2009 Fellowships

Winter 2010 Graduate Student Fellows Roundtable Participants
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Andrea Dominguez (Literature) – Ghostly Ruins: Disaster and Collective Memory This paper examines narratives of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire that are primarily concerned with questions of blood, race, and miscegenation. I consider Sara Dean’s Travers (1907), Gertrude Atherton’s The Avalanche (1919), and Alan Crosland’s 1927 film Old San Francisco in relation to the tension between erasure and memory, between the politicized narratives of destruction and rebuilding that the quake prompted. This paper is thus perhaps most concerned with identifying and problematizing the “type” of Californian that is “most fit” to survive in a post-quake San Francisco. In order to build a stronger city, these texts struggle with the cultural conflations between progress and whiteness. As a result, the quake also prompts a reimagining – a rebuilding - of constructions of whiteness in early twentieth-century San Francisco.

Cathleen Kozen (Ethnic Studies) – ‘Never Again!’: Tracing a Politics of Japanese Latin American Redress as Global Justice Via a tracing of the ongoing California-based struggle for redress from the U.S. government for the internment of Japanese Latin Americans during WWII, this paper addresses key questions concerning the politics of redress as it contends with categories of citizenship, local practices of recognition and belonging, and national and global frameworks of racial and social justice. It asks: What are the limits and transformative possibilities of Japanese Latin American redress as justice within the present post-cold war, (post-)colonial global context in which the U.S. continually re-emerges as the world’s leading military and moral authority – the administrator of civil and human rights around the globe?

Adam Lewis (Literature) – Filibusters, Print Cultures, and the Contradictions of Imperial Citizenship William Walker gained notoriety in the 1850s for his two-year occupation of Nicaragua. Walker consistently insisted on his claim to the Presidency as a naturalized Nicaraguan citizen. This article focuses on Walker’s claims to naturalized citizenship and the transformations taking place in Nicaragua following the U.S. acquisition of California. Walker “becoming Nicaraguan” and Nicaragua “becoming American” both highlight what I am calling “imperial citizenship.” I look at this process through his newspaper, El Nicarguense, and the pictorial journalism of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.

Eun Smith (Visual Arts) – Korean American Artists and the 1992 L.A. Riot Through contextualizing issues of identity formation as influenced by the 1992 social upheaval in Los Angeles, my project explores how social, historical, and cultural ideas as influenced by this event are formulated in the works of Korean American artists. The focus of the project is on understanding how artists use visual art to articulate their conception of self and cultural identification as Korean Americans living in the United States. I will explicate how the artworks show the confluence in the development of identity formation that is achieved through specific struggles in history that involves shifts within the political and ideological relationship, and how it affects the idea of “placeness” in the analysis of the artists and the work that they create.

Michelle Stuckey (Literature) – “The Best Kind of People”: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Biofuturity, and the Panama Pacific International Exposition In “‘The Best Kind of People’: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Biofuturity, and the Panama Pacific International Exposition,” I explore how Charlotte Perkins Gilman's utopian novel, Herland, was informed by the Panama Pacific International Exposition. Both Gilman’s Herland and the PPIE elucidate the discursive formation that I am calling “biofuturity.” Central to Herland and the PPIE is not only the extension of U.S. empire, and in conjunction, the restructuring of colonial spaces both real and imagined, but also the envisioning of a eugenic body, a vision of a white American body that has overcome the “disabling” effects of overcivilization. This eugenic body is figured in Gilman’s work through the sexually androgynous, “Aryan” women who have managed to implement eugenic breeding without the help of men, thereby creating a race of healthy, genetically fit women. It also pervades the PPIE; for example, one of the most popular displays was the Race Betterment exhibit. By placing Gilman at the San Francisco fair, I attempt to expand on recent Gilman scholarship that has begun to read her work not only in the context of domestic social reform movements but also as deeply entrenched in the complicated politics of nativism and colonialism of this period.

Spring 2010 Graduate Student Fellows Roundtable Participants
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Long T. Bui (Ethnic Studies) – “Little Ms. Saigon: Through the Looking Glass of Art, Politics and Community” This talk concerns the recent “F.O.B. II” controversy in which hundreds of Vietnamese American protestors challenged and shutdown an art exhibit put on by a Viet arts organization based in Orange County, California. Insofar as the mainstream media portrayed this conflict as an ideological struggle between the anticommunism of mostly older, male war veterans who challenged the artistic freedom of younger female organizers labeling the latter communists, the presenter will discuss how this violent public contestation opened up deep divides over issues of community, identity, nationalism, cultural autonomy, sexism and home.

Cutler Edwards (History) – “Interethnic Politics and Public Protest in 1970s San Diego” San Diego since mid-century has largely been written in brown and white; histories of Mexican-American struggles and of the Chicano Movement have provided a corrective to the boosterism and nostalgia that runs through literature valorizing San Diego as “America’s Finest City.” But this frame leaves out a more complex network of relations that have ebbed and flowed since before World War II. Reconsidering a pivotal moment, the founding of Chicano Park in April 1970, suggests that anti-development activism in San Diego helped spark interracial politics. But Chicano Park was only one point on a continuum of interethnic alliances that worked to reshape the city’s relations of race and power in the late 1960s and the 1970s. This talk highlights a constellation of coalitions that might allow us to consider San Diego’s history of political activism and struggles for social justice in a new light.

Marla Fuentes (Literature) – “Traditional Sellout Narratives in The Shrunken Head of Pancho Villa and Los Vendidos” The Shrunken Head of Pancho Villa (1964) is Chicano playwright Luis Valdez’s first full-length play, the first of many works as both a solo playwright and a collaborator with El Teatro Campesino where the concept of venderse (selling out) is explored. This paper examines what the presenter terms a “traditional sellout narrative” in the context of The Shrunken Head of Pancho Villa and the acto Los Vendidos (1967). Valdez provides a traditional sellout narrative in The Shrunken Head of Pancho Villa that he and El Teatro Campesino later rewrite in Los Vendidos. In these works, Valdez and El Teatro Campesino highlight the working and living conditions of migrant farmworkers and other working-class Chicanas/os in California preceding and during the 1960s while offering commentary on cultural citizenship, political activism, and social justice.

Israel Pastrana (History) – “Made to Be Undocumented: Making Sense of Contradiction in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986” This paper investigates the enforcement and implementation of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act on the Tijuana-San Diego border. Scholarship on IRCA has focused on the law’s myriad contradictions and paradoxes; between amnesty and enforcement, policy objectives and outcomes, citizenship and alienage. This approach, the presenter argues, falls short when accounting for the many ways the law’s mandates—namely amnesty or legalization—blurred with, overlapped, and at times even bled into one another. Despite the law’s promise to vigorously and uniformly enforce immigration laws while safeguarding the rights and dignity of all, the line between citizens and aliens was easier to draw on paper than to enforce in the field. In contrast to the “immigration paradox” that frame discussions of IRCA, the examples explored here point to a complexity and ambiguity in the interpretation and enforcement of immigration law. The presenter will conclude by suggesting how cultural production—in this case, the music of norteño icons Los Tigres del Norte—might help scholars move beyond these binary interpretation and adopt a conceptual vocabulary better capable of explaining the demands of life across borders.




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