Penn Calendar Penn A-Z School of Arts and Sciences University of Pennsylvania

Graduate Student Workshop Series

EACH YEAR, THE GRADUATE FELLOWS OF THE ANDREA MITCHELL CENTER invite graduate students from universities throughout the region to present their work-in-progress to a critical but supportive audience. The topics are not linked to an annual theme, but each session includes two papers that are thematically linked.  Sessions in the past have been devoted to issues of democracy, constitutionalism, and citizenship, including surveillance, technocracy, migration, race, social rights, empire building, party politics, education, the carceral state, and many more. Faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, and members of the public are encouraged to read the papers and attend the workshops to participate in lively academic discussions.



Read Derek Black's paper here.

Derek Black / University of Chicago

LATE ANTIQUE IDEAS CIRCULATED ABOUT HOW AND WHETHER the descendants of Noah’s three sons created distinct human populations. Josephus (AD 37–100) designated humanity as “Afrasian, Eurasian, and Asian” descending from three branches of the sons of Noah. The Christian exegete Jerome (c. 347–419/420) cited Josephus’s ideas of human descent in his commentary on Genesis, and those ideas were further elaborated by Isidore of Seville (c. 560–636) in his Etymologies that served as a staple encyclopedia among Latin-speaking Christians for centuries. The Carolingian courtier Alcuin of York (732–80) was the first to connect the lineage groups of the sons of Noah onto a three-continent theory of human races in his own commentary on Genesis. These ideas circulated and were developed throughout the later Middle Ages. In the early modern period, they played a central role in debates formulating theories of race and racism. My article concludes with an exploration of the way that Cotton Mather (1663–1728) employed the theory of the Sons of Noah to combat polygenist arguments that different races descended from people other than Adam and Eve. Mather cites early Christian authors, and some contemporary historians have noted the similarity of his argument to ancient authors, but I argue that Mather’s understanding of continental, tripartite races originated and is actually filtered through medieval sources. Wed. October 28, 12:00-1:30 pm / Constructing the Other


Read Archana Kaku's paper here.

Archana Kaku / Penn Political Science

THIS PAPER ANALYZES THE COLLECTION, DISTRIBUTION, and purification of blood to examine anxieties around citizenship and belonging across multiple countries. Rather than treating blood as a metaphor or symbol, this paper focuses on blood as a material substance, and highlights two different kinds of events where blood marks the boundaries between those who belong, and those who present an existential threat to the state: the aftermath of a suicide bombing, and panics about contamination in the blood supply during the early years of the HIV/AIDS crisis. First, this paper looks at the circulation of blood in the aftermath of a suicide bombing: centralized blood services in numerous countries report massive spikes – often civilian-led – in blood donations after suicide bombing. The desire to donate is far in excess of medical necessity, and sometimes contradicts the guidance provided by the organizations which oversee blood collection. These blood donation efforts are complemented by complex, organized efforts to cleanse “bad blood” from the site of the bombing. In the second case, this paper examines the shifting relationship between criminality, citizenship, and blood donation through panics about HIV-infected blood supplies. It traces the ways in which high-risk populations (especially incarcerated men) were targeted as desirable blood donors before the HIV/AIDS crisis, the public relations efforts to identify those infected through blood donations as “innocent victims” (in contrast to the “criminals” and “degenerates” infected via sexual content or intravenous drug use) during the height of the crisis, and the contemporary negotiations around the acceptability of allowing queer men’s blood into the national blood supply. Placing these two very different cases side-by-side highlights the political and cultural work performed by and around blood, and the role that blood – as a material substance – plays in constructing ideals of citizenship and belonging. Wed. October 28, 12:00-1:30 pm / Constructing the Other


Arielle Xena Alterwaite / Penn History

IN 1825, PRESIDENT JEAN-PIERRE BOYER OF HAITI signed a now infamous ordinance of King Charles X of France: Haiti would open its trade borders to France and pay a debt of 150 million francs, in exchange for France’s recognition of Haitian sovereignty. This paper will discuss how French liberals understood and debated the Haitian indemnity debt before and after its implementation and sought to establish the significance and aftereffects of the Haitian Revolution. These liberals include political economists and politicians, among them Sismonde de Sismondi, Benjamin Constant, Charles de Rémusat, and Sophie Doin. The importance of French thinkers has been established within the history of liberalism alongside the centrality of French liberals to discussions of empire in the early nineteenth-century, yet French liberal ideas about Haiti are neglected in these narratives. Haiti and its debt, this paper argues, featured prominently in the writings of French liberals who bound teleological philosophies of history with economic theory in arguments that simultaneously encouraged both the independence of the free Black nation and its financial shackling to France. In doing so, Haiti was imagined as an exceptional site of accelerated historical progress as well as limitless commercial profit. An argument for “reparations” – to former planters, not the formerly enslaved – justified Haiti’s debt payment as a benefit to the global economic sphere the new nation was entering. Haiti was not consigned to the borders of French imaginaries; post-revolutionary Haiti was actively made to be both thinkable and profitable to French liberals. Such history helps us better understand political and economic entanglements at the birth of modern democracy. Wed. November 18, 12:00-1:30 pm / Reconstruction and Reconciliation in the Liberal Imaginary


Nile A. Davies / Columbia University, Anthropology

WHAT IS THE VALENCE OF “RECONSTRUCTION” AS METAPHOR and as social practice in the wake of civic catastrophe? How has it come to figure in contemporary Sierra Leone as a field of political possibility amidst a slew of liberal desires and reformative projects for repair in the aftermath of the civil war (1991-2002)? This paper investigates the history of the “post-war” and social recovery amidst a cluster of monumental structures to emerge between 2002 and 2006 at the edge of the nation’s capital city, Freetown: a British military installation known as IMATT, established for the re-disciplining of the country’s armed forces; and the sprawling, 13-acre compound of the United States Embassy. At the turn of the 21st century, fuelled with the determination that the West could not countenance “another Rwanda”, military consultants, experts and humanitarian programs flooded into the country to attend to the traumas and elusive origins of rebellion waged in the name of a rural proletariat and the abolition of poverty. Addressing the need for social reconstruction in its most literal sense, the United Nations mission in Sierra Leone contracted the German development agency, GTZ, “to destroy the disabled weapons by cutting them into pieces and recycling the cut pieces into productive tools.” Such tools, this paper suggests, would become powerful symbols for the rehabilitation of former combatants as disciplined and productive citizens, oriented towards futures of manual work in construction sites around the city. This paper considers the aftermath of these programs through the experiences of rural migrants who lived by the labors of construction around these sites, figured as the mediums of a peaceful state. Drawing on 15 months of fieldwork, archival research and spatial analysis, it explores the layered material and social histories of the region, in which conditions of material disparity reflect the crisis of relation between ends and means, and the anxieties of “community”. Wed. November 18, 12:00-1:30 pm / Reconstruction and Reconciliation in the Liberal Imaginary


Meghan Garrity / Penn Political Science

WHY DO GOVERNMENTS EXPEL? In order to answer this question, we first need to identify the full range cases to be explained. Although there is some existing data on mass expulsions, most research is confined to specific regions (particularly Europe), begins after 1945, is listed qualitatively in book annexes, and often conflates mass expulsion, ethnic cleansing, mass killing and genocide. This paper seeks to contribute to the quest for a general theory of mass expulsion through the development of an original database of mass expulsion incidents, across all regions of the world, over a one-hundred-year period from 1912-2012. It defines mass expulsion as: a state-ordered or directed, systematic removal, of an ethnic, racial, religious or national group, as such, without individual legal review and with no recognition of the right to return. The data is drawn from existing datasets, a detailed investigation of secondary sources, and archival research conducted at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. This paper presents an empirical overview of the data including information on the expelling country, region, onset, duration, number expelled, ascriptive qualities of expellees, and regime type, among other attributes. Preliminary analysis indicates over 120 incidents of mass expulsion, occurring in all regions of the world, targeting tens of millions of citizens and non-citizens. Based on the data, I present a taxonomy of mass expulsion motivations including fifth column, decolonial, insurgent/retribution and xenophobic expulsions. Wed. December 9, 12:00-1:30 / Breakdown and Rupture in the Projects of the Nation


Diego Hurtado-Torres / University of Maryland, History

THE BREAKDOWN OF CHILEAN DEMOCRACY ON SEPTEMBER 11, 1973, is about to turn half a century. The overthrow of Allende and its tragic death marked the end of an era in which Chilean democracy was considered as a model within Latin America. International and domestic actors saw Chilean democracy as a stable and exceptional political regime, an image reinforced by the military regimes that ruled in the South Cone at the time. In this context, the revolutionary Left accessed power through electoral means in 1970. The “Chilean Road to Socialism” ignited the imagination of democratic socialism not only in Chile, but in the Western hemisphere. The revolutionary project of the Chilean Left ultimately failed and along with it the long republican tradition of Chilean democracy. By looking at the usages of the word “democracy” through the years of the Popular Unity by the different actors of the democratic game, I argue that the fragmentation of the word “democracy” in many meanings, often contradictory and colliding, decisively contributed to the political conflict that destabilized the Allende regime as well as to the exhaustion of the authority of democracy in social relations. These political languages rested upon domestic appropriations of the Cold War rhetoric. Revolutionary and traditional visions of democracy confronted each other in various political and intellectual spaces: Parliament, the public sphere, constitutional debates, visions of history. In this study of the tensions over the definition of democracy in Chile, I question the idea that the outcome of this crisis of words was inevitable as well as that it was the final product of the interference of the United States in the political process. Wed. December 9, 12:00-1:30 / Breakdown and Rupture in the Projects of the Nation


Brian T. Cannon / Penn History and South Asia Studies

CONTRARY TO THE IDEA OF A HISTORICAL RUPTURE that some scholars have employed to characterize the partition of British India, the decades framing Indian independence in the mid-twentieth century reflect clear links to colonial mentalities and institutions, as much as a visible commitment to the ideals of a young democracy. The social institution of caste has proved especially indicative of this fractured political mentality. As the Indian government uniquely politicized caste with the drafting and adoption of a republican constitution, particular communities sought to shape, unify, and give public voice to their caste histories in the hope of securing social legitimacy, high standing, and particular rights and privileges. Later iterations of caste politicization further catalyzed community mobilization, from the implementation of affirmative action schemes in the late twentieth century, to the 2011 re-introduction of caste enumeration in the decennial Indian census. With an eye to this rapidly shifting history pocked by legacies of the past as much as promises of the future, this paper will employ primarily Hindi and British colonial records to chart the consequences of such self-fashioning, in which these groups attempted to craft stable narratives of lineage to ensure social security. In particular, it highlights the divergent trajectories of a host of socio-occupationally related communities of genealogists, praise poets, and performers, who publicly claimed social prestige on the basis of historical association with royal patrons. Though an eventual legal branding of “backwards” caste status marked every one of these groups, some shunned that government label – despite the promise of economic benefits in educational and job security it afforded – while others embraced it. This paper seeks to question why, by more broadly situating its empirical findings against theories on the construction, interpretation, and maintenance of social categories, democratic schemes of social inclusion and exclusion, and the political consequences of bureaucratic control. Wed. January 20, 2021, 12:00-1:30 pm / Claiming Citizenship: Race and Caste in the U.S. and India


Emily Yankowitz / Yale University, History

BEFORE DRED SCOTT V. STANFORD (1857), WHICH DENIED citizenship to free African Americans, the U.S. Department of State’s issuance of passports to African Americans was an important controversy over the boundaries of citizenship. Because there were neither laws explicitly linking passports to citizenship nor federal rulings on African Americans’ citizenship status before 1857, passports offered African Americans unique opportunities to claim status as citizens and to receive federal recognition of that status. This paper analyzes efforts by three African American men, William Purvis, Peter Williams, and Henry Hambleton, to obtain passports between 1834 and 1849. I argue that these men attempted to use passports to stake claim to national citizenship—and in doing so challenged the boundaries of citizenship in pre–Dred Scott America. This essay contributes to literatures on federal policies towards free American Americans before Dred Scott, free African Americans’ efforts to claim mobility as a citizenship right, and scholarship on U.S. citizenship more broadly. By considering the Department of State’s inconsistent responses to Purvis, Williams, and Hambleton’s passport applications, this essay highlights both the federal government’s inconsistent legal treatment of African Americans and citizenship’s ambiguous boundaries before 1857. Moreover, while historians of African American mobility mention passport disputes, they tend to use them as evidence of restrictions on African Americans’ movements rather than as efforts to document or claim citizenship. This study, by contrast, resituates passports within discussions of African Americans’ efforts to obtain citizenship, and in doing so illuminates how many African Americans directly linked mobility to citizenship before 1857. Finally, this paper contributes to scholarship on U.S. citizenship more broadly. None of the leading historical and political science works on citizenship consider passports before World War Two. By analyzing mid-nineteenth-century passport applications, this study directly addresses this chronological gap. Wed. January 20, 2021, 12:00-1:30 pm / Claiming Citizenship: Race and Caste in the U.S. and India


Elizabeth Catchmark / University of Maryland, English

THE UNDEMOCRATIC CHARACTER OF MODERN CONSERVATISM, manifesting in normalized disinformation, white nationalist appeals, and resistance to fair and free elections, cannot be understood without the history of white backlash. This project centers conservative resistance to the passage of the Affordable Care Act as an understudied case revealing the strategic coalition between fiscal and racial conservatives that supports the rise of Trump and the breakdown of democratic norms like the rule of law. As scholars of conservatism like Joseph Crespino, Kevin Kruse, and Jodi Melamed articulate, with the midcentury passage of landmark civil rights legislation and a slew of judicial victories smashing de jure segregation, white Americans divested from increasingly integrated public services. Even with both mainstream politicians, like Richard Nixon, and extremist organizations, like the White Citizen’s Council, disavowing explicitly racist rhetoric in response to a shifting moral landscape, both preserved the key systemic and institutional features of segregation through ostensibly race neutral language, namely states’ rights and freedom of association. The coalition they cultivated, between “respectable” or “race neutral” conservatism and explicitly racist conservatism, formed the backbone of the modern Republican Party in the wake of partisan realignment. Despite this transition to “dog whistle” discourses of racial colorblindness, the explicit racist appeals of the Trump campaign and the white nationalist character of his administration fit neatly into this legacy, as revealed by the link between conservative coalition building and public health policy. While the connection between residential and school segregation and fiscally conservative policy is more frequently explored, resistance to the ACA and other attempts to democratize healthcare is key in strengthening conservative electoral power by emphasizing the shared interests of white nationalism and limited government. Highlighting the relationship between explicit and covert white nationalist discourses is vital to dismantling the influence of white supremacy on public policy. Wed. February 17, 12:00-1:30 pm / Appropriating Rhetoric: Racial and Religious Conservatism in America


Gabriel Raeburn / Penn Religious Studies and History

IN POSTWAR UNITED STATES, IDEAS OF CITIZENSHIP and democracy have been inherently tied to fights against discrimination. Yet, as this paper argues, in the final decades of the twentieth century, religious conservatives effectively reframed these debates to focus on religious freedom and religious liberty. In 1982, the televangelist Pat Robertson bemoaned the closure of a church in Louisville, Nebraska during which police officers reportedly removed parishioners from a prayer vigil. Robertson compared this scene to Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, portraying conservative evangelicals as the new civil rights activists. Robertson and other televangelists argued the most “rampant” area of discrimination in the United States was neither race nor sex, but religious discrimination. Likewise, when the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) and other government agencies investigated television ministries for misappropriation of funds, supporters emphasized that they were American taxpayers and Christians who only wanted “equal rights” and protection under the law allocated to other citizens. This paper traces how televangelists and their audiences, throughout the 1970s and 1980s, used the airwaves to popularize the notion of religious discrimination at the hands of the federal government as they simultaneously crafted opposition to new civil rights initiatives aimed at African Americans, women and the LGBTQ community. Evangelical leaders portrayed prosperity and wealth as gifts for the spirit-filled believer rather than a reflection of material and social power, and they simultaneously attacked liberal welfare policy and government attempts to address urban decline. By studying transcripts of religious television in conjunction with evangelical literature and letter-writing campaigns to the FCC and congressional representatives, this paper demonstrates that notions of religious discrimination bolstered support for economic austerity by centering anti-government sentiment. Wed. February 17, 12:00-1:30 pm / Appropriating Rhetoric: Racial and Religious Conservatism in America


Dylan Farrell-Bryan / Penn Sociology

IN RECENT YEARS, THERE HAS BEEN AN UNPRECEDENTED RISE in the number of immigrants facing removal from the United States, many of whom argue for their right to stay in the US and be granted relief from removal. This article investigates the interactive exchange process that occurs in removal proceedings in immigration court between immigrants, predominantly Latino men, and immigration judges, exploring how they construct and invoke the currency of deservingness through ‘good moral character’ and ‘hardship’ while petitioning for relief through the Cancellation of Removal. Drawing on ethnographic observations of court hearings for immigrants facing removal from the United States, I ask: how is immigrant deservingness constructed in removal proceedings, specifically in the negotiation of relief from removal? In this article, I identify the gendered, moral narratives of deservingness that persuade judges to grant relief from removal, finding that immigrant men are rendered more or less deserving of relief and legalization based on their degree of assimilation into the social fabric and value system of the United States and their gendered status as providers for US citizens, and to a lesser degree, the importance of their role as fathers and husbands. Second, I show that judges play an active role in this process of constructing deservingness narratives, using their discretion to shape and evaluate the exchange beyond the written law. I argue that adherence to conventional gendered and moral norms plays a key role in determining migrants’ deservingness and membership, with implications for understanding how the State actively manages immigrant masculinity through a gendered moral economy of removal. Wed. March 17, 12:00-1:30 pm / Controlling Mobility through Narrative and Law: Vagrancy Laws and Immigration Courts in Europe and the U.S.


Jasper Theodor Kauth / University of Oxford, Politics and International Relations

VAGRANCY LAWS, FIRST DEVISED IN 14TH CENTURY UNITED KINGDOM to limit labour mobility, and later adopted in British colonies and the United States, and internal expulsions, used in German states until World War II, were based on vague and flexible legal definitions which allowed local authorities to deploy them against any and all individuals deemed ‘undesirable’ – leading to arrests, banishments, and incarcerations of individuals suspected to be engaged in or in support of politically unwanted behaviour in public spaces. Throughout the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries, mobility control laws were used to target marginalised groups, be it the ‘desperately poor’ (Rosenberg 2006:2), ethnic, racial, religious, and sexual and gender minorities, or political activists. Vagrancy laws and similar regulations controlling the free movement of certain groups of citizens within a nation’s territory thus stand at the heart of conflicts over democratisation and equality. By limiting mobility at will, their use set factual, rather than legally defined, boundaries of full democratic membership. Whereas the prevalence of vagrancy laws has diminished in the three countries under examination here since the end of the Second World War, their legacies live on today. Mobility control practices must be seen as instances of ideological illiberalism and as precursors to modern-day immigration control measures. Based on a theoretical analysis of primary documents and secondary literature, this paper investigates the role of internal mobility control in the US, the UK, and Germany in three related dimensions of political development: nation-building, the use of force by state authorities, and democratisation and the definition of democratic membership. This paper aims at providing a broader understanding of internal mobility control, unifying a literature so far primarily focused on regional histories and sociologies, constitutional developments in the US, or the movement of foreigners. It concludes by throwing light on contemporary practices of mobility control and the continued use of British vagrancy laws around the world. Wed. March 17, 12:00-1:30 pm / Controlling Mobility through Narrative and Law: Vagrancy Laws and Immigration Courts in Europe and the U.S.


Indivar Jonnalagadda / Penn Anthropology and South Asia Studies

THIS PAPER FOCUSES ON A PROPERTY TITLE ROUTINELY GRANTED to poor and marginalized slum-dwelling households in Indian cities. This property title known as a “D-Form Patta” is non-transferable and non-alienable accepts as inheritance, hence the author calls it a “conditional title”. The conditional title introduced in colonial India, became a legal instrument to manage economic advancement among specific groups defined in terms of caste identity, income, or location even in a post-colonial context. It relies on ethnographic fieldnotes from the city of Hyderabad which has witnessed at least six rounds of conditional titling to analyze and describe how this conditional legal instrument impacts the political and economic prospects of beneficiary households and neighborhoods. It finds that although state-recognition is greatly desired, people who have received this title experience it as “useless” and “restrictive”. Contrary to offering a path to formal citizenship, or operating as an incentive for enterprise, my paper demonstrates how this dispirited legal instrument constructs a sphere of subaltern citizenship. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in two large slum-clusters in Hyderabad, this paper describes subaltern citizenship as a process by which certain groups negotiate and construct legal relationships with the state starting from positions of subordination and marginalization. By analyzing ten life histories across these two sites, it further examines how subaltern citizenship circumscribes the aspirations and actual trajectories for slum-dwelling households. By specifically unpacking the discourse around issues of titling, this paper explores the tensions between state-agents who expect gratitude for the self-perceived largesse of title distribution, and the contempt of beneficiaries who feel entitled to clear and unconditional titles to land in the city. Thus, arguing that understanding subaltern citizenship, which is starkly brought into relief through the politics of land, is fundamental to unpacking political and economic inequality in India and other comparable post-colonial democracies. Wed. April 14, 12:00-1:30 pm / Negotiating Urban Space: Development, Exclusion, and Exchange


Nick Robinson / Temple University, Political Science

THIS PAPER FOCUSES ON LOCAL RESISTANCE TO URBAN REDEVELOPMENT projects in American cities. Specifically, it analyzes community benefits agreements, which are private agreements that developers enter into with local communities. In exchange for agreeing to support an originally contentious large-scale project, developers agree to a range of community benefits designed to mollify concerns about the effects of negative externalities. Such “benefits” vary, ranging from hiring requirements and funding for education and transportation to protections against noise pollution. And, in particular, displacement has typically been at the forefront of community concerns. However, the most effective critiques of community benefits agreements is that, in practice, they are vulnerable to those with the most political resources to shape in accordance with their private interests. This research analyzes these agreements, specifically examining their heretofore lack of democratic credentials and seeks ways in which they can be reformed to embody their animating idea behind them: Giving communities greater democratic control over the institutions where they work and live. Can these agreements be improved? And, if so, how? Do they have the potential to live up to the claims of those who champion them? What is their potential to genuinely express and reflect the interests of those whom they claim to represent? And lastly, can they effectively embody a reconciliation between strong rights to property and the claims of community? Wed. April 14, 12:00-1:30 pm / Negotiating Urban Space: Development, Exclusion, and Exchange