Note: This is a student project from a course affiliated with the Ethnography of the University Initiative. EUI supports faculty development of courses in which students conduct original research on their university, and encourages students to think about colleges and universities in relation to their communities and within larger national and global contexts.

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Title:Student Voice?: An ethnography of activist women of color and the Daily Illini's negative representation of student activism.
Author(s):Finley, Wendy Marie
Subject(s):Black Women
African American
Daily Illini
Media Representation
Student activism
Abstract:Women of color have historically been active players in social movements in the United States (U.S.). Because of this, women of color are oftentimes the targets of negative media representation or absent from any form of representation entirely. My research examines how these women of color, student activists perceive their own activism in relation to the mass media representation, in this case the Daily Illini (DI). There is a hidden power in media, which gives media a privileged position in discourse. From preliminary research, I learned that the DI uses its privilege in a biased way: in reporting on student activism, they favor administration and faculty over the students. Studying how women of color internalize this marginalization afflicted on them by the DI’s media representation will reveal how influential and powerful this media outlet is or is not to Black women student activists, a group that is commonly oppressed on multiple levels. The results of this work will demonstrate the variability in power relations and influence between the DI and the subjects of its columns.
Issue Date:2008-02-15
Course / Semester:ANTH 411: Methods for Sociocultural Anthropology, Prof. Nancy Abelmann. This course introduced students to a variety of ethnographic methods. Students tried their hand at some of these methods through a focused project. I had students think about their semester-long work as "pilot research"; although they did write up a short paper on their findings (their "discuss" section of the database), the culminating assignment was a research proposal in which they envision building on their preliminary findings in a longer/larger project. In the beginning of the semester, students did some warm-up exercises not directly related to their projects (an observation, an analysis of a university document, and an interview) -- some students elected to remove these from their databases while others left them in because of their connection to the final project. Students' "question" and "plan" sections of the database include multiple entries as I encouraged them to continue to refine these over the course of the semester in dialogue with their own emerging findings. I also asked students to search both the U of I Student Life and Cultures Archives and well as this EUI IDEALS collection to find archives relevant to their pilot/proposed research. All students were asked to "reflect" on the research experience and to make "recommendations" to the University on the basis of their research findings. The course syllabus is available at:
Publication Status:unpublished
Date Available in IDEALS:2008-02-15

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

  • Diversity on Campus/Equity and Access
    This collection examines ways in which the U.S. university and the American college experience are affected by diversity, and difference. In particular, these student projects examine experiences of diversity on campus, including important contemporary social, cultural, and political debates on equity and access to university resources.

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