The University Record, May 20, 2002

GELS fellows named for coming year

By Tobin Siebers
Program in Comparative Literature

The Global Ethnic Literatures Seminar (GELS) has awarded 10 new fellowships for fall semester 2002 to fellows chosen out of a Universitywide competition. Next year’s group, which includes six graduate student and four faculty members, will meet weekly in a seminar of their own design to discuss questions and topics crucial to international diversity. The seminar is supplemented over the course of the semester by a slate of distinguished public lectures. New fellows also will be working on a two-day conference on “Redefining Identity Politics: Internationalism, Feminism, Multiculturalism” scheduled Oct. 18–19.

Graduate student fellows are supported by GELS in the fall term and receive $3,000 for the summer prior to their tenure. Faculty fellows receive a course reduction in the fall term and $2,500 in research money.

The six graduate student fellows come from a variety of departments and programs. Lily Chiu in comparative literature traces the trajectory of colonial, post-colonial and neo-colonial ideology in contemporary Francophone Vietnamese and Vietnamese-language literature and film, focusing on the figure of the native women, problems of self-identification and dissemination of knowledge.

Robert Gray in history works on crime and corruption in contemporary China. His thesis holds that local responses to crime create democratic spaces when the power of the Chinese Communist Party is weak. Andrew Ivaska, also in history, focuses on an emerging genre of Kiswahili-language comics in Tanzania, exploring their engagements with a host of global images, icons and narratives. Jing Jiang in comparative literature is working on the cultural imagery used in China to overcome the anxieties of modernity. Jeffrey Jurgens in anthropology examines Turkish diasporic identity in Berlin, tracing how immigrants move through the city, understand their relations with both ethnic Germans and non-immigrant Turks, and put their migration experiences in historical perspective.

LaTissia Mitchell in English is studying images of death and reproduction in contemporary African-American and Caribbean literatures. She will draw on African-derived religious beliefs and practices to demonstrate that death functions as space for the performance of black history and narrative.

Four faculty fellows will join the graduate students. Paul Anderson, assistant professor of American culture and CAAS, is working on a historical study of popular music in modernist and postmodernist cultural thought in the half century after the Harlem Renaissance. Frieda Ekotto, associate professor of comparative literature and Romance languages, focuses on the significance of Jean Genet’s contribution to critical thought on race and ethnicity, giving special attention to his relationship to such important groups as Negritude and the Black Panthers.

Anne Stoler, professor of anthropology and history, examines the politics of memory, asking which histories nations choose to remember and choose to forget. Her focus is on the recent surge of interest in World War II memories and those of torture committed by French soldiers in Algeria and the persistent absence of memories about racism in the making of French empire.

Finally, Penny VonEschen, associate professor of CAAS and history, explores the State Department’s use of jazz musicians as good will ambassadors during the Cold War, notably Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington, and how the practice produced a contradiction between the roles they placed internationally and at home in the pre-Civil Rights Era.