Research Projects

Student Scholarship Recognition Day (SSRD) is held each spring to celebrate the exemplary scholarship and creativity of Willamette University students. Students work directly with faculty members or design and conduct their own research throughout the year.

Featured Projects

Here are a few projects that exemplify the wonderful research students from the Asian Studies department have done over the years.

Abstract: This study explores the challenges and opportunities that face transnational stars, specifically focusing on Chinese actress, Zhang Ziyi. Based on scholars’ research and theories on gender and race in transnational media,I do textual analysis of Zhang’s roles in The Road Home (1999), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Rush Hour 2 (2001), and Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) to reveal how Zhang Ziyi self represents herself through acts of resistance towards issues of stereotypes, mixed reviews, and limitations in both media and how those challenges have influenced her decision to stay in her home country instead of in Hollywood.

Victoria Lay (2015)

Abstract: This translation project illustrates the plethora of messages that are still present and accessible from the fiery Women’s Liberation Movement in Japan that began in 1970. Scholars agree that Japanese feminism is all but dead today; recent literature often takes a retrospective look at this radical period in order to reappeal to the younger generation in hopes of a resurgence of the feminist movement. Select translated interviews from Hisako Matsui’s "What Are You Afraid Of?" offer insight into the lives of Women’s Lib members and their hopes for the future of young women in Japan.

Camille Priebe (2015)

Abstract: Why has criminalization been the predominant legal approach to address drug use during pregnancy in Tennessee but despite similarities Ohio has expanded its approach through implementing targeted drug treatment programs and social services? While many states across the nation have developed more treatment oriented drug policy and worked to make specific concessions for pregnant women some continue to criminalize. Both Ohio and Tennessee have passed some of the most restrictive abortion laws and currently struggle with growing numbers of drug incarceration. This work will explore what factors contribute to the divergence in approach to this issue between these two states.

Tashana Mithen (2017)

Additional Research Projects

These are all the projects the Asian Studies department has presented at SSRD in the last few years.


  • The Sword and the Cinema: Japanese Nationalism and Film - Benjamin Mendelsohn (Thesis)


  • The Digital Hinterland: Social Media Use in Student Protest - Paige Baker (Thesis)
  • Criminalizing Prenatal Addiction: A State Comparison - Tashana Mithen (Thesis)
  • Challenging “Illegality” and “Citizenship” with the Rise of the Dreamers Movement - Luz Reyna (Thesis)
  • Why the World’s Most Socially Progressive Country is Anti-outsider - Karina Salzberg (Thesis)
  • The Eternal Life of Violence against Women - Susana Hernandez (Thesis)
  • Lesbian Death Syndrome: The Representation of Queer Women in Television - Carlene Blaugher (Thesis)
  • Lana, Taylor,and the Other Fifty-three Percent: The Role of Pop Music in Gendered American Nationalism - Jacqueline McKenna (Thesis)
  • Finding Harmony: Her Performance as the Prototype for Improved Characterizations of Trans Latinas - Ráelyne Moreno (Thesis)
  • The Inseparable Relation between a Classical Ballet and Femininity - Yoshimi Okazaki (Thesis)
  • No Longer the King of Games - Reed Joslin (Thesis)
  • Dissecting Kampo Medicine: Understanding Japan’s Cultural Healthcare Approach - Gunnar Lee (Thesis)
  • Japan’s Vertical Structure: A Case Study of Toyota - Natsumi Yeo (Thesis)
  • The Feminists of China - Stelarus Stickel (Thesis)
  • Japanese American Internment Camps: Documenting Isolation and Debris - Benjamin Bajema (Colloquium Grant)


  • Zhang Ziyi: A Transnational Star Mirroring the Change of Public Image of Chinese in Film - Victoria Lay (Independent Research)
  • What Are You Afraid Of?—Translating Japanese Feminism for a New Generation - Camille Priebe (Independent Research)
  • The Next Big...Banana? : The Future Reception of Banana Yoshimoto’s “Sponge” - Kathryn Terry (Independent Research)
  • Beyond Blood: A Policy Analysis on Parental Rights in Japan’s Alternative Child Care Systems - Alyssa Fusek (Independent Research)
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