Faculty Expertise

Spring 2021 Recorded Faculty Talks

Dr. Paul Hanson offered a talk about “January 6, 2021: Insurrection through the Lens of the French Revolution.” Dr. Hanson shared some images from the French Revolution, explored their meaning, and made connections to the events of January 6, 2021. These comparisons offer ways of understanding what happened at the Capitol on that day.

Dr. Ageeth Sluis presented “Conspirituality: New Age Facism, Right-Wing Hippies and the QAnon ‘Shaman'” where she shared that on January 6, 2021, when radical right-wing extremists stormed the US Capitol, one of “Trump’s ragtag army” stood out from the others. Clad in animal furs, covered in tribal tattoos and face-paint, the self-proclaimed “shaman” appeared strangely out of place. A dedicated vegan and environmentalist (we learned later), this aspiring Native American—with accompanying New Age sensibilities—indeed seemed an unlikely candidate for armed insurrection. But was he? Identifying the “QAnon shaman” as the poster-child of “conspirituality,” a socio-cultural phenomenon with roots in both New Age ideas as well as conspiracy theories, this talk and discussion will examine the rise, reasons and political impact of the conspirituality movement, placing it in dialogue with forces such as colonialism, racism, cultural appropriation and multi-faceted constructions of “authentic” whiteness.

Dr. Vivian Deno shared her thoughts on “Feminist Foundations? Demia Butler, Catherine Marshall, and Harriet Noble – and the Historicization of the Founding Generation of ‘Feminists’ at Butler University” which put these three women into conversation to better understand the struggles that charachterized feminist or womanist efforts on campus and in the region in the early 20th century. Connected by tragedy and opportunity the three represented a founding generation of women on campus both in the classroom and in the memory of the campus and community.

Dr. Julie Searcy, the department’s medical anthropologist, will shared her collaborative research in a virtual talk, “On the Outside Looking In: A Global Doula Response to COVID-19.” Doulas provide important physical, emotional and informational support to pregnant people and their families before, during and shortly after childbirth. From around the world, doulas reported the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on their ability to provide this continuous support. Over 500 doulas in 24 countries responded to a qualitative survey and the results pointed to one common theme – their absence at births and the subsequent need to support birthing people virtually. In a follow-up survey and interviews conducted in July, Julie and her colleague reconnected with doulas from the initial study to track their access to institutional birthing spaces. As countries experienced the effects of “flattening the curve,” they found doulas were still not considered “essential” workers and the majority could not attend births. Their research shows that doulas have ambiguous feelings about the efficacy of virtual support. What will the long-term impact of COVID on their profession be? Will their physical absence allow for an increase in mistreatment and obstetric violence, especially for the vulnerable, as birthing people enter hospitals alone?

Dr. Zach Scarlett offered his well-informed perspective in a virtual talk titled “Trump, Mao and the Cult of Personality.” Following the insurrection of January 6, a number of observers and commentators drew connections between President Trump and Chairman Mao. Specifically, these observers noted that each leader had an uncanny ability to mobilize their followers, spur them to mass action, and to exert their power over society. President Trump and Chairman Mao achieved this power through the building of a cult of personality – a following that went beyond party or political issues and instead elevated both leaders to an almost god-like status. This talk will draw connections between the events of January 6 and the Cultural Revolution specifically, explore how cults of personality are built and sustained, and ask whether it is actually appropriate to compare Trump’s America and Mao’s China.

Spring 2021 Upcoming Events

Dr. Ageeth Sluis is sponsoring an interactive exhibit called Hostile Terrain 94 (HT94) a months long effort to raise awarenss of the lives lost at the border of the United States and Mexico through media and art. Jason de Leon, archeologist and author of the award-winning monograph Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail (2015), initiated the highly interactive exhibit that is composed of aproximately 3,200 handwritten toe tags representing migrants who have died trying to cross the Sonoran Desert of Arizona between the mid-1990s and 2019. The tags are geolocated on a wall map of the desert showing the exact locations where remains were found. This installation will simultaneously take place at a large number of universities, both nationally and globally between 2020 and 2022.

Due to COVID-19, HT94 programs will meet virtually (online via Zoom) during the Spring 2021 semester. When COVID protocols permit, the exhibit will be constructed, either late in the Spring semester or early Fall, 2021.

Upcoming Events

The first event featured a documentary screening of “Border South” and a Q & A session with the director Raúl Paz-Pastrana.

Thursday April 8 at 5:30 PM there will be a virtual panel discussion featuring personal migrant stories.

Thursday April 15  at 7 PM there will be a virtual lecture offered by Dr. Adam Goodman (assistant professor of History at the University of Illinois, Chicago) titled “The Deportation Machine.” Please register in advance for this event and you will receive a webinar link on April 14.