che questo e’ stato’: The Ferramonti di Tarsia Concentration Camp
Department: Hispanic and Italian Studies
Faculty supervisor: Dr. Helga Thorson, Germanic and Slavic Studies

"Ferramonti di Tarsia — the largest Italian internment camp for Jews. An example of various aspects of the history of Italian Fascism which is largely unknown internationally."

2016 - 2017

Houston, Kathryn

Project title: Aesthetic experience in the public space: the case of Mexico City
Department: Hispanic & Italian Studies
Faculty supervisor: Dr. Dan Russek

"This project explores the aesthetics of urban space in contemporary Mexico City. I am interested in Mexico City because it embodies the highs and lows of the aesthetic experience in the public space: on the one hand, it is a modern city with a rich cultural history and an extraordinary creative energy that has survived political crises, economic upheavals and natural disasters. On the other hand, it shows the pitfalls of uneven development, social and economic inequality, and urban chaos. This dichotomy applies to the visual arts: Mexican muralism, the most iconic cultural product stemming from the Mexican Revolution at the beginning of the 20th century, can be read as a foil to the anarchic, subversive, and dramatic sprawl of street art. One of the questions I ask is how graffiti has reshaped the conception of aesthetics of public space in Mexico. I also address how do these forms –officially sanctioned Muralism and popular graffiti art— set up a dialogue. What shape does the project of urban life acquire, given, on the one hand, the rich history of Muralism, and on the other, the inescapable urban realities of sensorial overstimulation and spatial disorganization, of which graffiti can be seen as both cause and effect? I will resort to literary, artistic and historical sources to answer these questions."

Lazin, Sarah

Project title: Effects of Zika Virus on Health Law in Ecuador
Department: Hispanic & Italian Studies
Faculty supervisor: Dr. Pablo Restrepo Gautier

"In early 2016, the World Health Organization deemed Zika virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. There is currently no preventative vaccine, nor specific treatment for the virus. As communities throughout South America have discovered, when Zika spreads from a pregnant woman to her fetus, there exists the grave possibility of the baby being born with microcephaly – that is, an underdeveloped brain.

The overwhelming response of South American governments has been to suggest that women abstain from getting pregnant for the foreseeable future. However, given the inaccessibility of contraceptives, combined with the illegality of abortions, more women are challenging dominant health law norms around the continent. 

Ultimately, this project will examine the ramifications of Zika virus on health law norms in Ecuador by answering the following question: How is Zika virus affecting sexual and reproductive health norms in Ecuador, both within a health law and sociopolitical context? I will discuss the historical and cultural factors that have shaped Ecuador’s health law into what it is today, and consider the contemporary debate surrounding sexual health and reproductive rights through both human rights and legal lenses.

I will be conducting my research while studying in Ecuador. I intend to consult local experts, such as those at the Center for Social Studies and Planning in Quito to ensure an accurate representation of this issue."

2015 - 2016

McCreanor, Kyle

Project title: Terrorism and Resistance in the Basque Country, 1959-1975
Department: Hispanic & Italian Studies
Faculty supervisor: Prof. Matthew Koch

My research project will address the philosophy and actions of the Basque revolutionary guerrilla organization, Euskadi ta Askatasuna (ETA) from its origin until the end of the Franco Regime. It will engage the definition of 'terrorism' and explore the applicability of the term to the Basque Conflict during the Franco Regime."