ACLS Fellows

The ACLS Fellowship Program awards fellowships to individual scholars working in the humanities and related social sciences. Institutions and individuals contribute to the ACLS Fellowship Program and its endowment, including The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Council's college and university Associates, and former Fellows and individual friends of ACLS.

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Watch "Emerging Themes and Methods of Research: A Discussion with ACLS Fellows," an annual meeting session featuring recent ACLS fellows. 

Sara L. Ahbel-Rappe
Sara L. Ahbel-Rappe  |  Abstract
“The Charioteer’s Circuit” investigates the reception of Plato’s “Phaedrus,” and especially the famous myth of the soul, from late antiquity to the Renaissance, tracing the phenomenon of this text’s migration into exegetical traditions and languages far removed from the original site of Plato’s dialogue. The study relies on the core idea of the text network. How might a text itself be understood as an agent of its own migration? Such a question cannot entirely neglect the human writer, but it situates relationships among texts by valorizing the work done by the narrative itself. Recent work on text networks focuses on the trajectory of a text that makes its home as an immigrant among foreign tongues. Plato’s text becomes an allegory for the soul, the self-mover wandering through cycles of birth and death. The myth becomes corporeal, takes on a presence in space and time, and assumes a diffuse, variegated voicing.

Professor, Classical Studies, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  The Charioteer’s Circuit: Plato’s Self-Moving Myth in Late Antique Text Networks and Beyond

Richard Kernaghan
Richard Kernaghan  |  Abstract
“Semblance in Terrain” examines transformations of land, territory, and law in a coca-growing region of Peru following the military defeat of the Maoist Shining Path. The project tracks significant changes in rural routes, spatial prohibitions, and land ownership since the mid-1990s through ethnographic attention to the personal histories and material practices of transportation operators (transportistas). Because of their close relationships to local landscapes, the experiences of transportistas convey how prior times of violence still resonate today. Rural terrains that were formerly under the sway of Shining Path and then overlaid with an archipelago of counterinsurgency forts have now shifted once again, gradually being remade into new legal topographies. The project extends post-conflict literatures, contributes to theories of territory and place, and enriches the historical record of Peru’s counterinsurgency war. The book will be supplemented by an online archive of fieldwork photos and videos documenting rural transit in the war’s aftermath.

Assistant Professor, Anthropology, University of Florida  -  Semblance in Terrain: On the Legal Topographies of Postwar, in Peru’s Upper Huallaga Valley

Esra Akin-Kivanc
Esra Akin-Kivanc  |  Abstract
Muthanna, commonly referred to as mirror writing, is a widely known, if understudied and misinterpreted, calligraphic form in which a source text and its mirror image are placed symmetrically on a horizontal or vertical axis. This project traces this art form within the cross-cultural contexts of pagan, Judaic, Christian, and Islamic visual practices and religious beliefs, dating it to the period between the seventh and ninth centuries. In what will be the first book-length study on the topic, this project interprets muthanna not as the quintessential product of Muslim creativity, but rather as the culmination of centuries-old human experiments with the technical demands, practical requisites, and aesthetic potentialities of writing.

Assistant Professor, Art and Art History, University of South Florida  -  Muthanna/Mirror Writing in Islamic Art: History, Aesthetics, and Meaning

Valerie A. Kivelson
Valerie A. Kivelson  |  Abstract
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Russian tsardom grew explosively, reaching the Pacific by 1637. As they crossed Siberia, Russians subjugated indigenous people, welcomed Bukharan merchants, and attempted to trade with China. Muscovites made incursions into the Baltic, incorporated Ukrainian lands, and fought Poland-Lithuania and Sweden. Whereas early modern European overseas empires have generated rich literatures, research on Russia’s continental empire has only recently begun. The silence of the textual record pressures historians to seek alternative modes of investigation, particularly the visual. Attending to the nonverbal messages of images produced by Russians and their subjects and rivals, this study probes the unstated assumptions that shaped Muscovy’s imperial advance.

Professor, History, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  Icons of Eurasian Empire: Early Modern Russian Visions of Encounter, Conquest, and Rule

Hannah Chadeayne Appel
Hannah Chadeayne Appel  |  Abstract
Drawing on fourteen months of fieldwork in Equatorial Guinea’s oil and gas industry, this project offers an ethnographic account of the daily life of capitalism. It is both an account of a specific capitalist project—US oil companies working off the shores of central Africa—and an exploration of more general forms and processes—the offshore, contracts, infrastructures, something called “the economy”—that facilitate diverse capitalist projects around the world. Equatorial Guinea is widely considered to be among the world’s most corrupt dictatorships. The US oil and gas industry is similarly disreputable. Yet, rather than drawing attention to the scandals that saturate capitalism’s daily life, this project uses US oil firms in Equatorial Guinea as a site to follow the licit life of capitalism: practices that are legally sanctioned, widely replicated, and even ordinary, and at the same time messy, contested, and, to many, indefensible.

Assistant Professor, Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles  -  Oil and the Licit Life of Capitalism in Equatorial Guinea

Benjamin N. Lawrance
Benjamin N. Lawrance  |  Abstract
The contemporary African migration crisis provides scholars with an opportunity to recover the lived truths of mass mobility alongside fears, hearsay, and rumor. Refugee narratives constitute an oral archive of persecutory histories; assembled, catalogued, and analyzed together, they contain embedded vocabulary and syntax that subtly recast statehood and national power. Although asylum is a tightly-regulated register for affecting empathy, Africans engage strategies that upend prevailing paradigms. Reconstructing the contemporary refugee grammar through personal narratives reveals how the narrow political framing of the original refugee protocols spawns creative strategies to represent diverse new persecutory experiences in contemporary Africa, such as gendered violence or witchcraft.

Professor, Sociology and Anthropology, and History, Rochester Institute of Technology  -  Nations Inside Out: An African Refugee Grammar

Mary Bachvarova
Mary Bachvarova  |  Abstract
This project uncovers the prehistory of key founding texts of Western literature by going beyond discussing parallels between ancient Greek literature and earlier texts from Mesopotamia, Syria, and Anatolia and taking on the questions of how, when, why, and where such parallels arose. It draws on methodologies from classics, Near Eastern studies, archaeology, gender studies, and the history of religion to make visible the processes of transmission and reworking of verbal art across time, space, and linguistic and cultural barriers. It focuses on archaeologically salient items and practices presented in the texts as effecting the gods’ movement to explain how descendants of Hittite prayers and incantations were able to influence the Greek tradition of cult song as found in, e.g., Sappho, Alcaeus, and tragedy via processes of cultural appropriation and negotiation between Greek settlers and indigenous populations.

Professor, Classical Studies, Willamette University  -  Calling the Gods: How Cult Practices Moved across Space and Time in the Ancient Eastern Mediterranean

Michael G. Lee
Michael G. Lee  |  Abstract
Landscape in nineteenth-century Germany was transformed by bureaucratic innovation. The effects of this new administrative vision were felt most keenly in Prussia, where the landscape designer Peter Joseph Lenné, together with a circle of reformers, developed a program of rural embellishment, urban planning, and aesthetic industrialization in response. Operating both within and against bureaucracy, they aimed to redress the deficiencies of rationalized land management by engineering a Prussian arcadia. This project analyzes the various registers within which bureaucratic culture inflected Lenné’s designs and the avenues through which he appropriated administrative tools, including institutional organizations and standardized representation techniques, to fashion a new landscape discourse.

Associate Professor, Landscape Architecture, University of Virginia  -  German Landscape and the Aesthetics of Administration: Peter Joseph Lenné and His Circle, 1815-1848

Edward E. Baptist
Edward E. Baptist  |  Abstract
This project is a history of the policing of African-American movement in the United States from slavery to the present. This includes not only what authorities have done and said, but the many ways in which African Americans have been watched, harassed, and imprisoned, as well as African-American individual and collective resistance to policing. The project builds on old and new scholarship on fugitive slaves, abolitionism, the emancipation process, emerging systems of segregation, policing, and incarceration, through the era of Jim Crow’s defeat and the rise of the carceral state. It also incorporates significant new research from an ongoing collaborative database project that collects fugitive slave ads, federal pension records, and oral histories of mass incarceration.

Professor, History, Cornell University  -  Predators and Prey: From Fugitives to Ferguson, Missouri

Lisa Levenstein
Lisa Levenstein  |  Abstract
In January 2017, over three million Americans took to the streets. The Women’s March was the largest protest in US history, and a testament to the intense public reaction to the incoming president Donald Trump. But the massive response to an unapologetically feminist march also reflected decades of women’s organizing. How did a movement that so many had described as obsolete spread its message so widely and inspire so many people to act? Uncovering the history of the women’s movement in the 1990s helps answer this question. “When Feminism Went Viral” explores how feminists took the movement online and developed innovative approaches for addressing issues like reproductive health and domestic violence. Their late twentieth century efforts to forge new networks and strategies within and beyond the United States laid the groundwork for the highly connected movement today.

Associate Professor, History, University of North Carolina at Greensboro  -  When Feminism Went Viral: The American Women's Movement in the 1990s and Beyond

Allison M. Bigelow
Allison M. Bigelow  |  Abstract
“Cultural Touchstones” applies literary methods to texts that fall between history and literature, showing how indigenous and European empires understood the raw materials of scientific inquiry in different ways in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Each chapter focuses on a different metal—gold, silver, copper, and iron—and on a discursive question that emerges in writers’ responses to them: space, translation, form, and genre. This new attention to languages reveals how indigenous miners shaped metallurgical technologies in the colonial Americas and how their knowledge was translated out of the scientific record in Europe. By tracing these mistranslations, this project shows how indigenous classifications like “intermediary ores” were replaced by colonial racial categories like “metales mulatos.” In this way, the project shows how the recovery of indigenous natural and technical knowledge can also shed new light on the history of racial ideologies and category-making in the early Americas.

Assistant Professor, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia  -  Cultural Touchstones: Mining, Refining, and the Languages of Empire in the Early Americas

Tania Lombrozo
Tania Lombrozo  |  Abstract
What does it mean to learn something new? Canonical cases of learning, including learning from observations or from the testimony of others, involve the acquisition of new information from the external world. But many cases of learning, such as learning from thought experiments or from fiction, defy this simple picture; genuinely novel insights can emerge in the absence of information obtained “outside the head.” This project explores thought experiments and other cases of learning by thinking, such as learning through mental simulation, explanation, analogy, or fiction. Uniting philosophical analyses with research on human cognition, the resulting work will present a novel framework for understanding learning and how it bears on the nature of human understanding.

Associate Professor, Psychology and Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley  -  Learning by Thinking: Thought Experiments as a Window onto Human Understanding

Sarah Bridger
Sarah Bridger  |  Abstract
“Science in the Seventies” is a history of the political, economic, and ideological battles over science in the United States during the 1970s, including changes in defense contracting and privatization, theoretical critiques of scientific practice, the activism of women in STEM fields, and the evolution of citizen science. In particular, this work highlights and historicizes two key questions that animated high-stakes intellectual debates: What counts as science, and who counts as a scientist?

ACLS/New York Public Library Fellow
Associate Professor, History, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo  -  Science in the Seventies: Battling for the Soul of a Profession, from the Vietnam War to Star Wars

Louis Herns Marcelin
Louis Herns Marcelin  |  Abstract
This project focuses on violence and human insecurity in post-dictatorship and post-disaster Haiti. It builds on a series of transdisciplinary multistage ethnographic and sociological studies conducted in Haiti over the course of 25 years to generate an analysis that interrogates the standard categorization of and community responses to violence. The project is premised on the continuity of violence and its patterns through time and the connectivity between varied layers of micro- and macroviolence. It highlights the unique value of ethnography as a distinctive means to investigate the principles at work in the production and reproduction of violence in sociocultural contexts like Haiti.

Associate Professor, Anthropology, University of Miami  -  Democratization Process, Violence, and Peacebuilding in Contemporary Haiti

Mariana P. Candido
Mariana P. Candido  |  Abstract
The nineteenth century was a moment of change on the African continent with the end of the Atlantic slave trade and the transition of local economies toward commerce viewed as legitimate. Captives were channeled to new plantations to meet the Western demand for raw products such as sugarcane and cotton. Scholars have paid little attention to how African men and women experienced these changes, and how these new labor and economic regimes overturned West Central Africa’s political and economic systems, in part because they have neglected the economic role of African women in nineteenth-century West Central Africa. This project examines the lives of African women as traders, slaves, farmers, and land and business owners to shed light on the history of property in nineteenth-century Angola.

Associate Professor, History, University of Notre Dame  -  Land, Material Goods, and Slaves: African Women’s Accumulation of Wealth in West Central Africa in the Nineteenth Century

Carmen Martinez Novo
Carmen Martinez Novo  |  Abstract
This project explores the connections between the decline of indigenous rights, the undoing of the multicultural state, and oil and mineral extraction in Latin America, with a focus on Ecuador. The research considers these topics in the context of the financial dependency of Latin American states on natural resource extraction, state authoritarianism, lack of state and corporate accountability, and the difficulties for civil society to organize and express dissent. The rise of authoritarian, extraction-oriented governance in Latin America in the last few decades shows that the state, multilateral institutions, and oil and mining companies perceive even those limited understandings of collective rights typical of neoliberalism as an obstacle. The project draws from multi-sited fieldwork in indigenous communities in the Andes and Amazon regions of Ecuador since 2002. In addition, it considers interviews and participant observation with state elites, government officials, and non-governmental organizations.

Associate Professor, Anthropology, University of Kentucky  -  The Decline of Indigenous Rights in Latin America

Jennifer E. Cazenave
Jennifer E. Cazenave  |  Abstract
This project undertakes the first comprehensive examination of the 220 hours of testimonies Claude Lanzmann excluded from his 1985 cinematographic opus, “Shoah.” It draws on this unused footage to reframe the paradigmatic status of Lanzmann’s canonical work on the Holocaust and challenge decades of theoretical discourses on trauma, witnessing, and the limits of representation sustained by the finished film. Extending well beyond a reconstruction of the film’s making between 1973 and 1985, the study demonstrates that the excluded interviews subsist as critical and significant texts in unearthing new meanings and mobilizations of the film and, more broadly, Holocaust testimony.

Assistant Professor, World Languages, University of South Florida  -  An Archive of the Catastrophe: Recovering the Unused Footage of Claude Lanzmann’s “Shoah”

Erik S. McDuffie
Erik S. McDuffie  |  Abstract
“Garveyism in the Diasporic Midwest” establishes the importance of the Midwest in shaping the history of the black world. The Midwest’s global manufacturing centers—such as Chicago, Cleveland, and Detroit—and political infrastructures offered blacks freedom and opportunities that they could not find elsewhere, creating fertile ground for Garveyism and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), the largest black protest movement in world history. Attending to the paradoxes and gendered contours of Garveyism, this project globalizes African-American history and reorients the study of the African diaspora by taking into account the significance of the heartland in shaping the history of the twentieth-century black world from Cleveland and Chicago to the Caribbean and West Africa.

Associate Professor, African American Studies and History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign  -  Garveyism in the Diasporic Midwest: The American Heartland and Global Black Freedom, 1920-1980

Giuliana Chamedes
Giuliana Chamedes  |  Abstract
Drawing on new archival research conducted in eight countries and in seven different languages, this project uncovers the Vatican’s ambitious attempt to shape the European international order after the first and second world wars, via the novel use of international law, public diplomacy, and new media. Through attention to the entanglements of religion and politics, it argues that between 1918 and 1958, the central government of the Roman Catholic Church successfully combatted what it perceived as its two leading threats: liberal and communist internationalism. The Vatican did so by developing a new mode of legal and cultural diplomacy, which the project calls Catholic internationalism.

Assistant Professor, History, University of Wisconsin-Madison  -  The Vatican, Catholic Internationalism, and the Battle for Europe, 1918-1958

Lydia L. Moland
Lydia L. Moland  |  Abstract
Hegel’s notorious claim that art ends means that, despite its potential for explaining art’s role in human experience and its ability to interpret particular artworks, his philosophy of art is often neglected. This project argues that by embedding his aesthetic theory in his philosophical idealism, analyzing particular artworks he discusses, and connecting his thought to the vibrant aesthetic debates of his time, the potential of Hegel’s thoughts on art can be restored. These new perspectives also reveal that although Hegel claims art can end in several ways—within a historical period, by exhausting conceptual possibilities within a genre, or by disintegrating into the agreeable, the domestic, or the cruel—his belief in its centrality to human life never wavered. His theory clarifies art’s value in general and offers a foundation for interpreting contemporary art in particular.

Associate Professor, Philosophy, Colby College  -  Hegel's Aesthetics: The Art of Idealism

Amy Chazkel
Amy Chazkel  |  Abstract
In Rio de Janeiro for much of the nineteenth century, each day the setting sun triggered a legal regime distinct from the one that prevailed in daylight. Nightfall turned an artisan carrying a tool into a criminal wielding a weapon, and a free person of color into a presumed slave. Changes in the built environment and urban culture in the early twentieth century attenuated the legal and political importance of nightfall. Rio’s nightlife attracted—and employed—multitudes from across Brazil and, eventually, the world. Yet the long history of the distinction between day and night bore a lasting impact on the city’s legal culture. This project traces the meanings of this daily transition to darkness through the nineteenth century, arguing that nightfall is a crucial yet unexplored dimension of urban modernity.

Associate Professor, History, City University of New York, Queens College  -  Urban Chiaroscuro: Rio de Janeiro and the Politics of Nightfall

Amrita Chakrabarti Myers
Amrita Chakrabarti Myers  |  Abstract
This project examines the decades-long relationship between Julia Chinn, an enslaved woman, and US vice president Richard M. Johnson. An analysis of this union reveals where the lines of societal acceptance were drawn for members of mixed-race households in the South of that period and illuminates how location shaped the nature and limits of black women’s power. As they moved further away from their communities, where their ties to local whites could open doors for them, black women’s ability to acquire certain privileges and be treated with a modicum of dignity declined. Using the construct of circles of power, the project begins by highlighting black women’s lives inside the smallest circle, where their power was the greatest: the home. The narrative then moves out, in ever larger circles, interrogating the arenas of school, church, and town, and noting a corresponding decline in black women’s power until the final circle: the nation state.

Associate Professor, History and Gender Studies, Indiana University Bloomington  -  Remembering Julia: A Tale of Sex, Race, Power, and Place

Matthew J. Christensen
Matthew J. Christensen  |  Abstract
“Unsovereign Bodies” traces the history of the detective genre as a mode of critique in Anglophone African writing. By playing on the genre’s narrative codes, Anglophone African writers have transformed the detective novel’s ideological preoccupation with liberal capitalism and its discontents into a broader critical engagement with the collectivist ideals of decolonization, the valences of vulnerability, and, most consistently, the compromised sovereignties of the state and the individual. The project reads African detective fiction as a discourse on governance and citizenship by and for those who have never been able to take for granted the Enlightenment conceptions of the sovereign state or the sovereign rights-bearing individual subject, which are supposed to define the modern nation state. For their local readerships, the novels ultimately question how individuals and communities manage risk and resources given the radical instability of the sovereignty of the state and rights-bearing citizen.

Professor, Literatures and Cultural Studies, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley  -  Unsovereign Bodies: The State and the Individual Subject in African Detective Fiction

Luisa Nardini
Luisa Nardini  |  Abstract
The liturgical traditions of southern Italy between the eighth and the thirteenth centuries reflect the influences of the many populations that were present in the area at that time. “Liturgical Hypertexts” is an edition and study of one such tradition, the liturgical genre of prosulas for the Proper of the mass. Prosulas are texts that expand preexisting liturgical chants so that each syllable of the new text corresponds to one note of the preexisting melody. They thus introduce new meanings in the context of the liturgy and are stylistically akin to other devotional genres of the time. By delving into the political, literary, and artistic history of the region, the book places the repertory of prosulas in the cultural context that created it. The book will have a companion website that includes a complete edition and commentary.

Associate Professor, Music, University of Texas at Austin  -  Liturgical Hypertexts: Prosulas for the Proper of the Mass in Beneventan Manuscripts

Michael David-Fox
Michael David-Fox  |  Abstract
Examining the exercise of power in Smolensk province under Stalinism and Nazi occupation during WWII, this project cross-fertilizes three dynamic areas of the study of the war: Stalinism, the German occupation on the Eastern Front, and the Holocaust. It aims to connect regional history to the grand narrative by linking four levels of analysis: biographies and lived experience; the use and limits of political power in a succession of sudden regime changes; the role and nature of ideology—the Sphinx’s Riddle of Soviet studies; and political violence in this twentieth-century world of extremes, from collectivization to the Holocaust. By interpreting new archival troves of autobiographical documents in terms of regimes of power, the project provides a model for fusing local depth with synthetic, comparative sweep.

Professor, Foreign Service and History, Georgetown University  -  Smolensk under Nazi and Soviet Rule

Megan Nutzman
Megan Nutzman  |  Abstract
This project identifies four sources of ritual power used in Roman and late antique Palestine to obtain divine intervention for human ailments: holy men, sacred places, performative acts, and amulets. Close cultural contacts enabled pagans, Jews, and Christians to borrow foreign rituals, altering them to fit new cultic frameworks. By examining the full range of literary, archaeological, and epigraphic evidence for ritual healing from the region, it is possible to challenge common scholarly inclinations to compartmentalize the study of Greco-Roman ritual healing according to a putative divide between magical and religious cures, or by focusing on a single cultural or linguistic group. Ultimately, this work contributes to two ongoing debates about religious identity by reevaluating the role that ritual healing played in conversion experiences and by using it as a lens to assess the parting of the ways between Jews and Christians.

Assistant Professor, History, Old Dominion University  -  Asclepius and Elijah: Ritual Healing in Roman and Late Antique Palestine

Brian DeLay
Brian DeLay  |  Abstract
Armed violence transformed the Western hemisphere in the long nineteenth century. It overthrew European empires, birthed liberal nation states, fortified then destroyed slavery, empowered then dispossessed indigenous polities, and created stark regimes of inequality both within emerging states and between them. And yet outside the eastern United States, no one in the Americas produced arms in quantity. This begs a deceptively simple question that historians have all but ignored: where did all the guns come from? The first major study of the historic arms trade in the Americas, “Shoot the State” explains how access to the means of destruction conditioned struggles over freedom and domination around the hemisphere, from the American Revolution to the eve of World War II.

Associate Professor, History, University of California, Berkeley  -  Shoot the State: Guns, Freedom, and Domination in the Americas, 1774-1934

Christopher J. Nygren
Christopher J. Nygren  |  Abstract
Around 1530, numerous painters began producing large easel paintings on slabs of hewn stone. The substitution of stone for canvas has few parallels in global art history. By focusing on the material substrate of images—the stuff underneath the layer of pictorial illusionism that usually attracts scholarly attention—this project reveals new aspects of renaissance picture-making. Modern scholarship about renaissance art tends to emphasize the teleological emergence of naturalism, an ideal state at which a painting perfectly resembles the thing it represents. Focusing on painted stones, this project contends that a more flexible understanding of similitude was operative in the transatlantic renaissance. This project wagers that artists did not understand stone as an inert material; rather, for them it possessed signifying power exceeding its material presence. Interrogating how painters used stone to evoke similitude, this project challenges some of the foundational principles of Western aesthetics.

Assistant Professor, History of Art and Architecture, University of Pittsburgh  -  Matter and Similitude in Italian Painting and the Transatlantic Renaissance

Laura Eichelberger
Laura Eichelberger  |  Abstract
Water insecurity is a significant problem in Alaska Native villages, despite over 45 years of water and sewer projects. Many Iñupiat desire running water as their right as US citizens. Yet they also describe being “spoiled by technology,” reflecting concerns about how treated water systems may negatively change their Indigenous culture. This book project explores these contradictions. It examines how water insecurity affects daily life for the Iñupiat, the history of efforts to address this enduring problem, and how the Iñupiat connect their struggle for water to being spoiled by technology. It argues that spoiling is an Iñupiaq narrative of distress, resistance, and engagement that reflects intertwined struggles for water, health, sustainability, and citizenship as Indigenous Americans.

Assistant Professor, Anthropology, University of Texas at San Antonio  -  Spoiling and Sustainability: Water Insecurity, Health, and Indigenous Citizenship in Northwest Alaska

Junaid Quadri
Junaid Quadri  |  Abstract
This project is at once a historical examination of the fate of an indigenous field of knowledge upon its encounter with the commitments of colonial modernity, and a meditation on the limits of the category of tradition in understanding the development of Islamic law over the past 150 years. Drawing upon the writings of jurist-scholars writing in Cairo, Kazan, Lucknow, and Istanbul, the project tracks several central shifts in Islamic legal writing that throw into doubt the possibility of reading its later trajectory through the lens of a continuous tradition. Instead, this work argues that the colonial moment marks a significant rupture in how Muslim jurists understood history, authority, science, and religion, thereby upending the very ground upon which Islamic law had functioned before modern colonialism.

Assistant Professor, History, University of Illinois at Chicago  -  Transformations of Tradition: Islamic Law in Colonial Modernity

Jeffrey M. Einboden
Jeffrey M. Einboden  |  Abstract
This project uncovers the astonishing story that surrounds a date wholly lost to US history: October 4, 1807—the day that President Thomas Jefferson was handed Arabic manuscripts penned by two Muslim slaves fleeing their captivity in rural Kentucky. Exposing archival evidence neglected for over two centuries, “Jefferson’s Muslim Fugitives” traces the improbable events that led up to this event and its aftermath, recounting the story of escaped Muslim slaves in the American heartland whose acts of Arabic authorship prompted a US president to advocate on their behalf. Pivoting between parallel stories that unfold from Kentucky to the Atlantic coast, this project also discovers that the arrival of Arabic writings to Washington, DC in 1807 belonged to a broader tradition of private exchange between Muslim slaves and elites in the early United States, reaching from national origins in the 1780s to the end of the civil war in 1865.

Professor, English, Northern Illinois University  -  Jefferson’s Muslim Fugitives: The Lost Story of American Slavery and Arabic Emancipation

Evan Ragland
Evan Ragland  |  Abstract
“Experimental Life” tracks the emergence and spread of modern experimentalism in Europe through the preeminent medical school of Leiden University from 1636 to 1718. Using hundreds of printed sources and manuscript notes from students, professors, administrators, and critics, this project recovers a history of collaboration and competition in the making of modern scientific culture. Demonstrating the power of pedagogy, it integrates new histories of changes in different cultural themes: sociability, philosophy, medicine, technical skill, bodily experience, anatomy, chemistry, and clinical practice. Above all, it restores historical messiness and violence to the new science and medicine, weaving a novel history of experiments on life and the way of life of the experimenters.

Assistant Professor, History, University of Notre Dame  -  Experimental Life: Medicine, Science, and the Emergence of a Culture of Experiment

Samera Esmeir
Samera Esmeir  |  Abstract
“The Struggle that Remains” tracks the modern entry of the word international into the English language, and theorizes its emergence as a contending signifier of the world, as well as its reconfiguration of horizons of struggle. It investigates several key episodes in the conceptual history of the international: its juridical emergence in the late eighteenth century, its socialist itinerary in the second half of the nineteenth century, its institutionalization in the interwar period, and the joining of its juridical and socialist itineraries during decolonization. The book explores these episodes as it tracks the concept’s life in modern Palestine, and historicizes its varied relevance to three Palestinian revolutionary struggles: under Ottoman rule in 1834, against British colonization from 1936 to 1939, and during decolonization in the 1970s. The narrative revolves around how the international figured in the political lexicons and practices, the revolutions and the visions of the world it enabled and disabled, and the struggle that remains in its excess.

Associate Professor, Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley  -  The Struggle that Remains: Between the World and the International

Joanne Rappaport
Joanne Rappaport  |  Abstract
The history of Latin American social science is only beginning to be written, as the archives of early- and mid-twentieth century ethnographers increasingly become available. Little attention has been paid to recent methodological experiments, such as participatory action research and other collaborative approaches that have exerted substantial influence on how Latin American researchers work today, making Latin American social science different from its northern counterpart. This project traces the development of participatory research methods by Colombian sociologist Orlando Fals Borda in the early 1970s through examining the archives of his research on the Colombian Caribbean coast in collaboration with the National Association of Peasant Users (ANUC).

Professor, Spanish and Portuguese, Georgetown University  -  The Dawn of Action Research in Latin America: Orlando Fals Borda and La Rosca de Investigación y Acción Social

Michelle Facos
Michelle Facos  |  Abstract
Works produced by artists studying in Copenhagen between 1770 and 1820 anticipated later developments in continental art often attributed to artists elsewhere—painting modern life, national romanticism, abstraction—and generated simultaneously movements usually considered sequential and oppositional: neoclassicism, romanticism, and realism. This project investigates Copenhagen’s art academy during this period to show how it embodied relationships among art, economics, philosophy, politics, religion, and science that were novel at the time and contrasted with the hierarchical, tradition-bound policies of state-sponsored art academies elsewhere. A hub of Enlightenment culture in the eighteenth century due to a progressive German bureaucracy and civic-minded landowners, Copenhagen fostered the interdisciplinary exchange that made it a harbinger of modernism.

Professor, Art History, Indiana University Bloomington  -  The Copenhagen Art Academy circa 1800: Reinventing Tradition

Karin Sabrina Roffman
Karin Sabrina Roffman  |  Abstract
This critical biography of American poet John Ashbery (1927-), offers a portrait of an artist who discovered his rich and varied imaginative universe from the materials of ordinary life. Drawing on private sources—including personal letters, diaries, and notebooks of poem fragments—as well as hundreds of interviews with Ashbery, his friends, and his colleagues, and more than a decade of archival research and critical work on Ashbery’s manuscripts and collections, this project demonstrates the poet’s unrelenting drive to innovate language in order to express, with increasing precision and humor, what he has called “the experience of experience." This is the first biography to secure the permission and support of Ashbery and his partner David Kermani.

Senior Lecturer, Humanities, English, and American Studies, Yale University  -  The Story of Next Week: John Ashbery's Middle and Later Years

Lieba Faier
Lieba Faier  |  Abstract
“The Banality of Good” grapples with a paradox of contemporary human rights work: How can we address intimate experiences of unspeakable violence—forced labor, daily beatings, emotional abuse, starvation, and enslavement—through standardized, procedural, calculated bureaucratic practice? Drawing on ten years of research on contemporary campaigns to fight human trafficking to Japan, this project explores how such efforts address intimate violations of human rights through formulaic official procedure. It considers the social and cultural effects of this new institutionalized approach to human rights, and it examines the globalized moral landscapes and models for ethical personhood emerging through it. Borrowing from Hannah Arendt’s use of the term banality, which for her results from the inability to engage in a critical self-dialogue and see the world from another’s perspective, this project considers how anti-human trafficking campaigns’ routine bureaucratic practices evacuate critical perspectives and cultural difference in the name of human rights.

Associate Professor, Geography, University of California, Los Angeles  -  The Banality of Good

Charles Sanft
Charles Sanft  |  Abstract
“Literate Community in Early Imperial China” demonstrates that soldiers in the northwest border region during the Han dynasty constituted a literate community of commoners linked to the broader textual culture of the empire. This project uses a novel interpretive framework, incorporates new excavated documents, and reconsiders previously known materials to challenge common assumptions and received understandings about textual culture in early China. While scholars have often viewed text as the exclusive province of elites, “Literate Community in Early Imperial China” argues that its capabilities, in fact, functioned throughout society.

Associate Professor, History, University of Tennessee, Knoxville  -  Literate Community in Early Imperial China

Claire L. Fanger
Claire L. Fanger  |  Abstract
“Prophecy in Practice” sits at the disciplinary intersection of anthropology and history, and takes as its focus the personal everyday aspects of prophetic cognition in the lives of late medieval monks and nuns. By investigating links between large scale—biblical and exegetical—concepts of prophecy and smaller scale daily practices, such as prayer, reading, and the interpretation and sharing of dreams, as they facilitate or engender individual experiences of prophecy, this project explores the conjunction of institutional and personal knowledge embodied in medieval religious persons. This study breaks new ground in showing how common practices and concepts shared among members of twelfth-century religious communities facilitated individual experience and the expression of prophetic gifts.

Associate Professor, Religion, Rice University  -  Prophecy in Practice: The Everyday Life of Divine Knowledge in the Twelfth Century

Suzana M. Sawyer
Suzana M. Sawyer  |  Abstract
Rarely do complaints of contamination in marginalized places reach a court of law, let alone get litigated or prevail. “Suing Chevron” traces the events that compelled an Ecuadorian court to render a $9 billion ruling against the Chevron Corporation for environmental contamination in 2011, and then led a federal court in the United States to delegitimize that judgment five years later. Countering Chevron’s corruption narrative, this project explores how the Ecuadorian litigation might serve as an instructive socio-legal forum for reckoning nearly intractable contamination disputes. In a world where complex systems connect the fates of disparate human and nonhuman communities and where ever-multiplying events of indeterminate harm result from corporate activity, this project pays careful attention to how we reconcile socio-ecological controversies, make sense of corporate actions, and think about transnational jurisprudence and environmental accountability across the globe.

Associate Professor, Anthropology, University of California, Davis  -  Suing Chevron: Law, Science, and Contamination in Ecuador and Beyond

Leah M. Feldman
Leah M. Feldman  |  Abstract
“On the Threshold of Eurasia” explores the imagining of the Russian and Soviet “East” in the construction of literary modernity during the revolutionary transition in the Caucasus, from 1905 to 1929. It exposes the ways in which a diverse body of Russian and Azeri Turkic poetry, scholarship, and political essays—many of which are unknown to Anglophone readers—contributed to the construction of the Soviet multinational empire. Tracing the circulation of romantic and avant-garde visions of Eurasian modernity, the book illustrates the pivotal role of the former Soviet periphery in shaping the aesthetic and critical innovations of the early twentieth century.

Assistant Professor, Comparative Literature, University of Chicago  -  On the Threshold of Eurasia: Revolutionary Poetics in the Caucasus

Tad M. Schmaltz
Tad M. Schmaltz  |  Abstract
This study traces one route from an Aristotelian account of the material world to a more distinctively modern outlook. This route starts with a revision of the Aristotelian account in the work of the late scholastic Francisco Suárez that prepared the way for modern innovations. It then proceeds to a critical engagement with the scholastic account in the work of René Descartes. The journey ends with a novel interpretation of basic elements of Descartes’s metaphysics of the material world in the work of Benedict Spinoza. Though Spinoza is sometimes considered to be a Cartesian, his account of the material world is in some ways as different from Descartes’s as Descartes’s is from Suárez’s.

Professor, Philosophy, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  Early Modern Metaphysics and the Material World: Suárez, Descartes, Spinoza

Aaron A. Gerow
Aaron A. Gerow  |  Abstract
This project investigates the rich history of theoretical thinking about cinema in Japan and the issues it poses for theory. The existing canons of film theory have been overwhelmingly Eurocentric, even in Japan. The project fills in gaps in the canon by introducing new and profound thinkers. It also considers how Japanese theorists, understanding how the West has tended to monopolize theory, fell into a “theory complex,” in which they pursued sophisticated aesthetic and philosophical arguments about cinema, but could not bring themselves to call it theory. The result is a tradition of film thought that is not only original and incisive about cinema, but intensely self-reflective, thinking about theory at the same time it pursues theory.

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow
Professor, East Asian Languages and Literatures, and Film and Media Studies, Yale University  -  The Theory Complex: A History of Japanese Film Thought

Benjamin Robert Siegel
Benjamin Robert Siegel  |  Abstract
In 2010, in the shadow of an economic crisis and three decades of deindustrialization, Americans consumed a quarter million pounds of opioids—more than 80 percent of the world’s total supply. Yet even as US cities and towns have been blighted by prescription opioids and cheap heroin, the source of these drugs remains shrouded in mystery. Save for fully synthetic opioids manufactured in laboratories, the overwhelming majority of the gelcaps, tablets, liquids, and lollipops consumed in the United States were produced from poppies grown in India, the lucrative byproduct of a colonial opium industry reanimated in the twentieth century. Through critical archival and ethnographic work, this project interrogates the interlinked rise of the US opioid epidemic and the Indian pharmaceutical industry, showing how American pain and Indian agriculture and industry have been sutured together over the last century.

Assistant Professor, History, Boston University  -  The Nation in Pain: American Bodies and Indian Pharmaceuticals in an Age of Distress

Simon Gilhooley
Simon Gilhooley  |  Abstract
Constitutional debates in the United States are characterized by a return to the founding in an effort to recapture the spirit and meaning of that moment. This project challenges that framework by showing the ways in which text and spirit were largely interchangeable during the early US republic until abolitionism in the 1830s forced a decisive appeal to spirit on the part of slaveholders. Focusing particularly on the debates surrounding the 1836 election and the issue of slavery in the District of Columbia, the research traces the manner in which a “spirit of compact” was mobilized within proslavery constitutional interpretation in order to address abolitionist pressures. Victorious in their campaign to safeguard slavery in DC, advocates of this approach established a mode of constitutional interpretation that has become prevalent in modern constitutionalism.

Assistant Professor, Political Studies, Bard College  -  The Compact: The Proslavery Origins of the Modern US Constitution

Paolo Squatriti
Paolo Squatriti  |  Abstract
At the beginning of the middle ages, European people altered their longstanding patterns of engagement with plants. This project evaluates how and why this unusual set of changes occurred. To establish what crops advanced and which ones retreated in early medieval fields, and how this affected weed populations, the project compares two territories in detail: France and Italy from 300 to 800. “Pleasing Plants and Worrisome Weeds” also probes Europeans’ cultural adaptations to the new botanical situations on the ground, exploring the relationship between practical and theoretical botany in early medieval Europe. This project thus contributes to understandings of how people classify and catalogue nature, and why they adopt the classifications they do.

Professor, History, Romance Languages and Literatures, and the Program in the Environment, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  Pleasing Plants and Worrisome Weeds: Botanical Change in Early Medieval Europe

Stuart H. Goldberg
Stuart H. Goldberg  |  Abstract
This project explores the vicissitudes of the sincere voice as it is generated anew in each new generation of Russian poets, and, in fact, in each audibly sincere poem or passage. Historically contextualized close readings uncover the poetic devices and pragmatic framings which have allowed poets to inscribe a sincere voice despite the inevitable barriers. Taken together, the readings, spanning approximately 220 years of poetry, demonstrate shifting conceptualizations of sincerity and authenticity and provide new perspective on the evolution of the lyric.

Associate Professor, Russian, Georgia Institute of Technology  -  An Indwelling Voice: Sincerities and Authenticities in Russian Poetry, 1782-2001

Justin Stearns
Justin Stearns  |  Abstract
This project uses a contextual reading of the place and nature of the philosophical sciences in seventeenth-century Moroccan scholarship to reexamine the broader understanding of early modern Islamic thought. To do so, it alternates between a detailed local account of Moroccan scholarship and a critical reexamination of the historiography of the philosophical sciences in the Islamicate world. The central figure with whom the project begins is al-Hasan al-Yusi (d. 1691), who argued that all knowledge that benefits the Muslim community was sanctioned by God. It then turns to close readings of medical, astronomical, and astrological texts in manuscripts that were written by al-Yusi’s contemporaries. Finally, it traces the role these sciences played in legal, theological, and mystical debates of the time.

Associate Professor, Arab Crossroads Studies, New York University Abu Dhabi  -  Islamic Thought and the Natural World in the Early Modern Maghreb: Revealed Science in the Age of al-Hasan al-Yusi

Joshua R. Grace
Joshua R. Grace  |  Abstract
“The African Car” tells the story of Tanzanians who built personal and collective lives around the motor vehicle and its accompanying infrastructure—including roads, repair garages, and oil refineries—beginning in the 1870s. Drawing on archival sources, oral histories, and the author’s apprenticeship in a garage, it argues that histories and theories of development are incomplete because they have ignored Africans’ technical competence and creativity in using, repairing, and remaking one of the twentieth century’s most important machines. The project thus replaces long held assumptions about African technological dysfunction and misuse with evidence of mechanical expertise and innovation by Tanzanian motorists who turned automobiles into an everyday African technology. The project also questions the merits of automobile-based development both before and after the OPEC oil crisis. Though cars, roads, and oil played critical roles in most theories of modernization, their costs made motor vehicles problematic technologies of development for Tanzania.

Assistant Professor, History, University of South Carolina  -  The African Car: Technology, Mobility, and Development in Tanzania, 1870-2015

Noa Steimatsky
Noa Steimatsky  |  Abstract
This project focuses on the refugee camp that operated from 1944 to 1950 on the grounds of Cinecittà, one of the world’s major movie studios. Drawing on documents from a range of international archives, photographs, films, and personal interviews, the project unravels the chronicles of the camp in its historical and film-historical contexts, analyzing its structure, magnitude, and duration; attending to the social and political forces that shaped it; and reflecting on its human plight. It looks at perspectives rarely considered together in film scholarship: the experience of displacement in postwar Europe, Rome’s housing problems, the shifting circumstances of the movie studios established during fascism, and the reconstruction of the Italian film industry as both indebted to and constricted by Allied (and Hollywood) interests. Interlacing these threads helps shape new understandings of neorealism—both its achievements and its myths.

Visiting Scholar, Italian Studies, University of California, Berkeley  -  The Cinecittà Refugee Camp: History and Memory of a Movie Studio, 1944-1950

Sarah B.H. Hamill
Sarah B.H. Hamill  |  Abstract
How has the circulation of digital images shaped the experience of sculptural matter, time, and space? Since the 1980s, numerous artists have explored answers to this question in hybrid works that move between photography, sculpture, and video. Their projects are diverse, but they each use mass media to signal sculpture virtually, by metaphorizing touch, texture, time, or surface. These are not images of objectivity or empiricism; these photographs instead comment on and analogize the experience of materiality in the internet age. Charting a broad range of diverse projects that depart from conceptualism, this project shows how artists have used photography to thematize materiality and haptic modes of beholding. The first scholarly study of its kind, it offers new vocabularies for understanding sculpture, media, spectacle, digital reproduction, and the post-medium condition in contemporary art.

Assistant Professor, Art History, Sarah Lawrence College  -  Surface Matters: Contemporary Photography and the Metaphor of Sculpture

Justin Steinberg
Justin Steinberg  |  Abstract
This project examines the influence of the inquisitorial trial—the most important development in legal procedure in Western Europe—on the most important development in Western literary style: the emergence of realistic representations of daily life. It traces this phenomenon through the novellas of fourteenth-century author and poet Giovanni Boccaccio, arguing that his celebrated realistic narratives, lifelike characters, and naturalistic dialogue are responses to the emergent prosecutorial trends of the period. By exploring the rhetorical and literary underpinnings of probable cause, legal representation, police surveillance, and discretionary punishment, Boccaccio’s work puts into critical dialogue two pillars of early modernity that otherwise may seem unrelated: realism and inquisition.

Professor, Romance Languages and Literatures, University of Chicago  -  Mimesis on Trial: Boccaccio’s Realism, Judicial Inquest, and the Rise of the Novella

Jill Lindsey Harrison
Jill Lindsey Harrison  |  Abstract
Environmental problems disproportionately harm low-income communities, communities of color, and tribal communities. This project investigates how regulatory culture undermines environmental regulatory agencies’ efforts to reduce these environmental inequalities. It does so through a multi-sited, ethnographic investigation of environmental justice (EJ) programs at seven state and federal environmental regulatory agencies in the United States, which have failed to meet the core principles of the EJ movement that fought for these programs. Whereas other scholars explain these outcomes in terms of the agencies’ lack of financial resources and threats from elites hostile to regulatory restrictions on industry affairs, this project instead identifies how bureaucrats’ experiences, practices, and beliefs about race, justice, and expertise also contribute to these outcomes.

Associate Professor, Sociology, University of Colorado Boulder  -  Regulatory Culture and the Failure of Government Programs for Environmental Justice

Rian Thum
Rian Thum  |  Abstract
This project undertakes a radical reevaluation of the history of Islam in China, focused on the last four centuries. It does so by breaking with most scholarship on the subject in two ways. First, it makes greater use of the rich body of Persian and Arabic sources consumed by Chinese Muslims, rather than mainly or exclusively utilizing Chinese-language sources, and, second, it rejects the assumption that Chinese Islams are necessarily syncretic blends of two inherently incompatible and essential cultural units. This approach reveals a very different kind of Islamic China, one closely connected to the rest of the Islamic world through India, the Hijaz, and Central Asia, both consuming and creating texts embedded in cosmopolitan Islamic networks. It argues, moreover, that Islam needs to be considered as an integral part of China’s history.

Associate Professor, History, Loyola University New Orleans  -  Islamic China

William C. Hedberg
William C. Hedberg  |  Abstract
This project focuses on Japanese engagement with late imperial Chinese fiction between 1600 and 1925, with a special focus on the Ming novel “The Water Margin”: a classic in the Chinese literary canon and a perennial springboard for adaptation and redaction in Japan. As a work whose ubiquitous presence in early modern Japan neatly intersects trends in philology, literary historiography, and interest in Chinese material culture, “The Water Margin” is unique as a focal point for organizing an alternative history of Japanese literary culture: one presented from marginalized perspectives and centered on the discourses of alterity, otherness, and cultural difference that have been elided in more culturally essentialist or nationalist narratives of literary history. In making equal use of Japanese- and Chinese-language primary sources, this project joins an emergent body of comparative scholarship that seeks new modes by which to conceptualize cultural boundaries and transregional flows of information.

Assistant Professor, International Letters and Cultures, Arizona State University  -  Embracing the Margins: Translation, Nation, and Chinese Fiction in Early Modern Japan

Deborah Tor
Deborah Tor  |  Abstract
The period in which the Great Seljuq Dynasty presided over the Middle East from Syria to Central Asia, from 1040-1194, was one of the most formative in Islamic history. Many of the final contours of the religious, political, and social institutions of classical Islamic society took shape during this time, with ramifications extending to the present. This project will be the first to trace many of its key developments: the appearance and concept of a universal Sultanate, which challenged the political authority of the caliphate and reshaped Islamic political theory; the flowering of Islamic chivalric ideals; the tethering of the Sunni religious clerics and mystics to the government; and the ongoing conflict between the Turco-Mongol nomads and Perso-Islamic settled society.

Associate Professor, History, University of Notre Dame  -  The Great Seljuq Sultanate and the Formation of Islamic Civilization, 1040-1194: A Thematic History

Lauren Heidbrink
Lauren Heidbrink  |  Abstract
“Negotiated Returns” is based on a three-year, multi-sited study that examines deportation from the perspectives of unaccompanied migrant children and youth, who are an understudied and marginalized population. This mixed-methods study traces the rippling, transnational effects of removal on families and communities in southern Mexico and Guatemala. Nestled within a rich literature on post-conflict Central America, the study responds to significant gaps in applied and theoretical knowledge on child migration and deportation and the anthropology of childhood and youth.

Assistant Professor, Human Development, California State University, Long Beach  -  Negotiated Returns: Migration and Deportation of Unaccompanied Youth

Parker VanValkenburgh
Parker VanValkenburgh  |  Abstract
“Building Subjects” is a study of how people, places, and politics were transformed by one of the largest waves of forced resettlement in human history—the reducción movement of late sixteenth-century colonial Peru. Drawing on eight years of archaeological fieldwork in Peru's Zaña valley and documentary research in Peru and Spain, it examines reducción’s concrete effects on indigenous people in one corner of the viceroyalty and its consequences for colonial political institutions. In the process, it locates this movement within the longer term history of displacement in the early modern world and explores its resonances with contemporary experiences of migration and resettlement.

Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Brown University  -  Building Subjects: The Archaeology of Reducción and Forced Urbanism

Geraldine Heng
Geraldine Heng  |  Abstract
Globalization is the name for a twenty-first-century phenomenon where new technologies, new modes of transnational labor and industry, and political-economic interdependencies have linked the world into an intricately intermeshed whole. Yet globalism itself is a centuries-old phenomenon. World systems theorists emphasize the economic, rather than the cultural and social, and while they have formulated models of an economically interlinked world in the modern era, the globalism of earlier periods is still insufficiently understood. “Early Globalities” studies early sociocultural globalisms. It begins by telling the story of far-flung human voyaging and early industrialization in China through a ninth-century Arab dhow and its cargo; then traces the story of the Buddha from India to the West, where the Buddha transmogrifies into two Christian saints; and concludes with an examination of two global slave races, the Mamluks of Egypt and the Romani.

Associate Professor, English, Middle Eastern Studies, and Women's and Gender Studies, University of Texas at Austin  -  Early Globalities: The Interconnected World, 500-1500

Bharat Jayram Venkat
Bharat Jayram Venkat  |  Abstract
What does it mean to be cured, and what does it mean for a cure to come undone? In 2011, the first cases of "incurable" tuberculosis were identified in India, inciting speculations that a limit had been reached—a limit to an antibiotic cure, and, potentially, to the antibiotic era. Drawing on historical and ethnographic research on tuberculosis treatment in India, this project enters into conversations about the potential futures of therapy in a post-antibiotic world. Rather than assuming a singular understanding of cure, this work analyzes its metamorphoses across colonial and postcolonial histories of medicine, culture, and politics in order to argue that cure itself is a mutable concept.

Assistant Professor, Anthropology, University of Oregon  -  India after Antibiotics: Tuberculosis at the Limits of Cure

Matthew Howard Hersch
Matthew Howard Hersch  |  Abstract
In 1972, the Nixon administration chose the space shuttle to be the United States’ next achievement in space because it was the least objectionable option of those considered. The orbital spaceplane satisfied diverse constituencies—from scientists to military leaders—who saw in the shuttle’s huge, empty cargo bay a vessel to contain their diverse ambitions. To its advocates, the shuttle would be the first step in the democratization of space travel; for those women and men who flew it, though, the shuttle would prove both a blessing and a curse. This project seeks to understand the legacy of this new space transportation infrastructure, and the transformation of US space labor during the space shuttle era. The story of NASA’s space shuttle is a complex narrative of the increasing globalization of big-budget technoscience and the commodification of space travel, offering powerful lessons for the future of space exploration.

ACLS Oscar Handlin Fellow
Assistant Professor, History of Science, Harvard University  -  Abort to Orbit

Mary Weismantel
Mary Weismantel  |  Abstract
The ancient Moche of Peru, from 150-850 CE, left a legacy of technically virtuosic, engaging, and beautiful objects of ceramic art. Some are explicitly sexual: bottles in the form of genitalia and modeled and painted figures engaged in an astonishing variety of sex acts. This important corpus of non-Western art brings together two disparate disciplines, sexuality studies and pre-Columbian studies, and poses provocative questions for decolonial and new materialist theory. As the products of societies that were violent and unequal, yet indigenous and animist, they complicate a vision of precapitalist ontologies. As complexly signifying things that are not texts, they demand a decolonized methodology of playing rather than reading. Above all, they display a form of relational sociality among different kinds of bodies—ceramic; fleshly and watery; human and nonhuman; living and dead; and even the viewer’s own eyes, hands, and mouths.

Professor, Anthropology, Northwestern University  -  An Archaeology of Sex: The Moche Sex Pots

Nancy J. Hirschmann
Nancy J. Hirschmann  |  Abstract
Disabled people are often considered by definition as extremely limited in their freedom because they are supposedly unable to do a wide variety of things. Examining political theories of freedom from the seventeenth century to the twenty-first and comparing them to concrete experiences of disability written by scholars in a wide range of disciplines, this project argues that disability facilitates a reimagining of what freedom means on a variety of levels, from what counts as an obstacle or barrier; to how desires are constructed, produced, and expressed; to the role of the body in the formation of the will. How relations of power shape the complex real-life experiences of disability is key to understanding the concept of freedom.

Professor, Political Science, University of Pennsylvania  -  Freedom, Power, and Disability

Sarah Ann Wells
Sarah Ann Wells  |  Abstract
This project analyzes the mutually conditioning relationship between cinema and work in Brazil as a lens into the shifting status, legitimacy, and value of labor on a global scale. Engaging debates in world cinema, labor studies, and cultural history, it charts two tendencies that emerged in the late 1970s and continue to inflect our current moment. In the first, a cycle of documentaries and fiction films sprung up to capture a wave of industrial strikes in São Paulo from 1978-1982, the largest in Latin American history. Yet this same moment also saw the emergence of a cinema of anti-work: an alternative current that questioned the political and moral value ascribed to labor. In tracing the legacy of both tendencies for contemporary film, “The Labor of Images” analyzes how, from the off-screen space of outsourced labor, Brazilian film troubles teleological narratives about the demise of both work and cinema in the present.

Assistant Professor, Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison  -  The Labor of Images: Work and its Discontents in Brazilian Cinema, 1975-Present

Rosario Hubert
Rosario Hubert  |  Abstract
“Disorientations” argues that the intellectual discussion of China in Latin America has not taken place within academia, but rather in a network of discourses around criticism, the literary market, fiction, and diplomacy. Instead of seeing this as a limitation, the project understands that the geographical distance from the object of study and the porous disciplinary boundaries at stake yield to a profound interrogation of both the hegemonic archive of the Orient and the effects of cultural epistemologies in general. By scrutinizing nineteenth-century ethnographies, modernist translations, Maoist print culture, concrete poetry, and contemporary narrative, this project gathers an unprecedented archive of China in Spanish and Portuguese, and proposes a comparative entryway into the study of Asia and Latin America.

Assistant Professor, Spanish and Portuguese, Trinity College (CT)  -  Disorientations. Writing China in Latin America

Caroline Wigginton
Caroline Wigginton  |  Abstract
“Indigenuity” traces how early American books appropriate and propagate Native knowledge about indigenous natural resources. Analyzing Native and Euro-American artifacts alongside travel narratives and decorative arts manuals, it argues that Native knowledge persists in the material of early American books. Here, the material of books is taken to be both imaginative and physical. In other words, books are both repositories of instruction and also—in their incorporation of natural dyes, plant fibers, and bespoke bindings—examples of that instruction being put to use. Still connected in their materiality to their Native roots, early American books retain indigeneity and are coextensive with a Native archive of texts and artifacts.

ACLS Carl and Betty Pforzheimer Fellow
Assistant Professor, English, University of Mississippi  -  Indigenuity: Native Craftwork and the Material of Early American Books

Maki Isaka
Maki Isaka  |  Abstract
This project examines female gidayû chanters in modern Japan, exploring their performance and its implications for theorizing gender, modernity, and membership. Gidayû, which is the storytelling component of traditional Japanese puppet theater, was traditionally performed by men, but women at times performed under men’s names and in men’s clothing. Around the turn of the twentieth century, when Western knowledge changed Japan’s epistemological milieu dramatically, some women practiced a feminized style of chanting. This chanting style reified the connection between femininity and women’s bodies, a connection that well accorded the new epistemological milieu, and became popular among people who were most likely to be subject to Western influence: elite male college students. Despite the style’s popularity and consistency with contemporary social thought, the success of these women was short-lived, and another type of female chanter who mastered masculinized elocution and performance survived. This project explores the counterintuitive collapse of feminized gidayû chanting and reversion to a masculinized style.

Professor, Asian Languages and Literatures, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities  -  Femmes Fatales, Honorary Men, and Muted Feminine Voices: Women's Gidayû-Music and Fandom in Modern Japan

Thomas A. Wilson
Thomas A. Wilson  |  Abstract
This is a study of the ancestral and official cults of Confucius in China. It examines the emergence of the ancestral cult in Confucius’s birthplace, the incorporation of rites devoted to Confucius into the imperial cult system, and subsequent changes in late imperial times from 960 to 1911. It shows that ancestral and imperial liturgies sought to establish connections between spirits invoked at the altar and their living patrons, though key details varied depending upon a particular rite’s location, its proximity to neighboring ritual spaces, and the person who consecrated the offering. This study concludes with a reexamination of the cult in light of the emergence of popular veneration of Confucius in China’s post-socialist order and contemporary practice in Taiwan.

supported in part by the Frederic E. Wakeman, Jr. Fund for Chinese History
Professor, History, Hamilton College  -  Historical Constructions and Ritual Formations of the Cult of Confucius

Christopher F. Jones
Christopher F. Jones  |  Abstract
How and why have economists come to calculate economic growth without accounting for finite planetary resources? Economists have not always abstracted the natural world from their analyses, nor have they always assumed infinite growth to be possible. This project examines how, when, and why the “dismal science” became so optimistic over the twentieth century, focusing on the ways economists developed theories of growth that paid little attention to energy and the environment. In doing so, this study recasts contemporary sustainability debates that frequently assume that the divisions between economics and ecologists are inevitable, rather than the product of historical choices.

Assistant Professor, History, Arizona State University  -  Immaterial Growth: Energy and Economics in the American Century

Andrew Zimmerman
Andrew Zimmerman  |  Abstract
“Conjuring Freedom” highlights the decisive role played by international black and white revolutionaries in the American Civil War. Departing from common accounts centered on national elites, it shows how transnational plebeian political cultures, particularly African-American conjure and German-American communism, turned a war to preserve the Union into a revolution against slavery. Even though Union authorities depended on this revolution from below for their early military successes, particularly in the West, they also regarded it as a threat to a status quo they wished to defend. This project not only recasts how we understand the Civil War but also provides a model for writing transnational history from below.

Professor, History, The George Washington University  -  Conjuring Freedom: A Global History of the Civil War

Samantha Kelly
Samantha Kelly  |  Abstract
This study focuses on a small group of Ethiopian Orthodox and European individuals in Rome who collaborated to disseminate knowledge about the Ethiopian language and Christian tradition for scholarly, political, and religious purposes. Based on Gǝ‘ǝz (Ethiopic) manuscripts and printed works as well as European documents, it frames these collaborations within the uneasy alliances and antagonisms among different Christian confessions—Catholic, Protestant, Ethiopian Orthodox, and Coptic—in the age of reformation, tracing the motives for and effects of the collaborators’ activity for both Europeans and Ethiopians.

Professor, History, Rutgers University-New Brunswick  -  Crucible of Christian Cultures: Ethiopian and European Scholars in Reformation Rome