2019 Cultural Studies Conference Abstracts

We/Us Mobilizing Collective Resistance & Reimagining Futures


(listed alphabetically by last name)

Randizia B. Crisostomo

Cultural Studies, University of Washington Bothell

"Practicing Inafa'maolek: Indigenous Protocol in Cultural Studies"

Reciprocity is the foundation of CHamoru ethics and the highest standard to which we should all hold ourselves accountable for our actions, words, and engagement practices within research. To be ethical is a continuous and relational process. It is not stagnant, nor a checkbox that we, as scholars, complete in the form of a capstone, thesis, or dissertation. Ethics should not be a goal in which Western-academic institutions mark-off as they complete the end of one agenda and move onto another. It is instead, strong value that consist of respect, reciprocity, and trust in which we must continue to exemplify for ourselves, our families, communities, and each other through an interconnected cycle. The following abstract focuses on the ways in which Inafa'maolek is practiced through one of its six pillars known as chenchule', the act of gift-giving. This calls upon participatory practices, community engagement, and conversational methods which align with Indigenous values that honor our stories as a means of transmitting knowledge. Within Indigenous-CHamoru protocol, gift-giving is one of the main practices that take place in the form of acknowledging the spaces, places, and people in which we are present-and a part of. It calls for lived experiences and relations between communities through an effort to re-frame and decolonize how connections are made within the institution. The intent of practicing Inafa'maolek within Cultural studies is to provide gifts to those who share breadth and space with one another. It is through this Inafa'maolek, that scholars can intervene within traditional forms of institutional praxis.

Ranna Harb

Cultural Studies, University of Washington Bothell

"Visions of Home: A Closer Look at the Palestinian Diaspora in Seattle"

My research investigates how first-generation diasporic Palestinians, living in the greater Seattle area, use symbols and artifacts to make home in connection to Palestine. This project utilizes oral history, storytelling, and visual analysis to demonstrate diasporic collaboration to highlight the Palestinian diaspora whose families have been exiled, imprisoned, and colonized through the implications of settler colonialism and war. Specifically, I use photography as a method to narrate experiences of exile and illustrate how the subjects visualize and express Palestine as home in their day-to-day lives. I challenge the audience to inquire within the text provided at the same time they are seeing the photograph. This study emphasizes the diaspora’s agency to create their own discourses around perseverance, survival, and the makings of home.

Shan Jiang

Cultural Studies, University of Washington Bothell

"Surveillance and Performance: How New Tech is Intervening  in Early Childhood Education"

In recent years, several tech companies are bringing new technological tools such as apps to support teaching and caring in into Early Childhood Education (ECE). Thus, utilizing these apps set the standard for how a quality ECE center functions. With this phenomenon, creating and developing an electronic portfolio (e-portfolio) for each child through a software app became a necessary part as an ECE teacher daily duty to connect and communicate to parents. Observation, documentation, and assessment are essential aspects of building a child’s e-portfolio, but we can also use it as a surveillance tool that affects the performance of the teacher and the learning of the student. Based on my experiences as an ECE teacher, this talk presents how a tech app is used as surveillance tools that shift power dynamics between the teachers and parents that can alter the child’s learning experiences in an ECE classroom.

By utilizing mapping, and my daily observation and practice, the talk shows in the shifting power relations, the teachers are exercising how to produce a perfect e-portfolio as performance under pressure from the parent and school sites and to make the parents happy through each moment of the e-portfolio instead of being concentratedly at teaching and interacting with the kids. In other words, the talk shows how surveillance and performance can be practiced through a tech app in an ECE classroom.

Bilen Million

Cultural Studies, University of Washington Bothell

"Hair Story: Black Women's Resistance through Creative Production"

Utilizing a Black Feminist framework, this project seeks to connect the resistance of historical practices of monitoring Black hair and Black bodies to contemporary forms of creative action. Through an archive of images, video, and audio, this videographic essay helps interrupt dominant narratives and focuses on creative productions of Black hair by centering Black women’s voices and stories. The project interrogates social practices that seek to surveille and silence Black women while demonstrating how creative work acts as what Simone Browne in Dark Matters names “dark sousveillance”; how the constant control and surveillance of Black bodies is always met with resistance, defiance, and strength.

Mateó B. Ochoa

Cultural Studies, University of Washington Bothell

"Paying Homage to Memory: Playwriting as Collective Mourning"

After the Pulse Nightclub shooting resulting in the loss of 49 people, Missing Bolts Production and NoPassport Theatre Alliance and Press collaborated with over 70 queer and trans artists of color to produce a variety of plays responding to the attack. Entitled After Orlando, the collection of plays made space for collective mourning by utilizing performance to document the testimonies of those who have been subjected to trauma. This performance pays homage to the initial call-to-action for the After Orlando plays while discussing the potentials of playwriting and performance as community-based practices that help document the cultural memory of QTPOC resiliency.

Kaytie Ohashi

Cultural Studies, University of Washington Bothell

"The Wonderful World of Disney...Villains"

Growing up I’ve always been a big fan of Disney animated movies, particularly ones starring a princess. As an adult I’ve developed mixed feelings for Disney animated movies: a nostalgic and entertaining feeling from when I was a child and a frustrated and baffled feeling at the content Disney is saying and showing to family audiences. While Disney is cherished for their stories about hope, love, and overcoming great evil I grew an awareness that Disney is also influencing ideas of racial identity, gender identity, what it means to be physically beautiful, and more through the ways in which different characters are labeled and stereotyped. After seeing patterns of this I wrote a paper followed by three in person workshops at Pierce College about Disney villains and the social oppressions they face in Disney animated movies. This presentation aims to explore my journey from writing about major themes and problems with Disney characters to presenting and talking about them to Pierce College staff and students. I’ll talk about my results and how the staff workshop informed the changes I made to the student workshop and explore possible next steps in expanding my work in the future.

Brandon Pearson

Cultural Studies, University of Washington Bothell

"Visualizing Homelessness in Olympia: Mapping for Social Justice"

Maps are something that we casually interact with on a daily basis. Google maps shows us how to get where we are going and how long it takes to get there. Maps have evolved from existing only on paper to show roads, cities, states, and countries to digital creations that can be used to show how social issues are tied to geographical areas. This project aims to create visual representations of homelessness in Olympia, WA and the surrounding Thurston County area. Utilizing mapping and data analysis, I have created maps to show the impact homelessness in Olympia and Thurston County in a way that can be more approachable to non-academic audiences than data tables and executive summaries.

Natalie Smith

Cultural Studies, University of Washington Bothell

"The Grey Zone: (Re)trauma, Memory and Healing in the Digital Public Sphere"

My capstone project considers the Aziz Ansari story and its attendant public discourse as the next episode of #MeToo. Using the numerous online articles and Twitter threads responding to the Ansari story, this project will examine how private trauma becomes collective in the formation of public/social memory. Conversations within the public sphere about the Ansari story are valuable because they draw out the private conversations happening offline, where women and men renegotiate power dynamics and notions of consent and pleasure. Using textual and discursive analysis of the public discourse around the Ansari story, together with psychoanalytic analysis of recent theorizations of memory and trauma studies in relation to the formation of public memory, I will explore how public discourse changes how we redefine and process traumatic memory and how the shift from private trauma to public memory in the #MeToo movement can lead to personal healing and generate social change. The project explores these ideas in a blog/website format that is intended to be both accessible and circulated to a wider audience.

Ayva Thomas

Cultural Studies, University of Washington Bothell

"You Go, Girl! Emancipating Black Girls Through Praxis, Dialogue, and Separate Spaces"

The U.S. public education system was designed to uphold white supremacy and perpetuate the suppression of Black children. During historical desegregation efforts and still today, Black girls have been pushed out of their communities and into white spaces that oppress them on the basis of racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, and ageism, and rarely have opportunities to come together to experience community, love, healing, and belonging. Through my research, I created a literature review to highlight points at which the literature in Cultural Studies, Black Feminist Thought, Multicultural Education, and Black Girls’ Studies intersect to support my overarching claim that Black girls in secondary public education need access to a space during the school day that is strictly for them. Separate spaces like these provide Black girls with the opportunity to be pushed into an anti-racist space in a white supremacist school setting, facilitate critical dialogue, build community and radical love, and engage in emancipatory talk and action. I will present my research through a praxis-based model and collaborative engagement with Black girls in secondary public education.

Melina Tovar

Cultural Studies, University of Washington Bothell

"Geographies of the Body: The Politics of Pleasure & Sexual Health"

The United States has endorsed a standardized abstinence-only sex education curriculum that has restricted its dialogue around sexual health to gender and sexual binaries, the inevitability of sexually transmitted infections, sexual behavior only as a means for reproduction, and abstinence until marriage as the only acceptable sexual practice in American society. Across the globe, countries such as Norway have endorsed a comprehensive approach to sex education that has resulted in lower rates of HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, prevalence of teen pregnancy, and seen higher rates of contraception, safe sexual practices, LGBTQ rights, and overall sexual health satisfaction as compared to the United States. Although the comprehensive approach to sex education has done wonders to inform youth and young adults of how to safely emerge into their sexual health, identity, and development, it is still an approach that stands from a preventative standpoint. This interdisciplinary research project investigates how pleasure is a critical and necessary element of sexual health and greater social justice agendas. Through the application of hybrid methodologies such as autoethnography, archival analysis, and mapping, this research reveals how the pursuit toward optimal sexual health and wellness moves beyond preventative measures and also includes promotional practices. It is with the integration of preventative as well as promotional approaches to sexual health, that all identities and communities will have access to body sovereignty, sexual citizenship, and sociopolitical liberty.