CANCELED Graduate Salon: Julia Hori and Rebecca Liu

Mon, May 4, 2020, 12:00 pm to 1:20 pm
Program in American Studies

Julia Hori

Photo of Sunbury Plantation House by Barry Haynes

Barry Haynes, Front of Sunbury Plantation House, 2014. Wikipedia Commons.

To this day, the plantation house remains — long-after emancipation, decolonization, and independence — one of the most celebrated, protected, and profitable structures in the Anglophone Caribbean. Julia’s dissertation asks why. Her project examines the relationship between built space and violence in the legacies of British imperial rule and Caribbean plantation slavery. Julia investigates the battlegrounds of cultural memory in material sites and architectural rhetoric on both sides of the Atlantic, tracing the enduring powers of colonial planning, plantation aesthetics, and imperial nostalgia after Word War Two. Julia’s project analyzes architecture not just as the authored design of buildings but as the material organization of ideas and bodies in space and in particular, as archives of imperial narrative. By reading the narratives encrypted within built space, her project seeks to expand the approaches to postcolonial theory and the materials of literary study.

Rebecca Liu

Photo by Becca Liu

My project examines the temporal practices of Chinese indentured laborers, or “coolies,” in 19th-century Peru. As indentured laborers in the greater Pacific world, coolies toiled under brutal conditions on cotton and sugarcane plantations, and despite the promise of return, they were often coerced into serving indefinitely prolonged contracts abroad. Under these conditions, they resorted to suicide, defection, and particular burial practices that, when considered in relation to the spatial and temporal dislocations of diaspora, I argue institute a new experience of time in the Chinese diaspora. By examining coolie burial sites and archival accounts of coolie suicides in Peru, as well as archival documents related to Peruvian coolies’ defection to the Chilean army during the War of the Pacific and eventual post-war settlement in Chile, the project attempts to articulate a relationship between time and freedom in Chinese coolies’ negotiations of indenture and diaspora.