Canadian Caroline Brettell took a long
walk in her neighborhood the day before her naturalization ceremony as
a U.S. citizen in 1993. “The moment was emotional because you give up a
part of yourself when you renounce and abjure your country of birth,”
says the anthropologist, who has studied immigration issues for more
than 35 years.
Now the Dedman Family Distinguished Professor of
Anthropology and dean ad interim of Dedman College, Brettell first
entered the United States in 1967 on a student visa to attend Smith
College, then transferred to Yale University. She earned her M.A. and
Ph.D. degrees from Brown University. Brettell later married an
American citizen and obtained a green card, which she owned for 18
years. She decided to become an American citizen to obtain the full
rights of citizenship, including not only the right to vote but also
the right to serve as executor on a spouse’s estate and to obtain
inheritance exemptions that are automatic for citizen spouses, a right
being challenged at the time by a proposed law before Congress.
between old and new worlds experienced by all immigrants is familiar
to Brettell. She wrote in the September 2006 issue of American
Behavioral Scientist, “Bridging the divide between reason and emotion,
between citizenship (with the rights and responsibilities that
accompany it) and identity, and between political belonging and
cultural belonging is something that many first-generation immigrants
in the United States face.”
Brettell, who joined SMU in 1988, is
considered one of the leading cultural anthropologists on the role of
women in the migration process, as well as the movement of populations
among countries and incorporation as citizens into their new cultures
and societies. She began researching the subject for her senior thesis
at Yale University, and since has written 48 books or book chapters
and 36 articles for scholarly journals.
She has received numerous
grants from the National Science Foundation for her research. With a
recent $445,000 NSF grant Brettell has studied various immigrant
groups and how they integrate into the economic, social and political
fabric of their new communities in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex,
considered an emerging gateway city of immigration. The study examines
the populations of Mexicans, Salvadorans, Asian Indians, Vietnamese,
and Nigerians who have moved to the area since the 1980s.be research
crossed disciplines, drawing on the expertise of SMU professors Jim
Hollifield (Political Science) and Dennis Cordell (History), as well
as political scientist Manuel Garcia y Griego at the University of
Texas at Arlington. Brettell and Hollifield also collaborated on and
co-edited a widely used text,
Migration Theory: Talking Across
Through interviews with the immigrant groups, Brettell
found that they become naturalized citizens for pragmatic reasons but
identify with and remain emotionally attached to their cultural roots.
She asked them to assess what it means to be American on one hand and
Indian/Nigerian/Salvadoran/ Vietnamese on the other. “Most respondents
do not want to choose between being one or the other,” she says. “They
believe they can be both, and will emphasize different identities
depending on the situation and context.”
A 2005-07 grant from the
Russell Sage Foundation is funding research on citizenship practice
and civic engagement among Asian Indians and Vietnamese in the Dallas
area. Brettell and Deborah Reed-Danahay have co-edited a collection of
articles that explore the issues in Immigration and Citizenship in
Europe and the United States: Anthropological Perspectives (Rutgers
University Press, under contract).
Brettell continues to maintain a
full research agenda while juggling the responsibilities of dean of
Dedman College, an act that is not without its challenges, she says.
In fact, Brettell believes that being an active researcher helps her
better understand the issues that faculty face when balancing the
roles of teaching and research, and the many steps they encounter when
applying for research grants. Having participated on review panels for
the National Institutes of Health and the National Endowment for the
Humanities, “I know how competitive it is to get these grants,” she
says. “It takes patience, mentoring and support, particularly for
For more information:
|Several SMU faculty
members are conducting research into methods that can help ease the
symptoms of asthma sufferers, detect glucose levels in diabetics, and
take more precise aim at cancerous cells.
Sweet Relief For Diabetics
For Type 1 diabetics, life often is measured by the hours between
insulin injections. Less frequent and invasive treatment could improve
the quality of life for the more than 20 million adults and children
who suffer from the disease.
SMU Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Brent Sumerlin is researching polymers that can detect high glucose
levels in the blood stream and automatically release insulin, which
could free diabetics from a daily injection schedule.
Sumerlin and his
team of researchers have designed large, chain-like molecules with two
different segments attached to each other at their ends. When these
polymers are dissolved in water, they convert themselves into tiny,
hollow spheres called vesicles, with one segment inside the other’s
exterior wall. This segment is not water-soluble and can act as a
“molecular handle” that binds to glucose molecules.
“When a high
concentration of glucose is present, the sugar molecules diffuse into
the vesicle walls, and the molecular handles begin to absorb them,” Sumerlin says. “The chemical changes caused by binding to the glucose
should cause the vesicles to rupture, similar to a balloon popping.”
Fill the vesicles with insulin, and when they encounter dangerously
high glucose levels in the bloodstream, that pop releases the
Sumerlin’s work is supported by a two-year, $35,000 grant
from the Petroleum Research Fund of the American Chemical Society.
more information: http://faculty.smu.edu/bsumerlin.
Tiny Lasers, Large Result
SMU’s Photonics Group in the School of Engineering is conducting
research on photodynamic therapy (PDT), which destroys cancer cells
through the use of red laser light in combination with a
photosensitizing drug. The drug, administered to a patient hours before
treatment, accumulates mainly in cancerous cells. Illuminating the
cancerous area activates the drug and kills the cells, with little
damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
Assistant Professor of Mechanical
Engineering Gemunu Happawana’s research uses semiconductor diode
lasers – equally powerful as but about 1,000 times smaller than
existing PDT lasers – as the optical source for PDT. Semiconductor
lasers also are less costly and more efficient. He has developed a
self-contained light delivery PDT system for Barrett’s esophagus that
positions semiconductor lasers at the end of a thin coaxial cable,
which is inserted into a balloon catheter, allowing precise optical,
electrical and thermal control at the tumor’s location.
advantage to this design is individual segments or spot locations
across the illuminator can be turned on or off and the intensity
changed during treatment,” Happawana says. “In addition, as new
photosensitive drugs become available, semiconductor lasers with the
appropriate activation wavelength can be added to the balloon catheter
system. In such cases, multiple PDT drugs providing a potent cancer
cocktail can be activated in a single treatment.”
Associate Professor Thomas Ritz and Assistant Professor Alicia Meuret of SMU’s
Psychology Department are researching the interaction between
physiological and psychological aspects of asthma and other diseases.
Asthmatics suffer from a higher rate of panic or other anxiety
disorders than does the general population, especially those who
develop the disease as adults, Meuret says. Her research into anxiety
disorders first showed that breathing exercises were highly effective
in reducing panic symptoms in panic patients.
Whether suffering asthma
or from anxiety, “patients tend to breathe much too deeply and too
fast when they’re having difficulty. Their bodies are telling them to
get more oxygen, but the problem is they’re retaining too little
carbon dioxide”, Meuret says.
While at Stanford University Medical
School, Ritz and Meuret developed a four-week pilot program to teach
asthma patients how to breathe more effectively. During the program,
supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S.
Department of Veterans Affairs, asthma patients learned through
exercises to take slower, shorter breaths. They used devices called
capnometers to measure and store data on their oxygen and carbon
dioxide levels and respiration rates.
Ritz and Meuret observed stable
increases in patients’ carbon dioxide levels during the program and a
two-month follow-up period. They also noticed reduced frequency and
distress of symptoms and an increase in reported asthma control. They
have applied for additional NIH funding to expand the study to larger
For more information: http://faculty.smu.edu/ameuret.
Law Professor Beth Thornburg wants to toss the “No Fishing” sign out
of courtrooms – metaphorically speaking. In her research on legal
language, she found that civil cases have used the phrase “fishing
expedition” as a rhetorical weapon for at least 250 years, and it has
become more than a tired cliché. “People think of metaphors as pretty
figures of speech,” she says, “but when these phrases become
culturally pervasive, they influence the way we think about things.
In the case of “fishing expedition,” which parties have used to argue
against discovery requests, pleadings and entire lawsuits, the
metaphor tends to favor defendants, Thornburg says. “When plaintiffs are
accused of ‘fishing for information,’ it implies that they’re doing
something improper and in bad faith, and probably are incompetent.
And when an inquiry or lawsuit is condemned as a “fishing expedition,”
the metaphor obscures the court’s decision-making process and, worse,
can taint the way the courts perceive similar cases. Instead of
drawing a difficult line on policy, for example, judges can dismiss
something as “fishing” without having to explain why, she says.
Thornburg’s article on the history and impact of “fishing expedition,”
which will be published in the University of Michigan Journal of Law
Reform, evolved from her earlier work on war and sports metaphors and
how they shape the legal adversary system. “Fishing expedition” kept
popping up during her research – in a Texas Supreme Court case, and
again in Scottish, Australian, and Canadian pretrial procedures. Those
common-law countries inherited their legal systems from England,
and Thornburg wondered how far back
the phrase could be traced.
help of Dedman School of Law’s reference librarians and electronic
databases, she found her answer: a 1752 English land title dispute, in
which a Lord Chancellor criticizes a plaintiff’s “fishing bill.”
metaphor’s meaning and use evolved, Thornburg learned, but it
consistently appears in the “unpopular” lawsuits of its day: the
property claims of 18th-century England, debtor-creditor cases in
early America, election contests and worker-employer conflicts during
the Industrial Revolution. Today, “no fishing” has made a comeback in
cases involving securities fraud, product liability, discrimination,
and the environment.
“On the one hand, you want people who have been
genuinely wronged to gain relief through the law, ”Thornburg says. “On
the other, you don’t want frivolous lawsuits. That tension is at the
heart of many procedural issues, and they’ll get decided more fairly
and thoughtfully if judges and lawyers don’t just slap the ‘fishing
expedition’ label on them.”
Thornburg, whose courses include Civil
Procedure and Conflict of Laws, will continue researching legal
language for her contributions to the book-in-progress Law Talk, by
the University of Wisconsin’s Marc Galanter, Yale Law’s Fred Shapiro,
and James Clapp, formerly of Columbia Law Review.
Among the words she
has studied is “boilerplate,” which she has traced to 1860 and sheets
of rolled metal that were made into steam engine boilers. The word
jumped first to newspapers and, by the 1950s, to law, where it stands
for the standard clauses in contracts. Next up: “pound of flesh” from
Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure.”
“The law is a verbal profession,” Thornburg says, “so the better lawyers and judges use their words, the
better off we all are. Cases are more likely to be decided on their
merits if the language is precise, and that helps the court system do
its job enforcing legal norms.
” Thornburg, who earned her J.D. at SMU
and B.A. in history from the College of William and Mary, was an
associate with the law firm of Locke, Purnell, Boren, Laney & Neely
before joining Dedman School of Law as an assistant professor in 1989.
She has published articles on federal and Texas procedure, including
“The Story of Lassiter: The Importance of Counsel in an Adversary System”
in Civil Procedure Stories (Foundation Press, 2004) and “Civil
Procedure: Questions & Answers” (LexisNexis, 2003) with SMU Law
Professor William V. Dorsaneo III.
For more information: http://faculty.smu.edu/ethornbu.
|One of the numerous
ways that the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies supports
research in public policy and international relations is through
providing fellowships to SMU faculty.
“The research that we do as
scholars, and that the Tower Center supports, informs all of our
teaching,” says James F. Hollifield, director of the Tower Center and
the Arnold Professor of International Political Economy. “Research is
the lifeblood of our business. So the Tower Center isn’t just
energizing research agendas, but also teaching and scholarship.
Colin Powell Global Order and Foreign Policy Fellowship, for example,
awards up to $5,000 and is open to SMU faculty members working on
issues such as the role of the United States in what former President
George H.W. Bush called the New World Order. Stephen Wegren, political
science professor and director of International and Area Studies, has
been named this year’s Powell Fellow for his work on the
The Tower Center also offers several SMU
faculty members annual grants of up to $2,500 to conduct preliminary
research and promote collaborative efforts in areas related to
international relations, national security issues, comparative
politics, political economy and political institutions.
As the Tower
Center welcomes its newest fellow, some current and outgoing fellows
are studying the subjects of free trade, Mexican emigration, and
Transcending Borders and History
In barrios from
Los Angeles to Chicago to Dallas, immigrants from the Mexican federal
state of Zacatecas have organized Zacatecan clubs. For an upcoming
collection of essays on ethnic regions, History Professor John Chávez,
a Tower Center Faculty Fellow, is researching how migrants form such
regional identities within and across national borders and
With funding from the Tower Center and SMU’s University
Research Council, Chávez traveled last summer to archives in Mexico
City, Xalapa in the state of Vera Cruz, and Guadalupe in Zacatecas. He
worked with primary sources on the history of federal states and their
loss of population to emigration.
“Seeing the landscape, interacting
with the people and experiencing the life was as important to me as
digging through the archives,” he says. “My experiences and research
relate directly to my major teaching area, Mexican-American history,
which is inherently a transnational field, given migration patterns
and the history of the U.S. Southwest as the former Mexican Far North.”
Chávez, whose collection is tentatively titled Imagining Federations,
is the author of Eastside Landmark: A History of the East Los Angeles
Community Union (Stanford University Press, 1998) andGe Lost Land:Ge
Chicano Image of the Southwest (University of NewMexico Press, 1984).
The Cost of Political Corruption
Why do voters put corrupt politicians
in office? Associate Professor of Political Science Luigi Manzetti, a
Tower Center Faculty Fellow, pursued a hypothesis that, until now,
lacked supporting statistical evidence: The poorer the country – and the
more ineffective its government – the more likely that corrupt leaders
are elected by delivering handouts.
“On the one hand, corrupt
politicians thrive by manipulating government resources to help their
supporters, and corruption thrives when the institutions in charge of
political accountability are weak,” he says. “On the other, poor
people sell their votes to get services that, in principle, they’re
already entitled to. Corruption deprives them of their rights.”
Tower Center fellowship supported his research with Carole Wilson,
assistant professor of government, politics and political economy at
the University of Texas at Dallas, which included statistical analysis
of World Values Survey data and trips to Latin America and Eastern
Europe to interview opinion leaders. His findings will be published in
the August Comparative Political Studies, and they show it will take
more than administrative reforms to end corruption. “As long as
countries stay poor, corrupt leaders will stay in power,” he says.
Manzetti, who is working on a book about U.S.-backed economic reforms
in emerging markets during the 1990s and the corruption it spawned, is
the author of Privatization South American Style (Oxford University
Press, 1999) and the editor of Regulatory Policy in Latin America:
Post-Privatization Realities (North-South Center Press, University of Miami,
NAFTA and Mexico, 12 Years
Free trade does two things, says Michael Lusztig, the outgoing
Powell Fellow: It grows wealth throughout a society and it grows a
middle class, which, in turn, demands political freedom.
Now that the
North American Free Trade Agreement has been in effect for 12 years,
the associate professor of political science is investigating whether Mexico has imported the foundations of democracy: liberal
republican values. “I am looking for ways to construct the good
society, and one way to do that is through increasing wealth – through
free trade, for example,” he says. “Another way is to have legitimate
restraints on that freedom in the name of community values; you don’t
want everybody writing their own rules, and this is where
republicanism comes in.”
Lusztig is analyzing data from the World
Values Survey, which has polled citizens of every country since 1981
on issues such as politics, religion, race and education. His early
findings are mixed: Although Mexico held its first democratic election
this year and its middle class shows signs of growth, republican
values are not as strong as he had hypothesized. “Political cultures
change very slowly,” he says, “and there has to be some manifestation
that liberal democracy is working – that it translates into a better
Lusztig, who is beginning a book on the evolution of
republicanism, recently co-authored articles on institutionalizing
NAFTA and on democracy and economic growth, which were published in
International Political Science Review. He is the author of The Limits
of Protectionism: Building Coalitions for Free Trade (Pittsburgh
University Press, 2004) and Risking Free Trade: The Politics of Trade in
Britain, Canada, Mexico and the United States (Pittsburgh University
For more information, visit the Tower Center Web site:http://smu.edu/tower.
Baker-Fletcher pauses before answering the often-asked question of
whether she is a feminist or an African American woman.
“I like ‘womanist,’” says Baker-Fletcher, associate professor in Perkins
School of Theology, “because it means you can be a feminist and a woman
of color in one body. It answers the obvious – that you can be both
and more, that you can embrace the love of God, stand up to senseless
violence, and serve the needs of your community. It is a holistic
For more than 12 years, through four books and numerous papers and
lectures, she has been among those giving breadth and fuller meaning
to “womanist,” a term first coined in 1983 by Alice Walker, author of
The Color Purple.
In her latest book, Dancing with God:
The Trinity from a Womanist
Perspective (Chalice Press, 2006), Baker-Fletcher focuses on African
American women’s struggle for survival and liberation within the
meaning of an ever-present God as embodied in the Holy Trinity of
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
“The Trinity helps us overcome the hatred and violence that is an
unfortunate part of human existence,” she says. “The crucifixion is
both literally and metaphorically a hate crime. Through it, Christ
overcomes hatred, and by embracing the Trinity, which is rigorous and
just love, we can, too.”
For victims of extreme hatred and violence, Christ’s overcoming of
hatred is important because it helps them to avoid becoming like those
who have attacked them, she explains.
She received inspiration for her book from a dance performed at St.
Luke United Methodist Church in Dallas that depicted the story of
Mamie Carthan Till, mother of 14-year-old Emmett Till, an African
American youth brutally murdered by two white men in Mississippi in
1954. One mother’s decision to hold an open-casket funeral so all
could see what had been done to her child helped spark the Civil
“What she did,” Baker-Fletcher says, “was an act of bravery to
overcome unjust suffering and violence. It is important for all of us
to understand this.”
Womanist theology stands apart from African American (male) theology
and feminist theology. African American theology is a liberation
theology directed at white racism that would deny people of color
equal standing in society.
Some African American women see as its shortcoming a failure to
appreciate the oppressions they suffer because of both racist and
sexist attitudes. Feminist theology, on the other hand, focuses
primarily on the oppression of white women without adequately
addressing the racial and economic issues that are part of the
everyday realities of women of color.
Baker-Fletcher and others seek to fill this void through a theological
discourse focused on the spiritual needs of women of color by
addressing their relationships with God, their communities, the
economy and the environment.
“Some of my critics have accused me of being more psychological than
spiritual,” Baker-Fletcher says. “I think, though, that what I bring
is a deeper understanding of the emotional needs . . . for love, to be
beloved and the spirit of love.”
Baker-Fletcher joined SMU in 2001. She received a B.A. in philosophy
and French from Wellesley College in 1981, a Master of Divinity in
theology and literature from Harvard Divinity School in 1984, and an
M.A. in religion in 1990 and a Ph.D. in constructive and historical
theology from Harvard University in 1991. Her other books include
Sisters of Dust, Sisters of Spirit: Womanist Wordings (Fortress Press,
1998),My Sister, My Brother: Womanist and Xodus God-Talk (Orbis,
1997), and A Singing Something: Womanist Reflections on Anna Julia
Cooper (Crossroad, 1994).
For more information:
Cox Distinguished Professor of Finance
Andrew Chen often finds inspiration for a research topic from events of
the day. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, provided a
valuable resource for his research on contemporary finance and
Chen and co-author Thomas Siems of the Dallas Federal Reserve
Bank wrote about the effects of 9/11 and other terrorist and military
events in “The Effects of Terrorism on Global Capital Markets,”
published in the June 2004 issue of the European Journal of Political
Economy. In the article they illustrated the capabilities and
resilience of U.S. capital markets and the federal government’s
response to highlight a milestone in economic history.
“In the days
that followed 9/11, the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank provided massive
liquidity to the banking and financial system, virtually at the click
of a mouse,” Chen says. “The action quickly restored the confidence of
U.S. financial markets, which recovered faster than other large
international capital markets, including those in London, Tokyo and
Hong Kong, among others.”
Today, Chen continues to research the
long-term effects of terrorism on various sectors. “Five years after
9/11, I found that terrorism no longer causes immediate shock waves to
the stock market as it did following the attacks on American soil,” he
says. Sector differences, however, do affect the overall Gross
Domestic Product, including transportation, defense, tourism and
Chen also studies how global capital markets can be used
to aid economic development in India. He analyzes how infrastructure
project financing can help overcome obstacles in current financing
strategies to further India’s role in the global economy.
joined SMU in 1983, began formulating his theories on finance nearly
40 years ago while a graduate student at the University of
California-Berkeley, from which he earned his Ph.D. His dissertation
focused on options pricing at a time when options were not even in
the mindset of financial professionals. First published in the Journal
of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Chen since has become one of
the most prolific authors based on the number of articles published in
72 finance journals – ranking No. 11 in the world.