2018-2019 Senior Fellows

Lucayo Casillas

Hometown: East Palo Alto, CA

Project Title: Tribes Within A State: The Jamaican Maroons and Afro-Indigenous Contestation of Slavery and Empire

Description: In blatant demonstrations of agency during the epoch of Atlantic Slavery, Africans throughout the Americas fled captivity and established independent communities. Europeans called these Africans Maroons. My project aims to advance the historical narrative concerning the Maroons of Jamaica during the 17th and 18th centuries, which is limited by its rendering of these groups as apolitical and anarchist runaway-slaves. I hold that historians must further examine how these Maroons drew inspiration from their respective polities in Africa for the development of their new societies in the Americas. Jamaica’s Maroons are especially renowned for their tenacity in resisting slavery, which resulted in treaties between them and the British empire that recognize their sovereignty. Today, the Jamaican Maroons continue to stand strong in their autonomous existence, with many insisting on the importance of their African cultures in the course of their history.  The final product of my project will be a thesis that incorporates archival research as well as Maroon perspectives gained from interviews and experiences with Maroon people. Studies of maroonage correspond with efforts to encourage states to acknowledge the rights of Maroons as tribal-groups according to international law, allowing for the protection of their lands and the preservation of their cultures.

Extracurricular Interests: Outside of the classroom, I have devoted energy toward the communities I am part of on campus. I have participated in the American Indian community at Dartmouth (NAD) in various ways, such as serving as a head-staff member for Dartmouth’s annual powwow. I was also part of a group of students in NAD who practiced Northern Traditional singing and drumming. I have also been active in the NAACP, through which I contributed to Dartmouth’s Black Legacy Month with a project displaying Dartmouth’s Black history, and helped organize a conversation with Dr. Cornell West in 2017.  In my free time I often listen to my huge collection of reggae music and watch intense historical period dramas.

Future Plans: After graduation I plan to engage in a research project concerning indigenous political institutions in The Gold Coast (modern day Ghana) during the rise of the Atlantic Slave Trade. This work will be a continuation of my current research, as I will be exploring in depth the African context from which the leaders and much of the culture of Jamaican Maroons derive. Following this research, I will enroll in graduate school to continue my work as a historian of Africa, the African Diaspora, and Indigenous America.

Clara Chin

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Project Title: Dora’s Room: Digital Dreams

Description: With the information overload of the technological age, it is easy to value knowledge as power and dismiss feelings as weakness. As such, my project explores today’s productive possibilities of weakness by way of feeling extreme desire. My project is named after the pseudonym of Freud’s most famous hysteric patient, Dora. Freud analyzed her supposed extreme emotional and sensual desire over six months of treatment from 1900-1901 and published the results in “Fragments of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria” in 1905. Dora’s Room is a text and physical installation that visualizes a space of the hyper-emotional. A sort of bedroom, the installation contains what a modern-day Dora reads, the music she hears, and the films she watches. The text element of my project is a book-length manuscript that conceptualizes hysteria as a genre and considers its social implications by performing close-readings of a selection of the aforementioned media that Dora consumes. I use Freud’s case study as a jumping-off point for an aesthetic framework because of its use in feminist theory, and because of film and new media theorists’ use of his cases to contextualize other technologies of the 20th century.

In short, I hope to invert Freud’s diagnosis of hysteria and explore what extreme desire might reveal about modernity. In addition to psychoanalysis, I draw heavily from affect and feminist theory, including works by Eve Sedgwick and Heather Love. Because I am particularly interested in the implications of hysteria in the context of digitality, Kittler’s new media theory is another guiding framework. Ultimately, my project has three main goals—(1) to consider the blind spots that exist in the focus of modern social feminism on empowerment, (2) understand the influence of psychoanalysis on American aesthetic culture, and (3) destigmatize the open expression of emotion.

Extracurricular Interests: At the College, I am a tutor for RWIT, completed a number of independent research projects under the English Department, and participated as an oral history interviewer for the Dartmouth Vietnam Project. In my free time, I enjoy playing the piano, accompanying vocalists on harpsichord, modern dance, and volunteering for events in the arts such as the Harlem International Film Festival. When I’m not writing essays, I write for my personal blog, cchin.svbtle.com, and as an Opinion Columnist for The Dartmouth. I wrote editorial pieces for Milk.xyz and interned as a copywriter at Milk Agency during the summer of 2018. My editorial writing focuses on affect and feminism in the context of pop culture and on college campuses. I enjoy informal curation; I have a photo blog that ties together films through a visual narrative, and another for interior design and architecture. I also have an Instagram page that satirizes ‘high culture’ by pairing photos of pop culture figures with ironic theoretical captions. Curating my favorite art and films on social media often sparks inspiration for my academic projects.

Future Plans: I hope to attend graduate school to become a literature professor with a focus in critical theory. In addition to teaching and writing scholarship, I hope to curate a media culture site with features on current artists written with a theoretical edge. This project is a realization of one of the philosophical pillars of my current work—to consider how the seemingly superficial process of consuming media is a way of ‘philosophizing’ our lives and processing the world around us.