Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Heather Ferguson

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In my senior thesis, I explore the social, political, and cultural effects and consequences of forced isolation. Forced isolation is a strategy adopted by governments in order to deal with a range of issues in contemporary history, often resulting in exclusionary practices, the redefinition or assertion of national sovereignty and nation-state boundaries, contagion, detention, and imprisonment. As a consequence of these varied processes and actions, when an individual or a social group is forced into an isolated space and ostracized from society, they are cast out of routine socialization, and the effects of this can endure even if a return to normalcy is possible. The COVID-19 pandemic has definitively shaped my own understanding of forced isolation. During my 18 months in isolation, I helped preserve the experiences of the CMC community through the COVID-19 pandemic by working on COVID19@CMC, an oral history project aimed at documenting the isolation of the Claremont McKenna College community. The stories and lived experiences of college students, professors, and staff members are captured through oral tradition, which effectively encapsulates the broad range of emotions that people felt in isolation. Through my participation in COVID19@CMC, I was inspired to look at other historical instances of forced isolation. This thesis represents my effort to look at past events with new eyes, and explores what it means to be human in the midst of crisis.