I am interested in the history of technology, particularly those histories at the intersection of visual culture and work. In Seeing Underground: Maps, Models, and Mining Engineering in America (2014), I examined the development and use of visual tools such as underground maps, photographs, and 3-D models by American mining engineers in the late 19th and early 20th century. These visual tools helped mining engineers exercise their authority over work, and together with new technologies, enabled them to shape and reshape mining labor and the mining landscape. I am also keenly interested in public history (especially the histories of institutions such as parks and museums), and digital history (particularly text mining, distant reading, and population microdata). Prior to joining Arizona State, I was assistant and associate professor of history at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York (2007-2015).
My primary research focuses on African American expression in the context of slavery and its aftermath. I have secondary interests in legal history, cultural theory, and popular music. My first book, Disturbing the Peace: Black Culture and the Police Power after Slavery, a study of black vernacular expression and its entanglement with the law, was published by Harvard University Press in 2009. I’m currently working on two books: Fables of Moral Economy, a close analysis of African-derived global traditions engaged with problems of property and subsistence, and Fugitives, Contrabands, Spies, Servants & Laborers, an experiment in historiography that imagines the new social history of slavery from the standpoint of its source materials.
Bess Williamson is a historian of design and material culture, focusing primarily on works and influences of the last half-century. She received her PhD in American History from the University of Delaware, and holds a Masters in the History of Design and Decorative Arts from Parsons The New School for Design/Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. She is particularly interested in social and political concerns in design, including environmental, labor, justice, and rights issues as they shape and are shaped by spaces and things. Her current book project, Designing an Accessible America, traces the history of design responses to disability rights from 1945 to recent times. Her writing has appeared in Winterthur Portfolio and American Studies, with reviews in Design and Culture and Design Issues. At SAIC, Williamson teaches a range of design history courses, from introductory surveys of modern design history to graduate seminars on issues in design, politics, and technology. She is the coordinator of design history offerings in SAIC’s Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism.
Heidi Dodson is a postdoctoral fellow in the Humanities in the World initiative at the Penn State Humanities Institute. She is a historian who specialized in twentieth-century African American history. Her research interests include community building, social movements, race and landscape, public and digital history, and environmental history. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has an MLIS from the University of Texas at Austin. Heidi is currently working on a book manuscript based on her dissertation, titled “We Cleared the Land with Our Hands”: Claiming Black Community Space in the Missouri Delta. Her work interrogates the intersections of rural migration, activism, and place in the Border South. Heidi most recently held positions as the CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Scholarship at the University at Buffalo (2018-2019) and Oral History Scholar-in-Residence at the Marian Cheek Jackson Center in Chapel Hill, NC (2017-2018).
Nesrine Chahine (PhD, University of Pennsylvania) specializes in modern Arabic literature in its global relations to European and non-Western cultural histories. Her book project, Marketplaces of the Modern, examines representations of Egypt as a marketplace in texts by twentieth-century Egyptian and Anglophone authors, arguing that unresolved narrative tensions over the commodification of laboring bodies, cultural artifacts, and raw goods reflect the troubled history of metropolitan influence in twentieth-century Egypt. The project engages debates on transnationalism and globalization by emphasizing the necessity of recuperating the material dimensions of culture. Her translation of selections from Ahmad Shawqi’s Death of Cleopatra has appeared in the Norton Critical Edition of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, and she is currently in negotiations with the American University of Beirut Press for the publication of a trilingual volume in an anthology series on Lotus, the journal of the Afro-Asian Writer’s Union.
Author of historical novel series, FIRE ON THE STEPPE set in Russia and the United States. Book 1: 1904-1916 takes the reader into the Russo-Japanese war, American labor unrest, WWI and the prelude to the October Revolution with spellbinding narrative that captures the tide of global events–all the drama, romance, heroism and tragedy–as it immerses us in the lives of four families; American, French-Canadian, Polish and Russian, whose lives are unknowlingly, but inextricably tied together and drawn into the center of history’s maelstrom. Book 2: 1917-1918 continues through the first contact between the U.S. government and Russia’s new Bolshevik leaders, the Allied invasion of North and Pacific Russia as WWI ends. Book 3: 1919-1930 is due out in July 2020.
Material histories of religion, emphasizing the work of people in and on the world, stemming from American history and culture through the networks of resource extraction to oceanic spaces and the dark of coal mines. Comparative studies of religion and globalization embedded in those networks, influencing and influenced by the relentless frames of capitalism and “civilization.”