Eastern Professor Patrick Vitale Wins Ashby Prize

By Raven Dillon

Patrick Vitale, a geography professor at Eastern Connecticut State University, recently won the Ashby Prize for the most innovative paper of 2017 in the journal “Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space.” Vitale’s article is titled “Making Science Suburban: The Suburbanization of Industrial Research and the Invention of ‘Research Man.’”

The article traces the invention of the modern “tech worker” to an unlikely location: the suburbs of Pittsburgh. In the early 1900s, Pittsburgh’s industrial firms began to move research laboratories away from plants in crowded urban areas and into suburbs.

Vitale explains that workers, scientists and engineers had once worked alongside each other in factories. However, starting in the early 1900s, they increasingly worked in different places, lived in different communities, and began to see themselves and their labor as different. These new “labs” created a geographic and social division between mental and manual work.

“The class, race and gender relations of the suburbs were essential and invisible components of science and engineering,” Vitale writes. “In capitalist economies now and in the past, science and engineering are rooted in injustice, misery and inequality; the very problems they are supposed to solve.”

Industrial firms even created a new title for scientists and engineers – “research men” – and argued that they needed to be isolated from the factory to do their work. “Many of the most prominent industrial scientists in the United States embraced their identity as ‘research men’ to cement their own place within industry and society,” writes Vitale. “Scientists and engineers actively adopted a class position that industry was producing for them.”

Vitale notes: “In the present, when local and state governments are offering billions of dollars to attract technology firms, it is important to realize that these companies are built on inequality and injustice.”

Vitale’s article is a part of a larger research project: a book manuscript titled “The Atomic Capital of the World,” which explores the role of science and engineering in the remaking of Pittsburgh during the Cold War.

Westinghouse Research Laboratories (depicted here in the 1940s) is a research firm that fled the urban areas of Greater Pittsburgh for the suburbs.

Vitale is an urban, economic and historical geographer whose research broadly examines the effects of suburbanization, science and technology, and war on North American cities. He has published his work in academic journals including “The Annals of the Association of American Geographers”; “Journal of Urban History”; and the “International Journal of Urban and Regional Research.”

“Environment and Planning A” is an interdisciplinary journal of economic research. Articles focus on regional restructuring, globalization, inequality and uneven development. The Ashby Prize was established in 1990 and is awarded to the most innovative paper published in the calendar year.

New class: Activist Research Lab

What is an Activist Research Lab?

By Patrick Vitale

In the last few days several students have written to ask me a very good question: what is an activist research lab?

We will not be experimenting on activists in this class! Instead we will experiment with research projects that advance social and political change.

We will first address some very broad questions: How do activists use research in their work? How can social scientists develop projects that promote social justice? What are some of the political and ethical dilemmas of activist research? How can we create research that amplifies voices that are not always heard in the university?

We will answer these questions by looking at the examples of research projects in the Bay Area, Detroit, Toronto, New Haven, New York City, and other locations.

After we address these questions, we will put our learning into practice by developing a collaborative research project on the politics of poverty and homelessness in Willimantic. We will broadly investigate the experience of people who are struggling to survive in Willimantic.

As part of our research we will, among other tasks, meet with local residents; visit the Covenant Soup Kitchen, the No Freeze Shelter, and other local organizations; interview police officers and town officials; map out the availability of affordable housing; and visit the Windham Mill Museum to develop an understanding of the longer history of homelessness and poverty in Willimantic.

The final product of this class will be a collaborative research project that documents the struggles of people facing poverty and homelessness in Willimantic and exposes the laws, institutions, structures, and people who create obstacles in their daily lives.

The inspiration for this class is geographer William Bunge’s Detroit Geographical Expedition. Over the course of several years in the 1960s and ‘70s, Bunge worked with residents to document the ongoing struggle for survival in the poor and predominantly African American neighborhood of Fitzgerald. His team included artists, cartographers, anthropologists, historians, photographers, writers, and most importantly the residents themselves. The goal of the Activist Research Lab is to follow the example Bunge and his co-researchers set in Fitzgerald.

Please feel free to contact Professor Vitale if you have any questions about this class: vitalep@easternct.edu

 

Professor Ana Funes at the 50th anniversary of the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy in Poland

Professor Ana Funes speaking at the conference in Cracow Poland about her work on the Indian philosophical concept of prāṇa (vital breath),

The Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy held its 50th anniversary in Poland on early June when more than one hundred philosophers from all around the world came together to discuss topics related to Asian and Non-Western traditions from a cross-cultural philosophical perspective.
One of our professors at Eastern, Assistant Professor Ana Funes, participated in one of the panels with a talk on the role of prāṇa (vital breath) in Indian Philosophy and its use by French feminist philosopher Luce Irigaray.
     Dr. Funes’ current research focuses on the feminist readings of notions related to bodily self-awareness in the Indian tradition. Prāṇa is a notion related to the act of breathing. Each action, each thought is accompanied by one’s own breathing. To breathe is always thought as an individual act. It is one’s own breath that keeps us alive and it is one’s own breathing that leaves at the moment of death. However, it is uncommon to talk about breathing as a shared act, as a relational moment that is created with someone else. Yet, Luce Irigaray’s work calls for the cultivation of breathing to enable our ethical coexistence with the other and the 8th c. commentary on the Sāṃkhyakārikā, the Yuktidīpikā, relates the vital breath of samāna to the function of sharing. In her paper, Ana Funes explores this relational aspect of breathing as capable of creating community and elucidates the meaning given to the term samāna within the classical Sāṃkhya tradition, unique in the Indian theory of the bodily winds.
     Dr. Funes is specialist in Indian Philosophy and French Feminist Phenomenology and teaches the courses on Ethics, Philosophical Perspectives, Asian Philosophies, and Feminist Philosophies in the Philosophy program at Eastern. She will be offering a new course on Buddhist Philosophies during Fall 2018.

Eastern Polisci-Economics student Tess Candler presents her work to members of Congress at Capitol Hill in Washington DC

By Joshua Newhall

Double major polisci-economics student Tess Candler presenting her work in Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

The Council on Undergraduate Research is national non-profit organization. The goal of the group is to cooperate with legislators and universities in order to encourage undergraduates to assist their professors with research, and to conduct their own. One of the cornerstone events of the organization is its annual Posters on the Hill event that meets every spring on Capitol Hill, Washington DC. The purpose of the event is to gather students from undergraduate programs around the country in one location to present their independent research. These are not your typical presentations though. Rather than explaining research in an academic setting to professors and fellow students, the undergraduates who attend Posters on the Hill have the unique honor of presenting to various members of Congress.

Hundreds of applicants request to attend the prestigious conference every year, but only sixty are accepted. This year, Eastern’s own Tess Candler was selected as one of the few people to present at Posters on the Hill. Needless to say, her presence at this event is indicative of the quality of both Eastern Connecticut State University, and its Political Science and Economics departments. In the Fall, Tess submitted her application for the conference to the Council on Undergraduate Research. The application required an abstract on her research idea, her history with academic presentations, and a letter of recommendation from her advisor. In March, 

Connecticut Representative Joe Courtney shares some moments to chat and pose with Eastern’s Tess Candler during her work in DC.

Tess was informed that her application had been accepted.Tess, along with her advisor Professor Courtney Broscious, traveled to DC together to attend the conference where she presented her research on environmental policy. Specifically, her research project aims at identifying the determinants of environmental policies that conservatives support. Tess’ research found a negative correlation between conservative support for environmental policy and bills that directly increase the size of government, hinder businesses, or decrease states’ rights. Tess hopes this research will prove beneficial to legislators attempting to pass environmental policy.

While at the conference, Tess presented her work to an audience of legislators, academics and students from different corners of the country. Perhaps the most exciting dialogue Tess had during her time in DC was that with Connecticut’s representative Joe Courtney. Tess had a personal conversation with the state representative about the importance of undergraduate research.

Tess’ experience is just another example of an Eastern success story. She noted that she had a great experience at the conference, and enjoyed meeting plenty of academics and representatives of congress. Any student who is interested in undergraduate research should reach out to their academic advisers.

Professor Christopher Vasillopulos invited as Distinguished Scholar to Address the International Association of Greek Philosophy

Political Science Professor Christopher Vasillopulos.

Political Science Professor Vasillopulos will speak this July on the Origins of Globalization at the 30th International Conference of the International Association of Greek Philosophy in Athens, Greece. His presentation will trace the conditions of the formation of the Global economy, beginning with the rise of 5th century Athens, tracing Alexander the Great’s creation of the Hellenistic trading system, the development of Renaissance Venice as the center of international commerce, the impact of the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the Middle Classes in Western Europe, and the role of the United States after World War Two.  The presentation will stress the links between prosperity and liberal political institutions, especially the protection of property rights.  It will indicate the differences between imperialism, which restricts the economic development of colonial peoples, and Globalization, which has been creating hundreds of millions of  middle class people, most spectacularly in India and China.    

SUNY Old Westbury Professor Llana Barber visits Eastern

By: Casandra Rivera

“White picket fences, apple orchards” and cookie cutter houses in the suburbs, cross an “unmarked barrier to find condemned mills and poverty in the city”. “How did the city get like this? How did it not affect the suburbs? Is segregation responsible?” These questions ran through my mind as SUNY Old Westbury Professor Llana Barber set the scene and placed me in the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts from 1945 to 2000.

SUNY Old Westbury Professor Llana Barber talking about her new book Latino City at Eastern.

In her recent visit to campus, Barber told the story of Dominican and Puerto Rican individuals migrating to the United States in search of what we know as the “American Dream.” However, what was initially expected from America was far from what they received.

These individuals initially settled in New York City, but the city was enduring an urban crisis: poverty and unemployment were rampant, and it was sometimes not safe. In search of a safer and more prosperous place to start their new lives, they migrated to the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Lawrence was also, experiencing an urban crisis of its own due to what is known as the “suburb boom.” During this time Lawrence’s suburbs “expanded, doubling in size and individuals from the city moved into these suburban areas, causing the city to go through a downward spiral.”

The people of Lawrence were looking for a scapegoat for the city’s decline, someone to blame for the urban crisis, this scapegoat became Dominican and Puerto Rican settlers. These individuals were blamed for bringing poverty, crime, and welfare dependency to the city of Lawrence.

However, through the hard times, Dominican and Puerto Rican residents of Lawrence were determined to prove this narrative false. Instead they halted Lawrence’s decline: they increased the population of the city, they increased funding for schools, they saved local industries that were hanging by a thread and they insured that Hispanics had a voice in the community. It was an act of activism that revitalized the city, these individuals came together to transform the city of Lawrence.

 

 

Polisci Professor Mendoza-Botelho Presents at Symposium on Bolivia

By Anne Pappalardo

Willimantic, CT — Eastern Political Science Professor Martin Mendoza-Botelho was invited by a small group of panelists to discuss “Bolivia: Assessing the Contemporary Social and Political Landscape” at a public symposium at American University in Washington, DC, on March 5.

Presenters at the event addressed the significance of Bolivian President Evo Morales’ term in office and the MAS, Bolivia’s governing party under Morales. They also discussed the historical impact of the era, key policies and initiatives, and addressed challenges and controversies that promise to shape Bolivia’s present and future.

Eastern Political Science Professor Martin Mendoza-Botelho (center), accompanied by symposium hosts Professor of Latin American Studies Robert Albro (left) and Dean of Academic Affairs Núria Vilanova (right), both of American University.

“Among other things, I commented on Bolivia’s Welfare State, including social policies such as education, healthcare and pensions, as well as how some recent changes will affect them, such as the reduction in price of key commodities, such as natural gas, that Bolivia exports,” said Mendoza-Botelho.

Since the beginning of his presidency in 2006, Morales has set an ambitious program of reform mainly aimed at incorporating long-standing social demands of indigenous and less privileged groups. Benefiting from the high prices of international commodities, the Bolivian government has been able to implement important reforms that have allowed the country to cut poverty by more than half, in addition to implementing important institutional changes such as the rewriting of the country’s Constitution.

“I hope this conference will foster an informed debate among experts that will eventually resonate among policymakers,” concluded Mendoza-Botelho. “In the recent past, the Morales administration has achieved impressive and positive social and economic changes that have benefited many sectors of the population, in particular indigenous groups that were historically marginalized.”

Mendoza-Botelho began his professional career with UNICEF and worked for several organizations including the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Organization of American States. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Cambridge, is a member of the Bolivian Studies Association and was editor-in-chief of the Bolivian Research Review journal. He became a faculty member at Eastern in 2013.