University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Faculty Fellows, Fall 2017

Colin Agur
Journalism and Mass Communication, CLA, Twin Cities

The unanticipated consequences of mobile networks

My principal aim is to prepare a book manuscript for submission to Oxford University Press. The book, tentatively titled The Dark Side of Mobile Networks, identifies and conceptualizes the unanticipated consequences (social, economic, and legal) of mass mobile phone usage around the world.

The book will examine the intended and unintended consequences that take place as networks grow and gain complexity. Drawing on my experience conducting fieldwork in India, my work gives special attention to developing countries and emphasizes informal connections and informal economics. I focus on users, by using ethnography, participant observation, and analysis of social media content. My goal is to understand how people use mobile devices and networks, and how these uses depart from expectations and previous social norms. By examining themes of vice, subversion, and challenges to authority, I show the ways that networks evolve beyond their original purpose and the control of their creators.

The book will explore two broad themes: Part I will focus on the ways mobile networks have become hosts for criminal activity. There will be five chapters, each examining a single topic: gambling, piracy, smuggling, drug trafficking, and corruption. Part II will explore the ways mobile phone networks have enabled new challenges to the existing social order. This part will also include five topical chapters, examining: dating & sex (including gender politics, sexting, revenge porn, and child pornography), political subversion (especially in authoritarian societies), vigilante activity, religious and anti-religious communication, and paparazzi and secret recording.

Juliana Hu Pegues
American Indian Studies, CLA, Twin Cities

Settler Time and Space:
Indigeneity, Race, and Gender in American Alaska

The book manuscript Settler Time and Space re-examines Alaska from US purchase through World War II, to critically understand how the American colonial project functioned through the contingent racialization and gendering of Native and Asian peoples. Settler Time and Space reevaluates the four historical periods of Alaskan purchase, the Gold Rush, industrialization, and World War II through an expansive archive of texts: government documents, newspapers, travelogues, literature, oral histories, interviews, and photography. This book project argues that ideas of failure and foreclosure fueled colonialism in Alaska. Asian migrants could be modern laboring subjects yet could not properly inhabit settler colonial space. The male population of Asian migrant workers provided necessary labor for the territory yet forestalled the futurity of a white settler state. They were materially expulsed or epistemologically rendered failed subjects. Alternately, Indigenous Alaskans were considered inhabitants of Alaskan space yet failed to be modern subjects, were seen as outside of settler colonial time. The violence required to occupy land already inhabited was not located within settler colonial ambitions but blamed on notions of primitive Native culture at odds with modernity. These two relational logics, of settler colonial time and space, worked in tandem to simultaneously conceal and authorize the land dispossession and labor exploitation essential to the settler colonial project. Accounting for the multivalent violence rendered by these disavowals, as well as possibilities for recognition and creative resistance, underscores the benefit to bringing indigeneity, race, and gender into sustained conversation.

William Jones
History, CLA, Twin Cities

Public Servants: How America Balanced its Budget on the Backs of Hospital Workers, Garbage Collectors, Janitors and Maids

The first broadly historical examination of low wage public employees between the 1930s and the 1980s, my study, “Public Servants: How America Balanced its Budget on the Backs of Hospital Workers, Garbage Collectors, Janitors and Maids” finds that government employment was a key site for the emergence of economic, race and gender inequalities that scholars would later associate with the shift from manufacturing to service-based economies in the United States and other wealthy nations in the late 20th century. Whereas previous scholars have attributed this “new inequality” to deindustrialization and welfare state retrenchment in the 1980s and 1990s, I trace it to a far longer history of exploitation and discrimination rooted in slavery and extending through the exclusion of public service workers from collective bargaining laws and other labor protections of the New Deal welfare regime.

Cristina Ortiz
Social Science, UM—Morris

Rural Latinidad: Identity and Belonging in the Heartland

Rural Latinidad (roughly, Latino-ness) draws on ethnographic research in two different rural communities to argue that belonging and identity are co-constructed in unique ways that re-shape identities in the rural context. Notions of familiarity and inclusion are negotiated in everyday interactions between individuals and within institutions that connect the local to the national or global such as public schools, churches, and the workplace. Latino is a pan-ethnic umbrella term that includes a variety of beliefs, practices, and experiences. While much is known about urban Latino life, little attention has focused on Latinos in the rural Midwest. These “new gateways” for immigration are characterized by their unique immigration histories, smaller populations, rural geography, and lack of institutional infrastructures capable of serving minority newcomers (Waters and Jiménez 2005: 117- 118). This book project presents ethnographic data to elucidate the social significance and everyday impacts of Latino (im)migration to rural communities. The struggles of both newcomers and long-time residents to define themselves, the community, and what it means to “belong” are experiences that, while uniquely negotiated at the local level, contain lessons about community building and implications for policymaking and public discourse on a variety of scales from the local to the transnational.

Lena Palacios
Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies, CLA, Twin Cities

Media Necropower and Race-radical Feminist Activism in Carceral, Settler States

This book manuscript examines media necropower in carceral, settler states and media justice activism led by Indigenous and race-radical feminists that resists necropolitical logics in Canada and the United States. Race-radical feminists are radical and revolutionary feminists who reject state-sanctioned liberal politics of respectability and recognition in favour of outlaw discourses that dismember dominant understanding of justice and value. A key movement that brings forth and forwards such outlaw discourses is the media-justice movement—couched within the North American-based liberation struggles waged by Indigenous and Black communities—which has always understood that media access without discursive power is a losing battle in the long-term war for Black liberation and Indigenous sovereignty. I develop the concept of “media necropower” to signal how particular news-media narratives of racialized gender crime and violence construct “respectable” white life in contrast to “degenerate” non-white lives. Indigenous and Black feminist media-justice activists aim to build social movements capable of challenging the roots of media necropower—namely, how the media collaborates with the carceral, settler state to co-create culture, representation, meaning, and structural, symbolic violence.

 I situate my research alongside critical prison studies; critical ethnic studies; Indigenous and Black feminist studies; and queer and trans of color critique that demand the abolition of white penal democracy and the creation of new forms of non-nation-state citizenship and non-nation-state sovereignty.

Katherine Scheil
English, CLA, Twin Cities

Shakespeare, Women Readers, and Biofiction

The field of biofiction, literary works based on historical figures, is one of the most vibrant areas of current literary study. For Shakespeare specifically, biofictions purport to offer possible explanations for some of the mysteries of his life story. Shakespeare’s wife Anne Hathaway has been an equally vibrant topic for biofiction, particularly for women and young adult readers, with an extensive online readership. By offering alternative narratives to the stories told in biographies, many of these fictional works about Shakespeare also challenge the hardened assumptions about his life, underlining the uncertainty of biographical narratives, and suggesting that there is another story to be told beyond the dominant history. Online reader forums contribute to the subversive potential of the fictional works about Shakespeare’s private life by engaging readers in the “what if” form of historical questioning, and destabilizing prevailing narratives about Shakespeare’s life. Online communities of women have been a particularly engaged group of readers who “talk back” to Shakespeare and engage in their own creation of his story. Despite the explosion of biofiction related to Shakespeare and his private life, no one has yet attempted an extended study of this topic, and what it might contribute to the work on discourses of cultural memory and value, and to the intersection of life-writing, gender, class, and socio-cultural context. My project focuses on the connections between Shakespeare, women readers, and biofiction, looking at what these works may reveal about readership, cultural memory, and historical circumstances

Faculty Fellows, Spring 2018

Sarah Chambers
History, CLA, Twin Cities

Émigrés and Citizens: Migrations and Identities between Empire and Nation in Spanish America

My project explores experiences of refugees within the Spanish empire and emerging nations in South America, during and after revolutionary upheavals from 1791 to 1825, in order to illuminate dynamics rooted in the past but still relevant today: global population displacement, emerging nationalisms, and the changing boundaries of belonging and citizenship. First, rather than focusing on case studies that take nations as already given, I holistically analyze the policies developed by the Spanish imperial government in response to the plight of its displaced subjects, as well as by the independent governments of Chile and Colombia as they took reprisals against royalists but also tried to incorporate people of diverse origins into their citizenry. Second, I explore how population movements put into flux the very identities of both émigrés and people who stayed put. Such conceptions of self and other were complex and contingent: a person born in the colonies could identify as a loyal Spaniard but be viewed as a foreigner when seeking refuge in Spanish Cuba. I seek conversations with scholars at the IAS who will help me challenge common categories and assumptions in order radically re-envision as contingent and fluid histories usually told as teleological national origin stories.

Jessica Clarke
Law, Law School, Twin Cities

Sexual Exceptionalism

The idea that sexual injuries register on a different level than other types of injuries runs throughout the law. Sometimes, sexual injuries do not register at all. Consider the lack of attention to sexual violence when its perpetrators are powerful and victims are powerless. In other instances, sexual injuries are the source of heightened attention, even moral panic. For example, the law imposes unique penalties, such as registration requirements, for sex offenses that do not apply to other types of criminal offenses. Many legal doctrines penalize certain types of harmful conduct, while carving out sexual variants of that conduct for special treatment, in deviation from the legal norm. What is behind this legal impulse to treat sexual harms as exceptional? What has been its impact? This interdisciplinary project will draw on the University’s expertise to excavate and scrutinize the philosophical, scientific, and political arguments for treating sexual harms as exceptional. This inquiry has implications for many legal issues, including whether universities should handle allegations of sexual and nonsexual forms of misconduct with different procedures, whether human trafficking should be framed as primarily a problem of coercive labor or of prostitution, and how the law should address sexual privacy violations.

Sairaj Dhople
Electrical and Computer Engineering, Twin Cities

Realizing a Distributed and Sustainable Electrical Infrastructure

Next-generation power systems are expected to draw from sustainable resources of energy and acknowledge distributed decision making at time scales ranging from long-term planning to real- time control. To achieve this vision, technical advances in this arena have to be harmonious with a variety of social, economic, environmental, and geopolitical factors. This project examines game-changing energy technologies in the United States, urban India, and Sub-Saharan Africa. With these assumed to be a microcosm of the global energy landscape, the research agenda seeks the engagement of stakeholders from disciplines such as applied economics, political science, and public policy, to explore how: i) architectural and algorithmic advances can be engineered to have broad- based appeal, ii) sustainable technologies can be more seamlessly integrated, and iii) distributed decision making in local communities can be encouraged.

Andrew Gallia
History, CLA, Duluth

The Politics of Rudeness in Roman Culture

For a civilization that placed so much emphasis on social status and decorum, Rome’s public discourse was characterized by a remarkable amount of rudeness. Orators employed vicious invective to tear down their opponents. Poets assaulted the powerful– and one another–with lewd insinuations and outright abuse. Philosophers sought to rouse students out of their complacency through jarring diatribes. My project investigates these and other forms of rude discourse as manifestations of the unequal distribution of power in Roman society. Insofar as standards of politeness only matter when someone with authority decides that they have been breached, my study focuses less on the rules of the game and more on how it played out in particular situations. This means giving equal attention to both the taking and the giving of offence, which together constituted two sides of a complex status negotiation over who had the power to decide what was (and was not) permissible to say. As I intend to demonstrate, this distinctively Roman history provides new insight into the issues at the heart of contemporary debates about free speech, inequality, and privilege.

Tasoulla Hadjiyanni
Design, Housing, and Apparel, CDes, Twin Cities

Space and the production of culture, identity, and home – Defining Oikophilia

In domestic environments, meaning-making has long been linked to material culture—ranging from an owner’s attachment to a home’s spatiality to personal possessions that express who we are and who we hope to become. Understanding how people, practice, space, and objects shape connections and the obstacles people face has interdisciplinary implications for scholars and educators from fields such as design, anthropology, geography, and ethnic/gender studies. This is particularly the case for understudied and underserved populations where knowledge of homemaking processes is limited. The IAS Fellowship will support the writing of a book that fills this gap in the literature: “Space and the production of culture, identity, and home – Defining Oikophilia,” commissioned by Palgrave McMillan for 2019. The book uses stories from in-home interviews with members of five cultural groups (Hmong, Somali, Mexicans, Ojibwe, and African-Americans). Its interdisciplinary inquiry into how space intersects with factors such as race, gender, citizenship, religion, and ethnicity to complicate meaning-making processes expands understandings of how inequality is produced. Engaging and intellectual dialogues with IAS Fellows that delve deeper into how design elements such as walls, floors, windows, and storage spaces can be tied to diverse theories and methodologies can inform the book’s approach, dissipate disciplinary boundaries, and uncover new questions and paradigms of thought.

Catherine Squires
Communication Studies, CLA, Twin Cities

Creating Intentional Community-Engaged Learning Spaces at Gordon Parks High School

At least two decades of robust research confirm that developing culturally resonant, relevant curricula is crucial for students of color, whose interactions with the dominant curriculum often leaves them alienated. Students of color—at all levels of education—often struggle to reconcile their lived experiences of race/ethnicity with the absence of racial and ethnicspecific curricula. Since 2008, my partners and I have directed curriculum and media arts programs that provide Gordon Parks High School (GPHS) students with community connections and media trainings that link them to local colleges, arts resources, and social justice causes. We focus on closing gaps between students, schools, and communities to generate hands-on learning experiences that build relationships that have been neglected by traditional school structures, and damaged by racial and ethnic disparities. At IAS, I will begin coding and analyzing the multifaceted, rich data I have gathered from over seven years of community engaged curriculum work at GPHS. Interaction and conversation with a cohort of scholars will provide insights as I cycle through the data. Using these insights, I will begin outlining articles for (1) scholarly audiences and (2) for educators seeking practical ways to infuse their school’s curriculum with media-enriched civic learning.

Interdisciplinary Doctoral Graduate Fellows, 2017-18

Aaron Eddens
American Studies, CLA, Twin Cities

“Climate-Smart” Seeds: Science, Property, and the Changing Landscape of International Agriculture

This dissertation conducts in-depth case studies of two contemporary agricultural development projects, “Drought-tolerant maize for Africa” (DTMA) and “Water Efficient Maize for Africa” (WEMA). As public-private partnerships involving some of the biggest players in international agribusiness and development, the projects demonstrate key shifts in the policy landscape of agricultural science. Using methodological and conceptual tools from science and technology studies, history, sociology, and geography, I analyze how DTMA and WEMA both shape and reflect new relations of science and property. This study contributes to ongoing political and ethical debates around the intersection of climate change and hunger.

Jennifer Hughes
Anthropology, CLA, Twin Cities

Viking Futures: Storytelling, Crisis and the (un)Translatability of the Icelandic Model

Stories of rapid growth and political restructuring since Iceland’s unprecedented bankruptcy led scholars and policy-makers to frame Icelandic identity as template for the future of democracy and capitalism. However, government and financial sectors remain dependent upon existing strategies, parties, and risky practices that led to financial crisis in 2008. Through ethnographic research and video-documentary, my dissertation project traced storytelling surrounding government and financial practices to examine how Icelanders explore the translatability of Icelandic cultural-linguistic concepts of value to other economies. Do local Icelandic cultural and linguistic storytelling practices impact global economic futures?

David Lemke
English, CLA, Twin Cities

Imagining Reparations:
African-American Utopianism and Visions for A Just Society

Considering the pervasive nature of racial inequality in the United States there is an urgent need to study how to undo the damage caused by centuries of slavery and discrimination. My dissertation will explore proposals for reparations made in African American literature and argue that these texts are rich sources of utopian thinking on racial justice. By combining literary study with economic sociology, my project will argue that the fight against racial inequality must combine the imaginative power of literature with the critical conceptions of economics offered by sociologists and anthropologists.

Sami Poindexter
Feminist Studies, CLA, Twin Cities

Blueberries and Bruselas: Stories of Gender, Race, Food, and Agriculture in Ejido Erendira

The rapid expansion of our global food system has altered the livelihoods of farming communities and their relationships to the land and to each other. As such, it is imperative that we question both how these transformations (re)produce certain subjects as well as engage in an analysis of how the gendering and racializing of bodies is intimately linked to practices of globalized agriculture. Using oral histories of Ejido Erendira, Mexico I explore how such processes are materialized on a micro level. In playing with the concept of scale in a frequently macrofocused field, I offer a nuanced approach to the global food economy.

Sarah Saddler
Theater Arts and Dance, CLA, Twin Cities

Think Differently: Get Creative:
Theatre-Based Corporate Training in India

In India’s developing global cities, multinational corporations implement theatre-based training programs that are designed to inspire employees to be more dynamic, productive, and self-managed at work. Emerging from my experience facilitating, observing, and acting in theatre-based corporate trainings throughout India since 2012, my dissertation examines how performance training practices illuminate how within India, a previously colonized nation undergoing economic restructuring, theatre techniques are being utilized in the social transformation of a new ‘global’ workforce and fashioning novel regimes of work, culture, and identity under late capitalism.

Madison Van Oort
Sociology, CLA, Twin Cities

Big Data and Fast Fashion:
Workplace Monitoring in the World’s Top Retailers

In recent years, the fast fashion industry has harnessed Big Data to dramatically streamline in-store operations: eliminating overstaffing, boosting productivity, and more precisely meeting store demands by collecting and analyzing vast amounts of quantitative and biometric data related to employee performance. With the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowship, I will significantly enrich my sociological study—one of the first in the fast fashion industry—by collaborating with informatics expert Dr. Claudia Neuhauser of the Institute for Advanced Study to consider the profound and potentially harmful implications of 21st century data-based workplace management for front-line retail workers.

Community of Scholars Program Fellow, Fall 2017

Amber Annis
American Studies, CLA, Twin Cities

“The use of your reservation is important:”:
The Militarization and Exploitation of Lakota Resources of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe

My dissertation project is an examination of the militarization of reservation land, the appropriation of water, and the exploitation of tribal sovereignty of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. I argue that acquisition of the tribe’s resources for a military gunnery range and for a national damming project was fundamental to U.S. nation-building between the end of WWII and through the Cold War. I employ an extensive use of archival and government records, ethnographic research, as well as oral histories, to tell a story of nationhood, land exploitation, sovereignty, and memory of my community on the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation. The continued use of Lakota people’s resources, specifically land and water, on Cheyenne River greatly influenced the development of the United States as a major player in the larger world. Yet, scholarship on public and foreign diplomacy has erased these histories of exploitation and disregard for sovereignty. This erasure devastatingly perpetuates the misconception that Indigenous Studies is not central to postwar studies.