Frank Biess | Lia Nicole Brozgal | Teresa Caldeira | Kendra Taira Field | Aisha Finch | Sharon Kinoshita | Geoffrey Lee | Mairi McLaughlin | Colin Milburn | Michele Salzman | Roxanne Varzi | Yiman Wang
Frank Biess, History, UC San Diego
Fear and Democracy in Postwar Germany
This project employs a newly conceptualized history of emotions for writing a history of fear and anxiety in postwar West Germany. Contrary to dominant teleological narratives of the Federal Republic's successful postwar stabilization and "arrival in the West," the project takes seriously postwar Germans' own fearful and apprehensive anticipations of their past futures after 1945. It examines how and why recurrent circles of fear and anxiety complicated the process of postwar democratization. Based on a series of empirically rich case studies, the project analyzes the shifting objects of fear and anxiety from the 1940s to the 1980s as well as the changing cultural norms governing the experience and expression of emotions. A synthetic analysis draws these cases together and offers a new perspective on postwar West German history more generally. The book also seeks to provide a historical perspective on contemporary manifestations of a politics and culture of fear.
Lia Nicole Brozgal, French and Francophone Studies, UCLA
Representing October 17: Algeria, France and the Writing of History
This project establishes and historicizes a corpus of cultural texts (literary, historical, filmic, and visual) that represent the massacre of Algerians by Parisian polices forces in October 1961. An event long repressed by state censorship, the massacre has nonetheless been a topic of cultural production in France since the 1980s. In dialogue with the fields of history, literature, postcolonial studies, Holocaust studies, and others, my project suggests that literature (understood broadly) has stepped in to fill a void in historiography. Moreover, my work moves beyond the fact of representation to plumb the depths of its function. Although varied in genre, all of the cultural texts under consideration produce aesthetic and historical discourse, and deploy representational strategies that constitute responses not only to the event itself, but to its subsequent erasure in both the popular consciousness and institutional discourse.
Teresa Caldeira, City and Regional Planning, UC Berkeley
New Urban Practices and Configurations of Public Space in São Paulo
A diverse range of public practices are transforming the city of São Paulo and its public spaces. They articulate anew the profound social inequalities that have always marked the city. Over the last decade, I have undertaken ethnographic research to map these practices, including graffiti, pixação (tagging), rap, skateboarding, parkour, and motorcycling. I now propose to summarize my findings in a book about the character of the public spaces and interactions that they create. I will show that these practices, articulated as both artistic production and urban performance, not only give the subaltern new visibility but also express new forms of political action that are contradictory: They affirm rights to the city while fracturing the public with aggressiveness and transgression; they expose discrimination but refuse integration. Thus, they require new conceptualizations of democratic public space and of the role of citizens in producing the city, which my book will develop.
Kendra Taira Field, History, UC Riverside
Growing Up with the Country
Growing Up with the Country illuminates the migration and settlement of African Americans from the Deep South to Indian Territory after the Civil War, arguing that this journey functioned both as movement toward freedom and as part of the expansion of U.S. empire. As African American migrants in Indian Territory sought freedom through a series of experiments in farming, land ownership, and subsequent migrations to West Africa and Mexico, they simultaneously partook of federal expansion and economic, political, and cultural negotiations over land with Indians, freedpeople of the Indian Nations, white settlers and oil speculators. Growing Up with the Country treats African Americans and Native Americans as complex actors on a North American "frontier,” by paying attention to the presence of Native Americans as slave owners, and African Americans as settlers on Indian land. The stories this project uncovers contribute to a more complicated and complete history of U.S. empire.
Aisha Finch, Women's Studies and African American Studies, UCLA
Cuban Slaves and the Resistance Movements of 1843-1844
Insurgency Interrupted follows the emergence of a dynamic resistance movement in western Cuba, fashioned by enslaved and free people of color in the early 1840s. Using the virtually unexplored testimonies in the Cuban National Archive, I challenge all previous accounts of a movement that was brutally truncated before its time. This book intervenes in a history that has all but disappeared the contributions of rural black organizers. By positioning non-elite slaves at the center of a larger black political culture, I expand the terms for understanding enslaved people's collective struggles.
Sharon Kinoshita, Literature, UC Santa Cruz
The Worlding of Marco Polo
“The Worlding of Marco Polo” comprises an annotated translation of Paris BNF fr. 1116 (c. 1310), one of the earliest surviving manuscripts of Marco Polo’s so-called Travels (1298), and a monograph resituating it in its original thirteenth-century context. While few medieval figures are of such abiding interest as Marco Polo, few have been so prone to misinterpretation. Originally entitled Le Devisement du monde (Description of the World), his text is regularly contrued as a travel narrative—a category mistake that holds the author to anachronistic standards of eyewitness authenticity, and aligns the book with texts such as pilgrims’ narratives or Columbus’s diaries, rather than more apposite congeners contemporary genres such as Arabic geographies, Italian merchant manuals, world chronicles, miracle stories, etc. This project offers a synchronic analysis of Marco’s world and text, combining my expertise in medieval literature with secondary research in the histories of Europe, Asia, and the Indian Ocean.
Geoffrey Lee, Philosophy, UC Berkeley
Consciousness and the Passage of Time
This book manuscript is about the unity of consciousness and the experience of time passing. The discussion in the book falls naturally into three parts. Part 1 offers an account of the part-whole structure of the stream of consciousness and the related idea of the “unity” of consciousness, both at a time and over time. Part 2 draws on this material to argue for a view of temporal experience (i.e. experience of features like duration and temporal order), a view similar in some ways to that proposed by Husserl. Part 3 discusses the alleged sense we have of an objective “moving present” that is often appealed to in discussions of the metaphysics of time, arguing that an Husserlian account of the kind presented in Part 2 can shed light on this mysterious form of experience.
Mairi McLaughlin, French, UC Berkeley
The Origins and Evolution of Journalistic French:
From the First Periodical (1631) to the French Revolution (1789)
This project is the first piece of research on the language of the early French press. My principal aim is to produce an account of the origins and evolution of journalistic French from 1631 to 1789. Our current understanding of the history of French is based almost exclusively on literary texts. My analysis will therefore provide new data that will dramatically affect how we interpret both the history of French and also current usage. By examining the linguistic evolution of the genre in its socio-historical context, I will also shed light on the complexity of the more general relationship between language, the media, literature and culture. The project will allow me to make two major contributions to methodology: a new approach for the digital humanities, and considerable improvements to the way that linguists use the press to analyze contemporary usage across many different languages.
Colin Milburn, English, UC Davis
Mondo Nano: Fun and Games in the World of Digital Matter
This project examines the relationship between video games and the globalization of nanotechnology. Today, the field of nanotechnology makes bold claims on the futures market and the future of the planet. It promises to turn matter into software, enabling us to reprogram our material environments and hack our lived realities. To be sure, the slogan of the nanotechnology industry is "shaping the world atom by atom." My project focuses on the cultural dimensions of digital matter. Specifically, I intend to show how video games and the ludic practices of our innovation economy reconfigure the experimental systems of science. I will also claim that fictional "nano" games--which are produced all over the world and translated across many different hardware platforms--provide players with important conceptual resources for navigating the implications of the new molecular sciences.
Michele Salzman, History, UC Riverside
The Falls of Rome: Responses to Crises, 270-604
This project focuses on the city of Rome as a test case to address one of the fundamental issues raised by the study of late antiquity: what does it mean to say Rome fell? As the city and its inhabitants faced military and political crises between the late third century and early seventh centuries, new leaders emerged - senatorial and increasingly papal alongside imperial bureaucrats. The civic, institutional and ecclesiastical reforms undertaken by these men in response to crisis changed the urban fabric of Rome. Group formation and identity construction are two central themes which my book will explore as I consider the four competing groups that dominated Rome in this period: the senatorial elite; imperial bureaucrats; ecclesiastical leaders; and Germanic kings. It is the contestation between among these groups, conditioned by previous resolutions to crises and the memories of these events, which reshaped Rome’s institutions and urban spaces and created the conditions for Rome’s citizens to construct a new civic identity.
Roxanne Varzi, Anthropology, UC Irvine
The French Connection: Henri Corbin and Iran, Islam, Philosophy and Revolution
It's difficult for many to grasp how and why Islam would remain a powerful form of protest against Iran’s Islamic government –especially for young Iranian intellectuals who are influenced by Western post-modern thinkers. Going back to the 1950s, 60s and 70s, to explore the work and life of one important French orientalist through the writing of his biography I will explore how Shiite Islam came into play with postcolonial and postmodern theories to bring about the Islamic Revolution – could this explain why 30 years later, Islam continues to provide a framework for protest among those disillusioned by the Islamic Republic. What is and has been the role of Western philosophy and European Orientalists in the pedagogy of Islamic Revolutionaries?
Yiman Wang, Film and Digital Media, UC Santa Cruz
Too “Chinese” to play a “Chinese”: Anna May Wong, the Segregationist Era, and American Cinema
This book project explores the significance of Anna May Wong, the most important, yet understudied early 20th-century Chinese-American actress, who built a worldwide reputation during a segregationist era, despite confinement to “minor” roles in her Hollywood hometown. Both historical and comparative, my book illuminates her trail-blazing, strategic race-gender performance as she achieved a career that bridged the silent and talkie eras, encompassing theater, film, and television. By examining fully her “yellow yellowface” performance and multi-valenced audience engagement, my project formulates the interdisciplinary field of “minor” actor-worker studies. It not only draws upon “minor transnationalism” (Lionnet and Shih) and “minor literature” (Deleuze and Guattari) to challenge mainstream star theories in film/media/performance studies. It also sheds new light on the complexity of minority identity and community, and connects in important ways to a range of humanities disciplines including history, labor studies, Asian-American and Asia-Pacific studies, diasporic studies, gender/race studies, and American studies.