Three visiting faculty from the Department of Global and Intercultural Studies representing American Studies, International Studies, and Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies will present their current research.
“Take Pride in Our Culture”: The Idea of “the West” and the Imagined Geographies of Islamophobia and the “Counter-Jihad Movement”
Dr. Vincent Artman, International Studies
“Islamophobia” is a phenomenon that seems at once readily defined—as an irrational hatred of Muslims or Islam —and also one curiously resistant to easy characterization. Indeed, as both a category of analysis and as a practice, Islamophobia seems to take for granted the nature of its objects, often eliding the considerable variability of historical, political, cultural, and social contexts invested in them. Unfortunately, ongoing debates over the proper definition of Islamophobia have at times been seized upon as occasions to question whether it exists at all. But if Islamophobia as a concept struggles to achieve definitional clarity, then Islamophobia as a worldview can be said to take certain imagined geographies as basic points of reference. Chief among them, arguably, is the notion of “the West” itself, which is portrayed as constantly in danger of being undermined by jihad in all its guises. Consequently, the loosely-constituted “counter-jihad movement” has come to view the struggle against Islamic subjugation as something to be fought in not only on Middle Eastern battlefields, but also at the borders of the nation-state, in the media and government institutions, in neighborhood supermarkets and public schools, and, ultimately, on the human body itself. This paper contends that, in the end, it is through an examination of these geographies that we can arrive at a more sophisticated understanding of the nebulous character of Islamophobia itself.
Silence = Death: Country Music’s Failure to Respond to HIV/AIDS
Dr. Matthew J. Jones, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
HIV/AIDS has never been just an urban problem, just as it has never been only a gay disease. Yet the rural and HIV/AIDS are often presented as antithetical or as separated by impassable barriers of class, sexuality, race, and political ideology. This myth persists in spite of dire projections of a new AIDS crisis resulting from the injection opioid epidemic now devastating the nation’s Rust Belt. Since the 1980s, music has played an important role in the related arts-based political movement that emerged from the AIDS crisis. Songs about HIV/AIDS are part of the “Epidemic of Signification” (Treichler, 1987) that parallels the bio-medical health crisis. In virtually every genre from classical to hip-hop, songs give voice to political resistance, memorialize the dead, preserve individual and collective experiences, raise money for research, and disseminate public health information in vernacular language. Every genre, that is, except country. Mainstream country music has largely failed its rural audiences by ignoring the AIDS crisis. To date, there have been two AIDS-themed songs by mainstream country artists, though some alt- and queer country artists have addressed HIV/AIDS in their songs. Nashville’s silence perpetuates the notion that it is an issue for the metropole. Following Crimp’s assertion that art has the power to save lives in the midst of the AIDS epidemic, this paper explores Nashville’s failure to address HIV/AIDS in song by looking at the few extant examples of AIDS-themed country music through the lens of race, class, and sexual politics.
“Dishonorable Dead”: Mourning, Memorialization and Race in Cold War America”
Dr. Allison L. Wanger, American Studies
This paper offers a critical examination of the intersection of racial politics, nationalism, foreign relations, and public memory within America’s Cold War national cemetery system (NCS). Between 1945 and 1959, the NCS established fourteen military cemeteries in nine countries to inter the nation’s WWII dead. While more than one million Black men were inducted into all branches of the armed forces throughout WWII, the War Department segregated every aspect of the military experience, including funerary practices. In order to understand the function of systemic racism on the international construction of national identity, this paper will juxtapose the social and political impetuses behind the NCS’ Cold War racial integration and its simultaneous contained interment of Black servicemen executed by the U.S. military for war crimes during WWII. Following execution, the War Department interred those the Army referred to as the “dishonorable dead” within an unmarked burial plot in France. Eighty of these ninety-eight decedents had been assigned to “colored only” units, including Louis Till, the father of Emmett Till. Ultimately, this interrogation will explore how the NCS capitalized on its assumed ethical obligation to care for the dead in order to mediate domestic and international unrest. In the process, I argue that the institution perpetuated and affirmed domestic inequalities in the name of Cold War foreign policies.