Professor — Ph.D., University of Washington, WA
Feminist political and economic geographies; feminist methodologies; Africa and the African diaspora
I am a feminist political and cultural geographer working on gender and nationalism. In particular my research has focused on the US-based South Sudanese diaspora and the contemporary processes of gendered development and nation-building that have emerged since the signing of the 2005 Sudanese Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Through a feminist and critical race lens, I examine how the nation is bounded, reproduced and contested in the politics and performances of gendered bodies. This has included research on a South Sudanese diasporic beauty pageant, South Sudanese-American male musical performance, shifting gender norms following resettlement, diasporic new medias, and the emergence of transnational South Sudanese feminisms in the post-conflict era. My work on this activism is ongoing, with a focus on the possibilities for and problems of feminist nationalist development in the newly independent South Sudan.
Currently I am working on a new project following the commodity chain of synthetic and human hair production, distribution and consumption in East Africa. I am tracing the flow of hair weaves and related beauty products from Dubai to the markets of Kampala and Nairobi and onto the emerging markets in the newly independent republic. Through the lens of the beauty salon I am exploring the political-economy of business development, the tensions around and opportunities for new migrants, and the shifting notions of fashion and beauty in the new nation. In particular, I’m interested in the contradictory ways in which the foreign, the modern and the cosmopolitan are both celebrated and worried over in the contemporary nationalist moment.
In the coming year I will be teaching "Geographies of Globalization" and "International Development in Africa" at the undergraduate level, and a graduate seminar on Feminist Geographies. I am particularly well positioned to advise students with an interest in feminist and postcolonial theory, ethnographic methods, and critical visual and textual discourse analysis.
I will be working with UT Austin undergraduate Dominica Whitesell over the next two-three semesters as we explore the beauty, hair and fashion trade between Uganda, East Africa and Dubai, UAE. More about Dominica here.
Dominica has already begun to study the history and flows of synthetic and human hair in her commodity chain analysis of wigs. You can check out her research website, with updated blogs on her work, here.
Between January 2015 and 2016, we will be conducting research from Austin and Uganda on the trade, analyzing interview data, visual images from 20 years of advertisements and fashion magazines and, all being well, writing an academic paper on our work together.
Congrats to Dominica for successfully receiving numberous fellowships and grants to support her research in Uganda. These include: an undergraduate research fellowship Grant, a COLA undergraduate research Scholarship, a COLA merit scholarship, a Liberal Arts Honors Award and most recently a grant from the Humanities Institute! Congratulations Dominica!
[And if you are an undergrad interested in independent research but worried about funding it, please contact Dominica for tips and information. I can put you in touch]
GRG 350K • Geographies Of Globalization
36465 • Fall 2015
Meets MWF 1200pm-100pm CLA 0.128
Examines the cultural, economic, political and geopolitical aspects of globalization in the U.S. and the rest of the world. We begin by understanding the rise of capitalism and its evolution into a modern world system and then look into its contemporary reincarnation as globalization. We examine theories and policies of globalization and look into specific issues like, outsourcing of jobs, sweat shops, spread of Wal-Mart, rising income inequality in the US and abroad, conflict and war.
Course will be taught by Dr. Caroline Faria
GRG 356T • Gender And Geography
36490 • Fall 2015
Meets MWF 200pm-300pm CLA 1.108
(also listed as WGS 340)
Prerequisite: Varies with the topic and is given in the Course Schedule.
May be counted toward the global cultures flag requirement.
Course number may be repeated for credit when the topics vary.
GRG 356T • Intl Development In Africa
36710 • Spring 2015
Meets TTH 500pm-630pm CLA 1.108
(also listed as AFR 372F)
How are popular representations of Africa reflected in development policy?
What are the historical and globalized roots of ‘underdevelopment’ in Africa?
What were the outcomes of big dam and fishing projects in Ghana and Tanzania?
Is global warming the cause of the conflict in Darfur, Sudan?
What are the ethics around diamond mining in Sierra Leone and oil drilling in Nigeria?
How have women combined feminist and environmentalist efforts in Kenya?
How has the ‘War on Terror’ reshaped African geopolitics?
How are African innovators rethinking development on their continent?
Welcome to 356T: Geographies of International Development in Africa! This course critically examines the major approaches to development on the African continent with a focus on a range of African resources. We will review how these approaches are connected to and underpinned by historically persistent representations, policies and political inequalities and the ways in which they have changed over time. Using a case study approach we will consider one major resource each week, from water to wildlife, forests to farms, airways to rangelands, and including a consideration of African bodies themselves as resources and sites of development. Through these examples we will explore, discuss and debate the ideological foundations of varied development approaches and their political, social and economic outcomes for African people and places. In doing so we will also examine the ways in which African people and places are linked to broader international process. Finally we will pay attention each week to the ways in which dominant development practices have been taken up, resisted and reworked by Africans in varied ways.
At the end of the course students will be able to:
- To critically examine changing ideas of development in Africa in the context of a range of resources
- To historicize the construction of varied contemporary environments in Africa and related ecological and development issues
- To examine the links between representations of Africa and African bodies and historical and contemporary forms of extraction, exploitation, and development
- To consider the ecological, social and political outcomes of oil and mineral resource extraction, water, forest and rangeland management projects, conservation efforts and agricultural development in Africa
- To explore how ecological challenges are being addressed across a range of scales; from the global to the local
By the end of the course students will be able to:
- Describe and critique the dominant approaches to development in Africa
- Connect key problems around ecology and development in Africa to histories, ideologies, policies, and resistances within and beyond the continent
- Participate in key debates about the role of the environment in African ‘development’ and ‘underdevelopment’
- Critically evaluate geographical arguments presented in a range of media (visual, oral and textual) through the use of writing exercises.
- Learn, understand and communicate key geographical concepts by writing for a range of audiences, including peers, the geographical scholarly community, and the public.
- Practice writing in a range of formats: abstracts, thesis statements and full research papers written for a geographical academic audience, write-to-learn reflective pieces, short films/presentations.
- Collect, critically evaluate and utilize geographical academic research in order to make a strong argument/ answer a carefully crafted research question.
- Strengthen skills of peer-review in a variety of forms
Global Cultures Course Flag:
This course carries the Global Cultures flag. Global Cultures courses are designed to increase your familiarity with cultural groups outside the United States. You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from assignments covering the practices, beliefs, and histories of at least one non-U.S. cultural group, past or present.
GRG 396T • Feminist Geographies
36820 • Spring 2015
Meets TH 1200pm-300pm CLA 3.710
(also listed as WGS 393)
How is space and place gendered?
How do markers of race, class and gender intersect in our bodies and lives?
How are war, work, nature and nationalism shaped by norms of masculinity and femininity?
How do patriarchy, capitalism, and racism structure our social world?
What can a feminist ethic bring to research methodology?
How has feminist theory troubled and reworked the discipline of Geography?
In the last four decades Feminist thought has significantly transformed the discipline of geography and our broader understanding of space and place. In this class we will review key feminist geography writings produced over this time and the key shifts in feminist geographic thought. In particular, we will focus on transformations in work on knowledge and knowledge production; economic processes including labor, reproductive and productive work, migration, development and globalization; and political processes such as those of colonialism and nationalism, geopolitics and transnationalism. In doing so we will draw on and explore a range of strands of feminist theory including; Marxist, postcolonial, post structural, intersectional and transnational feminisms.
GRG 350K • Geographies Of Globalization
37595 • Fall 2014
Meets MWF 1200pm-100pm CLA 0.128
What is globalization and what can Levis, Lux soap and lipstick tell us about it?
What are the colonial roots of our contemporary global economic order?
What happens when labor, land and love are your nation’s comparative advantage?
How did HIV/AIDS and H1N1 become global epidemics? Is Ebola next?
Where does your old cell phone end up when you throw it away?
Do patents promote or prevent access to medicines?
Can TOMS really save the world?
Welcome to GEO 350K: Geographies of Globalization! Globalization is one of the defining phenomena of our time. While some argue that it has produced a flat and borderless world, others have pushed instead for grounded understandings that attend to the entanglements of global trade with a host of socio-cultural, economic and political processes. These are all power-laden, shaped by historically produced and entrenched inequities of gender, race, and class. This course examines these kinds of geographies of globalization, taking a “global intimate” perspective that connects the macro geopolitical, geoeconomic, and historical to the contemporary and everyday realities of those living with, negotiating, resisting and driving globalization.