Madison Mutual Drift is the name for a group presently of four: Karma Chávez, Brigitte Fielder, Colin Gillis, and Dan S. Wang.
We are writers, activists, educators, and researchers who found each other in Madison, Wisconsin. While our individual views may differ by degrees, we share an interest in contributing our collective skills, labor, and voice to the struggles and debates of our time, in Madison and all the other places to which we belong.
Karma R. Chávez:
Karma grew up on 10 acres of land in rural, south central Nebraska where her parents have lived for over thirty years. Her parents chose to live in the country as opposed to in town, not only because they preferred the aesthetics and the sounds of seclusion, but also because as a working class, mixed-race couple in rural Nebraska, they found it easier to stay away. Karma’s hometown is currently 96.6% white, and in 1990, when she was in middle school, it was 99.27% white. Like many Latin@s in her generation, the Chávez family didn’t speak Spanish at home, but they always knew they were Mexican American. It wasn’t until graduate school when Karma had a chance to read theories about race and ethnicity, capitalism, gender, and sexuality that she had any language to understand her experiences growing up. Her early training was in black feminism and critical race theory. Over time, through more work in ethnic studies and women’s studies, she developed a deeper understanding of herself in context, and now identifies as a queer Chican@ feminist—a political identity she continues to grow into. In addition to teaching and researching locally and being a member of the United Faculty and Staff AFT Local #223, Karma is a member of the radical queer collective Against Equality, a coordinator for the LGBT Books to Prisoners Project, and the host for Madison’s Community Radio station, WORT’s Wednesday lunch-hour program, A Public Affair. She co-founded the Queer Migration Research Network, and is the author of the book Queer Migration Politics: Activist Rhetoric and Coalitional Possibilities (University of Illinois Press, 2013).
Brigitte grew up in Syracuse, New York and moved to Madison with her partner in 2012. As a first-generation college student from a working-class, interracial family, she became increasingly interested in the complex workings of power and privilege that have influenced her education and her current place in academia. She earned her PhD in English Language and Literature at Cornell University and now teaches in the Department of Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her academic interests include nineteenth-century literatures, African-American and Native American literature of any century, the critical study of race, gender, and sexuality, human-animal relationships, kinship, and children’s literature. Teaching university courses at Auburn Prison in upstate New York sparked her continuing interest in prison education and prison abolition. Since moving to Madison, she has served one year on the board of the Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative and volunteers with Wisconsin Books to Prisoners and the Porchlight shelter at Grace Episcopal Church.
Madison has been my home since July 2010, when I moved here as the trailing spouse in an academic couple. The protests against Act 10 in February 2011 inspired me to give up pursuing a conventional academic career and divide my time between teaching and activism. Since then, my political work has focused on housing, racial justice, and alternative media. A white cis man, I have been a member of Groundwork, a local anti-racist collective, for about year and a half. Recently, I decided to go back to school for a degree in the health sciences.
Dan S. Wang:
I am from the Tri-Cities area of Michigan, born to immigrant parents in 1968. My earliest memories of industrial Michigan are of an affluent society, the economic decline of which unfolded over my whole growing up. Since high school I’ve lived or stayed in cities and towns across the Midwest, from a year in Western Pennsylvania to a month in Duluth. Saginaw, suburban Oakland County, Hyde Park in Chicago, the East Side of Milwaukee, and South Minneapolis have been my homes. My global perspective includes travel experiences around both Europe and East Asia, particularly through China, to which I have been making trips since 1992. When I am not traveling for visiting artist engagements, I am in Madison being a dad to a member of the younger generation with whom we joined forces when she was fifteen.
See my other projects, texts, and collaborations: