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Spring 2012 Faculty Fellows

Public and Private

Patrick Lee Brocket (Business) is a specialist in risk management, statistical analysis and decision analysis.  Among his many publications are articles on the insurance industry. As an expert on the impact that private organizations such as insurance agencies have on public safety, Brocket brings to the seminar an interest in the importance of cooperation between the public and private sectors within the United States, as well as public regulation of the private sector.

Simone Browne (Sociology and African Diaspora Studies) is currently working on a book that connects contemporary surveillance practices to the historical legacy of the transatlantic slave trade. She brings to the seminar an interest in contemporary security regimes, racial surveillance practices, and biometric technology.  Her publications in this area include “Digital Epidermalization: Race, Identity and Biometrics” (2010) and “Getting Carded: Border Control and the Politics of Canada’s Permanent Resident Card” (2005).

Kelley A. Crews (Geography) is an expert on GIS and remote sensing, environmental policy analysis, and population-environment interactions. With a background in image processing, Dr. Crews brings to the seminar her current work on the ethics of contemporary satellite surveillance technologies.  She aims to build an understanding of the impact that this physically non-invasive technology has on the right to privacy.

Laurie Green (History) researches the politics of race and gender in the United States.  Green received the Philip Taft Labor History Award (2008) for her book, Battling the Plantation Mentality: Memphis and the Black Freedom Struggle, which highlights African American activism for Civil Rights in Memphis, Tennessee.   She is currently researching the politics of hunger and race following President Lyndon B. Johnson’s declaration of a “War on Poverty” and a 1967 Senate tour of the Mississippi Delta region.   She seeks to explore how the federal government’s inquiry into hunger and widespread poverty in the United States blurred divisions between the public and private as issues surrounding the household and family intersected with larger socio-economic concerns about race and class inequality.

Julia Guernsey (Art History) applies an interdisciplinary approach to her study of art in ancient Mesoamerica.  She is currently researching the development and social significance of “potbelly” sculptures, which proliferated during the Pre-Classic period (900 BC-250 AD).  This sculpture evolved from a small figurine primarily used in “private” households to monumental art that decorated “public” places such as plazas and political centers.   Guernsey wants to further examine how this shift occurred with the centralization of political authority and state formation.  While at the Humanities Institute, she hopes to explore how art defines and sometimes permeates the boundaries between private and public spheres in the ancient past.

David Hunter (University of Texas Libraries) is Music Librarian and Curator of the Historical Music Recordings Collection.  His research interests include the life of composer George Frideric Handel and the entertainment choices of persons in Britain and Ireland during the Handel era (1710-1759).  Hunter’s study of audience and entertainment choice is an interdisciplinary effort that draws from the fields of history, economics, psychology, statistics, fine and performance arts, communications and philosophy.  During the seminar he will be exploring the relationship between individual and private decisions to attend opera, oratorio, theatre and concert performances and the collective or public manifestations of those choices (e.g., theatres crowded or thinly peopled).

Michael A. Johnson (French/Italian) studies Classical and Medieval rhetoric, Medieval European literature and culture, gender and sexuality. His present work engages with the Humanities Institute’s theme of Public and Private through an exploration of the relationship between the institutional and the intimate.  While he notes that public and private were not meaningful politico-legal categories during the Middle Ages, his research highlights the significance of language in constructing notions of the erotic and the perverse as well as its influence on the Church’s efforts to establish regulatory power over aspects of secular life now considered “private,” such as sex, marriage, property, leisure, and household economies.

Tatiana Kuzmic (Slavic and Eurasian Studies) studies nineteenth century novels (Russian, South and West Slavic, English, German), realism, theories of the novel, imperialism, nationalism, and gender.  She will engage the year’s theme of Public and Private in her current research on novels of adultery.  Kuzmic examines the figure of the adulterous woman as a symbol of national anxiety surrounding issues of insurrection, assimilation, and sexual and national purity in semi-colonized parts of Eastern Europe.

Nhi T. Lieu (American Studies) is a returning Humanities Institute fellow.  She studies ethnic and gender representations, transnationalism, cross-cultural flows of beauty practices and the Vietnamese diaspora.   Lieu is the author of The American Dream in Vietnamese, which analyzes beauty pageants and the expression of cultural identity.  Her current research examines Asian immigrant bridal photography.   She joins this year’s seminar with an interest in the theme of “Public and Private” as it relates to the impact of global capitalism on cultural transmission, individual consumption and choice.  

Carol Hanbery MacKay (English/Women’s and Gender Studies) is currently exploring the topic of public and private through literary texts published anonymously and pseudonymously by transatlantic women writers at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth century.  She seeks to gauge the advantages and disadvantages—personal and for the public good—of these women’s decisions to conceal and reveal their identities. MacKay has published extensively on Victorian period novels, and is currently focusing on the life and career of the American born actress and author, Elizabeth Robbins (1862-1952).

Madhavi Mallapragada (Radio-TV-Film) will engage the theme of Public and Private in research for a manuscript called Recasting the Web: New Media and the Cultural Politics of Indian American Identities.  This work explores notions of public and private and their mediation in the contemporary moment through new media technologies, transnational time-space and immigrant contexts.  Mallapragada is specifically interested in how the web shapes Indian American identity and reconfigures “community” as ideas of the private “home” and public “homeland” are contested and reworked through modes of virtual belonging, multiple temporalities-spatialities, network economies and mobile identities. 

Sofian Merabet (Anthropology) is a scholar of gender and sexuality with an emphasis on queer theory.  Geographically he focuses on  the modern Middle East and the wider Muslim world.   Merabet researches global and (trans) national political processes and the ways they relate to local queer identity formations, gender/sexuality, and the politics of religion, state and the nation in Lebanon.  Presently, the central focus of his research is a Beirut hotel that was a landmark in Lebanese political and social life from the late 1950s through l 2010.  He intends to reconstruct the private microcosm of the establishment within the larger public macrocosm of (pre) civil war Lebanon. 

Nancy Schiesari (Radio-TV-Film) is a cinematographer and director.  She will use the Humanities Institute’s theme of “Public and Private” to explore themes of violence and abuse in the United States military, a theme related to her recent documentary, “Tatooed Under Fire.”  She is specifically interested in the sexual assault of women in the armed forces and the ensuing effects of MST (military sexual trauma) and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome).  Schiesari’s research will be at the center of a documentary entitled “Taking Charge,” which will tell the story of the healing work of three women psychologists who assist women veterans with military trauma histories. 

Scott Strassels (Health Outcomes and Pharmacy Practice Division) is an outcomes researcher  focused on pain management and end-of-life care. Strassels will use the seminar to explore the intersection between what is public and private in health and health care.  He notes that these intersections are highlighted in debates over how to best balance appropriate access to analgesics and in efforts to incorporate patient preferences into care..   He joins the Humanities Institute seeking to further explore his interests in individual narrative and social media as they pertain to the education of health care professionals and the making of public health policy regarding pain and the end of life.

Jeffrey Tulis (Government) was a fellow during the inaugural year of the Humanities Institute.  He is interested in the invention of the public/private distinction in the history of political philosophy.  While this dichotomy is commonly said to have enlarged the scope of freedom for individuals, Tulis is interested in mapping how this dichotomy configured or delimited the private sphere.  Tulis seeks to explore this research interest through an analysis of emergency power in constitutional theory.  He plans to compare political and policy responses to different types of crises or emergencies such as pandemics, natural disasters such as Katrina, and security challenges such as terrorist attacks.