American Studies
American Studies

Congratulations to our Fellowship Recipients

Sun, September 2, 2012
Congratulations to our Fellowship Recipients
Jeannette Vaught, Irene Garza and Andi Gustavson

Congratuilations to the American Studies doctoral candidates awarded prestigious fellowships in 2012-2013!

Irene Garza, Recipient of the William C. Powers Graduate Fellowship and the Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship

Ground Forces: Latina/os in the Military Industrial Complex, 1973-2006

My work examines the presence of Latina/os within the U.S. Armed Forces since its shift to an All-Volunteer Force in 1973. Currently, Latina/os constitute the fastest growing pool of military-age people in the U.S. and comprised nearly 20% of combat troops in the recent military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Given the long term implications of the global “War on Terror”, which has seen disproportionately high casualty rates among soldiers of color and/or immigrant Latina/o soldiers, my study intersects at critically historical and contemporary junctures. My dissertation traces the macro-economic and political forces affecting military participation by Latina/os over the last four decades. However, unlike traditional military and war histories focusing exclusively on soldiers, this interdisciplinary study utilizes a broader analytic of “service labor” to consider the material and symbolic infrastructure of the U.S. military.  Although they are imagined and often rendered as “hyper-patriotic” subjects because of their long history and numerical presence as soldiers, Latina/os also comprise a large portion of the labor force in defense manufacturing industries throughout the Southwest and along the U.S. Mexico border in a region I refer to as the “Gunbelt” (namely Texas and California). I argue that the military industrial complex—the network of defense manufacturing plants and military bases —not only relies on Latina/o labor, but has played a key role in militarizing the landscapes of the U.S. Southwest in which they are historically concentrated. Moreover, it has helped to promote a cultural valuation of military service among Latina/os, while delimiting what gets included and excluded from “service”.  Drawing from archival records of military personnel, newspaper articles, popular cultural representations of Latino military heroes, and oral histories with military base workers and veterans, I examine what the substantial presence of Latina/os in uniform, and as workers in defense industries, reveals about their place within the U.S. national imaginary, asking generally what it means to “serve the nation”?

Andea Gustavson, Recipient of the American Studies Dissertation Fellowship

What Comes Home: Vernacular Photography and the Cold War, 1945-1991

My dissertation considers images taken by men and women affiliated with the military who photographed their experiences abroad during the Cold War. Drawing from snapshots, letters, novels, and scrapbooks, I explore how American nurses, servicemen and servicewomen, and diplomats used their cameras to construct their own worldviews, posing and positioning themselves within an emerging new global order. Because these personal photographs depict the ordinariness of life lived amidst violence, they are key to understanding how Americans became accustomed to a culture of endless war.

Jeannette Vaught, Recipient of the American Studies Dissertation Fellowship

This dissertation uses the professional sport of rodeo to shed light on important and largely unseen changes in large animal veterinary culture since 1975.  These changes have affected how agricultural animal foods are marketed and consumed, how industrial animal welfare has become politicized, and how rodeo – as a popular professional sport based on industrial food production – plugs into veterinary advancements in animal pain management as part of its overall mission to promote a conservative vision of American values.  This dissertation foregrounds how rodeo lies on the scientific vanguard of veterinary technologies, revealing that the role veterinary medicine plays in constituting standards of animal health for rodeo animals complicates how those standards interact with governmental regulations affecting the American food supply, the environment, and public policy.  

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