The UC Davis Humanities Institute  sponsored research clusters provide a critical space for interdisciplinary research and collaboration not easily accomplished in a single department or program. Clusters are meant to facilitate exchange among faculty and graduate students in workshops, symposia, or mini-conferences, to encourage experimentation with new forms of collaboration within and beyond UC Davis, and to broaden the aims of faculty research in the humanities and humanistic social sciences. Clusters are awarded up to $5,000 annually. The call for applications is released in Spring Quarter.

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2018-2019 Research Clusters


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Early Science Workshop Puerto Rico and the World Technoscience + Speculative Media Research Queer, Feminist and Trans Research Cluster
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Critical Militarization, Policing, and Security Studies Deportation Studies Cultures, Politics, and Economics of the Nonhuman Collaborative Works in Music and Creative Writing
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Transdisciplinary Mesoamerican Connections Cluster on Language Research

Faculty Directors: John Slater (Spanish & Portuguese) and Daniel Stolzenberg (History)
The Early Science Workshop (ESW) brings together faculty and graduate students from various departments who share an interest in the humanistic study of science, medicine, and technology from before c. 1800.The flexible systems of categorization and idiosyncratic taxonomies of early science foreground models of hermaphroditism, amphibianism, sexuality, and race that contest modern conceptualizations of human identities. The scholarship of the last several decades—and the emerging work of UCD faculty—suggests the ways in which understanding the past helpfully moves us past rigid, Enlightenment notions of fixed gender identity and defined racial attributes. In this respect, the cluster serves not to reify or reinforce the scientific ideologies of the present, but rather to contest them.
Faculty Directors: Lisa Materson (History), José Juan Pérez Meléndez (History), and Julie Sze (American Studies)
The cluster examines the implications of Puerto Rico’s latest and perhaps most acute crisis brought on by Hurricane Maria in fall 2017 by exploring the effects over tropical environments, emergent rights regimes, and migratory phenomena. Building upon a Global Affairs seed grant, the cluster will coordinate two symposia featuring faculty from U.C. Davis and from several higher education institutions from Puerto Rico. Through these activities, the faculty cluster will expand on an emerging working relation with Puerto Rican scholars and institutions while inquiring into the past, present, and possible futures of the fraught U.S.-Puerto Rico relationship.
Faculty Director: Colin Milburn and Kris Fallon (English, Cinema and Digital Media)
The cluster will connect the role of speculation in bringing about technoscientific change with the role of media in supporting and generating that speculation. How are “new” technical practices, infrastructures, and objects imagined or communicated? How are technosocial futures sought after or guarded against, by whom, and with what consequences? We will address these questions as part of an emerging area of research at the intersections of science and technology studies, speculative fiction studies, critical race studies, media studies, performance studies, gender studies, videogame studies, design, and the arts.
Faculty Director: Liz Constable (Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies)
The QFT cluster has provided a productive site of queer thinking, activism, and community Creating this space serves to support a diversity of identities and embodiments, to advocate for marginalized bodies or groups, to resist violent, racist, or discriminatory structures and to assert presence and queer ways of thinking and being. QFT will continue conversations we have built surrounding the violences and reparative potentials of medicalization and institutionalization. We will further develop the themes of critical health studies and disability studies from our “Queering Care and Cure” conference in May 2018 and ask more broadly about affect, temporality, and forms of political resistance through embodiment, aesthetics, and performance. One of our goals is to guest edit a special issue of a leading journal in Feminist, Queer and Trans Studies on the queer, trans, and critical disability studies perspectives in the medical humanities.
Faculty Director: Javier Arbona (American Studies), Caren Kaplan (American Studies), Anjali Nath (American Studies)
The cluster explores the unexpected entanglements between national military projects and our affective lives, erotic encounters, kinship formations, technologic expectations, and rights as civilians and citizens in a transnational world. We are interested in deconstructing the division between national and international, or the home and war “fronts,” in the legacies of colonial occupation such as the production of environmental hazards, modes of work and consumption, and the enforcement of racialized policing and incarceration. We experience this process of militarization on everyday levels: it informs and defines our access to spaces and networks. Militarization has also conditioned the way we think about movement across borders and boundaries that demarcate political spaces in an era of diffuse yet ongoing warfare.
Faculty Director: Robert Irwin (Spanish & Portuguese)
The cluster will launch a series of meetings among UCD faculty and graduate students whose research focuses on deportation with the aim of fostering meaningful dialogue and collaboration across multiple fields in humanities, arts, social science and law. It will also host several international scholars on campus and stage an interdisciplinary public forum on the issues relating to deportation. Humanizing Deportation is a participatory media project and community archive. Its digital stories are generated by the community itself, and not from interview questions or other prompts from academic facilitators. The attention the archive has generated creates a unique opportunity for colleagues whose work rarely connects (e.g., Economics and Literature) to not only engage in dialogue regarding common issues that we are already addressing from our different disciplinary perspectives, but also think together, in a true collaborative fashion, about key questions of interest.
Faculty Director: Ted Geier (American Studies)
The cluster continues its ongoing work to make cross-campus connections and sustain a center for interdisciplinary Animal Studies work at UC Davis. In 2017-2018, that work culminated in a symposium on race, species, and justice work in multiple frames: “Impossible Ethics.” Next, we would like to move toward a larger digital and campus presence through cross-campus events as well as target collaborations with the Cinema & Digital Media, feminist studies, microbiome research, and radical mycologies communities on campus.
Faculty Director: Kurt Rhode (Music)
This cluster will facilitate the collaboration between graduate programs in music and creative writing. Graduate composers will be teamed with five graduate writers to create new works for words/text and music/sound. The new works will be workshopped, assembled, rehearsed, and presented in a public performance in Pitzer Recital Hall on May 9, 2019.
Faculty Directors: Inés Hernández-Ávila (Native American Studies) and John López (Art History)
The cluster will take utmost advantage of a confluence of factors that promise a rich and deep engagement with ancient Mesoamerica, particularly the ancient Nahuatl, Mayan, and Oaxacan indigenous cosmological, philosophical, social, cultural perspectives and their influence on contemporary expressions of Nahuatl, Mayan, Oaxacan indigenous, and Chicana/o cultures. It provides an opportunity for Native American Studies to create a bridge with Art History, engaging history, art, architecture, agriculture, culture, literature, language, geography, “religion” or belief-systems, and performance.
Faculty Director: Claudia Sánchez-Gutiérrez (Spanish & Portuguese)
The Cluster on Language Research seeks to promote interdisciplinary collaboration along with research innovation and productivity among students and faculty who are interested in topics related to language research. The members of this interdisciplinary group use this space to come together to review and discuss relevant literature, present and develop their research, organize professional development workshops, listen to the lectures of invited guest speakers, and organize the annual Symposium on Language Research.

This page was last updated: January 29, 2019



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