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Fall 2011 Abstracts

Jon-Michael Billingslea
Brown Skin, Yellow Hats; the Exoneration of Colonial History in the Curious George Narrative

This project is a critical consideration of the Curious George narrative as a thinly disguised historical account of the enslavement experienced by Africans during the slave trade era. It is apparent in George's capture, middle passage, imprisonment, resistance, and cultural assimilation that several parallels exist between this popular children's text and the Atlantic slave trade. George's curiousness is presented as attempts to resist, and spite his colonial masters through a topical application of post-colonial theory. Jon-Michael Billingslea references historical portrayals of Africans as ape like as well as the historic connection between imperialism and the ownership of exotic pets. Also, repeated links are made between the overall civilizing mission of imperialism and the curious George texts as a whole. In addition, he provides an explanation for the muting of Curious George's voice upon his entry to the new world through a topical application of post-colonial theory.

Nicole M. Erhardt
Mediating Memory, Pursuing Justice: Problematics of Political Power Struggles in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Nicole M. Erhardt investigates the recent legal actions taken in South Africa by AfriForum, a civil rights group that advocates for the interests of the historically privileged Afrikaner/Boer minority. AfriForum's legal actions have been taken against individual members of the African National Congress (ANC), the political party that represents the historically oppressed majority. She uses Thomas DeGloma's model of survivor movements to analyze the recent Equality Court ruling that found the ANC populist Julius Malema guilty of "hate speech" for singing an ANC liberation song that include the words "shoot the Boer" in a public forum. Using Giorgio Agamben's 'paradox of sovereignty' to understand the complexities of constituting and constituted power, the author gauges shifting hegemonic positions of these two groups at an ambiguous but urgent moment of transition into a post-apartheid state. The investigation finds that AfriForum pursues their agenda through strategic judicial maneuvers rather than through public consensus in order to circumvent their political limits as a minority. Consequently, a problematic space is created where Afrikaner minority interests continue to be served and the majority interests continue to be silenced.

Colleen King
Slurps of (Neo) Colonial Slurry: Colonizing Taste in the Specialty Coffee Industry and the Demystification of Coffee Consciousness

Danielle Maggio
The Radical Contradiction: CrimethInc. Ex-Worker’s Collective, the Global Occupation and the Mythology of Privileged Resistance

In this essay on the practical and “imaginal” experiment of a revolutionary movement emerging in the twenty-first century advanced capitalist State, Danielle Maggio explores the resurgence of anarchist ideals as it exists in the ethical practice of radical politics. She uses the CrimethInc. Ex- Workers’ Collective as a case study to expose the rhetoric of mythology and direct action, which create a vehicle toward the potentiality of an anti-capitalist consciousness. The (re)search investigates the internal contradiction of a homogeneous privilege within the decentralized collective, contemporary radical dissent and the current Occupation movement. The essay interprets the occupations’ commitment to civil disobedience and the denial of capitalist logic as a spectacle of global resistance, which acts as a visible effect of the global economy. The (re)search considers how deep CrimethInc.’s decentralized mythology of resistance has penetrated the minds and bodies of rebels across the country and the possibility and responsibility of their advocating revolution as a total life process.

Janine L. Shoots
‘We’re All Living in Amerika’: Overseas U.S. military Installations as Gated Communities, Enclaves of Fear, and the Ethos of Consumption

Tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War marked the birth of a U.S. global basing system in Europe. Over the last several decades the proliferation of the U.S. military overseas has come to seize more and more space as U.S. territory. Janine L. Shoots examines the socio-spatial construction of U.S. military installations overseas. She specifically investigates Ramstein Air Base in Germany as a gated community, the militarized privatization of public space. She examines which aspects of American culture and consumerism the U.S. military, transplants onto German soil in order to produce that sense of U.S. domesticity for American soldiers. Her observations establish Ramstein Air Base as a postmodern simulacrum of a militarized American suburb, a simulation of safety, and the hegemonic dominance of the U.S.military overseas.

Spring 2011 Abstracts

Constance Calice
Watch What You Eat: From Self-Surveillance to Affective Eating

How is it that Americans are so obsessed with nutrition and dieting and yet remain unhealthy?  This project attempts to give a theoretically driven answer to this great paradox within the Western diet. Constance Calice analyzes the practice and rhetoric of dieting as a crystallization of a problematic relationship to food using a Foucauldian understanding of discipline. Using examples from the media, she illustrates the way in which outside forces affect our food choices and the power relationships formed in this exchange. To offer an alternative view to nutritionism she looks to the Local Food Movement and affect theory to illustrate how we can understand food and eating in such a way that incorporates the personal, emotional, spiritual and cultural aspects of food rather than just the amount and nutritional components of what we eat.

Kerri Campbell
With Open Arms: Theoretical Approaches and Practices Behind The Night Ministry

The Night Ministry is a Chicago based nonprofit organization connecting vulnerable youth and adults to basic needs and services through a combination of outreach vans, medical services, and emergency housing. As an intern, Kerri Campbell has experienced firsthand what this means to the communities The Night Ministry serves: she has also developed critical insights into how it works.  Employing an interdisciplinary approach, this paper combines social work and sociological theories to understand how The Night Ministry meets the needs of the street-based population who use their services.   This paper evaluates the harm reduction theory that is fundamental to The Night Ministry’s work and discusses other obstacles the homeless face, like the politics of space.  Using a combination of theory, experiences, and reflections from a year long internship, this paper considers the aid one organization is providing to Chicago’s homeless.

Katelyn Carlson
Developing a “Green” Africa: The Seed as a Source of Western Capital Cultivating Neo-colonial Traditions

Alongside the global discussion of climate change, the food crisis in Africa has prompted the push for a revitalized “Green Revolution”—a development plan largely funded by the Gates Foundation. For Kenya, agricultural development begins with the adaptation of Monsanto’s seeds, genetically engineered to suit small farmers’ needs. In this project, Katelyn Carlson seeks to (re)contextualize the Kenyan food crisis within colonial history in order to understand how globalization and neo-colonialism coalesce into one issue—the seed. By rooting the seed solution within the colonial context, the project is able to further interrogate the image of the “hungry African” as well as the westernized notions of science and progress. With field research conducted in Kenya, this project situates the final argument in favor of indigenous farming methods.

Danielle Prelip
Poverty for Profit: Disaster Tourism in Post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

This project examines the poverty tourism industry in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans by conducting content analysis of tour companies and analyzing their approach, appeal and credibility as tour operators and self-proclaimed educators. By contextualizing the historically racist and classist social practices within New Orleans, Danielle Prelip examines tourist reviews and testimonials in order to analyze the way mediated images of residents have allowed tour companies to construct their tours around Katrina’s devastation with limited resistance. Furthermore, by isolating tourists from the subjects of their tours, Danielle asserts that the current structure of “Katrina Tours” not only allows for, but perpetuates the segregation and isolation of New Orleans residents by turning their misery into a commodity for consumption.