(Assistant Professor, GLOA)
"Crisiswork: Everyday Activism, Ethics, and Class Mobility in Lebanon"
My project theorizes the relationship between politics, ethics, and temporality by examining the popularization of activism in contemporary Lebanon. What I call “crisiswork” refers to activist practices that sought to transform both individual moralities and affects and political and social structures of sectarianism to respond to Lebanon’s crises. Approaching future as a central political category which operates as a “cultural fact,” my research centers on narratives of hope and future that informed present struggles for social change. Drawing on twenty-four months of fieldwork conducted between 2012 and 2015 as well as follow-up research between 2018 and 2021, my ethnography lays the groundwork for understanding the increasing political mobilization in Lebanon. Rather than studying activism either as reproduction of or resistance to power, Crisiswork employs a decolonial perspective that centers on competing practices of doing politics resulting from class and other differences among activists. This project's emphasis on difference as a generative space of ethical, affective, and temporal formations reveals co-constitutions of long-standing power structures and alternative imaginations.
(Associate Professor, English)
“Oil and Cultures of Transition”
Arising from a popular course on Oil and Culture that I have taught since arriving at Mason in 2005, my project is concerned with how petroliterate cultures imagine and resist energy transition. Contributing to the field of Energy Humanities and Petroculture Studies, this project reads media artifacts of petroculture as shaped by contested ideological visions of imagined post-oil futures. In my new project, I understand “transition” in Gramscian terms as an interregnum between dominant ideological formations. It is during these periods of interregnum that Gramsci says a “war of positions” takes place among emerging and latent ideological formations and it is these “wars” that I often study – contested relations between older Irish and newer Caribbean writers, or, in the case of World English, the British empire between anti-colonial activism and the rising power of the U.S. During such wars of position, temporality is deployed as a weapon as efforts to define narratives, imagine progress, or resist it and maintain a “durative present,” are precisely the objects that are made available for cultural studies analysis.
(Associate Professor, History and Art History)
“Wind, Worms, and Weeds: Rescuing the Past in Early Modern Japan”
In the early 18th century, people at all levels of literate society in Japan, motivated by an impulse to rescue the past from obscurity, began to engage in acts of historical salvage. By the mid-19th century, just before Japan’s encounter with Western imperialism precipitated its modern revolution, they had produced thousands of volumes, mostly unpublished, of family history and local historical research. They engated in other historical practices as well, erecting monuments at local historical sites, unearthing and investigating the origins old bells, swords, mirrors and other artifacts, and researching and preserving castle ruins, sculptures and artwork they deemed to be of historical significance. My research project examines the emergence of these practices and connects them to a transformation in how people conceived of the relationship between past and present, a transformation brought on by the dramatic political and social upheavals over the 17th century.
(PhD Candidate, Cultural Studies)
“Women on the Web: A Study in Online Solidarity Struggles and the Emergence of the Feminist Digital Collective”
Throughout my project, I trace how digital terrain references and refashions past feminist beliefs, strategies and schisms. By examining the movement’s archives of texts, groups, strategies and events, I underscore how these elements shape current manifestations of feminism through the emergence of the feminist digital collective. As feminism has moved online, it has been forced to reckon with its unresolved struggles over solidarity due to the capacious and mercurial nature of digitally-based collectivity. In the process, feminism has encountered new threats to its progress, including platform capitalism and digitally-based patriarchic violence. By creating a historiography of this burgeoning form of feminism, I highlight how past tensions shape our present world(s) in the hopes that such knowledge may engender greater space for the movement's advancement.
(PhD Candidate, Cultural Studies)
“Remembering Democracy: Activist Museums and the Politics of Memory”
I will be working on my dissertation, "Remembering Democracy: Activist Museums and the Politics of Memory" which looks at the ways that several newly opened history and culture museums in the United States and Canada navigate the spaces between history/memory and past/present to open up new possibilities for politics. My project aligns with the Center's 2021-22 theme through the ways that these institutions that I call activist museums are challenging traditional museum practices and historical narratives by making connections between the past and present for the future. What makes these museums activist museums is precisely their desire to undo the conceptions of time that have, historically, delimited what we are able and unable to see. Each one, in different ways and for different reasons, tries to center or recenter narratives, voices, and people that they perceive to have been erased or marginalized in our traditional narratives of history.
(Associate Professor, History and Art History)
“The Past, Present, and Future of Emancipation: Vincent Colyer and Thomas Nast Envision Freedom in 1863”
My project, "The Past, Present, and Future of Emancipation: Vincent Colyer and Thomas Nast Envision Freedom in 1863," examines two visual depictions of freedom created by white, northern artists in the winter and spring of 1863. Each artist presents his narrative of emancipation within a different temporal construction: graphic artist Thomas Nast presents future freedom as an optimistic contrast to a horrific past, while painter Vincent Colyer envisions a more complex and ongoing process. By evaluating these nineteenth-century visual responses to emancipation, we can uncover and understand white artists' and viewers' assumptions about progress, freedom, and self-reliance, attitudes that continue to shape American race relations. This project will be a chapter in my larger book project about genre painting during the American Civil War.
Ashley Gaddy is a Black Southern Educator, Scholar-Activist and Researcher. Ashley received her Bachelor’s in Communication Studies and Master’s in Liberal Studies from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and is currently a doctoral candidate at George Mason University in the Cultural Studies PhD Program. Ashley’s areas of interest include Social Justice Education, Empowerment, Social Change and Authentic Leadership. The power of Black Women’s bodies and the happenings of 2020 inspired her project “Reproducing Through 2020: Reproductive Liberation Strategies of Black Women Welfare Recipients in Washington, DC during Floyd, Trump and Covid-19”. Ashley is also a Dog Mom to Bobo and a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Associate Professor of Arabic
Nathaniel Greenberg is an Associate Professor of Arabic in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages at George Mason University. A comparatist by training with a background in literature, his research looks at the history and aesthetics of soft power technology in the modern Middle East and North Africa. His most recent book How Information Warfare Shaped the Arab Spring: The Politics of Narrative in Tunisia and Egypt (Edinburgh 2019) offered a first-person account of the opening weeks of protest in Cairo, in 2011, and examined the rhetorical disparity between opposing parties as the battle to define the Arab Spring unfolded. As a CHR fellow he will be focusing on an earlier revolutionary period with a project titled “Salvaged Archives: The Social Photography of Kamil al-Chadirji and the Image of Revolt in Iraq (1920-1958).
Annie is a PhD candidate in Cultural Studies. Her research examines the aesthetics of transnational social movements via visual and narrative appropriations of mass culture in contemporary protests. Her dissertation, “Visual Resistance and Political Be/longing: The Politics of Mass Cultural Symbols in Sites of Protest” examines how citizens imagine their cultural and national be/longing (both an existing belonging to and a longing for inclusion) and the ways that mass culture facilitates democratic participation while also challenging hegemonic neoliberal frameworks that consistently work to silence vulnerable and marginalized populations.
Assistant Professor in the Global Affairs Program
Niklas Hultin is Assistant Professor in the Global Affairs Program. With a background in both law and anthropology, Professor Hultin’s research interests focus on human rights, political culture, and the politics of information in West Africa. As a CHR Faculty Fellow, Professor Hultin will work on his book manuscript preliminary titled Human Rights and Autocracy: The Gambia under Yahya Jammeh, 1994-2017. Drawing on Professor Hultin’s two decades of research in the Gambia, the book explores how the language of human rights shapes and sustains dissent when up against an autocratic leader who literally pledged to rule for a billion years.
Historian of US Political and Cultural Life
Sam Lebovic historian of U.S. political and cultural life, and is particularly interested in the ways that information and ideas circulate – and don’t circulate – through the U.S. public sphere. Studying this problem has led to work in a variety of fields: the history of civil liberties; media history; American Political Development; intellectual history; political economy; the history of U.S. foreign relations and national security. He is the author of the Free Speech and Unfree News: The Paradox of Press Freedom in America (Harvard, 2016), which provides a revisionist account of America’s free press in the era of corporate consolidation and state secrecy, and which won the Ellis Hawley prize in political history from the Organization of American Historians and the Paul Murphy Prize in civil liberties from the America Society for Legal History. He has recently finished a book on the political history of cultural globalization in the years after World War II (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming 2021). As a fellow at CHR, he will be writing the first narrative history of the Espionage Act. Under contract with Basic Books, the book uses the history of this controversial law to explore the censorship of anti-war dissent and the rise of U.S. state secrecy over the past century. His writing on history, media, and politics has appeared in a number of leading scholarly journals, as well as such publications as the Boston Review, the LA Review of Books, the Boston Globe, Politico, the Columbia Journalism Review, and Dissent.
Associate Professor of English
Jessica Scarlata is an associate professor of English and film and media studies and the director of the FAMS minor in CHSS. Her work addresses the intersection of visual culture with contested geographies, national memory, incarceration, and state-of-emergency discourses. Her book, Rethinking Occupied Ireland: Gender and Incarceration in Contemporary Irish Cinema (Syracuse University Press, 2014), studies films that explore Irish history from the perspective of those marginalized within or ejected from Irish and British national narratives, offering a chance to reevaluate what constitutes political cinema and political resistance. She is currently working on a book tentatively titled Geographies of Irish Visual Culture that looks at film, video, television, and photography made in or about Northern Ireland after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. This project seeks out works that deliberately or haphazardly open Irish history up to a wider global history of oppression, occupation, and emergency legislation. She is interested in the representation of contested spaces, places, and memories in the North, particularly in works that dissent from dominant narratives of the Troubles by inviting associations to other contested sites/sites of contest within and beyond Ireland and the UK. Her main focus in teaching is world cinema, particularly that of postcolonial nations, and her courses have covered Third Cinema and its legacy, multiculturalism and migration, and geographies of violence, all from a wide range of national/cultural contexts.