Junior Research Fellows, 2017-2019

Eric Calderwood (Comparative and World Literature)

The Making of al-Andalus: Uses of the Past in Contemporary Mediterranean Culture
The Invention of al-Andalus explores the political uses of al-Andalus (medieval Muslim Iberia) in contemporary culture from several different geographic contexts, spanning Spain, Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and the United States.  By tracing competing and contradictory ideas about al-Andalus, the book maps out the desires that we project onto the medieval past, in order to see how that past shapes our understanding of the present.  This project challenges a tradition of scholarship about al-Andalus that has celebrated inclusivity while relying exclusively on sources in European languages and ignoring the voices of contemporary Arab and Muslim authors and artists.  It also asks larger questions about the political uses of history.  Why and how do some historical moments, like al-Andalus, become useful and useable in different cultural contexts?  Can anachronism be benign, or even desirable?

Brian Jefferson (Geography and GIScience)

Digitize and Punish: Digital Cartographies of Policing and Racialized Space Economy
While critical attention has recently turned to racialized police violence in US cities, another quiet development in urban policing is taking place. Police departments across the US have begun to wed database software with geographic information systems to represent crime cartographically. My project analyzes this development using theoretical tools drawn from critical urban geography, critical geographic information systems theory, and critical ethnic studies. Through interviews with GIScientists, analysis of city technical documents, and participant observation at police–community meetings in Flatbush, Brooklyn, and Englewood, Chicago, I chronicle how computerized crime maps ensure that negatively racialized surplus populations, the places they inhabit, and the social problems that afflict them are only representable to state authorities and the public as objects of policing and punishment. I also analyze how the pervasive spread of computerized crime maps across cyberspace and through handheld digital devices adapts public perceptions of crime to that of the policing apparatus, and mobilizes the public as appendages of police surveillance. By tracing these phenomena through my distinct combination of critical theories, my project aims to cast a heretofore unexplored interface of racialized social control and neoliberal space economy into sharp relief.

Senior Research Fellows, 2017-2019

Anita Say Chan (Media & Cinema Studies, Institute of Communications Research)

Civic Technoscience and Inclusive Innovation Practice: Co-Design for Care
Emerging spaces of civic technoscience have increasingly drawn scholarly attention for cultivating novel practices of interdisciplinary design and community-driven knowledge exchange networks that engage new digital tools among “innovation” ready publics. Whether known as hacker spaces, civic labs or maker spaces, such sites have rapidly spread across varied urban spaces worldwide. But while scholarly attention has underscored their development of new material technologies, less academic attention has been given to the importance of the development of non-material tools. Such techno-social resources, cultural genealogies, and local concerns indeed inform innovation practice. This proposed research project thus interrogates contributions such techno-social innovations make by extending explorations into the diverse, intersectional cultural genealogies that – often surprisingly - influence maker and pedagogical practices alike in Latin American hacker spaces, and that extend far beyond standard Western hacker emphases on material tinkering and mastery. These techno-social resources instead support engagements by diverse communities of vulnerable and marginalized users, including rural migrant communities, working-class youth, the elderly, and the disabled among other populations who are typically marginalized by dominant innovation-driven imaginaries. This research project studies the development of techno-social resources in Latin American civic technoscience networks to consider how they work to generate inclusive practices of care, co-design and community. It thus considers how such sites draw in and learn from diverse communities of typically marginalized users to foster new practices of inclusive co-development.

Luisa-Elena Delgado (Spanish & Portugese)

Habits of the Heart: Affective Attachments in the Public Sphere
The deconstruction of the reason/passion dichotomy undertaken by emotion and affect studies has already lead to an important critical reconsideration of the emotional dimensions of collective actions and of politics. My book in progress moves that scholarship into a comparative framework through a transnational analysis of the politics of affect and habit in relation to the multitude.  Drawing on emotion and affect theories, cultural studies and political philosophy, as well as on a broad range of cultural texts, I will explore the collective affective dispositions elicited by narratives and performances of citizenship at moments of political crisis: the movement of the Outraged in Spain (2011), independence referenda in Scotland and Catalonia (2014); peace agreement referendum in Colombia (2016); and the international wave of women’s protests that took to the streets in January and March, 2017. This project illustrates how habit and affect secure social order and conformity, but also how they can also bring about social change and new collective orientations.