Sheller, Mimi 1967–
Sheller, Mimi 1967–
(Mimi Beth Sheller)
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Dubois-Mandela-Rodney Postdoctoral Fellow Center for African and Afro-American Studies, fellow, 1997-98; Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA, visiting associate professor; has also served as a visiting senior research fellow at Lancaster University, England.
Democracy after Slavery: Black Publics and Peasant Radicalism in Haiti and Jamaica, University Press of Florida (Gainesville, FL), 2000.
Consuming the Caribbean: From Arawaks to Zombies, Routledge (New York, NY), 2003.
(Editor, with others) Uprootings/Regroundings: Questions of Home and Migration, Berg Publishers (New York, NY), 2003.
(Editor, with John Urry) Tourism Mobilities: Places to Play, Places in Play, Routledge (New York, NY), 2004.
(Editor, with John Urry) Mobile Technologies of the City, Routledge (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to various journals, including Political Power and Social Theory, Culture and Society, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, and the New West Indian Guide.
Writer and educator Mimi Sheller was born February 2, 1967. She graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University in 1988, with an undergraduate degree in literature and history. She continued on at Harvard to earn a master's degree in sociology and historical studies in 1993, again graduating with distinction. In 1997, Sheller completed her doctorate at the New School for Social Research in New York City, earning the degree from their graduate faculty of political and social science. In 1997, she spent a year at the University of Michigan's Dubois-Mandela-Rodney Postdoctoral Fellow Center for African and Afro-American Studies. Currently serving as a visiting associate professor at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, she has previously served as a visiting senior research fellow at Lancaster University in England. Her primary areas of research and academic interests include the history and politics of the Caribbean and the broader Atlantic region, with a focus on the development and spread of democracy and freedom in those regions, as well as issues pertaining to power, social status, and inequality, particularly regarding race, ethnic origin, class, gender, and sexual preferences. In addition, she is interested in both the colonial and postcolonial periods and the relationship to global sociology, as well as the way in which both people and goods were circulated. She has also examined the ways that systems of government and relationships have altered various forms of transportation and communication over the years. Sheller contributes to a number of journals, including Political Power and Social Theory, Culture and Society, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, and the New West Indian Guide. She is the author of Democracy after Slavery: Black Publics and Peasant Radicalism in Haiti and Jamaica and Consuming the Caribbean: From Arawaks to Zombies. In addition, Sheller has served as a coeditor on Uprootings/Regroundings: Questions of Home and Migration, Tourism Mobilities: Places to Play, Places in Play, and Mobile Technologies of the City.
In Democracy after Slavery, Sheller analyzes two major peasant uprisings that took place in the wake of emancipation on the islands of Haiti and Jamaica, the 1844 Piquet and the 1865 Morant Bay rebellions. By comparing the two islands and their experiences, she illustrates how much they had in common despite their different political paths. Both islands possessed a population of peasants and workers who were intent on fighting for and working toward an improvement of the rights of the citizens, and even after slavery was ended, they struggled to create a workable network of support for former slaves. Sheller addresses the meaning of the uprisings, what led to them, and what happened to the peasant populations in the aftermath. In a review for the Journal of Latin American Studies, Mary Turner remarked that "the book asserts the importance of grass-roots radicalism and reminds readers of the limitations of a democracy based on property rather than civic or human rights…. Sheller's bold effort to cut across the entrenched historiographical tradition of national and regional based Caribbean studies will hopefully establish a new trend."
Consuming the Caribbean addresses the history of European occupation and sublimation of the islands of the Caribbean. It also examines the ways in which European colonists used the resources and population of that region for their own monetary gain and global advancement, starting in the fifteenth century and continuing through modern times. Sheller considers the ethical question of whether the Europeans had the right to consume the Caribbean's resources in this manner, as well as whether the Europeans gave back to the Caribbean in the process. Unlike most other colonial regions, the Caribbean was subdivided among so many European nations and their influences that it is difficult to determine which country was responsible for which of the issues that developed in the various islands. As a result, specific issues, and the nations that potentially caused them, are not generally included in the traditional texts that address consumerism and exploitation of colonial holdings by other nations. However, Sheller's effort is one of several that focus on the colonial holdings in the Caribbean and how the consumption of this region by Europeans and some North Americans affected the Caribbean as it is today. Reviews of Sheller's effort were mixed, with some critics finding her personal anger toward the treatment of the Caribbean, as well as an overly involved approach toward her subject matter, as something of a distraction. Philip Nanton, writing for the Journal of Social History, wrote: "Ultimately, I suspect, Sheller's outrage is at the defilement of her Caribbean. Despite her protestations she remains unable to struggle free from her contradictions." Reviewing for Ariel, Alison Van Nyhuis concluded that, "overall, the book offers a manageable, informative, and interesting cross-disciplinary constellation of representations, data, and theories regarding past and present consumption of the Caribbean."
In her work Uprootings/Regroundings, which she edited with several other writers, Sheller collects a number of essays that focus on a range of topics having to do with women's studies and the social sciences in general. The book as a whole seeks to redefine the concept of home to mean anyplace important that represents comfort and kinship, rather than a single, geographical location. In respect to this topic, the essays address a number of details, such as migration and relocation, as well as questions of citizenship and what truly makes a place a home. Within these boundaries, they also consider gender and sexual politics, relations, and notions of being firmly rooted versus a more nomadic existence, and how these concepts affect ideas of home. In some cases, examples are given of displaced individuals who, unable to return to the nations they truly consider their homelands, instead create an entirely separate concept of home through their art or another endeavor that allows them a similar spiritual outlet. Wendy Coxshall, in a review for the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, concluded that "the book's clear strength lies in having successfully raised questions about home and migration and having opened up a space for further discussion," and praised it for "addressing notions of embodiment and personal subjectivities in relation to forms of belonging, migration, and meanings of home."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, April 1, 2004, Arnold J. Bauer, review of Consuming the Caribbean: From Arawaks to Zombies, p. 573.
American Journal of Sociology, July 1, 2004, Marc M. Sanford, review of Consuming the Caribbean, p. 265.
Ariel, July 1, 2004, Alison Van Nyhuis, review of Consuming the Caribbean, p. 207.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, September 1, 2001, O.N. Bolland, review of Democracy after Slavery: Black Publics and Peasant Radicalism in Haiti and Jamaica, p. 184; January 1, 2004, O.N. Bolland, review of Consuming the Caribbean, p. 952.
Journal of Economic Literature, September 1, 2003, review of Consuming the Caribbean, p. 1032.
Journal of Latin American Studies, August 1, 2003, Mary Turner, review of Democracy after Slavery, p. 650.
Journal of Social History, June 22, 2006, Philip Nanton, review of Consuming the Caribbean, p. 1205.
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, December 1, 2004, Wendy Coxshall, review of Uprootings/Regroundings: Questions of Home and Migration, p. 914.
Labor History, August 1, 2003, Melanie Newton, review of Democracy after Slavery, p. 396.
Science & Society, April 1, 2005, Eloise Linger, review of Democracy after Slavery, p. 243.
Social and Economic Studies, March 1, 2002, Patrick E. Bryan, review of Democracy after Slavery, p. 217.
Lancaster University Web site,http://www.lancs.ac.uk/ (June 24, 2008), faculty profile.
Swarthmore College Web site,http://www.swarthmore.edu/ (June 24, 2008), faculty profile.