Supporting Student Research at the Pembroke Center

The Pembroke Center helps Brown's students explore their intellectual passions by offering grants for research projects that they might not otherwise be able to pursue. Brown's students want to make the world a better place and their interests are reflected in the research they do.  Pembroke Center grants support travel, equipment, and related expenses.

Here is a selection of some of the research supported by the Pembroke Center in recent years:

Yacine Sow '16
Health and Human Biology

Project CARE Video Series: Encouraging Women to Make Contraceptive Choices while Incarcerated

Over the past fifteen years, the number of incarcerated women has increased by 153%. This exponential increase has been sustained by a jail and prison system designed for male inmates. US correctional facilities were not developed to consider women’s biological needs, role in the family, and how or why they commit crimes. Additionally, policies that have directly contributed to the exponential increase of incarcerated women already target a vulnerable population. Compared to women in the general population, incarcerated women have a higher rate of acute and chronic diseases, substance abuse problems, and undetected health issues; which include reproductive health needs.

Women in correctional institutions have substantial reproductive health problems; yet, they are underserved in receipt of reproductive health care. When women are released from prison, they have many competing needs for food, shelter, and safety; which often results in neglect of reproductive health care. Thus, incarceration is an opportunity to provide reproductive health services to a large population of high-risk women who may not otherwise seek health services. Sow developed the Project CARE Video series to facilitate the process of accessing contraceptives by providing materials that can help women decide which method would be a good match. Because these women have disproportionate rates but yet are still underserved, Sow evaluated what types of interventions best helped incarcerated women make informed reproductive health choices

Penelope Kyritsis '16
Postcolonial Legal Studies

Sexual Humanitarianism and the Politics of Pity and Control in Marseille and Athens

The term "sex trafficking" has gained significant traction in the past decade and is pervasive in the media, social and humanitarian debates and policy discourses. Indeed, it is very common to see the state, private sector and nonprofit organizations launching "anti-trafficking" campaigns throughout the world. Recent scholarship has critiqued a sex trafficking focus for being too narrow and obscuring issues of labor exploitation. This research complicates these debates by contextualizing sex trafficking policy and discourse without the current refugee crisis in Europe. The recent global concern around refugees has raised a new "moral panic" around more and more people being pushed into the irregular employment sector. How this concern around labor and migration will shift humanitarian interests in sex trafficking is a pressing question for scholarly inquiry.

Kyritsis's senior honors thesis research built on Nicola Mail's concept of "sexual humanitarianism" (i.e. the management of sex workers and other sexual minorities through humanitarian interventions) in Marseille, France and Athens, Greece and made its analysis through the lens of postcolonial feminist theory. 

Elaine Hsiang '15
Health and Human Biology

Mapping (Un)safe Spaces: Trans* Health and the Affordable Care Act

Despite its recent recognition by health care providers and public health researchers as an area of need, the specific, diverse range of health care needs experienced by LGBTQ populations has been grotesquely ignored. Of particular note are the rights and regulations surrounding trans individuals seeking medical and/or social acceptance and visibility.

In a 2003 article in Sexualities, Steven Epstein describes the recent phenomenon of "state-centered" LGBTQ health advocacy as a form of health activism in the US. Epstein is cautious about a more inclusive biomedical politics, since the adoption of state policies that work to include "special populations" may have the harmful consequence of remedicalizing bodies. Using a historical approach to looking at LGBTQ health since the advent of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Hsiang analyzed how treatment of queer identities as a "medical problem" has changed throughout recent history. A centerpiece of her project was the mapping and cataloguing same-sex marriage laws and LGBTQ health policy across the states. Hsiang further explored Epstein's hesitation by evaluating the progress of two states, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, in improving sexual minority health through close collaboration with Fenway Health (Boston, MA) and the Rhode Island Public Health Institute (Providence, RI).

Evelyn Sanchez'14
American Studies

State-Sanctioned Motherhood:
Regulation in Foster Care and Adoption

Sanchez explored the creation or termination of parenthood by studying foster care and adoption practices in a Rhode Island children services agency. Invariably focus falls on motherhood, as mothers, birth, foster, and adoptive, often bear more scrutiny in American society regarding parenting and child-rearing. The professional social workers that aid in the certification or termination of parenthood are often females themselves and their ideals on what makes a 'good' parent and mother often comes into play when serving their clients. By analyzing the process of becoming a parent, through the Child Welfare League of America's PRIDE pre-service classes and the accompanying home study process concurrently with the termination of parental rights process, Sanchez seeks to understand how the American court and society dictate and regulate modes of parenting. The resulting parenting norms then dictate who can become a parent and who no longer has rights over their children. The identity and agency of women trying to prove themselves good mothers reveals inequalities in society over who is considered a 'good enough' parent.