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Simpson Center for the Humanities

2012-2013 Society of Scholars

2012-2013 Society of Scholars


George Behlmer

Professor, History

The Queen's Cannibals: Savagery and Colonialism in the Western Pacific

The Queen's Cannibals examines the suppression of various "savage practices"—particularly cannibalism, headhunting, and infanticide—among the indigenous peoples of what today is called Melanesia. This project analyzes how Oceanic cultures both resisted and adapted to Britain's penetration of their island worlds.

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Stephanie Camp

Associate Professor, History

Black Beauty: An American History

Black Beauty: An American History explores the history of the idea of black physical beauty from the era of the slave trade to Michelle Obama. It traces how the invention and, over time, the revision of the idea of race changed English and white American perceptions of African and black bodies from early modern travel encounters in Africa to the nineteenth century, when scientistic conceptions of human difference gained the status of common sense. Black Beauty then charts changes in debates among black Americans and what makes a body beauty and in what ways (or if) black people qualified. Above all, black debates about physical beauty argued about how black appearances mattered. Popularized in the 1960s and 1970s, the assertion of "black is beautiful" has a deep and highly contested history.

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Annie Dwyer

Dissertator, English

The Modern Animal

The Modern Animal maps transformations in human-animal relations as well as concomitant shifts in the cultural meanings of animality in the trans-Atlantic world from the late nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries. In so doing, it argues that rapidly shifting constructions of “the animal” were intimately bound up with the changing shape of U.S. racial formation from Reconstruction through to the emergence of the long Civil Rights era.

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Benjamin Gardner

Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Bothell

Tanzania Without Maasai

Tourism and the Cultural Politics of the Global Land Grab is an ethnographic study of tourism, development, and land struggles in Tanzania. The book raises critical questions about the politics of representation, commodification, and privatization that typify contemporary global capitalism. Who gets to represent the meanings and values associated with transnational exchanges and how do those function simultaneously as sites of exploitation and opportunities to challenge powerful actors and institutions?

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Gillian Harkins

Associate Professor, English

Screening Pedophilia: Virtuality and Other Crimes Against Nature

Screening Pedophilia: Virtuality and Other Crimes Against Nature traces the emergence of the pedophile as a screen image across what Henry Luce called the American century, 1898 – 2008. Through readings of diverse print, film and digital media, this book explores how visual formations of the white pedophile helped “naturalize” state activity during the century of U.S. aspirations to global hegemony.

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Celia Lowe

Associate Professor, Anthropology

Viral Clouds

Viral Clouds is an ethnography of a virus that explores the infectious particles, uncertain ontologies, multiplying narratives, and apocalyptic dreams surrounding the H5N1 avian influenza outbreak in Indonesia in the first decade of the 21st century. Based upon research in Indonesian and international worlds of microbiology, security, agriculture, and popular culture, the project examines how contagious viral agents infected a multitude of living beings—domestic poultry, humans, wild birds, and other creatures—at the same time as millions of Indonesian citizens and scores of organizations were scripted into international concerns about global health, biosecurity, and pandemic preparedness.

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Louisa Mackenzie

Associate Professor, French & Italian Studies

Queer Bodies of Knowledge: Early Modern Animals and the Problem of Being Human

This project allies queer theory, Animal Studies, Bruno Latour's actor network theory, and early modern intellectual history to analyse the fluidity of the human-animal boundary in sixteenth-century France. It will reveal animals to be "actors" in epistemological networks that produced intense uncertainty about the limits and definitions of humanity itself.

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Suhanthie Motha

Assistant Professor, English

Race, Empire, and the Teaching of English

Race, Empire, and the Teaching of English examines the embeddedness of ideologies of racial hierarchy and empire within the spread of the English language, both historically through colonization and contemporarily through its more current manifestations. This work explores the relationships among the theoretical and disciplinary terrain of English language teaching, the racialization of the English language, the contested nature of ownership of and access to English, and the perpetuation of global racial and economic inequalities.

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LeiLani Nishime

Assistant Professor, Communication

"People Won't Know What You Are": Multiracial Asian Americans and Visual Culture

This project intervenes in the dominant U.S. cultural narrative of multiracial people as prime examples of the declining significance of race. A comparison of contemporary visual culture representations which minimize or eleminate multiracial Asian people from the field of vision to ones which explicitly and centrally feature them demonstrates the vital ways in which critical multiracial studies provides an opportunity to return to race in a new way and make visible the complex ideologies that naturalize racial categories.

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Maria Quintana

Dissertator, History

"Be Our Guests": Making Meaning out of Race, Labor and Empire during the U.S. Emergency Labor Programs of WWII

This dissertation investigates the cultural meanings, symbolic practices, and narratives that state officials and growers, as well as migrant contract workers from Mexico and the Caribbean, constructed about the Emergency Farm Labor Supply Programs of WWII. The goal of this project is to demonstrate how concepts such as “soldiers in the field” and “guestworkers,” as well as a language of binational agreements, fair wages, and individual labor contracts obscure the violently coercive nature of the programs, enabling a rearticulation of earlier forms of U.S. liberal imperial subjugation.

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Christina Sunardi

Assistant Professor, Ethnomusicology

Stunning Males and Powerful Females: Negotiating Gender and Tradition through East Javanese Dance

This book project explores cultural approaches to gender in east Java, Indonesia. The central argument is that as performers negotiate tradition, they negotiate culturally constructed boundaries of maleness and femaleness--sometimes reinforcing these boundaries, sometimes transgressing them, sometimes doing both simultaneously—and in effect, rearticulate pre-existing gender norms in their own ways.

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Anjali Vats

Dissertator, Communication

Properties of Difference: Negotiations of Race, Gender, and Coloniality in Copyright, Trademarks, and Patents

Properties of Difference is concerned with the myriad ways in which intellectual property rights work rhetorically and performatively to produce and restructure identity around axes of difference. It explores the operation of copyrights, trademarks, and patents as powerful persuasive and interpellative forces which function productively to define and resist categories of “normal” and “deviant,” especially with respect to race, gender, sexuality, and coloniality.

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