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Hall Center announces new seminars on gender and military, oral history and colonialism

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

LAWRENCE — The Hall Center for the Humanities is pleased to announce the addition of two interdisciplinary seminars, one of which will address how the U.S. military manages questions of social equity and inclusion.

"Military and Society," a one-year seminar, will be co-directed by Beth Bailey, Foundation Distinguished Professor of history; Alesha Doan, associate professor of political science and the School of Public Affairs & Administration, and Shannon Portillo, associate professor in the School of Public Affairs & Administration.

"Oral History," a three-year seminar, will be co-directed by Tami Albin, KU Libraries, and Katie Batza, assistant professor of women, gender & sexuality studies.

In addition, the Colonialism Seminar, which debuted this year, has been extended for three more years. It is led by Cecile Accilien, associate professor of African & African studies; Santa Arias, professor of Latin American & Caribbean studies, and Robert Schwaller, assistant professor of history.

The Hall Center sponsors seminars that bring together faculty and graduate students from different departments for interdisciplinary dialogue and discussion and to present research. Seminars also invite visiting speakers from other U.S. universities and internationally.

"Military and Society” will focus on gender/sexuality and the U.S. military in the 20th and 21st centuries. The seminar is intended to support a national conference to take place at KU in spring 2018 by developing local conversations around a set of questions and themes: How does the large institution of the U.S. military manage questions of social equity and inclusion? How does the military attempt to balance its primary mission of national defense with the national imperatives of gender equity? What is the relationship between social change movements and the military? How have different theories of gender difference (or assumptions about the nature of gender) shaped policy and practice? How are the military and its component branches addressing women's changing roles — including entry into the combat arms? How do changing constructions of masculinity and femininity — or of gender identity — shape training, leadership and belonging over time? How have issues of sexual assault and harassment shaped relationships within the military and its reputation beyond its boundaries?

"Oral History" provides a formal interdisciplinary gathering place for faculty and graduate students on the KU campus already committed to oral history methodology while also encouraging and supporting scholars interested in learning more. Oral history is a powerful tool, which creates data for analysis for understanding structural and systemic oppression; it disrupts official archival narratives and can lead to social change. The seminar will explore these possibilities in detail.

The co-directors view the seminar as a crucial opportunity to reach out to scholars on campus who are united in an interest in oral history but who work on their own. The seminar will facilitate interdisciplinary discussions, presentations and future collaborations in a dynamic way that will pool and strengthen the significant oral history expertise and interest already existing on campus. 

“Colonialism” focuses on the history and legacy of colonialism in Latin America, a move which came naturally from the majority of presenters’ research topics. Meetings provide an opportunity for a dynamic examination of hemispherical and transatlantic connections across four major themes: identity, territory, religion and cultural production. 

Seminars take place 4-5 sessions a semester and are open to all faculty and graduate students. For information or to join the seminar mailing lists, email hchseminars@ku.edu or call 785-864-7884.


Ruth DeWitt, Communications Manager
KU School of Public Affairs and Administration
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