Critical Ethnic Studies Graduate Student Working Group
Katelyn M. Campbell is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of American Studies, where she studies the womyn’s land movement and rural radicalisms in the mid-twentieth century. She teaches courses on queer history and methods, land, and feminisms, and the 1970s. Katelyn serves on the board of WGS South. She is the 2016 Harry S. Truman Scholar from West Virginia and an alumna of Wellesley College.
Research: This project takes an interdisciplinary approach to the history and legacy of the womyn’s land movement in the United States. Defined by their communal and at times separatist politics, womyn’s lands emerged from radical cultures of the long 1970s as refuges from sexism and homophobia within movement spaces and the world writ large. Although womyn’s lands aspired to be utopian spaces of liberation, struggles over how to navigate land-holding within the structures of settler colonialism and racial capitalism and ongoing debates over gender and biological essentialism continue to serve as sites of conflict within the movement. Drawing from theories of property and sovereignty as well as work in queer theory, my dissertation Unsettling Womyn’s Land enters the fray of debates around womyn’s land to argue for an understanding of the encounter between land and feminism at the site of womyn’s land as a vital location for assessing both the potentiality and limitations of land-based liberation projects.
Dafna Kaufman is a PhD candidate in the Department of Communication at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She received her M.A from the School of Film, Media and Theatre at Georgia State University (also receiving a graduate certificate in Women and Gender Studies). Her research examines the relationship between spectatorship, visibility, and the construction of the gendered, raced body in American visual culture. Her most recent publication can be found in the edited collection, Populism in Sport, Leisure, and Popular Culture (Routledge, 2021).
Research: When the categories of sex and gender in sports are raised, the conversation often focuses on one concern: fairness. The idea of “men” playing in women’s sports or intersex women participating in women’s sports almost always provokes the concern that women’s sports will be unfairly invaded by biologically superior beings. In these conversations, advocates for “fairness” often argue that intersex women, trans girls, and trans women are endowed with unfair bodily advantages—thus, we must “save women’s sports” in the name of fairness. In this paper, I engage with this recurring conversation regarding fairness in sport. In order to consider more fully the ramifications and power of fairness rhetoric, I rely on the concept of the biotrope. Biotropes aid in the perpetuation of genres of the human through repeated patterns of discourses with bodily consequences. I turn to the biotrope in order to clarify how the rhetoric of fairness acts through discourse and upon the bodies of non-conforming female bodies as it pushes them out of sporting competitions.
Andreina Malki is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Geography at UNC-CH, a Royster Fellow, and a current Townsend Southern Futures Scholar. Malki’s research focuses on carceral geographies, critical ethnic studies, corporate power, and the US South. Prior to the Ph.D., Malki completed an M.A. in Global Studies at UNC CH and B.A. at Furman University, and worked in the field of immigrant and labor rights in North Carolina. Malki is committed to community engaged scholarship. Through various fellowships, including the Humanities for the Public Good Initiative, Boundary Spanners Scholars, and Southern Futures, Malki has conducted collaborative work with grassroots organizations and local governments on housing justice, pandemic recovery, and electoral redistricting. Malki is a core trainer with multigenerational organization training social movements on Ready the Ground, a multiracial, violent direct action in the Carolinas.
Research: The Rivers Correctional Institution is a Criminal Alien Requirement prison incarcerating majority Latino immigrants serving sentences for federal crimes prior to deportation. It is located on the site of a former plantation in NC, on dispossessed land of the Meherrin Nation. Using archival, ethnographic, and visual methods, I explore why in its centuries-long history this site consistently emerges as a place or reiterative racialized confinement and private profit — in a reservation, plantation, or prison. I ask: how has racial capitalism reproduced in a place in the US South at three junctures: (1) dispossession of indigenous land; (2) plantation enslavement; (3) contemporary private immigrant incarceration. My project explores the ways in which racial capitalism shapes place through legal codifications of race, economic entanglements between the state and capital, and material changes to the landscape. In addition to a dissertation output includes a multi-media digital public history of the site.
Kayla McManus Viana (she/her) is a Global Studies master’s student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill graduating in May of 2023. Her academic interests have largely been influenced by her family’s Puerto Rican heritage and her own place in the Puerto Rican diaspora. As such, her research focuses on questions of sovereignty, the oppression of the state, and diasporic identities and draws from decolonial praxis. Passionate about connecting work produced within the academy to a wider audience and influenced by the work of activist scholars such as Jason De León, she plans to one day become a public scholar to advocate for Puerto Rican communities both in the diaspora and remaining on the island.
Research: In July of 2022, the Puerto Rico Status Act (PRSA) was introduced in the United States House of Representatives. The stated objective of the PRSA is the elimination of Puerto Rico’s current territorial status presumably through one of the three pathwa ys the PRSA presents for the Puerto Rican populous to vote upon in a future plebiscite: admission into the American Union as the 51st state, independence, or a “free association” between the island and the United States. By employing a discursive analysis of historical, literary, and political sources, this thesis will intervene in the discussion of Puerto Rico’s status issue and argue that any path forward constructed along the lines of hegemonic, Eurocentric understandings of “modernity” (specifically the concepts of the territorially bound nation state and citizenship) would preserve the colonial structure of inequality between Puerto Rico and the United States. Rather, looking toward other conceptions of modernity, arising from the field of decolonial studies broadly but the Caribbean specifically, can provide alternative decolonization paths for Puerto Rico that move beyond Eurocentric constrictions and provide a path toward true decolonial justice for the island. The ultimate goal of this research is to infuse the discursive conversation surrounding the “Puerto Rican Problem” with a sense of possibility in line with Dr. Yarimar Bonilla’s call for “hopeful pessimism” about the island’s future.
Cristian Roberto Walk is a third-year graduate student worker in the history department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He was born in the town of Ventura, CA. As the son of a Mexican immigrant and Euro-American, he grew up in a complex cultural world. His love of history, the humanities, and education solidified in a high school US history class. That class changed his life. It made him take school seriously, not for some diploma or degree but because he grew to love learning and the hard conversations that were needed to learn. He went off to understand more about his heritage and community at Santa Barbara Community College and UCLA. His time at UNC has reinvigorated his love of history and commitment to writing a usable history for his community, especially the most oppressed and exploited among them.
Research: My work sits at the crossroads of Latinx, labor, business, and legal history. My master’s thesis used an intersectional Marxist methodology to analyze the structural changes to racial agrocapitalism during 1941 Ventura County Citrus Strike and how farmworkers, growers, and state managers shaped and were shaped by those changes. This approach allowed me to link identity and experience to structures and systems (including white supremacy and patriarchy). Accordingly, I made several arguments about the intersectional dynamics of capitalist exploitation and oppression, worker resistance, and the New Deal state. The experiences of ethnic Mexican and Mexican American farmworkers and their relationships lay at the center of my work. My dissertation plans to track their experiences with each other, braceros, unions, growers and agribusinesses, and the state in Ventura County from the 1930s to the 1960s. In doing so, I aim to show how workers challenged the parameters of their exploitation.