Dilettante Army

Dilettante Army is a coalition of thinkers who dabble in a litany of disciplines. Our army consists of writers, artists, and critics who perform detailed critical analysis on both historical and contemporary topics (with a healthy dose of snark).

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Cost of Living: Life Insurance and Burial in Black Chicago

Chicago, like many other diverse cities in the United States, has a complex history of race relations. With local and national policies, both legal and corporate, benefiting white citizens at the turn of the 20th century, the Black community was left to fend for themselves. From housing to life insurance, socio-political strategies purposely disenfranchised and undermined opportunities for success in the Black community, especially for elderly Black Americans who had worked hard their whole lives being paid less than their white counterparts. While an oppressive bureaucracy sought to keep Black Americans from thriving throughout their old age and even in death, the Black community innovated several work-arounds in order to circumvent those policies.

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A Gloomy and Tedious Period: Learning from 1816

As winter came to an end in 1816, the inhabitants of northern Vermont looked forward to spring, as do many inhabitants of New England and the northeastern United States. Every year, the winds warmed and the recently thawed earth was dug into and filled with seed. The climate provides a sense of cyclical stability. The weather patterns were fairly standard: a long, troubling winter eventually broke and made way for the spring planting season, followed by the eventual return of summer. The year of 1816, however, broke the cycle, upending daily life as it was known, leading to population shifts, and ultimately contributing to significant new socio-cultural production.


It's in the Cloud: Miasma, Healthcare.gov, and Computing

The connection to our health and our healthcare is seemingly invisible: the digital marketplace, eco-friendly billing, paperless records. All of this lives in “the cloud,” existing just out of sight. As a digital stratosphere hosting our more personal information, the cloud mysteriously permeates our daily lives, especially in regards to our health. It hosts the online health insurance marketplace—the current but maybe-going-away-soon digital scape where we shop for a plan to care of our living bodies. It’s also the home of the GoFundMe campaigns through which we digitally transfer funds to those whom the health insurance marketplace have failed. We use email to correspond with our doctors and our health insurance companies, and apps to track our heart rates and exercise regimens, seeding the cloud with our data points. The cloud is omnipresent in our lives and critical to how we understand our bodies.