Non-English Campaign Strategies: A Proposed Model for Language as Persuasion
In the U.S., non-English modes of political communication are thought to have an implied persuasive effect on social cognition, capable of influencing how an individual processes information. For example, President Obama aired television ads on Spanish networks for both his 2008 and 2012 campaigns. The passing and cursory assumption is that these non-English strategies resonated with Latino voters. Given the significant role that non-English political appeals play in American politics, the initial question is: are non-English political appeals more persuasive to bilinguals than English-language appeals? And if so, how does the language in which they are presented contribute to their persuasive power? Using survey data and laboratory experiments, I devise a model that demarcates the extent and conditions by which non-English political communication is most persuasive. More broadly, this study explores how targeted messaging—namely, choosing a non-English language—activates particular cognitive processes.
From Democratic Revolution to Massacre in Venezuela: Popular Consciousness and the Emergence of the Multitude in Caracas, 1958-1989
Rebuilding Technologically Competitive Industries: Lessons from Chile’s and Argentina’s Wine Industry Restructuring
The Production of Urban "Knowledges:" The Favelas of Rio de Janeiro as Sites of Intervention
Back to the Homeland: Neofascism, Precarity and Crisis in the New Borderlands of 'Fortress Europe'
In this project I explore the rise of nativist, xenophobic and neo-fascist sentiments among Italian youth since the 2008 crisis in the newly opened borderlands of Central Europe, by investigating the booming back-to-the-land movements in the decaying border-town of Trieste. While in 2007 the EU free trade area expanded beyond the old Iron Curtain borders, in 2008 Europe was hit by the most damaging economic crisis in decades. Since then, Trieste unemployed or precariously employed youth (precari/e) have reopened hundreds of abandoned gardens along the edge of the newly opened border to Slovenia as community centers, collective gardens and ecological villages. In order to deal with both professional and personal crises, they claim to go back to the "madre terra" (mother Earth/motherland), and are simultaneously renegotiating their relationships with both nature and nation, land and homeland. Their opposition to Berlusconi-era neoliberal policies and back-to-the-land spirit today coexist with growing xenophobic sentiments, and many among them support the nativist group Trieste Libera (Free Trieste), arguing for the independence of the city from Italy and reclaiming its hinterland, now part of Slovenia and Croatia. I will thus engage in an ethnography of new communities opened by Italian-speaking youth along and across the old border, in order to investigate the ways in which the production of new relationships between the "Italian" and the Eastern European "other" is remaking these post-Iron Curtain borderlands in everyday life. In the context the recent rightward shift in many parts of "Fortress Europe", my project builds on an understanding of borderlands as inescapable spaces of encounter with difference, critically challenging reductive views of contemporary Europe as a monolithic fortress.
Art and Identity in Colonial Oaxaca: Dominicans, Spaniards, and Mixtecs at the Convento of Yanhuitlan
Forging Citizen and State in Kuwait and the Gulf, 1920-1970
My project examines state formation in Kuwait and the Gulf between 1920 and 1970 through the lens of migration. As the oil industry generated unprecedented demand for labor and burgeoning nation-states circumscribed the sprawling networks of empire, a wave of migration transformed both state institutions and individual subjectivities across the Gulf. I examine how the seemingly flattening legal category of citizenship, quotidian bureaucratic procedure, and the consolidation of law within territorial boundaries reconfigured earlier identifications even as they produced new ones, transforming not only how states classified their subjects, but how people identified themselves. Drawing on primary sources in Arabic and Persian across multiple sites, the project contributes to debates on sovereignty, citizenship, state formation, and migration.
Savage Liberties: A Social History of Theodicy
From Shipmates to Soldiers: Emerging Black Identites in Montevideo, 1770-1850
Guerrilla Marketing: Information War and the Demobilization of FARC Rebels in Colombia
Guerilla Marketing: Information War and the Demobilization of FARC Rebels
Testing, Testing, A, B, C: The Politics of Language and Civics Tests in Europe
Building Atop Sedimented Histories: South Korean Professional Migrants in Dubai
Blood and Bone: Kinship, Science and the Imagined Body in "Humanitarian Exhumations" of the Dead
Exhumation of the dead has become a normative human rights intervention and a requisite aspect of transitional justice. In the wake of political violence, exhumation aims to provide judicial evidence of mass atrocity and to return human remains to families. Understood as bringing closure to families, "humanitarian exhumation" may be carried out even in situations in which there is little or no hope of judicial recourse. Yet, the relationship between forensics teams and families has proven to be complex and often fraught. While some exhumations have received clear support from families, others have been sites of intense controversy. This project asks why there has been persistent tension between families of the missing and forensic teams. Attentive to the polysemy of the dead body, which at different times and places can be understood to be judicial evidence, a medical specimen, a scientific object, a political symbol, a religious relic, a site of the uncanny, a social subject, a dense site of mourning and more, this project explores what humanitarian exhumation means to those most intimately involved: forensic teams and families of the missing. Based in Argentina, location of the earliest and longest continuously excavated humanitarian exhumations, this project takes the complex relationship between families and forensic teams as a generative site to explore how we conceptualize exhumations as "humanitarian," how we expect science to serve social ends and how we imagine relationships of care between the living and the dead.
Gray Zones and White Slavery: Memory and Moral Ambiguity and Human Trafficking in Argentina
One Homeland or Two? Territorialization and the Repatriation Decision Among the Mongolian Kazakh Diaspora
Contested Natures & Insecurities: The Aerial Fumigation of Illicit Crops in Colombia
Colombia is the only country in the world that currently permits the aerial fumigation of illicit crops. This practice, financed by the US State Department, has exacerbated the already tenuous circumstances of a rural population caught in the crossfire of an ongoing civil conflict. Of central importance to this study are the tensions that exist between the Latin American countries that produce illicit narcotics and the wealthier Northern countries that consume the vast majority of the world's supply. The focus of the US "war on drugs" has largely been on stamping out the production and distribution of cocaine and other illegal drugs, with less emphasis on the issue of domestic consumption. For US policymakers, the aerial fumigation of narcotics is a vital component of counter-narcotics and counter-insurgency imperatives established in the 2000 Plan Colombia agreement. For Colombian peasants, however, aerial fumigation threatens human, plant, and animal lives as well as ways of living. Informed by Critical Geopolitics and Political Ecology, I argue that aerial fumigation policy is conceptually driven by imperatives that render rural Colombians invisible within a landscape of violence and displacement. Furthermore, I argue that the practice of aerial fumigation violates policy guidelines, threatening the health, security, food security, and land tenure of rural Colombians. The purpose of this study is to gather the testimony of spray zone residents, the documentation of voices silenced by transnational geopolitical decisions. These voices will be incorporated into a quantitative dataset that I will use to map the socio-environmental implications of aerial fumigation policy, practice, and experience in Colombia.
New Markets, New Bodies: An Ethnography of Brazil’s Beauty Industry
Porous Empire: Foreign Visitors and the post-Stalin Transformation of the Soviet Union
This project will study the interaction among foreign visitors, the Soviet state and Soviet society in the post-Stalin era. It aims to reconstruct both the socio-cultural impact of the tens of millions of foreigners who visited the Soviet Union between the late 1950s and the early 1980s, and the dilemmas the Soviet authorities faced as they negotiated the clashing imperatives of Cold War cultural diplomacy and their fears of foreign ideological and moral contamination. By looking at a series of case studies including Soviet attempts to control foreign traffic and visitors' efforts evade them, the impact of foreign travel on the Soviet western borderlands, the experience of foreign students in Soviet universities, and foreign support for the Soviet Jewish immigration movement, I will argue that the encounters between Soviet citizens and foreigners in the post-Stalin era constituted a vast transnational network that injected new ideas, identities, fashions and patterns of consumption into a hitherto closed society. The existence of this network and the Soviet failure to sever or control it weakened the ideological control mechanisms of the Soviet party-state and demonstrated the extent to which the post-Stalin Soviet Union became enmeshed in the emerging global regime of increased human, information and capital flows. The Soviet experience of foreign travel and its contribution to the disintegration of the socialist project constitutes therefore a case study of globalization and its impact on the late 20th century erosion of authoritarian regimes and non-capitalist social orders. By studying the Soviet Union's foreign encounters, this project aims to place the post-Stalin era in a global comparative context, to contribute to the growing literature on the influence of transnational forces on Soviet history, and to integrate the Soviet experience into our understanding of the history of the present-day globalized world order.
Ruin and Representation: Bohemians in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1906
Mosques, Schools, and Meeting Rooms: Relations between Arab-Educated Elites and the Political Establishment in Kano, Nigeria
My dissertation research focuses on the professional trajectories of “returnees” – religious elites with Arab university degrees – in Kano, Nigeria from 1960 the present. Nigerian returnees desire to Islamize state and society, emphasizing a “pure” Islam defined largely on the basis of Qur’anic interpretations and Islamic theologies that are uncommon in West Africa but dominant in the Arab Middle East. But Nigerian returnees are also a heterogeneous group whose members, in different ways, shape debates about Islam's place in politics and successfully compete with local clerics by popularizing alternative notions of Muslim orthodoxy and global solidarity. Through a focus on democracy, urbanity, and new media, I ask how returnees transform their background and credentials into personal charisma or institutional influence and how their interactions with other Muslims reshape prevailing definitions of Islamic knowledge. I hypothesize that Kano’s intra-Muslim debates, widespread Arabic literacy, shari’a system, independent media, and turbulent politics create spaces for Islamic activism that are particularly receptive to the knowledge and skills returnees possess, competencies as varied as the returnees themselves. This research addresses interrelated concerns in religious studies, anthropology, and political science. Within religious studies, this project will contribute to studies of the impact of transnational religious flows. Within anthropology, my work will increase understanding of urban religion and the behavior of Muslim actors in young democracies. Within political science, I will engage studies of religion’s role in state-society relations in Africa. Using methods of participant-observation, interviews, and media analysis to clarify how returnees make use of their credentials in teaching, theological discourse, and political activism, this research explores the relationship between local politics, sectarianism, and a global religious community.
Dengue in the Landscape: Waste Management and Disease Ecologies in Urban Nicaragua
In the past year, public health authorities in Ciudad Sandino, Nicaragua have begun using dump trucks and megaphones to stop the spread of dengue fever. In targeted campaigns, doctors, garbage collectors, and community members exhort homeowners to discard the piles of garbage in their homes. They warn that dengue-carrying mosquitoes breed in the pools of rainwater that form in these piles, adding that there is neither a cure nor an effective vaccine for dengue. The anti-dengue campaigns have brought waste and the urban landscape to the forefront of local health discourse. But although they were conceived by local people, the campaigns have not created a consensus among the residents about how to stop dengue from spreading. Instead, they have aggravated social divisions among health workers, city garbage collectors, and the garbage scavengers who survive by collecting items in streets and neighborhood dumps and selling them to recycling companies. These divisions have arisen not over how to define disease, but over how to foster community participation in public health, how to manage space, and how to balance resources and hazards on the landscape. In short, they are about the human role in disease ecology. Halting the spread of infectious diseases is now a major international health priority, but there exist few studies of how people in marginalized urban communities exchange and deploy knowledge about these diseases. My study of waste management in Ciudad Sandino will ask how actors explain disease ecology by drawing not only on biomedical categories but also on everyday experiences with dengue in the landscape. This research will provide a practice-based study of how citizens blend biomedical and experiential knowledge into historically and politically situated disease ecologies.
Beyond the Bilad al-Sham: Images of Hunting in the Umayyad Empire
This dissertation will explore the polycentric nature of artistic production within the Umayyad empire by focusing on three examples of architectural decoration found in present day Jordan, Iran, and Tajikistan. All three contain representations of hunting and slaughter; a popular iconographic feature of aristocratic interior decoration. Although the Jordanian monument of Qusayr Amra has been at the center of the Umayyad canon for almost a century, Chal Tarkhan-Eshqabad in what is now Iran and the frescoes of Penjikent in modern Tajikistan have not been integrated into the prevailing narrative of Umayyad art because their patrons and artists were probably not Muslims. This selective erasure produces a distorted image of art within the Umayyad caliphate, producing an artificial interpretive vacuum around central monuments such as Qusayr Amra. The encounter between humans and animals represented in early medieval images of hunting provided frameworks for modeling structured relationships between other hierarchically or ontologically distinct entities, e.g. women and men, lover and beloved, self and other, civilization and wilderness, and, most relevant in the period of the Arab conquest, military victors and defeated foes. Differences in the standard iconographic treatments of hunting in Sasanian, Roman-Byzantine, Umayyad, and Sogdian art emphasize hunting as either a venue for spectacular displays of idealized masculinity and aristocratic athleticism, a quotidian seasonal labor, or a round-up and slaughter to be followed by celebratory consumption. Differences in the content and form of these hunting scenes are in fact the product of specific and complex negotiations of documentary details, idealizing aristocratic masculinity, and contingent ideological assumptions about the nature of human-animal relationships. They may also reflect the attitudes of their patrons towards the crystallizing visual culture of the Muslim elite.
Japanamerica or Amerijapan? Globalization, Localization, and the Film Scores of Joe Hisaishi