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Center Fellows

Derrick Brooms in a libraryCreating Their Own Stories: Black Males’ Educational Narratives from High School through College
Derrick Brooms, Sociology

In this project, I explore the educational narratives of a select group of Black men as they discern, discuss, and make meaning of their pathways from high school through college. Using a critical race methodological approach, I take a longitudinal view to trace their pathways, the messages and supports they received along the way, their sense of self and personal development, and better understand and appreciate the multiple contexts of their experiences. Additionally, I investigate how these men experience, respond to, and make sense of education. The major focus of this project is on exploring and understanding the social and cultural influences on these men’s educational aspirations, experiences, and journeys

Issac CamposNarco-dynamics and the Evolution of Mexico’s War on Drugs, 1912-1940
Isaac Campos, History

In this book project, I unravel the origins of the transnational interests and ideology that have, since the early twentieth century, dynamically interacted to fuel, justify, and sanction drug-war policies in Mexico despite their extraordinarily consistent, and sometimes utterly horrific, negative consequences. I argue that these forces developed for the first time between 1912 and 1940, and I contend that it was the specific history of that moment, within the specific political, economic, and physical geography of Mexico and the United States, that produced the dynamic network of relationships and policies that would sustain the war on drugs right down to our current moment. Based in multi-archival research in Mexico, the United States, and Great Britain, I will be working this year to integrate all aspects of this story, from the intricacies of policymaking and diplomacy, to the life on the ground of drug addicts; from the ongoing evolution of anti-drug ideology, to the relationship of all of this to the central currents of Mexican history.

L Rodriguez (1)Making It: Constructing the Lives of Unaccompanied Children in an American City
Leila Rodriguez, Anthropology

In the past four years, over 700 unaccompanied, undocumented minors have been released from U.S.-Mexico border detention centers and relocated to the Cincinnati area. My book project examines what happens to these young migrants when they “make it” and move into myriad localities across the United States. Framed as a public anthropology project, it addresses three questions: 1) What are the post-release daily lives of unaccompanied children like?; 2) How do local-level integration dynamics shape their lives?; and 3) What are the local policy options for communities to improve integration? Drawing from scholarship on the sociocultural construction of (il)legality and politics of representation, I examine how local-level inclusion and exclusion dynamics, and competing narratives about these minors, constrain and expand their opportunities and outcomes. Situating this book within the anthropology of the good, I highlight the conditions under which positive outcomes can emerge from negative contexts and how they can be reproduced in other contexts

SadreOrafaiReal People, Real Models: Casting Race and Fashion in 21st Century America
Stephanie Sadre-Orafai, Anthropology

This book project charts the rise and everyday practices of modeling and casting agentsalsin the New York fashion industry who discover, screen, and promote professional and non-professional models, or “real people.” It revehow they craft representations and meanings of race through not just visual techniques, but discursive, material, spatial, and embodied practices. It positions the dichotomy between “real people” and “real models” as a key tension for understanding how (a) categories of race and beauty are produced in the industry, and (b) fashion model casting emerged as an independent profession in the 1990s with the power to shape both commercial images and the concept of personhood itself. Interrogating the political possibilities of becoming “models of” versus “models for,” the book examines how the category “model” depends on its double: the non-model, or “real person.” Providing a situated analysis of the work of producing categories and commercial types in high fashion, this book proposes a new kind of media ethnography: one that rethinks models’ bodies as forms of mass media, casting as a self-contained media production practice, and the agency of models as they become mediums through which fashion, advertising, and other messages are made intelligible. Showing how casting professionals at once distrust and manipulate visual markers of difference while simultaneously attempting to create more “real” ways of seeing, it theorizes what these practices mean for how race is constructed, evaluated, and refigured in 21st century America.

Olga Sanmiguel-ValderramaLatinx in Agribusinesses
Olga Sanmiguel-Valderrama, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

This book-project analyzes in comparative perspective the socio-cultural practices and legal regulations that govern workers’ rights in agribusiness settings in Colombia, Florida (USA), and Leamington, Ontario (Canada). These export-led agribusinesses generate billions of dollars each year and employ hundreds of thousands of laborers. These transnational corporations have three features in common: they rely on Latinx migrant laborers; labor standards are precarious; and each community of workers has exercised agency and developed unique forms of organizing and resistance to improve their labor and living conditions. Based on case studies specific to each country, “Latinx in Agribusinesses” provides compelling insights into how the interlocking social regulatory systems of patriarchy, racism, classism, and nationality/citizenship/immigration status operate not only within the daily operations of each industry, but also within the transnational trade agreements and national legislation that regulate labor standards, laborers’ income, and workers’ restrictions with regard to their transnational mobility. While guaranteeing these industries’ success, those regulatory systems have resulted in the hard, precarious, and poorly remunerated labor of workers, who are discriminated based on their ethnicity, class, gender, and their immigration status. “Latinx in Agribusinesses” also examines how workers within these industries have organized and, along with local and transnational non-governmental organizations (NGOs) sympathetic to their struggles, continue to contest the hegemonic labor and consumption practices in agribusiness, often deploying multiple resistance strategies. The book demonstrates not only how imaginative and resourceful resisting workers have been but also how workers have actually enacted the abstract human rights guaranteed in legal instruments under conditions of adversity.

Willard SunderlandLeviathan: Russia and the World in the Age of Peter the Great

Willard Sunderland, History

One of the truisms of Russian history is that Peter the Great “westernized” Russia. Frustrated with the dull backwardness of Muscovy, the story goes, the young Peter fell in love with the West in the European quarter of old Moscow – the German Suburb – and, upon becoming tsar, a series of changes rapidly followed. Yet, for all of the appeal of this story, as one looks closer into the finer weave of the times, especially on an empire-wide scale, the notion that Peter westernized Russia seems much too simple. It’s not that the westernization paradigm is wholly wrong – rather, it leaves too much out. Preoccupied with westernization, scholars have missed a broader view of the dynamism of the age. The Russian Empire at the time of Peter the Great was not just self-consciously tilting toward Europe; it was leaning into the world. It is the country’s intense and growing entanglement not with Europe alone but with Europe, Asia, and the oceans that best defines the distinctive importance of the Petrine transformation.


Previous Center Fellows

Previous Center Fellows