Current Fellows

Jump to: Interseminars Initiative |Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in Humanities as Social Practice | Mellon Public Humanities Fellow | Summer Faculty Fellows

HRI Campus Fellows 2023–24: Themeless

Faculty Fellows

Jessica R. Greenberg

Jessica R. Greenberg, Anthropology
“Making Violence Visible: Anticipatory Justice and the Democratization of Evidence in Human Rights”

I analyze evidence-making genres as the basis of democratic action and advocacy-minded aesthetic practice. I ask how social change actors use technology, crowdsourcing, mass mediated publicity and visual arts to render violence observable and subject to intervention through, and beyond, the law. These anticipatory evidential practices help people plan for a future when rule of law might be restored. But they also go beyond the law, as social justice movements mobilize the pragmatic, aesthetic, and technological affordances of evidence to generate new domains of accountability. Jessica R. Greenberg personal website

Jon Hale

Jon Hale, Education Policy, Organization and Leadership/Curriculum & Instruction
“I Pledge Allegiance: A History of Racist Ideas, Textbooks, and Teaching in the United States School System”

This project provides critical historical analysis of recent efforts to control the curriculum in our schools. This project builds upon the historiography around the “culture wars” and the deeply politicized nature of K12 curriculum by reexamining aspects of the history of United States public education around three themes: (1) U.S. nation building required a public curriculum outside formal schools for a largely illiterate public; (2) maintaining a racialized system required teacher surveillance through heteronormative and white supremacist codes that originated in the 1840s; and (3) resistance to educational hegemony developed firmly from the Black freedom that curated a curricular counternarrative.

Justine Murison

Justine S. Murison, English
“American Obscenity: Realism in the Age of Comstock”

This book project examines the legal and cultural invention of “obscenity” in the United States. The first federal laws outlawing obscenity were passed in 1873. These laws classified information on birth control and abortion with pornography, lewd literature, and sex toys, and made it illegal to send any of these through the US Postal Service. I argue that this was the invention – or more precisely, a federal codification – of “obscenity” for the United States, one that would have a profound impact on the most promoted and prevalent literary genre of the era, the realist novel.

Magdalena Novoa E.

Magdalena Novoa E., Urban and Regional Planning
“Insurgent Heritage: Grassroots Movements and Citizenship in Chile”

This book investigates the politics involved in the production and contestation of urban heritage in contemporary Chile focusing on three heritage grassroots organizations and their official heritage landscapes. Combining ethnographic, historical, participatory and arts-based methods, it argues that heritage has become an organizing and political tool for marginalized groups to challenge exclusions, inequalities, and oblivion in the production of the built environment. By bridging critical heritage studies with insurgent planning theory, the study proposes the notion of "insurgent heritage" to reframe grassroots heritage as a sociocultural process mediated by the interplay of memory-work and place as an ethical form of place-based care that highlights the cultural dimension of citizenship.

Hermann von Hesse

Hermann von Hesse, Art History, Art & Design
“‘Love of Stone Houses’: Urban Merchants, Ancestral Spaces and Sacred Objects on Africa’s Gold Coast”

At the end of the legal slave trade, European commercial establishments demanded stone houses and material goods rather than captives as collateral for foreign imports that Gold Coast merchants obtained on credit. But houses were inalienable spaces of ancestral burials, family memory and material accumulation. By subjecting their houses to the market, African merchants gained greater access to European credit, but risked losing their family heritage. Consequently, Gold Coast families began to contest which measure of security, protection and power was more important—monetary wealth through real estate or family/ancestral wealth and heritage. Ultimately Gold Coast merchants contributed to the expansion of capitalism and market oriented value systems.

Renata Ryan Burchfield

Renata Ryan Burchfield, American Indian Studies
“Weaving Sovereign Webs: Process and Performative Sovereignties in Indigenous Creative Cultural Production”

Indigenous perspectives in literature, film and new media enact Indigenous sovereignty by imagining a way out of the colonialist control of capitalism and into a world re-visioned through Indigenous epistemologies. Storytelling is itself an embodied practice—to create futures, they must first be imagined and communicated. This book project embodies this theory through a hybrid form of fiction and more traditional academic theoretical chapters. Between each theoretical chapter there is a short story that generates Indigenous futurisms and sovereignties by taking place in the slipstream of pasts, presents, and futures, which illustrates the main theoretical points of the project. Center for Indigenous Science website

Anna Torres-Cacoullos

Anna Torres-Cacoullos, Spanish and Portuguese
“Modernist Cine-grafies: Writing with Motion Pictures, Reading with Moving Images in Spain (1918–1930)”

Early cinema’s silent motion picture technology fomented novel forms of writing and the expansion of literary genres: novel-films, film scripts, and cinematic poems. My first book project, Modernist Cine-grafies: Writing with Motion Pictures, Reading with Moving Images in Spain (1918–1930), is a study of these experimental practices of literary-cinematographic writing, where authors converted motion pictures into a methodological tool to explore fusing literature and film. These new textual forms foregrounded the multifaceted ways to tell a story, drew attention to different modes of reading, and highlighted questions of meaning production to challenge ideas about the very nature of literary writing.

Graduate Student Fellows

Miguel A. Avalos

Miguel A. Avalos, Sociology
“Limitrophic Dwelling: Home, Temporal Sequestration, and the U.S.- Mexico Border Regime”

My interdisciplinary dissertation project explores the unintended consequences of transborder commuting or the practice of frequently travelling between a Mexican and U.S. border city. Current U.S.-Mexico border(lands) scholarship focuses on undocumented migrants’ experiences and uses space as its primary analytic lens. Furthermore, the transnational homes literature excludes transnational sites characterized by short distances like border regions. My project complements the scholarship above by developing a temporal lens to study border regimes generally. Additionally, it foregrounds transborder commuters’ experiences regarding home and border enforcement practices.

Soumya Dasgupta

Soumya Dasgupta, Architecture
“{Design} Empire: Transformations of Architectural Productions in Urban India, 1991–2020”

My dissertation explores the systemic shifts in institutionalized architectural productions in urban India since the economic reforms of 1991. I examine how they are altered by the rise of neoliberalism, informatization, and Hindutva nationalism- changing the spatial environments of India’s cities. Complementing archival research with key-informant interviews, I map the geographies of architectural productions in the intersections of these transformations. Weaving together Stiegler’s ‘mnemotechnical systems’ and Bhabha’s ‘mimicry,’ I focus on the evolving figure of the architect-entrepreneur navigating the uneven landscape of techno-capital driven urbanization and shed light upon how the government-realtor-architect nexus is operationalized to advance ideological projects. Soumya Dasgupta personal website

Carrie Johnson

Carrie Johnson, Creative Writing, English
“What Lingers: Labor Poetry and the Legacy of Industrialization in Modern Society”

My book-length manuscript of poetry centers around work and labor, specifically in the context of large-scale industry and industrialization during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In What Lingers, I focus on the intersections between workers, corporations, and capitalism, and the evolving implications of this relationship among individual and systemic economies. Drawing on first-hand accounts and contemporary research, my poetry renders the lives and concerns of steel workers, miners, and factory workers, and contributes to the current understanding of how labor practices impact individuals, how workers exist inside larger networks of power, and how these systems of power replicate over time.

Gisabel Leonardo

Gisabel Leonardo, Spanish and Portuguese
“Melenas Malcriadas: The Black Aesthetics of Hair and Dominicanidad”

Through literature, street art, music, performance, and theory, this dissertation examines hair as a means of resistance in the contemporary Dominican diaspora. This project draws on Black feminist theory, queer theory, and performance studies to articulate how Black and Afro-descendant women “talk back” to authority through a notably femme and Black aesthetic. This project examines modes of Black feminist resistance and representation in Dominican cultural production through aesthetics of refusal and acts of deviance as dissent. Understood through a malcriada sensibility (malcriada translating to “poorly raised” but most commonly reserved for bratty, misbehaved, outspoken girls), “Melenas Malcriadas” grapples with the mechanisms of control that are projected onto the Black femme body and how she rejects the State’s investment in the aesthetic and biological whitening of its constituents. “Melenas Malcriadas: The Black Aesthetics of Hair and Dominicanidad” seeks to untangle the intricate braiding of contradictions, hypocrisies, and the invented whiteness of the Dominican racial paradigm and the national aesthetic imaginary. This project asks: How do Afro-Dominican women use hair as a tool of resistance? What role does haircare play in the un/doing of Blackness? And lastly, how do these women actively assert their deviancy as a form of protest that reimagines dominicanidad?

Adam LoBue

Adam LoBue, History
“‘Preventive, Pre-emptive and Educative’: Political Literacy, Anti- Communism, and Cold War Knowledge Production in East Africa, 1948–1975”

This dissertation examines the intellectual and cultural work of anti/communist print culture in East Africa between 1949-1979. Propaganda offers a unique window into processes overlooked by the high diplomatic work that dominates the field. The dialectical relationship between East African readers and anti/communist propagandists shows how the Cold War in East Africa was not only about people navigating political interests, but also coming to terms with their own social and cultural positions in a period of political transformation. Journal of Global Historyarticle: ‘They must either be informed or they will be cominformed’: Covert propaganda, political literacy, and cold war knowledge production in the Loyal African Brothers series

Ky Merkley

Ky Merkley, Classics
“Trans History From Antiquity For Today: Reading Gender in the Literature of the Roman Empire”

This project highlights how modern binary conceptions of gender have limited scholarly discussion of gender within the literature of the Roman Empire by erasing the trans potentiality of these texts’ fluid and multifaceted conception of gender. By providing a microhistory of the translation and publication of several passages central to the study of gender in antiquity, I demonstrate how scholarly interpretative practice has perpetuated binary models of gender. Using these microhistories as the site of my critique, I provide trans readings attentive to ancient conceptual frameworks and to current trans theory to bring out the trans capacity of each text.

Alexandra Sundarsingh

Alexandra Sundarsingh, History
“Unraveling Indenture: Racial Indenture and Unfree Labour in the Indian Ocean World, 1815-1965”

My dissertation argues that to understand the creation and operation of racial indenture in the British Empire as well as the expansion and racialization of unfree labour, it is necessary to examine its operation in the Indian Ocean World. In particular, the emotional and social experiences of indentured labourers themselves show that rather than a consistent and officially implemented institution, indenture was an inconsistent and negotiated experience that temporally overlapped with rather than succeeded chattel slavery, and required the renegotiation of Indian and British ideas not only of freedom, but of race, gender, and caste as well. Rather than strictly applying the racial and other standards applied in the case of indenture in South Africa or the Americas, racial indenture in the IOW was characterized by a different racial hierarchy than elsewhere in the empire, further complicating British notions of ‘Indian’ identity. Furthermore, the system in Southeast Asia in particular relied on and borrowed from broader understandings of bonded labour and debt slavery already existent in the Indian Ocean and Pacific Worlds as well as negotiated understandings of these systems across other empires with whom the British occasionally cooperated including the French and the Dutch Empires. These are necessary to understand if we are to think about the global system of unfree labour evolving in this era in more complex ways.

Interseminars Initiative | 2023–24 Project: “Improvise and Intervene”

Note: 2022–23 Interseminars Initiative project information available here

Faculty Conveners

Maryam Kashani

Maryam Kashani is a filmmaker and assistant professor in Gender and Women’s Studies and Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and is an affiliate with Anthropology, Media and Cinema Studies, the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, and the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory. Her forthcoming book Medina by the Bay: the Ethics of Knowledge and Survival (Duke University Press, 2023) is based on ethnographic research and filmmaking conducted with Muslim communities in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Her films and video installations have been shown at film festivals, universities, and museums internationally and include things lovely and dangerous still (2003), Best in the West (2006), las callecitas y la cañada (2009), and Signs of Remarkable History (2016); she is currently working on two film duets with composer/musician Wadada Leo Smith that examine the ongoing relationships between the struggles for Black freedom, creative music, and spirituality. Kashani is also in the leadership collective of Believers Bail Out, a community-led effort to bail out Muslims in pretrial and immigration incarceration towards abolition.

Junaid Rana

Junaid Rana is associate professor and head of the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He has appointments in the Department of Anthropology, the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, and the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory. He is the author of the book Terrifying Muslims: Race and Labor in the South Asian Diaspora (Duke, 2011), winner of the 2013 Association of Asian American Studies Book Award in the Social Sciences. From 2011–2014, he was a working group member of the Critical Ethnic Studies Association, and served as a co-coordinator for 3 of those years. Currently, he is associate editor of the journal Transforming Anthropology. With Aisha Beliso De Jesus and Jemima Pierre, he is completing two projects: an edited volume titled the Anthropology of White Supremacy, and a collaboratively written book-length monograph.

Headshot of R. Elizabeth Velásquez Estrada

R. Elizabeth Velásquez Estrada is an assistant professor of Latina/Latino Studies with appointments in Anthropology, Women & Gender in Global Perspective and Center for Latin America & Caribbean Studies. Her research and teaching interests include violence and grassroots peacemaking, intersectional justice and inequalities, transnational feminism and activist research, racialization and gender relations in Central America. Her book in progress, tentatively titled, Intersectional Justice Denied: Masculinity, Negative Peace, and Persisting Violence in Post-Peace Accords El Salvador, is an ethnography on the central paradox of Salvadoran male gang members who represent themselves simultaneously as purveyors of violence and peacemakers. As a member of an activist feminist scholars collective, Velásquez Estrada is co-editing a volume on Fugitive Anthropology, which centers embodiment as an analytic for the experiences of racialized women, queer, trans, and gender non-conforming anti-colonial researchers in the field. She is also a practitioner of Playback Theater with the Pasajeros (Passengers) troupe.

Graduate Fellows

Jackie Marie Abing

Jackie Marie Abing
Sociocultural & Linguistic Anthropology
Areas of study: Human Rights, Discourses about Justice & Human Rights, Borderlands & Migration, Transnational/Diasporic Families, Affect & Embodiment



Marina Moscoso Arabía

Marina Moscoso Arabía
Human Geography and GRID Interdisciplinary Minor
Areas of study: Cities, housing and urbanization theory, practice and policies




Jow Bowie

Joe Bowie
Dance, affiliation with Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory
Areas of study: Black Queer Studies/Queer Studies and Racial Justice




Etienne L. Fields

Etienne L. Fields
Recreation, Sport and Tourism
Areas of study: Graphic Narratives, Diversity and Equity, Cultural Discourse, Cultural Reproduction, Video Games, Recreation as Pedagogy




Gabriel Bruno Eng Gonzalez

Gabriel Bruno Eng Gonzalez
Areas of study: I am a dancer who uses the evolving landscape of digital space to pursue research of performance, race, and gender.




Nathalie Sofia Martinez

Nathalie Sofia Martinez
Areas of study: Linguistic anthropology, language revitalization, Indigenous epistemologies, feminist theories & methods, community-based & decolonial methods




Joseph Obanubi

Joseph Obanubi
Studio Arts, New Media
Areas of study: Technology, Afro-surrealism, Afrofuturism, identity, fantasy, play and delusion, computation, globalization, whim, inbetweens, metaphor and duality



Sayak Roy

Sayak Roy
Geography & GIS
Areas of study: Critical Urbanism and Southern Urban theory, specifically interested in night-time cities and underprivileged communities' lived experiences



Dora Nicole Watkins

Dora Nicole Watkins
Social Work, Minor in Gender & Women Studies
Areas of study: Social justice and art activism, epistemic violence, resilience among Black women, qualitative and decolonial methodologies

Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in Humanities as Social Practice

Divya Nair

Divya Nair, Ph.D., English, University of Pennsylvania, 2021
“Classical Reception and the Problem of the Color Line in Early Modern English Literature: A Du Boisian Historiography”

Divya Nair is a scholar, artist, and public humanist. She works on race, empire, and classical reception in English literature between 1500 and 1800 within a global historiographic framework. She completed her Ph.D. and M.A. in English at the University of Pennsylvania and enjoys organizing timely, innovative, and engaging public humanities programs at academic and cultural institutions, particularly those focused on enriching and widening access to global literary and cultural canons. She is presently writing her monograph, Classical Reception and the Problem of the Color Line in Early Modern English Literature.

During the 2023-2024 term, she will be organizing two related public programs focused on religion and the humanities. The fall program focuses on the reception of Hinduism in W.E.B. Du Bois’ 1928 novel Dark Princess. Dark Princess was published in 1928 and is an early twentieth-century exploration of Hinduism from the African-American perspective.

The spring program follows up with a public reading of the Valmiki Ramāyana, a Hindu sacred text and Sanskrit epic narrating the feats of the Aryan deity Rāma, who must rescue his wife, Sita, from the clutches of the ten-headed demon king, Rāvana.

Both programs are open to the UIUC community as well as the general public and will invite participants to engage with archival documents, manuscripts, art, and music. Join us for a weekly voyage into Hinduism this academic year!

Mellon Pre-Doctoral Fellow in Public Humanities

Ashli Anda

Ashli Anda, Philosophy
Minding the Gap: Public Philosophy for Incarcerated Youth”
Faculty Mentor: Shelley Weinberg (French and Italian)

Ashli Anda will forge a connection between the Philosophy department and the Champaign County Juvenile Detention Center by launching an extracurricular educational program for incarcerated youth. Drawing on her experience teaching in three adult prisons and her experience organizing in the CU community, this program will engage a population that is typically left out of community building and university outreach initiatives.

Summer Faculty Fellows

Photo of John Levi Barnard

John Levi Barnard, Comparative and World Literature, English
“The Edible and the Endangered: Food, Empire, Extinction”

Over the summer, I conducted research for my book-in-progress, The Edible and the Endangered: Food, Empire, Extinction, which is about the historical relation between U.S. empire, industrial animal food systems, and climate change and mass extinction. Within the environmental humanities, scholarship addressing planetary-scale ecological crises has largely focused on fossil fuels, tracing the historical development and present pervasiveness of what Stephanie LeMenager has called “petroleum culture.” My project extends this work into the realm of the industrial animal food system, which emerged as a feature of imperial and capitalist expansion in the nineteenth-century United States, but has become global in its extent and planetary in its impact. The book explores the concomitant rise of industrial meat culture and U.S. empire in order to draw out their ecological implications for our present moment. During the summer I focused specifically on the book’s final chapter, which looks at colonial agriculture and food systems in Hawai‘i. I attended to two major archives housed at the Hawaiian Historical Society and at the University of Hawai‘i, Manoa. I was there in June, which also overlapped with the tail end of the breeding season for the Laysan Albatross, which I was able to observe and photograph at Kaena Point on Oahu (several of my own photographs will be included in the book).


Eric Calderwood

Eric Calderwood, Comparative and World Literature
“Babel’s Bounty: Multilingual Arts in the Mediterranean”

Over the summer, I did research for a new book project on the aesthetics and politics of multilingual art forms. The book is tentatively titled Babel’s Bounty: Multilingual Arts in the Mediterranean. Its aim is to explore a long tradition of multilingual art forms in the Mediterranean, from medieval Andalusi poetry to contemporary North African hip hop. Taking stock of this long tradition of multilingual creativity, the book asks: How do multilingual arts work, how do they produce pleasure or beauty, and what social and political work do they perform? The HRI Summer Faculty Fellowship supported my work on one strand of the book project: my research on North African (and North African diasporic) hip hop. In particular, the fellowship enables me to do two months of fieldwork in Morocco and Spain, where I gathered new materials, attended hip hop performances, and interviewed hip hop artists and enthusiasts.

Salvatore Callesano

Salvatore Callesano, Spanish and Portuguese
“The Comment Section: Multimodal sentiment analyses and ‘no sabo kids’ on TikTok”

Within Latinx bilingual communities in the U.S., ‘no sabo kids’ is an identity label is that used in mediated spaces to make reference to youth who are dominant in English and show evidence of language mixing, all the while functioning within a system of linguistic oppression that publicly critiques and racializes Spanish speakers in the U.S. While specific linguistic features are used to perform, as well as parody, this ethnolinguistic identity on social media, special attention must also be paid to how Latinx youth in public social media videos—on TikTok in this case—are perceived and judged with regard to their language abilities. This research thus uses computational tools to answer sociolinguistic questions about how language production is perceived by viewers on social media. We investigate if viewers perceive ‘no sabo kid’ linguistic performances as positive or negative, if they align with or reject the identity label, or if the label might be reclaimed in an effort to push back against colonial histories of marginalization at the intersection of language, race, and ethnicity.

During summer 2023, I supported and collaborated with two undergraduate students with experience and interests in Computer Science, Linguistics, and Latina/o Studies. We already automatically collected and coded over 100,000 comments from TikTok videos about “no sabo kids” and so we turned our attention to addressing the evaluative reactions found within the comments. By using human annotators to train a computational model, we can readily understand how the videos about this particular community are perceived, judged, and policed by viewers.

Pilar Martinez-Quiroga

Pilar Martínez-Quiroga, Spanish and Portuguese
“The Utopia of a Feminist Nation: The Case of Catalonia”

This research was part of a book-length project, tentatively entitled Matrias: literatura feminista nacionalista y doble militancia en Cataluña, Euskadi y Galicia (Matrias: Nationalist Feminist Literature and Double Militancy in Catalonia, Euskadi and Galicia). The project examines Catalan, Basque, and Galician nationalist feminist literature produced since 1975 through the present, analyzing from a comparative perspective how female writers explore the interrelation of feminist and nationalist demands within stateless nations in order to create utopian feminized spaces.

Because of its pioneering nature, I dedicate a large part of book to the literature produced in the Països Catalans (Catalan-speaking areas, such as Catalonia, Valencia, and Balearic Islands). To start my summer research, I stayed in Valencia at the end of May 2023 to visit the Hemeroteca Municipal, in order to consult several newspapers published between 1975 and 1982 (Valencia Semanal, El Temps, Canigó). I sought information about Maria-Mercè Marçal, Carme Miquel and Isabel-Clara Simó, three writers and teachers who contributed to normalization of education in Catalan. My second stay was in Tarragona to visit the Legado Jaume Vidal Alcover y Farnés, at Universitat Rovira i Virgili. I consulted the epistolary materials of Maria Aurèlia Capmany to go deep in the personal and literary relationships with others nationalist feminists writers. The next stay was in Barcelona to visit the Biblioteca de Cataluña in order to consult some journals and newspapers published between 1975–1982 (El Periódico de Catalunya, Tele / eXprés, Mundo Diario, Lluita, and the Supplement Avui Cultura). The objective was to review the journalistic work of women writers committed to nationalist feminism, such as Teresa Pàmies, Montserrat Roig or Maria-Mercè Marçal.

Anna Mendoza

Anna Mendoza, Linguistics
“Language Use and Investment in a French-English Dual Immersion School”

The project took place at a French-English Dual Immersion school in Champaign-Urbana. Most of the French L1 students are Lingala and French speakers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Most of the L1 English students are U.S.-born or from English-speaking countries in Africa. I have begun to follow a single class—a cohort of 9 children—from grades 2 through 5. At present, they are in grade 2. My goal is to chart each child’s trajectory through the French immersion program, trying to understand that child’s language use in class as well as their investment in learning and maintaining French in a largely English-speaking society. They will progress through three teachers: a Belgian woman who is a naturalized American (gr. 2 teacher), a male Congolese pastor in their community (gr. 3/4 teacher), and an American woman who is a fluent L2 French speaker (gr. 5 teacher). Six of the 9 children are L1 French speakers of Congolese heritage; the other three are L1 speakers of English, two U.S.-born (white) and one born in Nigeria. This allows me to study students’ identity negotiation and development over time with one another and with teachers of different cultural backgrounds.

For my HRI fellowship (summer 2023), I worked with the school community liaison who speaks Lingala, French, and English to interview a representative sample of dual immersion parents—about 30 of the 70 or so families. Through bottom-up thematic coding, I investigated parents’ reasons for enrolling their children in the program, their investment in French as a foreign or heritage language, and how they perceive the interaction between home and school. The broader aim of the research is to use qualitative, longitudinal methods to study a cohort of students, identifying key factors in promoting language acquisition and investment in learning a (relatively) less commonly taught language. Anna Mendoza project website


Lindsay Rose Russell

Lindsay Rose Russell, English
“Sex & Lex”

Part of a larger book project surveying the intersections of sex, sexuality, and dictionaries, the segment of research I undertook with the support of HRI focuses on Bruce G. Rodgers 1972 The Queens’ Vernacular: A Gay Lexicon, widely recognized as one of the first English lexicons to robustly document the terminology of gay speakers and of sex and sexuality more generally. Dictionary makers and scholars have tended to dismiss dictionaries like The Queens' Vernacular as “niche,” “amateur,” and/or not quite “serious,” but even the notoriously narrow-minded Robert Burchfield, editor of the OED Supplement, was willing to concede in his New York Times review of The Queens’ Vernacular, that Rodgers did an admirable job of recording “the sad language of sexuality.” By looking at Rodgers' personal papers, I argue for a less tepid valuation of Rodgers' radical methodological contributions. His papers show how he cultivated a theory of language description that is both historically important and currently relevant—affording a foundational philosophy that appreciates the inevitable and productive cultural interplay among homosexual, “homophile,” and other speakers who “[find] it difficult to be accepted.” Rodgers’ dictionary is noteworthy also for pioneering methods of gathering oral as opposed to written citation files, vital when documenting the language of persons expected to keep their "private lives" private. Ultimately, Rodgers gives insight into how dictionary making can be inclusive, compassionate, and still rigorous.

Blair Ebony Smith

Blair Ebony Smith, Art Education and Gender and Women’s Studies
“Love a(n)d Loops: Memory, Sound, Freedom, and Black Girlhood”

Blair utilized her fellowship to work on her book-in-progress, Love a(n)d Loops: Memory, Sound, Freedom, and Black Girlhood, which explores sound, music, memory and Black girlhood as praxis and cyclical forces that create loops of love, intimacy, and open time. I explore love and loops as both a mixed-method and theory by which we might listen—to and with Black girls and people, and each other, most deeply and truly. This research topic traces Black girlhood and sound as practiced in Black girl creative space making collective, Saving Our Lives Hear Our Truths (SOLHOT), as a collective process that occurs in digital, analog and intentional ways with Black girls that moves us away from fixing Black girls and youth programming fixed on biological identity.

Lou Turner

Lou Turner, Urban and Regional Planning
“The Harold (Hal ) M. Baron Digital Archival, Research, and Publication Project”

The principal aim of my summer work on the current phase of the Harold (Hal) Baron digital archival, research, and publication project was to (a) carry out a preliminary review Harold Baron’s unfinished book manuscript An American Dilemma: Reconstructing the Rhetoric of Race, (b) assess the archival legacy Baron left for the manuscript, (c) design a plan to network the various inventory databases that serve as repositories of Baron’s work with the websites constructed by the project team, (d) scope out a new project team of scholars and graduate students in the fields of Myrdal studies, related 20th century race relations social science, and digital humanities, and (e) design a work plan for the various workflows to construct a Harold M. Baron Digital Center. About the Hal Baron Project

Mirelsie Velázquez

Mirelsie Velázquez, Latina/Latino Studies
“Space, Place, and Homemaking: Black and Indigenous Oklahoma, 1865-1925”

Prof. Velázquez’s project, “Space, Place, and Homemaking: Black and Indigenous Oklahoma, 1865-1925,” speaks to the need to center both Oklahoma and communities of color into larger conversations within the history of education and the U.S. more broadly. By centering and documenting schools and schooling Prof. Velázquez hopes to challenge monolithic readings of schools as not only sites of oppression within Oklahoma and Indian Territories, but similarly speak to how both groups enacted agency to situate these spaces as sites of liberation prior to statehood. Mapping the history of education for both communities, especially the documentation of the physical structures Indigenous and Black communities organized themselves to build and support, will be central to the project. The work will be part of an edited book Prof. Velázquez will co-edit.

Research Clusters

The HRI Research Clusters initiative enables faculty and graduate students in the humanities and arts from the Urbana campus to develop questions or subjects of inquiry that require or would be enhanced by collaborative work.

View the current list of HRI Research Clusters.