A. W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship Program
The A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Program is a program of the College of Letters & Science and the Center for the Humanities. Fellows are also affiliated with a humanities or humanistic social science department in the College of Letters & Science, where they will teach a total of three courses over two years with no teaching in the first semester of the fellowship.
The College of Letters & Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison invites applications for a two-year postdoctoral fellowship funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The fellow will be housed in the Department of Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, and supported by the Center for the Humanities. The fellow will begin on August 19, 2019, and will teach a total of three undergraduate courses over two years, with no teaching in the first semester of the fellowship.
We seek applications from scholars who work in the area of ancient Greek literature and language who have a strong research profile and a proven record of teaching ancient Greek at the undergraduate level (both introductory and intermediate).
- Fellows must hold a PhD in Classical Languages and Literature.
- Applicants must be scholars who are not yet tenured and who are within 5 years of having received their PhD. To be eligible for this competition, the degree must be received between August 2014 and August 2019.
- Applicants who do not yet hold a PhD but expect to file their final thesis prior to the begin date of the fellowship (August 19, 2019) must provide a letter from their home institution (department chair, head of graduate studies, or advisor) confirming the degree award schedule.
- Doctoral candidates and those holding PhDs or other doctoral degrees from UW-Madison are ineligible.
- The fellowship has no nationality requirements. If accepted, international candidates will be responsible for securing their own paperwork, visas, etc. as needed, though the university can provide some support in that process.
- Selected recipients may not hold another fellowship simultaneous with this one.
In 2019-2021, the stipend for postdoctoral fellows will be at least $67,870 per academic year, with a $5,000 per year research allowance. Fellows will be furnished with office space and computer equipment. Fellows are eligible for health insurance (more information: http://www.ohr.wisc.edu/benefits/new-emp/grad.aspx).
Your application must include the following:
- 100 word abstract of dissertation or book project.
- Proposal of up to 2,000 words. The proposal should outline completed research (including dissertation); work in progress; research that will be conducted as a Mellon Fellow; a description of professional goals and plans for publication; an indication of the undergraduate courses you might teach; and other relevant information. Include how you believe you would benefit from being at UW-Madison, including the faculty associations you would like to develop.
- Curriculum vitae; include work forthcoming and in progress.
- Writing sample of up to 25 pages double spaced. The writing sample should be in English. References/images/endnotes may be in reasonable excess of the 25 pages.
- Confidential reference letters from three writers. Reference letters should address the significance and feasibility of the proposed research; quality of the proposal; qualifications for the project; past work; and potential contributions to and benefits from being a Mellon postdoctoral fellow at UW-Madison.
- Optional: Statement of teaching philosophy and/or sample syllabi or descriptions of courses you have taught or would like to teach.
Applications must be submitted via Interfolio. Submit your application: https://apply.interfolio.com/5...
- When you begin your application, you will be asked to upload your curriculum vitae, proposal, and writing sample as separate documents.
- If you would like to include teaching information and/or you have a letter corroborating the degree award schedule, upload these as “additional documents.”
- All reference letters must be submitted through Interfolio.
- Your application will include entries in the "Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship Information Form 2019-2021" with inputs to tell us about your dissertation committee, references, and educational background. This form includes a field for the 100 word abstract of the dissertation (or book project if current project is unrelated to dissertation).
- All materials, including reference letters, must be submitted by 11:59 PM Eastern Time on February 15, 2019, to ensure full consideration.
Because this fellowship includes teaching, a criminal background check will be required of fellowship recipients.
Difficulties using Interfolio? The general help center is here: http://product-help.interfolio.com/ Help for letter writers can be found here http://product-help.interfolio.com/m/71066/c/220188 Help for applicants is here: http://product-help.interfolio.com/m/27438
Fellows by Year
Project: Virtually White: The Crisis of Whiteness, Racial Rule, and Affect in the Digital Age
The dominant questions of Dr. Goding-Doty's research consider what new problems and avenues of thought the digital age and social media open up for the study of race, whiteness, and coloniality. In “Virtually White: The Crisis of Whiteness, Racial Rule, and Affect in the Digital Age,” Goding-Doty identifies a crisis of white hegemony that has taken shape in the digital age, in which a broad insistence on white racial victimization has been incorporated as a strategy in white supremacist and nationalist activity. To account for the ways this paradoxical position actually constitutes a crisis in the structure of racial power, her project argues for a theoretical framework that emphasizes the virtuality of race and the affective modes of its proliferation. Using affect theory, her analysis details the ways race operates nonrepresentationally. Her project then applies this reading of race to several viral events, memes, and digital performances, both staged and spontaneous to examine the virtual processes through which race is reproduced in the era of the internet. The performances and popular cultural materials that constitute Goding-Doty's social media and internet archive not only demonstrate where whiteness is grappling with the terms of Western racial hegemony, but reveal the modes through which racial governance is adapting in the wake of social mediatization.
Christine Goding-Doty received her PhD from the Department of African American Studies at Northwestern University. The main concern of her research is the concept of whiteness in the digital age which she explores from the intersection of critical philosophy of race, new media studies, and affect theory. Her forthcoming article “Beyond the Pale Blog: Tumblr Pink and the Aesthetics of White Anxiety” considers the way pale blogs on Tumblr aestheticize contemporary anxieties around white supremacy and manufacture a virtual frontier upon which to sustain colonial desire.
Project: Structuring Vision: A History of Videotape
Carmine Grimaldi is interested in the creation, distribution, and social world of images. His book manuscript, Structuring Vision: A History of Videotape, investigates the hitherto untold history of early videotape, uncovering the ways the electronic moving image crept into, and profoundly reshaped, institutions and daily experience in postwar America. The new medium made the television screen a responsive participant in everyday life, able to replay events at the time and place they occurred. His research traces the migration of videotape as it accreted new meanings, uses and expectations, from its industrial origins in Palo Alto, to its dissemination around the country in psychiatry, education, and law, used as an instrument of knowledge and social control. He is also currently writing about conspiracy theories and media in 20th century America, and making a film about a ghost trial in Arizona.
Carmine Grimaldi is a historian and filmmaker. He earned his PhD in the Department of History at the University of Chicago in 2018, where he studied the history of media, technology, and culture in the US. During this time, he spent four years as an affiliate of Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, where he studied and taught film and filmmaking. His work has appeared in Representations, The Atlantic, and The Intercept, and his documentary films have screened widely at festivals such as True/False, Visions du Reel, Sheffield, RIDM, and Dokufest. In 2017, Filmmaker Magazine named him one of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film.
Project: The State of the Individual: Biometrics, Politics and the Common Man in India
Dr. Nair’s current research concerns the social, cultural, political and legal meanings that have accrued to the world’s largest national biometric ID system. Inaugurated in 2009, India’s Aadhaar (literally “foundation”) initiative has issued unique twelve-digit identification numbers to over one billion Indian residents. The Aadhaar ID is linked to an individual’s iris scans, fingerprints, facial photograph, and select demographic information in a central database. Its architects averred that this ID system would be an unassailable solution to a key problem facing the country: namely, a majority of the population lacking incontrovertible formal proof of individual identity that might afford easy access to a range of government and private sector services. Aadhaar was also forwarded as an effective means to root out “fake,” “duplicate” and “ghost” identities typically used to defraud the sprawling state welfare system. Relying on biometric technologies to glean the “true” identity of individuals, it would facilitate real-time identity verification, make misappropriation virtually impossible, and insure that welfare reached its intended recipient. Officials argued that in a vast, diverse and socioeconomically stratified country like India, Aadhaar would be a universal, inclusive identification platform with potentially endless applications in business and government. Nair’s book manuscript, The State of the Individual: Biometrics, Politics and the Common Man in India [working title], is based on fieldwork among bureaucrats, technocrats, enrollment operators, technical personnel and enrollees. It follows the planning and implementation of Aadhaar, as well as official attempts to re-haul India’s welfare delivery mechanisms using this new identification system. While Aadhaar is officially presented as a technology that circumvents human vagaries and inexactitude, Nair’s work concentrates on the ways in which it serves as a dynamic site for both material and moral inventiveness. Her manuscript focuses on the multifarious negotiations, everyday meaning-making, pedagogies, and improvisations that lie behind the technological edifice of Aadhaar. The State of the Individual probes legal challenges to Aadhaar, and studies its imbrications with electoral politics and the popular media. Ultimately, Nair’s project offers an analysis of Aadhaar as a site for reimagining the state, the aam aadmi (common man), and the relationship between them in contemporary India.
Nair is a sociocultural anthropologist interested in the interconnected realms of the state, politics, new governance technologies, ethics and personhood in South Asia and, more recently, China. She received her PhD in Anthropology from New York University and an MPhil in Social Anthropological Analysis from the University of Cambridge. Nair also holds an MA in Sociology from the Delhi School of Economics for which she received the University Gold Medal. Her First Class BA Honours degree in Philosophy is from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University. The National Science Foundation and the Social Science Research Council, among others, have supported Nair’s research. Nair’s UW-Madison Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship is complemented by a China India Scholar-Leaders Fellowship at the India China Institute, The New School.
Project: Finding a Home for Urdu: Islam and Science in Modern South Asia
What does it mean to be a vernacular language of science in the twentieth century? In turn, how did Indian Islam shape the production of scientific knowledge in modern South Asia? Andrew Amstutz’s book manuscript investigates these questions by following a Muslim intellectual association from 1903 to 1961 that promoted the Urdu language as a medium of accessible scientific knowledge across contemporary India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Urdu is written in the Perso-Arabic script and historically associated with North India’s urban Muslims. His book manuscript is a hybrid history of language activism and the history of science that offers a critical reappraisal of both the trajectory of Indo-Muslim politics beyond nationalism and the boundaries of colonial science. The decline of British colonial power in India and rising sectarian tensions and economic anxieties in the first half of the twentieth century posed challenges for Muslims who constituted a religious minority in India. In response, Muslim intellectuals advanced Urdu as a unique urbane language of integrative knowledge through its colonial ties to university sciences in English, inheritance of ancient Islamic sciences (uloom) in Persian and Arabic, and local depth in India. Focusing on health, urban commerce, and type technology, these Muslim intellectuals hoped to both preserve a distinctive Indo-Muslim culture of erudition and link Muslims across different social classes and regions in South Asia. Amstutz connects an array of multilingual archives and different voices, including Muslim healers, women writers, and small-town translators, across the borders of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
Andrew Amstutz earned his PhD from the Department of History at Cornell University in 2017. His research and teaching interests include South Asian Islam across the early modern and modern eras, the history of science in colonial contexts, comparative Muslim modernities, and South Asian languages. In addition to his book manuscript, he also writes about the contested history of museums in Pakistan and the use of digital humanities to better understand the cross-border lives of Persian and Urdu scholars and texts. Andrew Amstutz’s research and extensive language training were supported by the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) program, the American Institute of Pakistan Studies (AIPS), and the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS.) He has taught courses on Islam and science, India’s Partition, and undergraduate writing. He received his M.A. in South Asian History from Cornell University and his B.A. in History and Italian from Middlebury College.
Project: Islam Inscribed: Faith and Bureaucracy in Modern South Asia (1800–1950)
Lhost's research explores the transformation of Islamic law and legal practice in response to British colonial rule in South Asia. Focusing on the relationship between modern bureaucracy, colonial governance, and the adaptation of lithographic print technologies by Muslim intellectuals and legal practitioners, the project considers the effects of writing, documentation, and record production on the everyday practice of Islamic law. To do this, Lhost draws upon previously unexamined vernacular (Persian- and Urdu-language) sources including petitions, notebooks, and unpublished judicial opinions produced and preserved by native legal practitioners. Thus this research draws attention not only to the social, material, and cultural history of law and legal practice across the Indian subcontinent throughout the nineteenth century but also highlights the influence of documentation, registration, and other formal writings on the meaning of legal relationships—among private individuals and between individuals and the colonial state. Understanding these formal procedures and documentary processes draws critical attention to the parallelism and mutual intelligibility that emerged between state and non-state legal actors in the colonial period. Such parallels suggest that despite reactionary rhetoric to the contrary, Islamic legal practice today exhibits many features common to—and legible within—other legal systems.
Elizabeth Lhost is a historian of law and religion in South Asia. She recently completed her Ph.D. in the Departments of South Asian Languages and Civilizations and History (with distinction) at the University of Chicago. Her dissertation, “Between Community and Qānūn: Documenting Islamic legal practice in 19th-century South Asia,” traced the influence of colonial bureaucracy on the practice, interpretation, and everyday use of Islamic law in British India. Prior to joining the University of Chicago, Elizabeth received a B.A. in English literature and cognitive science summa cum laude from Northwestern University, an M.A. in Languages and Cultures of Asia from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and spent time in Lucknow, India studying Urdu. Her work has been supported by the Fulbright student program, the Social Science Research Council, the American Institute for Pakistan Studies, American Council of Learned Societies, and the Mellon Foundation. At UW–Madison Dr. Lhost will teach courses in the undergraduate Legal Studies Program.
Project: From Internationalism to Globalism: Chinese Literature in the World System, 1978-2014
This project investigates the conditions that drove literary productions from Mainland China to enter the world literary system. It focuses on the decisive role played by a transnational group of "literary agents" in creating the cultural capital of the PRC since China's economic reforms. My research draws on textual analysis, interviews, and archival works to explore a chain of translations that enabled the transition of contemporary Chinese literature from a constituent of a writers' international to a part of world literary economy. It delineates the unexpected collaborations, difficult negotiations, and various strategies that are involved in the social, cultural, and literary acts of translation.
Y. P. Zhang received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University. Her research and teaching interests include world literature, translation studies, modern and contemporary Chinese literature, critical theory, and global South studies.
Project: All Flesh Is Grass: An Eco-Agrarian History of Britain's Settler Empire
What does the history of British colonial settlement look like at the level of clover and cowpats? What about at the level of Crown Land and Corn Laws? Capps's book manuscript, "All Flesh is Grass" is a hybrid ecological/agrarian history of British settler colonialism that considers the political, economic, and intellectual development of the Empire alongside its climatic, geological, and biological frameworks. Settlers brought with them plants, animals, and diseases that, as Alfred Crosby argues, did their own “colonizing” in these new places; but the independent biological processes that helped Europeanize the landscapes of settler colonies cannot be divorced from the political, economic, and intellectual history of the Empire as a whole. Using archival research from Australia, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Canada, and New Zealand as well as data from the life and geophysical sciences, Capps brings the global in conversation with the local, examining a myriad of factors--climate, soils, indigenous encounters, political ideologies, local and global markets, emigration and land policy, labor systems, plant ecology-- that shaped agricultural settlement in the long nineteenth century. By highlighting both the literal and figurative grassroots this expanding empire, the project connects the economic anxieties, scientific aspirations, ideological tensions, and political maneuverings of British elites in the Colonial Office with the microscopic but singularly important process whereby nutrients cycle through the roots of plants and guts of animals. Through this "eco-agrarian" analysis, Capps explores the tension between the dismal science of limits and thresholds and the progressive science of abundance and potentiality that characterized colonial agricultural development in the nineteenth century, tensions that endure today in debates on climate change, food security, and environmental degradation.
Maura Capps grew up and then taught high school in a rural community in South Carolina at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her early academic interests were shaped by the daily interplay between landscape and history, environment and economy, and agriculture and politics in this region. She received her Ph.D. in History at the University of Chicago in 2016, specializing in environmental history and the history of Britain and the British Empire. Her research and teaching interests include global environmental history, history of conservation, food history, comparative colonialisms, history of agricultural science and technology, climate change, and global population and emigration. Her research has been supported by the Nicholson Center for British Studies, the Social Science Research Council, and the American Council of Learned Societies.
Read more at Maura's website: https://mauracapps.com
Project: Planetary Sea: Oceanography and the Making of the World Ocean
Lehman's project explores the politics of science at the planetary scale by studying how the ‘world ocean’ has come to be known as a single dynamic entity with a special relationship to life on Earth. This work addresses a challenge of at the heart of contemporary environmental thought: the imperative to ‘scale up’ our analyses to encompass entire geophysical systems and humanity as a species, while attending to local particularities and radically varying and frequently unjust life experiences. This project shows how geopolitics, power relations, and ideas about nature shape, and are shaped by, international scientific programs that address the ocean at a global scale. Ultimately, Lehman proposes an alternative reading of international oceanographic science. This allows her to formulate the notion of the ‘ocean archive,’ which draws together insights from oceanographic science and postcolonial scholarship to consider different ways of conceptualizing the nature of history.
Jessi Lehman is a geographer and interdisciplinary scholar interested most broadly in environmental politics, uncertainty, and inequality. She received an M.A. from the University of British Columbia, and a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Minnesota, where she was also a fellow at the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change. Her Ph.D. project focused on the geopolitics of ocean space and international oceanographic science, and involved archival research and interviews in the United States, the United Kingdom, and South Africa. She also has undertaken broader work on the politics of environmental change and resource extraction. She is currently at work a project entitled "Planetary Sea: Oceanography and the Making of the World Ocean."
Project: Passing Forms: Decay and the Making of Victorian Culture
“Passing Forms” asks why decay, a process seemingly synonymous with collapse, comes to shape literary and scientific ideas of formation in the nineteenth century. From geology’s revaluation of eroded sedimentation as fodder for future worlds to T. H. Huxley’s proclamation that living protoplasm is “always dying,” multiple nineteenth-century scientific discourses converged on a single principle: all bodies are made of decomposing and recomposing matter. At once a reflection of the nineteenth century’s “discovery of time” and its interest in an epochal view of life, decay comes to signify the power of inanimate matter to form itself anew. This project aims to locate decay in the tranformationism so characteristic of the period and to overturn the idea that degeneration emerges at the end of the century as evolution’s evil twin. Instead, Mershon reveals decay’s presence across the century, as it nestles itself into Victorian conceptions of life, growth, progress, and reform. Tracing the contours of geological erosion, chemical decomposition, and electromagnetic dispersals, Mershon finds in Victorian decay an aesthetics of latency, that is, an appreciation for the not-yet-formed, for the barest hint of form adrift in the wind-blown, the washed-away, the heaped-up. But, to be sure, such aesthetic possibility cannot be separated from the experience of loss. The question, then, becomes what does such loss afford? What possibilities—aesthetic, ethical, environmental—are latent in decay’s processes of unwilled undoing?
Ella Tobin Mershon received her Ph.D. in English in 2016 from the University of California, Berkeley. Her research interests include Romantic and Victorian literature, history of science, David Hume and British empiricism, affect studies and the science of feeling, media studies, theories of alterity and gender studies, object theory, thing theory, and the new materialisms. She has received research funding from the Center for British Studies and the James D. Hart Grant. In 2013-14, she served as a mentor to undergraduate English majors as a recipient of the Berkeley Connect Fellowship, a program designed to foster intellectual community among undergraduates in a large research university. She has taught courses on detective fiction, the case study as a genre, weird fiction, and survey courses on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature. Her forthcoming article, “Ruskin’s Dust,” will be published this fall in Victorian Studies. She is at work on a project entitled “Passing Forms: Decay and the Making of Victorian Culture.”
Project: Orbital Decay: The History of Space Junk and the Expanding Boundaries of the Natural World
What is space junk, and who defines waste in an environment seemingly devoid of nature as we know it? Lisa Ruth Rand's first book explores these questions by investigating the environmental history of the nearest regions of outer space. Tracing changes in the orbital landscape and in the political landscape below during the Cold War, concurrent with the rise of mainstream environmentalism, this book reveals the roots of an international understanding of the remote, illegible region between Earth and outer space as a natural environment at risk. In examining space artifacts as they move through and return from the planetary borderlands, Rand explores this extreme environment as a site of contested scientific moral authority, shifting values of consumption, and Space Age spatial politics. The history of space junk provides valuable, unprecedented context for an international space policy community considering how to safeguard humanity's future in our increasingly crowded cosmic neighborhood.
Lisa Ruth Rand earned her PhD from the Department of History and Sociology of Science in 2016. Her research plumbs the intersections of the histories of science, technology, and the environment during the Cold War, with a focus on mobile waste and contingent constructions of nature and sustainability. In addition to the environmental history of outer space, she has also written about gender in American aerospace culture and performances of scientific practice at Earth analog habitats. Rand's research has been supported by fellowships from NASA, the Society for the History of Technology, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the Penn Humanities Forum, and the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine. She is a Research Associate in the Department of Space History at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, an Adjunct Research Associate at the RAND Corporation, and a volunteer urban astronomy educator. Find out more at lisaruthrand.com.
Project: Mortal Doubt: Maras and Murder in Guatemala City
Twenty years after the end of Latin America’s bloodiest civil war, Guatemala City has become a hotbed of homicidal violence. Much of this bloodshed is blamed on maras, gangs bearing transnational signs and symbols, which operate in prisons and poor urban communities. My forthcoming book manuscript, based on ethnographic research inside prisons, courts, and urban red zones, explores the maras’ evolution and the world that makes them what they are today: victim-perpetrators of often spectacular violence and pivotal figures in a politics of death reigning over post-war society. However, while gangsters play starring roles in this account of extreme peacetime violence, they are not the problem. They are a hyper-visible expression of a problem no one can name, a deafening scream, a smokescreen obscuring innumerable and diffuse sources of everyday brutality. The phantasmagoric public image mareros make is both a product of and answer to a deepening sense of mortal doubt over the terms of daily survival. Through a mélange of ethnography, media analysis, short stories, and photographic essays, this book traces the tangled skein weaving the maras into collective nightmares swirling about urban violence and suffering in Guatemala City and beyond. In so doing, I expose the quicksilver metamorphoses violence undergoes as it moves through the social body, infiltrating and reordering lived and symbolic spaces, and escaping our best efforts to confront it, pin it down, and hold it at bay.
Anthony W. Fontes has worked as a free-lance journalist in Egypt and Guatemala, an actor in South America, an environmental justice advocate in India and Thailand, and an immigration legal advisor in California. He received his PhD in Geography from the University of California, Berkeley in May 2015. His written and photographic work in Central American cities explores the blurred boundaries between the underworld, the state, law-abiding society, legacies of civil war, the meaning of justice, and violence in its most extreme and banal forms. His research has been supported by grants from the OSF/SSRC Drugs, Security, and Democracy Program, the International Center for Global Conflict and Cooperation, the Woodrow Wilson Center, and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation. His most recent article, “Extorted Life: Protection Rackets in Guatemala City”, appeared in the September 2016 issue of Public Culture. Read more at Anthony's website: http://www.anthonyfontesiv.com
Project: Black and Balkan: A Comparison of African-American, Caribbean, African and Balkan History, Theory and Art
This project is a comparative story of black and Balkan peoples, which uses new, archival material, such as Balkan "slave narratives," an unknown documentary with Aimé Césaire (who wrote his famous hymn to blackness in ex-Yugoslavia), as well as numerous Yugoslav publications on black literature and rights. In it, Jovic-Humphrey delineates the histories of enslavement of African and Balkan peoples. She starts with etymology, as the word slave in every Western European language originates from the word Slav because of the massive slave trade of Slavic people, which lasted for centuries. She compares the work of Ivo Andrić, a male writer born in Bosnia, to the work of Toni Morrison, an African-American woman born in Ohio. While analyzing these histories and narratives, Jovic-Humphrey searches for postcolonial methods of reading that do not necessarily first pass through the "Western" filter, but that—instead—connect racially and ethnically "marked" authors, works, and cultures in a direct, unmediated way.
Anja Jovic-Humphrey was born in ex-Yugoslavia, Croatia, in what is in that region considered a "mixed marriage." As a child of both Serbs and Croats, during the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s, she learned her first valuable lessons on the dangers of ethnicism, racism, othering, and discrimination, about which she writes to this day. While still a student of French and English Literature and Linguistics, Anja translated many novels from English and French into Croatian, by authors ranging from Nicole Krauss to Michel Houellebecq. The process of literary translation gave her insights into the nature of narrative, and into the differences and similarities between contemporary novels written in different languages and cultures. These insights prompted her to earn an M. A. in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University (2008), and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at Brown (2015). Her recent work has been published in Johns Hopkins University’s journal MLN. She is at work on a project entitled "Black and Balkan: A Comparison of African-American, Caribbean, African and Balkan History, Theory and Art."
Project: Latin America and the Making of Global Human Rights Politics
We live in a world where the idea of “human rights” animates people across the globe. But what are the roots of our era of global human rights politics? Kelly's book manuscript (under contract with Cambridge University Press) draws on case studies of Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and the United States to explore how and why transnational and local actors began to deploy the language of human rights and its effects on the development of a distinct transnational practice that centered on civil and political rights by the end of 1970s. He connects the voices and experiences of a diverse array of actors, including church and solidarity activists, political exiles, and members of Amnesty International to Ford Foundation officers, international lawyers, and bureaucrats at the United Nations and the Organization of American States. In charting this history, he argues it makes less sense to isolate a particular region of the world, whether that be the United States, Latin America, or Europe, than to show how human rights ideas percolated through a series of transnational encounters in different regions of the world.
Patrick William Kelly received his Ph.D. in history in 2015 from the University of Chicago. His research and teaching interests include twentieth-century international history, modern Latin American history, the history of the United States in the world, the global Cold War, and the global histories of human rights and humanitarianism. A recipient of grants from the Social Science Research Council IDRF and the Fulbright-Hays, Kelly has published articles in Humanityand the Journal of Global History. His work is based on multi-state, multi-archival research and oral interviews in nine countries throughout Latin America, Europe, the United States, and Australia, drawing on Spanish, Portuguese, and English language primary sources.
Project: The Incarcerated Modern: Prisons and Public Life in Iran
The prison is the subject of intense scrutiny for both opponents and supporters of the contemporary Islamic Republic of Iran. Despite this, the longer history of Iranian punishment has been given short shrift. This project seeks to address this lacuna by exploring the interplay between the prison and the narratives of violence told of and about that space, arguing that political modernity in Iran has unfolded in and through its contested histories of punishment. I explore the ways in which prisoners evoked the anxiety-laden questions: who can be considered a citizen? How is state authority predicated on the suffering or rehabilitation of the prisoner’s body? In what ways does the prisoner enact and transform those very concepts—rights, nation, citizen, justice—that the state was attempting to define and control? Reading history from the late 19th century to the 1979 Islamic Revolution, this project shows that in this era in which novel legal reforms were fitfully enacted by a modernizing state, the prison cell came to have a public life through its representations in Iranian discourses. Through these discourses the prison cell and the prisoner's body paradoxically become sites for imagining political emancipation and testing the limits of justice in the modern nation-state.
Golnar Nikpour is currently an A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at UW-Madison. She received her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2015, with a dissertation titled “Prison Days: Incarceration and Punishment in Modern Iran.” She has received research fellowships from the Social Science Research Council and the Giles Whiting Foundation, and has published in forums including International Journal of Middle East Studies, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, Tehran Bureau, and Humanity. Golnar is also co-founder and co-editor of B|ta’arof, a journal for Iranian arts and histories, where she has written extensively on Iranian intellectual and cultural history. She is currently at work on a book called The Incarcerated Modern: Prisons and Public Life in Iran, which challenges the notion of the prison as a place of social death, arguing instead that modern conceptions of citizenship and political emancipation have emerged in the context of modern surveillance and punishment in Iran. Her research interests include political philosophy, comparative revolutions, transnational feminisms, postcolonialism and postcolonial thought, and critical prison studies in the context of modern Iran and the Middle East.
Project: Renaissance Without Reformation: Religion and the Public Sphere in Early Modern India
Elaine Fisher is a scholar of South Asian religions and Indian intellectual history. As a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Religious Studies Program at UW-Madison, she will be pursuing her long-term research interests on the role of religion in Indian early modernity. Her current research aims to question the inherent relationship between secularism and modernity across continents, rethinking in particular the nature of publicity and the “public sphere” in early modern India. Contrary to Western models of publicity, the public in early modern India did not consist of a common dialogical space free from sectarian interests; rather, the Indian public was, more accurately, publics in the plural: spatially overlapping but institutionally distinct networks in which each community generated its own internal conversations. In fact, it is due to the colonial encounter with Western publicity, I argue, that sectarianism gives way to communalism, as formerly discrete public domains are collapsed into a shared public space.
Elaine received her PhD from Columbia University in 2013. Her dissertation, “A New Public Theology: Sanskrit and Society in Seventeenth-century South India,” examines the historical emergence of Hindu sectarianism in the centuries prior to British colonialism, a definitive era for the structure of religious communities in India through the present day. Drawing on unpublished manuscript and archival sources in Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, and Marathi, she documents the origins of the Smārta-Śaiva Hindu tradition—or Smārta Brahminism—in south India, mediated through the writings of leading Śaiva public theologians.
Project: Japan's Preoccupation with Religious Freedom: The Crucial Role of an East Asian Nation in the Construction of a Universal "Human Right"
This project examines the history of religious liberty in modern Japan, focusing in particular on the ways that the post-WWII Allied Occupation of Japan (1945–1952) created influential historiographic narratives about Japan's relationship with religious freedom. The project also shows that the Occupation itself fostered new, universalist understandings of religious liberty that were subsequently exported for global use.
Jolyon Baraka Thomas has degrees in Religion from Princeton University, the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and Grinnell College. Jolyon's recent and forthcoming publications include articles, book chapters, and book reviews on the category of religion in modern Japan, religions policy during the Allied Occupation of Japan, and the political ramifications of religious studies. Jolyon also regularly publishes on media and religion in contemporary Japan. His 2012 book Drawing on Tradition: Manga, Anime, and Religion in Contemporary Japan is available from University of Hawai‘i Press.
Project: Post-secular Prehistories: An Indigenous Theory of Politics in the Inka Empire
In the Inka Empire, it was not unusual for the state to execute mountains for treason, ply rock outcrops with food and drink to gain their co-operation, or to imagine that rivers had voices through which future events could be divined. The commonly held Andean notion that non-human landscape entities (e.g. mountains, rocks, lakes) could be sentient beings has traditionally been classified as an expression of indigenous religion—and more specifically as form of “animism”. My research however, involves a critical reappraisal of the relegation of the manipulation of non-humans to the status of religion, along with the parallel notion that the manipulation of human subjects is basically a socio-economic phenomenon. For example, in the Inka State material exchanges with mountains have typically been considered a “religious” phenomenon and cast under the heading of “mountain worship” by scholars, while exchanges between the Inkas and other humans were seen as primarily “economic” processes involving taxation and tribute. Yet I argue that such separations constitute a projection of modern categories onto the non-modern past. And rather than assume that indigenous states divergence from Western theories of politics can be encapsulated under the term religion, I try to understand indigenous polities as operating within quite different, but still very real logics of power. Thus in the pre-colonial Andes, such “things” as mountains and rocks were actually a form of political subject, rather than the mere objects that secular, Western epistemologies would conceive them to be, and so the Inka State must ultimately be understood as an entity comprised of subjects that were both human and non-human.
Darryl Wilkinson received his Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University in 2013. His dissertation research entailed an archaeological study of the Inca occupation of the Amaybamba Valley of southern Peru, focusing on how its landscapes were radically reshaped through their incorporation into a vast indigenous empire. His most recent publication is “The Emperor’s New Body: Ontology, Personhood and the Inka Sovereign” published in the Cambridge Archaeological Journal in October 2013. At present, he is working on a book project that will seek to redraw our accounts of how power worked in the Inca State, taking seriously indigenous understandings of politics, rather than subordinating them to classical Western theories of the state and the subject.
Project: A City Within a City: Community Development and the Struggle Over Harlem
Goldstein's research connects the emergence of increasingly privatized and gentrified urban neighborhoods with the radical social movements that arose at mid-century. He focuses on Harlem, America’s best-known predominantly African-American neighborhood. In the mid-1960s, Harlem had come to symbolize the nation’s so-called urban crisis. By the end of the twentieth century, however, Harlem had entered what observers called its “second renaissance,” a physical and social transformation that symbolized the broader changes that many American cities began to experience. While some have linked this story to national and global events, he argues that it cannot be understood without close attention to the role of residents themselves. Inspired by 1960s calls for radical community control of political institutions, public schools, and the built environment, Harlemites offered competing conceptions of what Harlem could look like and who would occupy its streets. Through a social, political, and architectural history of the struggle to shape one place, he explains the broader story of the emergence of local actors as major players in contemporary urban development, the changing ideas of what it meant to improve a community, and the lasting, often ironic spatial consequences of 1960s demands for participatory democracy.
Brian Goldstein’s research focuses on the history of American cities in the twentieth century, especially intersections between the architecture and urban planning professions, race, politics, and social movements. He received his PhD in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Planning from Harvard University in 2013. His most recent publication, a co-authored essay on the economic development policy of New York City mayor John V. Lindsay, will appear in the volume Summer in the City: John Lindsay, New York, and the American Dream in early 2014. He also has a forthcoming essay on the urban redevelopment projects of architect Paul Rudolph. His article, “Planning’s End? Urban Renewal in New Haven, the Yale School of Art and Architecture, and the Fall of the New Deal Spatial Order,” appeared in the Journal of Urban History in May 2011. He received an AB in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard College in 2004.
Project: Producing the Future on an Amazonian Cultural Frontier
The Amazonian frontier has long been saturated with the modernist “myth of the Future.” Yet for most of its rural and urban inhabitants, the promises of this Future have been constantly deferred, displaced, or realized elsewhere, while the spatiotemporal “openness” of the frontier is experienced not only as possibility but also precarity. Situated at the intersection of Brazilian studies, anthropology, and musicology, this project considers the way musicians and other culture-workers in the eastern Brazilian Amazon fashion futures through popular culture, understood not as “a condition of being-Other” in the classic anthropological sense, but as “a capacity for becoming-otherwise.” As our own future in the Global North comes to seem increasingly uncertain, this project suggests that we have much to learn—about alternative ethics, politics, and notions of the “good life”—from those who have long confronted precarity in the shadow of a modernist Future that fails to arrive.
Darien Lamen is an ethnomusicologist specializing in the music and culture of Brazil and the circum-Caribbean. He has received fellowships from the Social Science Research Council (2008-2009) and the American Council of Learned Societies (2012-2014). Since earning his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011, he has held appointments at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Darien’s research interests range from labor and political economy to social poetics and discrepant cosmopolitanisms. He has written on lambada and the libidinal economies of northeastern Brazil (in Sun, Sea, and Sound, Oxford Press); the social poetics of circum-Caribbean contraband (Latin American Music Review); and “Cyborg Indian” futurism in an Amazonian sound system scene (The Global South, forthcoming). Darien also maintains a multimedia ethnographic archive on the history of sound systems in Belém, Brazil, and has worked as a scholar consultant for Afropop Worldwide’s Hip Deep documentary series.
Project: Witness Tree: Landscape and Dissent in the Nineteenth-Century United States
Critics from Karl Marx to the radical American environmentalist Julia Butterfly Hill—she of the 738-day tree sit in one California redwood—have long argued that the ideals of democracy float uneasily upon the high seas of capitalism. How, these critics have asked, can we speak of individual autonomy in the face of the increasing concentration of economic and political power in corporate invisible hands? What does it mean when decisions affecting our everyday lives—the worth of our labor; whether or not our political voices can be heard; the health of our rivers, skies, farm fields, city streets, and even our own bodies—are increasingly made by distant legal fictions? Miller's work saunters along the converging boundary lines of radical culture, green criticism, and environmental history. With it, he seeks to recapture a story of environmental humility, spatial sensitivity, and radical social justice rooted in the nineteenth-century U.S.
Daegan Miller received his PhD in history from Cornell University in 2013. His dissertation is a cultural and environmental history that draws on a range of primary source materials, both textual and visual, to trace how nineteenth-century Americans unsure about the costs of Progress reimagined and reshaped their landscapes in order to highlight the unnaturalness of capitalism, industrialization, scientific racism, and Manifest Destiny. He has published in a variety of venues—from creative writing magazines to academic journals—and is currently learning to “speak tree” for an article-length essay tracing the sylvan literacy infusing all aspects of nineteenth-century U.S. culture. He is also developing a second book-project exploring the cultural politics of long-distance walking in the nineteenth-century U.S. Read more at Daegan's website.
Project: Semiotics of Rebellion from Morocco to Egypt: Visual Studies of the 2011 “Arab Spring
This project develops a theoretical approach to understanding the use of visual culture as an analytical methodology for decoding political strategy. This second project examines visual culture in comparative perspective across Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Algeria and examines the simultaneously local and international aspects of marketing revolution in a variety of media.
Before coming to Madison, Amanda Rogers was a Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Fellow in the Departments of Art History and Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies at Emory University. Her first book, Politics, Gender and the Art of Religious Authority in North Africa: Moroccan Women’s Henna Practice, analyzes the cultural and political symbolism of henna in contemporary Morocco. Henna dye is applied on religious occasions throughout North Africa—yet only in Morocco does this feminine art symbolize a “nationalized” Islam. This project contends that Moroccan henna’s explicitly spiritual significance is grounded in local interpretations of orthodoxy and explores the mobilization of this art form as a contested emblem of social protest and political legitimacy in a climate of unrest. Her research has been funded in part by the Jacob K. Javits Foundation, Fulbright IIE, the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, Fulbright Hays and the American Institute for Maghrib Studies. A practicing artist and photographer, she also serves as a commentator on Middle Eastern and North African politics.
Project: Remembering the Past, Reframing the Present: Digital Media, Hip Hop, and the Mnemonic Work of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
Since the 1990s, the mainstream conversations about race in the U.S. have become increasingly dominated by the ideology of "colorblindness." Recently, many have even gone so far as to claim that we have entered a “post-racial” era. Such assertions emerge from and are supported by a dominant historical narrative in which racism was successfully resolved at the structural and institutional level by the Civil Rights Movement. This narrative has become even more recalcitrant with the election of the U.S.’s first Black President, seen by some as proof that Martin Luther King’s “dream” has come to fruition. Such discourses foreclosed both social and conceptual space for discussing racial politics and obscure structural and institutionalized racism, thereby insuring its continuation. Florini's work examines how Black Americans born and raised after the Civil Rights Movement, often referred to as the “Hip-hop generation,” use digital media to create space for alternative interpretations of both past and present racial politics.
Sarah Florini received her Ph.D. in communication and culture from Indiana University in 2012. Her dissertation explores how the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, one of the largest contemporary Black Nationalist groups in the U.S., uses its website and its annual Black August Hip Hop Project concerts to construct and circulate counter-memories and counter-histories that offer an alternative lens through which to understand contemporary U.S. racial politics. She is currently developing a new project that will focus on the use of trans-media social networks to address racial politics and mobilize political engagement.
Project: The Open Book: Digital Form in the Making
For many decades the future of the book has been worried over. Whether elegiac or celebratory, the observations of scholars, artists, librarians, journalists, and others have presented the fate of the book as a threshold for humankind, the immense significance of which can be assumed if not specified. From the foundations of media studies—whether Walter Benjamin or Marshall McLuhan —the book has been made to characterize an epoch before an ever-modernizing modernity, providing a foil for “modern,” “mass,” and “new” media. During a period that some have seen to be a tipping point from print to electronic forms, Murrell's research investigated the efforts of “mass book digitizers” in the United States—computer engineers, digital librarians, lawyers and activists—who are attempting to effect this never quite arriving post-book epoch. As a practice that has met with resistance, celebration, and controversy, mass digitization provided a venue for plumbing the turbulent waters of what she calls the “contemporary book”: an arena of experimentation arising from the tectonic encounter of the established modern book system with an emergent assemblage in motion around the authorization, storage, preservation, circulation, and production of knowledge.
Mary Murrell received her Ph.D. in sociocultural anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2012. Her work at Berkeley was supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, an NSF dissertation improvement grant, a Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities Fellowship, and an ACLS-Mellon Dissertation Fellowship. Before earning her Ph.D., Mary was an acquisitions editor at Princeton University Press, where she acquired titles in the humanities and social sciences.
Project: Evangelical Space: Art, Experience, and the Ethical Landscape in America, 1820-1860
Nowadays the term “media” is likely to conjure up ideas of giant transnational conglomerates, cable news networks, and Facebook; we hear constant chatter about the cultural and political consequences of “social,” “mass,” “mainstream,” even “lamestream” media. But media in this modern sense has not always been so ubiquitous or mundane. In early nineteenth-century America, media took on cosmic and utopian dimensions, as mass print promised not only to link people together as never before, but also to connect them to the sacred in new ways. Tharaud's research explores this pivotal moment in the history of media, focusing on the development of mass print as an instrument of social reform in the United States. It seeks to understand the impact of this print on a number of related domains of antebellum culture, including the popular religious imagination and ideas about the social role of artistic expression. He argues that the pioneering work of Protestant evangelical voluntary associations—so-called “benevolent” societies—in using print to promote a range of reform causes, from foreign missions to temperance, provided a powerful model of moral suasion that many American reformers and artists adopted in the decades before the Civil War.
Jerome Tharaud earned his Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago in 2011, with a specialization in nineteenth-century American literature and culture. His doctoral dissertation examines how Protestant evangelicals in the antebellum United States sought to use mass print to shape the morals of the nation, focusing in particular on their use of literary and visual images of the landscape. His research interests include U.S. print culture as well as American religions, art and visual culture, and environmental literature. He is the author most recently of “The Evangelical Press, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and the Human Medium,” a forthcoming essay in Arizona Quarterly. He is currently working to develop his dissertation into a book manuscript; he has also begun a new project that excavates an important but neglected communitarian dimension in the thought of Henry David Thoreau, a writer more often noted for his individualism and celebration of solitude.
Foutch’s research focuses on nineteenth-century interests in perfection and its preservation. A “perfectionist impulse” rippled throughout American culture in this period, encouraged by the possibilities of progress yet keenly aware of the dangers of degeneration and decay. Whereas prevailing views of the nineteenth century posit a binary opposition of competing desires—an embrace of progress and new technologies, versus anti-modernist nostalgia—Foutch’s work identifies and analyzes a previously unstudied phenomenon: the desire to stop time at a “perfect moment,” pausing the cycle of growth, degeneration, and rebirth by isolating and arresting this perfect state, forestalling decay or death. Yet ironically, this very perfection and its suspension are incompatible with vitality, suffocating or eliminating organic life. Four case studies in diverse visual media illuminate this concept of arrested perfection and its ultimate impossibility: Titian Peale’s butterfly works, Martin Johnson Heade’s paintings of hummingbirds, representations of bodybuilder Eugen Sandow, and the Blaschka Glass Flowers at Harvard. In both conception and reception, these works pursued notions of perfectibility and engaged wide-ranging contemporary discourses, including evolution, theology, bodily decline, eugenics, and the allegorical trope of the Course of Empire. These projects reveal an awareness of the fragility of life and nature and a concomitant desire to preserve a “perfect state,” resulting in a transformation of nature into art. Foutch is also looking forward to embarking upon a new research project investigating bodybuilder Eugen Sandow’s 1896 invention of a portable entertainment device for individual use (by means of a magic lantern ‘backpack’ to be worn on the spectator’s shoulders), a device that troubles our concepts of image consumption and the embodied spectator at the turn-of-the-century and engages with issues of modernity, mobility, and consumption.
Ellery Foutch completed her PhD in the History of Art, specializing in American art, at the University of Pennsylvania. At Penn, her research was supported by fellowships from the ACLS/Mellon Foundation, the Wyeth Foundation and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Terra Foundation for American Art, and the Philadelphia Area Center for the History of Science (PACHS). Foutch earned her MA from the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art and her BA from Wellesley College. She has also contributed to exhibitions and educational programs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Williams College Museum of Art, Reynolda House Museum of American Art, and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.
Elizabeth Johnson received her PhD from the University of Minnesota. Her doctoral work focused on the political and social implications of “biomimicry,” an emerging field within which scientists reverse engineer biological traits for technological production. Her dissertation, entitled “Animating Futures, Reanimating Biopolitics: Animals, Technology, and Empire,” used a combination of laboratory ethnography, interviews, and archival research to analyze the political implications of a selection of biomimetic projects, including gecko-inspired adhesives, robotic lobsters, and robotic bee colonies. Revealing a complex web of biologists, engineers, military strategists, environmental activists, and corporate interests, the work explores what happens to the categories of “national security,” “labor,” and “life” when processes of technological production become heavily reliant on the embodied products of nonhuman evolution. Johnson has published articles and reviews in the journal Ephemera: Theory & Politics in Organization and has a co-written essay on labor and time in higher education forthcoming in Acme.
Project: Pragmatism's Evolution
Trevor Pearce’s specialty is the philosophy of evolutionary biology, focusing on how research in experimental biology, ecology, and paleobiology, suitably understood, can help answer broader questions about the relative importance of different causal factors in evolutionary history. Is natural selection the only causal factor in evolution? If others are proposed, how do we determine whether they are actually important? His Mellon project, "Pragmatism's Evolution," combines the history of philosophy and the history of biology, exploring how developments in the life sciences at the end of the nineteenth century shaped the ideas of American pragmatist philosophers like John Dewey.
Trevor Pearce studied materials engineering and English at the University of British Columbia. Discovering the philosophy of science in his later undergraduate years, he went on to doctoral work in the Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science at the University of Chicago. Along the way, he acquired a MSc in evolutionary biology. He comes to UW-Madison after a year at the University of Western Ontario as a Rotman Institute and SSHRC postdoctoral fellow. Learn more at http://www.trevorpearce.co
Project: Unmasking the Abject Persona: East Asian Women Poets as New World Citizens
The Mellon Postdoctoral Program poses the question “What is human?” Japanese postwar and contemporary women poets provide some compelling answers. Vividly embodying the abject—the fantastically grotesque, the deviant, and the mortally wounded—these poets carve out a space that is at once imaginative, social, and healing, a vital new realm in which they explore the on-going liberation of Japanese women. Reinventing themselves in the specter of sexual slavery and the shadows of colonialism that the Japanese nation imposed across Asia before and during the Pacific War, these poets dare to conceive of themselves as new world citizens. Ironically taking up their former positions as the abject—by definition, those expelled from the human category—they flatly reject the legacy of patriarchal Japan within the context of new rights afforded under the US-imposed constitution. This project explores the poignant contributions of these poets in relationship to other Asian feminists and writers who must grapple with a common—and yet highly contested—history of sexual slavery on intersecting axes of colonialism and hierarchies of gender, class, and race.
Lee Friederich earned her PhD from Washington University in St. Louis in Japanese Language and Literature and Comparative Literature with a dissertation entitled “In the Voices of Men, Beasts and Gods: Unmasking the Abject Persona in Postwar and Contemporary Japanese Women’s Poetry,” as well as a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies, in 2009. She also holds an MA in English (Literature) and an MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from the University of Montana. Receiving a Fulbright Fellowship for dissertation research in Japan in 2008-2009, Friederich published ‘Through Beastly Tears: Devouring the Dead in the Poetry of Ishigaki Rin” in the Spring 2009 issue of Japanese Language and Literature. She is the recipient of the Percy Buchanan Graduate Prize at the Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs in 2005 for “In the Voice of a Modern-day Miko: Itô Hiromi’s Retelling of the Sanshô Dayû Myth,” which was published in the Spring 2006 issue of Studies on Asia. She is working on a translation of Itô Hiromi’s Nihon no fushigina hanashi, based on the eighth-century monk Kyôkai’s collection of Buddhist myths, Nihon Ryôiki, which Itô transforms into erotic tales for modern women. Friederich has taught English Composition, American and Asian Literature in Japan and the United States.
Project: 1-800 Worlds: Embodiment and Experience in the Indian Call Center Economy
Krishnamurthy’s research is concerned with the anthropology of work and globalization, and situates itself within the controversial and dynamic practices of the Indian call center industry. The call center, or Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry, as it is popularly known, gained currency in urban India in the early years of the twenty-first century. Taking advantage of a large cache of English-speaking urban populations, multinational corporations began outsourcing customer service work to young, Indian middle-class men and women, who worked through the night, and cultivated foreign accents, and familiarity with the Western milieu as part of a transnational corporate regime. As a result, these American- and British-accent spouting denizens of a “global” India came to be invoked in multiple discourses either as the harbingers of triumphant, neoliberal, globalization or as the symptoms of a morally corrupt and anomic modernity. Krishnamurthy’s book project, titled “1-800 Worlds: Embodiment and Experience in the Indian Call Center Economy,” explores how these young workers” desires, formations of selfhood, and imagination of the world were altered in relation to processes of nightly work. It argues that the “local” and “global” are imaginaries that are reified at the cost of a complex reality and instead, shows through ethnographic research, how they are constructed in collusion and collision with one another.
Mathangi Krishnamurthy moves from The University of Texas at Austin where she completed her doctoral work on the nightly lives of transnational customer service workers in Pune, India. For this research, she spent two years in and around call centers in Pune, looking at questions of nocturnality, accent training and service culture. Her dissertation explores questions of affective labor and flexible capital as situated within the politics of the South Asian postcolonial nation-state. She has published articles and reviews for the Anthropology of Work Review and her essay on accent and language training in the call center is forthcoming in an edited volume on the changing modalities of English language usage in India. Krishnamurthy holds degrees from Pune University (B.Com), Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad (PGDC), and The University of Texas at Austin (M.A., Ph.D), and has received grants from the National Science Foundation, the American Association of University Women, the South Asia Institute at the University of Texas at Austin, and an Endowed Fellowship from the University of Texas at Austin. At UW-Madison, she offers courses in globalization, ethnography, virtuality, and urban studies through the Department of Anthropology.
Project: Humanizing African Voices: Music, Literature and ‘World'
Nimis’s project responds to the persistent portrayals of Africa in Western discourse as obscure, ineffable and illegible, instead seeking strategies for articulating Africa-centered hermeneutics, in order to “translate,” or make “legible” the rich and vibrant cultural expressions of modern African culture. Based on the analysis of African texts and their contexts, and focusing on the theme of globality and the various senses of “world” produced by these texts, this research aims not only to allow African texts to “speak,” but also to critically re-examine the roles of music, literature, and cinema in the context of modern African culture. By consciously transgressing Western-defined disciplinary boundaries, it proposes alternative perspectives on globalness and “world,” in order to challenge and thereby enrich current theories of globalization, as well as theories of reading and listening.
John Nimis received his PhD in French from New York University. His main research interest is the literature and music of Central Africa, with a focus on the Lingala language and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he was a Fulbright scholar. His dissertation, entitled “Literary Listening: Readings in Congolese Popular Music” presents musical and literary analyses of songs in French and Lingala. Before coming to Madison, he taught for one year in the Department of French at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and spent one year in Johannesburg, South Africa based at the University of Witswatersrand. He holds degrees from Macalester College (BA, Physics), the University of Michigan Ann Arbor (MM, piano performance) and Miami University (MA, French). Secondary research areas include South Africa, Francophone North Africa, literature and music in the 19th Century, and early modern France.
We seek applications from scholars whose research addresses conceptions of truth (or lie), fact (or fiction) as well as questions of epistemology, representation, and evidence. Scholars may take up these themes directly as the topic of their research in fields that could include philosophy, literature, the arts, cultural studies, politics, or media studies, among others, or through methodological approaches that reflect novel ways of thinking about evidence, proof and argument. We also are interested in scholars who are concerned with the ways in which truth is manipulated, whether by groups, individuals, or discourses. Projects may focus on any area of the world, including cross-regional analyses, at any historical or prehistorical moment.
We welcome applications from scholars who work in philosophy, literary studies, cultural studies, rhetoric, religious studies, art history and visual cultures, sound studies and musicology, history of science and technology, critical and political theory, legal studies, critical race studies, gender studies, linguistics, film and media studies, and other core and emerging fields in the humanities.
We seek applications from scholars whose research addresses theories and practices of translation in intercultural and transcultural contact zones and transnational circulations. Projects may focus on any medium, historical period, or area of the world, including analyses that work across different media or regions of the world. They can treat human or nonhuman communications. Projects might consider the extent to which translation—linguistic, aesthetic, and cultural—is possible, as well as the conditions of its possibility, whether understood as a movement across languages or between language and other modes of representation. At what point or through what means does translation become visible? What is the relation between translation and interpretation?
Potential topics include, but are not limited to the movement of works across aesthetic genres and modes; coding and code-switching; the robotic and the manual; signification; vernacularization and nativization; circulation and interruption; transculturation and appropriation; remixing and recycling. Projects might take up or work beyond recent scholarship devoted to contact zones, borderlands, cosmopolitanism, and interpellation. We welcome applications from scholars undertaking research in aesthetics; philosophy; film and media studies; digital and visual cultures; literature and language studies, including comparative and world literature; translation studies; critical race studies; gender studies; disability studies; cultural and area studies; anthropology; critical and political theory; and other core and emerging fields in the humanities. Interdisciplinary scope across these fields or between the humanities, arts, sciences, and social sciences, and projects that apply innovative methods, are especially encouraged.
We seek applications from scholars whose research addresses the conceptions, representations, experiences, and transformations of the earth and its regions – that is, work that reflects the environmental humanities, broadly conceived. How does a changing earth – past, present, or future – affect and become affected by society, culture, politics, and arts? Projects may focus on any area of the world, including cross-regional analyses, at any historical or pre-historical moment. They can treat human or nonhuman experiences and conditions, affirmative or destructive, anthropocentric or non-anthropocentric. Potential topics of interest include, but are not limited to health, agriculture, vitality, heat, isolation, drought, flood, scarcity, waste, justice, migration, extinction, pollution, and extremity. Projects that connect literal and metaphoric meanings of climates and natures are also eligible.
We welcome applications from scholars who work in aesthetics, philosophy, cultural studies, history of science, medicine, environment, or technology, critical and political theory, critical race studies, linguistics, film and media studies, gender studies, and other core and emerging fields in the humanities. Interdisciplinary scope across these fields or between the humanities, arts, sciences, and social sciences, and projects that apply innovative methods, are especially encouraged.
We seek research that addresses the locations, causes, experiences, and effects of violence in scales varying from large to small, societal to individual, transnational to domestic, transhistorical to localized, physical and psychological, to epistemological and spiritual. Who or what engages in violence? Why and with what results? Who or what experiences violence? Why and with what results? What are the forces that generate violence, or its opposite, some form of non-violence? What is the role of memory in the legacies of violence? Research can focus on violence in relationship to human, animal, environmental, material, and/or mechanical experiences or conditions; and to the interrelationship of violence in and beyond its binary relationships with non-violence, peace, reconciliation, politics, and so forth. Projects can address communal and/or individual violence in war, religion, sectarianism, terrorism, families, sexuality, and other forms of embodied experience.
We welcome projects that engage aesthetics, philosophy, cultural studies, history, psychology, critical race studies, geography, linguistics, media studies, LGBTQ studies, performativity, embodiment, and other core and emerging approaches to the topic. Interdisciplinary scope across fields in the humanities or between the humanities, arts, sciences, and social sciences is also encouraged.
What are the past and ongoing impacts of religion and secularism on history, literature, the arts, philosophy, or language? What are the meanings of “religion,” “secularism,” and postsecularism” and how are they theorized, represented, or institutionalized in different societies and times? How are they related to such social and cultural formations as modernity, war, empire, nation, science, spirituality, the work of art, power, indigeneity, politics, government, migration, race, sustainability, or territoriality, both past and present? What role do they play in constructions of gender, sexuality, or disability? How do religion, secularism, and postsecularism inform aesthetics across time, media, and genre?
With this theme we invite applications for cutting-edge work from researchers across the humanities and humanistic social sciences whose work reflects upon or has significant implications for the meanings and effects of religion, secularism, or postsecularism in past, current, or future societies. Projects should make a clear contribution to the humanities and focus on either religion or secularism or on their interconnections.
We invite scholars to reflect upon democracy as a focus of historical, philosophical, literary, cultural, or aesthetic analysis. We seek projects that consider democracy from within the humanities and that understand democracy as concept, practice, or mode with bearing on politics, law, and society, as well as literature, language, and the arts. Democracy—whether conceived as the legitimation of power or its exercise, as “the reign of the limitless desire of individuals in modern mass society” or the opening of politics and society to a plurality of voices—is at once contested and coveted. Democracy is implicated in nationalism and cosmopolitanism, war and peace, justice and reconciliation, and freedom and enslavement, that is, who is included in or left out of the social contract and civic life.
We welcome cutting-edge work from scholars across the humanities and humanistic social sciences focused on any aspect of democracy, from Ancient Greece to the contemporary Middle East; from the emergence of print to the rise of digitization; from social movements (new and old) to liberalism (new and old); from the avant-garde to popular culture. Research may focus on any region of the world, any period of history, and any language, medium, genre, or form. We especially encourage work that challenges disciplinary or methodological boundaries.
From discourse networks to print culture; from semiotics to graphic systems; from codex to video; from radio to radiography; and from data mining to the culture industry, the interdisciplinary humanities have produced a wide range of theories and histories of media. We invite applications for excellent, cutting-edge work focused on any media (verbal, visual, audial, kinetic); on any forms (oral, print, performance, digital); and on any media systems (local, global, private, mass market). We encourage both a long and broad view of media studies and welcome applications from researchers across the humanities and humanistic social sciences whose work reflects upon or has significant implications for ancient to contemporary conceptions of media and mediation in any region(s) of the world. We seek work that challenges disciplinary or methodological boundaries.
We invite applications from scholars in the humanities and humanistic social sciences whose research reflects upon ancient to contemporary conceptions of life, including projects on vitality and vitalist philosophy; the meaning of life; the theory of biopolitics; life as the matter of art (Bioarts); theories of survival; the ends of life; biocultures; the relations between human, animal, and machinic life; the value of life, from the perspective of religion, politics, history, ethics, medicine, or law; organic and nonorganic life forms; virtual life, including work on digitality and new media; Lebensphilosophie and its legacies; the earth as living form; concepts of life and the posthuman; lived experience as a contested term; consciousness, spirit, and spirituality; normative and non-normative understandings of bodily life; vulnerability. We especially welcome work at the intersection of the humanities and life sciences; work that theorizes or historicizes the concept of life; work that involves cross-cultural and comparative perspectives; and work that challenges disciplinary or methodological boundaries.
We welcome projects on the cultural aesthetic, philosophical, visual, linguistic, geohistorical, environmental, political, and/or religious dimensions of world citizenship that reflect the ways that human beings have shaped, been affected by, and made sense of the conjunctures, contact zones, linkages, and dislocations at different points in history across the planet. We welcome work in the humanities and the humanistic social sciences on any historical periods or regions of the world, as well as work that challenges disciplinary boundaries and builds bridges with the sciences, social sciences, and the arts. We especially welcome work that deals with transcontinental and transnational contacts shaped by world systems, human and cultural mobilities, colonialism, enslavements, decolonization, and multiple forms of agency.