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
“Uranium Extraction and Electrified Imaginaries: Putting African Cinema in Conversation with Energy Humanities”
During her Glasscock Internal Fellowship semester, Carmela Garritano worked on two chapters of her current book project, which draws on the methods of Energy Humanities to investigate the energy activism and imaginaries of recent African film and screen media. In Resource Extraction and Temporalities of Waiting in Idrissou Mora Kpai’s Arlit, Deuxième Paris, she attend to the formal expression of waiting in Kpai’s poetic documentary. Set in Arlit, Niger, a small town simultaneously dependent on and devastated by uranium mining, the documentary exploits cinematic duration and distance —two features associated with so-called slow cinema—to represent the experiential dimensions of waiting imposed by the global economics of resource extraction in Africa. A second chapter of this project, tentatively called Electrifying Movies in Tamale, Ghana: Exhibition, Electrification, and the Temporal Time Lags of Modernity, examines an emergent cluster of video production and exhibition in Tamale, Ghana in relation to the country’s National Electrification Program (NEP) and the subsequent Self Help Electrification Program (SHEP). Here, she is interested describing the kinds of cultural production that materialize in the technological time lags produced by modernity’s advance. She also describe the energy unconscious of the Dagbani-language videos produced in Tamale; using the feature Piele as an example, I attempt to read electricity as it marks the form and narrative of the movie. During my coffee hour, she plans to share clips and slides from these films and share a few observations and questions about the larger project.
“Social Media and the Ordinary: Affect, Aspiration, and Transformation in Contemporary China”
In this informal talk, Cara Wallis will present her research over the past four years: an expansive study of social media use in China through four case studies: (1) the affective dimensions of communicative empowerment among a group of middle-aged female domestic workers involved with an NGO-sponsored drama club in Beijing; (2) how uses of technology for economic production become the site for the reproduction and/or reconfiguration of gender hierarchies in rural China; (3) how a diverse group of young creatives who have migrated to Beijing use social media for informal learning, social networking, and curating their creative, yet precarious lives; and (4) how young feminists (and others interested in feminism) use social media to resist misogynist discourses and practices. These processes and practices speak to larger social, economic, and cultural transformations taking place in China.
“Post-Nationalism and Its Discontents”
In her talk, Ashley Passmore will discuss what she terms a “post-post-national aesthetic” through a reading of Yael Ronen’s play, The Situation, which premiered at the Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin in 2015. The production has all the hallmarks of a post-national narrative: a community of young students, Jewish and Arab Israelis next to African and Arab Palestinians, who are learning German in the newly globalized capital. But the students discover profound limitations to the post-national ideal when national identity, language, and tribal belonging persist in the classroom, even as the play visualizes the aesthetics of open borders and multicultural expression through the leitmotifs of parkour and rap. She will show how the play reveals the post-national condition as a shallow, urban social citizenship with deep political divisions and questions whether the transition to the equanimity of the globalized gaze is impossible to adopt in any other way than as performance.
“‘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.