LIFE LETTERS MAGAZINE FOR THE COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN
Issue No. 30
Smile, Youâ€™re On Camera Tropical Storm P.12 Sick P.34 The Journey Continues P.42
An Education Like No Other
An education at a Research I university is like no other in that it gives undergraduates a unique opportunity to learn from and even work alongside some of the world’s top faculty researchers. A great example in our college is psychology professor Marc Lewis, who along with his wife Elizabeth Crook created the Eleanor Butt Crook Endowment, which is focused on enhancing teaching and undergraduate research in Plan II and Liberal Arts Honors. Marc has taught the Modes of Reasoning class in Plan II for years, dedicating much of his outside time to mentoring students in how to “think like a scientist.” He is an ideal example of a teacher and mentor who challenges his students daily, while also nurturing them to be lifelong learners. Rather than merely imparting knowledge, Marc trains students to be problem-solvers, encouraging them to explore difficult research questions that might seem beyond the reach of most students. It is a rigorous process in which learning and discovery truly blossom. These mostly freshman and sophomore students — who have won a number of research awards and fellowships — work with some of Marc’s former students in creating new research ideas in science and medicine, the best of which grow into funded projects that become the research focus of graduate students, postdoctoral students and laboratory investigators. For example, a few years ago one group of students decided to look at ways to preserve kidneys for transplant, which is a huge medical challenge. It is estimated that more than 90,000 people in the nation are waiting for a donor kidney, a wait that can be as long as five or even 10 years in some states. Student researchers estimated that if donated kidneys could be
kept alive for as little as two weeks, the waiting list would dramatically decrease. Remarkably, during the past few years the kidney preservation project has grown to involve four UT labs. One of these labs recently solved a 50-year-old research problem regarding the chemistry of preserving agents, and the findings were published as the cover story in one of the world’s most prestigious chemistry journals. The Eleanor Butt Crook Endowment, inspired by the transformational Bobby and Sherri Patton Challenge Fund, will build on this legacy of learning, supporting smaller versions of Marc’s class in Plan II and Liberal Arts Honors. An inaugural class, How to Think Like a Filmmaker will be taught by our extraordinary film scholar Donna Kornhaber, whom you will be reading more about in our spring issue of Life & Letters. Marc’s courses not only demonstrate the advantages of learning at a major research university, they also offer great funding opportunities for anyone who wishes to target their philanthropy toward giving students unique, real-world learning experiences.
Randy L. Diehl, Dean David Bruton, Jr. Regents Chair in Liberal Arts
CONTENTS WINTER 2018 College of Liberal Arts Dean Randy L. Diehl Director of Public Affairs David A. Ochsner Editor Michelle Bryant Art Direction & Design Allen F. Quigley Copy Editor Adam Deutsch Contributing Writers Victoria Davis Rachel Griess Emily Nielsen David A. Ochsner Contributing Illustrator Eric Moe Eric Moe
Contributing Photographers Brian Birzer Bryan Schutmaat
22 COVER FEATURE
Smile, You’re On Camera
02 Where India Goes
Behind the Lens of 24/7 Surveillance
04 Knowledge Matters
12 BOOK FEATURE
How Cuba Sent Revolutionary Waves
Around the World
54 Commentary 56 Puerto Rico’s “Death Debt”
Visit us online at lifeandletters.la.utexas.edu Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org Printed by Horizon Printing Postmaster Send changes of address to: Life & Letters College of Liberal Arts 116 Inner Campus Dr., Stop G6000 Austin, TX 78712-1257
The Poetics of Modern Health Care
The Journey Continues Rapoport Scholars Fulfill a Commitment to Community and Civic Life
On the cover: Illustration by Allen F. Quigley Back cover: Michael Ray Charles, (Forever Free) Ideas, Languages, and Conversations, 2015. Photo by Paul Bardagjy. Courtesy of Landmarks, the public art program of The University of Texas at Austin.
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Andrea Bruce / NOOR
WHERE INDIA GOES
UT Austin economist Dean Spears and sociologist Diane Coffey founded the Research Institute for Compassionate Economics (r.i.c.e.) in 2011 with the goal of improving health and well-being in India. They focus on an important driver of economic development: the health of children. Despite rapid economic growth, India’s infant and under-5 mortality rate continues to be higher than its poorer neighbors in Bangladesh and Nepal. “Money is not the only component of a good life — another is health,” Spears says. “When a population’s children are not as healthy as they could be, the whole society and economy will eventually miss out on well-being.” Their work was featured in National Geographic magazine in August 2017 in an investigative story on the dangers of rural Indian communities’ unsanitary practices of defecating outdoors. Like Coffey and Spears’ book, Where India Goes, the narrative wrestled with offering feasible solutions for outdoor defecation — mainly, constructing latrines — while addressing the communities’ “unique legacy of untouchability.” Unlike in other countries, where it is an unpleasant and low-ranking job to empty a latrine pit, in India this work is associated with a deep stigma of untouchability and the lowest social rank in the caste system, Spears explains. “When big problems are driven by social inequality, we should not expect it to go away overnight. As we write in the book, working to end casteism and untouchability is working to end open defecation and vice versa,” Spears says. “The exact right things to try are a matter for trial and error and iterative improvement, which is exactly why more people need to be involved.”
AMERICAN STUDIES, HISTORY By Rachel Griess Sharks have been intertwined with the fearful narratives of battles at sea, pandemonium abroad and mistrust at home, and they have been cast as characters infamous for their rapaciously devious behavior, predators lurking in the depths. “We can really think about human-animal relations, if we call them relations, with sharks — they’re so incredibly unlike us; they’re aliens from the sea — and how it relates to our changing relationship to the ocean over the centuries,” says Janet Davis, Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of American Studies. In the age of sail, when whaling was a booming industry, shipmen would frequently encounter sharks during their long sea voyages. The fresh, blubbery cargo strapped to the sides of their boats would attract swarms of sharks, thousandsstrong, leaving fishermen to fight them off while also fighting for their own lives. As more reliable and plentiful fossil fuels were discovered in the late 19th century, the centuries-old, multimillion-dollar whaling industry began to fizzle in the United States, transforming 4
Allen F. Quigley
Recasting the Role of Sharks
“All of these deep shocks, I would argue, come together in the body of a big mechanical shark named Bruce.” Janet Davis
industry-driven coastal communities, like Nantucket, into tourist hotspots that welcomed new populations to forge more leisurely relations with the sea. In July 1916, during a heat wave that had sent people flocking to the New Jersey shore, a series of five shark attacks left four dead and one seriously injured. The attacks were widely reported by newspapers and even demanded the attention of President Woodrow Wilson, who was not only running for re-election at the time, but was also dealing with the threat of U-boats in the Atlantic and a polio epidemic. A front-page headline in the July 15, 1916, edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer proclaimed “Government To Aid Fight To Stamp Out The Shark Horror.” “The fear and the idea of a shark coming back and feeding,
a killer hell-bent on returning — though it was never determined that one shark was responsible for all five attacks — really took hold of the American imagination,” Davis says. Shark fear again reared its carnivorous head in the waning days of World War II when the U.S.S. Indianapolis, after delivering parts for an atomic bomb to the island of Tinian, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine, leaving hundreds of sailors as bait for what is considered to be the worst shark attack in history. “Fear of sharks was such a cause for morale busting that the Navy actually spent a great deal of resources trying to develop a shark repellent,” Davis adds. The idea of going head-tohead with one of these beasts left people squeamish, but awestruck when listening to tales of
those who have taken on such a foe and won — like a legend of a man from Long Island named Frank Mundus, or “Monster Man,” who was made famous in the 1960s after harpooning an estimated 4,500-pound great white. The story, Davis says, inspired journalist Peter Benchley to sketch out the idea for his first novel, Jaws. “Movie rights were signed before the novel was even finished,” Davis says. Ticket sales were catapulted by the obsessive fear for sharks coupled with anxieties of the recent war in Vietnam and percolating mistrust of the federal government. “All of these deep shocks, I would argue, come together in the body of a big mechanical shark named Bruce,” she says. The 1975 movie unleashed a “frenzy of shark interest,” Davis adds, noting that some conservationists argue Jawsmania led to a noticeable decline in the shark population off the North Atlantic, due to sport fishing. Davis recalls a story from her research in which Benchley began to reconsider the implications of his work and became a dedicated environmentalist. She describes one point in the 1980s when Benchley was scuba diving off the coast of Costa Rica and happened upon hundreds of dead sharks — their fins removed — lying on the ocean floor. To Benchley, they were no longer man-eating monsters, but rather
mutilated victims. Today, sport fishing and “finning” — a practice that has escalated since China lifted its ban on shark fin soup in 1987 — has left more than 100 species of sharks at risk for extinction, suggesting the roles hunter and the hunted have certainly evolved. “All of these forces collide to create an order of animals that we think of as being terribly dangerous to us, but then the question turns back on itself: What kind of dangers do we pose to them?” Davis asks, reminding us: “Sharks are among the most ancient creatures on this Earth and a bellwether for us and the health of our oceans too. As strange and as distant and as other they may seem, sharks are very much at the center of who we are.”
Feathering Their Nest COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS This year, families of college students spent an average of $969.88 on back-to-school expenses, according to a National Retail Federation survey. That’s a lot of green, especially for things like XL twin sheets and mattress toppers that won’t fit any bed outside of a campus dorm. The truth is that many families aren’t
Lisa Heffernan, Randy Diehl and Mary Dell Harrington.
Grown & Flown helped donate 22,000 dorm items to 225 students.
in the position to be taking on such expenses. “We’re just parents wanting to help other parents,” says Mary Dell Harrington, a Plan II alumna of The University of Texas at Austin and co-founder of Grown & Flown, an online community of more than 200,000 parents who are raising budding adults. Co-founders Harrington and Lisa Heffernan — both recently listed in People magazine’s “25 Women Changing the World” — organized a mass donation of dorm supplies to 225 students in the UT Austin Foundation Scholars Program after a member in their Facebook group posted an inspiring video of a similar feat at another university. Donations came pouring in from moms and dads across the country, and Harrington and Heffernan reached out to businesses and the UT Austin College of Liberal Arts for help in getting 22,000 dorm items in the hands of students who needed them. “I love the fact that we’re encountering these students as they’re first becoming Longhorns because my hope for them would be that they would have the great four years that I had here,” Harrington says. “So, it’s exciting for me to see them and participate a little bit with Grown & Flown, to support them in this way that is very much like the way that we’ve done with our own kids — trying to feather their nest a little bit.” 5
GOVERNMENT It took two centuries and one mediocre grade to ratify the 27th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In 1982, Gregory Watson stumbled upon a 200-year-old proposed amendment, written by James Madison, while researching a paper for his sophomore government class. It read: “No law varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives shall take effect until an election of representatives shall have intervened.” Although the amendment hadn’t received enough state support to be passed at the time, Watson also noticed it didn’t have an expiration date. Excited, he wrote his paper on the possibility of reviving and ratifying the long-lost amendment. But his professor, Sharon Waite, didn’t see anything that was particularly outstanding about the paper and gave Watson a “C” for his efforts. “So, I thought right then and there, ‘I'm going to get that thing ratified,’ ” Watson told NPR reporter Matt Largey on “All Things Considered.” To ratify, 38 state legislatures needed to approve the amendment, minus the nine that had 6
Jay Janner / Austin American-Statesman
The “C” that Changed the Constitution
Gregory Watson shows off the A+ on his Update of Student Academic Record application at his office at the Texas Capitol.
It took two centuries and one mediocre grade to ratify the 27th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
approved it in the late 18th century. So Watson began writing letters to members of Congress urging them to push the matter, mostly to no avail. But he struck gold with Sen. William Cohen from Maine, who passed along the idea to state lawmakers, who approved it in 1983. Several letters, phone calls and conversations later, the Colorado Legislature followed suit in 1984; then five more states in 1985, three in 1986, 1987 and 1988; and seven more in 1989. After a decade of guerrilla lobbying, Watson listened on the phone as Michigan legislators
sealed the deal. “I wanted to demonstrate that one extremely dedicated, extremely vocal, energetic person could push this through,” Watson says. “I think I demonstrated that.” When Waite learned that her C had inspired Watson to get a constitutional amendment passed, she was “blown away.” And in hindsight, she says she believes Watson deserved an A+ for his effort. Thirty-five years later, with the assistance of government associate professor Zachary Elkins and signoff from his former professor, Watson finally earned that A+.
An Educated Decision
advanced-level math (trigonometry or higher) were most likely to vote in both elections, with 82 percent voting in 2012 and 62 percent voting in 2014. Participation in the midterm elections was lower in all cases. Similarly, students who tested higher in senior-year civics were 4 percent more likely to vote in presidential elections and 5 percent more likely to vote in midterm elections, compared with those whose civics test scores did not improve. “If people who are currently underrepresented in our voting population and elected officials took higher-level courses and learned more about civics in high school, the policies that come out may look different,” says sociology Ph.D. candidate Jamie Carroll, who presented her findings at the American Sociological Association annual meeting in August. “To support individual voting, schools must consider the civic implications of unequal high school preparation. All citizens must enact their right to vote during elections for democracy to survive.”
SOCIOLOGY, POPULATION RESEARCH CENTER Voter turnout in the U.S. is below turnout in most other advanced democracies, with only about 60 percent of eligible voters participating in the past four presidential elections and about 40 percent participating in midterm elections. While prior research indicates that those with higher levels of education are more likely to vote, new research shows highlevel math and engaging civics lessons in high school increase the likelihood of casting a ballot later in life. Using data from the study “High School & Beyond (1980),” UT sociology researchers determined how 8,400 voters were influenced by their academic preparation in high school math and civics in the 2012 presidential election and the 2014 midterm election. On average, students who completed Algebra I or higher were more likely than those who completed only general math to vote in both elections, with more than 70 percent participating in the 2012 presidential election. In contrast, nearly 40 percent of voters who completed only general math abstained from casting a ballot in 2012, and more than 60 percent did not vote in the midterm election. Overall, those who completed
Making A+ Difference
“All citizens must enact their right to vote during elections for democracy to survive.” Jamie Carroll
PLAN II, ENGLISH Christina Breitbeil, a Plan II Honors and English alumna ’17, received the 2017 Randy Diehl Prize in Liberal Arts, supporting her pursuit to become a teacher. The $18,000 award was established to “encourage liberal arts graduates to use their considerable skills in communication and understanding of other cultures, histories, philosophies and literature to effect a positive change in the world,” and is awarded to one graduating senior who is committing the year after graduation to service for the greater good. While at UT Austin, Breitbeil volunteered as a tutor for low-income high school students, taught abroad in Spain and Peru, and founded UPrep (University Preparatory Outreach Program) to assist students in Title I schools with the college application process. She also co-founded Not On My Campus UT, a student-run organization and social media movement working to end sexual 7
Reckoning the Haint AFRICAN & AFRICAN DIASPORA STUDIES Drea Brown made UT Austin history during the spring as the first doctoral candidate to defend a dissertation in the Department of African & African Diaspora Studies. The department, founded in 2010 under the direction of associate professor and chair Edmund Gordon, was the first doctoral program in black studies in the southern U.S. Brown’s dissertation, “Hush Somebody’s Calling My Name: The Haint Elegy and Black Women’s Poetry,” explored black female poets’ use of grief and memory as devices to reconstruct cultural histories and subjectivity. It was inspired in part by research she conducted for her 2015 chapbook, Dear Girl: A Reckoning, which won the 2014 Gold Line Press poetry chapbook competition. Her research imagined black 8
Drea Brown is the first Black Studies Ph.D. graduate from UT Austin.
women as categorically marginal figures, who appear in poetry as “the one haunted and the thing haunting,” which Brown refers to as the “haint.” By reckoning with the haints in these poems, black women rework the genre of elegy, challenging canonical ideas about who lives and who dies, who mourns and who remembers, Brown says. “Because we are haunted by a racial and sexualized past that continues to make itself known in the present, haunting is often an undergirding structure in our poetry, which makes a distinctive contribution to the genre of elegy, the poetry of loss and mourning,” says Brown. “I am entranced by form and aesthetic, poetry as a vehicle of memory and recovery, and the ways in which black women in particular navigate between these lines.”
Courtesy of Drea Brown
assault on campus. Since graduating, Breitbeil moved to New York to teach at an elementary school in Brooklyn, and she is working on a master’s degree from the Relay Graduate School of Education’s teacher pathway program.
Martin Dies III and Marilyn Ann White at the Rand Rock dedication in the ROTC suite of the College of Liberal Arts Building on April 20.
Funding the Future ROTC A $1.5 million gift will fund seven scholarships and contribute to the Marilyn Ann White Endowed Discretionary Fund, or “the tutoring fund,” for students in all three branches of the UT Austin Reserve Officers Training Program. The gift provides additional funding for the Lt. Col. Herbert C. White Jr. Leadership and Scholarship Fund, awarded to two junior or senior Air Force cadets; the Lois Clement White AFROTC Scholarship for Leadership in Health Science, awarded to one junior or senior Air Force cadet; the Senator Martin Dies, Jr. Naval ROTC Leadership and Scholarship, awarded to two Navy midshipmen or Marine cadets; and the United States Marshal Rand Rock Army ROTC Endowed Scholarship for Leadership and Scholarship Award, granted to two Army cadets. “This is where our future leaders are coming from, and they need a good education,” says donor and School of Nursing alumna Marilyn Ann White. “These young men and women are willing to put it all on the line for us, and currently their needs are being underserved by a lack of private support.” Scholarships were initially created through funding by White
and her cousin, government alumnus Martin Dies III, who combined their philanthropic efforts to honor White’s father, Lt. Col. Herbert C. White Jr., an Air Force officer who received both a Distinguished Flying Cross and a second oak leaf cluster for his service in the Army Air Corps during World War II. The family was honored with the naming of three UT ROTC suites: an Air Force suite, named to honor Lt. Col. White; a Navy suite, named to honor Dies’ father, Sen. Martin Dies; and an Army suite, named to honor Dies’ brother-in-law, U.S. Marshal Rand Rock.
ECONOMICS Analyzing data and numbers might sound a little humdrum for some, but one liberal arts student finds it excitingly applicable for his startups in the digital world. With nearly two years until graduation, economics junior Andrew Lee is already putting what he’s learned to work as an entrepreneur and founder of Karavan and BuyCustomGeofilters.com. Karavan is an iPhone app equipped with real-time location and group messaging that is designed to make meeting up with friends seamless. In looking for avenues to advertise Karavan, Lee had the
Adobe Stock / Snapchat
“Never would I think I would get the chance to sit in a room with the youngest billionaire in the world and ask him advice that pertained to my own startups — that’s the power of UT.” Andrew Lee
idea for BuyCustomGeofilters. com, a site for individuals and companies to order custom-made Snapchat geofilters — decorative borders or images, specific to a time or location — that users can select on the Snapchat app when sending pictures and messages to friends and community groups. Since 2015, his business has grown from Lee single-handedly designing 30 geofilters per month, to teaming up with designers around the world to manage more than 300 design requests per month. In order for both projects to be successful, Lee taught himself how to code through online tutorials. But the most useful knowledge, he says, was learning the ins-and-outs of Google analytics, attending his data science courses and listening in on a talk with Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel at an on-campus event. “The people that I’ve been exposed to and the support that I’ve had from the Longhorn community have been absolutely priceless. Never would I think I would get the chance to sit in a room with the youngest billionaire in the world and ask him advice that pertained to my own startups — that’s the power of UT,” Lee says. “However, I think one of the coolest things are being able to apply what I'm learning about data analysis in the classroom and seeing more money come in for my business — it’s an awesome feeling.” 9
Fernando D’Horta, from INPA-Brazil
GEOGRAPHY & THE ENVIRONMENT, LLILAS Hundreds of built and proposed hydroelectric dams may significantly harm life in and around the Amazon, according to research led by UT Austin scientists recently published in Nature. To meet energy needs, economic developers in South America have proposed 428 hydroelectric dams, with 140 currently built or under construction, in the Amazon basin — the largest and most complex network of river channels in the world, sustaining the highest biodiversity on Earth and 20 percent of the planet’s fresh water. Though justified for providing renewable energy and avoiding carbon emissions, these dams may present major disturbances to the Amazon floodplains, rainforests and the northeast coast of South America, as well as the regional climate, researchers say. Rivers in the Amazon basin move like a dance, exchanging sediments across continental distances to deliver nutrients to “a mosaic of wetlands,” sustaining wildlife, contributing to the regional food supplies and modulating river dynamics that result in high habitat and biotic diversity, says lead author Edgardo Latrubesse, professor of geography and the environment and faculty affiliate of the
Damning the Amazon?
[Top] Marañón River and Cochapata bends. [Bottom] Thamnophilus huberi, an endangered endemic species of the Tapajós that occurs only in islands with forest of Igapó.
Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies. Researchers found that many of the existing dams are located in areas of high sediment yield, such as the Andean Cordillera, which provides more than 90 percent of the detrital sediment to the entire system. The Marañón and Ucayali rivers are the most vulnerable in this area, with 104 and 47 dams planned or constructed on each river, respectively. Researchers estimated 68 to 80 percent of the area upstream of the lowermost planned dam in these rivers will remain unprotected from dam influence, modifying the rivers’ dynamics, decreasing floods and floodplain sediment storage, and
Fashion Meets Function PSYCHOLOGY Though an avid cyclist, Gloria Hwang was never a fan of helmets, referring to them as “scifi” nuisances. But after losing a friend through a cycling accident, her perspective changed. Hwang, a psychology alumna, says her mission in founding and launching Thousand, a new brand of cycling helmets, was to save lives, noting that there are 50,000 reported cycling injuries each year, 1,000 of which are fatal — hence, the name Thousand. The company, overseen by a board of advisers made up entirely of women, aims to eliminate the stigma around wearing helmets by introducing a modern style twist to protective wear. Thousand safety-certified helmets offer lightweight and cooling protection, with finishes to match any style and a patent-pending PopLock system — designed by Hwang’s father, a former NASA engineer — so riders can securely leave both their bike and helmet behind. A Kickstarter campaign last year raised $230,000 for the company, allowing Thousand helmets to be sold at specialty retailers worldwide, as well as on the Thousand website.
Courtesy of Thousand
putting thousands of species of birds, fish and trees at risk. Similarly, the Madeira River — which accounts for about half of the Amazon River system’s total sediment transported from Bolivia and Peru and is home to the most diverse fish population in the Amazon — faces extreme risks of potential land use change, erosion, runoff pollution and trapped sediment, researchers say. Here, two huge dams were recently constructed, the Santo Antônio and Jiaru dams, which led to a 20 percent decrease in the average sediment concentration in the Madeira despite unusually high flood discharges in 2014 and 2015. Other large rivers in the central highlands of Brazil are also impacted, researchers say. Investigation of the Tapajós River — where the main stem has not yet been directly disrupted, but 28 dams were recently constructed in its major tributaries — showed that the river and all its major tributaries will be impounded if developers move forward with 90 proposed dams and deforestation continues at its current rate. “We have to put the risks on the table and change the way people are looking at the problem. We are massively destroying our natural resources, and time urges us to find some rational alternatives for preservation and sustainable development,” Latrubesse says.
“Our goal is to ‘rebrand’ the bike helmet from commodity to lifestyle accessory.” Gloria Hwang
“Because of our mission, I think we’ve approached the industry differently. Our goal is to ‘rebrand’ the bike helmet from commodity to lifestyle accessory,” Hwang told Forbes. “Moreover, we really don’t see ourselves in competition with other helmet companies. Our approach has always been to grow our industry, so we’ve always viewed our competition as ‘not wearing a helmet,’ not other companies.” 11
Tropical Storm How Cuba Sent Revolutionary Waves Around the World By David Ochsner | Illustration by Eric Moe
hen it comes to staging a revolution, timing is everything. In 1959 an island nation of 7 million revolted against its U.S.-backed dictator, and with its subsequent export of revolution to Latin America became a major driver of U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War. In a story as compelling as it is complex, professor Jonathan Brown’s new book, Cuba’s Revolutionary World, shows us why this one revolution — at a particular time in history — succeeded where many others had failed. When Fidel Castro’s rebel forces seized control of Cuba on Jan. 1, 1959, their success in maintaining and build12
ing support among the Cuban people was fueled in part by the counterrevolutionary actions of the United States, which at the time saw much of the world through the lens of its rivalry with the Soviet Union. “If the Cuban Revolution happened in 1949 rather than in ’59, it would have been completely different because of the international constellation of countries and their competition at the time,” says Brown, who teaches in the nation’s topranked Latin American History program in UT Austin’s Department of History. The Cuban Revolution occurred at a time when a political tactician like Castro — who was a voracious reader and student of the French Revolution
— seized the historical moment and exploited tensions between the superpowers, ultimately turning to the Soviets and Marxist-Leninism more for pragmatic than ideological reasons. “The Cuban revolution in its origins wasn’t about Marxist-Leninism, it was more about nationalism,” says Brown. However, Castro’s fellow revolutionary, the Argentinian Ernesto “Che” Guevara, was committed to socialism — and to spreading the socialist revolution — from the very start. “Fidel, after all, faced the practical concerns of running a country. But he never parted ways with Che, even when Che went to Latin America by himself [to export the revolution],” says Brown.
“How many dictators do you know who can retire in their home country, and die peacefully in bed?” Jonathan C. Brown
“Their partnership was pretty important. Che kept Fidel grounded in the revolutionary ideology and the revolutionary pursuit. “But neither Che nor Raúl [Castro] had Fidel’s personality or political skills. He was probably one of the greatest politicians of the 20th century for good or for ill, because he was so effective,” says Brown. “It’s hard to believe that the Cuban Revolution of 1959 could have produced another leader like him … if Fidel had taken a bullet on the last day of 1958, would history be the same?” Within the context of the Cold War, Cuba’s export of revolution vastly disrupted the status quo in the Western Hemisphere, leading to a “secret war” with the U.S. that was largely conducted by the CIA. Ironically for the U.S. — a country that promoted democracy around the world — this secret war actually led to the decline of democracy in Latin America because the U.S. felt compelled to prop up antiCastro leaders, even if they were dictators. In essence, Cuba exported both its revolution and counterrevolution. “Any way you look at it, there is a lot of irony in the Cuban Revolution,” says Brown, who writes that “[Washington’s] opposition to Cuba trumped all other policies for Latin America. As a result, generals ruled Brazil for 21 years and Argentina for most of the 30 years after the fall of [Juan] Perón in 1955 … By 1976 a majority of Latin Americans lived under military rule, as opposed to 1958, when only a small minority did. “The U.S. support of counterinsurgencies in Latin America became something like a game with no end point,” observes Brown. “The CIA didn’t want to show that its hand was behind it all — but they did
Fidel Castro and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev appear together on the rostrum of the Lenin Mausoleum during Castro’s four-week official visit to Moscow in May 1963.
want to continue to harass Castro.” But Cuba also effectively played the game with the U.S. and with the Soviets, who like the Americans were not keen on Cuba’s export of revolution. In fact, the Soviets weren’t all that interested in Cuba until a change in leadership made it attractive to Joseph Stalin’s successor, Nikita Khrushchev. “Stalin would never have gotten involved in the Caribbean, but it just so happened that Khrushchev was looking for a big victory somewhere outside of his country, and Cuba was it,” says Brown.
“The official doctrine from Khrushchev to [Leonid] Brezhnev was that they wanted to compete peacefully with the United States and Western Europe, and they did not want to risk nuclear war. But Cuba wanted to go out and spread the revolution to the rest of Latin America, and they got away with it. That’s the amazing thing. And still the Soviets kept giving them arms and economic aid.” Although Cuba’s adventures abroad played an outsized role in Cold War politics, Che Guevara’s dream of exporting revolution to countries in Latin America
and Africa was mostly unsuccessful. One exception was Panama, which had sought for years to gain control of the U.S.-occupied Canal Zone that bisected the small country. In 1959, eighty armed Cubans led by two Panamanians assaulted Panama’s small Atlantic port, Nombre de Dios. Perhaps the assault helped to “rile up” a few Panamanians, but Brown notes they already had inspiration in the 1956 anti-imperialist uprising at the Suez Canal. If anything, it was U.S. intransigence
that fueled the ire of Panama’s citizens and leaders. Brown writes that during a time of strong anti-communism in the U.S., “Castro always popped up as the cause of the troubles over the Panama Canal.” When the Americans showed no interest in renegotiating the canal treaty, Panama’s de facto dictator Omar Torrijos reached out to Cuba and sought assistance from the newly formed NonAligned Movement, created by Castro to ensure “the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security
of non-aligned countries” in their struggle against imperialism. Brown saw first-hand the mood in Panama, where he served as a military officer in the Canal Zone in the late 1960s. “I arrived in Panama about three or four weeks after Torrijos made a coup d’ état. He did not become the right-wing dictator the Americans usually put up with. He became a reformer,” says Brown. “It was the inability of politicians in Washington to fashion an intelligent
Cuba’s Ministry of the Interior, located at the Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana, bears a large image of revolutionary Che Guevara.
Before relations with the U.S. soured, Fidel Castro demonstrated his PR skills during an April 1959 visit to New York City, just four months after he took charge of Cuba. Castro hired a public relations firm for the visit, during which he held babies, ate hotdogs and was kissed by beauty queens — all of it eagerly lapped up by news cameras. Here he clowns around with schoolchildren who were visiting him at his hotel.
policy that led directly to the coup by Torrijos, who would eventually convince the Americans to give up control of canal operations and the Canal Zone itself. He probably would not have been able to do that if it hadn’t been for Fidel Castro.” Although Cuba had less success in exporting revolution to other countries, this aggressive stance did buy it a measure of security. “You look at the French Revolution, 16
the Iranian Revolution, the Russian Revolution — they wanted to inspire revolutions in other countries to bring safety to themselves, and they knew that their neighbors were going to hate them because they had introduced a new model of development to the region,” says Brown. “So in order to sustain the revolution over the long term, the revolutionary leader uses aggressive foreign policy to continue to mobilize people, and the
leader gives each new generation a revolutionary mission.” Cuba remains the only country in Latin America that has successfully defied the United States and cut off all relations to the country. And up until his death in 2016, Castro was probably the most successful nationalist dictator in the world. Asks Brown: “How many dictators do you know who can retire in their home country and die peacefully in bed?”
Fidel, his brother Raúl, and Che were successful in equalizing society and destroying the class system in Cuba, notes Brown, but now that Cuba is changing back into a more worldly, globalized economy, the class system is coming back, favoring white Cubans who have relatives in Miami. Despite the changes in Cuban society, including the relaxing of economic restrictions, strong opposition remains to normalizing relations with Cuba, particularly from the Cuban-American community in Miami. According to Brown, that too has deep historical roots. “Castro’s revolution was a middle-class
revolution — Fidel himself was from that background. They were educated people,” says Brown. “But the Cuban middle class was also a historically divided class. Long before the revolution there were great sectarian divides. The middle class could not unite on any political objective. And that was true from 1902 when they were allowed to become independent from the U.S. up until 1959, and that’s why only a strongman could stay in power and unite the country. It was the middle class that moved to Miami.” Brown notes that those who arrived in Miami first were the most conservative members of Cuba’s middle class, many
Cuba’s Revolutionary World
Harvard University Press, April 2017 By Jonathan C. Brown, professor, Department of History
Fidel Castro’s famous explanation of the meaning of Patria o Muerte (country or death) is hand painted at the grand entrance to a decaying colonial mansion in Old Havana. The building’s top floor houses one of Cuba’s most celebrated restaurants, La Guarida.
of them supporters of deposed dictator Fulgencio Batista. And because they were there first, they still have a lot of control over money and politics in Miami’s Cuban community, as well as over Washington’s stance toward the island nation. “Our foreign policy toward Cuba depends upon presidential electioneering, and that’s really sad. Fidel is still influencing the United States … from the grave,” Brown says. “You can never expect intelligent foreign policies to come from presidential elections, because every president will be blocked from creating new policies for unusual situations in the world. The electorate always goes for strength first. All during the Cold War we confused nationalism with communism and treated both the same — with hostility. And it didn’t matter if the nationalist was a dictator or a democratic leader elected by his own people.” Brown says he believes Cuba will remain a communist nation “as far into the future as I can see. It will remain communist like China has remained communist. But economic restructuring, social change, those may be allowed to proceed. But the Communist Party is not going to give up without a fight.” He says Cuba’s communist leaders can persist because they have a “safety valve” in the U.S. “Because the country is so close to the United States, anybody who is politically upset with the Communist Party can always leave and join the people in Miami and continue to live a Cuban life.” As for future relations with Cuba, Brown says it is important for Americans to remember one thing: “The Cubans will always be Cubans. And they’re not Russians.” 17
BOOKS promises and the structural limitations of the office. This book is essential reading for anyone trying to understand America’s fraught political climate. Wes Anderson University of Illinois Press, Sept. 2017 By Donna Kornhaber, associate professor, Department of English Using filmmaker Wes Anderson’s focus on collecting as its organizing principle, Kornhaber approaches Anderson’s trademark style as the necessary product of the narrative and thematic concerns that define his work. The book covers Anderson’s entire oeuvre and includes an interview with the director.
The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America’s Highest Office Basic Books, Sept. 2017 By Jeremi Suri, professor, Department of History and LBJ School of Public Affairs Suri traces America’s disenchantment with our recent presidents to the inevitable mismatch between presidential 18
Care of the Species: Races of Corn and the Science of Plant Biodiversity University of Minnesota Press, Oct. 2017 By John Hartigan Jr., professor, Department of Anthropology Hartigan’s ethnography
of biodiversity research introduces readers to labs and gardens in Spain and Mexico where plant scientists grapple with the complexities of evolution and domestication, offering new ways of understanding racial thinking, historically and currently.
Late Empire Copper Canyon Press, Oct. 2017 By Lisa Olstein, associate professor, Department of English Future-haunted and disaster-veering, Late Empire inhabits the complexities of the present moment. Staked at the troubled intersections of our public and private lives, these intimate and brutal poems expose a dailiness shaped by political absurdity and implicate a language disfigured by persistent war.
I, Parrot Catapult, Nov. 2017 By Deb Olin Unferth, associate professor, Department of English; and Elizabeth Haidle Written by Deb Olin Unferth and illustrated by Elizabeth Haidle, I, Parrot is a graphic novel about a woman who loses custody of her son and will do anything to get him back.
American Tropics: The Caribbean Roots of Biodiversity Science University of North Carolina Press, Nov. 2017 By Megan Raby, assistant professor, Department of History American Tropics argues that the key scientific concepts and values embedded in the
A sampling of new and forthcoming titles from our college community.
modern idea of biodiversity have historical roots in fieldwork in the circum-Caribbean. This book examines the emergence of biodiversity research and its relationship to the expansion of U.S. hegemony in the region during the 20th century.
Dopers in Uniform: The Hidden World of Police on Steroids University of Texas Press, Nov. 2017 By John Hoberman, professor, Department of Germanic Studies Following two previous works on the social impacts of anabolic steroids, Hoberman’s newest title details the scope and significance of the felony use of anabolic steroids in major urban police departments — a factor, he argues, that almost certainly contributes to the excessive violence in American policing.
Under Surveillance: Being Watched in Modern America University of Texas Press, Nov. 2017 By Randolph Lewis, professor, Department of American Studies Tackling one of today’s most timely issues from a broad, humanistic perspective, this book explores the emotional, ethical and aesthetic challenges of living under constant surveillance in post-9/11 American society.
Legacies of Losing in American Politics University of Chicago Press, Dec. 2017 By Jeffrey K. Tulis, associate professor, Department of Government; and Nicole Mellow Tulis and Mellow re-examine the losing side of American history to reveal how defeated candidates, failed presidencies and unpopular social movements
Albert Parsons — Lucy Parsons was a fearless advocate of free speech, a champion of the working classes and one of the most prominent figures of African descent of her era.
eventually achieved success through the very mechanisms that caused their initial failures.
Goddess of Anarchy: The Life and Times of Lucy Parsons, American Radical Basic Books, Dec. 2017 By Jacqueline Jones, chair and professor, Department of History Born a slave in Virginia in 1851 and raised in Texas — where she met her future husband, the Haymarket “martyr”
The Socratic Way of Life: Xenophon’s “Memorabilia” University Of Chicago Press, Feb. 2018 By Thomas L. Pangle, professor, Department of Government; and co-director, Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas The Socratic Way of Life is the first Englishlanguage book-length study of the philosophic teaching of Xenophon’s masterwork. It shows that Xenophon depicts more authentically than does Plato the true teachings and way of life of the citizen philosopher Socrates, founder of political philosophy. 19
EVENTS 1 History, Labor, Life JOHN L. WARFIELD CENTER FOR AFRICAN & AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES Two patrons take in History, Labor, Life: The Prints of Jacob Lawrence at the Sept. 14 opening of the exhibition at the Christian-Green Gallery. Lawrence was a prominent 20th century painter who portrayed African American life in his work. He was also the first African American artist to have work included in the collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art.
2 Spring Commencement Speaker COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS, ECONOMICS Jason Lamin, the founder and CEO of Lenox Park Solutions, spoke at the College of Liberal Arts commencement ceremony on May 19. Lamin is an economics alumnus and serves on the advisory councils of the Department of Economics and the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies. In 2008, Lamin founded Nyawa Funding Group, a nonprofit dedicated to improving living standards in his home country of Sierra Leone.
3 Pro Bene Meritis Reception COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS On April 27, the College of Liberal Arts celebrated the recipients of its highest honor, the Pro Bene Meritis award. Since 1984 the annual award has been given to alumni, faculty members and friends of the college who are committed to the liberal arts, have made outstanding contributions in professional or philanthropic pursuits or have participated in service related to the college. From left, Randy Diehl, College of Liberal Arts dean; Edmund T. Gordon, Bobby Patton and Keith Sharman, the 2017 Pro Bene Meritis recipients; Gregory L. Fenves, UT Austin president; and Gordon Appleman, master of ceremonies.
4 Indigenous Rights Forum NATIVE AMERICAN & INDIGENOUS STUDIES On Oct. 13, the Native American and Indigenous Studies program (NAIS) hosted Indigenous Rights: A Forum Ten Years After the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007-2017). The event featured the Comanche Nation’s LaDonna Harris, who is founder and president of Americans for Indian Opportunity; and Pamela Palmater, a Mi’kmaw citizen, member of the Eel River Bar First Nation and Canada’s leading Indigenous lawyer. From left, NAIS Advisory Council members Kelly McDonough and Dustin Tahmahkera; guest speakers LaDonna Harris and Pamela Palmater; NAIS Advisory Council member Fikile Nxumalo; and NAIS director Luis Cárcamo-Huechante.
5 NEW Leadership™ Texas CENTER FOR WOMEN’S & GENDER STUDIES Participants of the NEW Leadership™ Texas summer institute tour the Texas Capitol on June 5. NEW Leadership™ is a national nonpartisan program developed by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University to address the underrepresentation of women in American politics. Each summer, NEW Leadership™ Texas brings together college women to teach them to be effective political leaders.
6 Liz Carpenter Lectureship: Dan Rather PLAN II HONORS The 2017 Liz Carpenter Lectureship, presented by the Plan II Honors Program, was held at Lady Bird Johnson Auditorium on Oct. 4 and featured veteran journalist Dan Rather. The event was hosted by Richard Reddick, assistant director of the Plan II Honors Program. The lectureship was established in 1984 by friends of Liz Carpenter, an alumna of UT Austin who served in the White House as press secretary to Lady Bird Johnson. Credits: 1: Cindy Elizabeth, 2: Ric Strong, Flash Photography, 3: Brian Birzer, 4: Todd Bogin, 5: Diani Guyton, 6: Matt Valentine.
Smile, Youâ€™re on Camera :)
Behind the Lens of 24/7 Surveillance
By Michelle Bryant Illustrations by Eric Moe Photography by Bryan Schutmaat
COVER FEATURE Randolph Lewis
on how we relate to surveillance emotionally and ethically, and what that means for our security and our way of life.
ven a strutting exhibitionist has something to hide: certain diary entries, genetic predispositions, financial mistakes, medical crises, teenage embarrassments, antisocial compulsions, sexual fantasies, radical dreams,” writes Randolph Lewis. “We all have something that we want to shield from public view. The real question is: Who gets to pull the curtains? And increasingly: How will we know when they are really closed?” Why worry about surveillance if I have nothing to hide? This has become one of the most disingenuous phrases in the English language, according to Lewis, an American studies professor and author of the new book, Under Surveillance: Being Watched in Modern America (University of Texas Press). It is a phrase often spoken with a privileged voice, but spoken by people who are rarely prepared for someone to start digging into every forgotten email or ill-considered social media post. Surveillance has become engrained in governance, business, social life and even churches, but well-intentioned technology can have unexpected aftershocks that far exceed their intended purpose. UT Austin professors are beginning a much-needed conversation
SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME?
Elevation, section and plan of Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon penitentiary, drawn by Willey Reveley, 1791. Source: The works of Jeremy Bentham vol. IV, 172-3 24
magine a “state of permanent visibility” in which your every action may be recorded and each step you take leaves a digital footprint, rendering you utterly predictable. Frantz Fanon, a Martinique-born psychiatrist, philosopher and writer, described the emotional and physical response to constant monitoring as: “nervous tensions, insomnia, fatigue, accidents, lightheadedness and less control over reflexes.” Fanon was a jumping-off point for Simone Browne’s research for her book, Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness (Duke University Press) when her requests for information on Fanon to the FBI and CIA were met with a response that neither confirmed nor denied the existence of files. She was particularly interested in Fanon’s travels to the United States during 1961 to receive treatment for myeloid leukemia; he would die that year at the age of 36. “Fanon was this critical theorist, someone who actively participated in anti-colonial projects; to think that his death in the U.S. is something that is still under this Glomar response (can neither confirm nor deny) was a spark to think about how blackness itself is redaction — sometimes you see these FBI documents blacked out,” says Browne, a sociologist and an associate professor of African and African diaspora studies. “These important parts gave me a way to think about how in the study of surveillance a lot of important parts about black history and presence get redacted, too.” When we think about surveillance, we often imagine it in the abstract, like “Big Brother” or a shadowy government agency — something out of a Tom Clancy novel — but surveillance can be felt at a very real and intimate level. For example, Browne points to the ways a person might monitor a spouse or partner, check into their
phone receipts, track their everyday movements by whom they’ve been calling or texting. It might not be a hacker or a government wiretap, but it is nevertheless a type of surveillance. Architectural design can also lend a watchful eye to surveillance culture. Jeremy Bentham, the early 19th-century reformer known for his controversial designs for English prisons, located a nearly invisible watcher at the center of a circular prison. The design provided the mental restraint that comes from the assumption of constant monitoring — much like social media sites do today. “You can even think about something like a public bathroom,” Browne says. “A lot of times when you go into public bathrooms the door doesn’t reach all the way to the ground. There is some space between the door, so you can actually see people walking. A lot of that could be about controlling who’s in the bathroom. Bathrooms, as we know, are quite a contested space.” Physical spaces such as airports can be especially anxiety-filled. Browne describes it as a type of security theater or performance that is dependent on anxiety and compliance. It’s the notion that people being uncomfortable would betray some type of tell if they were “up to no good,” Browne says. It’s already an anxiety-filled space because you might be subjected to a search based on your hair, gender or self-presentation. This security theater is probably most pronounced in the TSA check-in line, where “safe” and “unsafe” areas are in close proximity. “Anyone can stand up there really,” Browne says. “To think about the TSA checkpoint being an unsafe place, and the idea that right next to it is safe — the space where the security is happening and we are taking out our liquids and taking off our belts.” Lewis points out that it may be no coincidence that anxiety rates in America are at historical highs. When we are moving around airports or city streets, there’s a self-consciousness that can be overwhelming, especially if you’re already an anxious person, he says. Surveillance has even encroached upon our natural landscape, taking with it those feelings of escape and tranquility. 26
“My fear is that [digital natives] will just accommodate themselves to it because it’s easier, and because we are seduced into doing it by corporations that get so much data from us, and what we get is a free game, a free app, a social network.” Randolph Lewis
“Wilderness is always a little bit of a fantasy,” Lewis says. “We’re going to be off the grid, but it’s an important fantasy in America to be unobserved and truly alone in nature, and that’s going to become impossible as drones are flying overhead.” “We are losing our liberty and important forms of dignity that can only exist when we are able to be truly alone, at least for a moment,” he says.
GROWING UP OBSERVED
n the 1960s, the social critic Paul Goodman published Growing Up Absurd: Problems of Youth in the Organized Society, a grim look at the homogenized mass culture for those who had grown up during the Eisenhower years, but Lewis says today our children are reared in an additional layer of absurdity: the controlling gaze of the parent, school and state, which creates a culture of almost constant monitoring. “Rather than growing up absurd, we are growing up observed …,” Lewis writes. “And this constant emphasis on control, predictability and security seems to have a perverse byproduct: The more we press for a deep and lasting sense of security, the more we are miserably insecure.” Surveillance has even crept into the workplace and home. Hotel maids may be monitored for maximum efficiency, call center operators may be listened to for an appropriate customer service tone, and nannies watched with suspicion via nanny cam. “One of the sad things about this type of domestic surveillance is that we constantly hear these horror stories about nannies — working class, often people of color — my mom was a nanny, so I’m really sensitive to this, I guess — they are held up like the demon in so many news stories,” Lewis says. “They are going to hurt your child; they are going to shake the baby — where statistically there’s no evidence that nannies pose any danger to children any more than the rest of the population. It creates another level of social disconnection, paranoia and fear around something that is already emotionally fraught, which is letting someone else take care of your child.”
There is a crippling self-consciousness that can come from feeling monitored so closely and invasively, but what will the next generation’s response to surveillance technologies be? The answer may lie in our biographies, particularly in aspects of our identities in regard to empowerment, autonomy, respect and vulnerability. “I think that I’m in a transitional generation where this feels really foreign and toxic to me to live in the increasingly surveilled mode,” Lewis says. “The real question is for digital natives who are 15 years old like my daughter. Will it seem strange to them or just part of a world they’ve just grown up in? And we don’t really know the answers except for anecdotally. “My fear is that they will just accommodate themselves to it because it’s easier, and because we are seduced into doing it by corporations that get so much data from us, and what we get is a free game, a free app, a social network,” Lewis says.
“It’s kind of the regulatory Wild West where there’s this data hunger.” Sarah Brayne
November 2014 Pew Research survey revealed 91 percent of Americans “believe that consumers have lost control over how personal information is collected and used by companies.” Although consumers seem to dislike this, there seems to be a disconnect between their feelings and actions. The brokering of private data is a multibillion dollar industry. Data has become capital in the Digital Age, and so this huge industry has emerged to sell, share, trade and even rent your data. “We normally think about consent at the point of data collection, like ‘Yes I’m consenting to give this contact lens company my information or yes, I’m consenting to give my phone number to Pizza Hut when I call and order a pizza,’” says Sarah Brayne, assistant professor of sociology and a Population Research Center research associate. “But with this repurposing of data, or what some people call ‘data creep’ or ‘function creep’ — the idea that data originally collected for one purpose is then used for another — is rendering this concept of consent somewhat anachronistic, and it doesn’t really fit well with how data is used now.” Privacy laws usually relate to the point of data collection, but not “function creep” or repurposing of data that may be collected with no expressed purpose. “It’s kind of the regulatory Wild West where there’s this data hunger; let’s just collect all the possible information we can, and then we’ll try machine learning. We’ll try seeing if we can learn anything from this data,” Brayne says. “Data collection doesn’t always have to have malintent either,” she adds. “A lot of data integration is originally done under this welfarist ideology of service delivery. Like electronic medical records — let’s improve prescription drugs and care coordination, that kind of thing. But once data exists, it can be repurposed, and so the harder edge of social control can come into the picture.” It’s difficult to change habits and the conveniences we become accustomed to, even when the safeguards 27
COVER FEATURE Simone Browne
are not in place. “I wish Equifax and these other breaches would provoke some type outrage that lasted for more than a week,” Lewis says. “One company after another gets hacked, and we lose all of this data, and there’s not real accountability or consumer protection. I think that this is the most maddening part of this, the unknowability and unaccountability. “We’ve created this incredible machinery of surveillance, and if you trust who’s got the keys to the system, OK. Fine. But what happens if it’s in the hands of someone you don’t trust?” Lewis asks. “We need to figure out a way to have a really mature conversation about privacy in the Digital Age,” Lewis adds. “But my cynicism comes in where I don’t think we have the political leadership or the cultural maturity to have that conversation. It’s a really hard one because we might have to give up some of the fun things about surveillance culture.”
n an age when we bring our smartphones almost everywhere with constant connectivity, ordinary people find themselves encouraged to play along with surveillance practices, and most are happy to oblige in the name of convenience, connection or fun. We, in part, share in the surveillance burden. “The implication is fascinating: The world won’t get a radical makeover when surveillance becomes omnipresent, woven deep into our buildings and bodies, but instead it will look reassuringly familiar to us,” Lewis writes. “The new Panopticon will have Wi-Fi, cappuccino and vegetarian options. It will utilize the language of choice, freedom and pleasure. It will speak casually about freedom and dignity. It will make us laugh and feel connected with a lightness of spirit that seems, at least on its bright, shiny surface, very far from the world of Bentham, Orwell and Foucault. It will make surveillance seem cool.” However, some of that convenience and entertainment may come at the cost of your privacy, Lewis writes in a chapter devoted to what he calls 28
Uploading your image on Snapchat with bunny ear filters may sound fun in the moment, but you should also consider that you’ve now given an entity, Snapchat, access to your biometric measurements. Simone Browne
the “Funopticon.” Lewis shares examples such as the Roomba vacuum cleaner that maps your home to know your furniture’s locations for cleaning purposes, but then the company sells that information to third parties who may then send you targeted ads; or the Samsung television introduced a few years ago that used voice commands and recorded every conversation in the house, a practice the company has since discontinued. It’s become increasingly difficult to manage our data footprint, especially our digital presence on social media. Employers can already search job candidates’ social media presence to gain insights into the candidates and their friends. Insurance companies have even used Facebook to deny claims. “If you’re not on Facebook, your friends may put you there in group shots, so it comes back to questions of consent and access, and can we truly even opt out of some of these surveillance sites because for many people, a site like Facebook — I think it has close to over a billion users now — it’s something they see as a necessity, whether it’s for news or connection to family and friends or seeing pictures of cute cats,” Browne says. Uploading your image on Snapchat with bunny ear filters may sound fun in the moment, but Browne says you should also consider that you’ve now given an entity, Snapchat, access to your biometric measurements. Often, we don’t understand how the body is made into data, or what our rights are to our own body data. Browne says one possible way to improve our understanding would be a push for shorter user agreements in plain and easy to understand language. Browne asks her students to think about what happens to this data. How long is it stored? How is it shared? “It’s not only about understanding the human body, but the notion of how much can we refuse to have our body turned into data,” Browne says. “And often the question is no. If you need to get a green card, you have to give your fingerprints or you have to give your face print, and some places you have to go closer with your iris. So, there are questions of
what are our rights of refusal and ownership. So who owns that data? Information that is derived from the human body, is that our intellectual property or that of the social media site, the government or the other entity that has this information?”
iometrics in its simplest form is a means of using the human body as identification. Browne recalls working on her dissertation about Canada/U.S. border security when the permanent resident card — considered to be one of the most secure documents due to its use of biometric information — was issued after 9/11. She says that got her interested not only in the ways that surveillance is used at the site of the human body, but also who is targeted and even opting in to these types of technologies. Browne cites a U.S. company in Wisconsin that uses radio frequency identification (RDIF) chips that are embedded under the skin. “It’s the idea of being cool and on the cusp of using medical-grade radio frequency identification chips that you can use to open a door. They call them biohackers … But the idea that a company encouraged their employees — I use the word encouraged lightly — to sign in or out like a punch clock. “Your employer could track more about you. What happens if you leave that company in Wisconsin?” Browne asks. “What happens if (the chip) migrates in your body and it can’t be removed or it calcifies and hardens? Those are also concerns.” RDIF chips are also being used at some exclusive hotel resorts. Browne mentions an example in Ibiza, Spain, and there are nightclubs offering access to VIP areas and using the chip to serve as a debit account. Unlike people who don’t have the right to refuse (those who are imprisoned or even children), this clientele wants to be the first to try something cutting edge. The idea of biometric surveillance is nothing new. Browne’s book gave her the opportunity to look at how our history informs our present. 30
“I looked at branding of enslaved people as a form of marking the body as a site of surveillance,” Browne says. She also looked at how runaway notices would include not only physical descriptions, but what the runaways took with them, what they wore and the languages they spoke. Browne researched The Book of Negroes, a record of 3,000 formerly enslaved black people who escaped to the British lines during the American Revolution and one of the first large-scale uses of the body as a means of identification and tracking by the state. The British ledger included name, place of birth and physical description. “Whether someone had lost an eye or they had pockmarks, these types of ways of identifying a person became important because claims might be made of these people who were to be free, but there were others who demanded they were to be property,” Browne says. In essence, The Book of Negroes is a story about the regulation of mobility through biometric surveillance.
LUMINOSITY antern laws in 18th-century New York City mandated that enslaved people carry lighted candles as they moved about the city after dark, writes Browne. Luminosity sought to keep the black, the mixed-race and the indigenous body in a state of permanent illumination, thus regulating people’s mobility, she explains. “Lantern laws made the lit candle a supervisory device — any unattended slave was mandated to carry one — and part of the legal framework that marked black, mixed-race and indigenous people as security risks in need of supervision after dark,” Browne writes. “That was still a technology at the time, but the idea was that these human beings became part of the city’s lighting infrastructure in some way,” Browne says. “It was not only about surveillance — the individuals who were mandated to carry these lanterns, but it was about lighting up the city in some way for other people who were walking. And I think you still
“We live in a messy social world, and so data is also a messy reflection of that.” Sarah Brayne
see the ways that certain humans get made into technology in our presence.” Browne recalls as an example the 2012 South by Southwest Festival, when BBH Labs hired homeless people to wear hardware that made them Wi-Fi hotspots, which some people criticized as dehumanizing. The homeless participants became part of the Wi-Fi infrastructure, wearing T-shirts that said, “Hi, I’m a 4G Hotspot.” Another example is the 2010 city code in Tampa, Florida, requiring roadside solicitors to wear reflective vests or risk a citation from the police.
BIG DATA POLICING rayne’s research, published in the American Sociological Review, examined for the first time how adopting big data analytics both amplifies and transforms police surveillance practices. Brayne interviewed and observed 75 police officers and civilian employees of the Los Angeles Police Department — a pioneer in data analytic policing — to identify key ways law enforcement has implemented in-house and privately purchased data on individuals to assess criminal risks, predict crime and surveil communities. “I think that what’s really important is that it’s not just one new surveillance technology that’s transformative, but rather, it’s this combinatorial power of using different things in conjunction with one another that grants authorities a level of insight into individuals’ lives that previously would have required a warrant or one-on-one surveillance,” Brayne says. Big data supplements officers’ discretion with algorithm-based, quantified criminal risk assessments. For example, in some divisions, an individual’s criminal risk is measured using point values based on violent criminal history, arrests, parole or probation statuses and police stops. People with high point values are more likely to be stopped by police, thus adding another point to their record. “When you start to codify or bake in police practices as objective crime data, you sort of get into this feedback loop or self-fulfilling prophecy,” Brayne says. 31
“It puts individuals who are already under suspicion under new and deeper and quantified forms of surveillance, masked by objectivity or as one officer described it: ‘just math.’ “You have to believe that the data is perfect, and it’s not,” Brayne adds. “We live in a messy social world, and so data is also a messy reflection of that.” Brayne says she definitely thinks law enforcement and other surveilling agents should use emergent technologies to improve service delivery, reduce crime and focus resources. However, she does think they can improve their practices by rolling out things more slowly, more thoughtfully and more systematically to gain empirical insights about best practices. “While people in managerial roles tended to love it, line officers felt like it was a means by which they came under increased surveillance themselves,” Brayne says. “There is a lot of distrust among officers about what is actually happening.”
THE BUSINESS OF INSECURITY
RECOMMENDED READING: Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness Duke University Press, Oct. 2015 By Simone Browne, associate professor, Departments of African and African Diaspora Studies and Sociology
Under Surveillance: Being Watched in Modern America University of Texas Press, Nov. 2017 By Randolph Lewis, professor, Department of American Studies
ome U.S. churches have begun to invest in surveillance technologies with security teams and threat detection at the door. Lewis focused his research on smaller and midsized suburban churches. “It’s just really strange to be in a church where there is a crucifix and above that a camera, and you start to wonder, which one really has control here in some symbolic sense?” Lewis says. Lewis attended a surveillance trade show at the Javits Convention Center in New York — filled with spy gadgets, cameras and sensors galore — to try to gain a better understanding of what is motivating some churches to make such a large investment in security. “The market uses emotions to sell things and doesn’t give any consideration to ethics or even efficacy,” Lewis says. “That really blew my mind because I thought ‘Well, you can’t sell this million-dollar system without saying: Here’s the evidence that it works,’ but you can.” 33
SICK The Poetics of Modern Health Care
By Victoria Davis | Photography by Ann Hamilton
...And all the while, I kept thinking about that great old Whitman poem... ‘When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer.’ I...I don’t know it. Anyway... Well, can you recite it? Pathetically enough, I could.
With some encouragement from Walt, Gale continues: When I heard the learn’d astronomer, When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me, When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them, When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room, How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick, Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself, In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time, Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
O N E E V E R Y O N E is a public art project commissioned by Landmarks in 2017.
O N E E V E R Y O N E â€˘ Chaisten
fter watching this clip from Breaking Bad, a group of firstyear students from the Dell Medical School read the poem silently, using a close reading protocol that guides them to paraphrase, observe and analyze. English professor and associate director of the Humanities Institute Phillip Barrish facilitates the discussion. One student points out that there is a tension in the poem between real-world experience and scientifically mediated experience. Another student mentions how in the first part of the poem the language is analytical and passive and in the second, where the speaker takes action, the language becomes more sensory and subjective. Finally, the students note that this literary shift, a break in the poem, happens with one word: sick. Illness is disruptive. It tears apart the fabric of a person’s life as well as the lives of family members and even their community. Imagine an earthquake, shockwaves radiating from an epicenter along fairly predictable, or at least observable, paths. Imagine the aftershocks and the features of the landscape hinting at more earthquakes to come. Imagine the built environment at ever-increasing risk. What would happen if geologists only looked at the moment of the earthquake itself, treating it as a discrete event separated from human activity? They would put whole communities at risk. Yet, that’s how we often understand and expect medicine to operate — in tight focus, at a microscopic, individual level, and solely in a moment of crisis. But this wasn’t always the case. As Dr. Steve Steffensen, chief of the Learning Health System at Dell Medical School explains, until about 150 years ago 36
O N E E V E R Y O N E • Maria
“Medical school will teach you what a human is; the humanities teaches you what it means to be human.” Steve Steffensen
Hygeia, or wellness, took precedence over — or was at least equal to — Panacea, universal cure. There was really very little that could be done once someone became sick. However, various innovations, including control over bacteria and better means of diagnosing illness, led to medicine focusing on, as he says, “the hope of cure” rather than prevention. But the pendulum is now swinging back. “And if your focus is on health, then you need to ask the question: Where does health happen? Does it happen in my 10-by-10 exam room when you come to see me with a condition to treat? ... I can prescribe something for you. I can do a diagnostic work up. I can help you manage a condition. But rarely does health happen,” says Steffensen, who believes it does happen when we escape the confines of the lecture hall, the examination room and even technology. “Health happens outside of our hospitals and institutions where we work, live, pray, play. Medical school will teach you what a human is; the humanities teaches you what it means to be human.” Medical professionals are now understanding that the observation and reflection skills that the humanities disciplines engender need to be reintegrated into their practice to better serve patients, the community and clinicians themselves. Consequently, many medical schools are now setting up medical humanities institutes, or, at least, developing and implementing medical humanities curricula. At Dell Med, arts and humanities are foundational to the mission of patient-centered care and their commitment to the community. According to Steffensen, “everyone from our dean to our vice deans to our faculty and staff under-
O N E E V E R Y O N E • Taylor & Lilah
stands and appreciates the importance of the humanities.” Thus, as the Dell Medical School continues to grow, humanities will be integrated into student-focused curriculum and development, faculty development, community engagement and collaboration with the humanities expertise on the Forty Acres.
HUMAN TOUCH nn Hamilton’s public art project O N E E V E R Y O N E, commissioned by Landmarks for the Dell Medical School, is a series of community portraits in which the experience of touching is made visible, an apt metaphor for Dell Med’s commitment to patient-centered care and the natural intersection of medicine with the arts and humanities. These images are also indicative of the deep collaborations and lasting cross-campus relationships built to welcome Dell Med to the UT community. As Pauline Strong, professor of anthro-
pology and director of the Humanities Institute, explains, “the health humanities is an area in which exciting research and community partnerships are occurring nationally and internationally.” Consequently, the Humanities Institute chose as its theme for 2016-2018, “Health, Well-Being and Healing,” to bring together UT faculty members, students, clinicians and community researchers to, in Strong’s words, “collaborate on programs that seek to understand health, illness, healing and health justice in the broadest possible perspective, across time, space and academic disciplines.” This focus has also led to additional collaborations with Dell Med, Landmarks, the Blanton Museum of Art and the UT English department’s Texas Institute for Literary and Textual Studies (TILTS). TILTS chooses a different theme for each academic year and in 2016-2017 focused on “Health, Medicine, and the Humanities.” A series of speakers covered a broad range of topics in medical 37
humanities including gaming and its applications to the humanities and health care education, race and metabolic disorders, disability studies, and death as a cultural and medical phenomenon. Additionally, they collaborated with the Humanities Institute in bringing other distinguished lecturers to campus including poet and physician Rafael Campo and Priscilla Wald, professor of English and women’s studies at Duke University, who spoke on “Cells, Genes, and Stories: HeLa’s Journey from Labs to Literature.” The TILTS–Humanities Institute collaboration also sponsored a week-long residence by Dr. Rita Charon, professor of medicine and founder and executive director of the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia Presbyterian Medical School. In addition to delivering a public lecture “The Shock of Attention: Bodies, Stories, Healing,” her residence as the C.L. and Henriette Cline Centennial Visiting Professor in the Humanities included a panel discussion with university and community leaders on the notion of a caring society, and a lecture at Dell Medical School, where she met with students and inspired several of them to form their own close reading and expressive writing group based on the Columbia Presbyterian model.
TELLING THE PATIENT’S STORY
ell Medical School student Virginia Waldrop, now in her second year, was excited when she saw the poster advertising Charon’s lecture at Dell Med because she knew a bit about Charon and Columbia Presbyterian’s narrative medicine program. A for38
mer humanities major who enjoys creative writing and reading literature, she knew that several of her fellow students would also enjoy a chance to get together outside of their regular studies to read literature and reflect on their experiences as an outlet to help them document their experience, preserve their humanity and “observe some of the aspects of ourselves that otherwise might
most important job of a physician is to tell the patient’s story, citing the physician’s narrative summary as a form of contract for a “sacred relationship” that doesn’t exist in other venues and might be the only place where a patient’s story is told. Thus, evaluation of narrative prose — “the ability to have the expertise to write [the patient’s] story, to critique that story, to reflect on what that patient has
Physicians need to be trained to recognize metaphors, images, allusions to other stories, genre, mood — in other words, the things that literary critics look for in literary works. be squashed over the course of four years of intense study.” Waldrop and her fellow students approached the Humanities Institute and proposed a reading and writing workshop, a concept that Strong embraced. She turned to Barrish to develop an informal class that would be informed by Charon’s teachings about narrative medicine and the Close Reading Interpretive Tool (CRIT) protocol developed in the Department of English by several graduate students and faculty members, including Barrish. Most importantly, the students saw Charon’s work at Columbia Presbyterian as a model that could help them become more adept at patient-centered care. In his introduction to Charon’s lecture at Dell Med, Steffensen emphasized that the
told you” — is a skill that physicians need to know in order to create a plan that is beneficial to the patient. In her book Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness, Charon explains that the better equipped physicians are to listen for or read for a narrative, “the more accurately they will entertain likely diagnoses and be alert for unlikely but possible ones.” In order to do this, physicians need to be trained to recognize metaphors, images, allusions to other stories, genre, mood — in other words, the things that literary critics look for in literary works. Literature, “because of its verbal richness and complexity,” as Barrish puts it, is not only good for teaching these competencies, but it can also help the students who come from a strong science background to recognize
and “perhaps come to tolerate” ambiguity, conflicting evidence and the possible need to revise one’s initial assumptions about a situation. Reflective writing also helps build these literary skills — all of which serve to strengthen the core competency of observation — and it can also build empathy. As Charon argues, the ability to
shift perspective to acknowledge another point of view is critical, and it may be weak in the contemporary health care profession. However, it’s a skill that can be taught, and one way is through a tool developed at Columbia Presbyterian called parallel charts. Parallel charts give health care students a place to express things they can’t
write on an official medical chart. Their value to students is more instructive than therapeutic, helping them better understand a patient’s experience and reflect on their own journey through medicine. When health professionals write about their experiences, they discover aspects that were not otherwise evident to them. Charon notes that students who write parallel charts report having more confidence in treating seriously ill or dying patients and in delivering bad news.
FORCE FOR GOOD
O N E E V E R Y O N E • Pauline Strong, anthropology professor and Humanities Institute director.
he informal class incorporated both aspects of Charon’s program: close reading and expressive writing. The students met with Barrish for two hours once a month, and no outside work was required of the already taxed students. Waldrop says this allowed everyone to start on the same foot, and all ideas and perspectives were welcome. Over the course of the spring, the group analyzed poems and brief prose selections from physician-writers including William Carlos Williams and Rafael Campo, and short pieces and poems from other literary figures including Junot Díaz and Walt Whitman. Additionally, the method of close reading helped students become more attuned to their patients as complex human beings and, according to Barrish, develop the ability to recognize meaningful details and “weave them into a complex interpretation that tries to do justice to a text, whether it is a literary text, an intake interview with a patient or a discussion with a patient’s family.” The protocol for the close readings, which was adapted from Charon’s work and 39
Ann Hamilton, O N E E V E R Y O N E, 2017, in the lobby of the Dell Medical School Health Learning Building.
the CRIT tool, also served to equalize the group; not all of the students were from a humanities background, and so this scaffolded yet flexible method made them feel supported in potentially unfamiliar territory. In the second half of each session, students drew upon their individual experiences, emotions and interests in responding to open-ended prompts loosely related to the day’s reading. Students then took turns reading what they had written to the group, and each writer received feedback from the class and instructor about what was especially striking or effective in the piece. The writing exercises emphasized reflection and 40
expressive communication as well as engaged listening and discussion. In summarizing the evaluations from the workshop, Strong says the experience helped enhance the students’ skills in literary analysis, added to their sense of community, prompted self-reflection and discussions relevant to their professional formation, and improved their ability to offer patient-centered care. Aydin Zahedivash, now a second-year student at Dell Med, said that the workshop was “a really cool way to reflect on how the profession of medicine affects our patients.” The students generally also indicated the workshop made them more observant, more able to process difficult experiences
with patients, and more able to maintain empathy and compassion in the clinical environment. All strongly agreed that they would recommend the workshop to other Dell Med students. One of the most powerful sessions, according to Barrish, was a discussion of William Carlos William’s “The Use of Force” — a story that describes an incident in which Williams has to restrain a child in order to perform an examination. The students were then asked to describe a personal experience inside or outside of a medical context in which power was exerted either by the student, against the student, or in a situation they witnessed and in which they were somehow
complicit. One student wrote about trying to buckle her 2-year-old into a car seat, and the ambiguity of using force to ostensibly do something for someone’s good. As Barrish explains, this discussion connected directly to the medical school curriculum through the concept of patient compliance, and how difficult it is to understand and navigate humanely the myriad reasons why a patient may not always comply with a physician’s instruction. Zahedivash said he felt this session was “particularly impactful,” and that it “served as a reminder of the importance of professionalism.” Barrish concludes, “I wouldn't say that session was the most successful, but I would say that it was the most emblematic of what we were trying to do.” Students are required to take a medical ethics class as part of their accreditation, but as Charon points out, the field of medical ethics seems to be grounded in the assumption that the doctor-patient relationship is adversarial and needs to be mediated by law and moral principles. Practitioners are now realizing that a knowledge of medical law is no longer enough to fulfill ethical duties to patients, but bringing literature or art into ethics instruction can help medical students experience these issues viscerally and be better equipped to make decisions based on their own values. As Barrish explains, ethics asks “What would you do in this situation?” while literature asks “What is the whole experience — physical, emotional, social, spiritual, etc. — of the situation and the people involved?” Armed with an understanding built on empathy, a physician is potentially poised to make a more humane decision and better fulfill what Steffensen refers to as
O N E E V E R Y O N E • Heather
the “sacred obligation to care.” In turn, this potential change in ethics could lead to a different understanding of public health. Physicians can learn from humanities fields beyond literature — anthropology, art history, classics, history, and so on — to extrapolate from individual cases the influence on communities and the patterns that have led to social inequalities that in turn lead to health disparities. The Humanities Institute is interested in exploring these connections in many contexts. Not only will this year’s faculty fellows be presenting their work in a symposium in the spring, there will be additional lectures and events centered on medical humanities. Next summer, the Institute will also offer a Pop-Up Institute, “Health and Humanities: Narrative Medicine, Equity and Diversity, and Community Practice,” supported by the Office of the Vice President for Research.
As for the Dell Med students, they hope that the informal class will continue. And they aren’t the only students wanting to continue the work started this year. Thomas Nguyen (’17) was a neuroscience major who started writing poetry after taking an undergraduate studies course with English professor Brian Bremen, co-organizer with Barrish of the TILTS 2016-2017 program. Nguyen was also the event organizer for TILTS. Poetry intrigued Nguyen as a way of describing creatively what he was learning about the body because both medicine and poetry are “concerned with human contact and stories.” He had planned to go directly to medical school, but after Charon’s visit he applied and was accepted to the narrative medicine program at Columbia Presbyterian. Now he hopes to do in New York what he did here in Austin when he taught writing workshops at Austin State Hospital: “Narrative training will help me honor each story I hear — its pauses and silences, its tone and temporality, its form and frame, the body language and eye contact I witness — and then be moved in such a way to care for the patient. That’s as simple and as difficult as it sounds.”
“Asylum” (excerpt) A patient from unit two is screaming, threatening to choke herself, but you can’t hear anything, just see veins pulse around her neck, branches bare like elms in wintertime. Silence still like sunrise over Lake Vermilion. You tell her to write down her words, it helps with the processing. THOMAS NGUYEN 41
The Journey Continues
Rapoport Scholars Fulfill a Commitment to Community and Civic Life By Emily Nielsen Illustrations by Eric Moe
t began with a daring escape from Siberia that involved walking more than 600 miles. After five years of exile, a Russian revolutionary named David Rapoport found refuge in Belgium, and in 1913 he immigrated to a new life in San Antonio. It was from this man, his father, that Bernard “B” Rapoport drew his inspiration. “My father taught me three things,” B Rapoport wrote in an address to students on business ethics. “One, protect your name; two, never let a book out of your hands; and three, and most important, have a sense of outrage at injustice.” In San Antonio, David Rapoport met and married Reva Feldman, who was also a Russian immigrant and the daughter of Hasidic Jews. B was born in 1917, and he and the family lived in poverty during and after the Depression, David selling blankets from a pushcart to earn a living. After a childhood facing eviction and discrimination, and a car accident that confined him to bed for a year and a half and left him with a permanent limp, B made it to The University of Texas at Austin, where he worked his way through school and graduated with a degree in economics in 1939. In 1942, B met Audre Newman in Waco. They went on a blind date, where they argued about whether women should wear eye shadow, and Audre asked to be taken home. The following day, B showed up on her doorstep with flowers and proposed. They married a month later on Valentine’s Day. Audre Newman Rapoport was born in Chicago in 1923. At age 3, she and her mother, Waco-native Josephine Newman, moved to Waco, a town Audre would be passionate about for the rest of her life. She attended UT Austin as well, and worked tirelessly in public service and politics. In the 1950s, the Rapoports founded the American Income Life Insurance Company, which found its success selling policies to labor unions. They spent the first five years establishing the business in Indiana, but in 1956 Audre insisted that both the family – Audre, B and their
Bernard “B” and Audre Rapoport
There have been more than
Rapoport Scholars since 2001.
Rapoport Scholars have contributed more than
100,000 hours of community service.
young son, Ronald – and the business move to Waco. The Rapoports established The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation in 1987 to focus on areas that they were most passionate about: education, arts and culture, democracy and civic participation, health, community building and social services. It was through this foundation that the Rapoport Service Scholarship program was established in the College of Liberal Arts in 2001. B approached the college himself, interested in creating a scholarship that reflected his experience as a liberal arts undergraduate student, combined with his advocacy for community engagement and civic life. In April 2012, B died at the age of 94. He and Audre had been married for 70 years. Audre became the president of the Rapoport Foundation after his death, running and guiding it before she died in April 2016 at the age of 92. Their son, Ronald, now leads the foundation.
THE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM
he Rapoport Service Scholarship was founded on three tenets emphasized by B and Audre: community service, academic coursework and leadership development. With this program, the Rapoports’ goal was to train community leaders who would then provide service to their communities. They also wanted to help support students financially while developing their civic awareness and responsibility. Applicants, who must be freshmen in the College of Liberal Arts, are considered on both financial need and academic merit. Those selected, typically 12-15 students
“That’s a big belief for us; you don’t need any kind of accolades and fancy anything to create change, you can go and create change right now, and that’s an empowering thing.” Eric Bowles
annually, receive $10,000 per year, a total of $30,000 per student, as well as an Apple MacBook. But the monetary gift is only a portion of the support Rapoport scholars receive. The scholarship is rooted in service learning, so the 200-hour community service requirement for scholars each summer isn’t the only component of their experience. “Service learning means there’s an academic component to the service that you do,” says Eric Bowles, who serves as the program’s assistant director, as well as a teacher and mentor to the Rapoport scholars. “It’s a reflection piece. “The idea, I think from the beginning, was to give students a space to be able to talk about their service,” Bowles says. “So that’s what makes it a true service learning experience, instead of just volunteerism or community service.” As incoming sophomores, Rapoport scholars take a one-hour weekly course, Leadership, Ethics, and Society, taught by Bowles, which challenges students to discuss issues that influence society including race, gender, inequality and discrimination. Students learn about systems of privilege and power in society, how they work and how people and society as a whole are connected to them. With that knowledge, scholars are assigned groups and set out to design a nonprofit organization that solves a problem within a community. “They think it’s all about the project, but it’s not,” Bowles says. “They have to resolve a problem by using volunteerism as a cornerstone to what they do. That’s part of it. I want to see the product, and the entire class gets to rate the product. So it’s a group effort the entire way
through – we want to pick apart what they did and try to improve it. “At the end, though, we have a really long discussion about what did you learn from your experience, what did you learn about yourself as a leader, your communication skills. The idea is always to try to connect academics and school with service and work, and your ability to create change. “That’s a big belief for us; you don’t need any kind of accolades and fancy anything to create change,” Bowles says. “You can go and create change right now, and that’s an empowering thing. ‘Wait a minute, I don’t have to sit around and wait for a grant. I don’t have to sit around and wait for the government. I don’t have to sit around and wait for anybody. I can do this. I’m educated. I’m smart. I know what I’m doing.’ And that’s what we’re trying to do with that first class, is do a quick introduction to some of the themes and then really just empower them and say, go do it. Go create that change.” As juniors, Rapoport scholars take Civic Engagement and Civic Responsibility with Bowles. “The whole point of that class is, ‘Are you connecting to the community? If so, how and why?’” Bowles says. “‘And if you’re not, why aren’t you?’ It’s learning how to ask really, really good questions.” In 2010, the Rapoport Service Scholarship program partnered with the Bridging Disciplines Program (BDP) in the School of Undergraduate Studies to allow select Rapoport scholars to participate in a certificate program made up of 19 hours of coursework that combines classroom, internship and research experience. The BDP allows students to choose one of 16 concentrations based on their
“Volunteering in so many different organizations allowed me to see the importance of community involvement in health.” Dr. Emiko Petrosky
specific interests. The most popular categories among Rapoport scholars are social inequality, health and policy; human rights and social justice; social entrepreneurship and nonprofits; children and society; and global studies. Since the Rapoport Service Scholarship was established in 2001, more than 200 students have received funding and mentorship to encourage their interest in public service. Over the life of the program, Rapoport scholars have contributed more than 100,000 hours of community service, averaging more than 7,000 hours of service per year. Those hours were spent with more than 250 organizations including public schools, government organizations, universities, hospitals, religiously affiliated groups, nonprofit organizations and charities. Each was carefully selected by individual scholars in areas they were most interested in helping make change. The Rapoport Service Scholarship program has directly benefited hundreds of lives, and indirectly helped untold numbers through each scholar’s service work, as well as the lives reached when Rapoport alumni go into careers in public service. The following are four scholars who were aided in pursuing their passions for helping others as recipients of the Rapoport Service Scholarship.
DR. EMIKO PETROSKY, AN EARLY ALUMNA
r. Emiko Petrosky, who serves as a medical officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, is an ’05 humanities alumna who was part of the scholarship program’s second year. “The Rapoport Service Scholarship 45
does more than simply pay for school. It teaches its recipients the importance of giving back to the community,” Petrosky says. “When I reflect back on the time I spent volunteering through the scholarship, I realize that at some point I began to see community service as not just an activity, something you do in the moment, but as an action. “An opportunity to improve the world in which we live that requires ongoing action to be effective and sustainable,” she continues. “It can’t be just a one-time event. You have to develop relationships with people and the community to effect change.” As a Rapoport scholar, Petrosky participated in community service in many settings, from hospitals, to schools, to local nonprofit organizations. These experiences helped shape her future. “I ultimately chose a career in public health, and I suspect the scholarship influenced my choice to go down that path,” says Petrosky. “Volunteering in so many different organizations allowed me to see the importance of community involvement in health. “Medicine often focuses on diagnosis and treatment for the individual, but public health focuses on prevention and promoting the health of people and communities in which they live,” she adds. Petrosky attended medical school at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and went on to specialize in preventive medicine and public health. At the CDC, she works in violence prevention, studying “trends and patterns in violence so that we can better understand who it is affecting and how, and to try to get to why it is happening so that we can 46
“It was unexpected for a man I never met to have such an impact on my life, and he will forever.” Lauren Birks
work to prevent it from happening in the first place.” Becoming a Rapoport scholar was an affirmation that Petrosky’s goals were both valid and reachable. “I don’t remember a time when I did not want to work in public service,” Petrosky says. “My life has been pretty fantastic, in large part because I have been lucky. I’ve been provided with a set of opportunities that not everyone gets, and I feel it is my duty to give back to a world that has treated me so well. I am so grateful that I was able to participate in this program, and I hope it continues so that future students can learn from it and be influenced in the way that I was.”
LAUREN BIRKS, THE ALUMNA auren Birks graduated from UT Austin in 2013 with a degree in psychology and a UTeach natural sciences middle grades mathematics certification. She received her Master of Social Work from the University of Michigan with concentrations on interpersonal practice for children and youth in families, and completed the school social work certification. “Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to meet Mr. Rapoport,” Birks says. “However, I attended his memorial service during my fourth year. I knew Mr. Rapoport was one of a kind in many ways, but attending his memorial service furthered my appreciation, admiration and thankfulness for him believing in me without ever knowing me. “Hearing stories from so many about how he impacted their lives and others displayed the legacy he left, and I am
forever grateful for that,” Birks says. “It was unexpected for a man I never met to have such an impact on my life, and he will forever. Attending his memorial helped me remember too that I am here to advocate for others because I have been given the platform to do so, and I cannot lose sight of that.” While pursuing her MSW, Birks served in the Peace Corps in Costa Rica from 2014 to 2016 as a youth development volunteer. She participated in the recently retired Master's International Program, in which the Peace Corps collaborated with various universities as an opportunity for graduate students to incorporate the Peace Corps into their graduate studies. Birks completed a year of her MSW prior to serving, then returned to the University of Michigan to finish her degree. “The Peace Corps’ unofficial motto is ‘The Hardest Job You’ll Ever Love,’ and I completely agree with it,” Birks says. “I lived in a small rural community with limited resources, which taught me to be innovative and creative to implement projects centered on art, recreation and life skills to positively influence self-esteem in youth. Serving in Peace Corps came with its challenges personally and professionally, but that’s what makes it Peace Corps, and I would not change any of it.” Recently, Birks has taken on the role of school social worker at Hamtramck High School and Early Childhood Elementary in Hamtramck, Michigan. The job allows her to advocate for what she calls her two passions, a youth’s education and mental health. In her position, she is a resource for youths, teachers and the community, “so we can all work together in helping
“While I still worked multiple jobs during my collegiate career to keep up with my living expenses and help my family back home, with Rapoport I wasn’t concerned about how I would be covering the expenses for my tuition.” Lizeth Urdiales
youths achieve their goals and successfully receive an education.” The lessons that have stuck with Birks are the ones that the Rapoports were hoping to instill when they created the scholarship program. “Being a Rapoport scholar is more than a scholarship,” Birks says. “The service learning courses created a hands-on learning environment that taught me to really think about being intentional about service and my interactions with others. This scholarship taught me how service should and can be part of your regular lifestyle.”
LIZETH URDIALES, THE RECENT GRADUATE ublic service is personal for Lizeth Urdiales, a 2017 Mexican American studies alumna from Houston. “I started volunteering when I was 14 years old,” Urdiales says. “I would work with food pantries and summer programs in my community. If I wasn’t volunteering, I would be the recipient of the services provided, so it was my way to give back to my community for as much as they had given me.” As a freshman at UT Austin, Urdiales was succeeding academically but was under financial pressure. “I was already struggling to buy a single $10 book for one of my classes,” Urdiales says. “I was on my way to Barnes & Noble, and I borrowed the funds from a friend. That’s when I got the call announcing that I had received the scholarship. It was super exciting, and I felt a bit better about knowing that I wouldn’t struggle to purchase a $10 book in the 47
following years. “While I still worked multiple jobs during my collegiate career to keep up with my living expenses and help my family back home, with Rapoport I wasn’t concerned about how I would be covering the expenses for my tuition,” Urdiales says. “Which left me room to be an advocate through being an officer in the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the Queer and Trans Students Alliance.” In addition to her leadership roles in campus organizations, Urdiales volunteered with a variety of nonprofits including Skills4Living, a financial literacy organization for underrepresented communities in Houston; the speech and debate organization that she participated in during high school; and the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Now that she’s graduated, Urdiales says she plans to spend the next two years working before applying to graduate school, pursuing an MBA with a concentration in entrepreneurship. “I would like to continue my work in focusing on queer and immigrant advocacy,” Urdiales says. “With my MBA, I hope to assist in the expansion of co-operative companies with businesses owned and worked by underrepresented populations. As I go from undocumented student to U.S. permanent resident worker in this country, I’m excited to see how I can increase my outreach.” In the time between her undergraduate and graduate education, Urdiales will also be pursuing a creative project. “Since I’m a Campus Ambassador Alumni with GLAAD, the queer media national organization, between now 48
and grad school I will also be focusing on a media project centered around the intersections of being queer and undocumented,” Urdiales says. “I can’t wait to present it to the world.”
JUAN H. GUERRA, THE STUDENT
“My parents always raised me with the values of helping others and giving back to your community.” Juan H. Guerra
uan H. Guerra is a Rapoport scholar from Eagle Pass, Texas. He is a senior majoring in history and Mexican American studies. “My parents always raised me with the values of helping others and giving back to your community,” Guerra says. Lizeth Urdiales was Guerra’s mentor during his freshman year. After they discussed their mutual passion for public service, she introduced him to the scholarship. “Receiving the news after a day of stress, after a semester of stress, really made all the work I had been putting into my college career worth it so far,” Guerra says. “I won’t lie. After that first year of loans I had to take out to attend UT, I was skeptical on whether or not I would be returning. My family could not afford to send me to UT, so all the loans I had taken out were under my name. After receiving the Rapoport scholarship, I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. “The money received is not everything, however,” he continues. “After receiving the scholarship, I was able to focus more on education-based public service, not to mention being able to form a bond with other individuals who value public service and want to better their communities as much as I do.” As a Rapoport scholar, Guerra has volunteered with Angeles Del Cielo (Angels
From Heaven), a nonprofit in his hometown that helps special-needs children and people across the community with tutoring in school subjects, social exposure and trade skills. He also volunteered with Las Colonias Head Start, which provides children from low-income households with a free education before they are enrolled in the school district. After graduation in the spring, Guerra says he plans to attend graduate school at UT Austin, studying history with a focus on the U.S.-Mexico border. He also wants to return to Eagle Pass to teach. “I feel like that is one of the best ways to help out your community,” Guerra says. “I plan on continuing to do education-based public service and continue to help the youth,” he adds. “My goal is to eventually become superintendent of the school district in my town. I really want to have an impact on my community and make a significant difference in my hometown.”
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES
avid Rapoport could not have made it out of Siberia alive without the help and support of others. People along the way clothed, fed and sheltered him on his journey to a new life in a new country. Learning from his father about that experience was formative in B Rapoport’s life, and he found that he had those values in common with Audre. The emphasis they placed on public service lives on through the Rapoport Service Scholarship program and through the young scholars whose life journeys the Rapoports so generously support.
My Father Taught Me Three Things: One,
PROTECT YOUR NAME; Two,
NEVER LET A BOOK OUT OF YOUR HANDS; & Three, And Most Important,
HAVE A SENSE OF OUTRAGE AT INJUSTICE Bernard Rapoport
Telling a Good Story Keith Sharman Interview by Rachel Griess | Photography by Brian Birzer Education: B.A. History Honors ’98, The University of Texas at Austin Hometown: Plantation, Florida. Keith Sharman is an award-winning producer for “60 Minutes.” In his 16 years at CBS News, he has won two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Awards for excellence in broadcast journalism: the first for a 2006 investigation into corruption in the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, and the second as part of the CBS News team that covered the Newtown shootings in 2012. Sharman has received nine Emmy nominations and won his first for “60 Minutes’ ” coverage of the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks. What would people be surprised to learn about you? Most people seem surprised when they learn my family and I are immigrants. We moved to the U.S. from England in 1982 when I was not quite yet 6 years old. Maybe it’s surprising because I don’t have any trace of an English accent. What is your fondest memory from UT? The Normandy Scholar Program. I can’t say enough about how rewarding, challenging, fun and formative this experience was for me. The curriculum was incredibly well thought out and comprehensive. By the time the group got to France (for three weeks!), we had put in the work and could appreciate seeing the place in person more than normal
student travelers coming in cold. It’s a template we use as reporters at “60 Minutes”: research, prepare, and then go to the place and meet the people to hear their stories first-hand. How has your liberal arts education helped you become a better storyteller? As a general assignment reporter and producer, having a broad multidisciplinary education that crosses the borders between history, philosophy, language, literature, anthropology, economics, politics, sociology, etc. has been a huge help to me. All these different subjects can be looked at as distinct and complementary ways to tell the story of humanity; and a familiarity with them as a journalist allows me to walk into a situation either in command of the facts or with at least some knowledge of the context. What makes a good story? Characters, by far, are the most important parts of any story. Are they compelling? Do you care about them? Do you love them? Hate them? Are they memorable? Especially when it comes to a television news story, if you don’t have strong characters, you won’t have a good story. Which story was the hardest to tell? In 2010, I produced a story for “60 Minutes” correspondent Anderson Cooper about the Afghan National Police and the American effort to train and equip them as part of our war effort. It was
difficult for several reasons, but especially because of the security environment in Afghanistan and the constant state of war there, as well as language and cultural differences. What actually made it a hard story to tell were the exact same things that made the training mission so difficult, and I think that came through in the piece. It was called “Good Cop, Bad Cop.” In your opinion, what is the greatest challenge facing journalism today? It’s disconcerting and distressing that people cannot agree on true bona fide facts, especially when they are well reported by widely respected, experienced journalists. The scourge of fake news is real and threatens the functionality of our democracy and our society. One’s political persuasion and what politicians they like or do not like should have absolutely zero bearing on whether they can evaluate a piece of journalism as true. If you could interview anyone in the world, who would it be and why? Kim Jong Un. No one in the world is a more consequential, volatile or mysterious individual than the young North Korean leader. To produce a piece about him that included a correspondent interview for “60 Minutes” would be a fascinating journey into one of the most closed societies on Earth and no doubt one that many tens of millions of Americans and other people around the world would want to see. 51
Doing the Right Thing Edmund T. Gordon Interview by Rachel Griess | Photography by Brian Birzer Education: B.A. Anthropology and Sociology ’74, Swarthmore College; M.A. Marine Sciences ’81, University of Miami; M.A. ’75 and Ph.D. ’81 Social Anthropology, Stanford University. Hometown: Pimona, New York. Edmund T. Gordon is the inaugural chair and associate professor of the UT Austin African and African Diaspora Studies Department, a former associate vice president of thematic initiatives and community engagement for the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, and the former director of the Warfield Center for African and African American Studies. Who/What has had the greatest influence on your life? My parents were huge influences on my life; my undergraduate mentor, James Brown, at Swarthmore College, who was actually later a colleague of mine; my graduate mentor, Dr. St. Clair Drake. I spent 10 years in Nicaragua in the 1980s. So, working there and witnessing the Sandinistas had a huge impact on me. What accomplishment are you most proud of? I’ve been married for 34 years. I think I’m most proud of that accomplishment. If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be? I would have dinner with my wife. That’s who I most enjoy being with. What motivates/inspires you? One of
my colleagues in anthropology a while ago used to call me Spike Lee because I’m always trying to do the right thing. So, I think what motivates me is trying to do what I think has the most impact, in terms of making this a more just and equitable world. What do you envision for UT black studies in the next decade? We are already the largest black studies program in the country. What we are trying to do is be the best or amongst the best, and I think we are well on our way. What’s your favorite class lesson to teach? My most favorite class day is the one that has students come to terms with the variety of blackness that exists. I show slides of my family, colleagues and other folks and have students try to figure out who’s black and who’s not as a way of kind of showing how race is a social construct. Should scholars be involved in their community? Yes. That’s the basis of black studies. Black studies is not just the production of knowledge for knowledge’s sake; it’s the production of knowledge to change the world. The involvement with the community and the relationship with the community are both a means of providing a subject matter to study and a means to produce knowledge that changes the community. How will your racial geography campus tours change now that the Confederate statues have been removed? The
racial geography tour has always been an archaeological adventure. It’s about looking for the material evidences of the past and trying to understand how that past impacts the present. The fact that those statues aren’t there doesn’t really make that much difference. The remaining pedestals are evidence of the existence of those statues. What I think was most important about the statues, whether they were removed or not, was the narrative, the story, the analysis of why they’re there and what they represent. And the Littlefield Fountain is part of that whole story, as is the statue of President Wilson. To a lot of people it’s not as evident because they’re thinking of the statues as being related to the Civil War and slavery, which they were, but they’re much more about the celebration of the early 20th century and Confederate politics of that time. What is the most important takeway from the tour? The basic story of the tour is two things. One is that power — gendered power and raced power — is built into the physical environment that people pass through and live in, and we need to learn how to identify it. And the other one is that UT historically played a major role in the racial politics of this state, and you can read that through the physical expressions on campus. If you can see those things sedimented into the physical aspects of a university, then you also should be able to willingly open your eyes to the ways those things are sedimented into the social organization of the institution as well. 53
Adobe Stock / Allen F. Quigley
U.S. Interests Hurt By Withdrawal From UNESCO By Michael R. Anderson
“Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” So begins the preamble to the Constitution of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). They were words written in 1945 by the American poet and playwright Archibald MacLeish, who served on the organization’s governing board at its founding at the end of World War II. With the recent announcement by President Donald Trump of the United States’ intention to withdraw from membership in the organization, Americans will lose a voice at an important venue for bettering lives all over the globe and for securing our vital national interests.
“Perhaps UNESCO’s best-known role today is as administrator of the World Heritage Sites, including the Alamo, which received this honor along with four other San Antonio Spanish missions in 2015.” Michael R. Anderson
been at odds. We left the organization in the 1980s after it accused Western media companies of cultural imperialism, and the U.S. did not rejoin the group until 2003. With a preponderance of both hard and soft power in the world at the end of the Cold War, we may not have felt the loss of their participation in UNESCO during those years. But today is different. As global power becomes more diffused, the U.S. must work with others if it hopes to achieve its strategic interests abroad. The organization’s efforts include good governance initiatives in Iraq and literacy programs in Afghanistan, critical missions that support key American objectives in the region. Despite America’s failure to pay its dues over the past several years, UNESCO has continued to solicit our participation in the organization, re-electing the country to its executive board in 2015. That position will be untenable after 2018, when the United States becomes a mere “non-member observer.” The international community continues to look to the U.S. for leadership on many issues including human rights and global development. Yet the Trump administration seems convinced that it can address these challenges on its own terms, and it questions the necessity and even the validity of our current international partnerships. Our strategic interests will be hurt, not helped, by the country’s withdrawal from UNESCO. And the tough but noble project of constructing the defenses of peace in the minds of humankind has just become that much tougher.
UNESCO’s notable accomplishments over the years are numerous, including international collaborations that led to the creation of the modern internet as well as early-warning systems for hurricanes and tsunamis. Perhaps UNESCO’s best-known role today is as administrator of the World Heritage Sites, including the Alamo, which received this honor along with four other San Antonio Spanish missions in 2015. In recent years UNESCO also has spearheaded a creative cities network encouraging international collaboration in fields such as crafts and folk art, design and film. Austin was named one such creative city (in media arts), one of only six cities in the United States carrying that designation. This past August, I had the opportunity to visit UNESCO headquarters in France with a group of undergraduate students from The University of Texas at Austin. The Paris-based headquarters is an imposing edifice, a monument to mid-20th-century optimism surrounding the U.N.’s mission and filled with artwork designed to inspire hope for cross-cultural dialogue. Today, however, the office building looks a bit worn and in need of refurbishment. UNESCO has suffered budget shortfalls ever since 2011, when the U.S. stopped paying $70 million in annual dues (22 percent of the organization’s total revenue) in response to the organization’s admittance of Palestine as a full member. UNESCO critics, including the Trump administration, have claimed this vote as a confirmation of the organization’s anti-Israel bias. But with 195 member states, UNESCO cannot be controlled by any faction. Furthermore, the American decision to withdraw, along with Israel, only means that we will have even less ability to register dissent in this international forum. This is not the first time the U.S. and UNESCO have
Michael R. Anderson is the director of the International Relations and Global Studies program at The University of Texas at Austin, and he is a board member of the Austin chapter of the United Nations Association. 55
PUERTO RICO’S “DEATH DEBT”
Photography by Eduardo Lalo
The exhibition, located at the Benson Latin American Collection 2nd-floor gallery, runs through Jan. 31, 2018, and is free and open to the public.
LLILAS BENSON LATIN AMERICAN STUDIES AND COLLECTIONS In the black-and-white photography of award-winning Puerto Rican writer and visual artist Eduardo Lalo, pitch-dark shadows and cheerless grays serve to banish the mirages of contentment that we associate with tropical color. In Lalo’s vision, Puerto Rico is not the enchanted island of lush greenery, welcoming locals and paradisiacal vistas peddled by government agencies, corporate interests and nature photographers. It is, rather, a zone of failed industrialism, urban decay, corrupt politicians and absurd street confrontations. Each of Lalo’s pictures is a complex visual palimpsest exposing the many residual layers of centurieslong colonialism in Puerto Rican society. For the images featured in the LLILAS Benson exhibit Deudos/Death Debt, Lalo took his camera beyond San Juan’s desolate neighborhoods to towns and common folk afflicted by the spiraling debt crisis across the island just before Hurricane Maria made this destitution even more tragic and unfathomable.
Clockwise: Army Navy Store; Bayamón 2013. Governor Hernández Colón, between Umbrellas, Under the Rain; Morovis 2017. Two Heads; San Juan 2017. Photography by Eduardo Lalo.
—César A. Salgado, associate professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and LLILAS
NONPROFIT ORG. US POSTAGE
AUSTIN, TEXAS PERMIT #391
Office of the Dean 116 Inner Campus Drive, G6000 Austin, TX 78712-1257
Michael Ray Charles, (Forever Free) Ideas, Languages, and Conversations, 2015. Photo by Paul Bardagjy. Courtesy of Landmarks, the public art program of The University of Texas at Austin.
The College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin publishes Life & Letters for its community of scholars, alumni and friends....
Published on Jan 11, 2018
The College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin publishes Life & Letters for its community of scholars, alumni and friends....