Each year a specific yet broad area of research is pursued by the Center. UWM faculty, and faculty from other UW System schools and beyond, are selected to participate as Fellows. Lectures, seminars, conferences, and colloquia are coordinated around the year's research theme. The focus of our research in 2016-17 is "Naysaying."
The Center also hosts faculty from other countries who come to us with Fulbright or ACLS Fellowships, or support from their own institutions. Typically, the Center provides these International Fellows of the Center, as they are designated, with an office in the Center along with the other Center Fellows and as much research assistance, including library privileges, as possible.
The 2016-17 Fellows
“Rules for the Unruly: Legal Activism and Naysaying in India”
Although NGOs (non-governmental organizations) were part of a hopeful, associational revolution of the 1990s that birthed global social justice movements, by the turn of the century governments had increasingly placed restrictions on civil society groups. In 2015, for example, the Indian government cancelled the ability of NGOs, including the Ford Foundation, to receive foreign funding. With this history in mind, Erica Bornstein will be analyzing what legal protest and reform mean to NGOs in India that are rejecting state governance directives. These NGOs represent unruly, associational civil society groups that do not conform to market-based, state-based, or corporate models. Bornstein will use her fellowship year to continue working on her book, provisionally titled “Rules for the Unruly.”
Protests against the Construction of a Naval Base on Jeju Island, South Korea
Nan Kim’s project explores the activities of an informal coalition of residents, activists, and the Catholic Left to oppose the construction of a naval base on Jeju Island, South Korea. The protestors charge that construction will lead not only to irreversible environmental damage, but also to dangerous military instability. Besides the coalition’s political activity, they are also engaged in significant artistic and musical production and intellectual debate. Interestingly, South Korea had earlier designated Jeju Island an Island of World Peace, honoring the traumatic memories of residents’ mass deaths that lead to the Korean War. Moreover, the island is distinguished by UNESCO’s “Triple Crown” of designations: World Natural Heritage, Biosphere Reserve, and Global Geopark Network.
(School of Information Studies)
How State Governments and Telecommunication Companies Are Challenging Municipalities’ Attempts to Expand Broadband
Nadine Kozak will be examining state and incumbent telecommunication and cable company challenges to more localized endeavors to access advanced telecommunications. To fetter the development of municipal broadband ventures, for example, state legislatures, such as Tennessee and North Carolina, have enacted laws banning new municipal development or expansion of existing projects. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), with its mandate from Congress to “remove barriers to infrastructure development,” intervened to preempt state legislation restricting municipal broadband. The states, however, filed suit in response. Kozak’s project then looks at the conflict among federal policy about extending broadband, states’ rights, and municipal home rule.
(English | Gender Studies)
UW System Fellow (UW-Sheboygan)
“Naysaying and Feminist Counterpublics in U.S. Culture”
The recent stardom of female comedian Amy Schumer is a celebrity phenomenon that invites us to reconsider the ways overtly feminist discourse manages to circulate in a postfeminist media landscape. Schumer interweaves feminist ideologies into an array of comedic tropes that allow her to strike a balance between mainstream likeability and pointed political critique. This rhetorical intersection allows her to facilitate a feminist counter-public that is premised not on affective ambivalence, but intellectual dissatisfaction with normative gender arrangements. With Schumer as her focus, Ann Mattis will prepare a paper on “Selling Ideology: Authenticity, Likeability, and Sexuality in Contemporary Celebrity,” which she will then use to launch a book-length project on the category of likeability in contemporary culture.
(English | Film Studies)
“Refusing the Death of Cinema: The Optical Vacuum: Spectatorship and Modernized American Theater Architecture”
Although it is somewhat common to speak of the “death of cinema,” Jocelyn Szczepaniak-Gillece refutes this assumption because the very space in which cinema was defined at mid-century—the movie theatre—remains intact and that space is as essential, if not more, to spectatorship as the film itself. Much of Szczepaniak-Gillece’s project focuses on Benjamin Schlanger, an American designer and theorist of modern theatrical architecture, who ushered in a more austere, and less showy, style that facilitated the spectator’s immersion into, not the luxurious architectural frills, but the film itself. The theater thus became a machine for achieving cinema’s democratic aspirations, and for shaping an audience of enraptured spectators.
“Nuns, Naysaying, and Sacred Images in Imperial Spain, 1563-1709”
Although the Roman Catholic Church during the early modern Spanish Empire forbade the superstitious use of images and warned of the perils of idolatry, the nuns and lay sisters of this period—including Teresa of Ávila, founder of the Discalced Carmelites—continued to attribute divine power to paintings, sculptures, and other examples of sacred material culture. This mutual naysaying between ecclesiastical officials and the nuns whose devotion they sought to regulate is the subject Tanya Tiffany’s book project. Her book will focus on women who employed images in communing with God and who thereby rejected the notion that only male clerics could mediate between earth and heaven.