Lantis Endowed Professorship Recipients
The David W. Lantis Scholarship Fund for the Department of Geography and Planning funds two endowed professorships a year. Tracy Butts, professor of English and the director of the Multicultural and Gender Studies Program, and Kate Transchel, professor of History, have been selected from a field of 15 applicants to receive the Lantis endowed professorships for 2008–2009.
Tracy Butts: “The Message: Teaching African American Literature to the Hip Hop Generation”
Professor Tracy Butts’ project will engage both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as support her work on a book of the same title as the project. The funding will be used to plan and host a conference on hip hop culture, fund two sections of African American literature to be taught by English master’s degree students, and allow Butts to spend time completing her book.
“The Message” in Butt’s project title references several ideas: It is the name of a popular rap song, it is what is delivered in church, and it’s the meaning to be found in a song or a work of literature. Her interest is in helping university students make connections to African American literature and culture. “Many of my students think that a lot of things in the books we are reading have no reference to their lives, but they really do. Rap music is a starting point for drawing some of those connections; it provides a point of departure,” said Butts.
While Butts is working on her book and overseeing the conference, she will train and support graduate students as they teach two sections of African American literature. The sections alway fill up, and it’s important to see that there isn’t a gap in their availability, said Butts. As it stands, Butts is the only faculty member trained to teach the courses.
Kate Transchel: Eastern Europe’s Sex Slave Trade
Professor Kate Transchel project is on the international sex slave trade. With Lantis funding, she will bring speakers to a student-organized conference on the sex slave trade and help fund a campus chapter of Not for Sale, an anti-sex slave trade group started in San Francisco. These fledgling groups need support in organizing abolitionist efforts. Transchel is meeting with an on-campus group this semester. They are sponsoring movie nights on Mondays to show documentaries on trafficking and had 70 people at their first showing, said Transchel.
She will spend the fall semester of 2008 in Russia, the Ukraine, and Moldova, where she will collect data for a book exploring the social, political, and economic history of the rise of trafficking in women following the breakup of the Soviet Union. In the fall of 2009, she will help organize a weekend conference that will bring high profile speakers in order to draw people from throughout the CSU, the UC system, and Northern California.
Transchel, whose expertise is in Russian history, first heard about sex slaves in 2003 when she was in Moscow and met a woman from the Ukraine who a friend had taken in. This woman had, fortunately, become suspicious of a “nanny” program before she signed up. However, she had friends who went ahead and ended up enslaved in Prague.
Transchel says that the State Department estimates that 50,000 women end up in the United States against their will and enslaved by beatings, threats, and the loss of passports and papers. Internationally, an estimated 800,000 to a million women have been trafficked into slavery.
Transchel will work with non-government groups involved in freeing slaves and spreading public information and outreach warning women. They also bring pressure on law enforcement. Although many countries have passed laws against illegal immigration and slavery, many of the laws are not enforced, said Transchel.
—Kathleen McPartland, Public Affairs and Publications