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                Research

2006 Summer Research Fellows

"Discursive Strategies of Transnational Feminism: Women's Human Rights vs. Anti-Fundamentalism": Lyndi Hewitt examined feminists' strategic discursive use of fundamentalism. Specifically, she investigatedthe efficacy of anti-fundamentalism as a unifying framework, particularly in comparison with other feminist master frames such as "women's rights as human rights," which has enjoyed substantial long-term success. She studies the global feminist response to religious and political fundamentalist forces. She considered the following research questions: Where/when did the frame emerge, and with whom did it originate? In what venues and how often was it deployed? What role did scholar-activists play in advancing its use as a master frame? Under what political conditions did the frame gain momentum (or not)? To what degree did the frame promote cross-cultural, cross-issue collaboration? And finally, to what degree did the "anti-religion" aspect of the frame contribute to its ultimate failure as a unifying framework?
Lyndi Hewitt, Project Proposal (pdf) Hewitt Final Report (pdf)

"Hermetic Imagination in Latin America Short Story: Dreaming New Men": Alberto del Pozo Martinez studies the Latin American short-story, particularly how magic realism and fantasy are often confused with the presence of hermetic themes (creations of man, ambiguous miracles, apocalyptic visions of the world) and subgenres of preaching (parable, mystery, prophecy). He has been working on a critical anthology of this genre which can serve as a tool to study Hermeticism, the origin of literary Symbolism. The study of Symbolism has been approached mainly by Psychoanalysis and Philosophy (of language). Following the line opened by critics such as Balakian, Abrams, and Beltrán, Alberto focused on the relations between literary discourse and the History of Religions. The influence of thinkers such as Plotinus, Bruno, Kircher, and especially Swedenborg in Twentieth Century Literature is extraordinary. His anthology tries to explain the reasons and consequences of this strange kind of intertextuallity, which defies modern and postmodern projects of society, as well as the borders of disciplines. He includes a corpus of 10 to 12 selected pieces from some of the most relevant Latin American short story writers (Borges, Rulfo, Bolaño...), and an introduction to the problems confronted by the study of Hermeticism in Latin America.
Alberto Martinez, Project Proposal (pdf) Martinez Final Report (pdf)

"'After Such a Holocaust': Boundaries of Forgiveness and Conversion in the Wake of Atrocity": Maria Mayo Robbins traveled to Israel and Poland to conduct research on the role of the Holocaust in the construction of Jewish identity. She accomplished this primarily through interviews with Tova Berlinski, a painter who escaped Poland with her husband in 1938 and has lived since then in Israel. Robbins spent two weeks doing interviews in Jerusalem, and then traveled with Mrs. Berlinski to her hometown, Oswiecim (Auschwitz), Poland. The oldest of six children of a Hasidic rabbi, Mrs. Berlinski was the only member of her family to survive the Holocaust. Her parents and siblings were killed at Auschwitz, less than one mile from their family home. Although she was raised in a religiously observant household, Mrs. Berlinski was not particularly religious when she left Poland. Today, however, she considers herself to be more religious and more Jewish than she was. "Especially after the Holocaust," she says, "I am more Jewish, I have to be Jewish." Through the interviews in Israel and Poland, Robbins sought to gain an understanding of how Mrs. Berlinski distinguishes between cultural and religious Jewish identity, and how the Holocaust has affected that distinction.
Maria Mayo Robbins, Project Proposal (pdf) Robbins Final Report (pdf)

"Resistance and Religion: Araucanian and Spanish Interaction During the Contact Period in Southern Chile": Jacob J. Sauer studied the effects of culture contact on belief systems between the Spanish and the Araucanians, or Mapuche, of southern Chile . Jacob looked at a site near Puren, Chile, that contained both Spanish and Araucanian cultural elements from the 16th century to understand how these groups interacted both religiously and politically in the area and elsewhere in Chile. Spanish attempts at colonization in Chile were met with heavy resistance by the Araucanians, to the point that the Spanish were effectively removed from south of the Bio-Bio River. Before this, the Spanish often placed settlements and fortifications in areas of known religious and political importance for the Araucanians which were later destroyed. This project is a combination of ethnohistorical, ethnographic, and archaeological research, looking at: 1) Spanish perceptions of the Araucanians and vice-versa as written by early Spanish chroniclers, historians, and anthropologists; 2) Spanish and Araucanian religious practice; and 3) the archaeological investigation of the material remains of Spanish and Araucanian interaction at a Spanish fortified house which also contains Araucanian religious elements. The end result of this study provides important information regarding Spanish and Araucanian interaction during the contact period, which can be used to guide research elsewhere in Chile and other parts of the world.
Jacob Sauer, Project Proposal (pdf) Sauer Final Report (pdf)

"Engaged Buddhism?: The Changing Role of Monastics in Thailand": Glenn R. Willis researched 'end-of-life care' in Thailand, a nation where Theravadan Buddhists make up more than 95% of the population. Buddhist traditions place a crucial emphasis on 'compassion'--Glenn sought to find out what a Buddhist ethic of care looks like in practice, particularly among those who have contracted AIDS in Northeastern Thailand. This project was in part an attempt to locate more human images of Buddhism than the philosophized, 'world-denying' notions of Buddhism we have developed and still sustain at times in the West. The project also sought to study caregiving traditions from a less wealthy culture at a moment when models of care for the terminally ill in this country may have become more technical than pastoral. Glenn tried to answer two sets of questions:
1. In a Buddhist society, how are the terminally ill cared for on their path towards death? How does a Buddhist 'pastoral care' work in Theravadan Thailand? Are monks, nuns, or committed lay Buddhists involved in health care for the dying? If so, how? Buddhism is not a 'sacramental' religion--what practices, then, are useful when caring for the dying?
2. With what attitudes, fears and hopes do Buddhists approach their own deaths, and--more to the point--how do caregivers in Thailand work with those attitudes?
Glenn R. Willis, Project Proposal (pdf) Willis Final Report (pdf)