Kera N. Lovell

Kera wide profile bw

Contact me at: keralovell@gmail.com

Quick Facts about me:

I am a Lecturer in American Studies at the University of Hawai’i. In the fall of 2017 I defended my dissertation to complete my PhD in American Studies at Purdue University. I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Agnes Scott College in 2009 and Master of Arts degree in American Studies from Purdue University in 2011. I specialize in twentieth-century U.S. social and cultural history, and my research and teaching focus on the relationship between power, the body, and place in American visual and material culture.

I have taught six undergraduate and graduate courses across four universities, and am currently teaching American Studies in the University of Hawai’i system at UH Manoa and Honolulu Community College.

For the 2016-2017 academic year, I was awarded a Purdue Research Foundation Fellowship to complete my dissertation titled, titled, Radical Manifest Destiny: Mapping Power in Urban Space in the Age of Protest, 1968-1988. My dissertation examines the urban realm as a contested territory in the late twentieth century. This project traces a transnational movement of activist coalitions that illegally occupied, created, or reclaimed green space as a method of protest in the late-Cold War era. I defended in November 2017 and will deposit by December 2017.

Between 2015 and 2016, I spent more than 100 days in archives conducting archival research as part of my dissertation – across more than 15 repositories in 7 states.

This research has received numerous awards, grants, and fellowships, including being awarded a 2016 Semi-Finalist for a special-themed Fulbright, the National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship.

On this website you’ll find my research interests and current projects, links to my blogs, academic and professional networking sites, and social media accounts (see left). See my most recent CV/resume here: CURRICULUM VITAE_Kera Lovell or email me at keralovell@gmail.com.

Additionally you can follow my interdisciplinary research and community engagement by following me on social media: on Instagram and Twitter @keralovell, and at my other blogs: VisualizingSpace.com, GlobalFoodStudies.com and CulturalGranola.wordpress.com.

Advertisements

Radical Manifest Destiny

My dissertation, Radical Manifest Destiny: Mapping Power in Urban Space in the Age of Protest, 1968-1988, traces the transnational People’s Park movement of insurgent park creation as a method of protest against urban renewal.

Having conducted archival research across seven states, I have broken ground by documenting more than four dozen People’s Parks created after one of the first in Berkeley, CA in 1968. Utilizing a wide range of archival collections, oral history interviews, and spatial analysis, I argue that as practices of experimental community-based urban design, insurgent place-making initiatives—such as the illegal takeover of vacant lots and the anarchist creation of free public green spaces called “People’s Parks”—at times, facilitated cross-cultural coalitions that transcended ethnic, racial, and national borders.

diss map
My dissertation, Radical Manifest Destiny: Mapping Power in Urban Space in the Age of Protest, 1968-1988, traces the transnational People’s Park movement of insurgent park creation as a method of protest against urban renewal.

Linking these spaces together, my project analyzes how these parks were designed and built by coalitions, and ultimately regulated by police and bureaucracies.  I argue that this medium of protest attracted diverse groups of activists, urban design professionals, and urban residents who used the basic components of these parks—landscape architecture, public art, and shared food consumption—to create a diverse community of resistance across ethnic distinctions and national borders.

The process of design and construction of People’s Parks served as a form of empowerment, a medium for memorialization, and a tool for coalition-building.  By blurring the lines between public and private property ownership, People’s Parks became politically playful techniques for individuals and groups to draw attention to disempowerment and reclaim full access to American citizenship.

Historiography on postwar urban protest and cross-cultural environmental organizing is rich, yet no historical scholarship traces the significance of socialized urban green space as a method of postwar protest. Conventional narratives of post-World War II activism have largely ignored tactical urban environmental place-making as a method of civil disobedience, and, in doing so, have neglected to analyze how issues over power in urban space shaped the meanings and methods of protest from the late-1960s to late-1980s. Nestled within scholarship on utopian communalism, cross-cultural political organizing, and urban planning lies the undocumented history of public protest advocating for bottom-up or “community-based” urban design.

Despite the proliferation of guerrilla gardening, the tactical creation and reclamation of urban green space remains highly political. Ultimately, by gaining insight into how urban green space emerged as a medium for activist identity formation and self-making across borders of identity politics and political movement boundaries, we can better understand how access to and power over urban green space remains a cross-cultural power struggle within contemporary cities.

Teaching

I have taught 5 university-level interdisciplinary courses (undergraduate and graduate) across four universities. You can access some of my syllabi at my Academia.edu site, or by emailing me at klovell@purdue.edu. You can also see some of my student work at GlobalFoodStudies.com and VisualizingSpace.com.

flag

In 2015 I taught two self-designed courses on American body politics and transnational American youth histories in Purdue University’s American Studies program. In 2016 I taught two graduate-level courses – one an advanced writing course advising MA thesis projects in Ball State University’s Master of Urban Design program, and another an advanced seminar on American Studies in the School of Architecture at the University of Hawai’i, Manoa.  In the 2017-2018 academic year, I am teaching American Studies again at UH Manoa as well as three sections of an undergraduate American Studies course on colonialism and resistance in Hawai’i at the University of Hawai’i, Honolulu community College.

22384427_516656542017095_4850246145734025985_o

Across the board, my discussion-driven courses emphasize critical analysis and evidence-based argumentation, and reinforce the importance of strengthening arguments using multiple forms of communication. In the words of Mrs. Traci Jones, my ninth-grade English teacher, “Repetition equals importance.” I believe that practice – through writing, speaking, reading, discussing, arguing, teaching, and learning – is the key to sustainable success. In particular, my courses thrive on group exercises that center discussions of disempowerment and resistance in cross-cultural, transnational US histories. You can read more about my Teaching Philosophy here: Teaching Philosophy Statement_Kera Lovell

Research Findings and Fellowships

For the most up-to-date list of grants and fellowships I have been awarded, see my list of Scholarships, Fellowships, and Awards. Additionally, you can read Press on these awards as well as how my work has reached broader academic and public audiences.

Most recently I was awarded Special Recognition by the Graham Foundation for the 2017 Carter Manny Award in architectural history. In 2016, I was awarded by the University of Illinois, Chicago’s Richard Daley Library a Short-Term Travel Fellowship – offering funding to spend the month of August, 2016 in the archives. Read my brief mid-month research report and see photographs of my findings here.

Thanks to the Hoover Institution, the University of Illinois, Chicago, Michigan Tech University, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, the Wisconsin Historical Society, and Purdue University for awarding me with archival research grants.

Silas Palmer Fellow Web Page

Identity + Citizenship

The central thread through all of my research is my analysis of the relationship between identity and citizenship — or how we know who we are and how that who we are is regulated.  In my dissertation I research how postwar activists understood this relationship as rooted in practices of police violence and urban renewal and histories of colonialism.

Two undergraduate courses I’ve taught in American Studies focus on this relationship between identity and citizenship.  My spring 2015 course “Blood, Bones, and Brains” examined twentieth century US history through the lens of the body, and focused on how the body became a canvas for self-definition and regulation.  My summer 2015 online course “Youth Cultures” used Tumblr to facilitate discussion about how American youth identity is continually constructed as both youthfully beautiful and immaturely undeveloped.

A  graphic I made as part of the end-of-the-course "mind-mapping" assignment that asks students to rethink the organization of the course and connect class topics and readings in a new order.  In this graphic I depicted the two core oppositional yet connected themes of youth culture -- conformity and rebellion.  To see more mind maps from the course, check out my Tumblr: http://amstyouthculture.tumblr.com/
A graphic I made as part of the end-of-the-course “mind-mapping” assignment that asks students to rethink the organization of the course and connect class topics and readings in a new order. In this graphic I depicted the two core oppositional yet connected themes of youth culture — conformity and rebellion. To see more mind maps from the course, check out my Tumblr: http://amstyouthculture.tumblr.com/

Additionally, I’ve conducted research on the high school women’s liberation movement between the mid-1960s and mid-1970s. My paper, “Girls Are Equal Too: Education, Body Politics, and the Making of Teenage Feminism,” published in the academic journal Gender Issues, analyzes how teenage girls began to articulate how their age shaped their unique experience with sexual discrimination.  In particular, in this paper I focus on how teenage girls articulated feminism through their own perspectives and bodies. Letters and essays written by teenage girls during this time demonstrate how girls saw feminism as a tool to challenge gender role socialization and build a supportive and collaborative community of girl activists within this revolutionary context. Ultimately, by challenging age divisions between the adult-dominated face of the Second Wave and the girl-focused Third Wave, this paper uses the voices of teenage girls to shed light on an earlier movement of “girl power” that has yet to be excavated.

girlspowerf
This poster was created by See Red Women’s Workshop – a British women’s liberation graphics collective.  See this poster and more of their work by clicking on this image.

 

Spatial Analysis

I approach the topic of space as a visual and material culture – an active medium for constructing a spectrum of intersecting identities. On my blog VisualizingSpace.com I share my thoughts, favorite sites, and ongoing projects connecting spatiality and visuality.

As a digital humanities component of my first book project, I am in the process of using GIS to map census data onto my maps of activist-created public green spaces.  These parks existed within a constellation of postwar Left political territories as well as major urban renewal projects. Now in the process of pursuing external funding through NSF for this geo-spatial research, visualizing this information will help us understand why these anarchist sites emerged where they did that will provide further insight into the relationship between activist identities and place-making.

Urban Studies + Design

As an extension of my dissertation research, my project proposal for the 2015-2016 National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fulbright, awarded semi-finalist, focuses on the relationship between space and power. The project, titled “Grass/Roots,” compares and maps spatial and environmental power by analyzing how people occupy, reclaim, and create public green spaces in South Africa, New Zealand, and the UK.  The project combines ethnographic interviews, site and event documentations, weekly self-produced informational graphics, and a cumulative cultural atlas illuminating connections among my case studies and their intertwined colonial histories.

Food Studies

I blog my thoughts and projects on food studies on my blog GlobalFoodStudies.com.

In 2014 I was awarded a $10,000 exploratory research grant to study transnational American food studies at the World Expo in Milan Italy in May of 2015.  As part of this grant I worked with Dr. Simone Cinotto at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy, before organizing a symposium with him as keynote at Purdue University in October of 2015.  The symposium, called “Global Food: Local Perspectives,” offers an investigative look into how food production and consumption is transnational — even in West Lafayette, Indiana. Since then, I have integrated food studies into my dissertation and teaching.

global-food-studies_10-22-15.jpg