2019-20 EVC Fellows

 

Eva Bertram

Associate Profesor
Politics
Professor Eva Bertram’s current research on work and inequality historicizes and politicizes the rise of contingent and “nonstandard” work arrangements in the U.S. context.  She contends that contingency and precarity are not simply the product of disembodied market forces (globalization and technological change), but are politically contested and facilitated by state actors and institutions, whose actions over time have determined the regulatory and legal contexts that define and govern work.  Drawing on archival sources, Professor Bertram exposes the often-hidden political sources and drivers of the turn(s) to contingency, from the 19th century coal mining industry to the contemporary gig economy.  The book project demonstrates that underlying the trend is a deeper political contest over what counts as work and whose work counts.  The rise in contingency has not only increased existing income inequalities through the proliferation of lower paid and less secure jobs.  It has also generated newly-salient workforce hierarchies in a labor market in which wages are not the sole marker of inequality, and employment classifications (employee, independent contractor, part-timer) increasingly determine status, security, and access to basic rights and protections. 

John Bowin

Associate Profesor
Philosophy

There has recently been a resurgence of interest in the Aristotelian notions of essentialism and hylomorphism.  Essentialism is the doctrine that members of natural kinds have attributes that are necessary for their survival, e.g., certain neurological or cardiopulmonary functions in the case of animals.  Hylomorphism is the doctrine that these necessary attributes are inextricably linked to certain bodily organs, since they are related to them as function (form) to organ (matter).  Professor Bowin's project seeks to determine Aristotle's conception of how alterations in matter, e.g., in bodily organs, relate to the coming to be and passing away of a substance, understood as the gain and loss of substantial form, e.g., bodily function. 

Gina Dent

Associate Profesor
Feminist Studies

Anchored to the Real focuses on the relationship between emerging social sciences in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and African-American literary production. It is a study of the consequences—both disabling and productive—of social science’s role in translating black writers into American literature. The project also engages the tautological structure of the treatment of black culture in literature by asking how a specific notion of culture gets produced within the literary canon and how that canon then gets read as cultural evidence. Positing an alternative model, it finds its best examples in the writings of black authors themselves––including Anna Julia Cooper, W.E.B. Du Bois, Charles Chesnutt, James Weldon Johnson, Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, and Toni Morrison.  

Maria Evangelatou

Associate Profesor
History of Art and Visual Culture

Theia graphe: textintervisual discourse and imaginative devotion in the ninth-century Byzantine psalters is a book project that studies three illustrated Byzantine psalters produced around the end of Iconoclasm (the religious, cultural, and political movement of the 8th-9th centuries that condemned the use of religious images in Byzantium and prompted a strong iconophile response with a lasting impact on later Byzantine culture). Through a close visual analysis of the miniatures in connection to the relevant psalter text and the broader cultural context of the time, Professor Evangelatou argues that these illustrated codices have much deeper cultural significance than previously recognized in scholarship. Firstly, their ties to iconophile polemics are much more extensive than scholars acknowledge. Secondly, they reference fundamental cultural concepts that shed more light on the belief system and visual strategies of Byzantine society, especially as they pertain to perceptions of time, history, and identity through the use of biblical narratives. In addition, Professor Evangelatou argues that the images of these psalters functioned as cultural hyperlinks (or mnemonic stepping stones) that activated a wide range of possible meanings in the minds of Byzantine readers by facilitating diverse connections between other textual and visual references prominent in their culture, in a generative textintervisual process—a combined intertextuality and intervisuality. By extension, she suggests that in Byzantium the devotional reading of illustrated books was a particularly creative act in which what was seen would activate cultural memory and generate diverse meanings that were not already stored in books, but were developed in the productive minds of readers. Therefore, readers would become producers of content rather than mere consumers or explorers of pre-stored information. This creative agency of Byzantine readers sheds more light on the dynamic and multilayered nature of Byzantine visual and cultural production.

Irene Gustafson

Associate Profesor
Film and Digital Media

Home Work is a feature length essay film which asks the questions: Whom does the city belong to? Who or what can participate in the metropolis? The film answers these questions through the depiction of three events: a San Francisco based social welfare program that paired people in supportive housing with dogs; an urban ‘forest’ in the city’s central Tenderloin District; and the number 14 Mission public bus line. The film is a meditation on the city as site of contact across sameness and difference, a place of human and non-human entanglement, where political affects and social realities play out in the theater of public space. 

Mingui Hu

Associate Profesor
History

Professor Minghui Hu's current book project centers on the territorial expansion and state formation of China’s last empire—the Qing (1637—1912) in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He will unpack the Qing’s geo-epistemology— the ways in which the Qing state framed and envisioned its territory in political, military and ideological languages. The book consists of five thematic approaches, with each of them constituting a chapter. They are (1) territory (2) geodesy (3) hydrography (4) Classics and (5) Politics. The book will provide a new interpretation of the ruling elites in Qing China and examine the nexus of territory and politics before the advent of European imperialism and their implementation of extraterritoriality on the Chinese coast.

L.S. Kim

Associate Profesor
Film and Digital Media

Professor L.S. Kim's fellowship project involves two areas of Asian American cultural production: Asian American feminisms, and Asian American film criticism. She aims to write an article about Asian American femininity and feminism on screen and "behind the scenes," and to establish and launch a book-length project about Asian American media makers and media-making. This research explores conditions in specific eras for Asian American artists to produce work – silent cinema, the golden age of film and television, new waves (plural), and the digital age, i.e., the Internet as artistic outlet. While recognizing racial hierarchy and even racism as an institutional frame, Professor Kim is interested in identifying factors (both intentional and accidental) that enable minority artistic expression. She is particularly interested in the relationship/s between race and genre, considering realms such as: dance, music, filmmaking, beauty vlogging, activism, and sports performances and imagery. The breadth of genres may be surprising, and the choice and venue of self-representation is key in the analysis of Asian American strategic practices. This new research delves into an understudied history of Asian American figures in and contingent to Hollywood. 
In both of these research projects, the shared theme is two-fold. First, a re-organization of the dialectic between the so-called margin and the proverbial center: Asian American artists and feminists have redefined the margins, eschewing the drive towards the maintstream/center and are creating work that has significance, resonance, and affect. Second, Professor Kim argues that contrary to popular knowledge, there have been Asian Americans working in Hollywood and beyond since early on; at the same time, her research argues against a teleological view that racial equality comes with the passage of time.

Andrew Mathews

Associate Profesor
Anthropology

Professor Andrew Mathews is an environmental anthropologist, and Associate Professor of Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz. He holds a dual Ph.D. in forestry and anthropology from Yale University, and a Masters in forestry from Oxford University. His first book, Instituting Nature, (MIT Press, 2011) focused on indigenous forest management and environmental history in Mexico, and received the Harold and Margaret Sprout award of the International Studies Association in 2012. His current book project, Plant Politics, investigates climate change, biomass energy politics and Anthropocene futures in Italian landscapes. This book develops a transdisciplinary array of methods to analyze human/plant/pathogen interactions which affect contemporary landscapes and politics. This book draws on his life long practice of walking over and looking closely at landscapes, trees, plants, and soils, on his training in forest ecology, and on traditions of natural history observation and writing. In this project he uses drawings of the forms of trees and terraces as evidence of the response of non-humans to cultivation practices, epidemic diseases, or natural disasters, with the aim of exploring the political and ecological impacts of global environmental change.

Steven McKay

Associate Profesor
Sociology

Professor Steven McKay's research project examines the curious fact that the world's most global industry and labor market - commercial shipping - is dominated by workers from a single country, the Philippines.  In his book Born to Sail? Race, Masculinity and the Making of Filipino Seafarers, McKay draws on his multi-sited ethnography onboard ocean-going ships, at the global spot-labor market in Manila, and in seafarer-sending communities in the provincial Philippines to examine the emergence and meaning of the Filipino labor niche in global shipping. The study allows Professor McKay to contribute to theoretical debates across three key areas: gender and masculinities; race and migration; and labor in the global economy. 

Cecilia Rivas

Associate Profesor
Latin American and Latino Studies

Professor Cecilia M. Rivas is researching and writing a book about modernity in El Salvador. This interdisciplinary project aims to shed light on the complexity of cultural productions, collective memories, and narratives of Salvadoran identity, from the early 20th century and into the present. The book focuses on ideas and concepts of territories, landscapes, and institutions. As it analyzes the contradictory meanings of modernity, this project connects decades of social change and transformative events in this Central American country.

Vanita Seth

Associate Profesor
Politics

In both scholarly writings and popular perception, the human face is privileged as the site of our individuality, the expressive locus where our emotions and thoughts - our interior selves - find expression. It is through the face that we attain access to the inner thoughts and feelings of an other. Professor Vanita Seth's book seeks to historicize the natural authority we accord the human face. She argues that the elevation of the face as the site of an interiorized self has not always already existed, that it is, in fact, a product of the nineteenth century and its history, moreover, is closely tethered to the  production of individual subjectivity in the modern era.

Alice Yang

Associate Profesor
History

Professor Alice Yang’s manuscript on Japanese American women’s activism examines the history of women’s protest against mass incarceration and detention between World War II and 2018. The study provides an intersectional analysis of historical memories of Japanese American women’s resistance that spans the wartime camps, antiwar protests in the 1970s, redress in the 1980s, and recent protests against Donald Trump’s travel ban and family separation policies. It analyzes women’s collective memories of trauma, protests against a wartime loyalty questionnaire and the draft, petitions, strikes, demonstrations, research, government testimony, court battles, grassroots campaigns, and political lobbying. The study contributes to interdisciplinary scholarship on gender, critical race theory, memory construction, trauma narratives, commemorative rituals, performativity, and transnational restorative justice.