Three Graduate Students Awarded UDARI Student Grants

Posted on February 20, 2021 at: 7:23 pm

Congratulations to Diane Codding Ph.D. candidate, Education; Ann Cross, Ph.D. candidate, Art History; and Nathan Thayer, Ph.D. candidate, Geography and Spatial Sciences.

Diane Codding, Ph.D. candidate, Education. My research examines how antiracist affinity groups foster vulnerability to disrupt expressions of white fragility and prepare white educators to take up antiracist teaching practices. One manifestation of whiteness among white educators is white fragility, a term DiAngelo coined to describe white peoples’ inability to endure even a small amount of racial stress without triggering discursive moves to avoid discomfort. White fragility maintains complicity in systemic racism, prioritizes white comfort, and marginalizes BIPOC voices. In my dissertation, I conduct a multiple case study of white educators in an antiracist affinity group, in order to explore vulnerability as a possible antidote to white fragility (Applebaum, 2017), as well as the relationship between expressions of vulnerability and engaging in antiracist action. Understanding how we can foster vulnerability among white educators has the potential to offer essential insight into creating effective spaces for antiracist inquiry and promoting antiracism in education. My research supports the goals of UDARI by directly addressing systemic racism in education, fostering an environment that encourages critical engagement with issues of racism and antiracism, and presenting suggestions for fostering vulnerability and successfully utilizing virtual spaces to engage faculty and staff in antiracist work.

Anne Cross, Ph.D. candidate, Art History. I applied for this grant in my role as the Antiracism Co-Liaison for Art History and intend to use the funding to contribute to my department’s own graduate student-led antiracism program. As emerging art historians, we believe that the study of visual and material culture provides tools for a radical retelling of the past, and that the histories we write play an integral role in the building of just futures. This past summer, we gathered in the wake of the murder of George Floyd to discuss how Art History has furthered anti-Blackness and white supremacy by perpetuating (neo)colonial and racist paradigms. We then identified direct actions that we could take to address systemic inequities within our department and field, including the formation of an antiracism reading group, antiracist pedagogical training, and a review of the department’s survey curriculum. I will use UDARI funds to invite guest speakers to meet with students at the University of Delaware in the spring of 2021, to guide us in developing antiracist and anti-oppression methods of curation and instruction. As part of this series of workshops, graduate students will work with faculty members to develop a set of best practices that will be incorporated into how the department trains Teaching Assistants. UD Antiracism Initiative support will provide Art History graduate students with critical training in antiracism practices and allow us the opportunity to not only better serve the university, but also become leaders in our field.

Nathan Thayer, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Geography & Spatial Sciences. My research project centers on geographies of care, pedagogy, and antiracism at three distinct sites: protests nationwide, grassroots antiracist initiatives at the university level, and within an antiracist classroom. I broadly ask how care is operationalized within efforts to create and institute antiracist spaces, policies, and teaching practices, and how whiteness, white supremacy, and violence manifest within, alongside and against these processes and practices. The project is comprised of three major components: content analysis of newspaper coverage of white-on-white violence against those allying at BLM protests; Semi-structured interviews with participants engaged in grassroots diversity initiatives at universities, focusing on care work; and, a pedagogical component comprised of pre-post assessment surveys with students participating in an antiracist geographies course I will teach in Summer 2021, an autoethnographic journaling project, and observations made from classroom discussions. This project aligns with UDARI’s mission to foster research focused on the factors that contribute to, reinforce, and disrupt systemic racism and racist ideologies by centering on the caring labor practiced by individuals engaged in antiracist activism and action. Further, through the development and performance of an antiracist geographies course I will contribute to UDARI’s goal of utilizing UD academic resources towards antiracist training and education.