COP21 Paris: Why I'm going. What you should know.

You're going to Paris, why???
-- From 12/5-12/13, I'll be in Paris to participate in COP21.

Wait. What is COP21? Sounds like a Bruce Willis action movie.
-- The 2015 Paris Climate Conference (a.k.a. COP21) has been convened by the UN for world leaders, scientific experts, and ordinary people to discuss and finally achieve a "legally binding and universal agreement" on climate change.

Seems daunting. What's the goal?
-- Simply put: to stop global warming. The target number is 2°C--although human-caused climate change has already raised global temperatures, the aim of the COP21 agreement is to implement changes that'll keep global warming below 2°C (3.6°F for those of us who are metrically-challenged).

And it's in Paris? Aren't you worried?
-- Nope. Also, I consider it a privilege to visit France at such a crucial moment in its history.

Why are *you* going?
-- As part of my work on "creation care," I'll be with several evangelical organizations that are participating in ecumenical meetings to pray for, speak about, and urge climate change response.

Are you going to be writing about this?
-- Obviously.

Are you available for interviews?
-- Oui.

Parlez-vous français?
-- Para ser honesta, no tanto como quisiera. Estudié el aleman en el colegio y el castellano fue mi idioma materno. Whoops. I just did that thing where you switch to the next "not English" language. Mais, je veux practiquer alors que je marche dans la rues de La Ville Lumière.

Is there a well-designed, inspiring, yet brief video I could watch?

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Grad School Tips: Writing Strategies a.k.a. Best Advice I Ever Received

Hands down, the very best advice I received in grad school was: Write every seminar paper as if you were going to publish it and then do so.

Publishing articles of original research while in grad school (in peer-reviewed academic journals) not only helps you when you’re on the job market (you’ll notice that other candidates who are getting hired, even for teaching-intensive positions at community colleges, will have numerous publications), but it helps you with your funding proposals because it shows that you’re already a productive scholar and a sound investment for grant dollars.

The way to do this is to actually talk to your professors in your seminars and say, “I’d like some direction about where and how to publish the final paper from this course.” Journals aren't interested in just literature reviews, so you'll need to gather your own data, which you'll turn into evidence, and then into argument. To reiterate: you'll need to do your own original research.

The general stages of publishing seminar papers are this: do the research, write the paper, get feedback from professor, incorporate the feedback, present it somewhere at a conference, get feedback, incorporate the feedback, send it to a journal, wait a while, get a rejection (or a revise & resubmit) with some feedback, incorporate the feedback, re-submit to journal, get rejected & submit it elsewhere or get accepted with some feedback, incorporate the feedback, re-submit, edit, and wait until published. (Two years, if you’re lucky!)

For graduate students who are about to go on the job market or are already on it, my advice is to find some low-hanging fruit (i.e., a chapter from the dissertation, a seminar paper for which you did original research three years ago, etc) and work on polishing that and getting it submitted to a journal ASAP.

Many academics swear by Wendy Laura Belcher's Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success. Though I haven't used it, I find the practical ways she breaks down the process very compelling. By demystifying the process, Belcher dispels some of the myths that lead to perfectionism. Perfectionism is your enemy.

Writing Inspiration Here: youshouldbewriting

Caveat: my advice comes from the social science/humanities disciplines I know best. It's important to figure out the conventions of your field on this. You do this by looking at the CVs of newly hired assistant professors in your department and at Liberal Arts Colleges throughout the U.S.

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Introducing: The Global Brazil Lab @Duke

This is a great time to be studying Brazil and Duke and the Franklin Humanities Institute are a great place to do it. The Global Brazil Lab rests on three tentpoles—culture, politics, and nature—because Brazil forces us to ask comparative questions, questions that cross borders of all kinds: historical, linguistic, oceanic. I've just joined the Lab as a co-director, along with historian John French and romance studies/visual art scholar Esther Gabara, where I'll be able to focus on bringing in the environmental humanities as we have wide-ranging conversations with students, community members, faculty, and guests from Brazil.

For more:

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Office Hours & Fall Course on Energy Futures/Environmental Justice

My office hours are now available for sign ups and if you're interested in taking the Environmental Humanities/Cultural Anthropology course I'm teaching this fall, there are a few spots left.

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Honored to participate: my poem on Lament For The Dead

Every day this summer, a community of poets, artists, and ordinary folk have chosen to lament the death of anyone killed by police or a police officer killed in the line of duty with a poem. Brooklyn-based writer Carey Wallace is curating Lament for the Dead.

Today, I added my piece to it, grieving the death of Victo Larosa III, 23, in Jacksonville, FL who died for $60 of crack and innumerable lies about what matters in life. Poetry makes us vulnerable--and I'm no poet, so I feel a bit abashed--but the issues of violence in our country are more important and worth the risk. Here it is in full.

And the first three lines:

When did we decide sixty dollars of crack
  was our thirty pieces of silver?
That we should take a life for so little.

More on Lament for the Dead's vision and purpose:

Lament for the Dead is an online community poetry project which will mark the death of every person killed by police this summer, and every police officer who loses life in the line of duty, with a poem. 

The first lie that hate tells us is that any other person is not as human as we are.
This project resists that lie by recognizing each other’s humanity, even in the most difficult places.

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Strong Words at Wounded Knee: "F*ck historical trauma, we survived all and every act of genocide."

Looking south towards Wounded Knee, Pine Ridge really is beautiful.

A litany: "Fuck historical trauma, we survived all and every act of genocide."

The physical alteration of signs shows the struggle over how to tell the story of Wounded Knee (December 1890). Although originally entitled “The Battle of Wounded Knee,” someone nailed over the correction “Massacre.” And on the arch entrance to the mass grave: “Fuck Historical Trauma, we survived all and every act of genocide,” followed by a hand-written litany of dates from the 1803 “Illegal Louisiana purchase from French fur-traders” to the 1973 “Wounded Knee standoff.”

Everytime I visit Wounded Knee, I struggle over how to tell the story, but I wish everyone would visit the small hill in the southern part of Pine Ridge. And I especially wish everyone who calls the U.S. home would take the pilgrimage through South Dakota’s breathtaking prairie to the site.

A carefully, and obviously, corrected sign.

Although cameras capture the vistas of impossibly wide skies and gently rolling hills, they don’t do justice to the scent of sweet grass that perfumes the winds--the only sound except for the small chimes they awaken.

Wounded Knee is where Custer’s regiment, the 7th Cavalry, killed more than 200 Lakota children, women, and men a decade and a half after Custer fell to the Lakota at Little Big Horn. The 1876 engagement was a battle, the 1890 meeting was a massacre. In the dead of winter, their bodies lay in the snow while the wounded took shelter at a little church still decorated for the Christmas holidays. Medals of Honor were given to the soldiers who posed with their weapons and the poem:

"Famous Battery 'E' of the 1st Artillery.
These brave men and the Hotchkiss guns that Big Foot's Indians thought were toys,
Together with the fighting 7th what's left of Gen. Custer's boys,
Sent 200 Indians to that Heaven which the ghost dancer enjoys. This checked the Indian noise, and Gen. Miles with staff Returned to Illinois."
Close-up of the second half: "The meek will own the earth."

A close-up of the first half.

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Immigration, Deportation, & the GOP: Implications of the Cuba-U.S. Thawing


In a seemingly sudden about-face, the White House announced what everyone thought must come eventually: U.S. relations with Cuba have been normalized, ending one of the last vestiges of the Cold War. The U.S. embargo against Cuba has been dismantled and the first phone call between the presidents of both countries since 1959 took place at noon on December 17, 2014. Pundits and politicians on both sides of the aisle responded on cue: Marco Rubio (R, the son of Cuban immigrants) criticized the move as "part of a long record of coddling dictators and tyrants that this administration has established";  John Kerry announced that the previous 6-decade policy had “remained virtually frozen, and done little to promote a prosperous, democratic and stable Cuba.

As much of the focus is on how this will change the island, the decision has implications for the mainland, too:

1) “Wet Foot/Dry Foot” and Immigration:
Cubans have enjoyed a privileged status regarding immigration, compared to the rest of Latin America. The basics: if you’re Cuban and have one “dry” foot on U.S. land, you are automatically eligible for permanent residency.

Up to now, Cubans have never been “illegal aliens” because of the wet foot/dry foot policy. Those intercepted by the Coast Guard before touching land (two “wet” feet) are repatriated to a third country.

But with the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations, the policy (which was a punitive response to the Cuban regime) is surely going to end. When will Cuban immigrants cease enjoying this privilege?

2) Stalwart GOP voters no more?
Since the 1960s, Cuban-Americans have been reliable Republican voters. They’ve wielded disproportionate influence, relative to their numbers, because they’re concentrate in one state (Florida)—a state whose electoral college votes tip the U.S. presidency. But Pew has noted that younger Cuban-Americans are less GOP-inclined than their parents.

This is a trend already underway. In 2002, 64% of registered Cuban-American voters leaned Republican and only 22% leaned Democrat. But just one decade saw a shift of nearly 20% for both: in 2013, 47% of registered Cuban-American voters leaned Republican and 44% leaned Democrat.

For the sake of comparison, 60% of Latinos lean Democrat.

So, what happens when Cuban immigrants face the same anti-immigrant rhetoric and politics particularly favored in some parts of the right? Will more of them defect from the GOP?

Or will the Republican party realize that, in order to grow, it needs to soften on immigration more broadly and that there is terrain to be won in this area? 

3) Deportation of Cuban criminals living in the U.S.:
As one Cuban-American law-enforcement expert (okay, my cousin) remarked, there are "hundreds, if not thousands of Cubans that have received orders of deportation for their criminal activities in the U.S. Many will have to be hunted down and repatriated." 

This will involve an unprecedented "rush" of law enforcement cooperation between two countries where such ties have not existed. Who coordinates that? What are the terms of these agreements? Will this lead to an increased militarization of the Cuban police? 

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