African American Studies
Faculty Contacts: Halifu Osumare
The African American Studies Research Cluster engages in an exploration of the ways in which the discipline of African American Studies is central to many of the current discourses concerning globalization, contemporary American religion, politics, post-colonial theory, and literary criticism. As a group, we investigate how the African American experience has been and continues to be central to U.S. history, politics, culture, and even international relations. Our areas of study include not only the complexities of what has recently been called the “racial stalemate” in America, but also the vital contributions of African American expressive culture, including music, dance, religion, literary, and popular cultural styles. The research cluster allows faculty and graduate students to jointly develop cutting-edge research questions and inquiry into some of the most vital and vexing questions of our American history and contemporary times.
American Cultures and Politics
Founded in 2004, the American Cultures and Politics (ACAP) research cluster provides a forum for scholars to meet and discuss research while fostering cross-disciplinary interventions. ACAP unites faculty and graduate students studying the Americas in any historical period. Participants come from Sociology, English, History, Cultural Studies, Art, Spanish, Native American Studies, Music, Asian American Studies, Women and Gender Studies, American Studies, and the law school. ACAP participants further our research and make the strength of our scholarship more visible on campus through a variety of programs including colloquia, guest speakers, lectures, and writing workshops.
Asian Pacific American Cultural Politics
Faculty Contact: Wendy Ho
Comprising a fluid group of faculty and graduate students from across HArCS , Social Sciences, and the School of Law, this research cluster’s multidisciplinary examination of Asian Pacific American (APA) culture, history, and society builds on the insights of traditional disciplines and recent innovations in theory and praxis. We are interested in how perceptions of language, gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, and trans/nationality can organize and affect identities, complex social relations, and cultural objects in space and time. The diversity among our members’ expertise enables us to create an exceptionally fruitful space for intellectual engagement with APA cultural production and representation. Cluster members conduct workshops on research-in-progress, organize panels and symposia featuring guest and UCD-affiliated speakers that are helpful to our research goals. Themes and events are determined and developed by the cluster’s membership. Our events have included, among other things, the Asian American Performance series, Asian American Sexualities series, Critical Race Theory series, and a panel on Asian and Arab American studies and comparative research on Muslim Americans. We invite interested individuals to join our group!
Chicana/Latina Studies in California
Faculty Contact: Lorena Oropeza
The main purpose of the Chicana/Latina Studies in California research cluster is to engage directly with the future of Chicana/Latina studies within the UC system and within the state of California. On the one hand, the neoliberal, corporate, hybrid model of higher education advocated by UC administrators is one that divorces itself from any obligation to provide institutional support for Chicana/Latina research. On the other hand, the breadth of scholarship at UC Davis that falls under the rubric “Chicana/Latina Studies” – which spans the fields of education and ecology, history and public health, and indigenous studies and immigration politics – speaks to the vitality of this academic enterprise. This cluster brings together faculty and graduate students working on Chicana/Latina strategies of survival, of creative resistance, of cultural celebration, and of political protest. Moreover, this cluster recognizes the severe underrepresentation of Chicana, Latina, and Native women scholars in the UC system and thus remains committed to providing a space for building mentoring relationships.
Critical Studies in Food and Culture
The Critical Studies in Food and Culture research cluster supports critical work on the cultural aspects of foodways, food practices, and consumption. The CSFC represents faculty and graduate students whose research and teaching focuses on the critical investigation of food and culture, and aims to enable interdisciplinary collaboration and support for researchers across the arts, humanities, social sciences, and food-related disciplines who are engage in contemporary and historical studies of the cultures of food production and consumption. For more information visit the cluster’s website or blog.
The DHI early modern cluster draws on the considerable faculty and graduate student interest in the period from roughly 1500-1700 across the globe. Our members represent a wide range of disciplines, including Art History, Classics, Comparative Literature, English, French, History, and Spanish. We bring in several speakers a year and we also provide opportunities for faculty and students to present their work in progress. The cluster has been especially helpful in introducing new colleagues and their work to the community of early modernists. In the last few years, we have learned about the work of Katherine Burnett (Art History), Margie Ferguson (English and Comparative Literature), Katie Harris (History), Jessie Ann Owens (Music), and Heghnar Watenpaugh (Art History). The topics for our events speak to our group’s interests in the intersections of history, art history, and literature; our commitment to pressing against and interrogating chronological, geographical, and disciplinary boundaries; and our emerging engagement in the histories of science.
This research cluster supports scholars working in a wide variety of fields during the long eighteenth century. The cluster hosts the annual Hopkins-McGuinness lecture as well as formal and informal presentations of work by faculty and graduate students. It also serves as an informal advisory board to the journal Eighteenth-Century Studies, which is housed at DHI. You can obtain the journal on the Internet at Project Muse or Johns Hopkins University Press.
Estudios Culturales en las Américas
This research cluster focuses on the interdisciplinary field of Latin@american Cultural Studies, and specifically on contemporary critical debates and new research by scholars working on Chican@/Latin@ and/or Latin American cultural studies in the humanities and social sciences. In the tradition of Latin@american cultural studies, this cluster focuses on issues of political expediency and on power relations within the cultural sphere, topics related to gender and race, and work by women and indigenous peoples. Other possible themes of analysis include migration, subaltern knowledges, cultural industries, globalization, bilingualism, iconography, memory, and cultural policy, among others. The cluster approaches its topic through a transamerican perspective in interdisciplinary cultural studies.
History and Religions of Late Antiquity
The research cluster in the history and religions of late antiquity studies one of the formative periods (c. 250-750 CE) in global imperial and religious systems, focusing on the cultural effects and interrelations of Roman, Sasanian, and Umayyad power in the Mediterranean and near East. This period produced early codifications of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, in interaction both with each other and with their Roman, Persian, and Arab interlocutors. The work of the research cluster examines these political interrelations and religious codifications in the material and literary culture of late antiquity, as well as their reconstruction in later rhetorics of empire, in literary and theological tropes, and in appeals to foundational religious ideas. The research cluster coordinates collaborative projects between participants, including a co-taught graduate seminar and a co-edited volume in progress, and fosters interdisciplinary inquiry through reading and discussion meetings and the sponsorship of speaking events.
Language and Social Contexts
Faculty Contact: Cecilia Colombi
The Language and Social Contexts research cluster examines the intersection of language and social contexts from educational linguistics as well as language ideologies and identities. Bringing together scholars and students from diverse fields interested in language use, this group fosters interdisciplinary connections though reading groups and the discussion of research projects. In 2006-07, for example we explored issues around “globalization” and language through a discussion group that met every week either to comment on specific readings or discuss our research projects.
Listening to the Earth
The Listening to the Earth research cluster brings together graduate students and faculty at both UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz to explore the diverse creative possibilities that promise to emerge out of conscious collaboration between environmental studies, landscape architecture, the visual arts and performance studies. In the face of the most trying environmental challenges in human history, we are compelled to explore the collaborative possibilities that can emerge from a mutual exchange of knowledge, research and creation. This collaboration rejects the”‘arts as illustration of science” model and advocates for new transdisciplinary knowledge generated from close, interactive project work that deepens engagement with environmental issues while envisioning possible productive ways to lessen their impending impact. This collaboration is intended to strengthen and broaden both faculty and graduate student research in this area, while expanding the dialogue between the arts, humanities, the sciences and the public. The cluster’s research will be made available to broader audiences through artworks, performances, seminars, and publications about interdisciplinary projects focused around environmentalism.
Medieval Research Consortium
The Medieval Research Consortium’s goal is to foster interaction among medievalists, promote medieval studies on campus, and support the research interests of graduate students and faculty. Our affiliated faculty and graduate students come from a wide range of disciplines, including Art History, Classics, Comparative Literature, English, French, German, History, Middle East/South Asia Studies, Religious Studies, and Spanish. The MRC organizes formal talks, workshops, and seminars by scholars from a wide variety of disciplines, both members of the Davis community and visitors from outside. We also host internal events on professionalization and pedagogy that are particularly tailored for graduate students, including a practice session for those presenting their work at the annual conference at Kalamazoo each May. Like the Early Modern Cluster, with which we sometimes collaborate on events, we are committed to working across disciplinary boundaries and taking advantage of the way cross-temporal approaches illuminate a variety of fields, including economics, anthropology, social science, Islamic studies, and art history, as well as traditional literary-historical disciplines. We hope to build on existing interest on campus in these areas by inviting relevant speakers, thereby broadening and enriching our sense of what medieval studies means.
Militarization Research Cluster
Responding to the diverse, burgeoning forms of military power that we face in the current moment, the Militarization Research Cluster (MRC) brings together graduate students and faculty to discuss the need for an interdisciplinary critique. We examine how histories of colonial conquest and contemporary practices of empire shape the formation of gendered, racialized, sexual, and national identities. More specifically, we pay attention to the overt ways through which nation-states demand adherence to war projects and regimes of security as well as the more subtle processes that “normalize” and mask military logics and technologies as everyday labor and leisure practices. Calling attention to the ways in which the institutionalization of gender, sexuality, and ethnic studies remains embedded in the complex relationship between the university and the military-industrial-entertainment complex, the MRC brings into focus the unexpected entanglements between national military projects and our affective lives, erotic encounters, kinship formations, technologic expectations, and rights as civilians and citizens.
Beginning in 2010, the Performance Studies research cluster has shifted focus from performance and practice to embodied performance. Embodied performance encourages scholarship on bodies as sociocultural, physiological, psychological, and virtual entities in performance and performative contexts past and present. It is relevant to scholars of history, sociology, religious, cultural, gender, and ethnic studies. This cluster addresses identity as and in performance and the interaction of bodies and history, bodies and space, and bodies in motion. It provides a forum in which individuals in theater, dance, and performance art can showcase body-centered performance and engage in a discussion of their experience. It explores the practice and implications of embodied training with a view to its significance to artist/practitioners as well as psychologists, physiologists, biologists, individuals working with neurocognitive models, kinesiologists and others. It deals with questions pertaining to the representation and documents of bodies in performance as they relate to both artist/practioners and those working in discursive fields such as literature and languages. It attends to the full rhetorical situation of performance as an intersection of bodies in real or virtual media technologies.
Queer, Feminist, and Transgender Studies
The Queer Research Cluster, founded in Fall 2004, is an interdisciplinary project devoted to interrogating structures of gender, sexuality, desire, affect, and embodiment in the contexts of political institutions, economic processes, and theoretical discourses. Events sponsored by the QRC include student-led reading groups, workshops for both grad students and faculty work, invited speakers and film screenings, professionalization workshops, and co-sponsorship of the Queer Symposium in Spring quarter. We welcome graduate students and faculty from all disciplines who are invested in, work in, or want to learn more about queer studies.
The Space and Spatiality research cluster brings together graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and faculty from across disciplines and programs to engage in the study, discussion, and research of space and spatiality. While social and cultural theories have tended to focus on temporalization and historicization as modes of critique, space has re-emerged in discourse as an important counterpart to and an interlinked phenomenon with time. Part of this development has been the increasing interest in the complexity of modernity and of multiple modernities around the world. “Space” can manifest itself as perceived, conceived, and lived as spatial practices, representations of space, and spaces of representation, respectively. Across an array of disciplines, “spatiality” can take on the properties and dimensions of the social, psychoanalytic, political, economic, cultural, geographic, urban, environmental, gendered, ethnic, filmic, textual, visual, haptic, ambient, bodily, mathematical, scientific, musical, performative, and so on. Given the diversity of fields from which spatial theories arise and impact, the research cluster organizes group discussions to develop a theoretical common ground and critical approaches. Building on the interdisciplinary character of the “spatial turns” in the humanities and social sciences, the cluster will act as a forum for invited speakers and presentations pertaining to the study of space and spatiality.
Technoscience, Culture and the Arts
This group concentrates on the relationship of technoscience to cultural, literary and artistic practice and on the cultural, performative and media-oriented dimensions of science, technology and medicine. Our transdisciplinary focus includes cultural studies of science and technology, science and technology studies, history and philosophy of science and technology, technocultural studies, histories of the arts as they relate to science and technology, literature and science and science fiction, neuroscience and culture, digital arts, and computer science and representation.
Traveling Debates in Postcolonial Studies
The Traveling Debates in Postcolonial Studies research cluster is an interdisciplinary, graduate student-centered forum dedicated to advancing research in contemporary debates in postcolonial studies and beyond. The cluster is concerned with interrogating the value of traditional postcolonial studies in a globalized world increasingly controlled by multinational corporations, transnational flows of labor and goods and U.S. corporate and military hegemony. Older debates of the relationship of postcolonial studies to anti-colonial nationalisms, on the one hand, and to poststructuralist theory and the so-called linguistic turn, on the other, have now been infused with newer discussions of globalization, prompting us, following the lead of editors of a recent anthology of postcolonial studies, to ask: What, then, is the value of postcolonial studies in our globalizing world, and does it have a viable future beyond its existing lifespan, however one tracks that genealogy? In animating these critical debates, the cluster seeks an active engagement with those cartographies that have an uncertain, or misplaced relationship to the traditional model, and that render the term postcolonial both critically capacious and spatially and temporally contingent. Central to the cluster’s focus will be how postcolonial debates are themselves translated and transfigured in different contexts. Adopting a horizontal approach, the cluster seeks to de-center discussions of the nation-state while remaining critically aware of emergent nations and nationalisms under late global capital by encouraging relational, cross-border perspectives. Following the lead of the UC Transnational & Transcolonial Studies Multicampus Research Group, we too are interested in tracking transcolonial and transnational flows that bring cultural formations into productive exchanges, and that go beyond the narrowly vertical exchanges between imperial center and (post) colony.
Cluster Profile: Urban History Research Cluster Investigates the Space of the City
This cluster will concentrate on “the city” as a concept and as lived experience. We define “urban history” to encompass architecture and spaces, institutions, cultural aspects, and social formations, through any discipline of knowledge or method of inquiry. While the emphasis in this cluster will be on studying cities and their evolution, the intention is not to confine our focus to historical studies alone. We are especially eager to bring in research projects that use innovative methodologies and engage with visual evidence (architecture, visual arts, cartography, digitization, etc.). The two organizers concentrate on the Mediterranean/North African/ Middle Eastern region, but the overall aim is to work in a broadly transnational manner, incorporating research sites and projects around the globe that meet the criteria of an historical (i.e. evolutionary) approach. We are especially interested in new analytical approaches to non-western cities that transcend the now rather tired discourse of Orientalism. While useful and occasionally stimulating, we feel that this line of argument has run its course, and we are looking for new conceptual models. We have no preference regarding a substitute, and we would encourage members of the cluster to offer alternatives and fresh methods of analysis to lead us forward. We welcome graduate students (regardless of regional interest) in this cluster, especially those who are planning dissertations that intersect in some way with the idea of the city. The format of the cluster is to hold a monthly (more or less) meeting with an invited speaker who will then lead a discussion open to all.
What Does Health Mean Today?
Cluster Profile: Research Cluster Questions the Meaning of Health in a Global Context
This interdisciplinary research cluster aims to explore the meanings of health in the context of a rapidly changing and increasingly connected world. We feel that it is imperative to explore how health has come to mean what it does today, and how our intellectual work can contribute to a more comprehensive approach to changing notions of embodiment, cure, and well-being. Our main objective is to understand the ways in which an emerging global medicine is articulated with diverse cultural beliefs and practices to shape diagnostic methods, healing models, therapeutic processes, health systems, and patient subjectivities. This research cluster will provide a space for faculty and students to develop richer and deeper analysis from the humanities and social sciences perspectives. At the same time we intend to link up with UC’s ambitious “One Health” project to broaden our discussion in order to reformulate how we think about health and medicine through an attention to large-scale human endeavors in dialogue with humanistic concerns of healthy cosmopolitan lives.