Current Fellows

CHR Residential Fellows- Spring 2023

personJoan Bristol, Associate Professor (History and Art History), "Marginalization and Belonging in a Secret Community: Esperanza Rodríguez, 17th-century Mulata Crypto-Jew"
This project examines the case of Esperanza Rodriguez, a free African-descent woman convicted of practicing crypto-Judaism by the Mexican Inquisition in 1646. Esperanza’s experience reveals how early modern identity could be formed through collective, private, and even secret practices, and how such practice-based identities interacted with official Spanish colonial categories of race. Crypto-Judaism was likely an essential part of Esperanza’s self-identity: she seems to have maintained her crypto-Jewish practice over decades spent moving around Spanish America and she became part of Mexico City’s crypto-Jewish community upon arrival in the capital. Esperanza had a central role in this community; she and her fellow believers trusted each other with the dangerous secret of crypto-Judaism and shared communal rituals. At the same time Spanish (i.e. White) crypto-Jews were very aware of Esperanza’s racial and class status and their testimony shows that some did not fully accept her. Esperanza’s participation in Mexico City’s crypto-Jewish community illustrates how racial and religious identities can both alienate and connect individuals within a community. 
personAleezay Khaliq, PhD Candidate (Sociology and Anthropology), "Sense of belonging, and Community participation of Second-generation Muslim immigrants in the DMV area"
My project explores the sense of belonging, community participation, integration and well-being of second-generation Muslims living in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia. Social integration through participatory activities is an integral part of immigrant life. Social participation not only shapes their identity but inculcates a sense of belonging and promotes well-being. Social participation facilitates the formation of strong socialties and bonds, that turn into long-term connections. Therefore, my project examines the association between belonging and well-being among Muslim immigrants settled in the area.
personSumaiya Hamdani, Associate Professor (History and Art History), "Surviving the State: Muslim Community and Identity Across the Indian Ocean"
This is the provisional title of a book project that I will be working on as a CHR Residential Fellow in Spring 2023. It will investigate the connections between religious elites in Yemen and India in the early modern and modern periods that allowed for the construction of communal identity for a particular Muslim minority. In particular, I'm interested in how the cultural capital of religious scholars enabled them to negotiate the preservation of a communal identity that at one and the same time connected the community with the larger Muslim world, and created a distinct identity that enabled it to withstand the indifference or hostility of states that governed it. 
personSarah Nidia Ochs, PhD Candidate (Sociology and Anthropology), "A City’s Journey through Racism, in Four Statues"

In the United States, historically-mediated concepts of race and racism have influenced the shape of many policies, practices, and laws. These are “racial projects” (Omi and Winant 2015); they help develop race as an organizing social force and shape its significance within identities and social structures. My research explores a racial project of the present moment as it purports to move toward social justice: contemporary discourses of antiracism and their associated political outcomes.

Using public discussion on four Richmond, VA monuments as cases of study, I explore how communities form around these changing notions of racism. I ask, how does racial meaning become formulated in public spaces and how might it advance, or hinder, progress? These four monuments represent a tension between one kind of hegemonic community, attempts to disrupt that community, and the potential for democratic space to be created between them.

personRashmi Sadana, Associate Professor (Sociology and Anthropology), "The Power of Place and the Built Environment in India’s Central Vista Redevelopment Project"

The Central Vista, Delhi’s equivalent of D.C.’s National Mall, encapsulates the idea of community writ large and symbolizes what Jawaharlal Nehru called India’s “unity in diversity.” However, the Central Vista Redevelopment Project being enacted since late 2020 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party ruling coalition is a top-down demolition and redesign of the entire area. The redevelopment is seen by many as causing a great “disconnect” between people and their monuments, history, and urban space. My project will analyze the competing narratives about the Central Vista and its redevelopment in order to understand how ideas of community and alienation are being employed and deployed by architects, urban planners, activists, petitioners, politicians, and the Indian judiciary. How are vocabularies of belonging and not belonging, heritage and progress used to imbue debates over aesthetics and the built environment? How is the site itself a canvas for national reckoning, assertions of power, and a struggle over meaning?

personLevi Van Sant, Assistant Professor (School of Integrative Studies), "Land Claims: Ownership, Stewardship, and Belonging in the Shenandoah Valley"

From the recent occupations of federal lands by white male ranchers in the US West
to the revolutionary Indigenous demands for LandBack, it appears that the politics of land in the US are increasingly central to broader struggles. Less dramatic than these contestations, but perhaps equally important, are recent changes in the land market – as wealthy individuals and institutional investors increasingly view land as a desirable financial asset. This project examines the political dynamics of land ownership changes in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Over the past two decades the valley has experienced an increase in “amenity migration” – development of vacation homes, resorts, and short-term rental properties – a trend that intensified due to increased telework during the COVID-19 pandemic. When layered on top of the declining agricultural economy, the punctuated expansion of tourism and amenity migration are significantly reshaping the Shenandoah Valley. My research analyses the formation of political communities in the context of increasing tensions over land use and ownership change in the Shenandoah Valley, highlighting the ways that notions of stewardship and belonging are continually contested and reworked.