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Center Fellows

The Black Queens of Ghana: Women's Football, Gendered, and Sexual Nationalisms
Anima Adjepong, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

This monograph is both methodologically expansive and highly interdisciplinary. Relying on a range of qualitative methods including in-depth interviews, oral histories, archival studies, and media and content analysis; and employing theoretical frameworks within Sociology, Black Studies, Queer of Color Critiques, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, this project seeks to complicate existing theorizing about gender, sexuality, and nation. 

Avoidance as an Intellectual Strategy
Zvi Biener, Philosophy

Avoidance is a common strategy for dealing with difficult problems. For example, it is easier to use an iPhone if you don’t think about the wages of those who assemble it; simpler to buy a water bottle if you don’t worry about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. We all avoid, and we recognize, in one way or another, that we are doing harm. The negative moral and affective aspects of avoidance are so striking that, as a result, we tend to overlook its conceptual structure and inner mechanics. A deeper understanding of avoidance would allow us to better characterize morally corrupt cases, as well as morally neutral ones. The second sort, in some ways, is more instructive. Morally neutral cases can more effectively highlight the subtle conceptual maneuvers that avoidance requires. This book project aims to examine the nature of avoidance through a morally neutral historical case study, with the aim of generalizing to morally problematic cases. The project has been solicited by Oxford University Press. 

Unmasked: Jews, Identity, and Comic Books

Jennifer Caplan, Judaic Studies

This project provides an extensive look into the publication history of more than half a dozen comic book characters from a variety of publishers. Though most of these characters were created by Jewish writers, they had no specifically Jewish identity. Over the course of their publication history, however, they were revealed to be Jewish after non-Jewish writers took over writing them. In Unmasked, I construct a narrative that explores the how and why of this trajectory in order to connect the representation of Jews in popular media to the concurrent larger national trends in American Jewish identity. Masking theory provides a critical lens through which we can analyze how artists and content creators hide or reveal elements of themselves at different times through their art. In the end, the book will show that using comic books as a lens for the overall evolution of Jewish identity in America tells a story of a move through—and emergence from—the “melting pot” into cultural distinctiveness and pride.   

The Interconnected Whole: Sufism, Climate Change, and Ecological Awareness
Muhammad Faruque, Romance and Arabic Languages & Literatures

The present study develops a new theory of the human-nature relationship based on a cross-cultural, multidisciplinary approach that draws on contemporary perspectives in the environmental humanities and environmental ethic, and Sufism and Islamic contemplative studies. This study also argues that Sufi contemplative practices support and foster an active engagement toward the planet’s well-being and an ecologically viable way of life and vision. This leads to the development of an eco-philosophy, termed the “interconnected whole,” philosophy in which all levels of the reality of nature are interconnected, forming, as it were, a living whole. This is articulated systematically through the idea of the great chain of consciousness in Sufi philosophy, which states that all existence from its highest to the lowest and from its lowest to the highest is united in a single relationship by which some parts of it are related to some others. Everything is united despite their external diversity. Their unity is not like the conjunction of corporeal bodies whereby their goals are conjoined, and their surfaces linked. Rather, the whole universe is one single animate being just like a single soul. The result is a new approach to the human-nature relationship that has the potential to address the climate crisis on a global scale, not least because recent studies show how diverse Muslim communities from around the world are addressing ecological issues through Islamic ethics and eco-philosophy. Moreover, the multidisciplinary approach adopted by the present study makes it a significant contribution in the growing field of the environmental humanities, as it opens up the way for engaging premodern and modern Sufi-Islamic sources from a contemporary perspective by going beyond the pure exegesis of historical materials. Furthermore, weaving together insights from Sufi contemplative practices, this study offers a new paradigm for living a sustainable, eco-friendly life, which is sorely needed in an era in which the negative impact of human activity on the planet has attained geological magnitude. 

Tidal Politics: Feminist Queer Diaspora, Cultural Interruption & the Politics of Refusal in the Netherlands

Chandra Frank, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

This interdisciplinary project makes the case that queer feminist diaspora offers models of transnational kinship, cultural production, and resilience within the literal and figurative sinking landscape of the Netherlands. Accounting for feminist anti-racist work in a country residing below sea-level, I show how queer feminists of color have stayed afloat and how this unsettles mainstream white queer and feminist histories rooted in ideas of tolerance and progress. Water is an important vantage point in the book and thus contributes to other ways of theorizing histories of empire and race in Europe. Ultimately, this project argues that the Dutch managed migrants in similar ways as they have managed water. By using broader themes pertaining to progress, mastery, and liberalism, the project charts how queer feminists of color navigated the Dutch racial climate. The book will theoretically and methodologically contribute to the fields of Women, Gender, and Queer Studies, Environmental Communications, and Cultural and Media Studies. The project offers an important model of how we can feminist queer projects and ecology alongside each other. Duke University Press expressed interest in the project. 

The Assault on Women's Rights in Global Politics

Laura Jenkins, School of Public and International Affairs

The rise of Donald Trump, Narendra Modi, and other patriarchal populist leaders around the world has undermined long-established women’s, minority, and democratic rights. This project examines these increasingly coordinated attacks at the state, national and international levels through two projects. The first reveals the way disinformation is becoming embedded in state-level legislation. In India, the love jihad conspiracy theory (that Muslim men are conspiring to seduce non-Muslim women to become the new majority) has inspired laws restricting the freedom to choose one’s religion and one’s spouse. The second project zooms out to global politics, examining a new anti-feminist coalition of religiously conservative countries, right-wing transnational organizations, and patriarchal populist regimes and their work at the United Nations (UN) to systematically undermine women’s rights and sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) rights in international law. After years of norm breaking, they are now in a norm making phase, promoting radical changes in international law that challenge the longstanding human rights principles of indivisibility and equality.      

Contesting Nuclearism and Nuclear Colonialism: Indigenous Women’s Resistances along the Nuclear Fuel Chain

Anne Runyan, School of Public and International Affairs

As threats of nuclear war and other nuclear catastrophes have reappeared, what can we learn from women’s but particularly Indigenous women’s struggles against nuclearism and nuclear colonialism along the nuclear fuel chain on which nuclear weapons depend to expand repertoires for challenging them and the whole nuclear enterprise, and how can such an investigation enable the expansion of feminist International Relations anti-nuclear inquiry and in more decolonial directions? This project bring to the fore particular cases and forms of analysis primarily but not exclusively from the North American context that particularly center Indigenous women’s struggles at each stage in order to 1) expand the remit of feminist IR anti-nuclear scholarship to include the entire nuclear fuel chain upon which nuclear weapons depend; 2) focus on literature, cases, analytical approaches, and cultural resistance practices not typically found in feminist IR anti-nuclear inquiry and not typically put in relation to each other to reveal how resistances to gendered and settler colonial dynamics at each point along the nuclear fuel chain constitute significant challenges to the future of that chain; and 3) put Indigenous feminist thought and practices in particular at the center of feminist IR anti-nuclear inquiry as part of the larger project of decolonizing such scholarship.    

Previous Center Fellows

Previous Center Fellows
2022 - 2023
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2020 - 2021
2019 - 2020
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2017 - 2018
2016 - 2017
2015 - 2016
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2005 - 2006