2011 - 2012 CRG Forum Series
Bios reflect speakers' status at the time of their presentation at the Center for Race and Gender.
Bios reflect speakers' status at the time of their presentation at the Center for Race and Gender.
04.12.2012 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM | 691 Barrows Hall
The Third World Liberation Front at UC Berkeley 1969: A Counter-Hegemonic Struggle for Radical Pedagogy & Revolutionary Curriculum
Ziza Delgado, Ethnic Studies
This presentation will discuss the struggle for Ethnic Studies at UCB via the Third World Liberation Front (TWLF), as a counter-hegemonic project within the Euro-centric patriarchal university. First, it will outline some of the dominant hegemonic values in institutions of higher education in 1969, to contextualize why the TWLF can be considered counter-hegemonic. Second, it will engage with the revolutionary atmosphere that permeated the bay area in 1969, such as the flood of revolutionary literature from abroad on college campuses, and increased visibility of domestic radical activism. Lastly, this presentation will put forth the question “Is it possible to establish a decolonial academic intellectual space within a Eurocentric University? Or is this relationship between radical students of color and UCB inherently antagonistic?”
Curricular Objects: “Women of Color,” Feminist Anti-Racisms, and the Consolidation of Women’s Studies
Dr. Nick Mitchell, UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow, African American Studies
As a preliminary investigation for my current manuscript project,Disciplinary Matters: Black Studies, Women’s Studies and the Neoliberal University, this paper offers a genealogy of the category “women of color” as a way of thinking the institutional relationship between black studies and women’s studies that emerged in the 1970s. Drawing a (provisional) distinction between, on one hand, the category’s use for political organizing and coalition building, and, on the other, its uses in naming and consolidating a body of knowledge for academic institutions, I argue that attention to “women of color” as, in part, the outcome of institutional machinations can allow us to see processes often obscured when the self-consciously political connotations of the term are emphasized.
By 1981, the year of the publication of Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa’s now classic anthology, This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (hereafter Bridge), and the year of the National Women’s Studies Association’s “Women Respond to Racism” conference, “women of color” was already bound up with the ways in which women’s studies imagined its own progress. As Bridge announces the emergence of “women of color” as a political collectivity through (among many other strategies), a multi-tiered and many-voiced critique of white feminist racism, its publication also marks the emergence of another, equally complicated discourse—feminist anti-racism. This form of anti-racism is defined, on one hand, by (white) feminism’s commitment to generating its anti-oppression discourse generically, and, on the other, by (white) women’s studies’ institutional power to generate a diversity discourse that other racially marked fields could not. Mediated by diversity discourse, feminist anti-racism produces racial difference as a kind of institutional capital; as, in other words, an object that can be trafficked in the absence of the very political commitments that brought it into being. Thinking about the institutional emergence of “women of color” in this regard—as a category with no guaranteed relationship to the political desires that gave it its origin—this paper attempts to reopen questions about the relationship between university-sanctioned knowledges and the political.
04.05.2012 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM | 691 Barrows Hall
Join CRG for our annual forum on emerging research by UC Berkeley undergraduate student grant recipients. Facilitated by Prof. Keith Feldman, Ethnic Studies
“AzNpRyDE”: Pan-Asianism and Youth Culture in an Age of Cyberspace
Son Chau, Ethnic Studies & American Studies
Throughout the ’90s and early 2000s, the earlier days of the Internet served as an alternative space in which the first “digitized generation” of Asian Pacific American youths, predominantly pre-teen and teenagers, created, disseminated, and consumed a youth subculture popularly known as AzN PryDe (read: Asian Pride). Pan-Asianism and pride in one’s respective ethnic identity were underlining themes in the aesthetics of this virtual renaissance of visual and musical production. For those who took part or were aware of this “prolonged download of megabytes,” a home-recorded, widely-shared hip hop mp3 called Got Rice?—its verses militantly rhymed over the instrumental of the late 2Pac’s Changes (1998)— well characterizes the transnational and diasporic nature of Asian Pride. This subculture, filled with numerous contradictions, promoted a reconnection to one’s roots while simultaneously offering an avenue toward assimilation.
On and off school campuses, Asian Pride also contributed to compounding racial tensions and gang violence in the midst of de-industrialization, global restructuring, and the rise of information capitalism. In this same period popularized by Black cultural politics and other identity politics enmeshed in hip hop like gangsta rap, Asian Pride precisely mirrors the ways in which Asian Pacific Americans sought a distinct identity between Black and white, the virtual world and the real world. As young people are at the forefront of today’s techno-social upheavals, questions such as race, representation, nation, authenticity, and home are validly addressed on and off-line in a subculture like Asian Pride.
The Changing Face of Labor: Immigrant Women, Domestic Work and Labor Unions in California in the 21st Century
Sarah Leadem, Ethnic Studies
The nannies, housecleaners, and direct-care attendants that comprise the domestic work sector labor in the shadows of the American economy. Domestic workers are majority working-class immigrant women and women of color that number nearly 2.5 million in the United States and 200,000 in California alone. Yet domestic workers have historically been excluded from protection under major federal and state labor laws and have often been deemed “unorganizable” by the traditional trade union movement. In the fall of 2010, a coalition of domestic worker organizations from across California, along with partners within major labor unions, launched a legislative campaign for the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights to bring dignity, respect, and basic labor standards to domestic workers in California.
My research focuses on this campaign for the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights as a case study with which to examine the complex and evolving relationship between domestic worker organizing and traditional trade unionism. I take as my guiding question: What does the future of the U.S. labor movement look like and what will its relationship be to historically excluded workers and to domestic worker organizing as a social movement? My research engages a combined methodology that unifies critical engagement with existing scholarship and original interviews with organizers and workers from domestic worker organizations and labor unions throughout California. With this research, I seek to insert my voice into the existing academic and political discourse around the “new” labor movement and to critically analyze the potential future of a labor movement that unifies domestic worker labor organizing and formal labor unions. As domestic worker organizing coalesces into a powerful national social movement and the voices of working-class immigrant women and women of color demand an audience from the traditional U.S. labor movement, this research becomes ever more salient.
Civic and Political Engagement of Chinese Americans in Ethnic Suburbs
Sophia Wang , Sociology & Political Science
This study seeks to understand Chinese American identity, community, and civic engagement in California through the emphasis of three factors: individual Chinese-American experiences, the suburban context, and non-electoral political expression. There are many different faces of Chinese Americans in California, and each perspective tells a unique story. My interviews reflect the diversity and complexity of Chinese-American experiences. Research subjects range from recent immigrants to American-born Chinese, elected officials, Taiwanese, Cantonese, and more, but what they share in common is that they are all suburban residents. Past generations of Chinese Americans congregated in urban Chinatowns, but recently more and more Chinese are choosing to live in the suburbs. Many of these suburban neighborhoods are so concentrated with Chinese or Asians that they are ethnic suburbs. Through my research and interviews, I want to understand how the suburban context influences the way Chinese Americans perceive and interact with each other. Finally, this project seeks to highlight the salience of non-electoral political participation. Voter registration and turnout rates are the easiest and more commonly measured representations of political participation, but it only provides a limited view of civic behavior and interest. Non-electoral forms of civic engagement and community involvement are just as significant and are fundamental to societal integration. In-depth interviews, instead of surveys, will allow me to better understand Chinese Americans’ motivations for being involved and methods for expressing their values within their community. Ultimately, I hope my research will help to mobilize Chinese Americans and better represent their interests for the future.
Iraqi Refugees, Islamophobia, and “Mexicanization”
Maia Wolins, Middle Eastern Studies
Significant numbers of Iraqi refugees and American Iraq veterans have resettled in California after the 2003 war. My thesis is an ethnographic study of the war’s effects on American veterans as they develop their professional careers, as well as the influence of the war on Iraqi refugees in the United States who seek to reestablish themselves as professionals. This paper focuses on how racial relations influence the professionalization of Iraqi refugees living, working, and studying in California. I adapt Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of symbolic capital and symbolic violence to consider how a gendered Islamophobia operates in a preexisting field of “Mexican” racialization. Symbolic capital is the accumulation of status-based resources in a field of power relations, whereas symbolic violence is the misrecognition and assumptions exerted upon another through embodied politics of social agency. Since Iraqi refugees in the U.S. are uniquely situated to gain professional symbolic capital that translates into economic wealth, my findings suggest that these refugees are able to challenge gendered Islamophobia. Still, their professional development is limited by the symbolic violence of racial stereotyping that, ironically, has little to do with Iraq or the War.
03.22.2012 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM | 691 Barrows Hall
Presented at the CRG Thursday Forum, Feminism, Family, and Confucianism in Asian America, March 10, 2012
Family Sacrifices: Chinese American Neo-Confucianism
Prof. Russell Jeung, San Francisco State University
This paper explores the worldviews and moral frameworks of non-religious Chinese Americans, with a particular focus on Confucian values. Through in-depth interviews of 20 Chinese Americans, this research explores the decline of Chinese popular religious practice among the 2nd generation and the rise of a secular worldview among them. At the same time, they do not discard all of the practices and values of Chinese popular religion. Rather, they selectively maintain Confucian values of filial piety, reciprocity, and mutual responsibility which provide them ultimate meaning. Through the discourse and rituals of family sacrifice, they construct identities and a sense of belonging that function much like religion. However, I argue that these Chinese Americans are not very Confucian in philosophy, but more simply Confucian in very narrow domains.
03.02.2012| 4:00 – 5:30 PM | 691 Barrows Hall
Who’s Afraid of Whiteness Studies?: Toward a Minoritized Analysis of Abolition
Prof. Zeus Leonardo, Education
This presentation engages White abolition from the perspectives and lives of people of color. First, it will offer a brief review of the abolitionist strategy, particularly as it attempts to convince and compel Whites to ‘stop being White.’ Second, it relates these provocations with respect to racial minorities and what their participation would look like in the abolition of whiteness, which implicates identities of color in the process. In other words, the transformation of whiteness necessitates the transformation of ‘color’ and race relations in general. Third, if White abolition’s suggestion is for Whites to unthink their whiteness (after all what are Whites but people who think they are ‘White’, according to James Baldwin), this implies that people of color would also need to stop thinking of Whites as ‘White.’ What would this mean? Finally, the abolition of whiteness implicates identities of color, for there is no dismantling of White identity without simultaneously calling into question non-White identities. Because they are dialectical unities, White and identities of color were once created and now exist alongside each other.
Age, Race, and Decolonial Thought
Samuel Bañales, Anthropology
My dissertation examines the relationship between the logic of colonization and the recent criminalization of youth of color in the US. In particular, my study is about how age, race, and power have been conceptualized in modernity, and how youth of color at the turn of 20th century challenge and respond to neoliberal racist forces through their recent activism in the San Francisco Bay Area. For this talk, in conversation with Third World feminism and scholars of modernity/coloniality, I rigorously examine decolonial thought and its lack of attention on age. I argue that anti-youth attitudes and adult-centeredness constitutes what I am calling the in/visible side of modernity/coloniality. By placing age matters central to decolonial thought, in addition to what combinations of scholars call the imperial/global designs of the present as the “European/Euro-American modern/colonial capitalist/patriarchal world system” or the “[heterosexual] modern/colonial gender system,” I specify the necessity of adding the word “adult” to the phrases. Although subordination based on age is produced simultaneously with other forms of oppression that came about with the colonial encounter—the space of “colonial difference”—I don’t mean for “adult”/age to only be added as another item to list of systems of oppressions. Instead, I take this concept of adult further to argue that it is in the naturalization of adulthood that other forms of oppression are justified. In other words, I argue that age oppression is a tool in which European/Euro-American modern/colonial capitalist/hetero-patriarchal gender adult system comes into place. Because this is an ambitious argument, I take two steps to get us there. First, I look at recent literature that has contributed to decolonial thought and how age (or lack thereof) figures into this. Second, although I consider the Renaissance and the Enlightenment in general, I look at the ways that age matters in the “dark” side of the early modern/colonial period specifically.
02.23.2013| 4:00 – 5:30 PM | 691 Barrows Hall
Gay Poster-Posturing: Queer Racialized Disjunctions in the (French) Hom(m)o-Republic
Prof. Paola Bacchetta, Gender & Women’s Studies
This talk takes as its point of departure the assemblage constituted by the first to final drafts of the 2011 French Annual Gay Pride March poster that became, in serial mode, centers of passionate polemics around queer, racism and colonialism in France and parts of the francophone world last year. The posters’ phases of commercial to activist production, their circulations in cyberspace to streets, and their many modalities of receptions throughout, provide a glimpse into the wider politics of queer racialized disjunctions that continue to unfold in the French Hom(m)o-Republic. Through the poster-posturing of multiple constituencies, the talk will engage with the context and genealogies of disconcordant grids of intelligibility, with disjointed co-present temporal-spatialities that co-inhabit a same hétérotopie (in the sense of Foucault), with forces that pull away from queer towards lgbt national normativity and hom(m)onationalism, and with the many QPOC scattered revolts and upsurges that disallow such seemless and totalizing conversions.
(Un-)naming Racism in Switzerland: A Critical Analysis of the “Black Sheep” Poster Controversy
Noémi MICHEL, University of Geneva; Switzerland
In contemporary Switzerland, race seems to be absent from public debates. Even within public discussions on immigration, discrimination or diversity, words directly referring to race, such as “whiteness” and “blackness”, are only rarely enunciated. In this paper, I aim to explore how such a discursive configuration facilitates the reproduction of what David Theo Godlberg (2008) calls “raceless racisms” – namely the persistence of racist logics combined with the absence of explicit racial references in post-war Europe.
My discussion focuses on the recent Swiss controversy over the so called “black sheep” poster. This controversy began in 2007 when the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), a powerful populist right wing party in Switzerland, launched a political campaign by means of a controversial poster. The poster included the slogan “For More Security” accompanied by the image of several white sheep in a field composed of the colors of the Swiss flag. The image portrayed the white sheep kicking a black sheep out of their territory and supported the SVP’s campaign to collect signatures for its initiative on the automatic expulsion of “criminal foreigners”. The display of this poster gave rise to a very strong debate over public images and representations of “Swissness” and “otherness”. Some Swiss and international anti-racist associations denounced the racist message delivered by this poster, whereas the SVP argued that it was an inoffensive image which did not refer to racial representations.
By means of a discourse analysis of the corpus of competing claims that were expressed against or in defence of the “black sheep” poster in Switzerland, the paper seeks to grasp which collective subject positions, which conception of the Swiss nation and which racialized power relations were challenged or reasserted during this controversy. The results suggest that the controversy constitutes a particularly revelatory moment for understanding the discursive production of “raceless racisms” in Switzerland. Indeed, the analysis reveals that the controversy was largely dominated by discursive logics that can bequalified as “racial evaporation” or “racial denial” following the terms of Goldberg (2008). It further demonstrates how such logics contribute at the same time to the articulation of an implicit ‘whiteness’ within ‘Swissness’ and to the delegitimization of antiracist discourses – in sum to the reproduction of unnamed racisms.
02.09.2012| 4:00 – 5:30 PM | 691 Barrows Hall
Construction “Appropriate” Families: Education, Inequality, and Teacher Subjectivities
Jessica S. Cobb, Sociology
Classic sociological studies of teachers have examined how teachers establish a professional identity and make meaning in their work through relations with students, parents, colleagues and administrators. However, these studies have been largely decontextualized from conditions of between-school inequality. To understand what it means to be a teacher in the modern era, we must look at how teachers understand their work under conditions of increasing de facto residential and school segregation that tend to concentrate poverty within high-minority schools. In addition, the influence of segregation on teachers’ subjective experiences must be examined within a context of large-scale immigration from Asia and Latin America that has altered the makeup of segregated schools.
This comparative study is based on 64 in-depth interviews with teachers at high schools in three independent, suburban Los Angeles-area school districts that vary in terms of student demographics, material resources, and historical legacy of white flight. Two of these schools (Keith and Woodlawn) serve student populations that are low-income and Black and Latino; one (Sunnyside) serves a wealthy white and Asian population. In this paper, I examine teachers’ descriptions of their students’ community and families, especially in those moments where they fail to live up to teachers’ expectations. I explore teachers’ constructions of appropriate families, which are framed in highly racialized and classed terms. In general, appropriate families are independent of the welfare state, speak English, help with homework, maintain a nuclear family structure, reinforce school-based definitions of success at home, and respect the authority of teachers and the school. These broad understandings of the appropriate family reflect institutional representations of schools as meritocratic and shift blame for inequality from schools and teachers to families and communities. However, the varied ways in which teachers deployed this description of the appropriate family, explained families’ failures to live up to this description, and related to actual families of their students reflected important differences in how teachers constructed racialized, classed, and gendered selves-as-teacher within the setting of unequal schools.
“Our Boys are Depending on You”: Caring for Black Boys at a Single-Sex Public School
Freeden Oeur, Sociology
With support from both Congress and the Department of Education, single-sex public schools have become a popular option for school reformers, educators, and parents. The bulk of recent scholarly and media attention has debated two lines of argument: single-sex environments empower boys and girls who each have been disadvantaged in coed environments, and boys and girls require separate learning spaces tailored to their “essential” differences. Yet a focus on sex and gender differences fails to explain why the majority of all-male public schools today serve predominantly or all low-income, African American boys. This study draws on eleven months of ethnographic fieldwork and 68 interviews with students, staff members, and parents at a school I call Patterson High, a class-disadvantaged, nearly all-Black, all-male public school in a city on the east coast. At Patterson, the Black male leadership intervened in the lives of boys deemed at-risk and in crisis. Staff members recognized that several developments had negatively impacted Black boys’ and men’s lives in the community: namely, the growth of an underground drug economy and its accompanying violence, the dearth of job opportunities, and racial discrimination. The “crisis of Black boys” was due, in part, in the eyes of key administrators, to a lack of sufficient care for Black boys. Thus, they envisioned Patterson intervening in the lives of their students as a paternal institution—a caregiving institution—that would help to orient the boys away from the dominant all-male institutions in the boys’ lives—prisons and disciplinary schools called “placements”—and assist mostly female-dominated households in raising and providing care for the boys. It was the responsibility of the Black men at Patterson to address the problem of absent fatherhood. Finally, I will demonstrate that through daily practices, messages, and informal and formal school events, the boys were told that they themselves needed to grow up to become responsible fathers and husbands. While the Patterson staff struggled to create this caregiving institution for boys, a focus on care and carework moves beyond common portrayals of urban school as strictly punitive regimes, and asks researchers and educators to consider how the over-disciplining of Black boys prevents those boys from receiving the care they need and deserve.
01.26.2012 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM | 691 Barrows Hall
Techniques for Black (Male) Re/Dress
Naomi Elizabeth Bragin, Performance Studies
Waacking/punkin’ is a street dance sometimes confused with vogue but claiming West Coast roots in gay black and Latino club culture of 1970’s Los Angeles. The style was rebirthed into the global mainstream through mass media appearances on last season’s So You Think You Can Dance. Today it is generally straight-identified hip-hop and street dance communities who take charge of training and innovating waacking style and culture. Considering waacking/punkin’s historical context, this presentation analyzes how identity, subjectivity and history are negotiated through the sensory, kinesthetic and affective modes of dance training and performance.
I consider how waacking/punkin’ trains the body, through the performance of two interrelated concepts: corporeal drag, a fabricated kinesthetics of identity, and realness, a psycho-kinetic mode of inhabiting the body, in which the dancer hyperextends self-expressivity and pushes performativity to the extreme. Did the centering of black masculine identity within 1970s black political and aesthetic movements influence how dance technique addressed black sociopolitical concerns? How did dance train changing understandings of race, gender and sexuality? How did dance technique redress the hegemonic demands of an authentic masculinity? When does the training of new street dance communities result in efficacious or failed performances and to what extent does the political gain or lose meaning in translation? The mainstream commercial dance world markets dance training as an a-political phenomenon that, through pedagogy, transcends cultural boundaries. I argue that dance technique arises through the sociopolitical tensions and entwinement of individuals and communities, experienced at sensory, kinesthetic and affective registers.
My theoretical engagement is with performance studies, anthropology, race/gender/sexuality studies, hip-hop, dance and cultural studies. My materials include face-to-face interviews and participant-observation in studios, clubs, community events and social media sites. I draw from fifteen years in the street dance community, as observer, dancer, student, teacher, and choreographer.
Ethics and Interculturalism in Contemporary Dance: Jérôme Bel’s Pichet Klunchun and Myself
Prof. SanSan Kwan, Performance Studies
In this globalized era, how do we engage the site of difference ethically? How do we face the Other in a way that is both optimistically open and simultaneously unpresumptuous? Emmanuel Levinas argues that our subjectivity is determined by our encounter with others, while at the same time we will never fully grasp that which faces us. If we must necessarily face – even as we miscomprehend – the Other, how do we do so responsibly?
In the world of contemporary dance recent examples of cross-cultural exchanges between artists from Asia and the West promise an exciting dismantling of colonial taxonomies – a new “worlding” of dance. Do these examples, however, uncritically fall back on Orientalist representations and ways of encountering of the East? This paper examines choreographer Jérôme Bel’s interview-cum-performance piece Pichet Klunchun and Myself, in which he and the eponymous artist, a classical Thai dancer, talk to each other on stage about their respective work. I explore questions regarding the ethics of intersubjectivity through this example of a live, performed face-to-face exchange across cultural difference.
12.01.2011 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM | 691 Barrows Hall
Consumption, Publics, and Democracy on Rosebud Reservation
Prof. Tom Biolsi, Ethnic Studies
By the 1930s Lakota people on Rosebud Reservation were avid consumers of mail-order catalogs (especially Sears and Wards) and of local and national radio broadcasts. These new media enabled a sustained interest among Indian people in dressing fashionably (especially women) and enjoying music (mostly Country at first, with Rock and Roll becoming popular in the 1950s). This paper describes (with slides) some of this consumption of popular American culture among Lakota people. It also seeks to understand this consumption as a form of participation in what we would now call a “race-blind” public: Consumption made Indian people more modern than the Bureau of Indian Affairs and missionary personnel who sought to “modernize” them, and at the same time offered a form of (cultural) citizenship significantly more substantive than voting or party affiliation.
Blood, Bodies, Land: Indigenous Feminism and the Art of Rebecca Belmore and Erica Lord
Prof. Shari Huhndorf, Ethnic Studies
While the marginalization, dispossession, and silencing of indigenous women have been central to the colonial project, popular representations of indigenous women paradoxically implicate them in the conquest of their communities and the theft of indigenous land. Exposing the material and symbolic dimensions of colonial violence against Native women and refiguring their political and social roles have long been key endeavors of Native women’s culture. This paper analyzes the intersections of gender, colonization, and cultural representations in two recent works by indigenous women artists Rebecca Belmore and Erica Lord. Reworking the conventions of nude painting and photography, Belmore’s 2008 photograph Fringe depicts a reclining nude figure across whose back cuts a large raised scar decorated with fringes of red beads that appear as blood. As the image invokes the aestheticization and sexualization of indigenous women’s bodies, it implicates these representational practices in material violence, thus insisting on the significance of gender to ongoing colonization and gesturing towards the silences that surround indigenous women. As Belmore’s image thus reveals the gendered histories and legacies of colonization, Lord’s 2000 multi-media installation Native American Land Reclamation Project exposes the ongoing theft of Native lands as it also refigures the role of indigenous women in U.S. nationalism and indigenous resistance to dispossession. This paper analyzes these works in the intersecting contexts of colonial histories and indigenous women’s activism as it raises questions about the projects of indigenous feminism.
11.17.2011 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM | 691 Barrows Hall
Harlem as a ‘Community in Transition’ in Langston Hughes’s Montage of a Dream Deferred
My paper works to recover the “lost years” of the 1940s-1960s in African American poetry and culture. I will focus on three critically neglected African American poets Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden and Melvin Tolson and their understudied mid-century poetry to examine, formally as well as historically, how they represent the stories and lives of black women and men who helped to create and then lived in the postwar black urban communities of Chicago’s Bronzeville, Detroit’s Paradise Valley and New York’s Harlem. The dominant and totalizing story of race and representation in the postwar city is one of urban crisis, black invisibility and the formation of the blighted “black ghetto.” The smaller and textured stories of ordinary black city life in this period have been lost. I argue that, as black mid-century modernists, Brooks, Hayden and Tolson experiment with and push the limits and possibilities of narrative and characterization in modernist long form poems or poetic sequences in order to revive and represent the overlooked and everyday stories of black city life. They compose multi-voiced, multi-patterned and multi-layered poems to sustain and make widely legible portraits of burgeoning, variegated and complex black urban communities, thus revising and expanding upon a form that, with the possible exception of H.D., has been considered the exclusive domain of white male modernists like T.S. Eliot, Hart Crane, William Carlos Williams and Ezra Pound to tell other city stories. A formal appreciation of Brooks, Hayden and Tolson as energetically and assertively engaging with a tradition of modernist long form poetry has also been lost. I argue that by innovating upon this form these three poets are able to tell the commingling stories of hope and disappointment, gain and loss experienced by African Americans living in northern cities and responding to the swirling forces of Cold War containment, postwar exclusion and Civil Rights struggle of the time. Making visible these writers, their modernist work and the vivid communities of which they wrote begins the process of recovering this period in African American poetry and culture.
Children of the Fields: Representations of Work and School in post-1970 Chicano Farm Worker Narratives
Prof. Marcial González, English
In April 2011, students and faculty in the Chicano/Latino Studies Program at Michigan State University sponsored a three-day event entitled “From the Fields to the Academy: A Migrant Symposium.” One of the goals of the symposium was to recognize and document the presence of former migrant farm workers now teaching, studying, or conducting research at universities around the country. The event also served to counter the view of migrant workers as incapable of performing intellectual labor, and to inspire current students with migrant backgrounds to pursue academic careers. The symposium touched home for me in a personal way because I can relate to the seemingly incongruous experiences of working in the fields as a child and teaching at the university as an adult. I also found that the symposium’s main theme—education as a way out of the fields—is a central motif in many of the Chicano farm worker narratives that I have been studying in my current research project.
In this paper, I shall examine the way that selected Chicano narratives criticize a racist educational system but simultaneously represent education as a possible solution to the social problems faced by farm workers. This conflicted position is not without difficulties. Even if some workers or their children earn college degrees, the general working and living conditions of farm workers have not improved significantly since the founding of the United Farm Workers Union in 1966. And even though a formal education might alter the life of an individual farm worker who attends college, schooling also brings with it the liberal ideology of the capitalist system that oppresses migrant workers in the first place. These issues are represented in Chicano migrant farm worker narratives as thematic contradictions that replicate formally the actual social contradictions that farm workers face in everyday life. In analyzing the implications of this feature of Chicano narratives, I shall draw on examples from Helena María Viramontes’s novel Under the Feet of Jesus, Gary Soto’s novella Jesse, Elva Treviño Hart’s autobiography Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child, and Robert M. Young’s film documentary, Children of the Fields.
10.20.2011 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM | 691 Barrows Hall
Join Prof. Taeku Lee, Political Science, Prof. Kim Voss, Sociology, and Prof. Irene Bloemraad, Sociology, in a discussion of their recent publications on race, immigration, and political action.
Rallying for Immigrant Rights: The Fight for Inclusion in 21st Century America
edited by Prof. Kim Voss, Sociology; and Prof. Irene Bloemraad, Sociology
From Alaska to Florida, millions of immigrants and their supporters took to the streets across the United States to rally for immigrant rights in the spring of 2006. The scope and size of their protests, rallies, and boycotts made these the most significant events of political activism in the United States since the 1960s. This accessibly written volume offers the first comprehensive analysis of this historic moment. Perfect for students and general readers, its essays, written by a multidisciplinary group of scholars and grassroots organizers, trace the evolution and legacy of the 2006 protest movement in engaging, theoretically informed discussions. The contributors cover topics including unions, churches, the media, immigrant organizations, and immigrant politics. Today, one in eight U.S. residents was born outside the country, but for many, lack of citizenship makes political voice through the ballot box impossible. This book helps us better understand how immigrants are making their voices heard in other ways.
Why Americans Don’t Join the Party: Race, Immigration, and the Failure (of Political Parties) to Engage the Electorate
by Zoltan L. Hajnal (University of Chicago) and Prof. Taeku Lee (UC Berkeley, Political Science)
Two trends are dramatically altering the American political landscape: growing immigration and the rising prominence of independent and nonpartisan voters. Examining partisan attachments across the four primary racial groups in the United States, this book offers the first sustained and systematic account of how race and immigration today influence the relationship that Americans have–or fail to have–with the Democratic and Republican parties. Zoltan Hajnal and Taeku Lee contend that partisanship is shaped by three factors–identity, ideology, and information–and they show that African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, and whites respond to these factors in distinct ways.
The book explores why so many Americans–in particular, Latinos and Asians–fail to develop ties to either major party, why African Americans feel locked into a particular party, and why some white Americans are shut out by ideologically polarized party competition. Through extensive analysis, the authors demonstrate that when the Democratic and Republican parties fail to raise political awareness, to engage deeply held political convictions, or to affirm primary group attachments, nonpartisanship becomes a rationally adaptive response. By developing a model of partisanship that explicitly considers America’s new racial diversity and evolving nonpartisanship, this book provides the Democratic and Republican parties and other political stakeholders with the means and motivation to more fully engage the diverse range of Americans who remain outside the partisan fray.
10.06.2011 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM | 691 Barrows Hall
Writing the Body into (Well-) Being
Tala Khanmalek, Ethnic Studies
As almost all research on the Iranian diaspora states, studies about psychopathologies of Iranian immigrants including first-, second-, and third-generations are scarce although this population experiences a mental health disparity. The few studies that have been done apply limited understandings of mental health and its manifestations (via two major realms of dysfunction: externalizing or internalizing). The biomedical definition of psychological disorder considers the mind only as evidenced in the prefix “psycho-,” signifies an abnormality, and situates the problem squarely within the individual. Normative mental health practices (i.e. therapy) and psychotropic medications also operate on these presuppositions. Most importantly, the few studies that have been done fail to critically articulate the relationship between mental health and structural factors. The deficient notion of acculturation is usually referred, to both analyze stressors and to conclude that the more immigrants assimilate the less mental health problems they will have, supporting the melting pot and bicultural hypotheses of acculturation.
Mental health is of course contingent on multiple variables such as gender, sexuality, class, age, and length of residence in the U.S., not to mention one’s status as either, immigrant, refugee, or asylum seeker. However, almost all research on the Iranian diaspora mentions a relationship between discriminatory images and ideas of Middle Eastern and/or Muslim peoples, especially since 9/11, and both acculturative and psychological stress while making no formal association. In short, the discourse remains depoliticized.
My paper argues for a holistic approach to psychopathology that not only involves the body and the soul, but also social causes of dis-ease. A holistic approach therefore uses Frantz Fanon’s theory of sociogeny to study the psychology of oppression. In this case, sociogeny enables us to primarily consider what has been called “Islamophobia” and its affects on the mindbodysoul beyond informal causation. My paper further argues that the narratives of Iranian-American women already challenge dominant biomedical semantics in this way. Their stories intuitively frame the illness of their mindbodysoul’s and social detriments of health like racism. Through narrating their experiential (and embodied) knowledge, Iranian-American women become theoreticians of biomedicine, filling in the gaps of existing studies about their mental health. In addition, their accounts offer new conceptualizations of subjectivity, writing the body into (well-)being.
Interconnected Individualism and the Lakota Medicine Wheel
Tria Andrews, Ethnic Studies
Dominant narratives largely depict Native American cultural values as upholding collectivism in contrast to Western society, which supposedly promotes individualism. While to some extent this is true, what has been largely overlooked are the ways in which Native societies emphasize the necessity of individuality within the collective community, which I term “interconnected individualism. “ According to Lakota cultural beliefs, an individual’s understanding of her role within the web of macro and micro, worldly and other worldly interconnectedness create the conditions for holistic health and healing.
At Wanbli Wiconi Tipi (WWT), the Youth Wellness and Renewal Juvenile Detention Center, located on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, the Medicine Wheel, forms the theoretical basis for rehabilitation. While there is a common understanding of the symbolism of the Medicine Wheel among Lakota people, when explaining the Medicine Wheel, program directors often elucidate that every person must come to understand the Wheel for herself. The role of the individual and the holistic strength one gains from practicing solitude while ever connected to the community is further evident in the culturally relevant programs and ceremonies in which the youth engage.
The Lakota conception of interconnected individualism and the Medicine Wheel evidences Mignolo’s notions of border thinking. Reservations, themselves as a type of borderland, often comprised of people from different races and cultures, living in a manner that fuses traditional and modern ways, creates an environment for border thinking to occur. “‘Black and white thinking,‘” or dichotomous thinking, which “‘move[s] from problem to solution,’” is also considered “‘addictive thinking.’” In a society, which by and large thinks addictively, centering Lakota ideas about the Medicine Wheel may provide the impetus for the processes of healing to occur.
09.26.2011 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM | 691 Barrows Hall
Skin Tone Stratification Among Black Americans, 2001-2003
Ellis Monk Jr., Sociology
In the past few decades a dedicated collection of scholars have examined the matter of skin tone stratification within the Black American population and found that complexion has significant net effects on a variety of stratification outcomes. These analyses relied heavily on data collected between 1950 and 1980. In particular, many scholars have utilized the National Survey of Black Americans (1979-1980). This leaves the question of whether or not the effect of skin tone on stratification outcomes has changed in the past thirty years. Newly available data from the National Survey of American Life (NSAL) (2001-2003) are used to examine this question; specifically, I analyze the effect of gradations of skin tone on black Americans’ educational attainment, occupational status, employment status, marital status, personal income, household income, and feelings of closeness to other blacks — net of a variety of traditional stratification measures. Ultimately, the findings suggest that skin tone does still have significant net effects on stratification outcomes – in the same ways as have been found in earlier studies. Some of these findings, however, paint a slightly more complicated picture of skin tone stratification among Black Americans than earlier studies based on data collected between 1950 and 1980. These differences, complexities, and their implications – as well as directions for future research – are discussed.
“I’m Mixed and Mixed”: Narrating Identities of Individuals with Mexican and Other Ancestries
Jessie Turner, Ethnic Studies
Given the rate of Mexican American intermarriage, it is crucial that scholars consider where the children of these unions fit within current ethnoracial paradigms. Chicana/o Studies addresses racial and cultural mixture through discourses of (new) mestizaje, while Multiracial Studies employs the language of (new) multiraciality. Yet both have given limited attention to multiracial individuals who are the offspring of interracial relationships between Mexican Americans/Chicanas/os and other U.S. racial/ethnic groups. Given this gap in the literature, my dissertation takes an interdisciplinary and feminist intersectional approach to address the following questions: How do individuals who have Mexican and other ethnic or racial ancestries negotiate their identities? How is this negotiation influenced by vectors such as gender, sexuality, class, and geographic origin?
This presentation will share my findings based on oral histories with narrators in the Santa Barbara and San Francisco Bay areas. In sum, across various ancestry “mixes,” narrators have worked out synthesized identities in one or more of the following ways: 1) identifying parallels between their ethnoracial groups and/or their families, thus emphasizing commonalities rather than differences; 2) stating that their ethnoracial groups were never in conflict to begin with and so they, themselves, did not experience conflict; 3) locating their present ethnoracial plurality firmly within the context of their family lineages, via genealogical research, rather than larger societal race relations; 4) using discourse around Mexicanness and Chicanidad to account for not only historical mixing, but also their first and second generation mixed race experiences; and 5) sustaining contradictions. I will also touch on the part of my research that investigates the ways in which, as is consistent with Multiracial Studies literature, intersecting vectors often significantly influence narrators’ ethnoracial identities, and changes in these vectors sometimes led to changes in their ethnoracial identifications.
09.22.2011 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM | 691 Barrows Hall
What’s a Feminist to Do? How New Anti-abortion Strategies and New Technologies are Reconfiguring the Debate over Sex Selection, Race and Abortion
Dr. Sujatha Jesudason, Generations Ahead
One of the more incendiary tactics by anti-choice advocates recently has been to propose legislation to ban abortion for reasons of sex and race. Conflating charges of sex selection with claims of “race-selective abortions” and black genocide, these crusaders have introduced legislation in eight states and the “Susan B. Anthony and Fredrick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act” at the federal level. Discursively locating themselves as champions of Asian and African American women, they are passionately working to undermine and restrict women’s reproductive autonomy while claiming to fight for race and gender equity. And yet, selective abortion and emerging reproductive technologies that allow for pre- and post-pregnancy genetic trait selection are challenging feminists to develop more nuanced and careful positions, and messages, on reproductive freedom. Least we abandon our commitments to race, disability and gender justice, we can no longer myopically only defend a woman’s right to choose, especially if that right include sex selection and designer babies. What other positions might we take? What would it look like for feminists to “discourage” sex selective or disability de-selective practices while protecting women’s reproductive freedom? How might we work to change the social, political and economic context in which women are making reproductive decisions? If society has a stake in the personal decisions that women make about whether or not to have children, and what type of children, then what kinds of enabling conditions do we want to create to encourage certain kinds of decisions?