College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences > About > Initiatives > Social Transformation Research Collaborative > Fellowship Cohorts > STRC Cohorts 2022-2023
Each year, the STRC selects a theme that is both timely and lends itself to humanities inquiry. For 2022-2023, the theme was
Influencers for Racial and Social Change.
Susana S. MartínezComing of Age(ncy) on the Migrant Trail: Central American And
Mexican Adolescent Journeys in Contemporary Young Adult LiteratureSTRC Faculty Research FellowshipView Bio
Coming of Age(ncy) on the Migrant Trail: Central American And Mexican Adolescent Journeys in Contemporary Young Adult Literature examines youth migration as a transnational social justice issue that brings visibility to characters who are rarely depicted as having agency. As protagonists who come of age on the migrant journey and gain critical awareness of the dangers they face, their stories not only represent real life experiences to a more privileged U.S. readership, but they challenge us to rethink politicized narratives that only portray poverty and violence while erasing the U.S. role in destabilizing the communities they flee. Young Adult (YA) Literature is a booming industry with a growing area of scholarship, but it has largely ignored Latinx voices. This book project thus provides a roadmap for how YA literature and the humanities can engage complex issues such as immigration and youth agency to address the histories and contemporary structures of racism, while filling a gap in the YA field, Latin American, and Latinx Studies by focusing on the representation of undocumented Central American and Mexican migrants. The book will attest to the power of youth agency and storytelling to create empathy across differences which can ultimately lead to healing, restoration, and social transformation.
Chernoh Sesay, Jr.
Black Boston and the Making of African-American Freemasonry: Leadership, Religion, and Fraternalism in Early AmericaSTRC Faculty Research FellowshipView Bio
This book project, “Black Boston and the Making of African-American Freemasonry: Leadership, Religion, and Fraternalism in Early America,” examines the social, political, and religious contexts that shaped and were shaped by the first two generations of African-American Freemasons in Boston, Massachusetts. This investigation addresses an interpretive problem intrinsic to understanding both early Black Freemasonry and the transition of African-Americans from slavery to emancipation in the northern states during and just after the American Revolutionary Era. Did Black Freemasons successfully demand freedom and independence, or did they adopt a naïve political and cultural strategy of respectability and assimilation? This project reconciles and moves beyond this analytical impasse by showing how organized Black abolitionism coalesced earlier than previous studies have shown, and that it framed and mirrored four major historical contexts: the politics of northern emancipation, the rise of free Black leadership, the spread of African-American Christianity, and an emergent tradition of public Black writers. Examining early Black Freemasonry speaks to scholars in African-American history, Africana Religious Studies and Early American History. It explores the significance of events like the American Revolution; it brings new evidence and insight to the intersection of mobility, religion, class, politics, and gender within Black politics; and it provides new analysis of Black abolition from the late eighteenth century to the early nineteenth century. The understudied history of early Black Freemasonry brings to light a vital component of understanding how Black people shaped democracy and made America. These early Black leaders were unequivocal influencers for social justice, and their story must be told.
Lori PierceDNA Forensics and GenealogySTRC Professional Development FellowshipView Bio
Dr. Pierce, a historian of race and racial thinking, will use the six-month professional development fellowship to deepen and broaden her understanding of the science of race in the post-genomic era, reaching beyond her training as a historian to the sciences (biology) and social sciences (anthropology) to understand current approaches to racial delineation. Her guiding question for her fellowship will be, “How can scholars in the humanities use the modern science of DNA as an anti-racist tool that challenges racial essentialism?” During her fellowship, she will explore two subjects that illustrate the legacy of race in the age of genetics: the use of DNA in forensic analysis in the criminal justice system and direct to consumer (DTC) DNA ancestry testing. In each case, DNA has been used to support liberatory projects for African Americans. But each case also reveals how racism based on biological essentialism is being recapitulated. For example, the Innocence Project has used DNA evidence to exonerate 365 people who were wrongfully convicted. But DNA has also been used as a form of surveillance. Direct-to-consumer (DTC) DNA testing presents a similar dilemma. Companies such as 23andMe used DNA samples to provide customers with a calibration of their ancestry. But the results are based on broad generalizations about populations and statistical estimates that compare the consumer to a likely reference group. The estimates, presented as objective statements of fact, can reinforce racial essentialism. But DTC DNA testing is also a powerful tool in genealogical work done by families, communities and scholars.
Lourdes TorresToward a History of LLEGÓ STRC Professional Development FellowshipView Bio
This six-month professional development fellowship will allow Dr. Torres, a sociolinguist, to delve into archival historical research to support a new project that will document the history and significance of the first national LGBT organization for Latino/as, the National Latino/a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Organization (LLEGÓ ). LLEGÓ ran for almost twenty years and folded in 2002, and though it had a huge impact on Latino/a LGBT organizing, there is currently no scholarly monograph attesting to its rich history, its many contributions, and its ultimate demise. Histories of racial and ethnic gay and lesbian communities and activist organizations are necessary to expand the gay and lesbian historiography by explicitly articulating how race and ethnicity shape this vibrant history. The project addresses this gap in the literature by documenting the history of LLEGÓ and explaining its significance as the first and only national organization LGBT organization advocating for Latino/as. A major focus of the project involves telling the story of an inspiring group of gay, lesbian, and transgender Latino/a activists who recognized that their community’s needs were being ignored and rallied to impact that reality (at a time of LLEGÓ’s founding in the 1980s, HIV/AIDS were ravishing poor and queer people of color).
Keish LozanoJuana Hernández y las Mujeres Tejiendo Sueños y Sabores de Paz:Afro-Colombian Quilting Tradition as Activism and Healing
This project focuses on the activist Juana Ruíz Hernández as part of the organization Mujeres Tejiendo Sueños y Sabores de Paz (ASVIDAS) of the Afro-Colombian community in Mampuján, Bolívar. This women's collective formed following the displacement of the community as a result of a three-year period of violent warfare between the AUC and the FARC as they fought for control of the territory between the years of 1997 to 2000. By following founding member Juana Ruíz Hernández's work, the project will document ASVIDAS' collective actions as advocates and activists for the displaced people of Mampuján in the years following this violence and carrying through to their impact in the present day. The project seeks to frame the collective quilting practices of ASVIDAS as a specific Afro-Colombian, feminist, community-based response to violence, while also demonstrating how this form of activism can be referenced as an alternate mode of healing and storytelling for Latinx and Afro-Latinx peoples. The research will culminate in two parts: a paper documenting and analyzing Juana Ruíz Hernández and ASVIDAS' work, expanding into an examination of the process and purpose of quilting as a tool to rewrite narratives and respond to violence; and a handstitched quilt in the Mampuján tradition, created as an ongoing community project at DePaul.
Dr. Betty Shabazz and Clara Muhammad's Intellectual Contributions tothe Black Freedom Movement
This digital archive research project will expand on scholarship regarding the role of Black women and Black American Islam within the Black Freedom Movement in the United States. Through a comparative analysis of Dr. Betty Shabazz and Clara Muhammad, both Muslim women active as leaders in the Black Freedom Movement, the project will explore how Black Muslim women's intellectual contributions were influential and foundational within the Black Freedom Movement. In analyzing Shabazz and Muhammad's activism and retelling their narratives, the project articulates their political investments towards liberation as challenging anti-Blackness and anti-Muslim racism. The research project will engage the primary questions: 1.) How did Dr. Betty Shabazz and Clara Muhammad utilize education as a vehicle of social change? 2.) How are the intellectual contributions of Dr. Betty Shabazz and Clara Muhammad influential to the Black Freedom Movement and contemporary social movements? 3.) How are both women's intellectual contributions as educators and caregivers broadly connected to a legacy of Black Feminist praxis?
Rumi Rivera-LovatoUnsettling Graduate Social Work Education at DePaul University
This project uses student narratives to explore how graduate students in the Department of Social Work at DePaul University learn about settler colonialism. Settler colonialism refers to the structure through which Native peoples are removed in order to facilitate outsiders' access to territory. Therefore, settler colonialism is a driving force perpetuating white supremacy that targets Native peoples for discrimination and genocide. The Council on Social Work Education enforces nine Social Work competencies in their accreditation process, including “Engaging Diversity and Difference in Practice" and “Advance Human Rights in Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice." This project therefore argues that it is essential that the Department of Social Work at DePaul University include education around settler colonialism. Through a series of group interviews, approximately six currently enrolled students in the Department of Social Work discuss how the Master of Social Work program includes settler colonialism in curricula. Based on these narratives, potential strengths and gaps are identified in assessing the nature and scope of the Department's approach to education in this regard. Recommendations for change in curricula will be articulated. The primary researcher may, thereafter, advocate that the findings of this project be considered as the Department prepares to renew their accreditation through the Council on Social Work Education in 2023.
Paul MirelesWe Keep Us Safe: A Dialogue on the Extent to which Gang Cultureand Revolutionary Groups Culture Must Go to Protect Marginalized Folks.
The focus of this project is to understand the connection between civil rights movements in Chicago and Chicago street gangs in both the Brown and Black communities. Civil rights activism and street gangs may seem to be worlds apart, having no common ground, but they have a deep and rich history within Chicago. During the late 50s and 60s, street gangs in Chicago began to develop in Brown and Black urban communities throughout the city as a result of systemic issues, police brutality and racism. At the same time, civil rights movements in these communities were fighting the same struggle in different ways. During the 60s a Puerto Rican street gang known as the Young Lords went from a turf gang to a political movement, during the same time that Chairman Fred Hampton, Sr., of the Chicago Black Panthers was working with gangs in his community to form a political movement. While many people looked down on Brown and Black street gangs, leaders such as José “Cha Cha” Jiménez, Chairman of the Young Lords Organization and Fred Hampton Sr. realized that gangs were a direct response to the systemic failings of the American government.