Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellows

ACLS created the Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars to support scholars in the humanities and social sciences in the crucial years immediately following the granting of tenure, and to provide emerging leaders in their fields with the resources to pursue long-term, unusually ambitious projects. The 2020 cohort is the twenty-first and final for the program, which over the past two decades has supported nearly 275 scholars as they took up year-long residencies at independent research centers and universities.
The Burkhardt Fellowships are generously supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. They are named for the late Frederick Burkhardt, President Emeritus of ACLS, whose decades of work on The Correspondence of Charles Darwin constitute a signal example of dedication to a demanding and ambitious scholarly enterprise.

Read more about this fellowship program.

Please note: affiliations shown are as of time of award. Please click on fellows' names for current information.

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

Rita Chin
Rita Chin  |  Abstract
This project examines how leftist intellectuals, political parties, and grassroots organizations in Germany, Britain, and France have wrestled with questions of "difference" raised by the arrival of millions of migrants after 1945. It provides a history of the European Left's engagement with race and immigration and explains why some leftists have increasingly come to doubt the viability of multiethnic coexistence. Ultimately, this project traces the roots of an urgent problem confronting contemporary European society: the growing perception across the political spectrum that Muslim immigrants of diverse national origins constitute a fundamental threat to liberal democracy.

Associate Professor, History, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  The European Left and Postwar Immigration
For residence at the Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science during academic year 2010-2011

Brodwyn M. Fischer
Brodwyn M. Fischer  |  Abstract
This project explores the causes and consequences of the internal migrations that transformed Brazil from a rural to an urban nation in the century following slavery's abolition. It posits that Brazil’s 20th century history was profoundly shaped by the legal, economic, political, and cultural divides that separated (or were thought to separate) the countryside from the city, and that the rural-urban distinction sustained many of Brazil’s deepest racial and social inequalities. In this context, rural migrants’ efforts to claim and define urbanity constituted far more than individualistic stabs at social mobility. They were also an important part of much larger struggles over the nature of freedom, the reach of public power, and the contours of national culture in twentieth century Brazil.

Associate Professor, History, Northwestern University  -  Great Migrations: Emancipation and Urbanization in Brazil, 1888-1970
For residence at the Newberry Library during academic year 2010-2011

Denise Z. Davidson
Denise Z. Davidson  |  Abstract
This project uses familial correspondence to discuss the lives and views of three interrelated bourgeois families in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century France. It weaves the more theoretical components of the project—analysis of what it meant to be bourgeois, how gender played a role in the formation of class identities, and how emotional life overlapped with all the other arenas in which the men and women in these families acted and interacted—into the narrative, which recounts the fascinating stories told by these men and women in their letters. A work of social history, family history, and cultural history, the project contributes to our understanding of the concrete significance of the French Revolution and of identity construction as a process and set of practices.

Associate Professor, History, Georgia State University  -  Surviving Revolution: Bourgeois Families in France, 1780-1830
For residence at the National Humanities Center during academic year 2010-2011

Pamela Hieronymi
Pamela Hieronymi  |  Abstract
Some things are done, or at least are in our control, while others merely happen to, in, or around us. It is difficult to find a more momentous distinction. Yet there is no consensus about what marks it—indeed, there is little steady illumination in the area, at all. Current proposals model responsible mental activity on ordinary action. This project shows both why that model fails and develops a novel account of responsible mental activity, one modeled, instead, on the activity of answering a question. Though the project starts in moral philosophy, it aims to relate itself, usefully, to the methods and findings in philosophy of mind, empirical psychology, and the social sciences more generally. It thus aims to show how responsible human activity animates our psychology without being threatened by—indeed, while compatible with—the advance of science.

Associate Professor, Philosophy, University of California, Los Angeles  -  Activity and the Responsible Mind
For residence at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences during academic year 2011-2012

Lauren Robin Derby
Lauren Robin Derby  |  Abstract
This project explores devil pact narratives and the cultural impact of deforestation in the borderlands of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. It focuses on stories about a particularly feared genre of shape-shifting phenomena called bacá—imaginary beasts that steal farm animals, harvests, and cash. They may be seen as "embodied memories" of the montero economy which provided free access to the hunting of wild pigs, goats, and cattle in the densely forested interior for freedmen, one that sustained this region from the seventeenth century until the 1950s. Since there is a widespread belief that woods harbor spirits—the bacá for example is said to reside in the Mapou tree, and at times bacás present themselves as extinct species of trees as well as the feral boars which inhabited the mountains until slaughtered during the swine flu outbreak in 1980—they could thus be seen as ghosts of a now extinct ecosystem, that is, creatures who, once content as wood sprites and nymphs, have become unhinged since they were forced out of their natural habitat.

Associate Professor, History, University of California, Los Angeles  -  Boca del Chivo: Demonic Animals and the Poetics of Deforestation in the Haitian-Dominican Borderlands
For residence at the Huntington Library during academic year 2010-2011

Christopher Thomas Nelson
Christopher Thomas Nelson  |  Abstract
Haunted by memories of frustration and loss, how do Okinawans cope with the legacies of a brutal Japanese colonial era, the devastation of the Pacific War, and the long American military occupation? Caught up in networks of actors and practices, living and dead, visible and immaterial, how do they deal with powerful forces that are often beyond their control? Through an ethnography of shamans, landowners, bureaucrats, and ordinary people, this project considers the ways in which their actions, individual and collective, unconscious and reflexive, produce and reproduce the complexity and unevenness of their social world. It investigates the problems of trauma and madness, troubled relationships with the dead, loss of place, boredom, melancholy, and debt, both material and otherwise.

Associate Professor, Anthropology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  -  Dreaming of the Dragon King: Trauma, Madness, and Creative Action in Contemporary Japan
For residence at the National Humanities Center during academic year 2012-2013

Caroline Elkins
Caroline Elkins  |  Abstract
This study offers an intervention into the vast literature on British decolonization, re-examining imperial retreat through the lens of several counter-insurgency operations which Britain waged in its empire after 1945. Focusing attention on seven theaters of war, “Twilight” traces the evolution of counter-insurgency strategies—together with the movement of individuals who executed them—in the rapidly changing domestic and international contexts of the post-WWII era. This work argues that, rather than being epiphenomena of empire’s collapse, decolonization wars resulted from the intrinsic paradoxes that belied Britain’s imperial project in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Professor, History, Harvard University  -  Twilight: The End of the British Empire after the Second World War
For residence at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study during academic year 2012-2013

Henry S. Turner
Henry S. Turner  |  Abstract
This project locates the development of the “corporation” within several distinct but intersecting histories: the history of political theory and political institutions; the history of ethics; the history of economic thought; and the history of science, with a particular emphasis on how technology becomes a means of organizing and justifying forms of collective life. It traces the corporation from late-medieval theories of civic identity and kingship to the rise of the chartered company and the colonial plantations of the New World.

Associate Professor, English, Rutgers University-New Brunswick  -  The Corporate Commonwealth: Economy, Technology, and Political Community in Early Modern English Writing
For residence at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study during academic year 2012-2013

David C. Engerman
David C. Engerman  |  Abstract
This study explores the global dimensions of the Cold War by integrating the perspective of the Third World. Specifically, it traces India’s efforts, under leaders from Jawaharlal Nehru to Indira Gandhi, to navigate between divergent Cold War visions in pursuit of Indian dreams of economic and political modernity. Examining new archival sources on Soviet and American efforts to bring India into closer alliance, the project also incorporates insights of the Subaltern School and its reconceptualization of postcolonial state-building. It builds on scholarship from various subfields of history, political science, and economics to present a new approach to understanding the global implications of American-Soviet conflict in the latter half of the twentieth century.

Associate Professor, History, Brandeis University  -  The Global Politics of the Modern: India and the Three Worlds of the Cold War
For residence at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study during academic year 2012-2013