Racquel West

Me looking out a window.

Hello, my name is Racquel and I am a student at the University of Washington. I am double majoring in History, with a concentration in Race, Gender, and Power, and Geography, with a concentration in Globalization, Health, and Development. I am currently a sophomore and will finish my undergraduate degrees by 2020. I hope to attend graduate school and receive a Ph.D. in Geography. In the future, I would like to be a social science researcher; I would enjoy being an ethnographer or working for the Smithsonian.  I will focus my career on working with marginalized communities and understanding the systematic processes that perpetuate oppression and inequality.

During spring quarter of my freshman year, I took a class on American Indian History since 1815. This was my introduction to indigenous studies and the concept of settler colonialism. Through this class, I learned the extent of colonialism, marginalization, and historical traumas that have led to our reality in modern-day America. Since this class, I have narrowed my interests to studying intergenerational, socio-economic, and intersectional issues regarding borders and how people utilize, describe themselves, and transition through these definitive, yet invisible spatial boundaries.

This is my first study abroad program. While I am in Aotearoa, I hope to learn as much as I can in regard to how the Maori peoples are currently working to overcome the obstacles that are restricting their rights and sovereignty. I am particularly interested in the current political climate and the attempts from the government and indigenous communities to reach a mutually beneficial, and fairer, interpretation of the different versions of the Treaty of Waitangi. Along with this, I want to see how the borders between these communities are becoming more, or less, prominent during this process. Lastly, I am interested in understanding how settler colonialism has embedded itself in the spatial interactions and landscape of New Zealand. While I have learned how America has dealt with the lasting impacts its own settler colonialism, it will be interesting to see how a different county, with different historical traumas, will work to move forward.

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