Congratulations to the 2021 Center for Social Science Scholarship Summer Fellows!
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Public Health
“Rhythmic Consolation: An Ethnography of Bèlè’s Rebirth in Contemporary Martinique”The purpose of Rhythmic Consolation is to examine the ways in which contemporary bèlè cultural activists in Martinique have shifted the perception of bèlè as a secular expression to one with significant spiritual and sacred meaning. By examining the cultural politics of spirituality and secularity at work in Martinique’s bèlè revival, the book analyzes the role that spiritual healing plays in managing emotional wellness and coping with distress among bèlè practitioners. In contemporary Martinique, bèlè is not simply the name of an ancestral dance practice; the term bèlè is used to describe “a way of life,” or a subculture that is organized around a rich complex of Afro-Creole dance traditions, all of which are performed to the island’s tambour bèlè (bèlèdrum). Although bèlè has been commonly understood as a secular, non-religious drum-dance tradition, debates have emerged among bèlè community members over its spiritual functions in the everyday lives of practitioners.
Associate Professor, Department of History
“Neighborhood: Space, State, and Society in a Manchurian City, 1644-2019”
Neighborhood: Space, State, and Society in a Manchurian City, 1644-2019 examines how political, religious, and economic forces reshaped and remade a Chinese urban space over 370 years. Xita (West Stupa) is a thriving commercial neighborhood in Shenyang, the largest city in Northeast China. In 1644, the Qing emperor erected a Tibetan-Buddhist stupa in the western suburb, making Xita a symbol of the trans-frontier political/spiritual alliance between the Manchu, Mongols, and Tibetans. In the early twentieth century, colonial powers (first Russia then Japan) and local warlords constructed competing railways that intersected in Xita. The railway not only brought capitalist modernity to the city but also created a Korean diasporic enclave in the rapidly urbanizing and industrializing city. In the 1990s Shenyang, socialist China’s capital of heavy industry, turned into a “rust city.” But Xita, in contrast, flourished as a dynamic ethnic/international commercial district due to Korean investment. The multiple reincarnations of Xita—from a Tibetan Buddhist space, a railway capitalist space, a colonial tourist space, a socialist ethnic space, and all the way to a post-industrial consumerist space—manifests China’s dramatic modern transitions within a dynamic trans-Asian network. Employing multilingual materials and extensive interviews, this micro-history research simultaneously engages with academic conversations in many fields, including (but not exclusive to) the social history, religious study, urban study, railway capitalism, architectural history, empire and colonialism, tourism, ethnic history, and contemporary China study.
Assistant Professor, School of Public Policy
“Island Strife: The Politics of Survival in Puerto Rico”
During the summer of 2019, an unprecedented number of citizens demanded the resignation of the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló. They flooded the streets to express their disdain for the governor and his top aides. Puerto Ricans had not seen this kind of popular, cross-sectoral protest since they called for ceasing US military operations in the island municipality of Vieques. What led to this outrage and how did demonstrators channel their indignation into successful mobilization? What are the long-term consequences of this protest cycle and how can it shape Puerto Rico’s relationship to the United States? This book project will examine the precursors, internal dynamics, and the political consequences of the summer 2019 protest cycle in Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans channeled the trauma felt in the wake of hurricane María in various ways, seizing opportunities for critical thinking, building democratic practices, and resist their depiction as helpless victims.
Prior awardees include Marina Adler (SAPH), Keisha Allen (EDUC), Dena Aufseeser (GES), Amy Bhatt (GWST), William Blake (POLI), Bambi Chapin (SAPH), Christy Chapin (HIST), Sarah Chard (SAPH), Dennis Coates (ECON), Jeffrey Davis (POLI), Amy Froide (HIST), Tim Gindling (ECON), Irina Golubeva (MLLI), David Greenberg (ECON), Brian Grodsky (POLI), Andrea Kalfoglou (SAPH), Douglas Lamdin (ECON), Jiyoon Lee (EDUC), Tania Lizarazo (MLLI), Christine Mair (SAPH), Marvin Mandell (PUBL), Susan McDonough (HIST), Zoe McLaren (PUBL), Nancy Miller (PUBL), Sara Poggio (MLLI), Bob Rubinstein (SAHAP), Dena T. Smith (SAPH), Christelle Viauroux (ECON), and Noor Zaidi (HIST).