Global Studies Faculty Research Conversation-Global Studies - Carnegie Mellon University

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Global Studies Faculty Research Conversation

4:30-5:30 PM

Baker 154R

Please join three Global Studies faculty for roundtable conversation on doing research.Prof. Marian Aguiar (English), Prof. Elisabeth Kaske (Modern Languages), and Prof. Edda Fields-Black (History) will share their current research with us.  There will be time for Q&A and discussion about how to get involved with undergraduate research.

Refreshments provided.

Prof. Marian Aguiar

What is at stake in the continuities and ruptures of a set of arranged marriage discourses taken as a whole—what I will call the transnational arranged marriage discourse? I take as a premise that this set may and should be interpreted together. The articulations share, at the very basic level, the term arranged marriage. On a deeper level, the transnational arranged marriage discourse presents the displacement of (conjugal) agency from the individual; this is inherent in the passive construction “arranged.” This displacement challenges an edifice of identity and rights resting upon the ideal of the autonomous, fully vested individual agent and expressed in the deeply symbolic forum of conjugality. The argument that binds the book together is two-fold, with one part identifying a transnational subjectivity produced through this set of discourses and the second part showing a culture fashioned in relation to this subject. The transnational arranged marriage discourse is rewriting Western notions of agency based on the autonomy of the individual subject. This recalibration is happening even in multiple contexts (including South Asia) in which the practice itself has been transforming to introduce notions like “arranged love marriage” that reconcile the opposition between individualism and collectivity. A new vocabulary is needed to represent emerging transnational subjectivities, one that includes, along with words like freedom or consent, terms like “deferral,” “responsibility,” “obligation,” and “duty.” In addition to looking at the production of this new subject of consent, this book considers how a transnational South Asian culture is being constituted in multiple and contested ways through the cultural nodal point of arranged marriage. Arranged Marriage examines the dynamics of arranged marriage as a fraught nodal point between cultures, within global interrelationships, between generations, and between the sexes.

Prof. Elisabeth Kaske: The Economy of Office Selling in Nineteenth Century China.

What does a government do if it is in desperate need of revenue for its military, but cannot increase the taxes on the wealthy? One possible answer was given by the Qing government in nineteenth century China: sell them offices and titles. My research explores how the Qing used office selling to make up for revenue shortfalls during and after the large scale civil wars of the mid-1800s. Office selling helped the government to survive the wars not only by gaining crucial income, but also by making social elites buying for themselves a stake in the success of the imperial struggle for survival. However, the question remains whether putting public office up for sale held China back in its development. Did it fill the bureaucracy with corrupt and inapt officials? And did it prevent the elites from investing into more productive enterprises? Finally, did it contribute to what has been termed “the Great Divergence” between an industrializing West and China’s agrarian economy.

Prof. Edda Fields-Black: Lowcountry Creoles

Prof. Fields-Black is conducting "a transnational historical study of the Gullah/Geechee, African-Americans whose enslaved ancestors labored on indigo, rice, and Sea Island cotton plantations. The book, LOWCOUNTRY CREOLES, examines Gullah/Geechee as a Creole culture, and a product of diverse Western African and European cultural attributes, plantation labor regimes, and the geography of the Southeast Atlantic."