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Simpson Center for the Humanities

2015-2016 Society of Scholars

  • Luther Adams (Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Tacoma)
  • Christian Anderson (Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Bothell)
  • Eva Cherniavsky (English)
  • Danny Hoffman (Anthropology)
  • José Antonio Lucero (Jackson School of International Studies)
  • Arzoo Osanloo (Law, Societies, & Justice Program)
  • Yolanda Padilla (Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Bothell)
  • Maya Smith (French & Italian Studies)
  • Geoffrey Turnovsky (French & Italian Studies)
  • Ellwood Wiggins (Germanics)
  • Ryan Archibald (History)
  • Eleanor Mahoney (History)
  • Shuxuan Zhou (Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies)

Luther Adams (Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences – UW Tacoma)

Black and Blue: End Police Brutality

Black and Blue: End Police Brutality is a history of African American’s struggles with and against police brutality in the United States. The struggle to end police brutality, and the social and economic order police brutality maintained, lay at the core of African Americans' efforts to make freedom and equality real.

Christian Anderson (Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences – UW Bothell)

West Side Stories

West Side Stories is an ethnographic study of everyday life and the production of urban space on a single street in New York City. The book examines the unstable and often contradictory relationship between everyday, lived activities in place and the productions of space and processes of urban capital accumulation which are contingent on these lived activities. 

Ryan Archibald (Doctoral Candidate, History)

Traveling Dissent: Activists, Borders, and the U.S. Cold War National Security State

This dissertation explores the meanings attached to borders, mobility, and state security during the cold war.  In addition to understanding how the U.S. security state understood particular types of movement as subversive, transgressive, and racialized, it also excavates how activists contested these representations and constructed alternative understandings of mobility, borders, and state power. 

Eva Cherniavsky (Professor, English)

The Afterlives of Political Reason: Mania and Popular Culture

This project concerns an affective register at once remarkably prevalent in the 21st-century U.S. culture and remarkably neglected within an otherwise vibrant scholarly conversation on contemporary affects:  that is, mania. I am interested in the ascendance of the manic subject in the arena of national politics and in genres of mass-mediated popular culture, especially in the (multi-mediated) figures of the vampire and the zombie, whose manic energies appear at once and irreducibly transformative and ruinous for political life. 

Danny Hoffman (Associate Professor, Anthropology)

Monrovia Modern: Portraits of an African Urban Landscape

Monrovia Modern is a story told largely through four ruined buildings in the capital of Liberia. As this post-war West African city struggles to reconfigure and re-imagine itself, its citizens must contend with the fragmented histories, aspirations, and material infrastructure represented by spaces like these. 

José Antonio Lucero (Associate Professor, Jackson School of International Studies)

Reel Politics: Film, Indigeneity, and Resource Conflicts in South America (Tentative Title)

This project explores a set of films as both an archive and site of Indigenous politics during a critical juncture in Indigenous peoples politics in Abya Yala (Latin America).  Through ethnographic and archival research, and employing what Native Studies scholar Chadwick Allen terms “purposeful juxtapositions,” I suggest that film and social movement struggles can be understood within the same analytic frame, through which one can see how art and politics provide the conditions of possibility for each other. 

Eleanor Mahoney (Doctoral Candidate, History)

Islands of America: Capital and Landscape in the Late Twentieth-Century United States

This dissertation examines the emergence of new forms of landscape preservation in the late twentieth-century United States, with a focus on the period stretching from the Great Society to the election of Ronald Reagan. It argues that increasingly rapid and volatile fluctuations in production and consumption patterns influenced the designation and management of parks and protected areas, with a noticeable surge in innovative conservation projects centered in regions most impacted by the nation’s altered political economy. 

Arzoo Osanloo (Associate Professor, Law, Societies, & Justice Program)

When Mercy Becomes Law: Finding Forgiveness in Iranian Criminal Sanctioning

The Iranian system of criminal sanctioning is notoriously harsh. Amnesty International notes that Iran has the world’s highest rate of capital punishment per capita. After the 1979 revolution, Iran’s religious leaders rewrote the laws to conform with Islamic principles as they saw them. Major revisions to the criminal laws reinstituted particularly severe retributive sanctioning, but also codified the possibility of the plaintiff’s forbearance derived from the Muslim mandate of mercy and compassion. One element of the system of criminal sanctioning that is little known and under-studied is that in homicide, and numerous other crimes, retribution is literally the right of the victims. That is, victims, as plaintiffs in criminal cases, can demand that the state carry out retributive sanctioning or forgo it and forgive their perpetrators. The criminal codes recognize forbearance as a right as much as they do retribution. This proposal seeks participation in the Society of Scholars in order to complete a book manuscript that examines the victim-centered approach to Iranian criminal sanctioning through an ethnographic study that focuses on who, how, and why people forgive when the law gives them the right to pursue retribution. 

Yolanda Padilla (Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences - UW Bothell)

Revolutionary Subjects: The Mexican Revolution and the Transnational Emergence of Mexican American Literature and Culture, 1910-1959

Revolutionary Subjects considers critical developments in American and Latin American studies through a literary-historical study of Mexican American engagements with the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920). Examining a range of recently recovered literary texts, Spanish-language newspapers, and archival materials, the book traces how the Revolution's literary, political, and social legacies unfolded in Mexican American culture, foregrounding Mexico's role in the story of Mexican Americans, indexing the active presence of Mexican politics and culture north of the border, and elucidating the place of Mexican Americans at the center of issues encompassing ethnic, national, and transnational concerns. 

Maya Smith (Assistant Professor, French & Italian Studies)

Language Use and Identity Formation Among Senegalese Immigrants in Paris, Rome, and NYC

This book project explores language use, language acquisition, and identity formation among Senegalese immigrants in three major cities: Paris, Rome, and New York City. Whereas previous research in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition has focused on the relationship between identity and language use in single sites, this qualitative study takes a novel approach in comparing how immigrants from one country learn and use language in three different settings. 

Geoffrey Turnovsky (Associate Professor, French & Italian Studies)

Books of Uplift: Social, Commercial and Typographic Underpinnings of Reading in a Modern Age

My project develops a history of reading in 17th and 18th-century France and Europe in light of a tension integral to reading in the modern era. With expanded access to texts, reading acquired value as an edifying, spiritually-elevating experience tied to articulations of authentic selfhood. Yet this model developed in a context that also shaped reading as a socially- and market-mediated activity, defined by the book trade and typographic standardization, by growth in literacy and social mobility. Books of Uplift argues that these technological and socio-economic effects, if not normally linked with ideals of morally uplifting reading, were in fact essential to new patterns of legibility on which a modern “ethics of reading” could be built. Case studies include readers of devotional books, galant writing, the novel, along with other texts shaped by the juxtaposition of bestselling commerce and spiritualism. 

Ellwood Wiggins (Assistant Professor, Germanics)

Strange Pity: Philoctetes and the Structure of Sympathy from the Trojan to the Iraq Wars

This book undertakes a literary and philosophical analysis of compassion by investigating the reception of the Philoctetes myth, which I argue should be read as a primal scene of pity, in texts and performances from antiquity to the present day. The myth, even in its variations, provides a kind of constant against which cultural, linguistic, and conceptual differences reveal themselves so that the complex history of the functions of sympathy comes into sharper relief in five important junctions: Classical Greece; the European Enlightenment; the Cold War of the 1960s; the AIDS Epidemic of the 1990s; and PTSD therapy in the wake of the Iraq War in the new millennium. 

Shuxuan Zhou (Doctoral Candidate; Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies)

The Gendered Landscape of Chinese Enterprise Restructuring: Forestry Workers’ Labor, Resistance, and Narrative, 1950s-2010s

This dissertation focuses on former state-owned enterprise (SOE) forestry workers in Fujian’s SW County, and answers two research questions: 1) How have workers’ experiences in their former SOE work units influenced their work choices, living situations, and resistance during and after enterprise privatization, a localized national policy, in 2000? 2) How do men and women from two generations remember, organize, and perform their “labor and lay-off stories” in life history narratives and protest actions? My research asks how labor has always and yet differently been gendered before, during, and after Chinese enterprise reform, and analyzes how gendered labor and gendered narratives of labor have stimulated resistance and been performed in workers’ protests.