Tag Archive for American Studies

Weiss’s Book Honored by Association for Queer Anthropology

Book by Margot Weiss

A book by Margot Weiss, assistant professor of American studies, assistant professor of anthropology, received the 2012 Ruth Benedict Book Prize by the Association for Queer Anthropology.

Her book, Techniques of Pleasure: BDSM and the Circuits of Sexuality (Duke University Press, 2011) was honored in the category “Outstanding Monograph.” This prize is presented each year at the American Anthropological Association’s national meeting to acknowledge excellence in a scholarly book written from an anthropological perspective about a topic that engages issues and theoretical perspectives relevant to LGBTQ studies.

Techniques of Pleasure is a vivid portrayal of the San Francisco Bay Area’s pansexual BDSM (SM) community.

Weiss Book Nominated for Lambda Literary Award

Margot Weiss

A book by Margot Weiss, assistant professor of American Studies, assistant professor of anthropology titled, Techniques of Pleasure: BDSM and the Circuits of Sexuality (Duke University Press, 2011) is a finalist for the 24th Annual Lambda Literary Awards in the LGBT Studies category.

According to the announcement nominating Weiss for the 24th Annual Lambda Literary Awards, “the Lambda Literary Award is the most prestigious book prize in the LGBT community with over 600 total nominations.”

Pfister Invited to Teach American Literature in China

Joel Pfister

Joel Pfister, the Kenan Professor of the Humanities, chair of the English Department, is invited to serve as one of two American faculty members in the West-China Faculty Enhancement Program in American Studies.

The program, which will take place in July in Xi’an, China, is sponsored by the Ford Foundation and China Association for the Study of American Literature.

Pfister will present 10 intensive, two-hour lectures on American literature to faculty from universities in western China that have poor rural students. He’ll also conduct a seminar session on American studies pedagogy.

“The aim is to better equip these university teachers to teach American literature and American history within a wide-ranging and theoretically sophisticated American studies context,” Pfister says.

Weiss Authors Book on San Francisco’s Pansexual Community

Book by Margot Weiss

Margot Weiss, assistant professor of anthropology, assistant professor of American Studies, is the author of Techniques of Pleasure: BDSM and the Circuits of Sexuality, published in January 2012 by Duke University Press.

Techniques of Pleasure is a vivid portrayal of the San Francisco Bay Area’s pansexual BDSM (SM) community. Margot Weiss conducted ethnographic research at dungeon play parties and at workshops on bondage, role play, and flogging, and she interviewed more than sixty SM practitioners. She describes a scene devoted to a form of erotic play organized around technique, rules and regulations, consumerism, and self-mastery. Challenging the notion that SM is inherently transgressive, Weiss links the development of commodity-oriented sexual communities and the expanding market for sex toys to the eroticization of gendered, racialized, and national inequalities. She analyzes the politics of BDSM’s spectacular performances, including those that dramatize heterosexual male dominance, slave auctions, and US imperialism, and contends that the SM scene is not a “safe space” separate from real-world inequality. It depends, like all sexual desire, on social hierarchies. Based on this analysis, Weiss theorizes late-capitalist sexuality as a circuit—one connecting the promise of new emancipatory pleasures to the reproduction of raced and gendered social norms.

Weiss Receives Grants for Ethnographic Research on Queer Activists

Margot Weiss, assistant professor of American studies and anthropology, received a $22,372 Post-Ph.D. Research Grant (with Osmundsen Initiative funding) from The Wenner-Gren Foundation, and a $6,250 grant from the Joan Heller-Diane Bernard Fellowship in Lesbian and Gay Studies from The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies.

Both grants will support Weiss’s ethnographic research project titled “Visions of Sexual Justice Among Contemporary Queer Activists” during the 2011-12 academic year.

McAlister Joins SSRC Working Group, Attends Conference

Elizabeth McAlister, associate professor of religion, associate professor of African American studies, associate professor of American studies, is a member of the Social Science Research Council’s working group on Spirituality, Political Engagement and Public Life.

Comprising both younger and well established scholars representing anthropology, political theory, religious studies, and sociology, the working group plans workshops to further elaborate and articulate the project’s overarching goals and key commitments.

In addition, McAlister participated in a  conference titled, “States of Devotion: Religion, Neoliberalism and the Politics of the Body in the Americas” conference Nov. 4-5  at The Hemispheric Institute of New York. McAlister examined “the changing role of religious discourses and practices in the wake of the transformations wrought by neoliberal globalization upon communities, societies, and polities across the Hemisphere.”

Speakers Raise Awareness of Native American Repatriation Challenges

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), the Center for American Studies sponsored an event titled "Reconsidering Repatriation: Colonial Legacies, Indigenous Politics and Institutional Developments," held March 26 in Russell House. The event was held to raise awareness of critical issues regarding NAGPRA compliance in the context of both Wesleyan as an institution of higher learning that is subject to the federal law, and the particular challenges of repatriation in the southern New England region.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), the American Studies Program sponsored an event titled "Reconsidering Repatriation: Colonial Legacies, Indigenous Politics and Institutional Developments," held March 26 in Russell House. The event was held to raise awareness of critical issues regarding NAGPRA compliance in the context of both Wesleyan as an institution of higher learning that is subject to the federal law, and the particular challenges of repatriation in the southern New England region.

Kauanui Keynote Speaker at Hawai’i American Studies Symposium

J. Kēhaulani Kauanui.

J. Kēhaulani Kauanui.

J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, associate professor of American studies, associate professor of anthropology, delivered the keynote address during the Hawai’i American Studies Association Symposium March 11 at the Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Her lecture was titled, “A Sorry State: Hawaiian Nationalism and the Politics of Imperialist Resentment.”

Kauanui’s talk was co-sponsored by the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

5 Questions with . . . J. Kēhaulani Kauanui

My book critically examines how “blood racialization” defines Hawaiian identity as measurable and dilutable

J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, associate professor of American studies, associate professor of anthropology, examines how "blood racialization" defines Hawaiian identity as measurable and dilutable. (Photo by Stefan Weinberger '10)

This issue we feature 5 Questions with… J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, associate professor of American studies, associate professor of anthropology.

Q. How did you become interested in your area of study?
JKK: My area of study is related to researching the history of U.S. imperialism in the Pacific Islands. Researching indigenous issues in Hawai`i, I found it necessary to study how the U.S. government has treated Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) in light of its U.S. federal policy on American Indians and Alaska Natives. The policy is convoluted. The U.S. government has alternately classified Kanaka Maoli, as well as other Native Pacific Islanders under the Asian or “Asian Pacific” category, but since 1906, Kanaka Maoli have also specifically been included in over 160 legislative acts that apply to American Indians. This contradiction has pushed me to better understand U.S. racial formations and indigenous sovereignty politics. This has led me to other research areas, including settler colonialism, self-determination, decolonization, and international law.

Q. What was the most interesting aspect of researching and writing your recent book Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity?
JKK: My book critically examines how “blood racialization” defines Hawaiian identity as measurable and dilutable. Blood racialization is the process by which racial meaning is ascribed—in this case to Kanaka Maoli – through ideologies of blood quantum. The contemporary

Kauanui Attends First Indigenous Studies Conference

J. Kehaulani Kauanui

J. Kehaulani Kauanui

J. Kehaulani Kauanui, associate professor of American studies, associate professor of anthropology, attended the first Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) conference on May 21-23 in Minneapolis, Minn. More than 600 scholars from 16 countries and dozens of tribal nations exchanged research ideas and gave each other professional support.

Kauanui is a founding steering committee member and is currently acting council of NAISA.

Since 1969, American Indian studies has developed across the United States and Canada. Currently there are almost 120 American Indian studies programs and departments in the North America, not counting the 32 tribal colleges; among those, 47 offer baccalaureate majors. With this growth has come a proportionate increase in the number of scholars researching related topics, variously called American Indian, Native American, First Nations, aboriginal and indigenous studies.

NAISA developed from two meetings, the first at the University of Oklahoma, Norman in May 2007, and the second at the Institute of Native American Studies at the University of Georgia in April 2008. At the 2008 meeting, registered attendees voted to ratify a constitution and bylaws for the new association