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
Eugenics Beyond Borders: Science and Medicalization in Mexico and the United States West, 1900-1950
The State and the Local Religious Fields: Explaining Variation in Islamic Militancy in Post-Suharto Indonesia
Commercialized Modernities: A History of City Marketing and Urban Tourism Promotion in Paris and Budapest from the Nineteenth-Century to the Interwar Period
A Commodity of a Certain Taste: An Ethnography of the Ceylon Tea Industry
While studies have looked at "taste," its composition and social effects, in the context of the circulation and consumption of goods, this project seeks to locate taste within the production process of Sri Lanka's national commodity: Ceylon tea is a brand name of immense export value, of historical, financial and symbolic significance to the island. However, while tea enjoys growing global popularity, demand for the high quality but costly Ceylon brew is in decline. While individual stakeholders stand divided on how to address this conundrum, the industry persists in its longstanding practice of laboriously carving and safeguarding a niche-like brand identity around the so-called "purity" and "superior taste" of Ceylon tea, despite the fact that the latter remains a widely circulating, mass-produced commodity. This project theorizes taste as a value creating entity, the effects of which are central to the production of commodities, rather than solely to their consumption and in doing so rethinks the commodity form. Furthermore, it posits that the analytic of taste can enrich our knowledge and understanding of the Ceylon tea industry, and by extension contemporary capitalism and the location of Sri Lanka therein. At the same time, it interrogates the very nature of taste making itself as a labor of collaboration and negotiation between different groups of actors. Ethnographic research will integrate the various sites that comprise the Ceylon Tea industry as a whole while attending to the diverse individuals that animate them, extending a novel approach to the study of commodities as ethnographic objects. Fieldwork will be conducted within two tea estates, the Sri Lanka Tea Board, the Colombo Auction House, the Tea Research Institute, as well as a small number of export companies.
The Party Family: The Private Life of Communists in Twentieth-Century Chile
The Party Family, the title of my doctoral dissertation, encapsulates the multiple layers of this research on communist activism in twentieth-century Chile. First and foremost, this is a study of communist families, their internal dynamics and their private practices. Second, it is an invitation to think of communist parties as extended families, with networks of solidarity and hierarchical relationships based on gender and age. Finally, it is an attempt to engage with, and speak to, the larger audience of scholars interested in what political scientists call the family of communist parties. The research spans from the mid-1930s to 1973 and is based on four types of sources: the communist press, oral histories, civil registry documents, and internal party documentation. By studying Chilean communist families in the long duration and through a diverse set of sources, my research delves into the interpenetration of the public and the private spheres in political activism. "The first duty of a militant," the statutes of the party asserted, "is to make the acts of his or her public and private life fit the principles and program of the party." A communist was not only supposed to be a good revolutionary in the street, but also the best spouse and parent at home. I believe that a study of this dimension of Chilean communism can help advance a more holistic definition of political activism. Focusing on armed insurgency and state repression, scholars of Latin America have aptly argued that politics was a matter of life and death. I put the emphasis on everyday activism at home rather than intermittent violence in the streets to rethink politics as an existential matter in the broadest sense. Although centered on a specific communist party, informed by sociological questions, and rooted in historical methods, my dissertation seeks to challenge our understanding of what constitutes both politics and human beings as political animals.
Crossing Borders in the Early Modern Mediterranean: Europeans in Seventeenth-Century Ottoman Galata
In 1617, Fatma Hatun, an ordinary Ottoman woman, agreed to pay a certain amount of money to the Venetian merchant Pavlo to save her son, a war captive imprisoned on Chios Island. This project takes as its subject the lived experiences of European merchants, diplomats, and travelers, such as Pavlo, in the seventeenth century Middle East. The focus is upon Istanbul, the seat of the Ottoman Empire, and particularly Galata, the main commercial and diplomatic district of the city where most Europeans resided. Merchants, diplomats, sailors, missionaries, and travelers acquired official documents guaranteeing the safety of their lives and property during their stay, thereby becoming muste'min, i.e. protected foreigners. Utilizing a diverse set of archival sources composed of legal court records, commercial records, consular reports, diplomatic correspondences, and personal writings from archives located in Istanbul, London, and Paris, this research demonstrates interdependent relations and the fluidity of social bonds between Europeans and local Ottoman subjects. Traditional historiography portrays a picture of conflict and difference. This dissertation seeks to problematize these conventional views of cultural binary oppositions such as East and West, Christian and Muslim, insider and outsider, and local and foreigner. Without underestimating the existence of conflict, it seeks to probe the assumed political, linguistic, and religious boundaries to reveal dense cross-cultural and cross-religious exchange, interdependence, and shared business networks between Europeans and Ottoman subjects, as well as the multifaceted identities of the early modern Mediterranean.
Exile, Place, and Politics: Syria's Transnational Civil War
How does opposition adapt to exile during civil war? This question lies at the heart of the ongoing conflict in Syria, which began as a popular revolution in 2011 and has since evolved into a brutal war involving the authoritarian Asad regime and a shifting array of militias, states, civil society movements, and aid-organizations. This dissertation approaches the transnational politics of civil war by tracing ethnographically how networks of opposition adapt to exile in two places. It examines 1) the ties among various opposition factions (militant or otherwise); 2) the cross-border activities these relationships facilitate; and 3) the narratives and practices of legitimization that underpin them. Building on a combination of assemblage theory and geographer John Allen's theory of "topologies of power," this project works toward a more transnational conception of how "political order" emerges and adjusts in civil war. Five years of war and foreign intervention have transformed the political geography of Syria. In addition to the territorial fragmentation of the country and the disintegration of its border with Iraq, the Asad regime has made extensive use of barrel-bombs in rebel territory and in civilian areas especially. This deliberate tactic of urbicide (Coward 2007) has forced key opposition actors, institutions, and services into exile in neighboring countries where they can consolidate their activities. Chief among these are Turkey and Jordan. While this has enabled the Syrian opposition to survive, it has also forced it to adjust to a dramatically new political context and thus altered the larger rebel division of labor. Amman (in Jordan) and Gaziantep (in Turkey) in particular have emerged as key nodes or "exile-capitals" for Syrian opposition activity. Accordingly, this study explores how the challenges and opportunities of these contexts shape the ties, activities, and stories that the opposition develops in exile.
Airport Modern: The Space Between National Departures and Cosmopolitan Arrivals
Nourishing Socialism: Food, Bodies, and the Building of a National Identity in Early Cold War East Germany
The End, or Life in the Atomic Age: Aesthetic Form and Modes of Subjectivity
Negotiating Identity through Architecture in late 20th-Century Tehran
Global Good Samaritans: Human Security Promoters and Networks
Translating Twins: Twin Studies and the Production of Genetic Knowledge in the Swedish Welfare State
Sexual Harassment of Working Women in Japan: Policy Options and Emerging Solutions
Bittersweet Childhoods: Slave Youth on Nineteenth-Century Sugar Plantations in Martinique and Louisiana
My dissertation project examines the cultural and social experiences of enslaved children on sugar plantations in Martinique and Louisiana in the nineteenth century. My research argues that changing notions of childhood and the place of children in the family and society in the 18th and 19th century affected the lives of enslaved youth in the half-century before emancipation. This project shows that children were involved in all aspects of plantation society, even if in markedly different ways than their adult counterparts. Though not spared slavery's bitterness, the status of young slaves as children conferred them some privileges, notably more leisure time and less labor requirements than their adult counterparts. At the same time, children were less productive and less valuable than adults, and planters also refrained from investing in their health and well being. The central question guiding this project is: How did age inform slaves' multifaceted experiences of slavery? In other words, how did their status as children affect their workload, their access to free time, and their relations not only within their families and communities, but also with whites in and out of the plantation? In order to do so, I offer a socio-cultural analysis of slave children's experience by using 19th-century literary sources discussing children and the family in Europe and the United States but also in West Africa, to contextualize and understand the social experiences of slave children found in plantation records, judicial sources, and notarized documents.
Abu'l Fazl: Creator of the Akbarian Idea
When Citizenship and Kinship Intersect: Comparing Japanese and American Responses to Transnational Child Custody Disputes
Creative Pathologies: Experimental Psychology and the French Avant-Garde, 1889-1914
Lost in Translation: Language and Colonial Rule in Nineteenth-Century French Algeria
My dissertation examines French linguistic intermediaries during the first decades of imperial expansion into Algeria. France had long promoted foreign language training, with specialists practicing as philologists, royal advisors, and as ambassadors abroad. But the conquest of Algiers in 1830 fundamentally altered their prospects for employment and advancement, drawing together an unprecedented number of bilingual functionaries in one space. The Algerian territory provides a privileged site for understanding the role of linguistic liaisons: interpreters were required for French and Arabic, but also Berber, Spanish, Italian and Hebrew. Communication with the local population was a necessary precursor for colonization, and France's dependence on an unsteady and overworked interpreter corps highlights the difficulty of imposing imperial rule. Necessity dictated that the colonial state recruit wherever and however it could, and foreign-language specialists arrived from all over the Mediterranean basin to fill positions within the new colony. Homing in on the decades that witnessed conquest and then the slow, uneven construction of an administration, I reveal an era of massive disruption, change, and adaptation. This social and political history of interpreters' experiences in French Algeria illuminates the formation of a new professional class of translators through the everyday practices of colonial governance. Periodic attempts at administrative centralization and corps professionalization, as evinced in the founding of the Colonial School in 1889, suggest a prevailing official concern with securing control over interpreters' actions. Even so, pragmatism ruled the everyday empire. By recovering the lives of these intermediaries, I shift the locus of imperial power toward largely unacknowledged men—indeed, the mark of a good translator was to become invisible—who played a key role in projecting French language, culture, and power abroad.
Post-Boundary Adjustment Resettlement: The Case of Bakassi “Nigerians”
Acculturation and the Radicalization of Young Women in Kenyan Universities
Blackness, Work, and Repression: Street Children at Play in Guayaquil, Ecuador
In Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city, street children line the traffic intersections, enmeshed in the city’s landscape: juggling tennis balls, washing windshields, selling flowers and oranges, and begging passers-by for money. Although a majority of these “street” children do not live on the streets, their work places them there and links them to images of poverty and childhood in an attempt to inspire compassion from those driving by: they frown as they walk from one car window to the next and some children hold signs describing a disability or an illness. These are the images outlining the city. Over 30 percent of Ecuador’s population is under the age of 15, and, as of 2006, approximately 20 percent of children in Ecuador live and work on the streets (Velasco 2006). This phenomenon is not unique to Ecuador, as 20 percent of children in Latin America work (typically on the streets), but the racialized discourses surrounding Ecuadorian street children—“indians” in the highlands and “blacks” on the coast—highlight specific tensions and ethno-racial stereotypes that accompany Ecuadorian poverty. This project explores the interconnections of the forms of play and work of Afro-Ecuadorian street children in Guayaquil, as a means of understanding how these children conceptualize their worlds and how these conceptualizations challenge traditional play theories and traditional ideas of childhood. My research calls attention to growing social inequalities, questioning the ways in which poverty, hope, and survival are intertwined in Guayaquil and how and why forms of play, work, and “care and compassion” (Ticktin 2011) emerge in the relationships between street children, their families/guardians, and governmental and nongovernmental entities.