Research

Kimberly D. Williams

Associate Professor

Director - Center for the Humanities at Temple (CHAT)

Photo of Kimberly D.
location_city 224/225 Gladfelter Hall
1115 Polett Walk
Philadelphia PA 19111

Anthropology

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Faculty Fellows

CHAT is proud to announce the following recipients of fellowships at the Humanities Center for 2020-2021.


Rebeca L. Hey-Colón, Assistant Professor, (Department of Spanish and Portuguese, College of Liberal Arts)

Rebeca L. Hey-Colón is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Temple University. Her work establishes connections between the Caribbean diaspora, Chicanx communities, and broader Latinx Studies by analyzing the presence and valence of water.

Project Statement As a CHAT Fellow, Hey-Colón will work on her book manuscript Rippling Borders: Women Writing Water in Latina Literature. Taking the sea, our planet’s largest body of water and the one to which all rivers lead, as a point of departure, Rippling Borders brings together various established fields (Atlantic Studies, Border Studies, Caribbean Studies, and Latinx Studies) in a novel way by examining how the spaces of the Río Grande/Río Bravo on the U.S./Mexico border and the Massacre River/Dajabón River on the Haiti/Dominican Republic border are imagined and interpreted by women writers from these regions. Ultimately, Rippling Borders demonstrates how a focus on water and the feminine transcends the physical space of the border while also surfacing connections to transnational histories and epistemologies.


Kartik Nair, Assistant Professor (Department of Film and Media Arts, School of Theater, Film and Media Arts)

Kartik Nair is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Film and Media Arts at Temple University. Dr. Nair's research focuses on the production, regulation, and circulation of horror films in 1980s' India.

Project Statement During the 1980s, the Bombay film industry produced a wave of horror movies about bloodsucking witches, deadly curses, and rapacious werewolves. A few prolific producers were behind the wave: they made dozens of films on shoestring budgets by shooting quickly in Bombay’s colonial mansions, working with casts of relatively unknown actors and crews of enthusiastic technicians. The films they made were beloved by young and working-class audiences across India; some, despite playing mostly in second-run theaters and ramshackle video parlors, were major box office hits of the decade. But the films were heavily censored by the Indian government and derided by critics, perceived to be threatening Hindi cinema’s precarious hold on cultural respectability. As the industry transformed into its celebrated contemporary avatar—Bollywood, a global culture industry known for lavish melodramas—the horror wave dissipated, and the films were soon forgotten. This research project brings Bombay’s horror films back into view. By returning to these once-popular, now little-seen films, as well as the aesthetic, legal, and political scandals they caused, the project opposes the widespread gentrification of Indian popular cinema’s history as that of spot-lit stars, elite studios and song-and-dance spectaculars. Instead, I demonstrate what a history of Indian cinema could look like from below by focusing on a subculture of low-budget horror films and revealing the infrastructures of film production, regulation, and exhibition from which they emerged.


Emily Neumeier, Assistant Professor (Department of Art History, Tyler School of Art and Architecture)

Emily Neumeier is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History at Temple University. Her research focuses on the art of the Islamic world, with a specialization in the visual culture and built environment of the eastern Mediterranean.

Project Statement One of the most defining characteristics of Istanbul’s urban landscape are the Ottoman mosque complexes that punctuate its iconic skyline. While these buildings were initially constructed in the 16th century, a period that many consider to be the zenith of Ottoman architecture, it is crucial to remember that all of these monuments have been subject to several campaigns of renovation, preservation, and in some cases, complete demolition and reconstruction. My research seeks to uncover the long lives of these monuments, with a particular focus on different moments of architectural restoration.  This project critically examines modern receptions of the past, and, more specifically, how art historical constructions of time—i.e. canonical periods of art and architecture—inform preservation practices. As can be seen in the fierce public debates over how to deal with the destruction of architectural monuments, most recently seen in the case of Notre-Dame cathedral, questions about heritage preservation remain more relevant than ever. I maintain that this kind of long-range view can help us to appreciate the remarkable fluidity of architectural spaces in their capacity as bearers of cultural meaning, from the age of empire to the modern nation-state.


Jess Marie Newman, Assistant Professor (Department of Anthropology, College of Liberal Arts)

Jess is a feminist medical anthropologist of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Jess’s work combines anthropological studies of bureaucracy and the state with critical medical anthropology, social movement research, and “post”-colonial feminist and queer theory.

Project Statement As a CHAT Fellow, I will be finishing my book, which focuses on abortion and single motherhood in the Morocco. The manuscript takes the sentimental politics of “back alley” abortion and the abject-ified single mother as a starting point for untangling why abortion and extramarital sex are such contentious issues. While the sentimental politics of abortion require suffering and dying bodies, single mother advocates emphasize girls who fall victim to sexual assault, incest, and other forms of abuse. Sentimental politics play into Islamophobic imaginaries of despotic misogyny in the MENA. Sentimental politics thus fold easily into neoliberal empowerment projects featuring the well-worn equation: educate, empower, employ, repeat. As a multi-scalar study, Dangerous Sex speaks to the struggles and desires of actors from different social locations. The book centers vulnerable women’s experiences, their daily frustrations and aspirations, even as it follows doctors unsure of how to care for patients, NGO employees restricted by admissions criteria, and activists frustrated by the limits of acceptable speech.


Mark Pollack, Professor of Political Science and Law and Jean Monnet Chair (Department of Political Science, College of Liberal Arts)

Mark Pollack is Professor of Political Science and Law and Jean Monnet Chair at Temple University, where he researches and teaches about international law, international institutions, and global governance.

Project Statement International courts emerged in the post-Cold War era as key actors in world affairs, with 24 working international courts adopting more than 37,000 judgments. More recently, these same courts have become the subjects of backlash from governments and populist movements around the world. Both political science and legal scholars have studied the behavior and the rulings of international courts, yet these studies tell us little about the lived experience of international justice, including the day-to-day practices of courtroom hearings, deliberation, and drafting of judgments, all of which take place behind the “purple curtain” of judicial secrecy. Seeing past this curtain requires scholars to look to the disciplines of anthropology and sociology, and to the interpretive method of and ethnographic interviewing. Building on four years of interviewing judges at four international courts with my Temple Law colleague Jeffrey Dunoff, I will spend my year at CHAT recreating four “cultures” of deliberation and dissent at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the World Trade Organization’s Appellate Body (AB).


Advanced Graduate Fellows

We are pleased to welcome our new advanced graduate fellows in CHAT for the 2020-21 year!


Lee Tae Cobb, PhD Candidate (Klein College of Media and Communication)

Lee Tae is a PhD candidate in Klein College of Media and Communication. Lee’s research observes the role of news media in social justice movements.

Project Statement This research observes the current Sanctuary Movement in the United States and how discourses of belonging and citizenship manifest in the media coverage of the movement. Since the 2016 inauguration of President Donald Trump, immigration executive orders have barred much of the population that the movement is attempting to keep safe. Therefore, observing the Sanctuary Movement during the most recent 2016 inauguration of the U.S president generates new data to analyze. This research combines both the theoretical framework of postcolonialism and coloniality, and a close critical discourse analysis of movement coverage. This research focuses in on how non-profit media, municipal media, and news media in three U.S. cities (Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and San Francisco) add to popular perception of the Sanctuary Movement. Through a deep critical discourse analysis into this media, I hope to reveal how discourses around citizenship and belonging manifest in the greater U.S. society.


Meryl F. Lumba, PhD candidate (Department of Philosophy, College of Liberal Arts)

Meryl F. Lumba is a PhD candidate in the Department of Philosophy at Temple University. Her research focuses on nineteenth-century German philosophy, aesthetics, and social and political philosophy (feminist theory and decolonial thought). She holds graduate certificates in Gender, Sexuality, & Women’s Studies (GSWS) and Teaching in Higher Education and received the CLA Teaching Award for graduate student instructors.

Project Statement My dissertation focuses on the role of comedy in G.W.F. Hegel’s aesthetics and suggests that it importantly highlights the themes of embodiment, historicity, and sociality. Unlike its counterpart in tragedy, comedy has often been overlooked by philosophers and aestheticians alike. This is due, in part, to its being perceived as a “lower” form of art. Comedy typically represents a wide spectrum of characters on stage: women and children, cultural diversity, and a variety of groups and classes. In Hegel’s view, though, comedy represents the very culmination of progressive art history and art itself “ends” in the modern period—it no longer provides a satisfactory expression of ourselves and our freedom. Interestingly, it is with comedy that art reaches its “end” as the most relevant form of human expression and self-understanding. In this context, I illustrate how Hegel’s treatment of comedy, at its best, returns us to the understanding that we are socially-embodied beings. My project demonstrates that comedy is an artistic expression that reminds us that our positionality impacts not only the way we move through the world, but also how we find a sense of belonging in it.


Minjung Noh, PhD Candidate (Department of Religion, College of Liberal Arts)

Minjung Noh is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Religion at Temple University. Her interdisciplinary research concerns transnational Korean evangelical Christianity and its gendered missions between North America and South Korea.

Project Statement As a CHAT Graduate Student Fellow, Noh will finish her dissertation tentatively titled, “Salvation, Salvage, and the Fashioning of Care in the Haitian Religious Field: A Study of Korean American Protestant Women Missionaries in Haiti.” Noh explores transnational Christianity in Haiti as manifest in the recent influx of Korean and Korean American Protestant missionaries in the Caribbean nation. She focuses on Korean American Protestant women missionaries and their practice of various forms of care while placing them in the historical context of Protestant Christianity in Haiti, South Korea, and the United States. Referring to the sociological theories of Pierre Bourdieu, Noh pays particular attention to the way in which these women derive gendered and religious capital from their care labor and how they mobilize this capital in Haiti’s highly competitive religious field, which has long featured struggles between the Roman Catholic hierarchy, evangelicals, and Vodouists.


Scott Thompson, PhD Candidate (Department of English, College of Liberal Arts)

Scott C. Thompson is a doctoral candidate in the English Department at Temple University. His research brings together nineteenth-century literature, popular science, periodicals, and novel theory.

Project Statement As a CHAT fellow, I will be working on my dissertation, which examines the relationship between the serialized sensation novel and the circulating discourses of popular psychology in mid-Victorian periodicals. My project traces both the influence of popular psychology on the sensation novel, paying particular attention to the ways it shaped character development and literary form, and the way the sensation novel mediated between the psychologists and the public by dramatizing the contemporary psychological theories in social contexts. Ultimately, my project’s goal is to re-contextualize the Victorian serialized novel by reading it back into its original periodical publication format. In doing so, I uncover an intertextual and interdisciplinary network of discourses that run across mid-Victorian periodicals, informing both the fiction and the non-fiction articles appearing side-by-side within their pages.


Interdisciplinary Research Groups

Diversity and Inclusion of Caring Professionals in the Arts
Organized by: Elizabeth Cassidy Parker (Music Education Program, Boyer College of Music and Dance), Cheryl Hyde (School of Social Work, College of Public Health), Lisa Kay (Department of Art Education and Community Arts Practices, Tyler School of Art), Greg McKinney (Librarian, Reference and Instructional Services), Wendy Magee (Music Therapy Program, Boyer College of Music and Dance), & Helen Shoemark (Music Therapy Program, Boyer College of Music and Dance).

Pre-Modern Forum Research Group
Organized by: Montserrat Piera (Department of Spanish & Portuguese, College of Liberal Arts), Rita Krueger (Department of History, College of Liberal Arts), & Tracy Cooper (Department of Art History, Tyler School of Art)

Interdisciplinary Disability Studies Group
Organized by: Celia Feinstein (Institute for Disabilities, College of Education), Deb Blair (College of Sports, Tourism, and Hospitality Management), & Kate Fialkowski (College of Education)

P19: Interdisciplinary Workshop on Nineteenth-Century Culture
Organized by: Talissa Ford (Department of English, College of Liberal Arts) & Erin Pauwels (Department of Art History, Tyler School of Art)

Interdisciplinary Science Studies Group
Organized by: Allison Hayes-Conroy (Department of Environmental Studies & Department of Geography and Urban Studies, College of Liberal Arts) & Tom Waidzunas (Department of Sociology, College of Liberal Arts)