Research Update: US Reception to Inbal Dance Theater in the 1950s and 1960s

By Hannah Kosstrin, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Dance, The Ohio State University

Additional Affiliations: Melton Center for Jewish Studies; Center for Slavic and East European Studies; Migration, Mobility, and Immobility Discovery Theme Working Group

I was honored to be awarded a 2017–2018 Global Mobility Project Faculty Grant for travel to archives to support research examining the cultural implications for dance circulating through the mid-century touring network of impresario Sol Hurok. Specifically, I focused on how US reception to the Yemenite-Israeli company Inbal Dance Theater from 1958 to 1969 underscored Ashkenazi American Jewish assimilation through dance spectatorship and mobile perceptions of Jewishness.

Between June 2017 and March 2018 I traveled to New York, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles to conduct research in archives that held materials related to Inbal and its 1950s–1960s tours. I also interviewed dancers who toured with the company and their relatives about Inbal members’ experiences on those tours. In New York, I worked in the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the New York Public Library Dorot Jewish Division, and the Center for Jewish History Special Collections. In Boston, I worked in the Harvard Theatre Collection, Harvard Judaica Collection, the Schlesinger Library, and the Boston Public Library. In Chicago, I worked in the Modern Manuscripts Collections at the Newberry Library. In Los Angeles, I worked in Special Collections at the University of California, Los Angeles, and with dance historian Karen Goodman, who generously shared materials with me.

As with any productive research endeavor, I came out of these trips with different questions than when I went in. As a result, I am working on two article manuscripts from this project. I am currently completing one article draft manuscript about how American Jewish acculturation was implicated in the US reception of Inbal’s 1950s–1960s tours. The other article, which pursues the local and transnational cultural effects of these tours, takes the material in a new direction that I hope will form the basis of my second book.

Research Update: Sharing and Learning about Adolescent Newcomer Programs

By Brian Seilstad, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Education, Teaching and Learning, The Ohio State University. 

The changes in the U.S. demographics in the last ~40 years have been dramatic, leading to a more diverse population overall in terms of ethnic, racial, or linguistic backgrounds in addition to distinctions in legal status, transnational aspirations, bi/multilingual identities, etc.  Ohio, its urban areas most specifically and Columbus in particular, is among those areas that have experienced these shifts. 

My research focuses on one manifestation of this phenomenon, how the state and city support adolescent newcomers who face intense pressure to master the language and content necessary for success in schools and beyond.  This work is primarily ethnographic and discourse analytic, investigating a specific local program, one cohort of students, and the environment and processes of meaning-making designed to support students in and out of the classroom.

I conducted my fieldwork during the 2016-2017 academic year and have spent the 2017-2018 year analyzing data and writing the dissertation.  Thus, nearing the end of my Ph.D. journey, the Global Mobility Project’s funding allowed me to share this research at two major conferences—Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and the American Educational Research Association (AERA)—and to explore a notable adolescent newcomer program model, the Internationals Network of Public Schools, perhaps the most prominent adolescent newcomer programs in the nation.  These schools, similar to the local program I researched, serve students from dozens of countries and language groups. 

At TESOL, I presented a key argument in my dissertation—that the local program reflects an “English-centric” ideology that manifests from the macro-level of the state/national standards, the meso-level of institutional structures, to the micro level of daily classroom interactions.  I suggest that this ideology is perhaps an improvement over many “English-only” ideologies and spaces but still often falls short of meeting many students’ needs.  In contrast, at AERA, I presented more micro-level data documenting the translanguaging practices of students in the program, focusing on how the English word “chick” is heard by Nepali speakers in the class as a “Nepali bad word” which then morphs into another bad word “chicki-chicki” and blends with the Daddy Yankee song “Shaky Shaky.”  I argue that these insights contribute to understandings about translanguaging by moving beyond individual speech events, tracking them across time, and reflecting adolescents’ interest in sexuality, popular culture, and peer relationships.  At both conferences, I was pleased to have the opportunity to meet and connect directly with a number of scholars active in this field such as Drs. Holly Hansen-Thomas, Mandy Stewart, Mark Pacheco, and Nelson Flores

As AERA was in New York City, I had the opportunity to visit Claremont International, a school in the Internationals Network, and the visit to the school reinforced many of the conclusions in my dissertation.  Among these is the importance of an inviting linguistic landscape, as evidenced with the school’s and main office’s welcome signs.



This is also reflected in the pedagogy of the individual classroom where students are organized by two-year cohorts where the second year students, who have improved their English ability, can help first year students acclimate to the program and academic tasks.  During classroom visits, I was pleased to see students collaborating in small groups that changed frequently to encourage different interactional possibilities across the content areas.  In a meeting with students, many commented that this arrangement was challenging but supportive through enhanced collaboration and communication across multiple domains. 

This ethos is further reflected in other school signs such as these below: 





Of course, there are a number of contrasts to the local program and my research.  One that remains is to what degree adolescent newcomer programs support and develop students’ home languages.  The Claremont program did have a specific course in “Native Language Arts,” but it was unclear to me how many students were able to access these options or what languages were available.  My perspective, drawing on my own work and broader reading, is that these programs will frequently leave students behind if their home languages are not directly supported and engaged in the learning process, not only of English but of the home languages per se. 

Undergraduate Grant Research Update

By Jessica Shakesprere, Undergraduate Student, The Ohio State University 

As a senior in the summer of 2017, I was given the opportunity to pursue an undergraduate research thesis with the assistance of Professor Jan Pierskalla in the Department of Political Science. I began my project with an inquiry of understanding the lasting impact of political violence on the psyche that went beyond visible-short term consequences. My background in Political Science and Biology with a concentration in Behavioral Neuroscience helped me understand how trauma is currently being narrated in these disciplines. I became invested in Sri Lanka as a case study as it is an understudied country concerning civil war violence. Moreover, given relatively recent political shifts within the country such as the change in political leadership in the 2015 General Election that “replaced” a government perpetrating state violence, this suggested evidence of political mobilization among Sri Lankan Tamils following the war. The diaspora is a new source of engagement in how political violence can having lasting impacts in new, foreign geographical spaces. To this end, I became interested in exploring the transmission of political violence across identities, attitudes, and behaviors in relation to political mobilization and social activism in the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora. This study aims to add to the existing literature on large-scale traumatic events and their lasting impacts on individuals across generations as well as inform readers on how to understand and describe the complex effects of trauma. This understanding of trauma is crucial for domestic and international efforts to effectively address the psychosocial impacts of trauma in post-war societies.

In order to study the possible link between direct exposure to violence and prosocial behavior, my specific goals are to 1) determine if civil war violence has an effect on prosocial behavior in second-generation Sri Lankans in the Western diaspora 2) unpack the mechanisms of transmission of civil war violence to sociopolitical engagement, and 3) determine if contextual factors such as the size of the local community or density of social networks in the diaspora condition this relationship. Through the course of this project, my main focus is to understand how this trauma affects second-generation offspring. Thus far, my research illustrates that individuals do not process or perceive trauma in a linear way such as via varying levels of exposure to violence. Rather, narratives of self in relation to history, community, psyche, and cosmos shape the present context of second-generation Sri Lankan Tamils in the diaspora. As a result, there are various reasons, some factors deriving as an effect of a traumatic experience, that lead to an individual’s sociopolitical engagement in their community.

Due to the generous grant sponsored by the Global Mobility Project at The Ohio State University, I helped advance my project by obtaining and accessing relevant archival data on political violence and trauma during the Sri Lankan Civil War. Moreover, I was able to connect with Dr. Daya Somasundaram, a senior professor of psychiatry, consultant psychiatrist, and leading researcher on trauma studies following the war in Sri Lanka. I was also able to conduct qualitative interviews with participants both within Columbus, Ohio and Toronto, Canada, the latter city holding the largest number of Sri Lankan immigrants from the diaspora. Through this, I was able to gain a diverse sample of participants but also hear from a multitude of perspectives in the diaspora. I have the utmost appreciation for the team coordinating the Global Mobility Project, and I am excited to see the progression of this project as I continue my research.

Research Update: Mobilizing Linguistic Resources for Diabetes Management in Latino Families

By Jordan Royster, Undergraduate Student, College of Public Health, The Ohio State University 

In the United States, Spanish speaking persons have a higher risk of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus1. Previous studies have examined health outcomes in relation to familismo on Spanish-speaking diabetic patients. However, the research did not determine the interplay of disease management and cultural values. Familismo is a cultural value, that emphasizes the needs of one’s nuclear or extended family over one’s personal needs. This project focused on the process of familismo and the effects of trans-lingual interactions on the patient’s management of diabetes.

All participants were Type II diabetic patients and family members living in the same household. The families had two to five members and everyone spoke Spanish. Four families from Columbus, Toledo, Lorain, and Cincinnati Ohio, were interviewed in March 2018. The cities were chosen because of their varied population sizes. In 2016, Columbus had the largest population of 860,090, then Cincinnati with 298,800, Toledo with 278,508 and Lorain with 63,7302.

The interviews, which lasted approximately one hour, were round table discussions with the patients and family members. The written questions were shared with everyone and each patient and family member was given an opportunity to address every question. The same researcher conducted the interviews and took handwritten notes of the discussions. A content analysis was done on the themes of the interview.

The objectives of the interviews were to determine the following:

  • The family’s perception of messages deployed by bilingual members through language brokering, the interpretation and translation of concepts to patients with different cultural and linguistic backgrounds3.
  • The factors that determine which family member serves as the primary support for the diabetic patient.
  • Changes in the family’s health behavior after the patient’s diabetes diagnosis. 

With two of the families, an adult child with advanced English skills attended the doctor appointments with the patients. They served as patient advocates, ensuring that the diagnosis and recommended changes were understood and carried out by the patient. The other two families only had the patient attend the doctor appointments because one family’s children lived in Mexico and the other family had young children. However, both patients mentioned their husband and one patient’s extended family served as a strong support network for when she was home.  For all the families the main support was a family member. Three of the families indicated their spouses as the primary support, although none of the spouses attended the doctor appointments. Two of these families then mentioned additional family members, children and an aunt that also support them through the management of diabetes. One patient relied on her adult daughter who was also suffering health complications.

In regard to lifestyle changes, two families shifted their diets to encompass the dietary constraints of diabetes, such as by eating less processed food and fats. For the Toledo family, the patient drastically changed her diet and her daughter also adopted healthier eating habits. Although other family members have resisted most dietary changes, efforts to improve their eating habits continue. The Lorain patient changed her diet and the family reduced unhealthy available foods in the home. To varying degrees, the members of all four families were involved in the diabetes management of the patients.

Within the Spanish speaking community, sharing food and meals is an important component of the familial relationship. Having one member not able to participate in this cultural practice can be isolating4&5. Medical professionals should be aware of the family’s dietary practices to best help the patient achieve lifestyle changes that are most effective.

The Global Mobility Grant helped fund the travel expenses as well as compensate the families for their time in participating in this project.

  1. CDC Features. (2017, September 18). Retrieved March 26, 2018, from
  2. QuickFacts. (n.d.). Retrieved March 25, 2018, from,cincinnaticityohio,toledocityohio,columbuscityohio/PST045217
  3. Dorner, L. M., Orellana, M. F., & Jiménez, R. (2008). It’s One of Those Things That You Do to Help the Family. Journal of Adolescent Research, 23(5), 515-543. Retrieved from
  4. Devine, Carol M. et al. (1999, March). Food Choices in Three Ethnic Groups: Interactions of Ideals, Identities, and Roles. Journal of Nutrition Education, Volume 31, Issue 2, 86 – 93. DOI:
  5. Kulkarni, K. D. (2004, October 01). Food, Culture, and Diabetes in the United States. Retrieved March 28, 2018, from