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Faculty and Staff Spotlight


Assistant Professor Andra Chastain receives Arts and Humanities Fellowship to continue work on book, Chile Underground

Chile Underground: The Santiago Metro and the Struggle for a Rational City”

Andra Chastain
Andra Chastain

Chile Underground asks how and why the Santiago metro system survived political and economic upheaval from the earliest proposals for a subway in the 1920s up to the present day. This infrastructure project, which required massive state investment and foreign aid from France, remained state-owned and operated despite the implementation of radical neoliberal policies in Chile in the late 1970s. Although the Pinochet regime privatized many sectors, the metro was spared. By tracing the shifting meanings of this project from local, national, and international perspectives, Chile Underground argues that the Santiago metro became a crucial site of social and political struggle. Far from apolitical, as planners often described it, the metro became a powerful symbol that was mobilized for diverse political ends. Pinochet’s officials used it as propaganda for the military regime, while dissidents used it to push for political freedom and justice. It was a vehicle both for intensifying inequality in the city and for struggles for greater social justice. The metro became a space for building and contesting the shape that modernity would take in Chile. By studying the case of the Santiago metro, Chile Underground sheds light on how people use infrastructure for political purposes and the ways these projects have the potential to reproduce or undo inequality.


Associate Professor Linda Heidenreich receives Arts and Humanities Fellowship to work on project discussing the Grape Strike of 1965-70

“The Virgin Would Not Eat Grapes: Faith, Feminism, and the United Farm Worker’s Movement, 1965-1970”

Linda Heidenreich
Linda Heidenreich

While volumes have been written on the history of the United Farm Workers, little attention has been paid to the role of women in the movement and the core ideologies that grounded their activism. Yet from its founding in 1962, women, both secular and religious, played a critical role in its development. This was, in part, because of the historical context of the movement. In the 1960s through the 1970s, four powerful movements came together to transform the relationship of Chicanxs to religion, the state, and each other: the Second Vatican Council, Liberation theology, Chicana feminism, and the United Farm Worker’s movement. Looking to the lives of the women in the movement, Heidenreich argues, allows us to see the dynamics of these multiple forces in the early years of the organization.

Drawing on archived issues of El Malcriado, as well as published interviews, this project begins to map the intricate weave that was the relationship of Catholicism and feminism to the United Farm Workers during the Grape Strike of 1965-70. “The Virgin Would Not Eat Grapes” builds directly on the work of Lara Medina, who began the critical excavation of Chicana/Latina Catholic activism in 20th-century justice movements, as well that of Emma Pérez and Maylei Blackwell who mapped the emergence of feminism within Mexican and Chicano nationalism throughout the 20th century. Receiving a 2021–22 CAS Arts and Humanities fellowship will now allow Heidenreich to complete research of primary United Farm Workers’ documents for the years 1965–1970, located in a digital archive housed through the University of California Libraries. Preliminary research indicates that the archive contains over 1,330 documents with references to Catholic sisters, 350 to nuns, and 812 referencing Catholicism. These documents are diverse, including statements by U.S bishops, interviews of Catholic sisters, amicus briefs, articles in El Malcriado (the newsletter of the UFW) and more. The coming academic year promises to be fruitful indeed.


Associate Professor Raymond Sun receives Arts and Humanities Fellowship to continue work on Fallen Cougars project with students

“’Fallen Cougars’: Building a Digital Exhibit Honoring the War Dead of Washington State College from the Second World War”

Ray Sun
Ray Sun

The mission of the Fallen Cougars project is to ensure that the approximately 200 World War II war dead from what was then Washington State College (WSC), who are now almost forgotten, will never again be strangers to the 21st-century WSU community and the larger public in the Pacific Northwest and across the nation. With the assistance of undergraduate volunteers from Sun’s World War II history classes and graduate students conducting summer research, and in collaboration with Trevor Bond, director of the WSU Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC), Fallen Cougars will create a permanent digital exhibit presenting the biographies of each of the WSC war dead. The target date for opening the exhibit is fall 2021. Its immediate purpose is threefold: (1) To honor the legacy of these former students who served and died in the Second World War; (2) to integrate this important part of Washington State University history into contemporary Cougar identity by connecting past, present, and future members of the WSU community to their peers from the 1940s; and (3) by providing the individual stories and photographs of each fallen serviceman, to make this history accessible and engaging for the larger public across the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

In the long term, the completed project will serve as the anchor for building a regional network of similar exhibits at neighboring institutions, and will become a model for educators, historians, and communities around the country. Given the intense ongoing popular interest in the history and culture of the Second World War—last year approximately 5 million visitors toured the National World War II Memorial in Washington, DC—it is probable that the exhibit will generate strong and ongoing attention, showcasing the important role of WSU undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty in enriching our local and regional culture. Fallen Cougars will thus be a highly visible example of organically generated historical research being used to serve both the University community and the public, fulfilling WSU’s land-grant mission while underscoring the role of the humanities in preserving and representing our cultural heritage.

Read more about Dr. Sun’s Fallen Cougars project on the WSU CAS Hub!


Associate Professor Jennifer Thigpen receives Arts and Humanities Fellowship to work on book-length project about marriage and shaping the American West

Jennifer Thigpen
Jennifer Thigpen

My new book-length project, tentatively titled ‘Marriage and the Making of the American West,’ will consider the role of women in the story of American expansion. It will explore the ways in which 19th-century ideas about love, marriage, and gender combined with emergent concerns about race to shape the American West in ways that are still felt today. In the 19th century, Americans were already convinced of the importance of the family unit to national and political life. Yet marriage took on heightened meaning as Americans pushed westward. A cursory glance of marriage patterns as they emerged and evolved in the American West suggest the ways in which this was so.

“Although early, male settlers frequently made matches with indigenous women, such partnerships became an increasing cause of concern and scrutiny over the course of the 19th century. My research suggests that interracial marriages came to be widely viewed as ‘unnatural’ and, ultimately, illegal during the era of rapid American expansion into the West. By mid-century, just as ideas about romantic love were gaining cultural currency, western male settlers came increasingly to seek Euro-American wives from outside the region. Though some historians have argued that ‘mail-order brides’ addressed a gender imbalance in the region, my research will explore how it instead addressed a perceived racial problem.