2017-2018 taft center fellows
littisha a. bates
Project Title: Navigating School Inequality: How Parents Pursue Magnet School Admission
Dr. Bates’ project examines the change in the magnet school enrollment process with in the Cincinnati Public School District. Magnet schools have historically been a school choice option used to desegregate the nation’s schools “Magnets help disrupt patterns of residential segregation that give way to school segregation under neighborhood school policies.” (Frankenberg et al. 2008:8). The push to desegregate school were anchored in creating more access to high quality schools for all children This resulted in a number of these schools being oversubscribed and having to come up with a way to assign students to schools. While we know parents aim to send their children to high quality magnet schools we know much less about how they navigate the enrollment process. How parents differentially navigate the enrollment process based on race or class could undo magnet schools' potential to mitigate inequality. Therefore understanding parents’ strategies is of the upmost importance. This project examines two central research questions: What strategies do parents use to navigate the magnet school enrollment process and how do they adapt their strategies in the face of changing policies.
Project Title: Being With
Generally in the cognitive sciences, thinking (and perceiving, and experiencing, and…) are taken to be things that happen to our brains. What I call radical embodied cognitive science rejects this and assumes that thinking is something that humans do, typically by skillfully moving their bodies. The book project that I will work on as a Taft Fellow will use the philosophical and scientific ideas developed in radical embodied cognitive science to illuminate a key concept from phenomenological philosophy, what Heidegger called Mitsein. Most of our experience, Heidegger argued, is unreflective, skillful engagement with the world. Mitsein, or being with, is his name for unreflective, skillful engagement with other humans. The understanding of the mind developed in radical embodied cognitive science is designed specifically to account for unreflective, skillful engagement with the world and other humans. The early parts of the book will focus on making these connections. The later parts will be devoted to philosophical, moral, and political implications. In particular, the last parts of the book will connect radical embodied cognitive science and Mitsein to feminist political theory and feminist ethics.
Project Title: Making The New, New Boston, 1970-2017: Cities, Meanings, and Mass Culture in the Neoliberal Age
In this study I will I will delve into the meanings of “Boston” from 1970 to the present. My inquiry is, more precisely, into the definitional qualities and resonance of a city’s brand: what it conveys, how and why it communicates that information. My project is substantially an inquiry into the realm of mass culture, exploring intentional associations of expressions with a city, such as those devised by press release, through official auspices, or by advertising. But I also look at the ways a city is situated by popular expressions in the mass media. I will explore and explain the resonant cultural assertions and images that occur and recur through popular films, television, music, sports, and news stories. These expressions all constitute an aspect of Boston’s past, present, and future, as they reach back to previous conceptual incarnations of the city, in effect, its residual history. Further, I locate particular expressions as elements of a particular moment, connected to that temporality and materiality. Further, I consider the significance of those meanings as expressions of a particular moment that become involved in subsequent definitions, seeing how meanings evolve in relation to shifting historical contexts.
Project Title: Jim Crow Cincinnati: Gender, Race, and Violence in Urban Space
Borders not only confine mobility, narrow social networks and isolate poverty, they also fundamentally shape life chances and life quality. Cincinnati is the 8th most segregated city in the US. The spatial confinement of Blacks across the city reflects a legacy of structural and state violence. The purpose of this book is to take into account the ways boarders and belonging within and across Queen City Jim Crow geographies regulate hierarchies along gender, race, sexuality, and class informs Black women’s well being. On the urban rez, housing insecurity, the constant threat of dislocation, and violence shape the lives of Cincinnati Black women in profound ways. And yet, it is imperative to acknowledge that violence is a heterogeneous phenomenon that affects women in different ways (Price 2012). This study, undertaken between 2012 and 2017, examines the day-to-day lives of 30 Black women residing in the confines of Cincinnati City. In-depth interviews reveal that experiences are largely shaped by complicated intersections of violence - structural, spatial and direct violence - that not only re-occur, but often co-occur and are multidimensional. The impact of daily exposure to these “intersecting violence” has profound implications on women’s mental health and their coping styles, but also on their sexual and reproductive health.
Project Title: Birthing Jewish Ethics: Reproduction and Ethics among Haredi Women in Jerusalem
Who determines religious ethics? Religious leaders or religious practitioners? And how do we know what is ethical? Moreover, when religiously-affiliated individuals make ethical decisions, how are they deciding the ethical course of action? My book analyzes how Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jewish women in Jerusalem exert agency over their reproductive decisions. Although Haredi women must interact with patriarchal religious authorities and doctors who follow rabbis’ instructions instead of listening to female patients, Haredi women find space for—and insist upon—their autonomy regarding the use of contraceptives, prenatal testing, fetal ultrasounds, and other reproductive practices. This autonomy reflects a religious ethic distinct from normative Jewish ethics, and this distinction between religious ethics and the strategies of religious adherents encourages scholars to rethink religious ethics.
Project Title: The Impact of Malaria Control on Maternal and Child Mortality in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
This project examines the impact of malaria and malaria control on maternal and child mortality in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Currently, Sub-Saharan Africa carries a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2015, the region was home to 88% of malaria cases and 90% of malaria deaths. In 2015 an estimated 214 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide and 438,000 people died, mostly children in the African Region. Malaria during pregnancy results in maternal mortality and severe anemia among women and can lead to adverse birth outcomes.. Malaria exacerbates poverty in the households, the communities where it holds sway. For the unborn child, maternal malaria increases the risk of spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, premature delivery and low birth weight—a leading cause of child mortality. This project argues that identifying factors associated with malaria control in Sub-Saharan Africa can help decrease infant mortality in the region
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo roughly 400 children die every day and almost half of them from Malaria. Anemia, low birth-weight, epilepsy, and neurological problems are all frequent consequences of malaria and compromise the health and development of children. Malarial deaths can be drastically impacted by interventions for women and children. This work highlights the importance of behavioral factors in understanding the spread of the disease in the DRC as well as its devastating effects on infant mortality.