Arts and Humanities – Page 15 – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

Arts and Humanities

Black Feminist Approaches to Black Popular Culture Pedagogy – Expected Results/Conclusions

Black popular culture and Black feminisms in social media have become generative pedagogical sites in previous years. With the rise of celebrities such as Beyoncé and Lizzo, and the explosion of social media as a primary means of creating cultural discourses, students are increasingly interested in how gender, race, sexuality, class, and other vectors of identity shape their entertainment experiences. Yet, few teachers feel comfortable effectively teaching Black popular culture using an intersectional lens. This project will construct a guidebook for teaching Black popular culture using Black feminist pedagogies and best practices from seasoned educators, to provide educators with a comprehensive framework and concrete strategies for teaching Black popular culture across disciplines. This project uses a variety of sources from interviews to books to educational studies in order to look at what it means to teach popular culture through the lens of Black feminism. Our research team has studied Black popular culture and Black feminism in an academic setting in order to better understand how to ask questions for our interviews we conducted for the project. The questions this guidebook will answer are: 1) What is Black feminism? 2) What methods can I use for teaching that fall under the framework of Black feminism? 3) How can I ensure these methods of teaching allow students to get the most out of their experience, academically and personally? The goal for this guidebook is to be used as a resource for educators across the country. Since Black feminism and Black popular culture have not been taught widely among classrooms, we hope this guidebook will start making these methods and ideas accessible.

Human Rights and Indigenous Rights in Africa

Indigenous Africa began as a way to spread awareness of evictions and land grabbing against the Maasai people in Tanzania. The project serves to be a center of information for various groups of people. The project now encompasses many different countries and ethnic groups. Today, we cover all regions of Africa and have nearly 80 cases covering a diverse array of both peoples and issues happening across the continent. We break down cases into seven different categories: Conservation, Agribusiness, Infrastructure, Refugee Crises, Mining, Farmer Conflicts and Urban Expansion. Every case is listed under a file. It provides an overview of each case’s name, where it is occurring, who it is assigned to, when it was last updated, when it was last posted to our social media accounts, and the relevant bit.ly link we use when promoting it. Our shared Google Drive account contains a folder for every country we have researched. This is where we store all relevant articles, case drafts, blog posts, research papers, photos, etc. In the past two decades, indigenous peoples in Africa have experienced a sharp increase in violations of their human rights and intensified efforts to appropriate their land and water resources. Indigenous peoples include pastoralists (herders), agro-pastoralists (who mix herding with farming), and hunter-gatherers (who forage and hunt small game). These communities depend heavily on land and water resources that they have accessed for generations, hence the loss of these resources threatens their livelihoods and existence. Violations in indigenous communities do not receive enough media coverage of the injustices that impact them, and this lack of attention continues to hinder support for indigenous peoples to maintain their traditional lifestyle.

Star Switching Power in Global Bollywood

The author identifies that Bollywood movie stars have changed the perception of India as a country globally. Often, one movie star with his masterpiece is able to break into one or more foreign markets, thus becoming the soft power of India, both politically and economically. The author has collected multiple sources to prove the existence of soft power. After the information gathering stage, both qualified and quantified methods were used to analyze the data. For instance, for the China section of the research, the movie 3 idiots, directed by and starring Aamir Khan, was one quintessential example. Movie comments were scraped from the Chinese parallel of IMDb, Douban. These comments were then translated into English, and a word cloud was created to demonstrates the most common ideas associated with the movie from the Chinese audience’s perspective. Moreover, using the word cloud as a hint, the full version of comments that contained these popular ideas were being further investigated. The result shows that the hypothesis is significant, that the soft power of Bollywood movie stars indeed change the political, economic, and social image of India as they become popular in foreign countries. This research has great implications in the policy-making domain because to expand one country’s influence in the age of globalization, the increase of soft power is clearly shown to be an effective means to the traditional increase of hard power such as military and technology advancement, which might provide an alternative development path for many countries.

Why We Write: Writing, Community, and 60 years of Creative Writing at MQR

In its 61st addition, The Michigan Quarterly Review is publishing a special edition issue of their literary journal focused on the 1947 Orwellian prompt “Why I Write.” Though writers across generations have answered this question, MQR is seeking new perspectives from both established, emerging and beginner writers, in hopes of publishing a journal dedicated to discussing “why they write” with reference to four distinct motivations: egotistical, aesthetic, historical and political. Given the current movement, MQR is interested in the latter two categories and how writers use their work as a way to provoke social change. As part of this issue, a corresponding online series will be published that focuses on individual writers and contributors to the issue. To achieve this goal, interviews will be held with several contributors, varying across discipline, genre, age and background, that highlight their motivations for writing and the ways in which it connects back to George Orwell’s original statements, as well as social and political movements and change. The expected result is that writing uncovers distinct motivations for each contributor, though they are expected to diverge from each other and be as unique as the perspective that each writer brings about in their piece. These interviews add nuance to the motivations of writing and will help readers understand how writing can be an important tool for social and political change.

Museums and Publics: Engaging Detroit, Berlin, and the Future of the City

The Museums and Publics project seeks to answer this question through the creation of short films analyzing an aspect of how the Cultural Campus and Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) renovation and integration projects connect with everyday Detroit citizens. Zeroing in on the topic of transportation, I seek to answer the question, what is the effect of current public transportation infrastructure in Detroit on equitable access to the Detroit Square project? Analysis and interviews done for the film shows that there is a disconnect between transportation provided and transportation desired, a major hurdle in creating equitable access to the Cultural Campus. As part of the interviews, I hope to seek out people that use the DDOT or SMART transportation systems regularly, or those who want to but face logistical hurdles. The interviews put real voices to the problems often mumbled about in the Southeast Michigan political sphere – the lack of a regional governing transit authority, and therefore a lack of a true regional public transportation system. In order for the Detroit Square and DIA project to be accessible and a community oriented cultural campus, these discrepancies must be addressed in some manner.

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