Faculty Fellows

Junior Research Fellows, 2020-2022

Aaron Paul Brakke (Architecture)
"Peacebuilding and Placemaking: Collective Actions in Postconflict Colombia"

Photo Credit: Tomas Bolano. Image was taken when Professor Brakke was working with the Nasa Indigenous Community in Cauca, Columbia in 2019.

“Peacebuilding and Placemaking: Collective Actions in Postconflict Colombia” investigates the collective transformations of the built environment found in the peripheries of the urban landscapes of Colombia. A series of projects have been identified that highlight interesting assemblages of people, resources, institutions, materials and knowledge that illustrate an alternative way of producing space, making cities and placemaking for people whose lives have been impacted by conflict, displacement, and loss. In a context that is haunted by multiple forms of violence, community residents and social leaders collaborate with design and architecture ‘colectivos’ to invent new imaginaries that negate the oppressive nature of traditional urban planning initiatives. By reading these arrangements through the lens of non-representational theory, the evolving quotidian social practices are examined to understand the agency of these projects and how they reframe city life for the actors involved. This investigation is concerned with developing a framework to analyze the conditions that allow unique spaces not only to be imagined, but physically created. In tracing these narratives, this scholarship will situate neighborhood interventions within larger social movements in Latin America that have underscored engagements with urban communities including Popular Education, Participatory Action Research and the Right to the City. These and other discourses are used to contemplate and articulate the tactics and strategies employed in each project, how they take shape and how they are evidenced in practice. Ultimately, this research relies on a critical understanding of the potential of these initiatives of co-creation that, although fragile and contingent, enact possibilities for better urban futures in Colombia. 


Julie Gaillard (French & Italian)
" 'Who, We?' Pronominal Politics, Citizenship, and the Rights of the Other in Hashtag-Era France" 

‘Who, We?’ explores the tensions between horizontal forms of political expression facilitated by social networks and vertical structures of representation in the specific French context to show how they currently challenge the traditional model of universalist republican citizenship inherited from the French Revolution. Drawing on linguistics, cultural studies, and contemporary francophone philosophy on community formation and republican citizenship, this book in progress questions the referential dynamics at stake in individual and collective first-person utterances in hashtags, slogans, literary testimonies and manifestos after #JeSuisCharlie, #metoo and the Yellow Vests movement. In particular, the pragmatic framework elaborated by Jean-François Lyotard in The Differend provides a crucial tool to interrogate the stakes of the intrinsic heterogeneity of the pronoun “we.” In reading the pronominal politics underlying key contemporary movements against Lyotard’s philosophy of reference, this project seeks to interrogate the conflict of legitimizations existing between ethnic, republican and neoliberal discursive models, and ultimately explore the interconnection of a post-secular “rights of the Other” and the notion of a commons where personal pronouns might need to be done away with altogether.


Senior Research Fellow, 2020-2022

Karen Flynn (Gender and Women's Studies/African American Studies)
"The Black Pacific: The African Diaspora in South East Asia" 

The Black Pacific: The African Diaspora in South East Asia makes a theoretical and conceptual shift from the Black Atlantic, which is used to reconstruct, describe, and analyze the experiences of Black diasporic populations, to the Black Pacific: an explanatory model that registers the dispersal and movement of Black people in places rarely accounted for in scholarly analysis of the African diaspora.  Thus, it expands the contours of Black internationalism, racial capitalism, and mobility studies, through the case study of young English Foreign Language (EFL) teachers of African descent who travel East Asia to teach.


Eduardo Ledesma (Spanish & Portuguese)
"Blind Cinema: Visually Impaired Cinema and the Somatic Sensorium" 

My book-length project on the subject of blind and visually impaired filmmakers and their development of a particular filmic style I am calling the “blind gaze” engages with critical disability studies and phenomenological film theory. The book has two key aims: first, to raise critical awareness about the work of blind filmmakers, and second, to establish the contours of a blind cinematic style through theories of the gaze and haptic visuality, even as the “haptic” is problematized as a theoretical term that often disregards the real-life embodied experience of the blind. Blind Cinema will also be the first book to study how visually impaired filmmakers use digital media both to make visible the experience of disability and to destabilize stereotypes about the blind. My analysis of specific films by blind and visually impaired directors, as well as of collaborations between blind and sighted filmmakers will show how the aesthetics and content of these works represent the experience of blindness as embodied, fully lived, and valuable. The project considers how new technologies of vision are giving blind filmmakers access to the tools and techniques of filmmaking and how their innovations are transforming our experience of film and of visual culture. The filmmakers I study confront the primacy of the visual not only by emphasizing other senses, but by interrogating the reliability of vision, by investigating metaphors of blindness, and by providing a phenomenological experience for sighted viewers of how sightlessness mediates perception. Cinema by visually impaired filmmakers places the sighted within the sensory experience of the non-sighted, and enables the non-sighted to engage with film, the preeminent art of vision. Blindness, as depicted, mimicked, and enacted by these films, teaches us about response to adversity, what it means to “see” and “not see,” and the epistemological limits of vision and sightedness. The book aims to empower the blind, not just as filmmakers, but as creators of a “blind gaze” that does not necessarily privilege sight, but embraces a fully embodied spectrum of the senses, a somatic sensorium.