The Oklahoma Center for the Humanities is delighted to announce that Dr. Zenia Kish has been appointed as our associate director.
Dr. Kish graduated from NYU with her PhD in American Studies, completed a post-doc at Stanford University, and is Assistant Professor of Media Studies at the University of Tulsa. Her expertise is deeply interdisciplinary. During her master’s degree at Western University in Ontario, Dr. Kish began worked on representations of racialized otherness in media depictions of Hurricane Katrina survivors. At NYU, she studied the Great Recession and the financial cultures that emerged out if it, furthering her studies of critical race theory, US empire, food politics, and digital media cultures.
During Dr. Kish’s post-doc fellowship, she deepened her interest in critical food and agriculture and joined an NSF-funded project about the future of food as imagined in Silicon Valley. Recently she co-edited a collection of essays Food Instagram: Identity, Influence, and Negotiation, the first of its kind to explore Instagram and food studies. When asked about this year’s theme of “freedom,” Dr. Kish writes,
[a]fter more than two years of pandemic loss, isolation, and denial, so many have been waiting to cross a threshold to a regained sense of normalcy and freedom of movement. But we have not had such a clear-cut, redemptive transition, and remain in what feels like an in-between place of partially recovered freedoms mixed with ongoing uncertainty and risk. It is thus an important moment to rethink what freedom means, and how we value it. In the US, individual freedoms are elevated as cornerstones of American identity and way of life. And yet we have been subjected to many of the collective costs of individual freedom enacted without mutual responsibility, whether unrestricted gun rights, insufficient action on climate change, or misinformation campaigns suppressing pandemic mitigation.
This dynamic is not in itself new, but strong voices are finding new ways to challenge expectations that some can be sacrificed in exchange for the freedoms of others. I look forward to the conversations the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities will host this year exploring the importance and obligations accompanying freedom, and what greater collective freedom might look like.