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Zaria El-Fil

Zaria El-Fil
African & African Diaspora Studies
Humanities Honors
Graduation Year:
Spring 2020
Zaria was the second-place winner of the 2019 Longhorn Research Poster Session, and is a 2019-2020 Undergraduate Research Ambassador and member of the Academy of Undergraduate Researchers Across Texas.

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Daina Ramey Berry
Name of project: ‘My Master Met Me at Every Turn’: Surveillance and Psychological Domination Within The Plantation Household

Please give a brief, simplified overview of your research project.
Through an analysis of slave narratives and planters’ journals, I argue that such relations within the plantation household (particularly between Black and White women) are important to understanding southern slaveholding society at large. In order to accomplish this, insights from surveillance studies, psychology, and history are blended to provide a deeper understanding of slavery and womanhood across colorlines.

Describe the tasks you engage in as part of your work.
Archive digging and reading secondary sources.

Describe what you thought college might be like before you came to UT. Did you consider research when thinking about college?
As a high school student, I wrote articles for The Odyssey and considered my writing process “research.” I didn’t venture into this form of formal research until sophomore year.

How did you get involved with your research project?
I decided to take an African American History course out of pure curiosity and found myself asking questions that historians had yet to consider. I am a psychology major and took that lens in with me and realized that an interdisciplinary connection between psychology and history could be beneficial.

Do you see your project connecting with your plans for your future?
I would like to carry this project over to my PhD!

What is the most interesting or surprising thing you’ve gotten to do for this project?
I went to Galveston, Texas with my thesis supervisor and found old city ordinances. That discovery led me to changing my research topic and asking different questions.

What advice would you give to a student who was thinking about research?
Keep asking questions and be open to change. Things that are considered common facts today are the result of questions that were asked in the past. Stay encouraged!