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This July, Camilla Fojas will join Arizona State University as the new director of the School of Social Transformation. She comes to The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences from the University of Virginia, where she was a professor and chair of the Department of Media Studies with a joint appointment in the Department of American Studies.
"The School of Social Transformation is at the forefront of addressing significant social issues facing our country and our world. With her years of experience and insight on these topics, Camilla Fojas will bring the school to the next level with creative solutions and thought leadership," said Pardis Mahdavi, dean of social sciences in The College. "I look forward to working with her and watching her flourish as director."
This July, Camilla Fojas will join Arizona State University as the new director of the School of Social Transformation.
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While at the University of Virginia, Fojas co-directed the Global South Lab and the surveillance and infrastructure research area of the Humanities Informatics Lab. She was previously a professor at DePaul University, teaching Latin American and Latino studies as well as global Asian studies, LGBTQ studies and critical ethnic studies. In addition, she was a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow.
Fojas said she was drawn to ASU for the innovation taking place throughout the university and the opportunities available to people of all backgrounds.
"ASU is bold, and in this boldness achieves things that other universities have not yet been able to achieve in terms of access for first-generation students, like myself, and undocumented students, ambitions for broad-based diversity and gender equity, not just in the students and faculty, but in leadership. This is unique and very much what draws me to ASU and to The College," Fojas said.
She completed her graduate education at New York University, where she received her PhD in comparative literature with a concentration in film and cultural studies of the Americas in 1999 and her master's degree in comparative literature in 1996. She received a bachelor's degree in comparative literature and philosophy from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1993.
Her research interests lie at the intersection of explorations of racial capitalism and border colonialism and imperialism. She is also interested in mixed race studies, comparative ethnic studies and how surveillance cultures and the visual codes of surveillance shape how we see things like racialized borders, gender and sexual norms.
Much of her work is inspired by her background as a child of immigrants and a first-generation college graduate.
"My parents are immigrants to the U.S. from different parts of the world — from the Philippines and England. We also moved back and forth from Hawaii, where I was born, and California, where I was mostly raised," she said. "When you are a child of immigrants, it's hard to feel complete belonging in the place where you are born or the places your parents were born. In many ways, this experience informs my work and explorations of, for example, U.S. empire in the expanded boundaries of the U.S. into the Philippines and Hawaii, and the experience and ideas of borders of many kinds, across race and territories."
She has authored and co-edited nine books on these topics, most recently "Border Optics: Surveillance Cultures on the U.S.-Mexico Frontier."
Fojas said her vision for the School of Social Transformation is to continue to elevate the cutting-edge research and activism of the faculty and students, while exploring new paths of curriculum and research.
"I am truly honored to be able to serve the faculty, staff and students of the School of Social Transformation. While I do have some very distinct ideas about the future of the school, I am also aware that any vision or mission is only accomplished in collaboration with others. The School of Social Transformation includes a number of areas of study and research at the fulcrum of some of the most urgent cultural, social and political issues of our time. We can bring principled and fully theorized analyses to the complex intersections of race, queer, trans, Indigenous and feminist issues, and should be present at any conversation that engages them — at ASU and beyond."
Although summer has just begun and we still can't travel around the world due to the pandemic, that doesn't mean that we can't discover and learn about the cultural diversity of our planet. If there is something we have learned this past year and a half, it's that Sun Devils are resilient and can achieve anything, no matter the obstacles or where they are.
Through the lenses of these six interdisciplinary courses offered for the fall 2021 semester in the School of International Letters and Cultures at Arizona State University, students will have the opportunity to learn from the history of early Rome, to explore fascinating cases of cultural diversity and investigate race in a transnational framework. These classes will provide students with the knowledge and hands-on learning to thrive in their future careers.
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Registration information for these courses is provided below, and more information can be found in the ASU Class Search.
LAT/SLC 394 "Rome Before the Empire"
This is a course that surveys the history and literature of early Rome to the fall of the republic. In addition to primary and secondary materials covering the history of this critical period for Rome, students will have a chance to read selections from key authors in Rome's emerging literary culture (Plautus, Cicero, Catullus, etc.).
Greco-Roman culture is a huge part of the legacy and tradition of Western civilization, but the creation and evolution of the Roman Republic is one of the more overlooked stories of antiquity. Paraphrasing the great ancient Greek historian Polybius, who studied this period, "Who would not be fascinated to know under what form of constitution Rome became the dominant power in the known world?"
There are no prerequisites for "Rome Before the Empire;" it is a great upper division course for an elective, general studies designations, etc. If you have an interest in Roman history, literature and culture, this will be an excellent choice. And if you are a classics major, this is essential background for your major.
Faculty teaching this course: Paul Arena, lecturer of classics in the School of International Letters and Cultures
SLC 212 "Language and Culture Clash"
This asynchronous online course explores fascinating cases of the cultural diversity of our planet and how it is reflected in languages of the world. We are looking into how these cross-cultural and cross-linguistic differences affect intercultural communication. The exploration of all these phenomena is conducted through discussions with fellow students and individual projects addressing concrete cases of global diversity in this field.
In this day and age when formidable forces of globalization strive to put us into the straitjacket of uniform thinking and speaking in just one language, exploring and cultivating cultural and linguistic diversity has a twofold importance. First, it reveals a fascinating multicolored world of difference, to which each language and culture contributes with its own lens to look at the world. Second, it develops cross-cultural sensitivity, which facilitates intercultural communication.
While this course is open to all students interested in getting a preview into cultures and languages of the world and differences between them, it is of particular interest to those career tracks that imply global engagement. These career tracks include but are not limited to engineering, business, journalism, political science, global studies, sustainability and history, as well as language and literature studies. You can meet humanities, social behavioral sciences and general studies designations by taking this course.
Faculty teaching this course: Danko Šipka, professor of Slavic languages and applied linguistics in the School of International Letters and Cultures
ARB 294 "Arab Cultures in a Global Perspective"
This course will increase students' knowledge of Arab culture, promoting awareness and understanding of customs, values, attitudes and cultural differences that may differ from their own experience and/or cultural background. Using a broad array of readings, popular music, documentaries, film and art, this course leverages multimedia and everyday life to approach the subject from global and local perspectives. Topics will include Arab family, art and music, food, gender identities, religious life, political conflict and war, Islamic tradition and exile and immigration.
Arab cultural, religious and social customs influence many cultures around the globe. This course was designed for the curious and will explore key elements of Arab culture in context. Over the course of the semester, you will learn about:
This course offers a deep and broad introduction to Arab culture in context, emphasizing its connection to conditions around the world. Sign up and expand your understanding of Arab culture by putting it in a global perspective.
Faculty teaching this course: Miral Mahgoub, associate professor of modern Arabic literature in the School of International Letters and Cultures
HUL/SLC/FRE 494 and 598 Humanities Lab: "Deconstructing Race"
This "Deconstructing Race" Humanities Lab will investigate the category of race in a transnational framework, examining diverse geographical and historical manifestations of race in relation to social, economic, political and cultural practices. Looking at various colonial legacies, philosophical texts and works of art, this lab will encourage reflection and interpretation of the language and idea of race in order to understand the different experiences of racialized populations and communities, with the explicit goal of promoting a more inclusive vision of humanity for the 21st century. Watch the lab's trailer film here.
All Humanities Labs address pressing social challenges that affect today's local and global communities, and this lab is no exception. Students who take this course have the opportunity to engage with community partners and other students from across the globe, including those from Europe, Africa and Latin America in a co-learning experience to deconstruct race and its manifestations in other parts of the world. The course encourages students to become active learners, inviting them to pose new research questions about racial (in)justice, conduct transdisciplinary collaborative research, engage in open dialogues with multiple stakeholders and develop public-facing outcomes. This all matters because it provides a dynamic opportunity to be part of the solution in real time.
The "Deconstructing Race" lab is designed for undergraduates and graduates from all majors who have an interest in exploring racialization and its numerous global manifestations. The Humanities Lab believes that people from a variety of broad scholarly backgrounds and cultural perspectives expand the foundation for discovering productive solutions. And from a logistical standpoint, this lab also offers general studies humanities credit, general studies global awareness credit and automatic honors credit to Barrett Honors students.
Faculty teaching this course: Isaac Joslin, assistant professor of French in the School of International Letters and Cultures, and Yeukai Mlambo, director of Mastercard Foundation Digital Initiatives at ASU EdPlus and an assistant research professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College
JPN 394 "Religion, Philosophy, and Culture in Japan"
This course examines the influence of Japanese religions on Japanese values, culture and society while surveying the major religious traditions of premodern and modern Japan, focusing on Shinto, Buddhism and new religions. The course will also explore religious practices in Japan and how religion interacts with the government, community groups and daily lives of people. Generally speaking, Japan has many unique cultural characteristics that are very different from American culture. It is essential to learn theoretical information of such sources if not directly see them — as people can't realize their cultural identities without comparing them to others. This course provides students such an opportunity to have a self-reflection of their cultural background through studying Japanese religions and philosophies.
This course is best for any level of student who has an interest in the humanities.
Faculty teaching this course: Eiji Suhara, lecturer of Japanese in the School of International Letters and Cultures
SLC/HST 214 "The World's Game: The History and Culture of Soccer"
This course provides a survey of the cultural significance and global reach of soccer, both historically and in contemporary culture. Students study materials from around the world in several mediums; they view films that explore the cultural impact of the game; read literary works that focus on soccer; and engage with scholarly articles and contemporary news media dedicated to the game. The course provides a comprehensive sense of the history, personalities, rivalries, fandom and even the finances and scandals related to the world's game.
Students should take this course for a variety of reasons: It's a great elective and a really great experience, first and foremost. There is no other sport in the world with the deep-rooted cultural relevance of soccer. Because every region and nation in the world has its own unique "flavor" in how the game is played and enjoyed, and since players and competitions engage across these cultural boundaries, soccer combines a unifying thread (the game and its rules) with global diversity (domestic competitions versus UEFA Champions League, Men's and Women's World Cups, etc.). These qualities continue to evolve and need to be constantly reevaluated, especially in terms of gender and economics. The "world's game," indeed!
"The World's Game" is a lower-division course, but it should appeal to a broad base of students at ASU. It's a fun elective and a great way to get general studies requirements. But it obviously is a sine qua non for any student interested in soccer. The course is structured for all backgrounds and interests in the game. Whether you are an absolute "footy junky" with a lot of interest in soccer or you know very little about the history and culture of the sport, this course has a lot to offer you.
Faculty teaching this course: Enrico Minardi, senior lecturer of Italian, and Paul Arena, lecturer of classics in the School of International Letters and Cultures
This press release was produced by Arizona State University. The views expressed here are the author's own.
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