Anjuli Fahlberg (Sociology)
“Activism under Fire: The Politics of Non-Violence in Rio de Janeiro’s Most Dangerous Favela”
(Under contract, Oxford University Press) This book project examines how activists are able to organize for resources and rights in poor urban neighborhoods governed by drug gangs. Across Latin America, poverty has not only urbanized, but has also been faced with rising “social violence” caused by small-scale warfare between drug traffickers and militarized police forces. Poverty and violence, along with centuries of racial inequality, have provoked innumerable obstacles to social mobilization in gang-dominated neighborhoods. Despite these challenges, the book argues that social movements remain possible in gang territories. The book is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted between 2014 and 2018 in Cidade de Deus, Rio de Janeiro’s most dangerous gang-dominated favela. By strategically occupying emergent political, cultural, and urban/global openings, activists play a critical role in the governance of the neighborhood while also organizing for citizenship rights. As the book demonstrates, when we shift our focus away from the obstacles to social molibization and towards the opportunities and creative actions of the urban poor, we uncover the many possibilities for non-violent collective action in the very terrains believed to be the most inhospitable to democratic engagement.
Ronna Johnson (English; American Studies)
“Inventing Jack Kerouac: Reception and Reputation 1957-2007”
This project, a book-length manuscript titled “Inventing Jack Kerouac: Reception and Reputation 1957-2007,” is under contract at Camden House Press in its distinguished series, Studies in American Literature and Culture: Literary Criticism in Perspective, a series of single-authored books on the state of literary scholarship and criticism on a major author, or a literary school or movement. My study in this series traces popular and scholarly responses to Kerouac from the publication of On the Road in 1957 to 2007, its celebrated fiftieth anniversary. In addition to marking trends in Kerouac reception, my study notes conflicting assessments of his literary achievements that obscure recognitions of his innovations in and advancement of American writing; his work’s anticipations of the emerging postmodern in culture and arts. The project draws on reception theory to evaluate fifty years of academic and mass media interpretations of the artist and his work.
Melinda Latour (Musicology)
“The Voice of Virtue: Moral Song in Late Renaissance France, 1574-1652”
This project is the first book-length study of moral song, a fascinating domain of musical activity that gained traction during the Wars of Religion in late sixteenth-century France. Whereas Medieval ethics developed within the boundaries of professional philosophy, the Renaissance saw an explosion of informal interest in moral philosophy created by and for non-specialists. This will be the first book to illuminate song as one such expression of informal ethics, animating moral principles–––drawn primarily from Stoicism–––for a broad community of musicians and listeners, including women and children. The presence of this musical corpus, singing Stoicism, offers a previously unknown source of evidence for just how far this moral philosophy penetrated into the mainstream, lettered culture of the period. Even more importantly, this repertoire of thoughtfully-crafted polyphonic settings suggests a mode of engagement that offered a way of practicing Stoic therapeutic exercises through a multi-sensory alignment of musical and moral practice. It is thus through both circumscribing moral song as a printed genre and considering its analytical and performative use that we can see its true significance, shedding light not only on the influence of Stoicism on music; but also, and perhaps most importantly, showing that we cannot truly understand Neostoicism as an intellectual or cultural movement without taking account of its vibrant musical sounds.
Diana Martinez (Architectural Studies)
“Concrete Colonialism: Architecture, Infrastructure, Urbanism, and the American Colonial Project in the Philippines”
Concrete Colonialism focuses on two different though interconnected uses of the word concrete, both of which were central to a largely overlooked chapter of American history—the American colonization of the Philippines (1898-1945). Originally a logician’s term meaning “actual and solid,” the word concrete only came to refer to the building material in the mid-nineteenth century, a popular usage emerging co-incident with the industrial production of Portland cement—a material that American producers and promoters argued would enable the construction of an era of durable American greatness. The dawn of an American “Concrete Age”—an era otherwise referred to as the Progressive Era was also a time that saw the emergence of a language of “concrete” values; of actual, specific and measurable results. This period in history saw the apparent focus of American governance shift from the abstract and foundational principles of liberty towards more tangible values of investments and returns, i.e. on ‘development.’ This book examines the construction of American colonial institutional and infrastructural projects (government buildings, ports, forts, bridges, roads, housing and prisons) through the analysis of concrete’s (and sometimes Portland cement’s) qualities; portability, reproducibility, stability, salubrity, strength, plasticity, and esemplasticity. Through an examination of these agencies and through an analysis of the transformations that they trigger, I aim to demonstrate that concrete was not only a material used widely across America’s new possession in the Far East, but also played a role in shaping both colonial subjectivities and new forms of global governance.
Kristin Skrabut (Urban Policy; Anthropology)
“Extreme Lives: Poverty & Intimacy in Urban Peru”
This book project examines the relationship between global imaginaries of poverty, Peruvians’ domestic ideals, and unruly patterns of urban development. Drawing on 24 months of multi-sited ethnographic research in Peruvian shantytowns, the manuscript argues that as “extreme poverty” is mediated by official reports and popular imagery, it is domesticated in two senses. Poverty is identified, quantified and controlled, but also understood and experienced through domestic space and intimate relations. Bolstered by trends in international development, the Peruvian state endeavors to fight poverty through the strategic deployment of legal documents that promise to secure property rights, stabilize domestic dynamics, and produce morally upright citizens. At the level of the household, however, politics and bureaucratic documents intertwine with kinship and sexual moralities to generate new insecurities and marginalize non-normative family forms, particularly female-headed households. By ethnographically refusing to treat “the poor” as a distinct set, and instead showing how people move in and out of poverty in space and time, this research challenges universalizing discourses of “global poverty,” illustrates how formality and informality intertwine in everyday life, and identifies emergent patterns of social exclusion in Latin America.