The Glasscock Center hosts an informal coffee hour every other Wednesday morning during the semester. Discussion will be guided by featured guests who will discuss their research or other topical ideas. All are welcome to join us for coffee, tea, pastries, and conversation.
2018-2019 Academic Year
“Living Precariously in the African Postcolony: Debt Relations in Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s Daratt”
Labor has figured centrally in African cinema since the early films of Sembene Ousmane. Yet, little scholarly work has examined labor as thematized or represented in African film, and even fewer studies have detailed the labor processes involved in its production, distribution, and promotion. The larger book project from which this paper is taken — tentatively titled Labor, Time, and Affect: 21C African Cinema and Screen Media — reads recent African film and media through labor. The chapter on the films of Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, a portion of which is presented here, shows that Haroun’s films direct attention toward the experience of feeling postcolonial precarity. Set in Chad, Haroun’s films focus intensely on the subjective damage inflicted by globalization processes and shifting configurations of labor under the current regime of neoliberal capitalism. This short article discusses Haroun’s feature-film Daratt as a reflection on labor relations and debt in the African postcolony.
“Social Media and Marginalized Young Creatives in Beijing”
Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this paper explores how a group of marginalized young creatives in Beijing, who are not necessarily part of the established culture industries, pursue their creative endeavors, which they frame in terms of personal aesthetics, and how social media use is intricately connected to these pursuits. Dr. Wallis pays particular attention to the way that social media have become a conduit for news modes of desiring in contemporary China (Rofel, 2007) and for the imagination as a form of work and constructing the self (Appadurai, 1990). To do so, she focuses on how aesthetics is connected to three themes: cultivating knowledge; forms of taste, distinction, and hierarchy; and as an ethical imperative. This paper argues that understanding these young creatives sheds light on how individual transformations are constitutive of social transformations in China and that social media are a key factor in both processes.
“No Union in Reunion: Mizrahi Redefinition of Holocaust Memory in Berlin”
The presence of Israelis in Germany challenges both Zionist/Jewish national discourses of diaspora and Germany’s own national memory culture of its genocidal past. Passmore’s project looks at Israelis in Germany who identify as Mizrahi (Middle Eastern) and how they complicate the dominant narrative of German Jews returning to Germany. She analyzes the recent works of the Mizrahi writer and poet, Mati Shemoelof, who has created a new lexicon of differentiation and empathy connected to the Mizrahi interface with a newly syncretic Berlin. In his poetry volume, Last Tango in Berlin (2014), and in his recent collection of short fiction, Remnants of the Cursed Book (2015), Shemoelof articulates Mizrahi positionality within the context of German Holocaust memory as a potential arbiter of transformation in the present.
“‘Indian Doctresses’ in the 19th-century United States”
This project focuses on “Indian doctresses” who operated at the intersection of 19th-century cultural values and beliefs regarding womanhood, medicine, and American Indians. Not all of the women under consideration were of Native ancestry, but they all mobilized widespread ideas about indigeneity to seek entrepreneurial success as healers. Investigating the history of this occupation provides a window onto the ways that women from a wide variety of backgrounds fused care-giving skills with popular assumptions about American Indians to make a living. Central among those assumptions were two common associations: one linking indigenous knowledge to the natural world and one linking Native women to transgressive motherhood. Although they were real women, working in the cities of the 19th-century United States, Indian doctresses thus also became useful symbolic figures upon whom changing conceptions of race, gender, and class could be projected.
“Modernist Magdalenes and Spinster Sisters”
This project presents a counter-narrative for the spinster, aiming to correct a prevalent, reviled image of unmarried women specifically in the Modernist period between 1885 and 1945 when transatlantic political reform made independent living more widely available to women in the across the English-speaking world. Literatures of this period both reflect on and produce imagined lives for single women. Considering the nonnormative sexual and social worlds of economically independent women, serial monogamists, “fallen” women, celibates, lesbians, and “failed” heterosexuals, all of whom appear as spinsters in modernist fiction, allows readers a subtler understanding of women’s thought and experience during a transitional period in gender history.
“Disaggregating ‘Japanese’ Doctors in Colonial Korea: A Preliminary Prosopographical Analysis”
Japan’s colonization of Korea from 1910 to 1945 is often characterized by its fine-toothed organization of colonial bureaucrats that regulated every aspect of the lives of its twenty million colonial subjects. The role of Japanese medical doctors is also understood in this light of colonial micro-management. What is problematic though is that this broad depiction of Japanese doctors as quintessential instruments of colonial biopolitics is made only with a study of a handful of exemplary cases that can be conveniently pigeonholed into a stereotypical image of colonial medicine and its practitioners. In this project, Kim analyzes prosopographical features of Japanese doctors as a whole, with a view to significantly advancing our understanding of the nature of medical science in the development and management of Japan’s most significant colony.
“Nicholas Said, the Civil War, and the Emergence of African American Narrative”
This project examines the literary career of Nicholas Said, a Muslim man from Bornu (near Lake Chad in present-day northeastern Nigeria), who was enslaved in Africa, Europe, and Asia before arriving in the United States in 1860 as a freed person, where he volunteered for the 55th Massachusetts Regiment during the Civil War. This paper attempts to reconcile the popular appeal of Said’s Americanness, which facilitated the publication of his autobiography in the Atlantic Monthly in 1867, with his text which has little to say about his Civil War service. Said’s disidentification with the United States opens up space for him to inscribe himself more substantively as an African Muslim subject, which in turn productively disrupts the established formulations of nineteenth-century American literature.