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 2015-16 is "Indigeneities."

For the 2015-16 academic year, UWM Fellows are joined by UW System Fellow Deborah Wilk (Art and Design, UW-Whitewater). Gloria Kim (PhD, Visual and Cultural Studies, University of Rochester), who was last year's Provost Postdoctoral Fellow, will stay with us this year as an Affiliated Scholar.

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 2015-16 Fellows

Kimberly BlaeserKimberly Blaeser (English)

“Picto-Poems and Indigenous Gestures of Place”

The research element of Kimberly Blaeser’s project focuses on indigenous peoples’ aesthetic engagements with cultural memory, place, and dis-placement; and with trans-indigenous ecocritical strategies that engage models of indigenous knowledge. More specifically, she will be drawing upon Pierre Nora’s idea of “lieux de mémoire” and Gerald Vizenor’s notion of “transmotion” in understanding the creative works of the nineteenth century Plains ledger artists (who layered their images of warfare or spirit visions onto colonial records, such as the accounts of target practices or the itemized bills of settlers) and contemporary Native “ledger” art as it self-consciously continues or refracts the earlier tradition. Blaeser, who is Wisconsin’s 2015-16 Poet Laureate, will also be assembling a collection of her own creative work arising out of her long preoccupation with Native place, nature, preservation, and spiritual sustenance.

Katherine PaughKatherine Paugh (History)

“The Politics of Knowledge: Race, Reproduction, and Venereal Disease in the Atlantic World”

Katherine Paugh’s fellowship year is dedicated to two book projects. The first examines the politics of reproduction in the Caribbean during the age of abolition, focusing on how the generation of knowledge about reproduction articulated the convergence and contestation of ideas about motherhood among white slave owners, doctors, and politicians, as well as enslaved Afro-Caribbean mothers and healers. Her second project demonstrates how ideas about venereal disease in the Caribbean were forged through interactions among European doctors intent on pathologizing Afro-Caribbean bodies, slave owners who defined Afro-Caribbean health in direct relationship to the ability to labor and reproduce, and Afro-Caribbean healers and sufferers intent on cultivating knowledge that would give them both independence from the plantation system and relief from corporeal suffering.

Bernard PerleyBernard Perley (Anthropology)

Master's Of Liberal Studies (MLS) Fellow

“Emergent Indigeneity: Indigenous Sovereignty in the Wake of Disaster”

During his fellowship year, Bernard Perley is developing his concept of “emergent indigeneity,” which explores indigenous responses to varieties of ruptures to indigenous worlds. These ruptures include both slow disasters—assimilation, missionization, and resource extraction/exploitation—and “flash” disasters—massacres, forced removal and relocation, and cluster suicides. In addition to producing scholarly articles and conference papers, Perley is creating a digital graphic novel (coordinated with UWM’s Digital Humanities Lab) that dramatizes disaster events and indigenous responses to those events, and an installation piece designed to promote community engagement (coordinated with UWM’s Electa Quinney Institute and the Indian Community School of Milwaukee).

Kristin PittKristin Pitt ( French, Italian, and Comparative Literature)

“Narratives of Apathy and Atrocity: Representing Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in North America”

Kristin Pitt’s project grows out her earlier research on the narrative representation of the ongoing epidemic of violence against women in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. By the early 21st century, an increasing number of literary and cinematic accounts have attempted to bring attention to Juárez’s crisis of feminicide, often through the genre of crime and detective fiction. Yet the generic pressures within detective fiction to resolve unsolved crimes often severely limits the fictional works’ abilities to address ongoing structural inequalities and the long histories of genocide, colonialism, racism, and sexism that have created an environment in which the crimes occur and in which they are not deemed a high priority for criminal investigation. With her fellowship, Pitt looks to broaden her research into the literary and cinematic representations of violence against indigenous women into other contexts throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

Caroline Seymour-JornCaroline Seymour-Jorn (French, Italian, and Comparative Literature)

“Indigenizing Egypt”

For her book project, Caroline Seymour-Jorn explores the varied cultural creations—literature, visual arts, film and video, popular music—that have emerged after the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, attending to not only questions surrounding the definition of the “indigenous,” but also how these productions of revolutionary art allow for negotiations of indigenous, national, religious, ethnic, and gendered identities. Focusing on the art scene in Cairo, Seymour-Jorn argues that the alienation and marginalization of the “ordinary Egyptian”—whether Muslim or Christian—over the years through the British occupation and Hosni Mubarak’s Western-backed regime contributed to the 2011 Revolution and the political struggles and cultural debates that have taken place since then.

Deborah WilkDeborah Wilk (Art and Design, UW-Whitewater)

UW System Fellow

“Performing the Maternal at the Border” and “Delivering Citizenship”

Deborah Wilk’s first project, “Performing the Maternal at the Border,” analyzes a 2012 photo shoot of DREAMers—undocumented children brought to the United States from Mexico and Central America—meeting their mothers across a perforated fence at the US-Mexican border. The photos break from the traditional immigrant mother trope—typically based on Christian Madonna and Child imagery—and highlight issues related to access to education, unification of families, and academic accomplishments. Her second project, “Delivering Citizenship,” explores the ways class and ethnic differences became spatialized, and the way immigrant bodies were regulated, in the architecture of Ellis Island and its predecessor, Castle Garden.

For fellows from previous years, see the list of Center Fellows Since 1974.

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