Center for Conflict Studies Knowledge as Action, Action as Change

Research Fellows

Meet our current and past research fellows. Explore their work on topics such as women gang membership in California and the transformative power of art in Mozambique.

Current Fellow

Julie Reynolds

Julie Reynolds

Julie Reynolds reports on criminal justice and youth violence at the Monterey County Herald. Her writing has been published or broadcast in The Nation,, the San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, PBS and other outlets. Recently, she was a Three Strikes Reporting Fellow for John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. Her reporting on that topic earned the PASS Award from the National Center on Crime and Delinquency. Reynolds co-wrote and co-produced the PBS documentary Nuestra Familia, Our Family, which among other awards earned Investigative Reporters and Editors’ highest honor, the Tom Renner Medal for Reporting on Organized Crime. She was editor of the national Latino literary magazine El Andar from 1998 to 2002 and is currently completing a literary nonfiction book about rural California gangs.

Women, Girls and Gangs: Case Studies from California’s Central Coast

Julie Reynolds’s research centers on women and girls who live in and around criminal street and prison gangs in agricultural Northern California. In the city of Salinas, women have for more than four decades been closely involved with gangs and gang members, yet their lives are rarely studied. Julie’s impressions and experience as a reporter covering the Nuestra Familia gang for a decade lead her to believe that even when women are not officially recognized “members” of a gang, they often play risky and essential supporting roles as girlfriends, wives and family members.

This research will further understanding on women’s reasons for getting involved, the costs or benefits that gang life both promises and actually delivers, and for older women, what insights aging has brought them years after they became involved in what are essentially violent organizations of young males.

Research will explore topics such as child rearing and family relationships in the gang environment, incarceration and other risks for women, and for those wishing to leave the life, their successes or failures in staying out given the close-knit, family-oriented structures of California’s Latino gangs.

For this work, Julie will interview women and girls from the Salinas area, and also hopes to study initial findings from one of the few broad research studies of more than 100 women and girls in gangs that is currently being undertaken by Dr. Angie Wolf of the National Center on Crime and Delinquency.

Past Fellow

Amy Schwartzott

Amy Schwartzott

Amy Schwartzott is a PhD candidate in African art history at the University of Florida where she holds an Alumni Fellowship. She received her bachelor's degree from Drew University and her master's degree from the University at Buffalo. Amy’s dissertation investigates the diverse materiality and meaning of recyclia used by contemporary urban Mozambican artists. She particularly focuses on artists involved with the Transforming Arms into Plowshares/Transformação de Armas em Enxadas (TAE) project, an artists’ group who transform decommissioned weapons from Mozambican wars into art. Amy is currently completing a year of Fulbright-Hays funded research in Mozambique.

Tranforming Arms into Art in Mozambique

Amy Schwartzott’s research focuses on the efforts of two groups who are promoting peacekeeping in Mozambique, the Transforming Arms into Plowshares/Transformação de Armas em Enxadas (TAE) project, and FOMICRES (Mozambican Force for Crime Investigation and Social Reinsertion). Both of these groups’ goals include collecting, destroying, and transforming weapons of war into art. TAE and FOMICRES strive not only to eradicate weapons from Mozambique, but to engage in civic education and community awareness projects to promote peace.

Amy’s research aims to fully contextualize these projects, including direct and participant observation and interviews with "informants" who hand over weapons to the organizations, some of whom are former child soldiers; individuals who collect and destroy the weapons; artists who turn the destroyed weapons into powerful art forms; and patrons and sponsors of these organizations. Amy’s research on TAE and FOMICRES utilizes recycling as a framework for artistic production, and art as a medium for post-conflict resolution.