Spring 2000 Colloquium Series

Colloquium Series

In Spring 2000, the Center for Cultural Studies will continue to host a Wednesday colloquium series, which features current cultural studies work by campus faculty and visitors. The sessions are informal, normally consisting of a 30-40 minute presentation followed by discussion. We gather at noon, with presentations beginning at 12:15. Participants are encouraged to bring their own lunches; the Center will provide coffee and tea.


Jonathan Hunt
(English, Santa Clara University)
The Ominous Bicycle

Ulla Haselstein
(American Literature, University of Munich)
‘To give one’s self’: The ethics of the gift in Harriet Jacobs’Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Shu-mei Shih
(Comparative Literature, East Asian Languages and Cultures, and Asian American Studies, UCLA)
The End of Nostalgia and the Problem of National Allegory

David Anthony
(History, UC Santa Cruz)
African Americans and South Africans: Narratives of A Jouney

Pheng Cheah
(Rhetoric, UC Berkeley)
Chinese Cosmopolitanism in Two Senses and Postcolonial National Memory

Hugh Raffles
(Anthropology, UC Santa Cruz)
The Dreamlife of Ecology

Melissa Orlie
(Political Science, Criticism & Interpretive Theory, and Women’s Studies, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)
Political Capitalism, the Desire for Freedom,and the Consumption of Politics



Jonathan Hunt is Lecturer in the Department of English at Santa Clara University and an associate editor of College English. His dissertation, Naturalist Democracy (UC Santa Cruz Department of Literature, 1996) examines 19th-century French and U.S. literary naturalism’s participation in and resistance to the political and cultural project of producing the democratic citizen. He writes, “This talk, which might be considered an exercise in critical bicycle historiography, is part of a new project on obsolescence and nostalgia, and has its roots in literary naturalism’s anxious fixation on the mechanical technologies of the steam age. These technologies, particularly the railroad, both demonstrated the racial and cultural superiority of the economic core and ominously figured the eclipse of the human subject in a relentless determinism. The bicycle, widely popularized in the 1880s and 1890s, is a uniquely human-powered product of the industrial era, and thus becomes the site of a particular set of cybernetic anxieties. This project examines the wobbly path of these anxieties through the bicycle’s twentieth-century trajectory of obsolescence.” 

Ulla Haselstein is Professor of American Literature at the University of Munich, where she directs the graduate program in gender studies and the America Institute. She is the author of the 1991 book Entziffernde Hermeneutik: Studien zum Begriff der Lekture in der psychoanalytischen Theorie des Unbewubten (Deciphering Hermeneutics: Studies in the Concept of Reading in Psychoanalytic Theories of the Unconscious) and the forthcoming Die Gabe der Zivilisation: Interkultureller Austausch und literarische Textpraxis in Amerika, 1661-1861 (The Gift of Civilization: Intercultural Exchange and Literary Textual Practice in America, 1661-1861). Her many articles range across topics such as contemporary U.S. fiction, Derridean theory, psychoanalysis, and feminist literary theory. Her talk concerns the circulations of the female body as gift in the economics of slavery, of love and of textuality. 

Shu-mei Shih is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature, East Asian Languages and Cultures, and Asian American Studies at UCLA. Her book, The Lure of the Modern: Writing Modernism in Semicolonial China, 1917-1937, is forthcoming from the University of California Press this year. Shih’s current project is entitled “Visuality and Identity: Cultural Transactions Across the Chinese Pacific.” Her research interests include Chinese literary modernism in local/global circulation, the politics of transnationality in art and cinema from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Asian America, and third world feminisms. Her talk looks at post- 1997 Hong Kong cinema and art as ironic commentaries on the nostalgic search for cultural identity and the national allegory paradigm of third world cultural production.

David Anthony is Associate Professor of History at UCSC and Provost of Oakes College. His research interests encompass the history of Africa and the African diaspora. He has written on the urban history of Dares Salaam, and is currently at work on Pan African Enigma: The Life and Times of Max Yergan, 1892-1975, which explores the life of an activist whose venues spanned South Africa and the United States, and whose politics ranged from communism to extreme conservatism. Because it will be the first full-length published biography on this controversial subject, the Yergan work has spawned ancillary discoveries which may help point the way to new vistas in research on Africa’s diaspora. In his colloquium talk, Anthony will discuss his ongoing research with Professor Robert Edgar, a historian at Howard University, chronicling the relationship between African Americans and South Africans from the late eighteenth century, when African American sailors began venturing to South Africa, to 1965. Anthony and Edgar are preparing a multivolume collage of primary documents, including diaries, private papers, travelers’ accounts, autobiographies, speeches, songs and hymns, government documents, missionary journals, magazines, newspapers, books, and interviews from the United States, Europe, and South Africa. 

Pheng Cheah is Assistant Professor of Rhetoric at UC Berkeley. He is co-editor of Cosmopolitics: Thinking and Feeling Beyond the Nation (Minnesota, 1998) and Thinking Through the Body of the Law(Allen and Unwin and New York University Press, 1996), and author of “Universal Areas: Asian Studies in a World in Motion,” Traces, Vol. 1, no. 1 (forthcoming, Fall 2000). He is currently working on a book entitled Spectral Nationality, which looks at the philosopheme of culture as freedom in modern philosophy, primarily in the work of Kant, Fichte, Hegel and Marx, and the vicissitudes of this philosopheme in decolonizing nationalism and contemporary postcoloniality. His talk, on the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia, is from a second book in progress on global financialization and the inhuman.

Hugh Raffles is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at UCSC. His research concerns questions of locality and region-making, exploring the links between some highly material “local” practices of place-making in the eastern Amazon, and the role of traveling naturalists in the generation of Euro-American imaginaries of Amazonia since the 16th century. His book On the Nature of the Amazon is forthcoming from Princeton University Press. Raffles’s colloquium talk offers a preliminary account of fieldwork among ecological researchers on the devastated mahogany “frontier” of southeastern Amazonia. He writes, “My concern is to detail the simultaneously historical, intertextual, intersubjective, and political-economic exigencies through which this particular scientific work materializes Amazonia in discourse and in place. Scientists working in the midst of such knotted social relations display sophisticated understandings of both constraints and opportunities as they struggle to salvage dreams of conservation from the excess of transregional realpolitik.”

Melissa Orlie is Associate Professor of Political Science, Criticism & Interpretive Theory, and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her research explores sources of normativity and ethical motivation from a perspective that is political rather than epistemological, driven by issues of meaning and inspiration rather than justification and prescription. She is the author of Living Ethically, Acting Politically (Cornell, 1997). Her current work focuses upon the evaluative aspirations and distinctions ineluctably at work in our everyday conduct, what she describes as our capacity to imagine and accept responsibility for something beyond what we already know or have achieved. She is currently at work on a book entitled Suffering Humanity: Aspiration and Joy after Nietzsche & Freud. Her colloquium talk uses Michel Foucault’s analytic of ethics to reconsider commodity consumption as the dominant practice of the self in the regime of political capitalism.