Dorian Bell | Anna Maria Busse Berger | Lara Buchak | Shane Butler | Jacob Dalton | Dana Frank | Lisa Lowe | Maria Mavroudi | Elisabeth Rose Middleton | Patrick Hyder Patterson | Nicholas Tackett | Mayfair Yang
Dorian Bell, Literature, UC Santa Cruz
Frontiers of Hate: Anti-Semitism and Empire in Nineteenth-Century France
This book project traces the intertwined histories of anti-Semitism and empire in modern France. Drawing on a body of anti-Semitic newspapers, treatises, and novels, as well as on representations of colonial empire, I argue that French colonial expansion helped French anti-Semitism adopt the political, racializing guise that would haunt the twentieth century. I propose that, conversely, anti-Semitism contributed to the imperial project’s ideological elaboration and public acceptance. By chronicling how these mutual reconfigurations often took place within literature—and in ways, I suggest, not elsewhere possible—the book provides new models for investigating the ever-unsteady borderland between cultural representations and political praxis. It also places into conversation scholarship on anti-Semitism and imperialism in order to gain fresh perspective on how circulations between metropole and colony shaped the emergence of modern European racial thought.
The purpose of my project is to investigate how the vibrant music tradition of the eighteenth-century Moravians in Germany, a tradition that was primarily based on singing and improvisation of chorales, was transmitted and altered when missionaries converted the people they encountered during their travels in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. Moravians were one of a few religious group that used improvisation for religious purposes. They felt that only through the unpredictability of improvisation could they become close to the Holy Spirit. How did these improvised chorales fare when translated into different cultures? Were they as central to religious practices overseas as they were in Germany? How were they adjusted during encounters with local rituals? And above all, what roles did memorization and improvisation play in the mission stations?
Throughout my scholarly career, I have worked on various aspects of the interface between orality and literacy. Now I want to enlarge the scope and see what happens when literate European missionaries are introducing oral societies to writing.
Decision theories are theories of practical rationality: they formalize constraints of consistency between rational agents’ ends and the means they take to arrive at them. The orthodox view is that subjective expected utility theory, which dictates that agents maximize expected utility, is the correct normative decision theory; however, this theory severely restricts the attitudes that agents can take towards risk. I argue for an alternative, more permissive, decision theory. In particular, I argue for a theory that permits rational agents to care about “global” properties of actions, such as the value of the worst possible outcome that might result, when deciding which means to take to their ends. I thus argue that the sense in which most actual people are risk averse, long considered a mark of irrationality, is in fact rational.
Ancient readers and writers, long before modern vocal media like the phonograph record and its successors, fully expected their texts to capture not just words, but voices. Our reduction of those same texts to merely linguistic artifacts often leaves us reading for sense where our predecessors were instead writing and reading primarily for sound. My proposed book, The Roman Voice, tries to recover those forgotten expectations through a series of case studies of ancient authors struggling to inscribe extra-linguistic sound, especially the signature sound of the individual human voice.
A century ago, a cache of ancient manuscripts was discovered in a cave near Dunhuang on the old Silk Road. Among the documents were a several hundred tantric texts in Tibetan, almost all ritual manuals. The Dunhuang manuscripts have already revolutionized our understanding of Asian religious history, yet the tantric manuscripts in particular have yet to be fully mined. The advent of the tantras in seventh and eighth-century India marked a watershed for ritual technologies across much of Asia, yet this important repository of ancient texts has yet to be mined. Ritual manuals of the sort found in Dunhuang were crucial to the evolution of the tantras. Evanescent, often locally produced, and ever open to revision, they were the literary crucible in which the tantras were forged. A President’s Faculty Research Fellowship will allow me to complete a book on what the Dunhuang manuscripts can tell us about the origins and early development of Tantra in India. More broadly, the study will contribute to ongoing conversations within the field of Religious Studies on esoteric ritual practice and the complex relations between local and canonical texts.
This project analyzes the AFL-CIO's imperial intervention in the Honduran labor movement, 1954-1980, as a case study of the federation's large-scale intervention in labor movements throughout Latin America during the Cold War. With hundreds of millions of dollars in State Department funding, during the 1950s through 1990s the AFL-CIO developed anticommunist training programs, formed pro-U.S. collaborative unions, and built union halls and housing projects throughout the region, cooperating closely with the State Department and CIA. The AFL-CIO's work in Honduras was the first large-scale, the most "successful" (on the AFL-CIO's terms), and most well-funded per capita of any country. While journalists and scholars during the 1970s sketched out the broad origins of the AFL-CIO's Latin American work, the extant literature remains largely superficial. Utilizing archival sources only recently available and interviews with a wide range of Honduran labor activists, this will be the first book-length, detailed analysis of the AFL-CIO's work in a single country. It speaks to U.S. labor history, Honduran history, the history of the Cold War, and the history of U.S. foreign relations, and helps us understand the strategically important evolution of Honduran politics in the Cold War era and today.
Lisa Lowe, Literature, UC San Diego
The Intimacies of Four Continents
Liberal ideas of human freedom were central to the founding of eighteenth-century republics, and to the international forms of empire, trade, and government taking shape throughout the nineteenth century. My book, The Intimacies of Four Continents, examines liberal philosophies and institutions of citizenship, free labor, and free trade, in light of transatlantic and transpacific encounters in the “new world,” Africa, and Asia. Studies of the early Atlantic world observe links between Europe, Africa, and the Americas through the transatlantic slave trade, while recent work on Asia suggests that China possessed advanced state formation, market, and government, in the seventeenth century. Drawing upon these insights, my project brings the Pacific and Atlantic worlds into relation and elaborates the emergence of the United States within late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century British and European encounters with Africa and Asia. Not only did the post-1840 worldwide trade in Chinese laborers enable British abolition of the slave trade, but the British engagements with China during and after the Opium Wars constituted conditions for U.S. liberalism, and inaugurated new modes of Anglo-American free trade and imperial intimacy.
Maria Mavroudi, History and Classics, UC Berkeley
Bilingualism in Greek and Arabic in the Middle Ages and Beyond: Evidence from the Manuscripts
This book project is based on examining more than two hundred manuscripts that contain evidence of having been copied or read by individuals who understood both Greek and Arabic (9th–19th centuries). They are mostly Christian (liturgical, biblical, patristic) but also medical, botanical, astronomical, astrological, philosophical and philological (dictionaries and grammars). According to the received scholarly narrative, the Byzantine empire and its literary and scientific culture declined from the 7th-century onwards, partly as a result of the conquest of Byzantium’s Eastern provinces by the Arabs. Presumably, the only significant encounter of Greek with Arabic took place in the 9th and 10th centuries and involved the translation of ancient, not medieval, Greek texts into Arabic, and the adaptation of their contents for the needs of Islamic society. Byzantium supposedly preserved and imitated but never creatively used its own classical Greek heritage. However, most manuscripts under examination were copied after the 10th century and indicate literary and scientific transmission in two directions, both from Greek into Arabic and from Arabic into Greek. The book correlates this evidence with recent scholarly conclusions on Byzantine economic history and revises the established narrative regarding the cultural transmission between the Byzantine and the Islamic world.
Because of the non-ratification of treaties with California tribes, many Mountain Maidu are not politically or spatially recognized, despite their collective presence. Seeking Spatial Representation is an ongoing project with three intended outcomes: (1) an interactive digital map describing the historical and contemporary Maidu allotment lands in Plumas and Lassen counties; (2) a paper map and attached narrative for community members without computer access; and (3) a monograph of the history of Maidu engagement with the General Allotment Act, including Maidu challenges to allotment policy and law, and the interface between Maidu allotments and hydroelectric development in the state of California. Historic Maidu allotments are currently contested by Maidu, power companies, wildlife agencies, non-Maidu home-owners, local government, and other interests. This project employs humanistic methods, including archival research at federal, state, and local archives, historical document review, and photography; and social science methods (open-ended interviews), integrating them with emerging capabilities in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), including ArcView and GoogleEarth applications. This unique humanistic-cartographic project is the fruit of several years of community-engaged research on changes in Maidu land ownership, and Maidu and non-Maidu claims to allotment lands.
Targeting several key Eastern and Western European polities, the project seeks to determine how and why those Europeans whose political activism comes from Christian religious commitments have welcomed or rejected the new presence of Muslims, and how they have drawn on (and mobilized for political purposes) a potent collection of centuries-old images, fears, remembrances, stereotypes, and history-laden received traditions concerning the nature of Islam and its followers. The study will trace and interpret the shifting approaches taken since the 1960s as these critical brokers of integration – political Christians in church and lay organizations and party groups – have argued over whether Islamic views of society are compatible with Europe's dominant liberal-secular and (post-) Christian cultural, political, and legal traditions. The project puts Samuel Huntington's persistent and seductive "clash of civilizations" thesis to a rigorous and much needed empirical test, establishing how the civilizational view has, in practice, found militant adherents ("Christian soldiers") in the East and the West, and, just as important, explaining those crucial instances in which some political Christians have opted to become not soldiers but peacemakers instead, thus undercutting the widely popular Huntingtonian view that religious differences are paramount and that conflict is virtually inevitable.
My research explores a remarkable set of developments during China’s Song dynasty—involving new notions of sovereignty, loyalty, and space—that reflected the birth of a Chinese national consciousness. Besides detailing the basic features of these developments, I seek to explain their causal origins in a way that goes beyond simply assuming that identity emerges inevitably (and only) upon first encountering an “other.” I focus on the particularities of 11th-c. Northeast Asia, particularities that included: the political division of the Chinese cultural zone (a zone that I define on the basis of a survey of over 1000 excavated tombs); a cosmopolitan vision at the Song court acquired by powerful ministers who traveled beyond the bounds of the Chinese state (and whose experiences are narrated in their abundant travel poetry and prose); and a growing ideological commitment to central government activism, leading to probably the largest border demarcation project in premodern history (a project described in court debates and accounts of bilateral negotiations). Given a resurgence of Chinese nationalism in the 21st century, it becomes all the more important to historicize and account for the development of China’s national consciousness.
I am a cultural anthropologist studying secularization and religiosity in modern China. I wish to complete my book: Re-enchanting Modernity: Sovereignty, Ritual Economy, and Indigenous Civil Society in Coastal China. It is based on fieldwork in rural southeast China, from 1991 to 2010. I have written about 70% of the manuscript, but urgently require time without teaching to complete it. The book examines the resurgence of ritual and religious life in post-Mao China. Local residents have constructed alternative cultural discourses, social memories and organizations and ritual practices that diverge from the centralized state's project of secular modernity. I investigate lineages and ancestor rituals, deity myths and temples, ritual processions, Daoist and Buddhist temples, Catholic and Protestant churches, funerals and community festivals, divination, geomancy, and shamanism. Taking theoretical inspiration from Georges Bataille, Deleuze & Guattari, Michel Foucault, Giorgio Agamben, Jurgen Habermas, Talal Asad, and Chinese writers past and present, I suggest that these resurgent religiosities show an engagement with an archaic but modernized "sovereign power" that is more important to understand in China than Foucault's "governmentality," which better describes the West. These practices contribute to the emergence of an indigenous civil society and their "ritual economy" often counter-balances state capitalism in China.