Postdoctoral Fellows and Projects 2015-2016, "Ethical Subjects"

Sabine Fave CadeauCadeauProfileImage

Postdoctoral Fellow
Ph.D.: University of Chicago
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Sabine Cadeau is a historian of modern Latin America and the Caribbean. Her research interests include race and citizenship, the black experience in Latin America, slavery and post-emancipation societies, and migration. Her work deals mainly with the history of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. She has also done work on the topics of African diasporic religion, Haitian art, and the Haitian language. Her scholarship draws upon years of archival work in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. She received her Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago in 2015. During the 2015-2016 academic year she is teaching a course on the history of the Dominican Republic and an introductory course on the Haitian Kreyòl language. Her research has been funded by the Social Science Research Council and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

Dr. Cadeau’s forthcoming manuscript is a history of the ethnic Haitian experience in the twentieth-century Dominican Republic. Her research reconsiders the 1937 genocide in which an estimated 20,000 ethnic Haitians were killed on the orders of the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. Based on her dissertation titled Natives of the Border: Ethnic Haitians and the Law in the Dominican Republic 1920-1961, her manuscript addresses the climate of heightened racial discrimination that preceded the 1937 violence as well as its troubled aftermath. Carefully concealed by the perpetrating authorities, this event remains one of the lesser-known genocides of the twentieth century. Her work on the ethnic Haitian experience in the Dominican Republic addresses racial profiling, mass deportation, and state-sponsored violence in order to explain the legal transformation by which Dominican-born ethnic Haitians became reclassified as foreign nationals. This project relates the history of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola to broader scholarship on questions of race, the modern nation state, genocide, fascism, refugees, stateless people, and borderland studies.

Divya Cherian

CherianPhotoMellon Postdoctoral Fellow
Ph.D.: Columbia University
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Divya Cherian grew up in New Delhi, India, intrigued by the past that lived on around her in the ruins that dot the city’s landscape. She completed her  undergraduate studies in history at the University of Delhi, followed by a master’s degree and an M.Phil. in medieval Indian history at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She wrote her M.Phil. dissertation on the interaction between the hill-dwelling Mer, Meena, and Bhil communities and the eighteenth-century Rathor state in western India. She completed her Ph.D. at the Department of History, Columbia University in 2015, writing about the relationship between merchants, the state, and Krishnite devotion in eighteenth century western India.

Dr. Cherian's research examines the role of the ethic of ahimsa (non-violence) in the crystallization of a new community of elites in the western Indian kingdom of Marwar in the eighteenth century. The valorization of non-violence translated most notably into a concern with the preservation of non-human lives, leading to an emphasis upon a vegetarian diet. Based on a reading of the legislative archive of the Rathor state, which governed Marwar at the time, she argues that the moral principles of non-violence and of vegetarianism played a central role in the development of new forms of community and state, uncovering the coercive and deeply political nature of these processes. She traces these changes in the context of the dissolution of the Mughal Empire, the growing influence of European trading companies, the emergence of new social groups, and the rise of new state forms. In doing so, she explores the interconnections between ethics, law, local politics, and the history of caste and community in South Asia. While at the RCHA, she will be working to complete a book manuscript, entitled Ordering Subjects: Merchants, the State, and Krishna Devotion in Eighteenth-Century Western India, that is based on this research.

Chris FinleyCFinley

Postdoctoral Fellow, Race and Gender Studies
Ph.D.: University of Michigan
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Chris Finley received her Ph.D. in American Culture at the University of Michigan. She is a member of the Colville Confederated tribes and is originally from Washington State. Her favorite situations are the sky and wading in the Pacific Ocean with her nephew. Finley’s main goal in life is to work with other women of color feminists to end global oppression. When she is not busy working towards this endeavor, Chris enjoys watching television, eating something sweet, and savoring a nice cup of tea. In the spring semester, Dr. Finley will be teaching a seminar on race and sex.

Histories of biopower deeply affected Native peoples’ relationship to their bodies and to sexuality.  In an effort to protect Indigenous nations and communities from the violence and genocide of biopower, some Native nations have: worked to discursively to desexualize their communities; enforced a structured silence around sex; and passed anti-gay marriage laws to avoid the violence of settler-colonialism by conforming to heteronormativity.  This response has failed and has often led to the exclusion of queer Native peoples from Indigenous nations and has not allowed Native peoples to take sexuality seriously in order to decolonize our communities.  In her book ‘Bringing Sexy Back’ To Native Studies, Dr. Finley argues that the study of sexualities and queer theory is not decadent, nor is it too theoretical.  Heteropatriarchy remains an intricate component of the history of the colonization of Native America.  This lack of attention to the study of sexualities does not allow for a full analysis of settler colonialism and the genocidal logics of biopower.  As an alternative to heteronormative and desexualized readings of representations of Native peoples in popular culture, Dr. Finley uses sex positivity as a framework and explore queer and Indigenous feminist possibilities for articulating Indigenous nationhood, sovereignty, self-determination, and Indigenous futurity.

Özge SerinSERINPhoto

Postdoctoral Fellow
Ph.D.: Columbia University
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Özge Serin holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Columbia University. Her research and writing focus on forms of radical politics and cultures of confinement in contemporary Turkey. She is concerned with questions of the relation between violence and the political; temporality and sovereignty; death and the event; political subjectivity and desire; ethics and withdrawal; language, idiom and translation. Serin is the recipient of a number of fellowships, including Harry Frank Guggenheim Dissertation Award, The Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics Andrew Mellon Fellowship, and Columbia University Middle East Institute Dissertation Fellowship. She is the co-editor (with Nergis Ertürk) of a forthcoming special issue of boundary 2 entitled Marxism, Communism, and Translation. Her publications include “The Use-Value of Idioms: The Language of Marxism and Language As Such” forthcoming in boundary 2 and “Egemen Çöküş: Ölüm Orucu ve Siyasal” forthcoming in Kampfplatz. As a companion to her book project, Serin has also completed (with Brian Karl) an experimental documentary Death/Fast. References to and reproduction of stills from Death/Fast are included in the introduction to the volume Experimental Film and Anthropology.

At the RCHA, Serin will be completing her book entitled Writing of Death: Ethics and Politics of the Death Fast in Turkey. Part ethnography, part philosophical speculation, part historical narrative, part literary reading, Writing of Death focuses on the seven-year-long mass hunger strike undertaken by prisoners affiliated with outlawed Marxist-Leninist organizations in Turkey. Engaged in conversation with surviving hunger strikers, ex-political prisoners, their families, medical and forensic doctors, and enriched by textual and visual analysis of prison memoirs, diaries, correspondence, testaments, last speeches, and photographs, Writing of Death scrutinizes the political ontology of the hunger strike to draw forth the ambiguity of the right to death—an ambiguity that has been ignored by performative theories of violence—by figuring death as both radical possibility and impossibility. Accounting for the extraordinarily long duration of the prison movement (7 years) and self-starvation period before death (up to 558 days) by examining its temporal and organizational logics, Writing of Death reveals the inescapable anachrony between two deaths—the passage of time that separates and draws together death as possibility from death as an anonymous event which comes either too early or late—as the site of radical alterity. It is therefore concerned with the rift between death and political space borne by the death faster whose unnamable body carries elsewhere, transforms, in a word, translates “All” that is not included within politico-juridical sovereignty. Displacing the critical gaze from political space to the space of dying, from the symbolics of martyrdom to the survivors afflicted with amnesia, Writing of Death accentuates the dissolution of the political subject to make a discreet gesture towards an ante-theological as well as an anti-theological concept of the political.

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