2024-25: Bingham Faculty Fellows: Stories of Place

Commonwealth Center for the Humanities and Society (CCHS)

2024-25 Bingham Faculty Fellows: Stories of Place




For the Call for Applications for this theme follow this link.

Simona Bertacco, Comparative Humanities

Project - Reading the Caribbean with Dionne Brand and Kei Miller 

“Reading, it is often said, takes us places. How does reading the stories of some places change the way we read, the way we understand literature and its public function? My fellowship project centers around the work of Dionne Brand and Kei Miller who write about Caribbean places, problematizing the notions of place and space and how they have been socially constructed in the region. Their landscape poetics tests the linguistic and cultural competence of their readers and leads to the central questions of my book project: What role is built for the reader in these texts? What kind of reader is addressed: internal to the Caribbean community or external? How does the use of Creole affect our reading when it happens ‘out of’ place? Reading their poems asks work from us as readers in terms of contextualization, language, and literary references. It also forces us to enter the discussion of literature from a Caribbean, postcolonial, and decolonial location.” 

Reading List: [Forthcoming]

Ying Kat Chan, Art

Project - Geoethics: Story of Place

As an artist and a professor of art, my current research and art project are centered on Geoethics. Continuing environmental degradation, global conflict, and nuclear threats result from institutional corruption, human greed, and a lack of ethics, compassion, and goodwill.
My previous art project, “Industrial Landscape,” portrayed scenes in Louisiana of the petrol industry and pollution in the air, land, and streams. This area is known as Cancer Alley, and most residents are African Americans who cannot afford to relocate. The United Nations has declared it environmental racism.
A more recent project, “Not In My Back Yard,” depicted the atolls in the Marshall Islands that were used as nuclear test sites, resulting in environmental disasters and displacement of the native people.
As a Bingham Faculty Fellow, I will research the nuclear waste sites managed by the US Department of Energy (DOE) across the United States. The outcome of this research will be a new body of artwork that examines these sites within the context of humanity’s current crises, including environmental degradation, wars, and social injustices.
The DOE managed over a hundred nuclear waste sites known as “Legacy Management Sites.” These sites were land used for atomic energy research and production activities that began with the Manhattan Project and continued through the Cold War and beyond.
One of the sites, the Fernald Preserve in Ohio, is now a popular destination for nature lovers, bird watchers, wildlife photographers, and artists. In 1951, the DOE acquired 1,050 acres of land in Fernald to process uranium. Uranium ore was transported to the site to produce high-purity uranium used in nuclear reactors to manufacture plutonium for weapon construction. In 1986, the State of Ohio filed claims against the DOE for contamination and natural resource damage, leading to the end of uranium production. Mitigation and restoration for the site were proposed and implemented in 2008; the Fernald.
Preserve was opened to the public. Visitors can now enjoy the newly established forest, grassland, and wetland. Does Fernald Preserve serve as an example of restorative justice?
Our world is suffering from problems entrenched in the history of colonialism, environmental degradation, social inequality, racial injustices, and warfare. Is it possible for us to narrate the stories of places affected by these issues and strive towards justice, reconciliation, and hope?

Reading List: 

Aaron Comstock, Anthropology

Project - Study of a site that was occupied by Indigenous inhabitants of Midwest North America between 1500 and 500 years ago and was an early American land grant in the Ohio Country

“Archaeological sites are unique places that encapsulate material histories that can span centuries, reveal important patterns of socioecological emplacement, and illuminate broader historical trends. This project examines a site that was occupied by Indigenous inhabitants of Midwest North America between 1500 and 500 years ago and was an early American land grant in the Ohio Country. By examining the long history of this site, complex patterns of migration, adaptations to changing climate, and ethnogenesis are explored. Focusing on this important place also allows for examination of the early colonizing history of America and its impact on Indigenous peoples.”

Reading List: [Forthcoming]

Felicia Jamison, Comparative Humanities

Project - Property, Place, and Belonging for Enslaved Women in Lowcountry Georgia 

My project analyzes the contested places of rice plantations in Liberty County, Georgia. These were spaces on which enslavers extracted free labor from the enslaved populations. Simultaneously, enslaved African Americans used rice plantations for homemaking. The proposed project is a small part of my current monograph, Reconstructing Freedom: Black Women and Property Ownership in the Rural South. The book analyzes the methods and strategies that Black women used to accumulate property during slavery and purchase land in the post-emancipation period of the late 19th century. This fellowship provides me with ample time to write and revise this chapter. Additionally, conversing with other fellows will allow me to better theorize my project, especially in reference to thinking about the importance of space in different ways. 


Reading List:

Mark Alan Mattes, English

Project - Archival Apocrypha: The Figure of Logan in Colonial and Native American History 

“My book explores settler and Indigenous histories of a Cayuga Native American, Soyeghtowa (c. 1725-1780), more commonly known as Logan. Logan was a key figure in Dunmore’s War, an eighteenth-century conflict among Virginian colonists, Shawnee people, and Haudenosaunee migrants. My work explores how Logan’s story of murdered kin and war reverberates across the written archives and landscapes of the Ohio River Valley in ways that center Indigenous futures rather than settler narratives of noble savagery and vanishing Indians.”

Reading List:

Jasmine Whiteside, Sociology

Project – HIGHER Education: Examining Rural Stories of Place, Space, and Belonging

“My study seeks to expand the contemporary understanding of the role of one’s rural and first-generation statuses on their higher educational experiences. Specifically fitting with the theme Stories of Place, I plan to utilize detailed and reflexive student narratives to highlight the more fluid and complicated nature of rurality to illustrate the contemporary educational experiences of first-generation, rural students on college campuses.”

Reading List: