2021-22 EVC Fellows

Mark Amengual

Associate Profesor
Languages and Applied Linguistics

“Cross-linguistic influence in bilingual speech” This project investigates patterns of cross-linguistic influence in the speech of various groups of Spanish-English bilinguals in California, Spain, and Mexico. More specifically, acoustic data from a large corpus of bilingual speech is analyzed to examine the pronunciation of sounds that are acoustically similar, but slightly different in Spanish and English, such as the voiceless stop /p,t,k/ and the lateral /l/ consonants, but also sounds that are the result of language-specific processes, such as the pronunciation of /b,d,g/ in Spanish and unstressed vowel reduction in English. This interdisciplinary research project integrates experimental approaches in order to examine bilingual speech, the linguistic and extra-linguistic factors that shape their performance, and how their languages interact. In broad terms, the book provides novel data that shed light on how the bilingual language experience, language learning history, language dominance, proficiency levels, and cognitive factors affect the production, perception, and processing of both languages of the bilingual individual.

Lora Bartlett

Associate Profesor
Education

Professor Lora Bartlett’ s research advances and develops knowledge related to teachers’ professional commitment, conceptions of teacher professionalism, and the composition of the teacher workforce. She is interested in schools as workplaces for teachers and teachers’ lived experiences of both school and the teaching profession. Her current research project Suddenly Distant: Teachers work in the context of COVID-19 examines how COVID has shaped teachers’ work and the implications for the teaching profession and educational equity. This in-depth qualitative study followed 75 teachers in nine states from the spring of 2020 to the summer of 2021 to examine their pandemic experience and response. Analyses considers the localized educational experience of COVID-19 through the lens of crisis disaster theory, unpacks the framing of teachers as essential workers and the implications for state level response, and specifies the structural school hybrid models employed during the pandemic and the variation in instructional demands on teachers.

Shelly Chan

Associate Profesor
History

Professor Chan is beginning a new book project entitled “Geographies of Chinese History: Transnational and Transregional Perspectives.” Focusing on the production of time and space in the writing of Chinese history, Chan's research challenges the dominant view that diaspora is no more than a construct based on reified ethnic and cultural identities (“Chineseness”), but rather stresses its historicity as lived experiences embedded in social and political realities. This proposition pushes beyond the well-understood function of diaspora to deconstruct the nation-state, showing instead a new method of analysis that recognizes the significance of social geographies created during processes of displacement or circulation. Chan's focus is thus the material dimension of the diaspora experience, pushing against certain criticisms that reduce diaspora to a discourse synonymous or complicit with transnational nationalism, global capitalism, or even anti-Asian racism (Wong 1995, Anderson 1998, Dirlik 2012). Rather, she situates the Chinese diaspora within a transnational and transregional history of mass emigration, settlement and return, so as to chart the proliferation of Chinese times, spaces, and agencies in a complex system of empires, nations, and communities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These are places to write Chinese history, but they have been effaced in narratives privileging a national geography of China. Facing the specter of China’s rise as a global power today, efforts to recapture the diaspora condition, in all of its richness and contradictions, are critical and remain the best inoculation against grand theories, myths, and taboos. Arguably, it is only through a diaspora history faithful to the divisions within and connections beyond—a re-commitment to historicity and sociality—that we may discover the promises and failures of colonialism, nationhood, and globalization in new and connected ways.

Grace Delgado

Associate Profesor
History

White Over Black: The Sordid History of Human Trafficking as Sexual Slavery asks why trafficking developed as an elastic term that attracts widespread support towards its abolition. It proposes that the present-day use of the term “trafficking” rests on a sordid history of half-truths, false equivalencies, and the consent of many to be deceived about the central differences between slavery and intimate labor. At the heart of the sordid history of trafficking lay a negationist view of racial chattel slavery that simultaneously appropriated and minimized black persons’ referent pain to elevate white slavery over black slavery. It likened the transatlantic slave trade and the subjugation of bondspersons to the turn of the twentieth-century international traffic in white slaves. And it advanced as sexual slavery, the commercial sex of white women and girls, an evil alleged as more iniquitous than black slavery. By 1890, white slavery overcame black slavery in the reconciliationist temperament of Gilded Age and Progressive-era America. After that and until the present day, the fight against white slavery took hold in specific arguments, organizations, and laws as “trafficking” in white immigrant women and girls in prostitution and equalized them with black persons in chattel slavery experientially.

Jennifer Horne

Associate Profesor
Film & Digital Media

Professor Horne's project, “Documentary Distortions: The USIA, Exporting Democracy, and Foreign Sites of Exhibition," is both an article in progress and preparation for an edited collection of essays on the United States Information Agency's film service. Generally, this project takes on the unique historical status of the short and feature-length documentaries produced by and for the United States Information Agency for distribution to foreign audiences from the Eisenhower administration and into the Kennedy/Johnson years. As historical objects, institutional considerations of access and circulation–the American agency’s labyrinthian bureaucratic structure, its priority alignment to the shifting US foreign policies of transitions between Executive Branch occupants, and, above all, the legislation that prevented USIA films from being shown in the US until 1991 without explicit permission–ebbed our scholarly focus to just a handful of celebrated American film directors, award-winning titles, or footnotes to career biographies. Under the direction of George Stevens, Jr. and Edward R. Murrow, the agency’s filmmaking division employed the work of a select set of young and male (and mostly white) filmmakers who could portray American life and do so with a confident, often personalized, cinematic voice. Guided by the mandate to advance the United States’ foreign policy aims specifically in regions of anti-communist and pro-development frames of reference, social documentarians such as Leo Seltzer, James Blue, Ed Emshwiller, Kent Mackensie, Haskell Wexler, D.A. Pennebaker, William Greaves, Charles Guggenheim, were journeymen for the agency to film survey documentaries of American rural life, make city symphony-style poems about American architecture, tell uplifting character-driven stories of citizenship at work, and issue postcard films about politicians and American policy campaigns. This project will resituate these films and filmmaking in the longer tradition of American civic film use, the goal of which has been to shape and define what constituted citizenship in the realm of declining public sphere participation.

Sikina Jinnah

Associate Profesor
Environmental Studies

Do United Nations Summits Matter?: Exploring How Summits Influence Ideas in Global Environmental Politics This collaborative project investigates the influence of United Nations mega-summits on the design of subsequent international environmental agreements (IEAs). At these summits, states have adopted several  declarations formalizing sets of principles related to environmental governance, which are notoriously vague, housed in soft law instruments, and are difficult to enforce. Yet, even soft principles can provide useful guidance for the elaboration of more specific norms, rules and procedures, including as related to questions of equity and justice. In this context, this paper asks how these principles have influenced the design of IEAs. This paper’s contributions are threefold. First, it contributes to our understanding of UN summits’ normative influence. This is a timely reminder at a time when there is growing skepticism about multilateral governance and global conferences. Second, this paper contributes to the diffusion literature. In the field of environmental politics, most of this literature has focused on the diffusion of domestic policies or the diffusion of institutional forms rather than the diffusion of ideas. Third, this paper enhances our understanding of factors that influence the design of international institutions; it relaxes the rationalist assumptions underlying most of this literature in showing how the design of agreements is context-dependent.

Kate Jones

Associate Profesor
History

Before Juvenile Justice: Incarcerating Children in the Age of Emancipation explores why and how the population of children confined to Virginia’s state penitentiary grew dramatically between the end of the Civil War and the establishment of fully functioning juvenile facilities in the early twentieth century. Professor Jones argues that uncovering the scale of children’s incarceration in the wake of the Civil War illuminates a critical continuity between slavery and postemancipation life in the disruption of Black families, a continuity that carried serious social, economic, and political consequences. Further, focusing on this episode of child incarceration, which began well before the late nineteenth century “crisis” of juvenile delinquency, demonstrates that the disproportionate imprisonment of Black children preceded and fueled emerging biological discourses about criminality in the late nineteenth century. This, in turn, helps explain why juvenile justice reform succeeded in making imprisonment almost impossible for white children yet commonplace for Black children. In using the penitentiary archive to shed light on Black children’s experiences of postwar punishment, Jones has tried to resist the institution’s tendency to set the boundaries of the narrative. By structuring this history as a collective biography of the children who passed through the penitentiary she hopes to illuminate the patterns of policing and legal treatment of children that enabled the dramatic growth of the state’s penal systems while also honoring incarcerated children's individual experiences.

Cynthia Ling Lee

Associate Profesor
Theater Arts

Professor Ling-Lee's two-part research project interrogates the racialized and colonial underpinnings of dominant categories of dance and approaches to choreography. Her journal article, “Dancing Misfits, Contesting Categories: Josefina’s Báez’s Dominicanish and Cynthia Ling Lee’s Lost Chinatowns," examines work by US-based minoritarian artists who strain at the epistemological limits of contemporary and ethnic/world dance labels. What happens when there are “mismatches” between dancing bodies, physical/aesthetic techniques, and subject matter, yet none of the three are steeped in whiteness or Eurocentrism? How do these dancing misfits complicate the conflation of cultural identity and aesthetic belonging, disturbing dance as racialized self-representation within liberal multiculturalism and as ethnocultural nationalism in postcolonial contexts? Ling-Lee also plans to launch a new book project: an edited volume on South Asian methods of performance-making. This book, which combines practical creative exercises gathered from experimental South Asian dance artists with my critical theoretical framing, offers a much-needed intervention to the dominance of western concert dance aesthetics in existing English-language choreography texts. Her research questions include: how does natya, as a multifaceted performance art, work against Western disciplinary separations? How do the musical principles of nritta, or abstract rhythmic dance, suggest ways of composing rhythm and body and vocal percussion that deviate from Euro-American movement invention? How might the storytelling techniques of abhinaya and the aesthetic theory of rasa offer approaches to emotion and textual interpretation that resemble “theater” more than “dance”?

Tanya Merchant

Associate Profesor
Music

Sustainable Practices and Flexible Roles: North American Contra Dancers Making Music and Community in the 21 st Century will be the first book-length ethnography of contra dance, and will situate contra dance among other practices that stem from the folk revival movement of the 1960s and 70s (such as shape note singing and large folk festivals). This project engages in long-standing ethnomusicological discourse on music, preservation, and cultural sustainability, as well as current conversations about gender and sexuality. Contra dance has maintained popularity since the 18 th century and now boasts a dance community that is diverse in age, gender identity, sexuality, and religious affiliation. Its emphasis on community action contributes significantly to its longevity, since organization, management, and its obligatory live music and calling must come from the community itself. The advent of COVID-19 turned social dances into super spreader events. Contra dance communities again adapted, shifting to online platforms that compensated for the latency involved in live online performance. This transition online occurred in the midst of other recent shifts, including dance callers responding to community pressure for inclusivity through non-gendered dance role terms and ending the practice of limiting dance attendance according to the gender binary. Musical changes (new tunes, instrumentation, and choreographic conventions) and extra-musical changes (non- gendered calling, codes of conduct, and other new terminology) expand the borders of the contra dance community, allowing it to welcome young people and populations who are not heritage practitioners (i.e., not descendants of the European colonizers who brought it to the Americas from England). This book seeks to locate contra dance current adaptations within larger cultural projects around inclusivity and accessibility to better understand how social dance practices manifest social change.

Megan Moodie

Associate Profesor
Anthropology

During the fellowship period, Professor Moodie will be finishing a hybrid-genre, public-facing book The Birthright Exhibits, which is based on autoethnographic accounts of her diagnosis and life with a genetic connective tissue disorder, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Type III. In addition to first-person narrative, the book comibes political-legal analysis of the (non)workings of the U.S. medical system with a tour through a set of “exhibits” of work by feminist artists. The central argument of The Birthright Exhibits is that it is to expressive culture (from a wide range of times and places) that chronically ill and disabled women turn to find the strength to persevere in the face of grave difficulty and systemic gaslighting. The Birthright Exhibits seeks to expand the kinds of storytelling anthropologists can undertake; as a work of creative non-fiction that always honors the imaginary in the real, the book is an example of research-creation – that is, a project that explicitly brings together creative arts and social sciences – to explore themes related to disability, motherhood, art, embodiment, inheritance and medical knowledge.

Pratigya Polissar

Associate Profesor
Ocean Sciences

Professor Pratigya Polissar’s fellowship project addresses the origin of modern savanna ecosystems through their geologic history. Savannas are a globally important ecosystem whose modern distributions reflect environmental factors such as rainfall, temperature, and fire- vegetation feedbacks. Modern savannas are dominated by grass species that use the C 4 photosynthetic pathway. Plants using the C 4 pathway have competitive advantages over C 3 plants (savanna trees and shrubs) under low atmospheric CO 2 levels, warm growing season temperatures, seasonal rainfall, and frequent fire disturbance. Rising CO 2 levels are predicted to tip the competition between C 3 trees and C 4 grasses to favor increasing forest cover with potentially irrevocable savanna loss in the very near future. Whether such changes will occur includes uncertainties in feedbacks such as fires that facilitate plant competition. The geologic history of savannas, particularly the establishment and expansion of C 4 savannas over the past 10 million years, can provide useful constraints on these predicted changes. For this fellowship, Polissar will synthesize data on the timing and drivers of C 4 savanna expansion, inferring the global factors such as pCO 2 and global climate, and local factors such as rainfall and fire, that led to the cluster of C 4 ecosystem establishment ages between 10 and 5 million years ago. These results will be used to contextualizing the effects of future pCO 2 rise, temperature change, and rainfall patterns, against this geologic record of ecosystem change.

Heather Savage

Associate Profesor
Earth & Planetary Sciences

Prof. Heather Savage’s fellowship project addresses how hot faults get during earthquakes due to friction. Answering this question is important for several reasons: 1) Temperature on faults during earthquakes affects overall fault strength, 2) Mapping paleoearthquakes in the field will lead to better understanding of earthquake rupture propagation, and 3) Evaluating the total energy expended during earthquakes will inform models of the earthquake cycle. Using the maturation of organic matter in fault rocks as evidence of earthquake temperature rise, Prof. Savage and her colleagues have previously established that organic molecules react at short timescales (seconds-minutes) when heated to high temperatures making them an effective paleothermometer. Professor Savage will focus on two related topics during her fellowship. The first will focus on quantifying temperature rise during earthquakes and the frictional energy expended during fault slip. Higher temperatures profoundly weaken faults which may allow earthquakes to keep growing. This paper will explore the range of earthquake temperatures measured to date and the frictional energy expended during earthquakes. The second focus is slip localization (why earthquakes occur on thin layers and why these layers cluster together). Answering these questions will help us understand how earthquakes keep propagating once they’ve started.