Denise Taveras

Student, Columbia University
  • Columbia University
  • People
  • United States of America

I am a/an:

Undergraduate Scholar

Research Topic

Ethnic & Racial Studies Gender Studies LGBTQ+ Music

Laidlaw Cohort Year

2022

University

Columbia University

I am from:

United States of America

I speak:

English Spanish

My hobbies/interests are:

Music Theatre

I am open to participating in mentoring/buddy programmes

Yes

Influencer Of

Topics

Rooms participated in:

Columbia University

Recent Comments

Jun 24, 2022
Replying to Yoni Kurtz
  • What new ideas, challenges, or other issues have you encountered with regard to your project (this might include data collection, information that contradicts your assumptions or the assertions of others, materials that have enriched your understanding of the topic or led you to change your project, etc.)? How have these ideas or challenges shaped the bigger picture of your research? Has the scope or focus of your topic changed since you began this project? If so, how?

During the course of my project, I ran into the issue of finding quantitative data regarding participants in youth baseball. Though this was initially frustrating, it forced me to reconsider my research question, and move in a direction that focused more on media perceptions of youth baseball and race, through looking at newspapers and magazines. This helped give me a concrete place to look, as well as a firm research question that could be analyzed in any era for which newspapers are available, which is a much broader range than any of the limited qualitative data that I had found. 

  • What research resources have proven particularly useful to you as you continue your research?

I have found ebscohost's newspaper archives particularly useful, as I have been able to do advanced searches for certain keywords like "baseball," "little league," "youth," "people of color," and more relevant phrases to find newspaper articles in ebsco's vast archives that show the growth and decline of youth baseball in different communities over time.

Hi Yoni, I think your new approach to your research is really cool and highlights how although quantitative is very helpful, it might not be what we need in our research. At the beginning of the program, I had the opposite issue and could only find quantitative data which didn't help with the overall goal of my project. I'm glad you were able to make the adjustment in your research and I hope it goes well!

Jun 23, 2022
  • What new ideas, challenges, or other issues have you encountered with regard to your project (this might include data collection, information that contradicts your assumptions or the assertions of others, materials that have enriched your understanding of the topic or led you to change your project, etc.)? How have these ideas or challenges shaped the bigger picture of your research? Has the scope or focus of your topic changed since you began this project? If so, how?

I've been struggling with parsing through the police reports and documents that I was able to access. Not only has it been a lot of information that's been really overwhelming but interpreting some of the information has been a challenge that I didn't foresee when doing this project. I currently have thousands of crime scene photos on my laptop with varying degrees of clarity and censorship. At first, I couldn't even imagine what I could possibly do with pictures in which you can't see anything recognizable but after speaking with my faculty advisor and graduate mentor, I started to lean into what we can learn about what isn't being said/shown. What does this overwhelming amount of censorship show about policing and what police feel like people are entitled to know? My project centers the people who have been harmed and killed by the police but these documents also bring in an illustrated conversation of the relationship between police and the communities beyond their surveillance and beyond their control. I don't have a lot of time to explore this part of the project but it is one that is important nonetheless. 

  • What research resources have proven particularly useful to you as you continue your research?

My graduate student mentor has been really helpful in giving advice. Especially as it pertains to looking at social media as my archive.

Jun 18, 2022
Replying to Wena Teng
  • While all Laidlaw Scholars will be presenting their research at the Columbia Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, what are the more immediate expectations that you have for your research? Are you writing a paper? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Do you hope to produce an annotated bibliography that you reflect on down the line? Is your research now the first phase of a project you’ll continue to work on throughout the year, and/or next summer? Now that we are nearing the one month mark of the program, please write about your expectations for your research.

- Curating an online exhibit that would include a few interviews for oral history, photographs of contemporary Chinese feminists' protest performances, Xue Shao Hui's (and other Ming-Qing writers') work, and possibly my own writing. I am not sure whether to contact an archive to house the exhibition or create my own website. If I decide on the latter, I would also be able to intersect my interests in Computer Science to present my work. Hopefully, next summer or during the school year, I can focus on the comparative aspect of my research by focusing on American public opinion/dissent.

  • Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.

   Researching how the US and China's public dissent differs -- based on historical movements and public policy -- from a unique position as a Chinese American allows me to contribute to the discourse on the US-China relationship. Much of current scholarship views the relationship through a binary, without considering the nuances of both countries' politics and history. I hope to use my positionality to add new insights to the discourse, starting with the knowledge that women during Imperial China (like Xue Shao Hui) built intellectual and emotional communities of intervention through their own specific perceptions of the arts. Then, seeing how these historical movements reflect much of contemporary China’s activism would provide foundational resources to engage the global community: allowing a redefinition of public dissent, especially through using art, performance, and bodies as instruments of protest. 

Hey Wena, I think creating an online exhibit is a really cool way to share your research. It's honestly kind of hard to think of ways of presenting information beyond a paper or poster that's accessible and I think your idea will definitely be a great way to engage with your research. 

Jun 18, 2022
  • While all Laidlaw Scholars will be presenting their research at the Columbia Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, what are the more immediate expectations that you have for your research? Are you writing a paper? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Do you hope to produce an annotated bibliography that you reflect on down the line? Is your research now the first phase of a project you’ll continue to work on throughout the year, and/or next summer? Now that we are nearing the one month mark of the program, please write about your expectations for your research.

I came into the program knowing the work I will be doing is only the beginning of the project that my faculty mentor is working on. It also is in a field of research that is developing and ultimately (unfortunately) ongoing. When I share what I've learned, it will not be the conclusion of my involvement with this type of work. If anything I will probably be continuing with this project long after this summer, whether it be formally with my faculty mentor or informally. As for more concrete direction I have with my research, I will definitely be looking for more creative ways to present what I've learned. I have been compiling playlists and reflections so I can share some of the more personal reflections that have come out of this research. 

  • Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.

People are being killed. Their humanity and the significance of their life is questioned. This project is not only a call to action in its acknowledgement of how policing is harmful and doesn't help the people that it claims to help, it is also a way to remember the lives of those who have been seen as anything but a living and loving person. They live on through the music, connections, and communities that have been a part of their life and that is what my project is about.

Jun 10, 2022
Replying to Elianna Lee

What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

The majority of my project thus far has consisted of searching through magazines and advertisements. One ethical concern I have is not allowing my own perception of what the early 2000's were to cloud my own judgement; though some of my own personal insights are important, it is also important to allow other voices to say their piece on their experience in the early 2000's; to respond to this I want to search through online forums and groups that talk about these experiences from a wide range of backgrounds


As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

As I have talked with my graduate mentor and my faculty advisor, they have both enabled me to think of the different ways a "diva" is created, and the influence that they have had on popular culture. This has moved me towards creating a "diva" framework, in order to identify who is considered a diva more accurately.

Hi Ellie!!

I feel like the graduate mentors and faculty advisors are really the driving force in some of these projects when it comes to hitting roadblocks in our research or looking at things from a different perspective. I had a similar ethical issue to yours and speaking to my graduate mentor has really helped me approach this issue in a productive way.

Jun 09, 2022
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

One of the biggest ethical issues I've been struggling with in my research is making sure that I not only honor the victims I am researching but also not bring in too much of my personal feelings and ideas into the work. Obviously, that is very hard, especially because this project is heavily based on critical fabulation, but my goal for this is to also allow the music and experiences of those who have been murdered to speak for themselves. I shouldn't assign meaning and understanding to their lives and experiences. In taking my notes, I have to continually check myself. I can include my thoughts and emotions in my notes but they shouldn't be the focus. The lives of people like Aiyana Stanley-Jones and her family, Helen Jones, and Sheikh Mustafa Davis should be what I focus on. Not my own feelings.

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

There are only so many viewpoints I can interact with in my research without forcing myself into a really bad place emotionally. I am trying my best to center the viewpoints of the victims and their families. I often get the viewpoints of the police and the people who agree with the police and their methods. For obvious reasons, I don't really want to interact with these viewpoints but my search for information has been overwhelmingly from the perspective of the police and their supporters. These perspectives haven't been very helpful as they aren't relevant to what I am trying to accomplish in this project. It has been a very difficult process and find what I need and maintain a level head. Even so, my goal of centering the perspectives of the victims and families has been a great way to ground myself and reestablish what perspectives I care about and whose viewpoints need to be amplified in my work.

Jun 02, 2022
Replying to Sylvi Stein
  • Last week the trainings and discussions we had cut across the disciplines. How does the interdisciplinary nature of this program, the fact that students are focusing on such a diverse range of projects, help you think about your project and/or your academic interests more broadly?

Something we discussed this week in our grad student mentor programs was the idea of politics of location. I thought this idea was intriguing - certain disciplines and theories naturally favor different bodies and people in the ideas they present. I think that interdisciplinary study is incredibly important for the formation of ideas, but ultimately, in making claims, you have to be able to narrow your scope. Your claims should be partisan, our grad student mentor explained - only by acknowledging that all research will have a bias can we begin to work to overcome it. 

  • As you begin your individual research projects this week, do you anticipate any challenges in getting started? If so, what are they?

I am beginning to realize that every source - especially newspapers - is created with an agenda, conscious or subconscious. In researching the media coverage of sculptures and monuments, I have to also plunge into the history of the publication in which the write-up is appearing to dissect the "facts" for the angle from which they appear. This is difficult, and an in-depth project. It adds a series of steps to each stage that I did not anticipate.

Hey Sylvi!! : D : D Your point on sources having different agendas has been something I have been struggling with as well. A lot of my archive is police reporting and we all know they have a very strong history of covering up their actions. I have to do a lot of work to see these biases and agendas. 

 
Jun 02, 2022

1. I think having a lot of perspectives to bounce my idea off of has helped me see my research in a new light. I keep finding myself in the habit of looking at my research with an "either-o" perspective. I can understand things with a perspective focused on racism and police state violence or I can understand the community and resistance through music. Speaking ith other people hase helped me reorient myself into thinking about how these ideas are in conversation with each other.

2. One of my biggest challenges is getting access to sources that highlight the personal lives of the people I am hoping to get an insight on. Its important for my project to highlight the personal spaces of these people but for obvious reasons, that will be very difficult, especially if I have to see it through the lense of a system that has a history of dehumanizing the people that I will focus on.