Graduate students from across SGS M.A. programs conducted fieldwork through graduate research grants, which are supported through generous gifts from Parveen Hassan, Ritva Heikkila, Dapeng Zhu, Xiao Liu, and the Friends of Stanford University Foundation in Taiwan. Here are a few highlights from their experiences abroad:
Intensive Nahuatl Language Course in Mexico
Latin American Studies
During winter and spring breaks, I had the opportunity to travel to indigenous communities in Veracruz, Mexico, to study Nahuatl language education and revitalization efforts. Nahuatl was the indigenous language of the Aztecs and is still spoken by 1.5 million Nahua peoples in central Mexico. In the spring, I had the unique opportunity to visit the Nahua-speaking community of El Tecomate, located in the municipality of Chicontetepec. Having studied the Nahuatl language for two years, I was excited to visit the community and learn about its cultures and traditions. During the trip, I had the chance to converse with native speakers in Nahuatl and learning about the unique lifestyles and challenges in indigenous language communities in Mexico. ... read more
How e-commerce is affecting the lives of China’s villagers
East Asian Studies
E-commerce is an undeniable force that has, in the recent decade, proliferated across China. Becoming an e-commerce seller — or engaging in ancillary services such as logistics, photography, packaging, etc. — is seen as an opportunity to escape poverty and ‘strike it rich’. Taobao is one such online marketplace that many Chinese people buy and sell on. The emergence of huge waves of people setting up Taobao online shops has led AliResearch to identify some of China’s villages as Taobao villages. These are villages that house sellers with an aggregated high transaction volume on the platform. Guangzhou is home to some of China’s most active Taobao villages — three of which I visited during spring break through a graduate research grant from Stanford Global Studies. The purpose of my trip was to understand how e-commerce has impacted the socio-economic lives of Chinese villagers.
I learned that becoming a Taobao seller is not a foolproof formula for economic success. Most sellers in the same village tend to sell similar items, making it difficult to differentiate oneself from the pack, and for most small sellers, becoming profitable is a gamble. The Taobao marketplace is also already very saturated, and rents have increased in these villages as a result. In Lirendong, rents have increased by 20 to 30 times their regular rates over the past 10 years, and income growth has not matched this pace. Hence, sellers work under immensely stressful conditions just to eke out a living.
Latin American Summer School on Social Issues
Latin American Studies
Since I plan on pursuing a non-governmental career in indigenous human rights in Latin America, studying at the Latin American Summer School on Social Issues (LASI) in Villarica, Chile, allowed me to become more informed about specific issues that are prevalent in the region. This is especially true since LASI created comparative discussions regarding Mapuche people’s social issues and those of other groups in Latin America. In turn, I became exposed to interdisciplinary viewpoints that highlight the region’s complex reality. While my M.A. in Latin American Studies allows me to delve into Latin American history and politics, I feel that LASI helped equip me with the tools I need in order to become an effective indigenous rights...read more
Interpretations of Wartime Memory in Okinawa, Japan
East Asian Studies
I visited peace memorials and museums in Okinawa, Japan, focusing on the topic of the Battle of Okinawa. During this trip, I observed various interpretations of wartime memory exhibited in popular destinations for tourists who visit the island. I visited Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum, Himeyuri Peace Museum, Okinawa Prefectural Museum, and Kaigungo Park. I was interested in visiting this region because Okinawa is such a popular tourist destination within Japan. I wanted to see how the historical events are presented to visitors from outside of Okinawa. Through this visit to these sites, I also found that the word “peace” is a key term that is repeated. This led me to think about the development of the discourse on the topic of peace in Okinawa. I also found it interesting how the idea of peace resonated even outside of the museums and memorials. Souvenir shops and even the ice cream chain in the tourist district, Kokusaidori, would mention the term ‘peace’ on their signs and advertisements. From this, I could observe the concept was not confined within the spaces of museums and memorials, but it was more ubiquitous than I had imagined. The research I have accomplished during this trip will be a vital part of my Master’s thesis.