ISRCA – Awardees

ISRCA 2021 – Awardee Abstracts:

Moroccan Jews between Morocco and Israel, 1948-1962
Shay Hazkani, ARHU-History and Jewish Studies

This research project is a social and cultural history of Moroccan Jews in Morocco and in Israel. It reconsiders the period between 1948 and 1962, when most Morocco’s 250,000 Jews had left for Israel, ending two millennia of Jewish history in North Africa. The study revaluates a fourteen year-long Moroccan struggle against racism in Israel, the echoes of which still reverberate in contemporary Israeli society. One of the principal arguments of the study is that a perception of Moroccan independence by Moroccan Jews in Morocco in 1956 was a determining factor in the strategies taken by Moroccan Jews in Israel. Up until the early 1950s, Moroccan Jews who had already immigrated to Israel saw racism by Israel’s Ashkenazi Jews, as well as economic hardships, as reasons to leave Israel and return to Morocco; however, the pleas by their families still in Morocco made Moroccans in Israel abandon the plans of returning, and adopt a more radical discourse against racism in Israel itself. The study relies on a previously unknown primary source, letters secretly intercepted, copied, and stored by the Israeli postal censorship bureau.


The Politics of Outbreak Response: The Evolution and Effectiveness of WHO’s International Health Regulations
Catherine Worsnop, SPP-School of Public Policy

The COVID-19 pandemic reveals longstanding gaps in the system for governing the global response to major disease outbreaks. Advancements in medical science and technology to prepare for and fight outbreaks continue apace. Yet, in confronting the sixth global health emergency in just over ten years, country responses have been uncoordinated, inconsistent with World Health Organization (WHO) guidance, and based on limited scientific evidence. For its part, WHO’s authority and capacity appear outmatched by the pandemic. Many of the shortcomings of the global response to COVID-19 are part of a pattern of states contravening their commitments to WHO’s International Health Regulations (IHR)—the binding international agreement governing the response to major outbreaks like COVID-19, Ebola, Zika Virus, and H1N1. In responding to each major outbreak since revising the IHR in 2005, states have withheld information, ignored WHO guidance, and underinvested in domestic outbreak response and preparedness in “peacetime.” This book project uses archival research and original quantitative data to examine the enduring, but poorly understood, political dynamics shaping—and hindering—international cooperation during major outbreaks. The book asks two questions: 1) what explains changes in the design of the IHR over time and 2) what explains variation across states in compliance with key IHR commitments?


Nativism and the New Immigrant in Coal Country, USA
Paul Shackel, BSOS-Anthropology

Northeastern Pennsylvania is not well-known for its place in US immigration history. The accounts that have been written are from the perspective of the scholar based on excellent research of primary sources. However, the stories end with the passing of the 1920s federal anti-immigration laws. Today, immigration is dramatically changing the culture and landscape of the region. As a result, there has been a growing nativist movement in the region, with cities attempting to legislate anti-immigration laws. Some of the post 2016 federal election analyses have focused on the political shift that has occurred in this region. While some accounts have documented the reemergence of nativist sentiment, the new Latinx perspectives are often glossed over or inferred by scholars. As a way of extending this region’s immigration story into the 21st century I will complete a book and rely in part on the many oral histories I have collected on this topic. I will write about the despair felt by the white population as they try to survive in a forgotten, economically depressed region as well as detail their reaction to the new immigrants who are bringing with them a new language and a different culture. I will also provide the new Latinx residents a voice (an emic perspective) detailing their hope for a new life while also experiencing different forms of racism in the community.


Wars R Us: Violence and Identity in the U.S., the Middle East, and Russia After the Cold War
Valerie Anishchenkova, ARHU-Arabic/Film Studies/SLLC

This book project offers a comparative perspective on cultural identity politics in Russian and American superpowers and Arabic-speaking countries by bridging the two cultural contexts – violence and new media – that have a profound impact on contemporary selfhood. My goal is to investigate how identity is articulated through the discourses of violence in various cultural genres, such as film, television production, videogames, and videos made for circulation on social media platforms.

During my ISRCA sabbatical, I will be doing archival work and writing the chapter that investigates recruitment videos and similar propaganda material produced and circulated by ISIS on the internet and social media channels. This chapter will focus on the two major ISIS propaganda streams: one targeting English-speaking audiences and another – focusing on audiences in the Russian Federation, particularly the predominantly Muslim regions of the Caucasus. I treat these audiovisual and digital materials as cultural texts where violence functions as a central marker of a group identity. My hypothesis is that many of these videos build on the effective propaganda techniques developed during the Cold War, while simultaneously incorporating the familiar visual elements from modern-day video games, TV commercials, and reality television.


Afterlives of AIDS: Oral histories of Black women living and aging with HIV
Thurka Sangaramoorthy, BSOS-Anthropology

Afterlives of AIDS centers African American women’s journeys of finding meaning and community in the face of persistent violence and trauma. It illustrates how HIV has shaped women’s lives and how it has impacted their historical and contemporary roles within Black familial systems and broader communities. The project presents holistic and complex stories of African American women who have long been ignored in the history of HIV and often cast aside as drug addicts and prostitutes in popular and scientific discourse. It also documents women’s own analysis of their experiences of intersectional stigma, chronicity, and aging.

This award-winning project builds on traditional forms, such as oral history and photography, with innovative approaches to bring racial justice-focused activism to anthropology, the use of storytelling to elevate the voices of those most impacted by the HIV epidemic; to better inform policy and practice, and contribute to social action. Afterlives of AIDS encompasses digital video, interviews; photographs, op-eds in national newspapers and magazines; and a forthcoming book. All project-related materials have been acquired by the Smithsonian Institute for their permanent digital archival collection. The project also includes collaboration with The Story Collider to launch a national storytelling campaign about the lived experience of HIV among African Americans.


‘Relatable Meets Remarkable’: Crafting Race in the Reality Television Industry
Eva Hageman, ARHU- American Studies and Harriet Tubman Department of Women Gender and Sexuality studies

The casts of reality television shows are the people we love, love to hate, and hate to admit we even recognize. Their characters are frequently criticized for the canned ways they represent race and racial relations. And although reality television has some of the most diverse casts on television it is often described as trash TV. My research takes seriously not only the critique but also the draw of reality television to audiences, producers, and casts.

My book manuscript “‘Relatable Meets Remarkable’: Crafting Race in the Reality Television Industry,” embraces the supposed shamefulness of “low culture” to investigate new representations of race and avenues for media participation in a genre that has been described as the “end of civilization,” even as it has among the highest representation of people of color on television. The book argues that reality television’s lack of prestige marks certain people and lifestyles as cast-off entertainment for inferior publics. It adds to explanations for the rise of reality television, which critics tend to link to cheaper production costs without giving full attention to the racialized aspects of production or how its growth may relate to the rise of “post-racial” ideologies. The project considers if and to what extent reality television expands access to media representation and production.


The First Freedom Riders: Streetcars and Street Fights in Jim Crow New York
Richard Bell, ARHU-History

ISCRA summer funding is supporting archival research for a new book project. The First Freedom Riders is the story of Elizabeth Jennings, the 25-year-old New Yorker who launched the first successful civil disobedience campaign in US history. On Sunday, July 16, 1854, Jennings stepped onto a ‘whites-only’ streetcar on Third Avenue, putting her dignity, safety, and maybe her life on the line to assert her right to ride in the same cars that white New Yorkers did.

Elizabeth Jennings was the first among a small army of young black women and men to fight to forcibly desegregate mass transit in New York City. In the eleven years between Jennings’ clash on the Third Avenue streetcar in 1854 and the end of the US Civil War in 1865, this first generation of American freedom riders turned the city’s streetcars into battlegrounds. In a series of high-profile showdowns, they forced the city to ban policemen from any role enforcing streetcar segregation and compelled these private companies to integrate their systems, bringing an end to decades of apartheid on New York transit.

In the Deep South it would be up to Rosa Parks and the freedom riders of the second civil rights movement of the 1950s to put segregation on trial. But in the North, Elizabeth Jennings had begun that work long before.


Picturing Resilience: A Photo-Elicitation Study of High-Achieving African American Undergraduate Students’ Community Cultural Wealth in the COVID-19 Era
Jennifer Turner, EDUC-Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership

This qualitative project examines high-achieving Black (e.g., African American) undergraduate students’ resiliency as they work, learn, and live through the COVID-19 crisis. Specifically, this study conceptualizes resilience through the lens of Community Cultural Wealth, a Critical Race framework which describes the distinct cultural resources that Black students use to overcome structural racism at predominantly white institutions (PWIs) and employs photo-elicitation as a visual method for capturing and communicating complex aspects of racialized experience through photographic images. Participants in the study include 20 high-achieving Black undergraduates at UMCP who have curated personal photographs representing (1) key barriers and challenges (e.g., racial, educational, social, emotional) that they have experienced during the COVID-19 crisis and (2) the aspirational, familial, community, linguistic, cultural, and spiritual resources (i.e., Community Cultural Wealth) that they have leveraged to overcome these barriers and persist towards their future goals. Participants use their photographs to share and reflect on their stories of resilience in digital compositions and one-on-one interviews. Findings from the study are intended to inform institutional programs and campus policies designed to promote racial justice at PWIs and enhance the persistence of Black undergraduate students within and beyond the COVID-19 crisis.


Game On: Boxing, Race, and Masculinity
Jordana Saggese, ARHU-Art History and Archaeology

The concept of race organizes our national, political, and social lives. Yet its legibility depends almost exclusively on visual perception. The images of Black men that circulate in the public sphere often function to shore up ideologies around both race and masculinity. Drawing connections between sports history and visual studies, Game On: Boxing, Race, and Masculinity maps the visual terrain of racist ideology in the United States, paying particular attention to the intersecting discourses of Blackness, masculinity, and sport. Game On uniquely brings together a unique social history of the white middle class in the late nineteenth century, combining a history of boxing in the United States with a visual history of images and objects from this period to produce an analysis of the racist and gendered stereotypes these representations produce. This book shows how images of Black male athletes play a key role in building, modifying, and even naturalizing constructs of race and gender for twentieth- and twenty-first-century audiences.


Teaching Slavery and Settlement: Plantation Pedagogy in Currents of Conquest
Bayley Marquez, ARHU-American Studies

Teaching Slavery and Settlement: Plantation Pedagogy in Currents of Conquest examines the interconnection between Black and Indigenous educational history. I analyze the history of the Hampton Agricultural and Normal Institute, which was founded as a school to educate Black students in 1868 and expanded its educational focus to Indigenous students in 1879.The Hampton model of industrial schooling influenced the establishment of federally supported Indian boarding schools as well as education internationally, with reformers suggesting it be used for educational programs in places such as the African continent, Hawaii, and the Philippines. I examine the way the teachers, administrators, staff, and policy makers who supported the Hampton model of education talked about industrial education for different racial groups in comparison to each other. I argue that this model of education rested on racist discourse that tried to reframe slavery in the South as having educational benefits to slaves. By justifying slavery as educational, the Hampton Industrial education model focused on teaching Black, Indigenous, and other people of color to value labor and proximity to white civilization as a means of learning. I argue that this mode of teaching slavery was tied to policies that resulted in land dispossession for Indigenous people.



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