ACLS Fellows

The ACLS Fellowship Program awards fellowships to individual scholars working in the humanities and related social sciences. Institutions and individuals have contributed 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 Arcadia Charitable Trust, the Council's college and university Associates, and former Fellows and individual friends of ACLS.

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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. 

Elizabeth Anderson
Elizabeth Anderson  |  Abstract
This project aims to develop a theory of how people can improve their moral beliefs through experiments in living and knowledge-enhancing practices of contention or interpersonal claim-making. This theory is developed through case studies in the history of contention over slavery and emancipation, mostly in the US, using work in social and moral psychology on cognitive biases and the influence of social situations on value judgments. The result will be a pragmatist, naturalized moral epistemology in the social contract tradition.

Professor, Philosophy, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  Moral Epistemology from a Pragmatist Perspective: Case Studies from the History of Abolition and Emancipation

Kathleen S. Murphy
Kathleen S. Murphy  |  Abstract
This project is the first book-length study to examine the intersection of the history of science and the history of the British slave trade. It explores how the circulation of objects, ideas, and individuals through the networks of the slave trade engendered new scientific knowledge between 1660 and 1807. It argues that the particularities of the British slave trade shaped the knowledge produced through its networks and that scientific knowledge, in turn, influenced the development of the slave trade. To do so, this project mines scientific treatises, slaving companies' records, and correspondence to tell the stories of British slaving and science largely absent from the existing scholarship. The deeply intertwined histories of science and the slave trade reveals how issues of race, commerce, and colonialism shape science, both in the early modem world and in our own.

Assistant Professor, History, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo  -  Slaving Science: Natural Knowledge and the British Slave Trade, 1660-1807

Andrea S. Bachner
Andrea S. Bachner  |  Abstract
This project explores the rich history of cultural contact, exchange, and affinity between Latin American and Chinese cultures from the late nineteenth century to today. It focuses on transpacific patterns of circulation between two regions that have long been “peripheral” to a Western-centric perspective, in spite of their vibrant cultural, literary, and aesthetic productions. By pushing cultural comparison beyond the axes of East and West and North and South, by questioning the dichotomy of centers and margins, by espousing a bilateral and multi-perspectival approach, this project remaps the global trajectories of cultural expressions. As a challenge to basic assumptions of comparison and (in)commensurability, it formulates an intercultural ethics of comparative cultural analysis.

Assistant Professor, Comparative Literature, Asian Studies, Pennsylvania State University  -  Comparison at the Margins: Latin America and the Sinophone World

Susan D. Murray
Susan D. Murray  |  Abstract
This project investigates the commercial, scientific, and cultural discourses through which the technology and perception of electronic color took shape from the 1920s through the 1960s, and in doing so, positions color television as central to the broader history of twentieth century visual culture. It argues that the development of color television was the first deliberate attempt at developing an advanced aesthetics for television and that color technology was a site of great anxiety and tension for the industry—not just in terms of who would ultimately win the "color war," but more essentially than that, over what television was supposed to do and to be.

Associate Professor, Media, Culture and Communication, New York University  -  Brought to You in Living Color: A Cultural History of Color Television

Selim Berker
Selim Berker  |  Abstract
There exists a consequentialist consensus in contemporary epistemology: the dominant approach is to explain what we ought to believe in terms of the promotion of certain outcomes, such as true belief. This is surprising given that, in contemporary ethics, consequentialist accounts of what we ought to do are hotly contested. This project has three aims. First, it diagnoses and then argues against the pervasive tendency toward consequentialist theories in recent epistemology. Second, it develops a novel form of coherentism shorn of the consequentialist assumptions usually accompanying such theories. Third, it uses this proposal to offer a non-circular vindication of appeals to intuition in philosophy, something that, it is argued, can only be done if we reject epistemic consequentialism.

Assistant Professor, Philosophy, Harvard University  -  The Rejection of Epistemic Consequentialism

Matthew O'Hara
Matthew O'Hara  |  Abstract
Historians and other humanists have spent a great deal of energy studying historical legacies. The notion that “the past weighs heavily on the present” is now a standard mode of analysis in the humanities. Moving beyond this paradigm, this project turns our attention to the more common, but overlooked historical practices of "futuremaking" and the management of risk. This study examines how Mexicans thought about, planned for, and manipulated a future full of risk from the mid colonial period into the early republic, roughly 1650-1850. This project offers scholars a more robust model for the study of time experience. It also takes Mexico's and Latin America's past, and past futures, on their own terms, rather than viewing them through a prism of relative underdevelopment.

Associate Professor, History, University of California, Santa Cruz  -  The History of the Future in Mexico

Deborah A. Boehm
Deborah A. Boehm  |  Abstract
This ethnographic project studies the notion of return through research about north-south migration and the deportation of Mexican nationals from the United States. Guiding questions consider how to theorize return, the ways that nation-states orchestrate removals, and what it means to individuals and families when transnational subjects go back to a place after a long absence or “return” to a location where they have never been. The research offers new theoretical perspectives on the production of illegality, return migration, and family across borders. Through the study of movement that disrupts expected migration flows, the project revisits and reframes approaches to transnationalism.

Assistant Professor, Anthropology and Gender, Race, and Identity, University of Nevada, Reno  -  Return(ed): Transnational Mexicans in an Age of Deportation

Kevin Lewis O'Neill
Kevin Lewis O'Neill  |  Abstract
This study explores the intersection of God and gangs in Guatemala by tracking Christianity’s participation in an ever expanding regional security apparatus. With transnational criminal organizations on the rise, amid unprecedented rates of street crime, Pentecostal and charismatic pastors intervene in the lives of at-risk youth for the sake of both security and salvation. How does this intervention recalibrate the moral contours of security itself? What kind of people does it produce? These questions, pursued by way of extended fieldwork, bring a new perspective to Christianity’s relationship with one of today’s foundational concepts of international order: security.

Assistant Professor, Study of Religion, University of Toronto  -  Securing the Soul: Christianity and Delinquency in Guatemala

Katherine Brading
Katherine Brading  |  Abstract
Recent scholarship challenges the long-standing view among philosophers that Newton-as-philosopher can be largely disregarded. The primary goal of this project is to make a major contribution to this re-assessment. Newton’s contributions to philosophy are much deeper and richer than has hitherto been appreciated. Beginning with general philosophical questions concerning the nature and composition of the material world, and related questions concerning how we obtain knowledge of this world, this project demonstrates the depth of Newton’s philosophical engagement and the philosophical novelty of his solutions. By following his proposals through into contemporary philosophy and physics, it shows the importance of his solutions and re-integrates Newton into the history of philosophy as told today.

Associate Professor, Philosophy, University of Notre Dame  -  Theoretical Physics as a Contribution to Philosophy

Corinne O. Pache
Corinne O. Pache  |  Abstract
This project examines the reception of the heroine Penelope in twentieth and twenty-first century literature and film. Interest in Penelope has seen an extraordinary revival in the past one hundred years or so, as artists—many of them women—have turned their attention to the Odyssey. Some rewritings of the Penelope myth are explicitly inspired by Homer, while others explore the theme of a woman’s homecoming without overtly connecting their plots to the epic original. Whether the influence of Homer’s Penelope is openly recognized or the result of unconscious processes, it is at once profound and pervasive. This will be the first book to explore the ancient heroine’s modern manifestations.

Associate Professor, Classical Studies, Trinity University  -  Remembering Penelope

Mary Katherine Campbell
Mary Katherine Campbell  |  Abstract
In 1890, the Mormon church relinquished polygamy and began the process of becoming a mainstream American faith. This book examines this religious transformation through the work of the Mormon artist Charles Ellis Johnson, 1857–1926. One of the LDS church's favorite photographers, Johnson also specialized in erotic stereoviews of women. This project reveals the complicated ways in which Johnson's Utah souvenir albums presented the newly monogamous Mormons as a refined, wholesome people while his risqué views soothed the country's remaining anxieties by transforming the Saints from an actual political threat into a seductive dream of masculine freedom. As such, the project explores the potent fantasies of sex, manhood, and power that polygamy activated for Mormons and non-Mormons alike.

Assistant Professor, Art History, University of Tennessee, Knoxville  -  Mormon Porn: Charles Ellis Johnson's Stereographic Sinners and Latter-day Saints

Sue Peabody
Sue Peabody  |  Abstract
This social biography of an enslaved family in the Indian Ocean World between 1750 and 1850 examines the transition from slavery to emancipation from a personalized perspective heretofore neglected: that of the people who lived in France’s empire. The book uses the tumultuous, riveting, and unusually well-documented story of one enslaved family over two generations as a lens through which to understand the historical changes that connected India, Madagascar, East Africa, France, Britain, and the Mascarenes from the mid-eighteenth through the mid-nineteenth centuries, particularly with respect to slavery and freedom.

Professor, History, Washington State University  -  Slavery and Emancipation in the Indian Ocean World: A Family Biography

Catherine Cangany
Catherine Cangany  |  Abstract
This project investigates the market, commodities, producers, suppliers, vendors, and consumers of spurious merchandise in early Anglo-America. It examines three categories of common, portable counterfeits—porcelain/wampum, alcohol/medicines, and currency/silver plate—in three settings: Boston and its ties to France, New York and its ties to the Netherlands, and Charleston and its ties to Spain. In so doing, this project aims to recover part of the considerable underground economy, the portion of the commercial sector either not subject to or in violation of taxation and regulation. It reclaims forgotten commercial actors and networks and downplays the primacy of mercantilism to emphasize individualism, defined by counterfeits' propensity to subvert legal commerce for personal gain. Given that the underground economy constituted half of all economic transactions, individualism may have been the more important commercial doctrine in this period, a full century earlier than most scholarship suggests.

Assistant Professor, History, University of Notre Dame  -  An Empire of Fakes: Counterfeit Goods in Eighteenth-Century America

Gustav Peebles
Gustav Peebles  |  Abstract
This book project provides a thorough history of the little studied estate planning industry, by revealing important similarities between the debtors’ prison and offshore financial center. Both the 19th century prison and the 21st century offshore financial center have allowed for a bifurcation of credit and debt into separate legal jurisdictions, thereby generating arguments among proponents and opponents over what Albert Hirschman long ago referred to as “exit.” Are “high-net-worth individuals” reducing their tax burdens, or has cross-border trade merely grown so much in the past 30-40 years that the neutrality provided by offshore financial centers has become vital to the flow of capital? By carefully studying the arguments, techniques—and ultimately—reforms that concerned the debtors’ prisons, we can put important debates about the offshore finance center in a new light.

Assistant Professor, Social Sciences, The New School  -  Debtors’ Prisons and Debtors’ Paradises: The Laws and Flaws of Estate Planning Through the Ages

Huey Copeland
Huey Copeland  |  Abstract
This book examines the negress—a key figure within Western artistic production—in order to newly interpret the practices that have both shaped the visual predication of black femininity and constituted modern aesthetic form from the nineteenth century to the present. While several scholars have commented on the significance of racial and sexual difference for avant-garde innovation and others have begun to explore the visual history of black womanhood, this project moves between and beyond these discourses to actively theorize the role that figurations of African and African diasporic femininity have played in art-making of the last two centuries. In so doing, it will wend its way through a range of periods and practitioners in narrating a racially integrated, gender-balanced, and transnational history of modern art.

Associate Professor, Art History, Northwestern University  -  In the Arms of the Negress: A Brief History of Modern Artistic Practice

Joanna M. Picciotto
Joanna M. Picciotto  |  Abstract
This project explores an ecological discourse that flourished in Restoration and eighteenth-century England: "physico-theology," which read "the book of nature" as a testament to the wisdom and benevolence of its divine author. It demonstrates that the literature of physico-theology approached reading nature as an exercise in sympathetic identification, promoting habits of thought that were suited to the new prose fiction. It also reveals physico-theology's links to the emergent discourse of political economy. The project approaches physico-theology not merely as a set of arguments but as an affective and imaginative devotional practice: an imitatio Christi modeled on the kenosis rather than the crucifixion.

Associate Professor, English, University of California, Berkeley  -  "Union without End": The Physico-Theological Vision

Suzanne G. Cusick
Suzanne G. Cusick  |  Abstract
This project uses the rich documentation of a 1620 scandal involving a nobleman and a singing nun to explore the interaction of aural culture—specifically, gendered modes of aurality and vocality—with the erotic and political life of early modern Florence.

Professor, Music, Faculty of Arts and Science, New York University  -  Men Hearing Women in Medicean Florence

Hilary Poriss
Hilary Poriss  |  Abstract
Pauline Viardot was a unique figure in the history of nineteenth-century music. An opera singer, composer, and teacher, she was considered a genius by her contemporaries. The past fifteen years have witnessed a sweeping revival of interest in her life and career that has resulted in numerous performances and recordings of her compositions. And yet there has been little scholarship devoted to her creative and compositional achievements, and no large-scale work that compares in intellectual rigor to studies that focus on her male contemporaries. Drawing on archival materials, journalistic reviews, epistolary sources, and musical works, this project offers a critical reassessment of Viardot’s impact as a performer, composer, pedagogue, and cultural icon on nineteenth-century culture.

Associate Professor, Music, Northeastern University  -  Writing a Musical Life: Pauline Viardot

Micaela di Leonardo
Micaela di Leonardo  |  Abstract
Scholars and journalists writing about American media and the United States public sphere have nearly entirely ignored a black media giant: the 18-year-old syndicated drive-time radio show, the Tom Joyner Morning Show, which reaches more than eight million listeners daily. Grown Folks Radio is a study of the show—its history, audience, aesthetics, politics and humor—and of its shifting role in African American media and the larger US public sphere. Using eight years of media ethnography research, this project explores the reasons for TJMS’s relative invisibility, investigates the mediatized black counterpublic it has been instrumental in creating, and considers the ways in which attending to this media phenomenon reframes our understandings of race, class, and age in our by no means yet “postracial” America.

Professor, Anthropology, Northwestern University  -  Grown Folks Radio: The Black Elephant in the American Public Sphere

Russell Powell
Russell Powell  |  Abstract
The prospect of human genetic engineering (HGE) raises distinct evolutionary issues with ethical ramifications that have not been systematically explored. Although bioethicists have appealed to evolutionary considerations in recommending prohibitions of HGE, these appeals are often based on an incomplete understanding of the biological concepts and empirical issues at stake, relying on flawed metaphors about organisms, genomes, evolutionary processes, and their interrelations that misinform ethical and regulatory treatments of HGE. The proposed monograph goes beyond surface metaphors to develop a rich, novel account of the metaphysical, epistemic and ethical dimensions of the new biosciences and their implications for the future of humanity.

Assistant Professor, Philosophy, Boston University  -  Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity: A Philosophical Exploration of the Biotechnology Revolution

Lawrence Robert Douglas
Lawrence Robert Douglas  |  Abstract
The death of John Demjanjuk in a Bavarian nursing home in March 2012 brought to an end the most convoluted and lengthy case to arise from the crimes of the Holocaust. Demjanjuk’s legal odyssey began in 1977, when American prosecutors filed a motion to strip the Ukrainian-born émigré of his US citizenship. It reached a conclusion of sorts in May 2011, when a German court convicted the 91-year-old defendant of assisting the SS in the murder of 28,060 Jews at Sobibor, a death camp in eastern Poland. This project situates Demjanjuk’s Munich trial within Germany’s larger troubled history of attempts to punish those responsible for the crimes of the Holocaust.

Professor, Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought, Amherst College  -  The End of Something: Demjanjuk in Munich

David M. Robinson
David M. Robinson  |  Abstract
This project looks at how successor states in Eurasia dealt with the legacy of the Mongol empire, focusing most especially on the Ming court of China, 1368-1644. It explores how the Ming court vilified the fallen Mongol rulers at the same time that the court attempted to cash in on the prestige of the mighty Mongol empire and its institutions. Seeing the Ming court as one of several successor states across Eurasia, including the Timurids, Mughals, Rus, and smaller polities in Central Asia gives us a better sense of China’s place in the early modern world and moves us away from misleading ideas about Chinese isolation or exceptionalism.

Professor, History, Colgate University  -  Empire's Shadow: The Ming Court in Eurasia

Andrew Elfenbein
Andrew Elfenbein  |  Abstract
The historical study of readers has long faced a stumbling block: the difficulty of describing just what readers do while reading. This project will provide scholars for the first time with models and vocabulary for describing the reading strategies and mental processes of nineteenth-century readers. These arguments arise from years of course work, empirical collaboration, and research presentations with scientists and educators who study reading, as well as extensive archival research and database-building using sources that have only recently become accessible. Combining archival work, literary criticism, and scientific findings, this project will provide a new history of reading practices and unfamiliar ways of understanding familiar evidence.

Professor, English, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities  -  The Gist of Reading

Heather F. Roller
Heather F. Roller  |  Abstract
This book-length project examines the political choices of independent Indians in the interior of Brazil during the eighteenth century. Focusing on their interactions with Portuguese colonial society, this study explores the ways in which Indian nations sought to preserve their sovereignty through various forms of contact, and how these strategies changed over time in response to shifting provocations or overtures by colonists. The challenges of getting at the perspectives and aims of independent Indians are formidable, because they did not keep their own written records. Despite these limitations, important insights about native political strategies can be reached through a critical reading of the rich documentary record on borderlands conflicts and interactions in Brazil.

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow
Assistant Professor, History, Colgate University  -  Contact Strategies: Independent Indians in the Brazilian Borderlands, 1700-1800

Jacob Eyferth
Jacob Eyferth  |  Abstract
For decades after the 1949 revolution, people in rural China still wore homespun cloth and millions of rural women continued to spend large parts of their waking hours producing cloth and clothing. This is puzzling because the state opposed manual cloth production on the grounds that it was wasteful of labor and raw materials. Moreover, a state monopoly should have ensured that all cotton ended up in the hands of the state. Yet handloom cloth survived, in part because its production was integrated with gender norms and with a gift economy that prescribed ritual exchanges at life cycle events; in part because the existence of interlocking scarcities of grain, cash, cotton, and cloth forced rural people to sell state-issued rations and make cloth from whatever cotton they could find.

supported in part by the Frederic E. Wakeman, Jr. Fund for Chinese History
Associate Professor, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago  -  Cotton, Gender, and Revolution: The Political Economy of Handloom Cloth in Maoist China

Daromir Rudnyckyj
Daromir Rudnyckyj  |  Abstract
Recent financial crises around the globe have precipitated renewed enthusiasm across the Muslim world for an Islamic alternative to conventional finance. This project is an ethnographic investigation of ambitious plans in contemporary Malaysia to develop the infrastructure necessary to create a transnationally valid Islamic financial system. The project documents the debates among government planners, Islamic scholars, bankers, and others as the state seeks to make the country’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, the “New York of the Muslim world”: the central node in a transnational Islamic financial network. The project asks whether Islamic finance offers an alternative economic rationality to conventional capitalism or whether it simply represents a translation of homo economicus into Islamic idioms.

Associate Professor, Pacific and Asian Studies, University of Victoria  -  Homo Economicus or Homo Islamicus?: Malaysia and the Globalization of Islamic Finance

Hussein Fancy
Hussein Fancy  |  Abstract
Over the course of the late thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the heart of what is known as the Spanish Reconquest, thousands of Muslim soldiers from North Africa entered the service of the Christian Crown of Aragon. These soldiers served in far-flung armies across the Mediterranean as well as in the court, as the king's personal protectors. Grounded in over four years of extensive research in Latin, Arabic, and Romance archives in Spain and North Africa, this manuscript project offers a thorough examination of this virtually unknown alliance. Rather than marking the collapse of religious boundaries, the triumph of tolerance over intolerance, it argues that this history of interaction paradoxically served to reinscribe and reproduce religious difference.

Assistant Professor, History, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  Mercenary Logic: Muslim Soldiers in the Service of the Crown of Aragon, 1265-1374

D. Fairchild Ruggles
D. Fairchild Ruggles  |  Abstract
Shajar al-Durr of thirteenth century Egypt was a rare case of a woman ruler, and her distinctive architectural patronage changed the face of Cairo and had a lasting impact on Islamic architecture. Rising from slave origins, Shajar al-Durr became concubine, wife, and regent for the Ayyubid Sultan Salih, and ultimately was appointed as the legitimate ruler after his untimely death. In architectural history, her patronage was innovative because of the tombs that she added to his madrasa (theological college) and her own, thereby transforming those institutions into commemorative monuments. For the first time, an architectural complex was empowered to stand for the founder himself, visibly and unforgettably manifest in the tomb’s high dome, rising above the urban skyline.

Professor, Landscape Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign  -  Shajar al-Durr: The Extraordinary Architectural Patronage of a 13th-Century Egyptian Slave-Queen

Kenneth A. Fones-Wolf
Kenneth A. Fones-Wolf  |  Abstract
This project examines how evangelical Protestantism shaped workers’ reception to organized labor’s most ambitious effort to transform the US South and broaden the scope of historical inquiry into one of the most perplexing questions facing labor historians: why is the South so nonunion? Explanations include paternalism, employer opposition, racism, and union timidity. Each of these contributed. This study will examine these factors through the lens of workers’ faiths. How did the sacred shape attitudes about the liberal state, international unions, interactions with employers, and race relations? This study is the first to put religion at the center of an inquiry into how southerners wrestled with the options available to them during this crucial period.

Professor, History, West Virginia University  -  Struggle for the Soul of the Post-World War II South: Evangelical Protestantism, White Workers, and the CIO’s Operation Dixie

Andrea Rusnock
Andrea Rusnock  |  Abstract
This project presents a fundamentally new history of the birth of smallpox vaccination. It explores the material culture of vaccination by focusing on how cowpox was identified, cultivated, and transported to various environments around the world: from the dairies of rural England where Edward Jenner first found cowpox, to the urban hospitals of London and Paris where the bodies of children and the poor were used in clinical trials and for supplies of cowpox lymph, to colonial settlements where harsh climates compromised the quality of the vaccine. The project traces the exchange of information, illustrations, artifacts, and the vaccine itself among entrepreneurial doctors, clergy, military and colonial bureaucrats, and especially women – as patrons, mothers, and vaccinators – a significant group hitherto ignored by scholars.

Professor, History, University of Rhode Island  -  The Birth of Vaccination: An Environmental History

Glenda E. Gilmore
Glenda E. Gilmore  |  Abstract
This project examines four generations of the African American artist Romare Bearden's family. Although grounded in historical research, it also interrogates the African American imaginary by using Bearden's artworks as an alternative archive. He called his work "the homeland of my imagination," and this project’s analysis is neither purely biographical nor purely art historical. Thinking about Bearden's art as an archive offers a unique perspective on the history, memory, and collective imagination of black southerners who migrated to the North. They took with them a geography of the mind.

Professor, History, Yale University  -  A Homeland of His Imagination: Romare Bearden’s Southern Odyssey in Time and Space

Priya Satia
Priya Satia  |  Abstract
This project uses the British gun industry to investigate the relationship between eighteenth-century war and industrial revolution. The hypothesis is that state demand critically shaped industrialism and that contemporaries were alive to that relationship. The project focuses on the Galton firm of Birmingham, the largest gun firm serving the state and private custom, including slave traders. As Quakers, the Galtons wrestled publicly with the ethics of gun-making, illuminating contemporary notions about war and the economy. The trade's ties to other industrial and financial enterprises and the gun's particular role in property crime also suggest deep ties between eighteenth-century war and economy. This project uses cultural and quantitative techniques, from representations of guns in travel accounts to data on government purchases.

Associate Professor, History, Stanford University  -  Guns: The British Imperial State and the Industrial Revolution

Michel Gobat
Michel Gobat  |  Abstract
This study traces the history of the US empire that was built in Central America in the 1850s by William Walker and his band of approximately 10,000 settler colonists. While most of the colonists were US natives, many other were Europeans who had recently migrated to the United States. Walker’s empire engendered much hostility in Latin America and Europe. However, Walker was backed by many Central Americans who deemed his empire more democratic that their own nation-state. Drawing on research in US, Latin American, and European archives, this project brings non-US peoples and trans-Atlantic connections to the study of US ‘Manifest Destiny’ expansion and explicates its parallels with European liberal imperialism. Largely forgotten, Walker’s empire produced one of the first anti-US moments in world history.

Associate Professor, History, The University of Iowa  -  Forgotten Empire: US Manifest Destiny Expansion by Sea, 1848-1860

Leigh Eric Schmidt
Leigh Eric Schmidt  |  Abstract
The object of this research is to offer the first full history of atheists and nonbelievers in American public life. Central topics include: the legal and political standing of nonbelievers (their competence in court and ability to hold public office); the atheist, humanist, and secular specters in American schools and universities; the moral and political threats ostensibly posed by the irreligious (e.g., blasphemy,obscenity, and subversion); and the insistent visibility of freethinking provocateurs (whether as lecturers, cartoonists, publishers, magicians, or civil-liberties activists).

Professor, John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, Washington University in St. Louis  -  Public Atheism: An American History

Michael Gorham
Michael Gorham  |  Abstract
Will the rapid politicization of the internet in Russia lead to the formation of a more viable civil society, or simply degrade web-based civil discourse? Recent world events have shown that new media are neither “democratic” nor “authoritarian” by nature or design. Depending on a variety of factors, they have the capacity to both aid and suppress revolution. That said, Web 2.0 technologies have provided potent alternative means for civil expression in Russia, where Vladimir Putin has maintained tight control over print and broadcast media. This project offers the first book-length analysis of the rhetorical struggle for authority on the Russian internet and the role of Russian-language new media as a tool for political transformation and control.

Associate Professor, Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, University of Florida  -  Russia’s Digital Revolution: Language, New Media, and the (Un)making of Civil Society

Susan Schneider
Susan Schneider  |  Abstract
The mind-body problem is the central problem of the field of philosophy of mind. It is the problem of whether the mind, and thought, are ultimately physical, or if a complete theory of the mind demands resources that outrun the domain of science. Metaphysics is a subfield of philosophy that studies the fundamental nature of reality. The mind-body problem is clearly a metaphysical problem, and philosophy of mind originally grew out of metaphysics. But ironically, many current solutions to the problem are disconnected from commonly accepted ideas in contemporary metaphysics. The aim of this project is to rule out many of the popular solutions to the mind-body problem because they lack solid metaphysical credentials, and to develop a more plausible, metaphysically well-grounded, solution.

Associate Professor, Philosophy, University of Connecticut  -  The Mind-Body Problem: Rethinking the Solution Space

Lenore A. Grenoble
Lenore A. Grenoble  |  Abstract
This project examines the impact of Russian on indigenous languages of Eurasia which are undergoing shift and loss. It brings together the fields of contact linguistics and endangered languages, examining the kinds of linguistic changes that happen when a language is replaced by another. As a result of Russian expansion and Soviet language policies, a large number of Eurasian indigenous languages are under threat of extinction, providing a relatively unique opportunity to analyze linguistic change in process across a range of different languages, all being effected by Russian.

Professor, Slavic Languages and Literatures and Linguistics, University of Chicago  -  Contact-induced Change and Attrition: The Linguistic Impact of Russian

Jeffrey S. Selinger
Jeffrey S. Selinger  |  Abstract
America’s founders fully expected that political parties would form in a free society; they were far less certain, however, that parties, once formed, would peaceably transfer power one to the other. How did the expectation that parties would reliably transfer power emerge? The standard explanation assumes that the idea of a party system gained ground as the polity became more democratic. This study makes the case that the idea of a party system was most fully realized when the federal government secured a monopoly over the exercise of violence, laying to rest the danger that party opposition might lead to a secessionist crisis or civil war.

Assistant Professor, Government and Legal Studies, Bowdoin College  -  Making Parties Safe for Democracy: Political Development and the Lineage of Legitimate Party Opposition in the United States

Mark A. Healey
Mark A. Healey  |  Abstract
This project explores the remaking of landscape and making of state authority in two Argentine provinces, Mendoza and San Juan, examining the connections between large-scale water projects and social and political transformation.

Assistant Professor, History, University of Connecticut  -  Waterscapes of Power in the Dry Lands of Argentina, 1880-1980

Yaron Shemer
Yaron Shemer  |  Abstract
This work examines the place of the Jew in Arab cinema from the inception of the film industry in the Middle East in the 1920s to the present. It addresses issues of both representation, namely, the cinematic portrayal of the Jew in Arab films, and production, the role Jewish producers, directors, and actors have played in the Arab film industry. Attending to these interrelated aspects, the manuscript is designed to dispel facile binary oppositional claims about relations between Arabs and Jews in Arab lands. The analysis of films and cinema infrastructure offers a reading of “Arab-Jew” in Arab cinema not as a contradiction in terms, but as a nuanced, multilayered, and historically-specific construct.

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow
Assistant Professor, Asian Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  -  Neighboring Identities: The Jew in Arab Cinema

David R. Hernandez
David R. Hernandez  |  Abstract
This project is a two-volume publication reporting on the discovery and excavations of the Roman Forum at Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Albania. Constructed by Roman colonists in the time of Julius Caesar and Augustus, the forum was the political, commercial, and religious center of the ancient city. The excavations have revealed major public and religious buildings (stoas, temples, basilica) and have produced a rich depositional record that reflect the urban development of Butrint from its origins nearly 2,700 years ago to modern times. The condition of the paved open square and the remains of its buildings demonstrate that the forum at Butrint is one of the best preserved forums in the provinces of the Roman Empire.

Assistant Professor, Classics, University of Notre Dame  -  The Discovery and Excavation of the Roman Forum at Butrint (Albania): Urbanism in Ancient Epirus from the 7th Century B.C. to the 7th Century A.D.

Daniel A. Shore
Daniel A. Shore  |  Abstract
This book project uses searchable digital archives to trace the history of syntactic forms. Humanities scholars have produced countless histories of words and concepts as well as social and cultural contexts, but this project aims to add a previously overlooked object of study to this repertoire. Only with the recent development of large-scale, searchable digital archives like Google Books and Early English Books Online has it become possible to track the genesis, diffusion, and variation of syntactic forms across the full sweep of the textual past. Even as it retells the histories of syntactic forms, this project explores the new media that make these histories possible.

Assistant Professor, English, Georgetown University  -  Cyberformalism: The History of Syntactic Forms in the Digital Archive

Martha S. Jones
Martha S. Jones  |  Abstract
This project presents a new chapter in the history of US citizenship, one that turns on the status of free African Americans. On citizenship, the Constitution was silent. By the 1850s, an alternative jurisprudence had emerged. Lawmakers debated the status of free African Americans in legislatures. Black activists argued in political meetings and the press. In courthouses, judges wrestled with African American claims. Free black people used civil proceedings to carve out rights. The case, Dred Scott v. Sandford, has long substituted for an understanding of race, law, and citizenship in the 1850s. This book tells a new story about the terms of the 1866 Civil Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment. Contests over civil rights were not new in Reconstruction. Citizenship had been claimed, and sometimes won in the 1850s.

Associate Professor, History, Afro-American and African Studies, and Law, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  Overturning Dred Scott: Race, Rights and Citizenship in Antebellum America

Tracy Steffes
Tracy Steffes  |  Abstract
This project explores the city of Chicago and its diverse suburban landscape to analyze the role of public schooling in shaping metropolitan inequality and deepening its larger social consequences in postwar America. It asks three main questions: first, what role did the state play in structuring educational opportunity and inequality over time?; second, how did schooling, particularly these spatially located educational inequalities, shape and differentiate property value, politics, and local development strategies across the metropolitan landscape?; third, how did these metropolitan-wide patterns of educational inequality reshape the politics and ideology of American education and compound racial and social inequalities in an era of growing formal equality?

Assistant Professor, Education, Brown University  -  Shifiting Fortunes: City Schools and Suburban Schools in Metropolitan Chicago, 1945-2000

Lori Khatchadourian
Lori Khatchadourian  |  Abstract
This project on the archaeology of empire develops a theoretical approach that recognizes provincial subjects and material objects as participants in political reproduction. It assembles this approach by drawing together debates within archaeology, political and postcolonial thought, social theories of materiality, and political philosophy from ancient Persia (whence the word satrapy). Out of this encounter emerges the "satrapal condition," an archaeological concept for grappling with how non-colonial empires endure. This project explores the satrapal condition empirically through a study of built spaces and material objects in the Persian Empire's satrapy of Armenia. Research for this project includes extensive excavations in modern Armenia.

Assistant Professor, Near Eastern Studies, Cornell University  -  The Satrapal Condition: Archaeology and the Matter of Empire

Michael D. Swartz
Michael D. Swartz  |  Abstract
The project is a study on ritual discourse in ancient Judaism its relationship to religious professionalism the in Greco-Roman world in late antiquity. It is an effort to assess the degree to which religious professionalism was a phenomenon that permeated the culture of the ancient Mediterranean and influenced a variety of Hebrew and Aramaic religious texts outside the rabbinic canon. The project focuses on the proliferation of discourse on ritual in Judaism among liturgical poets from the second to the six century and studies how the role of these poets as ritual experts facilitated this discourse. It is also an examination of indicators of the social status and professional positions of the synagogue poets in relation to the rabbinic academies.

Professor, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, The Ohio State University  -  Ritual Theory and Religious Professionalism in Judaism in Late Antiquity

Ben F. Kiernan
Ben F. Kiernan  |  Abstract
This project involves writing a long-range environmental history of Cambodia, the first comprehensive study of the interactions between the Khmer people, their land, and their neighbors, including ethnic minority groups. It examines the evidence from prehistoric times to the present of the links between Cambodia’s inhabitants and the ecological landscape of the Mekong and Tonle Sap River basins and surrounding uplands. It also assesses their place in Southeast Asian and global transformations, using new approaches from environmental, comparative and world history to illuminate Cambodia’s cultural, economic and political life.

Professor, History, Yale University  -  Cambodia, A History: From Agriculture to Angkor to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

Jennifer Tappan
Jennifer Tappan  |  Abstract
This project examines the treatment and prevention of severe acute malnutrition in Uganda over nearly a century. It investigates how African engagement with nutrition science influenced shifting medical practice. Oral and archival sources illuminate the intersection between science and society from inter-war controversies over causation, through post-war expansion of development aid, to contemporary initiatives that continue in the shadow of adversity. Unintended and tragic health outcomes are explored as factors precipitating the development of a sustainable prevention program centered on empowering African women. Contrasting this approach with colonial efforts to reform motherhood enriches the history of women and gender in Africa and the history and anthropology of science and medicine.

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow
Assistant Professor, History, Portland State University  -  “A Healthy Child Comes From A Healthy Mother": Malnutrition and Motherhood in Uganda, 1920-2012

Mary A. Knighton
Mary A. Knighton  |  Abstract
This project contends that Japanese artistic and cultural production goes beyond Kafka in making the insect a paradigmatic and affect-rich figure for Japan's modern self, be it alienated or in tune with nature. This study pursues where, when, and how the insect has thrived in Japan's language and environment to such cultural saturation that, in significant instances, it has rearticulated how the modern Japanese self narrates its "I" in its national literature and film. The power of so-called posthuman studies in Japan derives from its ability to capture, in global terms, our intensely mediated animal selves plugged into media and natural environments, all the while posing new questions of our technological and ecological futures.

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow
Visiting Assistant Professor, Modern Languages and Literatures, College of William & Mary  -  Insect Selves: Posthumanism in Modern Japanese Literature and Culture

Edward Vazquez
Edward Vazquez  |  Abstract
Fred Sandback, 1943–2003, made sculpture between the concrete objecthood of minimal art and the material slightness of conceptualism. This book is the first complete study of Sandback’s work, and approaches his practice as a radical mixture of observation and measured physical intervention that not only unsettles traditional understandings of sculptural presence, but also stages an ethics of interaction between viewer and object. Arguing that Sandback’s practice reorients our understanding of sculptural materiality, this project posits Sandback’s work as a ghostlike, spectral presence that operates historically and critically to recast the terms of sculptural experience and material presence in creating physical situations that model a way of being in the world.

Assistant Professor, History of Art and Architecture, Middlebury College  -  Aspects: Fred Sandback's Sculpture

Vladimir Kulic
Vladimir Kulic  |  Abstract
The project explores the international exchange of architectural culture in the Cold War by focusing on socialist Yugoslavia, an unusual place that experienced both Sovietization and Americanization before settling in between as a leader of the non-aligned world. It examines Yugoslavia as a conduit of cultural transfer between the First, Second, and Third Worlds and analyzes how architectural representations typically associated with high modernism and postmodernism were persistently transformed and reassigned new meanings. It proposes that Yugoslavia participated in an alternative globalization, different from both the American and Soviet global projects, and that architecture opens a uniquely comprehensive view of the cultural, ideological, technological, and economic aspects of that process.

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow
Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, Florida Atlantic University  -  Building Between Empires: Yugoslav Architecture in the Cold War Networks

Elvira López Vilches
Elvira López Vilches  |  Abstract
Doing business examines the vibrant commercial culture that thrived with the 1500s commercial expansion, struggled in the 1600s, and rebounded in the late 1600s. Far-reaching trade brought new attitudes towards wealth, the common good, and learning that expanded well into the eighteenth century. This book demonstrates how practical modes of thinking created a shift in values from honor to business, trade, and money. In the epistemological moment the book describes, we find new ways of thinking about the relationship between theory, practice, and ethics that are typical of modernity: new methods to build and produce wealth, and new attitudes towards the importance of commerce and the state, as well as professional self-advancement, across the Hispanic world.

Associate Professor, Foreign Languages, North Carolina State University  -  Doing Business: Commerce and Mercantile Culture in the Early Modern Hispanic World

Regina G. Kunzel
Regina G. Kunzel  |  Abstract
This project explores the encounter of sexual- and gender-variant people with psychiatry in the mid-twentieth-century. US Psychiatry dominated the understanding and regulation of sexuality in this period, and many psychiatrists cast homosexuality and gender variance as forms of mental illness serious enough to warrant carceral institutionalization. Drawing on the archive of Saint Elizabeths Hospital, the federal hospital for the mentally ill in Washington, D.C., as well as on a collection of previously unexamined psychoanalytic case files, this project tracks the experience of psychiatric scrutiny and medicalization from the perspective of patients and argues for the importance of diagnoses and self-questioning about mental illness and norms of health in the making of modern sexuality.

Professor, History and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities  -  In Treatment: Mental Illness, Health, and Modern Sexuality

Margaret Waller
Margaret Waller  |  Abstract
Historians note that in late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Europe, the suit became a specifically male form of power dressing—a supposed repudiation of “feminine” exhibitionism. This project explores for the first time the careers, reputations, and wardrobes of men who preached the ‘Great Masculine Renunciation’ but did not always practice it: the clergymen who insisted on dolling up their cassocks; the men who invented the fashion magazine as a genre “for women”; the defrocked priest who reigned over ‘la mode’ for decades; and Napoleon, famous for his disdain for fashion, who nevertheless kept thirty-eight of his signature, two-cornered beaver hats in his wardrobe. The book shows how closets and closeting have long been integral, rather than antithetical, to contemporary norms of masculinity and relates this phenomenon to the exercise of modern power more generally.

Professor, Romance Languages and Literatures, Pomona College  -  Napoleon's Closet: The Emperor, the Clergy and the Fashion Press

Jane Landers
Jane Landers  |  Abstract
This book traces the evolution of maroon communities in the Iberian Atlantic from their earliest forms as African kingdoms through their last vestiges as free black towns. It builds on more than twenty years of archival research and on archaeological investigations of African sites in the Americas. In the sixteenth century, escaped slaves created virtual monarchies in the wild. In the seventeenth centur, Atlantic Creoles represented themselves as a "Republic" analogous to that of Spaniards and Indios. This previously unrecognized political development came when the impracticability of the so-called "Dual Republic" was already obvious. That slave descendants laid successful claim to the civic values associated with a "república y común" facilitated their formation into free black towns in the eighteenth century.

Professor, History, Vanderbilt University  -  African Kingdoms, Black Republics, and Free Black Towns across the Iberian Atlantic

Roxann Wheeler
Roxann Wheeler  |  Abstract
This project analyzes residual, dominant, and emergent languages in eighteenth-century British and West Indian writing to recover poorly understood connections between servants and slaves. Writers of various ranks, religious affiliations, and locales resisted equating British servants and laborers with West Indian slaves even as they found the overlap in their plights impossible to avoid, particularly after midcentury. This tension partially arises from the clash of distinctive views of free versus unfree labor and varied psychologies of power relations in five contemporary languages: the passions, natural rights, sentiment, racial colorblindness, and slang. This project aims to recover several strands of racism, some of which derive from class-based assumptions about workers’ bodies, emotions, and minds.

Associate Professor, English, The Ohio State University  -  Slaves, Servants, and British Literature, 1660-1830

Marixa Lasso
Marixa Lasso  |  Abstract
Between 1912 and 1914, entire Panamanian towns located in the ten miles of American territory bordering the canal were dismantled. Owners of houses and shops were forced to abandon their towns, while peasants and wealthy landowners were compelled to relinquish their lands. In three years, 40,000 people were expelled from the Zone. In this way, a four-hundred-years-old commercial route dotted with towns and traversed by roads was transformed in idyllic tropical landscape, in which the jungle served as background to manicured suburban towns that were physically and culturally disconnected from Panama's rich urban past. For all the excellent books that have been written about the Panama Canal, no scholar has told the history of this enormous transformation as this project will.

Associate Professor, History, Case Western Reserve University  -  Building La Zona: Landscaping Urban Development in the Panama Canal Zone, 1904-1914

David Conan Wolfsdorf
David Conan Wolfsdorf  |  Abstract
In the last fifty years, a number of philosophers have criticized modern moral theories, especially Kantianism and utilitarianism, and attempted to defend neo-Greek ethical theories in their place. This project aims to assess and advance this discussion. The project has three stages. The first stage focuses on the question: "what is morality?" In other words, what is the conception of morality or what conceptions of morality are central to modern moral theories? Stage two will apply this answer to the preceding question to Platonic, Aristotelian, Epicurean, and Stoic ethical theories. Stage three will discuss the significance of the results of stage two for a satisfactory practical theory.

Associate Professor, Philosophy, Temple University  -  Greek Eudaimonism and Modern Morality

Georg B. Michels
Georg B. Michels  |  Abstract
This study is both a microhistory of a 1672 popular revolt on the Hungarian border between the Habsburg and Ottoman empires, and an exploration of preconditions leading to a major shift in power in Central Europe. It reassesses the current historical interpretation that Hungarian nobles instigated the revolt to defend constitutional rights against Habsburg absolutism. This interpretation misses the revolt’s most striking features: rebels’ close ties with the Ottomans, their rootedness in popular milieux, and religious opposition to the Counter-Reformation. Based on multi-lingual archival data, this project reconstructs a multi-ethnic (Hungarian-Slav-German) and multi-confessional (Protestant-Orthodox) border society poised to secede from the Habsburg Empire and trigger a war of world historical importance.

Professor, History, University of California, Riverside  -  Popular Revolt, Religion, and the Habsburg-Ottoman Border in Seventeenth-Century Hungary

Xiaoshan Yang
Xiaoshan Yang  |  Abstract
Classical Chinese poetry reached its golden age in the Tang dynasty. From the second half of the eleventh century onward, Song poets exhibited a growing anxiety over being late comers to a field in which artistic possibilities appeared to have been all but exhausted. This sense of belatedness motivated their search for alternatives that would enable them to embrace as well as to differ from the Tang masters. As a result, a new poetic sensibility developed. Wang Anshi was one of the first major Song poets to approach Tang poetry as a source of inspiration and sustenance while acutely aware of its overwhelming power. This study situates his poetic practice in the development of the Song poetic sensibility.

Associate Professor, East Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Notre Dame  -  Wang Anshi and the Song Poetic Sensibility

Cristanne Miller
Cristanne Miller  |  Abstract
Since the first edition of Dickinson’s Poems was published in 1890, no editor has distinguished the poems Dickinson did or did not finish and retain, and there is no annotated reading edition; current reading editions mix Dickinson’s fair copy poems, drafts, and poems she did not save without distinction. This new reading edition of the complete poems presents (and annotates) Dickinson’s poems in the order of her manuscript booklets as she copied them, including all variant words and phrases, distinguishing retained fair copies from drafts and poems not retained. The project includes in its annotations historical and cultural information, allusions to the Bible, and her favorite authors.

Professor, English, University at Buffalo, State University of New York  -  Emily Dickinson's Poems, As She Retained Them--A New Reading Edition

Tara Zahra
Tara Zahra  |  Abstract
Between 1889 and 1989, millions of people left Habsburg Central Europe. This book project traces how debates about and experiences of emigration shaped competing conceptions of freedom and mobility in Eastern Europe and “the West” over the course of 100 years. After the Second World War, the “captivity” of East Europeans behind the Iron Curtain came to be seen as a quintessential symbol of Communist oppression. In reality, however, the Iron Curtain was not built overnight in 1948 or 1961. It was rather the culmination of a century-long campaign to curtail emigration in the name of both demographic power and humanitarian protection.

Associate Professor, History, University of Chicago  -  Exodus from the East: Emigration from Eastern Europe and the Making of the "Free World," 1889-1989

Quincy T. Mills
Quincy T. Mills  |  Abstract
This project examines the everyday financial politics of social movements in the post WWII period to explore the social and political culture behind the democratic ideals of resource mobilization. The funding appeals from civil rights and black power organizations and the motivation to give reveal the personal sacrifices that activists and supporters tied to the struggles for freedom. The study foregrounds three interrelated themes: the courtship of interracial support (labor unions, Jewish allies, foundations, black business owners, and the black working class); the ways in which gender informed fundraising; and how race and militancy were constitutive of giving. Using oral histories, bail records, and archival documents from organizations such as SNCC, SCLC, NACWC, and the BPP, this study reveals how the act of fundraising and giving were critical components of both movement buildong and the costs of citizenship as a tax on the oppressed.

ACLS Oscar Handlin Fellow
Assistant Professor, History, Vassar College  -  The Wages of Resistance: Financing the Black Freedom Movement

Elya Jun Zhang
Elya Jun Zhang  |  Abstract
This project is the first systematic effort to examine China’s foreign borrowing from the Opium War to the communist takeover. It surveys the amounts and terms of hundreds of individual loans, and makes these details accessible to readers via chronological and thematic orders. Second, it adopts a country-by-country approach in chapter organization to best explain China’s separate lending path with each of the seven creditor countries. Lastly, it presents biographies of a dozen financiers and diplomats who made the transactions possible and thus plunged into the conflict between imperialism and nationalism that would define modern China.

Assistant Professor, History, University of Rochester  -  Foreign Money and the Chinese State: A Loan Story, 1865-1949