In Memoriam: Cedric Robinson (1940-2016)

Published on June 7, 2016

Dr. Cedric Robinson, Professor Emeritus of Black Studies and Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, passed away this week. According to UCHRI Director David Theo Goldberg, “Cedric Robinson was a member of UCHRI’s residential research group on ‘Minority Discourses’ in 1991-2. His engagement with the group touched all, and marked their work and well beyond then and since in ways large, small, and enduring. A beacon to us all, we miss him deeply.”

Below is a photograph of UCHRI’s Minority Discourses Residential Research Group (Dr. Robinson is standing, fourth from the right): 

new doc 5_1

Categories: Blog |

Critical Refugee Studies Interdisciplinary Bibliography (Part I)

Published on June 3, 2016

Residential Research Groups (RRGs) are the longest-standing grant program at UCHRI, and these groups remain the cornerstone of our grantmaking activities. RRGs are in essence teams of researchers—often unknown to one another before residency—who convene at UCHRI for one quarter to accomplish a commonly-defined research agenda. In Spring 2016, UCHRI hosted a residential research group that focused on the emergent scholarship surrounding critical refugee studies. Composed of faculty, graduate students, and scholars from throughout the UC system, this RRG sought to chart the space as “an interdisciplinary field that re-conceptualizes the refugee not as an object of rescue but as a site of social and political critiques, whose emergence when traced, would make visible the processes of colonization, war, and displacement.” Traditionally, collaboration in RRGs may take many forms. Cooperation across disciplines elicits challenges of language, terminology, and methodology for all RRGs. The organizing premise of the residential research program is that when those challenges are surmounted, breakthroughs in knowledge are possible. To represent this interdisciplinary knowledge sharing, we have asked the RRG to craft an interdisciplinary bibliography that represents each individual member’s research and perspective on critical refugee studies. Taken separately, these materials represent key materials selected by scholars of an emerging field of study; when combined, the sources highlight the rich landscape of critical refugee studies and its potential to transform scholarship.

 Lan_Duong_SQUARE_web Lan Duong (Co-Convener)
Media and Cultural Stuies | UC Riverside

Lan Duong is Associate Professor in the Media and Cultural Studies Department at UC Riverside.She is the author of Treacherous Subjects: Gender, Culture, and Trans-Vietnamese Feminism (Temple University Press, 2012). Dr. Duong’s second book project, Transnational Vietnamese Cinemas: Imagining Nationhood in a Globalized Era, examines Vietnamese cinema from its inception to the present day. She is also a poet and has been published in Watermark, Bold Words: A Century of Asian American Poetry, Tilting the Continent, and Crab Orchard Review.

Shire, Warsan. “Home.” SeekersHub, September 2, 2015. Accessed on May 26, 2016.

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet hot blood in your belly

My work animates the little known historical and political relations between Viet Nam, France, and Syria to place in relief the conditions that drive refugees to leave their homes and homelands. At heart, the project seeks to articulate how, in the words of Kenyan-born Somali poet, Warsan Shire, “home is the mouth of a shark.” In my writing, I examine the legacies of colonialism, wages of war, and systems of oppression that have compelled many to “run for the border” with “fire under feet.” In so doing, my work critiques dominant media, which often portray refugees as desperate asylum seekers needing humanitarian assistance. As a way to counter such imagery, the project asks, what does the art and literature of refugees look like?


Yen Le Espiritu (Co-Convener)
Ethnic Studies | UC San Diego

Originally from Vietnam, Yen Le Espiritu is Professor and former Chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego. An award winning author, she has published widely on Asian American panethnicity, gender and migration, and U.S. colonialism and wars in Asia. Her most recent book is Body Counts: The Vietnam War and Militarized Refuge(es) (University of California Press, 2014). Her current project examines the Vietnamese refugees’ response to the Syrian refugee crisis for what it might tell us about the (im)possibilities of solidarity among refugees from the global South.

Setsu Shigematsu and Keith L. Camacho, editors. Militarized Currents: Toward a Decolonized Future in Asia and the Pacific. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2010.

This edited collection analyzes militarization as an extension of colonialism from the late twentieth century to the twenty-first century in Asia and the Pacific. Two arguments from the collection have influenced my writing on the Vietnam War and Vietnamese refugees: 1) how colonial histories constitute the conditions of possibility for ongoing forms of militarization; and 2) how U.S. wars in Asia and the Pacific have been key in structuring the displacements, dispersions and migrations of refugees to the United States and elsewhere. I thus situate my discussion of Vietnamese refuge(es) within the long, long duree of U.S. colonial expansion and war making in Asia.


Mohamed Abumaye
Ethnic Studies | UC San Diego

Mohamed Abumaye is a PhD Candidate in the department of Ethnic Studies at UCSD. His work centers on the intersections between military and police violence. He investigates the San Diego police department’s unit of counter-terrorism and U.S. military drone attacks in Somalia as the transnational circuits of violence that shape somali refugee flight. What distinguishes his project from other works on police is that he focuses on the militarized aspects of policing, and does so with an emphasis on the refugee.

Hall, Stuart. Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State, and Law and Order. London: Macmillan, 1978.

This book details how the British state utilizes discourses of anti-blackness to buttress police power and police violence against black communities. This work has been influential in providing me a lens to analyze how the San Diego police department deploys anti-blackness and islamophobia as a way to target Somalis refugees and legitimize violence against Somalis.


Victor Bascara
Asian American Studies | UC Los Angeles

Victor Bascara is associate professor in the Department of Asian American Studies at UCLA. He is the author of Model Minority Imperialism, and he recently co-edited two journal issues: (with Lisa Nakamura) a special issue of Amerasia Journal (2014) on “Asian American Cultural Politics Across Platforms,” and (with Keith Camacho and Elizabeth DeLoughrey) a special issue of Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific (2015) on “Gender and Sexual Politics of Pacific Island Militarisation.” His writings have recently appeared in such journals as the Asian American Law Journal (2014), American Literary History (2015), and GLQ (2015), and such collections as The Imperial University: Academic Repression and Scholarly Dissent (2014, ed. P. Chatterjee and S. Maira), Techno-Orientalism: Imagining Asia in Speculative Fiction, History, and Media (2015, ed. G. Huang, G. Niu, and D. Roh), and Filipino Studies: Palimpsests of Nation and Diaspora (2016, ed. M. Manalansan and A. Espiritu). He is currently completing a book on the relationship between Asian American cultural politics and the dismantling of formal U.S. empire from World War I to World War II.

The documentary series on Southeast Asian youth by filmmaker Spencer Nakasako:
a.k.a. Don Bonus. Directed and produced by Spencer Nakasako. San Francisco, CA: Center for Asian American Media, 1995.

Kelly Loves Tony. Directed and produced by Spencer Nakasako. San Francisco, CA: Independent Television Service, 1998.

Refugee. Directed and produced by Spencer Nakasako. San Francisco, CA: Independent Television Service, 2004.

This groundbreaking series of documentaries critically and unprecedentedly expresses the experiences and perspectives of Southeast Asian refugee youth (from Laos and Cambodia) living in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1990s and early 2000s. Each video is shot and narrated by the subjects themselves as they provide footage and reflections on everything from education and family to war and its aftermath. Both skillfully edited and compellingly raw, these documentaries are shot as video journals and are truly riveting viewing, as audiences follow the subjects recounting their remarkable everyday lives. The results are complex and edifying portraits of refugee experiences that might otherwise have been lost and/or entrusted to others for their representation.

Click here for Part II of this post.

Categories: Blog |

UCHRI Awards approximately $750,000 in Grant Funding to Faculty and Graduate Students

Published on May 3, 2016

The University of California Humanities Research Institute recently announced grant awards totaling approximately $750,000 for interdisciplinary humanities projects, including conferences, working groups, research residencies, junior faculty manuscript workshops, and digital and public humanities work. The awards, to be administered in the 2016-2017 academic year, were determined in conjunction with UCHRI’s 10-member Advisory Committee, which comprises faculty from all 10 University of California campuses. A separate advisory committee selected the eight faculty recipients of the UC President’s Faculty Research Fellowship, a grant that supports compelling humanities research throughout the UC system.

According to UCHRI Director David Theo Goldberg, “Since its founding, UCHRI has served as the primary facilitator of multi-campus, interdisciplinary humanities research for the University of California. The diverse projects we have chosen to fund this cycle have the potential to expand humanistic research on a variety of contemporary issues.” Funded research topics range from the present-day legacy of Moroccan feminist Fatema Mernissi to the history of madness in early twentieth-century Beijing to the implications of globalized popular culture. The Advisory Committee also selected members for the first of two quarter-long queer studies residential research groups—one focused on the Americas and one on Europe—for the upcoming year. “Residential research groups are a cornerstone of our grantmaking activities,” Goldberg maintains, adding, “Next year, we are excited to host two research groups that will focus on expanding regional queer studies across a variety of disciplines.”

Increased Opportunities for Graduate Students

Particularly notable about this year’s awards is the increase in opportunities for graduate students to participate in interdisciplinary research. “UCHRI has long had a commitment to supporting graduate student research, but the most recent Office of the President funding has allowed us to support additional research projects for graduate students,” states UCHRI Assistant Director Kelly Brown. Brown, who also oversees UCHRI’s Humanists@Work initiative, notes that UCHRI’s graduate student intern was integral to expanding funding for graduate student working groups. As she describes, “Our summer intern argued that, like faculty, graduate students need support to connect their work in innovative and collaborative ways. So far, our Advisory Committee has been awed by the quality and scope of graduate student working group applications.”

Next year, UCHRI will fund a variety of graduate student working groups, including those engaging with the question “What are the keywords of Black Studies?,” evaluating the role of translation and exchange in Middle Eastern and South Asian Literary Culture, and working to build an inclusive pedagogy within the field of philosophy. UCHRI has also offered supplemental graduate student funding for substantive, research-oriented graduate student participation in faculty-curated projects such as conferences and faculty working groups. As Goldberg explains, “Many of the questions that are facing humanities today, particularly with relation to the future and role of humanities within the university, can only be properly addressed with significant input from our newest scholars. UCHRI will continue to support graduate students as an integral part of our mission to foster innovative humanities research throughout the UC system.”


The Philippines and the Filipinos: Convergences and Divergences of Filipino/a Studies Scholarship
John Blanco, Literature, UC San Diego
Sarita Echavez See, Media and Cultural Studies, UC Riverside

Critical Conversations in Critical Cultural Heritage
Jon Daehnke, Anthropology, UC Santa Cruz
Amy Lonetree, History, UC Santa Cruz

You May Add or Subtract from the Work
Simon Leung, Art, UC Irvine
Rei Terada, Comparative Literature, UC Irvine

Fatema Mernissi for Our Times
Minoo Moallem, Gender and Women’s Studies, UC Berkeley
Paola Bacchetta, Gender and Women’s Studies, UC Berkeley

Easter 1916: Revolution in Ireland and its Afterlives
Laura O’Connor, English, UC Irvine
David C. Lloyd, English, UC Riverside

The Global-Popular
Bhaskar Sarkar, Film and Media Studies, UC Santa Barbara
Bishnupriya Ghosh, English, UC Santa Barbara


Ethnographic Fictions: Immigration, Adoption and Sociolegal Knowledge
Susan Carole Bibler, Criminology, Law & Society, UC Irvine
Barbara Yngvesson, Social Sciences, Hampshire College


The Maghrib Workshop: Law and Movement: Historical Roots and Contexts, Contemporary Questions
Juan Gomez-Rivas, Literature, UC Santa Cruz

The Crisis of Diversity Within the Multiversity: Rethinking African and Africana Studies at the University of California
Rachel Jean-Baptiste, History, UC Davis
Anneeth Kaur Hundle, Anthropology, UC Merced

Indigenous Dance and the Academy
Jacqueline Shea Murphy, Dance, UC Riverside
Julie Burelle, Theater and Dance, UC San Diego

Imperfect Machines: Mind, Body, and Simulation Audiovisual Multi-Campus Working Group
Irene Lusztig, Film + Digital Media Department, UC Santa Cruz
Emily Cohen, Science and Justice Research Center, UC Santa Cruz


Working Groups on Philosophy and Inclusive Pedagogy
Jonathan Caravello, Philosophy, UC Santa Barbara
Sherri Conklin, Philosophy, UC Santa Barbara
Faculty PI: Matthew Hanser, Philosophy, UC Santa Barbara

Translation and Exchange in Middle Eastern/South Asian Literary Culture
Alexander Jabbari, Comparative Literature, UC Irvine
Faculty PI: Jane O. Newman, Comparative Literature, UC Irvine

Theorizing Human and Microbial Relations
Stephanie Maroney, Cultural Studies, UC Davis
Faculty PI: Charlotte Biltekoff, American Studies and Food, Science, and Technology, UC Davis

Black Studies: Vocabularies and Genealogies
SA Smythe, History of Consciousness, UC Santa Cruz
Maisam Alomar, Ethnic Studies, San Diego
Faculty PI: Sara Clarke Kaplan, Ethnic Studies, UC San Diego

Women of Color in Collaboration and Conflict
Claudia Lopez, Sociology, UC Santa Cruz
Faculty PI: Marcia Ochoa, Feminist Studies, UC Santa Cruz


  • Kirstie A. Dorr, Ethnic Studies, UC San Diego
  • Deborah R. Vargas, Ethnic Studies, UC Riverside
  • Marcia Ochoa, Feminist Studies, UC Santa Cruz
  • Shelley Streeby, Ethnic Studies, UC San Diego
  • Jennifer Tyburczy, Feminist Studies, UC Santa Barbara
  • Christina Leon, Literature and Film, Oregon State University
  • Justin Perez , Anthropology, UC Riverside
  • Ivan Ramos, Ethnic Studies, UC Riverside


Boyle Heights: Past, Present, and Future
Todd Presner, UCLA, Jewish Studies

No Place Like Home: Voices and Visions of the Housing Crisis in Santa Cruz County
Miriam Greenberg, Sociology, UCSC
Karen Tei Yamashita, Literature, UCSC

Latin American Studies in Motion
Catherine Benamou, Film and Media Studies, UC Irvine
Adriana M. Johnson, Comparative Literature, UC Irvine

Language in Latino Lives on California’s Central Coast
Mary Bucholtz, UCSB, Linguistics


Digital Obata
ShiPu Wang, Global Arts Studies Program, UC Merced
Bruce Robertson, History of Art and Architecture, UC Santa Barbara

The 1795 Louisiana Slave Conspiracy: A Digital Edition
Bryan Wagner, English, UC Berkeley

Play the Knave, a Video Game about Shakespeare Performance
Gina Bloom, English, UC Davis (TBC)

Archiving the Interdisciplinary
Liz Kotz, Art History, UC Riverside


Vagrant Figures: Imaging Police Power in the early Atlantic World
Sarah Nicolazzo, Literature, UCSD

A New Nile: The 1902 Aswan dam and the remaking of the Nile River
Jennifer Derr, History, UCSC

The Invention of Madness: A Social history of Insanity in Beijing, 1900-1937
Emily Baum, History, UC Irvine

Sound Relations: A History of Music, Media, and Indigenous Self-Determination in Alaska
Jessica Perea, UCD, Native American Studies

Beyond the Vanguard: Grassroots Movements and the Making of Revolutionary Chile
Marian Schlotterbeck, UCD, History


Downwardly Global: Women and Work in the Pakistani Diaspora
Lalaie Ameeriar, Asian American Studies, UCSB

Playing in the Shadows: Fictions of Race and Blackness in Postwar Japanese Literature
William Bridges, East Asian Languages and Literatures, UCI

Vagrant Figures: Imagining Police Power in the Early Atlantic World
Sarah Nicolazzo, Literature, UCSD

Sound Relations: A History of Music, Media, and Indigenous Self-Determination in Alaska
Jessica Perea, Native American Studies, UCD

Abundance: Sexuality, Historiography, South Asia
Anjali Arondekar, Feminist Studies, UCSC

The Virus Touch: Living with Epidemics
Bishnupriya Ghosh, English, UCSB

Flight of the Metropolis: Rethinking the San Francisco Bay Area Through SFO
Eric Porter, History/History of Consciousness, UCSC

Immaterial Archives: Lost Pasts, Salvaged Futures
Jenny Sharpe, English, UCLA

Categories: Blog |

A Symposium: Towards a Critical Refugee Studies

Published on April 27, 2016

Symposium_PostBannerLin + Lam, Tomorrow I Leave, 2010

Date and Time: May 25, 2016 | 8:30 AM–5:30 AM

Location: UC Riverside | INTS 1111, INTS1113, and INTS1128


Through panel discussions, the conference seeks to further the emergent field of Critical Refugee Studies. It will serve as a platform for the inquiry into globally displaced populations and their histories, bringing together panelists who will explore refugees originating from Central America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. With a focus on refugees and their agency, the symposium decenters scholarship that portrays refugees as “problems” to be solved and absorbed by the host country.

Drawing from the fields of literary studies, feminist studies, cultural studies, and ethnic studies, the conference pivots on a critique of the braiding of militarism and imperialism that underlies forced migrations on a global scale. To this end, the conference will feature academics, artists and activists who have examined refugees through a critical lens, often in conjunction with a critique of empire and an emphasis on the creative expressions of refugeehood.


8:30–9:30 AM Breakfast INTS1111
9:30–11:00 AM Keywords I: Critical Refugee Studies
Mohamed Abumaye (UCSD), Yen Le Espiritu (UCSD), Lila Sharif (UIUC), Khatharya Um (UCB)
11:00 AM–12:30 PM Refugee Nation Workshop
Ova Saopeng
12:30–1:30 PM Lunch INTS1111
1:30–3:00 PM Keywords II: Critical Refugee Studies
Victor Bascara (UCLA), Lan Duong (UCR), Ma Vang (UCM)
INTS 1113
3:00–3:30 PM Poetry Reading
Mai Der Vang
INTS 1128
3:30–4:00 PM Rap Performance
 INTS 1128
4:00–4:30 PM A Conversation with Artists, Q &A
Mai Der Vang, praCh, Viet Thanh Nguyen
 INTS 1128
5:00–5:15 PM Close of Conference  INTS 1128

Categories: Blog |

UCHRI Welcomes Beth Greene

Published on March 9, 2016

UCHRI would like to welcome Beth Greene, our new Research Communications and Projects Manager! Beth holds a PhD in history from UCLA and comes to us from Washington, DC, where she worked in higher education market research.

As UCHRI’s new communications manager, my primary goal is to communicate a unified message about who we are and what we do. I’m eager to promote innovative, interdisciplinary research and learn more about the incredible work and unique perspectives of the UCHRI community.

Although I never really considered a career in the professoriate, I’m deeply invested in humanities research. My career path has been unconventional, but it also reveals a lot about how I see the world and approach my work. While the following introduction takes a literal approach to showing my path to UCHRI, I hope that it also provides insight into how I have prepared for my current position.

This job is truly a dream come true for me, and the welcome I’ve received from UCHRI has been amazing. I look forward to continuing my work with UCHRI stakeholders as I move forward in this role!

Categories: Blog |

New Award Categories – 2015-2016 Recipients

Published on October 21, 2015

UCHRI Junior Faculty Manuscript Workshop

Playing Nature
Alenda Y. Chang, Film and Media Studies, UCSB

The Seduction of Sovereignty and the Birth of Biopolitics: Miscegenation along the U.S. Military Base Fenceline in Okinawa
Annmaria Shimabuku, Comparative Literature, UCR

Futures: Oil and the Licit Life of Capitalism in Equatorial Guinea
Hannah Appel, Anthropology, UCLA

Radiation Sounds: Marshallese Music and Nuclear Silences
Jessica A. Schwartz, Musicology, UCLA

The Black Middle Ages
Matthew Vernon, English, UCD

Peculiar Places: A Queer/Crip History of Rural White Nonconformity
Ryan Lee Cartwright, American Studies, UCD


Humanities Center Collaborations

Public Voices: The OpEd Project
Main PI: Ignacio López-Calvo, Center for the Humanities, UCM

David Biale, Humanities Institute, UCD
Willeke Wendrich, Center for Digital Humanities, UCLA
Julia Lupton, Humanities Commons, UCI
Georgia Warnke, Center for Ideas and Society, UCR
Susan Derwin, Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, UCSB
Nathaniel Deutsch, Institute for Humanities Research, UCSC
Sarah McCullough, Center for the Humanities, UCSD
Dorothy Porter, Center for Humanities and Health Sciences, UCSF

Metadata Central: Digital Scholarship and Outreach
Main PI: Willeke Wendrich, Center for Digital Humanities, UCLA

David Biale, Humanities Institute, UCD
Ignacio Lopez-Calvo, Center for the Humanities, UCM
Georgia Warnke, Center for Ideas and Society, UCR
Julia Lupton, Humanities Commons, UCI
Susan Derwin, Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, UCSB

Participating Humanities Center Representatives:
Sarah McCullough*, Center for the Humanities, UCSD
Irena Polic, Institute for Humanities Research, UCSC
Brian Dolan, School of Medicine, UCSF

UC Public Scholars Initiative
Main PI:
David Biale, UC Davis Humanities Institute, UCD

Nathaniel Deutsch, Institute for Humanities Research, UCSC
Alan Tansman, Townsend Center for the Humanities, UCB
Ignacio Lopez-Calvo, Center for the Humanities, UCM
Susan Derwin, Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, UCSB
Georgia Warnke, Center for the Ideas and Society, UCR
Julia Lupton, Humanities Commons, UCI
Willeke Wendrich, Humanities Research Centers, UCLA
Sarah McCullough*, Center for the Humanities, UCSD

Supplemental Graduate Student Funding

il divino Cipriano’: New Perspectives on the Music of Cipriano de Rore
Jessie Ann Owens, Music, UCD

Diversifying the Classics: “Classics in the Classroom”
Barbara Fuchs, Center for 17th- & 18- Century Studies, UCLA

Feeling Photography
Lisa Cartwright, Visual Arts and Communication, UCSD

Public Voices: The OpEd Project
Main PI: Ignacio López-Calvo, Center for the Humanities, UCM

David Biale, Humanities Institute, UCD
Willeke Wendrich, Center for Digital Humanities, UCLA
Julia Lupton, Humanities Commons, UCI
Georgia Warnke, Center for Ideas and Society, UCR
Susan Derwin, Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, UCSB
Nathaniel Deutsch, Institute for Humanities Research, UCSC
Sarah McCullough*, Center for the Humanities, UCSD
Dorothy Porter, Center for Humanities and Health Sciences, UCSF

Art before History: Interdisciplinary Research on Ancient Andean Art and Visual Culture
Lisa Trever, History of Art, UC Berkeley

Metadata Central: Digital Scholarships and Outreach
Main PI: Willeke Wendrich, Center for Digital Humanities, UCLA

David Biale, Humanities Institute, UCD
Ignacio Lopez-Calvo, Center for the Humanities, UCM
Georgia Warnke, Center for Ideas and Society, UCR
Julia Lupton, Humanities Commons, UCI
Susan Derwin, Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, UCSB

Participating Humanities Centers Representatives:
Sarah McCullough*, Center for the Humanities, UCSD
Irena Polic, Institute for Humanities Research, UCSC
Brian Dolan, School of Medicine, UCSF

New Critical Frameworks for Socially Engaged Art
Grant Kester, Visual Arts, UCSD

Show & Prove 2016 Hip Hop Studies
Imani Kai Johnson, Dance, UCR

* Representing Interim Director

Categories: Blog |

Patterns of Life

Published on September 29, 2015

“Patterns of life” is a short movie by French artist Julien Prévieux dealing with the history of the technological capture of human movements. Starting with the use of chronophotography to model abnormal gait in the late 19th century, the film offers a choreographic reenactment of a long series of experiments that have been designed to extract objectified patterns of activities from the motions of living bodies, whether with the view to discipline, to control, or to target them.
This film is freely adapted from the paper “Patterns of Life: A Very Short History of Schematic Bodies” by philosopher Grégoire Chamayou, which stems from a discussion with geographer Derek Gregory at the UCHRI/WISER workshop “Knowing secrets, secret knowledge” held at UCHRI on the UC Irvine campus in November 2014.

Categories: Blog |

Prince of Florence

Published on July 29, 2015

Prince of Florence was created as a final project for Dr. David Theo Goldberg’s graduate seminar, “Epistemologies of Deception.” Some course readings engaged the everyday, interpersonal variety of deception; others addressed geopolitical deception as a mode of obtaining and maintaining power. Prince of Florence gets its name, in part, from Machiavelli’s The Prince, but references to other course texts are scattered throughout – and a full reading list is reproduced within the game as part of the information under “About.” A central idea that runs through these texts, and one that Dr. Goldberg offers in the reading list’s introductory essay, is the twin nature of secrecy and transparency. Secrets “are made to secrete,” to reveal themselves; transparency “hides secrets in plain sight.”

We chose the form of an interactive fiction text as our final project because of the medium’s capacity for hiding and secreting information. The Easter Egg, for example, showcases this capacity: players search for information with the expectation of encountering something revelatory, something that will open up new paths for story progression. But Easter Eggs are planned, which is to say that they merely offer the illusion of the illicit discovery of extra-narrative information, but the only secrets they can offer are those selected for secretion. Interactive fiction texts succeed when they entice the player to learn that which is not yet discovered, and therefore they hide information with the intent of revealing only some of it.


Figure 1: Twine Story Map

Our collaborative process in creating this text involved web-based documents on which we drafted and revised the text’s arc. The text branched off into four chapters, each principally authored by an individual group member, and everyone’s work was revised in the web-based document by peers. After all the chapters were written and the ending co-authored, the text was coded into Twine, an open-source tool for creating interactive fiction. In Twine the rooms were mapped out [see Figure 1 above], and variables were encoded to determine which pathways would be open to the player under certain conditions. Story progression was designed to be dependent on the player’s discovery of four Easter Eggs. These partially hidden pieces of information all reveal something about the story, but despite such revelations, basic details about the story are intentionally withheld. The text ends when the player becomes trapped in a ring of four rooms that verbally promise to reveal the final meaning, but in the player’s frustrated attempt to progress past them, they never deliver on that promise.

Once we had an initial build of the text, we each playtested it and asked any classmates, partners, and family members patient and kind enough to test the game for their feedback. Based on early playtesting results, we added a hint system to the game’s Easter Eggs and another system for keeping track of an in-game document as its contents become revealed. The current version also incorporates instructor feedback and corrects some mechanical and grammatical flubs. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this text, and thank you to Dr. Goldberg for the opportunity to work on a creative text as a way of responding to a highly stimulating course.

We hope you enjoy Prince of Florence; if instead you find it frustrating, then we hope we have captured the practice of deception.

Ben Cox
Anirban Gupta-Nigam
Matt Knutson
Diren Valayden
Melissa Wrapp

Please send any bug reports to mknutso1 (at) uci dot edu – thank you!

View the project at

Call for Artist Submissions: Shari’a Revoiced

Published on April 28, 2015



Shari’a Revoiced:
Documenting American Muslims’
of Islamic Law

“Shari’a Revoiced: Documenting American Muslims’ Experiences of Islamic Law” welcomes submissions from Muslim artists from Southern California practicing in any form for placement in a one-day exhibit in late October 2015. Artwork(s) submitted should in some way reflect the artist’s interpretation of “shari’a” and/or lived experiences of Islam.


  • Artist must be Muslim American and from Southern California
  • Any art submitted should be located in Southern California (team can arrange for pickup or for artist to deliver work on site).
  • Artwork should require minimal installation for an indoor exhibit space
  • Artist will provide his/her own supplies
  • Artist will be recognized by the project for their contribution
  • Artists will agree to have artwork displayed at the exhibit, as well as on the website and project documentation
  • Artist will work with exhibit/event project manager to apply, submit and install artwork

Send Proposals To:
Marium Mohiuddin, Project Manager
512.657.7819 /
Subject Line: “Your Name, Exhibit Proposal”
Please Attach: 300 word project proposal, 150 word artist statement, resume and 3 or more images of recent work
Deadline for Proposals: July 31, 2015

“Shari’a Revoiced: Documenting American Muslims’ Experiences of Islamic Law” is a research project led by Mark Massoud (Asst. Professor of Politics & Legal Studies, UC Santa Cruz) and Kathleen Moore (Chair, Religious Studies, UC Santa Barbara) to uncover new voices and understandings of Islamic law among Muslim communities in California. It is supported by the University of California Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI) and funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.

“Our goal is to illuminate through words and images how diverse Muslim activists, students, feminists, lawyers, social workers, and other cultural brokers produce local forms of Islamic knowledge.”

Findings will be disseminated through three public translations:

  • a widely accessible book, which will feature results of interviews with Muslim interlocutors who are creating diasporic formations of the meaning of shari’a and empowering marginalized communities while accommodating debate and diversity
  • a companion website and blog, which will showcase the book’s stories
  • an art exhibit in late October

Together, these three components of the project — book, website, and art exhibits — will aim to reveal the complex and everyday functions and lived experiences of Islamic law in California.

Categories: Blog |