by Bill Holder •
Stray dogs are everywhere in Santiago, Chile. They lie on sidewalks, wander the parks, and even cross busy streets unaided. No one seems to mind; they’re just part of the culture.
For Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters, they also were a striking reminder of the purpose of her recent trip to Santiago. At the invitation of the U.S. Embassy there, she visited the Pontificia Catholic University of Chile Jan. 6-9 to discuss current trends in American animal studies.
Although academics have studied animals from various perspectives for a long time, animal studies as a cross-disciplinary field has come into its own fairly recently. The field, developing robustly in the United States, draws the attention of scholars in areas such as anthropology, film studies, psychology, literary studies and philosophy. At Wesleyan, Weil and Lori Gruen, professor of philosophy, have led the development of an Animal Studies program with courses ranging from Animal Theories/Human Fictions to Applied Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics and the Animal/Human Boundary. They also co-sponsor a summer fellowship in animal studies at Wesleyan, in conjunction with the Animals and Society Institute.
In some areas outside the United States,
by David Low •
Lauren Caldwell, assistant professor of classical studies, is the author of a new book titled Roman Girlhood and the Fashioning of Femininity, published by Cambridge University Press in December 2014.
Elite women in the Roman world were often educated, socially prominent, and even relatively independent. Yet the social regime that ushered these same women into marriage and childbearing at an early age was remarkably restrictive. In the first book-length study of girlhood in the early Roman Empire, Caldwell investigates the reasons for this paradox. Through an examination of literary, legal, medical and epigraphic sources, she identifies the social pressures that tended to overwhelm concerns about girls’ individual health and well-being. In demonstrating how early marriage was driven by a variety of concerns, including the value placed on premarital virginity and paternal authority, this book enhances an understanding of the position of girls as they made the transition from childhood to womanhood.
by Olivia Drake •
Professor Peter Rutland is the author of an article titled “Petronation? Oil, gas and national identity in Russia,” published in Post-Soviet Affairs, Volume 31, Issue 1, January 2015. Rutland is professor of government, the Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought, professor of Russian and Eastern European studies and tutor in the College of Social Studies.
The article was written as part of the research project “Nation-Building and Nationalism in Today’s Russia (NEORUSS),” financed by the Norwegian Research Council.
Based on survey research, elite interviews, and an analysis of media treatment, Rutland’s article explores the place of oil and gas in Russia’s national narrative and self-identity. Objectively, Russia’s economic development, political stability, and ability to project power abroad rest on its oil and gas resources. Subjectively, however, Russians are somewhat reluctant to accept that oil and gas dependency is part of their national identity. One of the unexpected findings to emerge from the survey data is the strong regional differences on the question of whether Russia should be proud of its reliance on energy.
The article concludes with an analysis of the factors constraining the role of energy in Russia’s national narrative: the prominent history of military victories and territorial expansion; a strong commitment to modernization through science and industry; and concerns over corruption, environmental degradation and foreign exploitation.
by Olivia Drake •
An article by Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock received honorable mention for the Distinguished Article Prize from the Association for the Study of Eastern Christian History and Culture. Smolkin-Rothrock is assistant professor of history, assistant professor of Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian studies and tutor in the College of Social Studies.
Her article, titled “The Ticket to the Soviet Soul: Science, Religion and the Spiritual Crisis of Late Soviet Atheism,” appeared in Volume 73, Issue 2 of The Russian Review and was selected from among 22 entries. The honor comes with a $200 award.
Smolkin-Rothrock’s article examines the confrontation of Soviet scientific atheism with religion as it played out on the pages and in the editorial rooms of the country’s primary atheist periodical, Nauka i religiia (Science and Religion). It follows a story that begins in the 1960s, when the journal tried to change its title to Mir cheloveka (The World of Man) to reorient itself from the battle against religion towards the battle for Soviet (and therefore atheist) spiritual life. Smolkin-Rothrock argues that while the Khrushchev era is the point of origin for much of late Soviet policy on religion and atheism, it is only with the Brezhnev era that we see understandings of religion move beyond ideological stereotypes. New conceptions of religion, however, forced atheists to consider Communist ideology in unexpected ways, and led to revealing discussions the Soviet state’s role in providing spiritual fullness. The story of Nauka i religiia is a microcosm of Soviet ideology in that it reveals the boundaries and contradictions of the material and the spiritual in the Soviet project.
by Olivia Drake •
A book by Marc Eisner, the Henry Merritt Wriston Chair of Public Policy, was selected as a winner of the Outstanding Academic Titles by Choice in 2014.
Eisner’s book, The American Political Economy was published in 2014. In this innovative text, he portrays the state and the market as inextricably linked, exploring the variety of institutions subsumed by the market and the role that the state plays in creating the institutional foundations of economic activity. Through a historical approach, Eisner situates the study of American political economy within a larger evolutionary-institutional framework that integrates perspectives in American political development and economic sociology.
Eisner also is chair and professor of government, professor of environmental studies.
by Lauren Rubenstein •
Professor of Economics Richard Grossman spoke to China Daily about gold price fluctuations in connection with the Chinese New Year and other annual celebrations. Many in the Chinese community purchase gold jewelry and other gifts to help celebrate the holiday.
“There does seem to be a seasonal element to consumer demand for gold in several countries. In China, demand increases in months leading up to the New Year. In India, it is said to increase during the holiday/wedding season, which runs from the end of September through January,” said Grossman.
But, he added, inflation, currency movements, and economic and political stability are “far more important factors” in gold price fluctuations than seasonal demands from China and India.
by Olivia Drake •
Four faculty from the History Department participated in the American Historical Association Meeting in New York City Jan. 2-5. The topic was “History and Other Disciplines.”
Professor of History Ethan Kleinberg presented “Just the Facts: The Fantasy of a Historical Science.” Kleinberg also is the director of the Center for the Humanities, professor of letters and executive editor of History and Theory.
Assistant Professor of History Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock spoke on “From a Society Free of Religion to Freedom of Conscience: How Toleration Emerged from within Totalitarianism.” She also is assistant professor of Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian studies and tutor in the College of Social Studies.
Professor of History Magda Teter spoke on roundtable panel on “Jewish History/General History: Rethinking the Divide.” Teter also is the Jeremy Zwelling Professor of Jewish Studies, professor of medieval studies and chair of the History Department.
Associate Professor of History Jennifer Tucker was a commentator on a panel titled “The Photographic Event,” which reexamined the question of an “event” by looking at various visual technologies and texts, whether sketches, paintings or films. Tucker also is associate professor of environmental studies, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, associate professor of science in society and a faculty fellow in the College of the Environment.
by Olivia Drake •
Priscilla Meyer, chair and professor of Russian, East European and Eurasian studies, is the recipient of a 2014 Excellence in Post-Secondary Teaching award, granted by the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages (AATSEEL).
AATSEEL exists to advance the study and promote the teaching of Slavic and East European languages, literatures, and cultures on all educational levels.
Meyer received her award during the the 2015 AATSEEL Conference Jan. 9 held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The event featured scholarly panels, supplemented by advanced seminars, roundtables, workshops, informal coffee conversations with leading scholars, and other special events, such as poetry readings and receptions.
Wesleyan graduates Lindsay Ceballos ’07 and Emily Wang ’08, both Ph.D. candidates at Princeton University, delivered papers at the conference.
At Wesleyan, Meyer teaches courses on 19th and 20th century Russian literature. Her research interests include intertextuality, French and German sources of the 19th century Russian novel, and works by Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov. Learn more about her research here.
by Olivia Drake •
J. Kehaulani Kauanui, associate professor of anthropology, associate professor of American studies, participated in several conferences and events during the fall semester.
She presented on a roundtable, “Indigenous Sovereignty, Conquest Mythology, And Indian
Policy: Histories and Futures in New England” at the New England American Studies Association Conference held at Roger Williams University, Oct 17-18. She also was an invited participant for a public panel discussion, “Countering Columbus Day,” held at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center on Oct. 25.
Kauanui also presented ongoing research on Palestinian solidarity through participation at two events. First, as an invited speaker at Johns Hopkins University for a Gaza teach-in hosted by the Anthropology Department on Oct. 24 where she spoke on a session about academic boycott as resistance. Second, as an invited speaker at the 4th annual National Students for Justice in Palestine Conference held at Tufts University Oct. 24-26. This year’s theme was “Beyond Solidarity: Resisting Racism and Colonialism from the US to Palestine,” and Kauanui delivered a talk on the closing plenary session titled “Transnational BDS – Challenges and Dreams Forward.”
In November, Kauanui participated in the annual meeting of the American Studies Association in three capacities: serving a second year as an elected member of the National Council, as an invited presenter for a session on “New Directions in American Studies,” where she was asked to speak about settler colonialism as an analytic; and as a paper presenter on a session on “Formations of U.S. Colonialism,” for which she presenter a paper titled, “Hawaiian National Land and the Colonial Contradictions of Sovereignty.”
In addition, Kauanui continued her work with nine Wesleyan students co-producing a public affairs radio show, Anarchy on Air, through the campus station, 88.1 FM WESU. The show emerged out of her course, “Anarchy in America: From Haymarket to Occupy Wall Street.”
by Olivia Drake •
Hannah Norman ’16 is the author of an article titled “Morocco’s young entrepreneurs face barriers,” published Dec. 27 on aljazeera.com.
According to the article, a lack of an entrepreneurship culture is among key challenges facing young entrepreneurs in Morocco. Every week in the capital Rabat, hundreds of young Moroccans stage protests demanding government jobs.
Moroccans resist taking financial risks for fear of failure, according to a recent World Bank report. Many believe that a lack of training, combined with a gap between what university students are taught and the skills companies need, are also handicaps for young entrepreneurs.
Norman spent several months in Morocco on an SIT Study Abroad program and produced this story in association with Round Earth Media, a nonprofit organization that mentors the next generation of international journalists. Norman, who works as a photography assistant in the Office of University Communications, also provided photographs to accompany the article.
by Lauren Rubenstein •
This month, Wesleyan signed a memorandum of understanding with the Social Sciences in China Press (SSCP), the publishing arm of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), which formalizes an ongoing partnership between the two institutions. The agreement calls for a biennial scholarly forum involving representatives from Wesleyan and SSCP; mutual advertising to help each gain recognition in the other’s home country; exchange visitors; and cross-publishing of content between Wesleyan’s international journal History and Theory and SSCP’s Historical Research.
The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences is by far the most important center in China for studies in philosophy and the social sciences.