ARC Book Talk: Stuck by Margaret Chin Stuck: Why Asian Americans Don't Reach the Top of the ...

Photo Credit: NYU Press

Date: October 23, 2020

Time: Friday 3pm 

Co-sponsored with the New York Immigration Seminar. 

Registration Link:

In Stuck, Chin shows that there is a “bamboo ceiling” in the workplace, describing a corporate world where racial and ethnic inequalities prevent upward mobility. Drawing on interviews with second-generation Asian Americans, she examines why they fail to advance as fast or as high as their colleagues, showing how they lose out on leadership positions, executive roles, and entry to the coveted boardroom suite over the course of their careers. An unfair lack of trust from their coworkers, absence of role models, sponsors and mentors, and for women, sexual harassment and prejudice especially born at the intersection of race and gender are only a few of the factors that hold Asian American professionals back.

Chin, an Associate Professor of Sociology at Hunter College and The Graduate Center, CUNY, was an Advanced Research Collaborative (ARC) Distinguished Fellow.

Commentary on Emily Raboteau’s Endurance: A Novel by Martin Aagaard Jensen

In her presentation “Endurance: A Novel: Gentrification and Its Effects in Washington Heights,” Emily Raboteau invited us into the process of writing her novel Endurance about life in an apartment building in the upper-Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights. Featuring Manny, a superintendent of Dominican descent, as its protagonist, Endurance depicts the lives of residents in a building on 180th Street. While Manny takes care of the never-ending job of building-maintenance, he simultaneously labors to raise his teenage son Angel who is diagnosed with autism. Confronted with gentrification and changing demographics of Washington Heights, the personal struggles of Endurance’s characters are bound up with social and economic forces that they seek to resist and navigate despite increasingly difficult conditions.

Describing her approach to writing as interdisciplinary, Raboteau explains her methodology to writing Endurance as a process of historical research and ethnographic observation, a methodology meant to capture the changing nature of a neighborhood. Practically, this has meant shadowing her building’s super on a regular basis to understand his job as well as volunteering with kids with autism to better depict Angel’s character. In terms of research, Raboteau studied immigration history and investigated the urban ethnography of Washington Heights.

Explaining how storytellers can bring to life the lived experience hidden behind our statistical knowledge of economic inequality, Raboteau describes a realist commitment to social justice. That is to say, realism’s job is to produce critical reflections on behalf of the reader by conveying the social conditions and conflicts of our shared reality. Thus, the critical question is: how do you capture a phenomenon like gentrification through literary representation? Raboteau’s suggestion is to make the economic forces of gentrification a dramatic driving component of the narrative, by placing Manny’s job at risk due to new management of the building. In turn, this instance of economic change similarly puts Angel’s future at risk.

At the same time, focusing on the life of and in a building—a sort of social microcosm mediating the urban structure at large—allows a novelist to activate gentrification through individual characters. Through this slice of social reality, depicting a group of people with diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds, large-scale conflicts of dispossession and displacement can be articulated in personal stories. This leads Raboteau to reflect on questions such as: what does it mean to be part of a community? What are our responsibilities toward our neighbors? And what is the role of public institutions in taking care of its most vulnerable citizens, here dramatized through Angel’s autism? Ultimately, asking the question, “to whom does an apartment building belong?” is to inquire about the right to the city.

In Henri Lefebvre’s classic rendering, the right to the city is a political practice in which we collectively transform ourselves by changing the city. I believe it’s fair to say that the same concern informs Raboteau’s literary writing on gentrification, the effect of which is precisely the dispossession of the collective, political claim to reshape the urban spaces we all share.

Written by Martin Aagaard Jensen

Reflections on Language and Power – Tatyana Kleynat at ARC By Sara Vogel

Language and power are tightly intertwined. That was my takeaway from November 16th’s ARC talk featuring the thoughtful, engaged, and critical scholar Tatyana Kleyn, who is an Associate Professor and Director of Bilingual Education and TESOL in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Culture at the City College of New York.

This message about language and power came through in the substance of Kleyn’s talk and the film she screened about how transborder young people navigate language, family, and school as their families repatriate small towns in Oaxaca, Mexico after years of living in the United States. The power of words was also a theme that resonated in the post-talk conversation, including in ways that revealed some tensions in our ARC community that we would do well to address moving forward.

I’ll unpack that conversation in a bit. But first: the talk.

Tatyana is someone I have had the privilege to work with through the CUNY-New York State Initiative on Emergent Bilinguals, a project that brings K-12 teachers, administrators, and professors in bilingual education from across the CUNY campuses together to study and improve education for bilingual kids. As Don mentioned in his opening remarks, Kleyn’s work truly embodies the values and mission of ARC. Her research is interdisciplinary, straddling all of ARC’s clusters. She views phenomena such as immigration and multilingualism through the lens of theories that take into account racial, economic, and linguistic power hierarchies. And she is a public scholar, not content simply to write for narrow audiences of academics. Her films about the experiences of undocumented and transborder youth, as well as curriculum and guides for teachers based on the content of the films, are accessible for free online.

Before showing her film Una Vida, Dos Paìses (One Life, Two Countries), Kleyn asked us to consider the power of film as its own language. She argued persuasively that film can be mobilized as a research method, a medium of dissemination, and as service and activism. At the same time that she celebrated the capacity of the medium to “reprioritize whom we listen to” and to bring research participants’ stories alive for wider audiences, she also described some of the limitations and challenges of this type of scholarship. She has had to build strong relationships with her participants, many of them folks targeted in today’s political climate for their or their family members’ undocumented status. In addition, while she prefers not to use voice-overs in her films so that audiences hear participants “direct from the source,” she acknowledged her and her collaborators’ roles in editing and juxtaposing clips to create cohesive narratives.

The film she screened at ARC introduced us to a group of transborder young people living in Oaxaca, Mexico who call themselves “New Dreamers.” The film captures the complex, mixed emotions that come with “going home” — the feeling of belonging, but also of being “ni de aqui ni de alla” (from neither here nor there). One of the core themes discussed by participants was the role of language in their transitions to life in Mexico. Across contexts in the US and Mexico, languages are used for different purposes and have different statuses attributed to them. While the youth expressed love for the English language, and were often called upon by peers to tutor them in English, they also found themselves lost in classes delivered in Spanish, and felt peers and teachers in Oaxaca sometimes viewed them as stuck-up for their knowledge of English and experiences in the US. In her talk, Kleyn also described how indigenous languages, often regarded as less prestigious in their communities, are a key part of students’ linguistic repertoires, enabling them to communicate especially with older generations.

After Kleyn’s presentation, an audience member asked a question about the young people’s accents. It elicited a strong reaction from some of those present, including one who found it so offensive that he walked out. Rachel Chapman, a fellow ARC student, has provided her take on the question, and her response can be read on our blog here. Kleyn responded by critiquing the premise of the question, arguing that language ideologies about accent are rooted in socially and historically constructed hierarchies that rank speakers based on race, economic status, perceived education, ethnicity, and other markers (see Flores & Rosa, 2015 for more on this).

To me, the strength of ARC is its ability to foster critical conversations about dynamic and complex issues — immigration, inequality, multilingualism, and our digital world — with people at different stages in their academic careers, from different disciplinary, racial, and cultural backgrounds, in order to deepen research and practice in our fields.

Having conversations about complex issues across difference is not easy, however, and this moment at ARC brought those tensions into sharp relief.

Despite a professed desire for open, democratic dialogue, academic communities can reproduce many of the hierarchies they seek to dismantle. As we learned from the student when he returned to the conversation, for people of color, academia can be a violent space. Too often, people of color shoulder the burden and invest much emotional labor into correcting the oppressive dynamics which permeate our institutions. Others (read: white people) need to step up.

At ARC, there are some first steps we can take. There are many incredible organizations such as Border Crossers and the New York Coalition of Radical Educators, among others, which have figured out how to facilitate critical and constructive conversations across difference. I’ve drawn on resources from these organizations as I navigate my role as a white scholar and educator engaged in work with youth of color and their teachers, and have found them exceptionally useful.

To have critical and constructive conversations across difference, relationship-building and setting community norms are key. I noticed that when I began my time as an ARC student, there wasn’t a space devoted to building this community — perhaps such a space could be useful in the future. Some questions for ARC students and fellows to consider as we build community might include:

  • What are the challenges of coming together as an interdisciplinary community?
  • What norms might help ensure our conversations are both critical and constructive?
  • Who gets to study, publish about, and profit from research on inequality, multilingualism, and immigration? Why? In what ways does our community challenge those trends? In what ways does it reproduce them?
  • How might ARC fellows and students not just share our research, but work together to ensure we are also engaged in making our fields more equitable and just?

In many ways, Tatyana’s work offers us a compelling example of engaged, critical scholarship. She began her talk by discussing her own positionality — her own background and experiences, and how she arrived to her topic. She is transparent about how her own power and privilege shape her teaching and research. She forges strong bonds with her study participants, reciprocating in the communities that provide her with data. And her scholarship and teaching go hand in hand with her social justice activism.

I hope the talk from this week is a catalyst for some soul-searching at ARC. Not only might we strengthen and deepen our own work, but we might continue the hard work of dismantling oppressive structures within academia too.


Flores, N., & Rosa, J. (2015). Undoing Appropriateness: Raciolinguistic Ideologies and Language Diversity in Education. Harvard Educational Review, 85(2), 149–171.


By Sara Vogel

PhD Student in Urban Education, CUNY-Graduate Center

Call for Applications for Distinguished Fellowships

The Advanced Research Collaborative (ARC) of the Graduate Center invites applicants for Distinguished Fellowships for the 2018 – 2019 academic year. Applicants should have outstanding records of published research and scholarship. In addition to academic distinction, preference will be given to scholars whose interests strengthen the research priorities of ARC in the following areas: Inequality, Immigration, Multilingualism, or Global Cities. Distinguished Fellows are provided with an office, a computer, and access to the Graduate Center’s academic infrastructure.

Depending on their category of membership (see below), they will also receive either a Salary or teaching release. In return, they are expected to carry out their work regularly at the Graduate Center, which is located in New York City at 365 Fifth Avenue, and to participate in the intellectual and academic community of ARC and the Graduate Center. In practice, this means using their office on a regular basis, attending ARC events, giving presentations to a seminar and/or a public audience, sharing work-in-progress with doctoral students and mentoring them in a research praxis seminar and individual sessions organized for this purpose. Fellowships are tenable for one or two semesters during the 2018 – 2019 academic year. Distinguished Fellowships fall into two categories:

    • Distinguished Visiting Fellows: for scholars and researchers who are not employed by the City University of New York. A Distinguished Visiting Fellow will receive a Salary of up to $72,000 for the full academic year or up to $36,000 for a single semester.*


  • Distinguished CUNY Fellows: for tenured faculty at one of the campuses of the City University of New York. A Distinguished CUNY Fellow will receive three course releases per semester for a maximum of two semesters.

*All salaries are subject to Federal, State and City statutory deductions.

You can access to the application form here:


Steven Jones: The Priest and the CEO

The digital humanities did not spring up out of the ground, nor was the movement an inevitable byproduct of computing, information technology, or the internet. Instead, the emergence of DH has been a dialogue, an intersection of society and technology that renders in miniature the wider cultural tensions between the digital and the physical.

In his forthcoming book The Priest and the CEO, Steven Jones traces the pre-history of the digital humanities, focusing particularly on a 1949 meeting that has become the mythical origin of the movement.  In this encounter, Father Roberto Busa, a Jesuit scholar, met with Thomas Watson, CEO and chairman of IBM, to propose a collaboration on what would eventually become the Index Thomisticus, a lemmatization of the complete works of Thomas Aquinas. Though often recognized as the founding story of the digital humanities, relatively little serious historical research has been done on this seminal meeting. In his talk at the ARC Praxis seminar on November 13, Jones brought archival research and contextual analysis to bear on an event that has, until now, been more legend than history.

In contextualizing the Busa-Watson meeting, Jones drew a number of connections between the nascent technology at IBM and the “eversion,” or the rise in the early 2000s of digital technologies that made inroads on the physical world. Just as technologies such as GPS and social media refigured interactions between humans and machines in the early years of the 21st century, the mainframe era celebrated its own paradigm-shifting platforms and devices in the 1940s.  However, despite the optimism surrounding IBM’s machines in an era of sales copy and Madison-avenue hype, Busa’s proposal was an audacious one: “I knew, the day I was to meet Thomas J. Watson, Sr., that he had on his desk a report which said that IBM machines could never do what I wanted.”

Famously, Busa used IBM’s own self-assured rhetoric against Watson, persuading him by producing a company poster claiming that “the difficult we do right away; the impossible takes a little longer.” Yet Jones observes that this phrase, which echoes the motto of the British Navy’s corps of engineers, connects the Busa story to a larger postwar milieu. Busa served in World War II, first as a chaplain and later as a member of the partisan resistance, while IBM’s data storage technology served a darker and more controversial role in the war. In this light, Busa’s exchange with Watson mirrors the complex diplomatic relationships between the United States and European powers at the time of their meeting.

SSEC at IBMBusa’s “impossible” project did indeed take a little longer. Over thirty years, the collaboration between the Jesuit and the iconic American firm pushed storage, processing, and retrieval to their technological limit.  Given the state of card technology in this era, even data entry for the index took years. Yet the outcome was entirely novel, a “mixed marriage” between computing and linguistic research. The project wrestled with challenges, such as keyword context, that would become central concepts in the field of data analysis. In 1949, not only was IBM flexing its computational muscle with its innovative SSEC mainframe, but its nascent collaboration with Busa prefigured computers that could work not only with numbers, but with words.

While Professor Jones avoided drawing premature connections between his archival research and recent technology-fueled cultural developments, his work on this historic meeting clearly relates to issues at the heart of the movement. Whether lexical analysis, storage and retrieval, or search, the founding myth of the digital humanities prefigures a shift toward new modes of interaction between people and machines. In reflecting on the origin of the digital humanities, The Priest and the CEO may well give us insight into the movement’s future.

First Annual Graduate Center Archival Research Conference

The Graduate Center’s first Archival Research Conference featured student recipients of one of several different fellowships funded by the Provost’s office. Panels moderated by Graduate Center faculty were followed by an afternoon roundtable featuring New York Public Library and New-York Historical Society archivists discussing the collections they curate.

archival_research_lennihanFriday, September 5th, 2014
CUNY Graduate Center

The Graduate Center’s first Archival Research Conference featured student recipients of one of several different fellowships funded by the Provost’s office: the Lost & Found Stipends Program, the Provost’s Digital Innovation Grants, The Advanced Research Collaborative Award for Archival Research in African American and African Diaspora Studies, and The Advanced Research Collaborative Knickerbocker Award for Archival Research in American Studies. Panels moderated by Graduate Center faculty were followed by an afternoon roundtable featuring New York Public Library and New-York Historical Society archivists discussing the collections they curate.

Photos from the conference (via Twitter and Christopher Eng):

In order to showcase the type of research being funded by the Provost’s Office, some of the student presenters have graciously provided their presentations for this conference archive:

The full conference schedule and program follows below.



9:00-9:20am — Welcoming Remarks

  • Duncan Faherty (English and American Studies)
  • Provost Louise Lennihan

9:20 – 10:20am — Panel Session I

10:20 – 10:30am — Break

10:30 – 11:30am — Panel Session II

11:30 – 12:15pm — Lunch

12:15 – 1:15pm — Panel Session III

1:15 – 1:30pm — Break

1:30 – 2:30pm — NYC Archivists Roundtable (Elebash Recital Hall)

2:30 – 3:30pm — Reception (Elebash Lobby)

Panel Session I — 9:20-10:20am

C205 — Aesthetics, Politics, and Difference

Chair: Kandice Chuh (English)

  • Denisse Andrade* (Earth & Environmental Sciences, Geography)
    “The Black Radical Movement and the Poetics and Politics of Land”
  • Paul Fess* (English)
    “Slavery and Anti-slavery: Sound and Text”
  • Tonya M. Foster* (English)
    “Umbra Writers’ Workshop: Archives and Extensions—Tom Dent”
  • Saisha Grayson* (Art History)
    “Cellist, Catalyst, Collaborator: The Work of Charlotte Moorman, 1963-1980″
  • Stefanie A Jones* (Theatre)
    “Acts of Provocation: Racial Formation and Twenty-First Century U.S. Commercial Theatre”

C203 — Print Culture and Canon Formation in the Early Republic

Chair: William Kelly (English)

  • Brian Baaki* (English)
    “The Black Criminal in Early American Print Culture”
  • Courtney Chatellier* (English)
    “Archival Research in Early American Literature”
  • Nora Slonimsky* (History)
    “‘The Engine of Free Expression’ [?]: The Political Development of Copyright in the Colonial British Atlantic and Early National United States”
  • Nicole Zeftel* (Comparative Literature)
    “‘The Economics and Poetics’ of the Nineteenth Century Dime Novel”

C197 — Mining Alternative Geographies of Race and Labor

Chair: Herman Bennett (History)

  • Hector Agredano* (Earth & Environmental Sciences, Geography)
    “Railroads, Railroad Workers and Geographies of the Mexican Revolution of 1910″
  • Gordon Randolph Barnes Jr.* (History)
    “Imperial Fears: Planter Ideology, Violence, and the Post-Emancipation Experience in the British Empire, 1800-1900″
  • Megan Brown* (History)
    “Which Integration for Algeria? Eurafrica and the Treaty of Rome”
  • Jenny LeRoy* (English)
    “Capitalizing on the Global South: Eliza McHatton’s Hemispheric Plantation Economy”
  • Frances Tran* (English)
    “Traces of the Coolie: An Archival Encounter”

C201 — Sexuality, Politics, and the Archive

Chair: Alyson Cole (Political Science)

  • Meredith Benjamin* (English)
    “Engaging Feminism’s Archive”
  • Elizabeth Decker* (English)
    “Recovering Edith Summers Kelley”
  • Margaret Galvan* (English)
    “Watching Out for Dykes in Activist Archives and Special Collections”
  • Alisa Wade Harrison* (History)
    “An Alliance of Ladies: Power, Public Affairs, and Gendered Constructions of the Upper Class in Early National New York City”
  • Wen Liu* (Psychology)
    “Untying the Knot: Archiving the Marriage Equality Movements in Taiwan, China, and the US as Recent History”

Break — 10:20-10:30am

Panel Session II — 10:30-11:30am

C201 — Cultures of Political Economy

Chair: Jessie Daniels (Psychology)

  • Flannery Amdahl* (Political Science)
    “Big Brother’s Keepers: Liberal Religious Organizations and the Development of the American Welfare State”
  • Velina Manolova* (English)
    “Queer Interventions in Racial Liberalism in the Writings of Lillian Smith, Carson McCullers, James Baldwin, and Lorraine Hansberry, 1944-1970″
  • David McCarthy* (Historical Musicology)
    “The Appearance of the Comedy LP (1957-1973)”
  • Adam McMahon* (Political Science)
    “President-Led American State Unbuilding 1953-2013″
  • Sara Rutkowski* (English)
    “The Federal Writers’ Project and its Influence on African American Literature”

C203 — Critical Pedagogies: Rewriting of Knowledge Production

Chair: Steve Brier (Urban Education)

C197 — Representing Geographies of the Urban and the Rural

Chair: Cindi Katz (Earth & Environmental Sciences)

  • Jacob Cohen* (Music)
    “Experiences of New England: Urban and Rural in the Music of Chadwick, Ives, Ruggles and Crawford Seeger”
  • Nicholas Gamso* (English)
    “Race, Cities, and American New Wave Documentary of the 1960s and 70s”
  • Marjorie Gorsline* (Anthropology)
    “An Archaeology of Accountability: Race, Power, and Privilege in the Rural Northeast”
  • Cara Jordan* (Art History)
    “Joseph Beuys and Social Sculpture in the United States: Rick Low and Ongoing Residency”
  • Katherine Uva* (History)
    “Dawn of a New Day: New York City Between the Fairs”

C205 — Forum on Digital Initiatives and Fellowships

Chair: Matthew K. Gold (English)

  • Amanda Licastro (English)
    “The Writing Studies Tree”
  • Natascia Boeri (Sociology)
    “Community IT Centers and Organizing Women Workers in Gujarat, India”
  • Micki Kaufman (History)
    “Quantifying Kissinger”

Lunch — 11:30am-12:15pm

Panel Session III — 12:15-1:15pm

C197 — Diasporic Cultures and Identity Formation

Chair: Sujatha Fernandes (Sociology)

  • Anahí Douglas* (English)
    “African American Ex-pats and Exiles in Mexico”
  • Aídah Gil* (History)
    “Arthur, Arturo, and the Archive: A History of a Historical Imagination”
  • Abigail Lapin* (Art History)
    “Afro-Brazilian Art, Architecture and the Civil Rights Movement in Brazil, 1960s-80s”
  • Rocío Gil Martínez de Escobar* (Anthropology)
    “Bordering States, Bordering Race: Afro-Indigenous Struggles for Recognition in the Coahuila-Texas Borderland”

C203 — The Performances of Citizenship and National Belonging

Chair: Eric Lott (English)

  • Devora Geller* (Musicology)
    “Mamele on the Yiddish Stage and Screen”
  • Sissi Liu* (Theatre)
    “Monkey King Performances as Alternative Discourse of Asian Americanness”
  • Kristin Moriah* (English)
    “Dark Stars of the Evening: Performances of African American Citizenship and Identity in Germany, 1890-1930″
  • Melissa Phruksachart* (English)
    “Cherry Blossoms in Bryant Park: Mediating Asiatic Racialization on Cold War Television”
  • Hallie Scott* (Art History)
    “The Driftwood Village and the Truckin’ University: Experimental Architecture Education on the West Coast, c. 1970″

C205 — The Long Project of Abolition & Black Radical Resistance

Chair: Donald Robotham (Anthropology)

  • Laura Bini Carter* (Anthropology)
    “Embodied & Inscribed—Gwoka: Guadeloupan Social Movement and UNESCO Immaterial Heritage of France”
  • Sean Gerrity* (English)
    “Uncovering the Literature and History of U.S. Slave Marronage: An Archival Study in Virginia and North Carolina”
  • Timothy M. Griffiths* (English)
    “Other Black Households: The Archives of Queer Black Affective Formations”
  • Lydia Pelot-Hobbs* (Earth & Environmental Sciences, Geography)
    “The Consolidation of the Louisiana Carceral State, 1970-1995″
  • Wendy Tronrud* (English)
    “Buried Alive: Researching William Walker and Thomas Gaines”

C201 — Lost and Found

Chair: Ammiel Alcalay (English)

  • Lauren Bailey (English)
  • Philip Griffith (French)
  • Gabrielle Kappes (English)
  • Kai Krienke (Comparative Literature)
  • Megan Paslawski (English)
  • Alex Wermer-Colan (English)

Break — 1:15-1:30pm

NYC Archivists Roundtable — 1:30-2:30pm

Elebash Recital Hall

Welcoming Remarks by President Chase Robinson

Chair: Polly Thistlethwaite, Chief Librarian CUNY Graduate Center


Reception — 2:30-3:30pm

Elebash Lobby

* ARC Archival Research Grant Recipients

Names marked with an asterisk (*) received research funding through the ARC Knickerbocker Archival Research Grant in American Studies or the ARC Archival Research Grant in African American and African Diaspora Studies.

Additional grant recipients not listed above:

  • Vanessa Burrows (History)
    “The Medicalization of Stress: Hans Selye and the Transformation of the Postwar Medical Marketplace”
  • Omar Ramadan-Santiago (Anthropology)
    Performing the Third Race: Rastafari and the Racial Imagination in Puerto Rico

Provost’s Digital Innovation Grant Recipients

Names marked with a dagger (†) received funding through the Provost’s Digital Innovations Grant Program for the 2013-14 academic year.

Lost & Found Stipend Recipients

Names marked with a double dagger (‡) received funding through the Center for the Humanities Lost & Found Stipend Program for the 2013-14 year.