National Symposium Presentation Fostered by Otterbein Support
Posted May 13, 2021
By Paige Skaff ’22
Paige Skaff is a junior majoring in sociology and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies with minors in political science and race and ethnic studies. Her research paper on U.S. government-led forced sterilization in Puerto Rico was selected for presentation at the 2021 Latin American and Latinx Studies Symposium and for publication by The Johns Hopkins Journal of Latin American Studies.
The writing, publication, and presentation journey of No Más Bebés began in a political science course, Latin American Politics, taught by Professor Rachel Schwartz. For our final course project, I decided on the topic of forced sterilization of Latina women using the case study on Puerto Rico. I chose this topic because of my academic and professional interest in the exploitation of the human body.
Holding the highest international rate of female sterilization, Puerto Rico often obtains a brief mention in women’s studies books pertaining to historical violence of the female body. I first encountered the case in the Introduction to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies course I took while in high school through College Credit Plus. I had not investigated the case further than the paragraph in in my textbook until this class, when I performed an intersectional analysis of the history from a political lens.
Thus, the writing process began at the end of fall semester 2020 and developed further into an independent pursuit following the close of the term. I took the constructive criticism and comments from Professor Schwartz on my final project and began to make edits to the original paper. My writing underwent multiple drafts over the duration of winter break and the beginning of spring semester.
I sent the paper to two publications, with The Latin American and Latinx Studies Symposium at Rollins College accepting my submission. After acceptance into the journal, the symposium committee reviewed my essay and a submission of a draft of my visual presentation. The symposium was virtual this year, the format of presentation in the traditional sense had to be altered.
I was grouped with three other presenters in a category titled Understanding Health Concerns. After an introduction of my title and the title of my research, I began my presentation as the first speaker in the room. Presentations were limited to 15 minutes and were followed by a question-and-answer segment with the limit dependent on the remaining time in the category.
I have a passion for my work, public speaking, and being a leader in the pursuit of hidden and misunderstood knowledge so the experience was invigorating and fulfilling.
The drafting, finalizing, submission, and presentation of this project post-class had the continual support of Professor Schwartz along with my advisors, professors Tammy Birk and Carla Corroto. They all followed me through the journey and shared in my success and excitement. These professors continue to be of support as I seek to pursue further professional goals using my research.
To complete my sociology capstone, I am actively working on securing an internship in Puerto Rico at a politically affiliated organization or a non-profit that caters to survivors of bodily exploitation by sterilization or other forms. I hope to be able to use this internship as an opportunity to contribute to Otterbein’s Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation oral history project by conducting verbal interviews with women and families affiliated with my research. My plans after leaving Otterbein are yet to be fully realized, but this research has nurtured my perpetual interest in global injustice and politics.
With a solid foundation established at Otterbein, I know I’ll continue my success with innumerable support.