CDMS 2006-2007 Fellows



Elizabeth M. Delacruz
Associate Professor
Art and Design and Gender and Women's Studies Program

Civic Friendship and Expressions of Local Culture in a Former Military Town in East Central Illinois

This study concerns community life in Rantoul Illinois, giving attention to village governance, education, community participation, cultural expressions, civic friendships, and public work among Rantoul’s ethnically diverse residents. Research questions are posed toward civic relationships and democratic/public policy issues. Study outcomes will include a cultural history of Rantoul leading up to and since the 1993 closure of Chanute Air Force Base; a critical analysis of facets of civic life; brief biographies of Rantoul ’s diverse residents; a photographic documentary; and a digital video recorded oral histories. Findings will also be organized into an interactive electronic archive, and available to community members and scholars.


Travis L. Dixon
Assistant Professor
Speech Communication

Understanding News Coverage of Hurricane Katrina: The Impact of News Frames and Stereotypical News Coverage on Viewer’s Conceptions of Race and Victimization

Previous studies have indicated that the news often misinterprets crime as a prominent occurrence and the people of color as the typical perpetrators who commit the crimes. The news coverage surrounding Hurricane Katrina suggests that people of color may not only be overrepresented as criminals in a numeric sense, but that the news may frame even innocent African American’s as morally deficient. News frames may also play part in shifting blame from responsible authorities to those who are relatively powerless to intervene in a crisis. Each of these possibilities is explored in the proposed research. The first goal of the current project is to assess whether network television news’ coverage framed African Americans in New Orleans as deficient people who were largely to blame for their own plight in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The second goal of this project is to investigate the effects of such coverage on viewers’ stereotypes and empathy towards Katrina survivors.


Laura Lawson
Assistant Professor
Landscape Architecture

Democracy in Place/Place-Making in Action: Re-Visioning the Neighborhood Public Landscape in Urban Communities

The parks and streets that make up the public landscape reveal ongoing negotiations of representation and public resource acquisition in a multicultural democracy. Their design, programming, and maintenance evolve in light of changing social ideals and community socio-economic and racial composition. In low-income urban communities, these often-distressed public spaces are being re-envisioned as resources to address concerns about the environment, health, safety, services, and identity. Through case studies in East St. Louis and Chicago, this research documents new visions for the public landscape as revealed through community activism engaged in design, programming, and implementation strategies.


Cameron McCarthy
Institute of Communications Research, Curriculum and Instruction, and Educational Policy Studies

Globalizing Cultural Studies: Ethnographic Interventions in Theory, Method, & Policy

 This project takes as its topic of research focus the status of the “the global” within Cultural Studies, particularly in relation to the intersections of language, power, and identity in 21 st century, post-9/11 culture(s). Designed as an interdisciplinary, cross-campus collaboration with senior graduate students, the project seeks to think through the interiority of globalization—its meaningfulness at the level of marginal selves and marginal experiences produced in the minoritized dimensions of global exchanges and global forces. Combining micrological and macrological perspectives, this project offers new autobiographical, ethnographic, textual, postcolonial, poststructural, and political economic approaches to the practice of cultural studies. It will culminate with the publication of an edited volume under the same name in 2007.



Matthew J. Gambino
Medical Scholars Program and History

Mental Health and Ideals of Citizenship: Patient Care at St.ElizabethsHospital (Washington, D.C.) in the Twentieth Century

The focus of my dissertation is a single psychiatric institution – St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C. I argue that American psychiatry’s cultural project in the modern era has been the reconstitution of mentally distressed men and women for proper citizenship, and that the implementation of this project has been shaped by deeply-held assumptions about differences across lines of race, ethnicity, and gender. By examining the definitions of disability, improvement, and recovery employed by physicians at St. Elizabeths, I hope to challenge universalist conceptions of mental health and illness, and to place these notions in the context of contemporary debates about the dynamics of inclusion in the common culture.

Erin Murphy

Resisting Violence in the Age of Empire: Anti-Imperialism and the Philippine-American War

This dissertation studies resistance to imperialist violence in the United States during the Philippine-American War (1899-1902). Exploring the Anti-Imperialist Leagues—the undisputed vanguard of the movement against the Philippine-American War and the subsequent occupation—this project examines the role gender, race, and class played in the organization of a highly contentious political coalition. This research investigates the role of women in the anti-imperialist movement, ignored in previous historical research, and how resistance to violence galvanized a broad opposition movement. This will be examined through analysis of both discourses and practices for the way violence was resisted.


Rachel Leibowitz
Landscape Architecture

Constructing the Navajo Capital: Landscape, Power, and Representation at Window Rock

This dissertation in landscape history examines the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ creation of the Navajo capital at Window Rock, Arizona, during the New Deal, providing a spatial analysis of the complex issues of racial discrimination, environmental justice, colonial occupation, and indigenous sovereignty in the Navajos’ homeland. Using archival documents, visual and material culture, and interviews with former and current residents, this project follows the history of the town from 1934 – when it was established to centralize federal authority on the reservation – to the present, as the people of the Navajo Nation work to decolonize their capital city and remake it on their own terms.


Michael K. Rosenow

Worked to Death: The Rituals of Dying and the Politics of Death Among Workers, 1877-1924

From 1877 to 1924 tens of thousands of workers died on the job. The violence of industrial death forced working communities to reassess their worth in the multiracial society of the industrial era. Variables of race, gender, nationality, religion, and skill all factored into the calculus of ritual in remembering the dead. By focusing on rituals of death and dying, this dissertation shows how nativism, racism, and economic exploitation eroded free labor ideals and forced working communities to rearticulate beliefs and reorganize social relationships–a process that fueled reform movements of the period.


Aisha L. Sobh

Identity and (Be)-longing: Muslim participation in American Society: 1965-2001

This project examines how Muslim immigrants during the last third of the twentieth century sought integration within American society, while establishing mosques and Islamic schools, as well as numerous institutions from anti-defamation groups to political action committees. Muslim American communities have developed out a melding of diverse populations in an American context with strong transnational influences. I interrogate how families and the mosque in one community have changed their religious interpretation and practice, and attitudes about the desirability of an American identity, family and gender roles, and participation in civil society over three decades.


Sujey Vega

Significant spaces: Mexican Immigrant Settlement and Non-Immigrant Perceptions in Greater Lafayette

This project examines the experiences of Mexican immigrants and the responses of the pre-existing non-Mexican community in Lafayette, Indiana. By exploring the everyday transnational negotiation of Mexican immigrants, I hope to locate how they make sense and appropriate the spaces they inhabit in Indiana in coordination with the cultural citizenship they maintain with Mexico. In addition, this research examines the relationship between the Mexican and non-Mexican community and will include both their narratives to gain a multifaceted ethnographic understanding of this transnational interchange. Ultimately, the study will contribute to a contemporary awareness of transnational negotiation and global interaction in smaller non-traditional urban locales.




Center on Democracy in a Multiracial Society
1108 W Stoughton, Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: 217.244.0188 Fax: 217.333.8122 E-mail: