2019-20 Faculty Fellows: Belonging, Exile, and Place

Hilaria Cruz, Comparative Humanities

Project: "The Chatino Trail of the Dead."

I am an Assistant Professor in the department of Comparative Humanities. I received my Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Texas, Austin. My research into the Chatinos’ Trail of the Dead is part of a larger project that investigates the Chatinos conception of the dead.
The Chatino concept of death is consistent with the tripartite notion of rites of passage presented by Van Gennep. In his formulation, Gennep argues that the order and content of activities associated with ceremonies of rites of passage in human cultures follow three major phases: separation, transition, and incorporation.
Separation, in Chatino culture, begins when the person takes his last breath. His spirit separates from his body, his family, friends, and community in the world of the living. With the aid of his family, the spirit begins his transition to the world of the dead by traveling on the trail of the dead. This trail encompasses a set of challenges that the dead spirit must overcome in order to enter the world of the dead.
Chatino concepts of death contribute to ongoing conversations of personhood, embodiment, poetic function, and senses of place (both on earth and in the afterlife). This project builds upon research I conducted in my home town of San Juan Quiahije, Oaxaca, Mexico, and the neighboring communities of Santiago Yaitepec, San Marcos Zacatepec, and Santa Maria Amialtepec in 2015.

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Theresa Keeley, History

Project: Suffer Little Children: Health, Harm, & U.S. Foreign Policy

I am an Assistant Professor of U.S. and the World in the History Department. Building on my background as a human rights activist and attorney, my approach to research and teaching embraces several themes: religious and political identity, transnational social movements, gender, war and protest, human rights, and the law. My first project, Reagan’s Gun-Toting Nuns: Intra-Catholic Conflict and U.S.-Central America Relations, argues that debates among Catholics in Central America and the United States over the Church’s direction shaped Ronald Reagan’s policies toward Central America in the 1980s. The manuscript is forthcoming with Cornell University Press.

My current research project examines how U.S. citizens, together with people outside the United States, highlighted U.S. bombings’ impact on children in Vietnam and Iraq. I am investigating activists’ competing sense of identity as U.S. and global citizens, the role of faith in the campaigns, activists’ use of health and children to appeal to Americans’ sense of responsibility for human rights violations, and how activists envisioned the role of the U.S. government and of Americans in the world.

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Avery Kolers, Philosophy

Project: "What's so bad about displacement?"

I am a Professor of Philosophy, and I also teach in the MA program in Health Care Ethics. I co-founded the program in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, and have recently joined the Kentucky Climate Consortium. I've published two books -- Land, Conflict, and Justice: A Political Theory of Territory (Cambridge 2009), and A Moral Theory of Solidarity (Oxford 2016) -- as well as articles in applied ethics, environmental justice, and political philosophy. In addition to this CCHS fellowship, I'm a Co-PI on a project called Reading Kanafani in Kentucky, funded by the Cooperative Consortium for Transdisciplinary Social Justice Research (CCTSJR), focused on the meaning of home and the harms of displacement.

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Chris Reitz, Critical and Curatorial Studies

Project: Martin Kippenberger: Everything is Everywhere

Chris Reitz is Assistant Professor of Critical and Curatorial Studies and Gallery Director at the Hite Art Institute. His research focuses on transnational practices in art and exhibitions of the past 30 years, with a particular emphasis on art and the art market in the era of neoliberalism. Professor Reitz received his PhD from Princeton University, and has worked as a project manager at Public Art Fund in New York and as an independent curator. His most recent writing has appeared (or is forthcoming) in October, Texte zur Kunst, N+1, The White Review, Paper Monument, The Baffler, The Journal of Contemporary Painting, and Martin Kippenberger’s Catalogue Raisonne of the Paintings. His first book project, currently underway, offers an analysis of Martin Kippenberger’s work in the context of the emerging global art market. Professor Reitz is also an engaged member of Louisville’s arts community. He current serves as the Chair of the Commission on Public Art, is a member of the Louisville Airport’s art committee, and was appointed to the mayor’s commission tasked with making recommendations concerning Louisville’s contested monuments. For his work in service to the community he received the President’s Distinguished Faculty award in 2018.

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Ian Stansel, English

Project: The Ice Coast: A Novel

Ian Stansel is an Associate Professor of English and the Director of Creative Writing at the University of Louisville. He holds an MFA from the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop and a PhD in literature and creative writing from the University of Houston. At UofL he teaches courses in fiction writing and screenwriting.

He is the author of the novel The Last Cowboys of San Geronimo (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017) and the short story collection Everybody’s Irish (FiveChapters, 2013), a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction. His work has appeared in numerous venues such as Ploughshares, Salon, Crazyhorse, Joyland, The Cincinnati Review, Poets & Writers, and elsewhere.

As a faculty fellow at the Commonwealth Center, he will be working on a new novel set not far into the future, following a global nuclear war that decimates nearly all humanity.

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Margath Walker, Geography and Geosciences

Project: " From Spaces of Belonging to Sites of Threat: The production of insecurity on two borders."

I am an Associate Professor of Geography. Much of my research has focused on Mexico’s borders with the United States and Guatemala, where I explore how macro-level policies and processes are interpreted at the local scale. In addition to the political and socio-cultural aspects of borders, I am interested in critical social theory and the uneven geographies of knowledge production. I am currently working on a book manuscript entitled: Spatializing Marcuse: Critical theory for Contemporary Times.

As a Faculty Fellow, my project will investigate how top-down geopolitical regimes of securitization enacted along Mexico’s two borders reconfigure and transform political boundaries from spaces of belonging and interconnectivity into sites of threat. The goal of the research is three-fold: 1) to distill the meaning and impact of “security” across two borders; 2) to elucidate the possibilities and challenges of migrants as agents of social change in the age of fortification; and 3) to ground the myriad productivities of the border industrial complex within comparative context.

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