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

Natalie Abell
Natalie Abell  |  Abstract
Although market mechanisms of exchange are recognized to have existed in the Late Bronze Age Aegean Sea, the matter of how they developed—and if and how those developments can be recognized archaeologically—remains unclear. In part, this situation results from a preponderance of top-down approaches that seek to address the wider socioeconomic impacts of trade by starting from elite and palatial activities. This project flips the script by examining archaeological data from non-palatial contexts in the Cycladic islands, where participation in exchange networks was vital to the constitution of local society and economy from 3000-1200 BCE. It addresses how market exchange mechanisms developed in the region beyond the direct administrative and economic power of the palaces.

Assistant Professor, Classical Studies, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  Makers, Maritime Networks, and Markets in the Bronze Age Cyclades, Greece

Jennifer Wyatt Kyker
Jennifer Wyatt Kyker  |  Abstract
“Sekuru’s Stories” is a digital monograph that offers a first-person account of African musical history from below, tracing a single performer’s journey through experiences of missionization, colonization, labor migration, and independence. The project’s subject is the renowned Zimbabwean mbira player, oral historian, and ritual specialist Sekuru Tute Chigamba. This digital publication frames Sekuru Chigamba’s oral histories through the Shona narrative genre of nhoroondo, a multivalent category that encompasses various ways of recounting the past, including legends and myths, oral accounts of historical events, individual life histories, and written academic narratives. In the process, “Sekuru’s Stories” suggests productive new possibilities for narrating African musical history.

Associate Professor, Musicology, University of Rochester  -  Sekuru's Stories

Katherine A. Adams
Katherine A. Adams  |  Abstract
Slavery’s abolition put intense pressure on the relationship between global cotton and racial blackness, and made it the focus of contending narratives and images in the years following the US Civil War. Many of these representations reaffirmed racist ideology toward stabilizing racial capitalism’s expropriation of value from black people. Others reflected the embrace of cotton by African Americans as a source of economic self-determination and a medium for self-definition. This interdisciplinary project draws together a diverse array of representational forms—from novels, fine art, and black vaudeville, to cotton expositions, postcards, and free trade manifestoes—and makes cotton culture a frame within which to examine how black racial meaning was produced, used, and lived after emancipation.

Associate Professor, English, Tulane University  -  Reconstructing Value: Cotton Culture and Blackness after Emancipation

Stacey A. Langwick
Stacey A. Langwick  |  Abstract
“A Politics of Habitability” accounts for the rise of a new form of therapy in Tanzania, referred to by some as dawa lishe, or nutritious medicines. This emergent field of practice attends both to discrete bodies and to the relations between people and plants that have enabled modern economies and framed health. Dawa lishe reorganizes relations between agriculture and medicine in order to articulate the threats to well-being that structure the contemporary moment and to experiment with responses to such threats. Through it, Tanzanians are exploring the forms of vitality and growth that are possible today: who and what can grow more amply and more productively, and how? In the process of addressing that which is required to thrive, dawa lishe insists on situating health in a politics of habitability. This move requires reconfiguring notions of medicine, property, chronicity, and crisis that are fundamental to global health.

Associate Professor, Anthropology, Cornell University  -  A Politics of Habitability: Plants, Sovereignty, and Healing in a Toxic World

Mikaëla M. Adams
Mikaëla M. Adams  |  Abstract
The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 killed over 50 million people worldwide, including more than 675,000 in the United States. Indian country—the area within the United States inhabited by the nation’s indigenous peoples—was particularly hard hit. According to a 1919 report, 78,177 Native people caught influenza and 6,632 died out of a population of 320,654. This project explores how influenza infected indigenous people on reservations and boarding schools across the United States, how their living conditions exacerbated the effects of the virus, how institutionalized segregation and racialized medical thought limited Native access to healthcare, how indigenous people responded medically, and how this health crisis affected the federal-tribal relationship. By combining the methodologies of medical history and ethnohistory, it highlights both the biological consequences of influenza on Native American communities and how social constructions of race, ethnicity, sickness, and healing shaped the experience of infection for indigenous people.

Assistant Professor, History, University of Mississippi  -  Influenza in Indian Country: Sickness, Suffering, and Survival during the 1918-1919 Pandemic

Michael LeMahieu
Michael LeMahieu  |  Abstract
“Post-54” examines the role of civil war memory in US literature written from the civil rights movement to the present. Southern massive resistance to Brown v. Board of Education featured a revival of “Lost Cause” sentiment and Confederate symbolism in civil war narratives of military valor, mutual sacrifice, and sectional reconciliation. Whether embodied in public monuments or depicted in feature films, civil war memory circulates through cultural narratives whose generic form often performs ideological functions: chivalric romance underwrites racial violence, pastoral elegy encodes agrarian ideology, alternate history invites Confederate apologetics, and concepts of tragedy undo narratives of emancipation. Through literary works that simultaneously inhabit and transfigure these generic forms, writers from the civil rights era and the contemporary moment advance counternarratives of civil war memory that debunk lost cause mythology to intervene in what they portray as the unfinished and ongoing civil war over human rights and racial justice.

Associate Professor, English, Clemson University  -  Post-54: Reconstructing Civil War Memory in American Literature after Brown

Catherine P. Batza
Catherine P. Batza  |  Abstract
In the early AIDS crisis, the “Heartland” became a cultural and political battleground over sexuality, morality, and citizenship. The disease inspired the infected along with a dynamic cast of Native Americans, black communities, select religious groups, and LGBTQ people within and beyond those groups to fight AIDS and the phobias it fueled. The response proved complex and often contradictory as regional political and religious conservatism generated punitive legislation and anti-gay religious zealotry while members from numerous religious, racial, and sexual communities collaborated to provide AIDS services and political organizing. As the first in-depth historical study of this site, this work recasts this previously overlooked region as important in national AIDS history. The project argues that the respectability politics most resonant and effective in the politically and religiously conservative region molded local tactics and shaped national LGBTQ political goals and strategies for a generation.

Assistant Professor, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, University of Kansas  -  AIDS in the Heartland

Waiyee Li
Waiyee Li  |  Abstract
How does one turn life into art? What does this idea promise? What are its dangers? The period spanning the late sixteenth to late seventeenth century in China, late Ming to early Qing, is a particularly fruitful period for considering these questions because of its rich sources on material culture and its interest in recording the perception and experience of things. The fall of the Ming dynasty in 1644 brings into sharp focus the paradoxical concerns underlying the discourses on things. How can things be both external and internal? How can their meanings be both social and idiosyncratic? Why is “the real thing” an elusive or expendable ideal? How can one own what is irrevocably lost? How can the world of things be transformed into the space of refuge or resistance? This book explores whether and how a new discourse on things marks a turning point in Chinese history and literature.

ACLS Donald J. Munro Centennial Fellow
Professor, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University  -  The Paradoxes of Things: Life and Art in Late Imperial China

José Luis Bermúdez
José Luis Bermúdez  |  Abstract
Should values and decisions be influenced by how people frame the outcomes they confront and the choices they have to make? The orthodox view in psychology and behavioral economics, for example, is that any such influence is fundamentally irrational. This project argues against this orthodox view by applying insights from philosophy and related areas of the humanities. Drawing on examples from Greek and Shakespearean tragedy, ethical dilemmas, group identification, social coordination, and practical psychological problems such as exercising self-control in the face of temptation, “The Power of Frames” illustrates how frame-sensitivity is an integral part of rational decision-making.

Professor, Philosophy, Texas A&M University  -  The Power of Frames: Rethinking Models of Rational Decision-Making

Beth Linker
Beth Linker  |  Abstract
“Slouch” charts the rise and fall of the poor posture epidemic in the twentieth-century United States. The book project traces how a new imperative for erect posture arose in the 1890s from a complex interplay among medical, moral, and aesthetic concerns, and how, over the course of the following century, it seeped into everyday American life, informing daily beauty rituals, federally funded public health campaigns, parenting customs, and workplace environments. The project also takes seriously the existence of noncontagious disease outbreaks, demonstrating how, in a century of increasing “germ panic,” more conventional notions of hygiene, social contagion, and bodily stigmata became reformulated within a biomedical framework. As such, it brings the history of epidemics—often focused solely on communicable and deadly diseases—into conversation with critical disability studies. “Slouch” also serves as an example of an early wellness campaign that encouraged a quantified notion of selfhood.

Associate Professor, History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania  -  Slouch: The Forgotten History of America's Poor Posture Epidemic

Joel Blecher
Joel Blecher  |  Abstract
“Profit and Prophecy” retells the history of the spice trade—long appreciated as a catalyst for the birth of early modern Europe—through the eyes of medieval Muslim scholars and merchants who mixed religion and big business along pilgrimage routes and port cities from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean and beyond. In weaving together the economic and religious history of the spice trade, this book project illuminates how the fates of Muslim religious authorities were intertwined with a global marketplace upon which they strove, with intermittent success, to establish and re-establish moral boundaries across time and place.

Assistant Professor, History, The George Washington University  -  Profit and Prophecy: Islam and the Spice Trade

Scott Lucas
Scott Lucas  |  Abstract
Medieval Muslim scholars identified between 200-800 verses of the Qur’an as having legal significance. This study examines how one scholar, Muhammad b. al-Hadi (d. 1320), linked the legal verses of the Qur’an to the webs of casuistry that form the substance of Islamic jurisprudence. Muhammad b. al-Hadi, a Zaydi Muslim scholar from Yemen, wrote an influential Qur’an commentary called al-Rawda wa al-ghadir (The Garden and the Pool) that is devoted exclusively to the legal verses of the Qur’an. Through a critical reading of al-Rawda’s passages on prayer, alms giving, marriage, divorce, and criminal law, this project illuminates the complex relationship between the Qur’an and Islamic law. It also deepens the understanding of the largely unstudied intellectual history of Islam in Yemen.

Associate Professor, Middle Eastern and North African Studies, University of Arizona  -  The Interpretation of Qur’anic Laws in Yemen

Daphne A. Brooks
Daphne A. Brooks  |  Abstract
“Nobody or a Nation” explores the work of mid- to late-twentieth-century African American women musicians and sonic entertainers and the significant role that each of these artists play in the making of modern social and cultural imaginaries by way of sound. This book aims to think through the centrality of black women’s popular music culture as it dialectically engages with questions of democracy, privacy, and blackness in the public sphere. In tracing the work of a diverse range of black women artists, it also charts the geopolitical navigations of black women musicians who improvised complex racial, gender, class, and national formations in a period that spans from the wake of World War II to the early 1970s.

Professor, African American Studies, American Studies, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Theater Studies, Yale University  -  Nobody or a Nation: Black Women Musicians and the Midcentury Making of Sonic Citizenship

Catriona MacLeod
Catriona MacLeod  |  Abstract
This project explores the proliferation of paper-cuts (Scherenschnitte in German), collage, decoupage, and ink blots in German and Danish romanticism. Romantic authors and visual artists cut, glue, stain, and recycle paper; they generate paper-cuts, collages, and ink blot poems in profusion, and combine them in what are for their time striking new hybrid forms such as the picture books of fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen and medical doctor and poet Justinus Kerner. Scholarship on collage has almost completely ignored romantic innovations in cut paper. As the project shows, however, these deceptively minor works cross boundaries of gender, genre, and medium, and, challenging the scale of monumentality, are on the cutting edge.

Professor, Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Pennsylvania  -  Romantic Scraps: Cutouts, Collages, and Inkblots

Daniel Brückenhaus
Daniel Brückenhaus  |  Abstract
Focusing on the British, French and German colonial empires between 1880 and 1970, this book project demonstrates the power of laughter, ridicule, and satire in challenging modern imperialism. The project analyzes the use of humor by prominent anticolonial leaders such as Frantz Fanon, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, and Ho Chi Minh, as well as by grassroots members of anticolonial movements in Africa, Asia, and the European metropoles. It argues that anticolonial laughter was of great importance in resisting imperialism, both in day-to-day interactions between colonizers and colonized, and among activists working towards the process of global decolonization after World War II.

Assistant Professor, History, Beloit College  -  Laughing at Imperialism: Ridicule and Satire as Anticolonial Strategies, 1880-1970

Marianne Mason
Marianne Mason  |  Abstract
In the United States, the Miranda warning informs laypersons who are subject to police questioning of two fundamental constitutional rights: the right against compelled self-incrimination and the right to counsel. The manner in which laypersons invoke rights reveals their understanding of how language is used to achieve linguistic goals that may not be consonant with case law and its enforcement. This project examines legal institutions’ historical interpretation and enforcement of linguistic actions invoking constitutional rights; laypersons’ knowledge of how discourse is used to achieve linguistic goals in institutional settings; and the effect of Miranda case law on police-layperson custodial exchanges. The project argues that despite the role of discourse in shaping legal outcomes, the validity and widely accepted use of linguistic analysis to understand a legal process is yet to be fully and uniformly embraced by the courts and those who enforce the law.

Assistant Professor, Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, James Madison University  -  Language at the Center of the American Justice System

Erin D. Chapman
Erin D. Chapman  |  Abstract
This cultural historical biography analyzes Lorraine Hansberry’s career as a journalist, playwright, and activist at the height of the US Cold War. The project explores Hansberry’s personal relationships and inner concerns by examining her journals and correspondence alongside her published articles, speeches, and plays. Proceeding chronologically through the stages of Hansberry’s life, the book offers an account of the gendered, racial, and sexual formations shaping the postwar United States from the perspective of a progressive, queer, black woman artist. It also serves as a cultural history of the radical, artistic activism that formed a crucial aspect of the mid-century Black Freedom Movement.

Associate Professor, History, The George Washington University  -  The Truth Demands Its Own Equals: The Art and Activism of Lorraine Hansberry

Elizabeth McHenry
Elizabeth McHenry  |  Abstract
The interval from 1896 to 1910 has largely been neglected by African American literary scholarship, creating the false sense that it was unremarkable. “Making Negro Literature” grapples with this largely unmapped moment in African American literary history by considering a series of genres, institutions, personalities, and conditions of authorship and publication that offer insight into the period’s distinctive situations of literary engagement for African Americans. These situations—some successful, but others failed or only partially achieved—offer a crucial lens through which to capture the unsettledness of the category of black literature at the beginning of the twentieth century, even in the minds of those working in the field. By turning its attention to a broad, alternative archive of literary productivity, the study animates the questions that motivated the period’s literary projects and practitioners, at the very moment when a modern understanding of African American literature was taking shape.

Associate Professor, English, New York University  -  Making Negro Literature: Writing, Literary Practice, and African American Authorship, 1896-1910

Thomas Donald Conlan
Thomas Donald Conlan  |  Abstract
In the sixteenth century, the Ōuchi family were kings in all but name over much of the Japanese archipelago. Immensely wealthy, they controlled sea lanes stretching from Japan to Korea and China, while their city of Yamaguchi functioned as an important regional entrepôt, with an expanding population and a host of temples and shrines. The family claimed ethnic descent from Korean kings, and—remarkably for this time—such claims were recognized in both Korea and Japan. Their unique position, coupled with dominance over strategic ports and mines, allowed them to facilitate trade throughout East and Southeast Asia. They played a key cultural role, in disseminating Confucian texts, Buddhist sutras, ink paintings, and pottery, and in creating a distinctive, hybrid culture that fused Japanese, Korean, and Chinese beliefs, objects, and customs. This project provides a new understanding of medieval Japanese and East Asian history through its history of the Ōuchi family.

Professor, History and East Asian Studies, Princeton University  -  Kings in All but Name: The Rise of the Ōuchi, 1350-1465, and Japan’s Age of Yamaguchi, 1466-1551

Janet McIntosh
Janet McIntosh  |  Abstract
This project focuses on relationships between language and the emotional vulnerability of US military service members during an era of stark debates over so-called politically correct discourse. In boot camp rites of passage, drill instructors and sergeants use verbal routines to socialize recruits, discouraging their preexisting identifications while callousing their personal sensitivities and empathic powers. Language during active service reinforces these new modes of sociality while consolidating institutional belonging and camaraderie. Yet some service members struggle to reconcile the limits of this language with the challenging experiences of deployment, with the burdens of marginalized gendered, religious, or racial identities, and, after service is over, with reintegration into the civilian world. While some veterans defend military language as vital to the nation’s defense, others turn to novel uses of language to reclaim dimensions of their emotional life and to reconceptualize the importance of empathy at both personal and national scales.

Associate Professor, Anthropology, Brandeis University  -  Tough Talk, Vulnerable Soldiers: Language Ideology and the Making of United States Service Members

Maria E. Cotera
Maria E. Cotera  |  Abstract
“Nuestra Autohistoria” offers a multi-sited analysis of the knowledge praxis of Chicanas in the movement years. Based on nine years of archival research and oral history collection undertaken for Chicana por mi Raza Digital Memory Collective, this project is both an intellectual history of Chicana feminism in the 1970s and a genealogical examination of how Chicanas have made and continue to make knowledge, from their strategic uses of counter-memory, to their focus on collaborative resource-building. Focusing on the techniques of Chicana knowledge praxis rather than specific organizations, movements, or leaders, “Nuestra Autohistoria” offers a fresh perspective on how Chicanas deployed public history, new technology (mimeograph machines, slideshows, and early database technologies), and practices of critical collection and curation (bibliographies, anthologies, and early syllabi) to complicate movement scripts that all too often cast them to the margins of liberation projects.

Associate Professor, American Culture and Women's Studies, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  Nuestra Autohistoria: Reflections on the Chicana Archive

Sarah E. McKibben
Sarah E. McKibben  |  Abstract
This project deploys a sequence of historicized close readings of bardic political poems dating from c.1560 to c.1660 to demonstrate how Ireland’s professional literati recast the native tradition they inherited to confront the destructive early modern colonial cataclysm with political savvy, pathos, and wit. In the grimmer, Irish version of the renaissance, bardic poets had everything to lose as their longstanding, high status role as advisors, companions, and legitimators serving Irish noblemen came under sustained attack by the expanding Tudor-Stuart state. Drawing upon both newly published texts and familiar ones, this project demonstrates the richness of this understudied literature, thereby advancing critical innovation within the field and alerting scholars in other fields to both the intrinsic and the comparative value of this rich archive.

Associate Professor, Irish Language and Literature, University of Notre Dame  -  Tradition Transformed: Bardic Poetry and Patronage in Early Modern Ireland, ca. 1560-1660

Jonathan P. Decter
Jonathan P. Decter  |  Abstract
The expansion of early Islamic empires placed Islamic communities in close contact with the beliefs and practices of peoples throughout its vast territories and on its borders. The integration of masses of new data led to prototypes of what post-Enlightenment thinkers would call comparative religion. This project studies a seismic shift in Jewish thought whereby Jews in Islamic empires, unlike the rabbis of the Talmud who had defined Jews as an ethnos, adopted a comparative discourse and consequently came to represent Judaism as a religion. This project studies this shift through the engagement of Jewish sources in Judeo-Arabic and Hebrew from several genres (polemics, theology, philosophy, astrology, exegesis, and literature) between the tenth and fifteenth centuries.

Associate Professor, Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, Brandeis University  -  The Jewish Discovery of Religion in the Medieval Middle East

Chelsea Redeker Milbourne
Chelsea Redeker Milbourne  |  Abstract
In eighteenth-century Great Britain, public audiences witnessed an array of scientific and technological wonders, from air pumps and hot air balloons to microscopic creatures and mechanized models of the solar system. “The Utility of Wonder” examines these sensational displays—as well as the complementary experiences of reading books, attending lectures, operating instruments, and conversing with other enthusiasts—as rhetorical phenomena that characterized philosophical objects as spectacles in order to make them publically accessible. This project particularly attends to the rhetorical influence of audiences, notably women, whose visible spectatorship and ongoing study augmented the wonder of science displays, serving to both publicize experimental findings and stoke anxieties that interest in science was becoming too popular. Eighteenth-century science spectacles thus provide a case study for examining how communities delimit access, not only to scientific inquiry but also to public science education, interest, participation, and deliberation.

Assistant Professor, English, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo  -  The Utility of Wonder: Spectacle, Gender, and Public Science Rhetoric in Eighteenth-Century Great Britain

Michael Jason Degani
Michael Jason Degani  |  Abstract
This book project is an ethnographic account of an urban power grid in a postsocialist, African metropolis. Over 20 years of neoliberal reform, electricity in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, has become less reliable even as its importance has increased. “The City Electric” describes the informal economies that develop around emergency power contracts, blackouts, reconnection, repair, and theft, and charts their effects on the rhythms and textures of daily life. In turn, it explores how infrastructure mediates relations with the state in the aftermath of a morally charged African socialism.

Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University  -  The City Electric: Infrastructure and Ingenuity in Postsocialist Tanzania

Eduardo Moncada
Eduardo Moncada  |  Abstract
“Social Resistance to Criminal Protection Rackets” challenges the conventional view of victims of crime as helpless and resigned to their fates. The project advances a comparative analysis of variation in how business firms resist one of the most widespread forms of criminal victimization in the developing world: criminal protection rackets. These rackets are territorially defined relations between social actors that pay tribute to dominant actors in exchange for protection from both external threats and the dominant actors themselves. Drawing on extended fieldwork in Colombia, El Salvador, and Mexico, and using ethnographic methods, this project shows that the different economic and political resources available to social actors shape the types of resistance they pursue, from violent rebellion to quiet negotiation. The project offers conceptual, theoretical, and empirical insights into the broader question of how social actors contest the extraction of resources and their own political and social subjugation.

Assistant Professor, Political Science, Barnard College  -  Social Resistance to Criminal Protection Rackets: An Ethnographic Window into State-Building

Fred M. Donner
Fred M. Donner  |  Abstract
The narrative of the origins of Islam in the seventh century as described in Islamic traditional sources long served as the basis for Western scholarly and popular views. However, recent work has shown that these sources are unreliable; they are all from much later and present an idealized retrospective picture, rather than an accurate historical account. A clear view of how Islam began must rest on seventh-century documents, but such documents are very few. This project is an edition, with translation and commentary, of early Arabic papyri from the Austrian National Library that on paleographical grounds can be dated to the seventh century. It also involves a search for additional early Arabic papyri in the collection of the Berlin State Museum, now accessible to scholars after a hiatus of more than 70 years.

Professor, Oriental Institute and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago  -  Arabic Papyri for the Early Islamic Period, Seventh Century

Sharon Ann Murphy
Sharon Ann Murphy  |  Abstract
Despite the rich literature on the history of slavery, the scholarship on bank financing of slavery is quite slim. This project demonstrates that banks willingly accepted slaves as collateral for loans, underwrote the sale of slaves, and sold slaves as part of foreclosure proceedings. Bank involvement with slave property occurred throughout the antebellum period and across the US South. Some of the most prominent southern banks as well as the Second Bank of the United States directly issued loans using slaves as collateral. This places southern banking institutions at the heart of the buying and selling of slave property, one of the most reviled aspects of the slave system.

Professor, History and Classics, Providence College  -  Banking on Slavery in the Antebellum South

Susan Helen Ellison
Susan Helen Ellison  |  Abstract
“Betrayed” examines the moral economies and governance politics of estafa (fraud) in the conjoined cities of El Alto and La Paz, Bolivia. Questions of fraud sit at the intersection of donor-backed development projects and dubious pyramid schemes, transnational judicial reform efforts, and everyday livelihood strategies in places like Bolivia, as foreign donors and national governments alike emphasize entrepreneurship as the means to alleviate poverty and seek to promote the rule of law. Defined as criminal deception, fraud accusations further provide a vocabulary for citizens to speak against betrayals by presidents and local elites as well as neighbors and kin, and to articulate alternative expectations of social, political, and economic relations. Through a close examination of the intersecting moral, political, and legal valences of fraud, this project illuminates the shifting relationship between desire, private property ownership, virtuous citizenship, and the criminalization of insolvent subjects—with implications well beyond Bolivia.

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow
Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Wellesley College  -  Betrayed: Politics, Pyramid Schemes, and Bolivian Vernaculars of Fraud

Marguerite Nguyen
Marguerite Nguyen  |  Abstract
This project examines Asian American accounts of forced migration in the context of New Orleans to outline a paradigm for interpreting refugee culture. While public discourses tend to frame displaced persons in terms of crisis and emergency, this project shifts attention to refugee aesthetics of protraction—delineations of refugee status as temporally elongated rather than determined by finite periods of migration, asylum, and resettlement. The New Orleans case is especially pertinent because Hurricane Katrina revived debates concerning who is a refugee and highlighted state abandonment as an ongoing reality for the city’s marginalized communities. Engaging diverse examples of Louisianan and Asian American cultures, this project parses the complexities of the term refugee and draws attention to the narrative dynamics of refugees’ protracted experiences.

Assistant Professor, English, Wesleyan University  -  Refugee Temporality: Narratives of War and Displacement in Asian American New Orleans

Allison L. C. Emmerson
Allison L. C. Emmerson  |  Abstract
“Urbanism on the Margins” aims to reposition the dead as a central part of ancient life. Over the past two decades, Roman urban studies have come to see the suburb as intimately connected to the city center. Nevertheless, tombs—the defining feature of suburbs—have been left out of this shift. Research on cities still passes over tombs, while work on death has focused on issues seen as separate from urbanism. This project introduces a new paradigm by considering Roman tombs within their ancient landscape of shops, houses, workshops, rubbish dumps, entertainment buildings, and sanctuaries to trace the many roles they played in the living city. The book argues that tombs were not simply passive memorials, but rather active spaces that both facilitated and furthered the social, religious, and economic life of the city.

Assistant Professor, Classical Studies, Tulane University  -  Urbanism on the Margins: Life and Death in the Roman Suburb

John Matthew Peffer
John Matthew Peffer  |  Abstract
South African history is usually illustrated by the documentary photographs that brought sympathy to the anti-apartheid struggle. But black South Africans also used other kinds of photography, such as studio portraits and snapshots, to create zones of freedom and conviviality, and to imagine a better future. This project is a book-length study of these vernacular images and their relevance for the post-apartheid generation, the primary research for which was completed in South Africa between 2010 and 2015.

Associate Professor, Visual Arts, Ramapo College of New Jersey  -  How to Remember Apartheid with Pleasure: Vernacular Photography as a Theater of Identity and Survival in South Africa’s Black Townships

Caitlin A. Fitz
Caitlin A. Fitz  |  Abstract
This project tells the forgotten story of Emiliano Mundrucu, a black Brazilian exile who sparked one of the United States’ first legal battles against Jim Crow. Mundrucu was born in Brazil in 1791, as the Haitian Revolution began; he died in Boston 72 years later, just months after organizing a public celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation alongside figures such as Frederick Douglass. In between, he led a failed revolution in Brazil, fought for independence in the aspiring antislavery republic of Colombia, and helped to radicalize US abolitionists after a Nantucket steamboat captain denied him and his family equal accommodations. Mundrucu was one of Jim Crow’s earliest courtroom challengers, and his story illuminates inter-American influences on US abolitionism and equal rights activism.

ACLS Oscar Handlin Fellow
Assistant Professor, History, Northwestern University  -  Mundrucu’s America: How a Black Brazilian Revolutionary Shaped the US Battle Against Jim Crow

Dylan C. Penningroth
Dylan C. Penningroth  |  Abstract
This project seeks to describe and analyze African Americans’ participation in law at the local level from the civil war to the beginnings of the modern civil rights movement. It combines legal and historical perspectives to trace out the legal culture of ordinary African Americans and to chart the meaning and practice of a central concept in US history: civil rights. It argues that this 100-year period witnessed the birth and maturation of a black legal culture that was grounded in common experience, remarkably accepted within its limited ambit, and intricately connected to white legal culture and institutions. Its evidence comes from a variety of cultural and legal documents, including a purposive interval sample of more than 6,200 trial court cases drawn from 18 counties.

Professor, History, University of California, Berkeley  -  Doing Civil Rights: African Americans and Law, 1865-1970

Paul A. Friedland
Paul A. Friedland  |  Abstract
This project explores a revolution that swept through the Windward Islands of the Caribbean in the 1790s, spreading the ideal of a universal republic that would respect the rights of all. After defeating the British on several islands, the revolutionaries endeavored to create a world without race: the terms black and white were banned from official discourse and decrees were addressed to “Citizens, whatever color they may happen to be.” By the time the British managed to restore race-based slavery, 100,000 people had died. Until now, this revolution has been largely absent from the historical record, revealing the extent to which modern historiography, preoccupied with race, has had difficulty conceptualizing (or even seeing) the ideal of racelessness.

Professor, History, Cornell University  -  A World without Race: The Dream of a Universal Republic in the Revolutionary French Caribbean, 1794-1802

Dassia Posner
Dassia Posner  |  Abstract
In 1914, Alexander Tairov and Alisa Koonen founded the Moscow Kamerny Theatre to revolutionize the theater of their day. The Kamerny became world-renowned for its collaborations with cubist artists who redefined theatrical space in conjunction with virtuosic actors and a powerful female lead. Although the theatre initially pursued aesthetic innovation over political content, its later Soviet productions came to define socialist realism in the theatre. After surviving most of the Stalinist period, the Kamerny was liquidated in 1950, an erasure that was justified by politically motivated accusations of irrelevance and artistic inferiority that still linger today. Drawing from the massive Kamerny archives, this project reveals the significance of the Kamerny and its artists in the context of the productions they staged, the cultures they bridged, and the tumultuous political times in which they lived and worked. How, this study asks, can theatrical innovation simultaneously serve and resist a totalitarian state?

Associate Professor, Theatre, Northwestern University  -  The Moscow Kamerny Theatre: An Artistic History, 1914-1950

Julia Gaffield
Julia Gaffield  |  Abstract
This project studies the role that Catholicism played in state-building processes and transatlantic relations following Haiti’s declaration of independence in 1804. The evidence reveals that Catholicism was central to Haiti’s self-identity and to its status as a new country. Catholic authorities in the Vatican, however, claimed religious dominion over new American jurisdictions in the nineteenth century and they refused for decades to establish normal relations with Haiti, despite the fact that they recognized its political independence. By systematically analyzing the competing assertions and practices of religious dominion in Haiti, this project presents a deeper understanding of the complex interrelations of sovereignty, diplomacy, and state formation in the Age of Revolution.

Assistant Professor, History, Georgia State University  -  The Abandoned Faithful: Sovereignty, Diplomacy, and Religious Dominion in the Aftermath of the Haitian Revolution

Bianca Premo
Bianca Premo  |  Abstract
In 1939, Lina Medina delivered a healthy baby boy in Lima, Peru. She was five years old. “The Smallest Subject” is the first scholarly study of the girl still known as the youngest mother in the world. But this is not a simple history of Lina Medina. Sensitive to how she was objectified as well as protected by medical experts, state officials, curiosity-seekers, and the press, “The Smallest Subject” uses oral histories, newspaper reports, and medical studies focused on Lina herself and on the condition of precocious puberty to trace the uniquely transnational development of the conflicted, dual principles of autonomy and protection today enshrined in standard protocols for research with human subjects.

Associate Professor, History, Florida International University  -  The Smallest Subject: Peru’s Youngest Mother in the World and the Rise of Modern Research Ethics

Katja Garloff
Katja Garloff  |  Abstract
The 1990 reunification of Germany gave rise to a new generation of writers who identify as both German and Jewish and often sustain additional affiliations with places such as France, Russia, or Israel. This affords a unique opportunity to examine the relationship between literature and the formation of group identity, and to analyze the foundational moments of a new diaspora literature. “Making German Jewish Literature New” is structured around three “founding gestures,” literary strategies that reinstate the possibility of a German-Jewish literature several decades after the Holocaust. The book shows how authors (1) publicly perform, assert, and/or question their Jewish identities; (2) turn spaces into places by investing them with personal meaning and emotional significance; and (3) remake Holocaust memory at a moment when the remaining eyewitnesses are passing and the Holocaust is turning from memory into history.

Professor, German and Humanities, Reed College  -  Making German Jewish Literature New

Keramet Reiter
Keramet Reiter  |  Abstract
In the 2010s, states like California, Colorado, Illinois, and Washington drastically reduced the numbers of state prisoners held in long-term solitary confinement. In some cases, states entirely eliminated harsh isolation conditions, reversing decades of abusive and punitive policies. “Walking the Line” examines these reforms. Part One analyzes the institutional infrastructures that facilitate reform and argues that charismatic leadership drove the most significant and sustained reforms in states like Colorado and Washington. Part Two focuses on how prison staff define who ends up in solitary confinement, categorizing people as mad or bad. Part Three explores how staff working in solitary confinement experience institutionalization. “Walking the Line” interweaves and interprets nearly 200 prisoner and staff interviews and hundreds of hours of observation completed in a variety of state solitary confinement units in the 2010s.

Assistant Professor, Criminology, Law and Society and School of Law, University of California, Irvine  -  Walking the Line: Transformation of Everyday Life in Long-Term Solitary Confinement

Karl Gerth
Karl Gerth  |  Abstract
“Unending Capitalism” reinterprets the first three decades of the People’s Republic of China, also known as the Mao era, from 1949-1976. The era has been seen as explicitly anticapitalist, hyperegalitarian, and anticonsumerist. By contrast, this project focuses on state attempts to manage consumerism and argues that many of the policies of the period—including the most “antibourgeois” ones of the Cultural Revolution—had unintended effects. Using a wide variety of Chinese sources, from handwritten archives and internally-circulated state documents to personal memoirs and internet blogs, “Unending Capitalism” demonstrates how policies often worked against the stated socialist goals and instead recreated and expanded capitalist practices and bourgeois consumerism, thereby negating the socialist revolution.

ACLS Frederic E. Wakeman, Jr. Fellow
Professor, History, University of California, San Diego  -  Unending Capitalism: State Consumerism and the Negation of the Chinese Socialist Revolution

Elizabeth Renker
Elizabeth Renker  |  Abstract
Kentucky-born Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt (1836-1919) published more than 600 poems during her lifetime—to transatlantic acclaim—but fell into obscurity upon her death. Rediscovered in the 1990s, she quickly gained stature as a major artist whose work addresses urgent sociopolitical topics of her time, including the antebellum South, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the status of women, and the Irish and Ireland, where she lived from 1882 to 1893. While a growing body of articles, edited book chapters, and conference presentations stresses her historical and aesthetic importance, scholarship has yet to produce a monograph about her, in part because fundamental archival research in the primary materials of her life remains to be done. “Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt: A Biography” undertakes the archival work necessary to establish her firmly as a key figure in literary history, one whose poetic innovations both arose from and recorded the fractures of her age.

ACLS Carl and Betty Pforzheimer Fellow
Professor, English, The Ohio State University  -  Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt: A Biography

Julian Gill-Peterson
Julian Gill-Peterson  |  Abstract
“Gender Underground” reframes twentieth-century transgender history by critiquing the racial and class inequities of US institutional medicine and documenting the do-it-yourself practices that allowed transgender people to forge parallel worlds of transition. Beginning in the 1940s, when doctors would not provide the healthcare requested by transgender people, the project uncovers an underground tradition of inventive access to hormones, surgery, and care for the self and others, as well as the first clinics and counseling groups formed by and for transgender people. “Gender Underground” argues for a “DIY transgender studies” that affirms practices of survival, archiving, and worldmaking from the least visible positions, including those of transgender people of color and economically vulnerable members of the trans community.

Assistant Professor, English, University of Pittsburgh  -  Gender Underground: A History of Trans DIY

Adam M. Romero
Adam M. Romero  |  Abstract
“Economic Poisoning” tells the story of how US agriculture became a profitable sink for toxic industrial waste. It redeploys the term economic poison as an analytical concept to highlight the material and political economic origins of pesticides, arguing that agriculture developed in concert with mining, chemical, and petroleum industries and their waste streams. In doing so, it intervenes in contemporary sustainability debates by challenging the long-held and widespread notion that the internalization of externalities, or loop-closing, is an inherent social good. The transmutation of industrial waste into economic poisons, after all, did not eliminate waste; it merely redistributed it across the United States’ farms, fields, and bodies.

Assistant Professor, School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, University of Washington Bothell  -  Economic Poisoning: Industrial Waste and the Chemicalization of United States Agriculture, 1860-1945

Jennifer A. Glancy
Jennifer A. Glancy  |  Abstract
This project couples analysis of the theme of slavery in selected Christian writings from the first to fourth centuries with assessment of twenty-first century discourses about what it means to be human. From Aristotle's infamous arguments for natural slavery in his “Politics” to Christian theologian Gregory of Nyssa's condemnation of slaveholding as an affront against the God in whose image humans are created, the question of human nature shadows ancient treatments of slavery. By engaging twenty-first century debates about what it means to be human, this project reframes discussion of slavery in the ancient churches. At the same time, a focus on troublesome ways that humanity is called into question in ancient references to slavery exposes limitations in contemporary conceptions of the human.

Professor, Religious Studies, Le Moyne College  -  Ancient Christian Slavery and Twenty-First Century Debates about What Makes Us Human

Daniel Rosenberg
Daniel Rosenberg  |  Abstract
Today is an age of data, yet the history of the concept of data has yet to be written. This project unearths that history, exploring how the concept emerged during the seventeenth century, what it has meant since then, and how, in recent years, it has moved to the center of public discourse. The project is both qualitative and quantitative, offering both a conceptual history and a critical toolkit for data-driven humanities research.

Professor, Robert D. Clark Honors College, University of Oregon  -  Data: A Quantitative History

Petra Goedegebuure
Petra Goedegebuure  |  Abstract
Core cases, expressing the agent and undergoer of events and situations, are present in almost every sentence in almost every language. Despite this, the four core cases of the ancient Indo-European Anatolian languages have received surprisingly little attention, with the exception of a controversial agent case that seems to be restricted to mostly inanimates. This project fills this gap by investigating not only how the four core cases are expressed but also how they reflect these societies’ views on which entities and concepts have agency. For Hittite specifically, the project also explores how changes in the form and use of the core cases correlate with attested sociopolitical events such as population movements, deportations, and long-term contact with other languages and societies, such as the indigenous Hattians, the Luwians of western and southeastern Anatolia, and the Hurrians from south of the Caucasus and northern Syria.

Associate Professor, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago  -  Expressing Agency and Point of View: The Core Cases in the Ancient Anatolian Languages, 1700-300 BCE

Aaron Sachs
Aaron Sachs  |  Abstract
This project juxtaposes the careers of Herman Melville and Lewis Mumford, pivoting on Mumford’s influential biography of Melville. Mumford, an urban theorist and historian of technology, used his obsession with Melville and his commitment to retrospection to cope with what he thought of as the traumas of modernity, and to rediscover old ways of working creatively with the spaces of urban industrialism. Focusing on Mumford’s work during the decades of the Melville revival, from 1920 to 1950, but incorporating regular flashbacks to Melville’s era, this intellectual history gives readers the opportunity to get deep inside the heads of both main characters. The retrospective work of this book also allows readers to confront some of the modern realities that still shape contemporary life.

Professor, History, Cornell University  -  Melville and Mumford; or, the Art of Rediscovery in Traumatic Times

Glenda Goodman
Glenda Goodman  |  Abstract
“Strategic Sounds” is a Native American-centered book project about music in colonial New England. Investigating several ways Native Americans encountered Europeans culturally (e.g., trade and literacy) and sonically (e.g., hymns and war songs), this project argues that Native Americans used music strategically to deal with the geopolitical upheaval of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It focuses on Algonquian peoples and groups in the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy, exploring how they navigated the sociocultural conventions of European music—particularly from English, French, and Dutch colonists—and how they actively adapted music to advance their own agendas when engaging with Europeans. By showing that Native peoples were historical actors, the project illuminates intercultural dynamics that hitherto have been overlooked in the study of early American music and departs from previous musicological work on exoticist representations of Native peoples. More broadly, this project contributes to a multidisciplinary agenda of mapping the cultural reverberations of colonialism.

Assistant Professor, Music, University of Pennsylvania  -  Strategic Sounds: Native American Music in the Era of Colonial Conquest

Tze-Lan Deborah Sang
Tze-Lan Deborah Sang  |  Abstract
“Taiwan’s Women Documentary Filmmakers” examines Taiwanese women documentarists, whose artistically diverse nonfiction films have engaged with significant cultural and social issues, often succeeding in shaping public perception and provoking public debate. In the bourgeoning field of Chinese-language film studies, fiction film has always occupied the center. However, the past decade has witnessed a proliferation of research on independent documentaries. Nevertheless, there has been a shortage of scholarship on Taiwanese women documentarians. This book-length study fills this gap. A diverse group of public intellectuals, Taiwanese female documentarians have used their films to reinterpret history, represent marginalized groups and interests, critique global capitalism, and engage with transforming gender and sexual identities. Their accomplishments evince that female voices have been crucial to the liberalization of Taiwan, a non-Western democracy.

Professor, Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic, Asian and African Languages, Michigan State University  -  Taiwan’s Women Documentary Filmmakers: Public Intellectuals and Innovative Artists

Katja Guenther
Katja Guenther  |  Abstract
“The Mirror and the Mind” traces the history of the mirror self-recognition test, focusing on the period following World War II, to show why it was invested with such importance. The mirror test gained prominence at times when the notion of human nature was under assault; it provided a final line of defense against the tendency of the biological and cultural sciences to blur the boundaries between humans and other animals. This function has been exploited in a range of disciplines: psychiatry, psychoanalysis, animal and human psychology, cybernetics, anthropology, and neuroscience. Scientists placed infants, “primitives,” robots, and animals of various kinds in front of mirrors, in order to pose and find new answers to the perennial question: “What is man?”

Associate Professor, History, Princeton University  -  The Mirror and the Mind: A History of Self-Recognition in the Sciences of Mind and Brain

Caroline T. Schroeder
Caroline T. Schroeder  |  Abstract
Monasteries have served as influential institutions for the education and welfare of children since the medieval period. Yet we know little about children in the first monastic communities. Early asceticism—in which people fasted, practiced celibacy, lived in poverty, and spent much time in prayer—is often framed as countercultural, in opposition to traditional Roman values that promoted marriage and reproduction as crucial vehicles for continuation of social, cultural, and economic capital. This study proves that despite strong imperatives to renounce children, textual and archaeological sources testify to the significance of children in the first Egyptian monasteries. By the fourth and fifth centuries, the monastery functioned as an institution parallel to traditional Roman familial structures

Professor, Religious Studies, University of the Pacific  -  Monks and Their Children: Family and Childhood in Late Antique Egyptian Monasticism

Rachel Heiman
Rachel Heiman  |  Abstract
Speculation about the future of the suburban American dream has intensified in recent years, as economic conditions, energy concerns, and climate change make the low-density landscape of single-family homes increasingly unviable. There has been a growing literature on design, planning, and policy efforts to reimagine automobile suburbs for a more sustainable future. Yet there has been little ethnographic research that explores the effects and affects of introducing mixed-use neighborhoods, urban densities, and green design to suburban areas accustomed to the converse. This multi-sited book project draws on ethnographic research in four communities in the United States in which residents, developers, local officials, and transnational corporations are negotiating aspirations for—and anxieties about—the material and social future of American suburbia. This study sheds light on the formation of new subjectivities and modes of governance at the intersection of sustainable suburbanism and social justice concerns.

Associate Professor, Anthropology, The New School  -  Retrofitting the American Dream: An Ethnography of Suburban Redesign

Sarah-Neel Smith
Sarah-Neel Smith  |  Abstract
If, by the 1950s, the pervasive discourse of economic developmentalism was the primary means for emergent nations to negotiate their future, then what were the consequences of this worldview in the visual arts? Taking this as its central question, “The Art of Development” elucidates a central but overlooked phenomenon of the twentieth century: the use of art by so-called minor players in the Cold War to negotiate hegemonic powers’ imposition of economic and political standards. The project analyzes Turkey’s art world of the 1950s, where Turkish artists, writers, and intellectuals, as well as their international interlocutors, used art to work through key principles of development ideology, including the legitimacy of foreign versus local expertise, the relationship of masses and elites within institution-building, the role of dissent in democracy, new definitions of citizenship and political participation, and the tension between the ideals of political conditionality and national sovereignty.

Assistant Professor, Art History, Theory, and Criticism, Maryland Institute College of Art  -  The Art of Development: Painting, Institutions, and the Modernization of Turkey

Adriana Nadia Helbig
Adriana Nadia Helbig  |  Abstract
This project theorizes the sonic worlds of impoverished Roma whose pictures fill development reports. It vocalizes their modes of being and elucidates the lived experiences of the silenced poor. Specifically, this project addresses the processes through which Roma communities engage with discourses of civil society as promoted via networks of development aid. It analyzes the repercussions of employing ethnicity as the main criteria for the distribution of development aid and shows that the “minorization” of specific segments of the population within development discourse encourages stratification within minority groups. This project contributes to broader understandings of class formation in formerly classless societies and analyzes the ways neoliberal processes shape minority identities in emerging democracies.

Associate Professor, Music, University of Pittsburgh  -  Romani Music and Development Aid in Post-Soviet Ukraine

Vivasvan Soni
Vivasvan Soni  |  Abstract
The purpose of this project is threefold: first, it diagnoses a widespread crisis of judgment in the present, a crisis which is at once cultural and epistemological. Second, it traces the genealogy of the crisis back to the eighteenth century, by demonstrating the vanishing place of judgment between the nascent discourses of empiricism and aesthetics. Third, and most importantly, it uses the novels of Jane Austen, accounts of natural and formal language, theories of play, and philosophies of experience to offer a new phenomenology of judgment. By describing carefully the unique structure and logic of acts of judgment, this project shows that judgment constitutes a distinctive cognitive habitus with its own legitimacy, irreducible to either knowledge or opinion. The argument is both a vindication of humanistic modes of inquiry and an account of why literary narrative is a privileged vehicle for cultivating judgment.

Associate Professor, English, Northwestern University  -  Aesthetics and the Crisis of Judgment in the Eighteenth Century

Michael C. Heller
Michael C. Heller  |  Abstract
“Just Beyond Listening” explores multisensory sonic encounters that register as more than simple collisions between sound waves and eardrums. Instead, it looks at how sound functions in dialogue with a range of sensory and affective modalities, including physical co-presence, cultural memory, and spectral haunting. A series of case studies examines instances where sound is experienced in other parts of the body; where sound is altered by cross-wirings across the senses; where sound has been weaponized by military powers; or where sound is mediated and changed by cultural practices, individual memories, or sensations of place. The work expands upon recent scholarship in sound studies, musicology, affect theory, and media studies by asking not only how sound functions acoustically, but how sonic presences temper our total experience of the world around us.

Assistant Professor, Music, University of Pittsburgh  -  Just Beyond Listening: Sound and Affect Outside of the Ear

Nicolas Tackett
Nicolas Tackett  |  Abstract
This project explores the sudden appearance in the tenth century of a meritocratic culture that constituted the ideological foundation of China's famous civil service exams. It complements an earlier sociopolitical study examining the physical destruction of China’s aristocracy by explaining the accompanying cultural shift from an “aristocratic” to a “meritocratic” ethos, a shift which is treated in large measure as a product of the rampant migrations of the era. Using new digital tools, the study maps out the primary routes of elite migration during the tenth century and assesses how migration correlated with a package of cultural changes.

Associate Professor, History, University of California, Berkeley  -  The Rise of the Chinese Meritocracy: The Transformation of Elite Culture in Tenth-Century China

Katie Hornstein
Katie Hornstein  |  Abstract
This study examines a rich corpus of leonine imagery that was produced in France after the founding of the first-of-its-kind, state-run menagerie in 1793, up through the 1893 extinction of the Barbary lion due to habitat loss and hunting, mostly at the hands of French colonizers. The project argues that in addition to the sets of accumulated meanings that lions had acquired because of their mythic, storied reputation, nineteenth-century French audiences understood lions in a particular way that stemmed from contemporary political concerns. Rather than reproducing an image of untroubled French authority, the importation, display, and visual representation of lions brought questions about France’s capacity to rule and subdue directly to the fore.

Assistant Professor, History of Art, Dartmouth College  -  Leonine Encounters in Nineteenth-Century France

Melanie S. Tanielian
Melanie S. Tanielian  |  Abstract
“HUNGERTOD!” From 1914 to 1920, around the globe, the death rate of civilians in mental health institutions was truly staggering. During these six years, 70,000 civilians died in Germany’s psychiatric hospitals of starvation and malnutrition. In Britain, the death rate of civilians in “insane asylums” rose to twenty percent in one year, 1918. Examining the socioeconomic, cultural, and legal contexts, this project interrogates the treatment of so-called civilian lunatics in Germany and Great Britain and their respective allies the Ottoman Empire and the United States during World War I. Through archival work and comparative analysis of psychiatric hospitals and the treatment of their patients in times of crisis, this project sheds light on inequitable national policies of entitlements based on civilians’ positionality in the hierarchy of citizenship. Therein, the project contributes to an increasingly global history of World War I while paying close attention to local contexts.

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow
Assistant Professor, History, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  Transnational Lunacy: Madness, Society, and Citizenship in a World at War, 1914-1920

Phillip A. Hough
Phillip A. Hough  |  Abstract
“Global Markets, Local Labor” engages scholarly debates about the plight of workers in the age of globalization through a comparative and world historical analysis of three local labor regimes in rural Colombia—coffee, bananas, cocaine—from the postwar decades through the present. It traces local dynamics using mixed methods: a quantitative dataset that tracks incidents of labor militancy and repression since 1975 and qualitative fieldwork in each site—over 100 interviews with labor and human rights activists, state officials, business leaders, and others. It then uses commodity chains and world hegemony frameworks to explain how each local regime is impacted by its global market niche and by historical changes in the geopolitics of the world economy. The project finds that the development opportunities offered by the world market have shrunk over time as US world hegemony unravels, leaving Colombia’s local regimes squeezed between labor repression and chronic social crisis.

Associate Professor, Sociology, Florida Atlantic University  -  Global Markets, Local Labor: Development, Production, and Crisis in Rural Colombia

Cecilia M. Tsu
Cecilia M. Tsu  |  Abstract
This project chronicles the evolution of Southeast Asian refugee resettlement policy in the United States from 1975 to 1992, the formative years of its development and codification into law. Focusing on Hmong refugees from Laos, “Starting Over” examines the ways in which refugee resettlement sparked some of the most contentious debates in the United States during the late twentieth century about the role of government and how Americans should conceive of their national identity in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. This study reveals that the expansion of conservatism in national politics and decline in public support for the welfare state drove the cultural discourse and political implementation of refugee resettlement in the Reagan era, producing complex and unintended consequences that continue to inform policy today.

Associate Professor, History, University of California, Davis  -  Starting Over: Refugee Resettlement in the Reagan Era

Stephen D. Houston
Stephen D. Houston  |  Abstract
Maya texts and images of the Classic period, from 300–850 CE, in evidence unique for ancient America, had a set of identifiable artists, indications of sumptuary control over physical dimensions of images, and layouts or phrasings dictated by local ideas of ritual motion. This project addresses the full record of such named sculptors and calligraphers, as made possible by recent decipherments of glyphic writing. It also shows that dynastic displays, from carvings to buildings and murals, need to be understood by their relative size, scale, and the textual or pictorial representation of vertical and horizontal movement. Ultimately, it tells a more disquieting story, of how and why messaging was controlled in societies of profound inequality.

Professor, Anthropology, Brown University  -  Making, Sizing, Moving: Credit, Monumentality, and Direction in Maya Art and Writing

Stacey Van Vleet
Stacey Van Vleet  |  Abstract
This study examines how a vast network of monastic medical colleges brought Tibetan Buddhist technologies of governance to the heart of the Qing Empire, 1644-1911. By spreading shared scholarly practices, social values, and techniques for managing daily matters of life and death (from smallpox inoculation to ritually produced “precious pills”), Tibetan Buddhist medical institutions structured an Inner Asian sphere of education and statecraft that both complemented and competed with Qing Confucian administration. Within this Buddhist medical bureaucracy, monastic officials negotiated the politics of learning on local, regional, and imperial levels, producing scholarly and ritual distinctions that became constitutive of fragmented national subjectivities in twentieth-century China and Inner Asia. Reevaluating Qing period institutional and cultural history, this study argues that China’s transformation to a modern politics of culture hinged on redrawing the imperial boundaries of knowledge and community to create a new secular logic for the Chinese national body politic.

Visiting Lecturer, History, University of California, Berkeley  -  Plagues, Precious Pills, and the Politics of Learning in Qing China

Hsuan L. Hsu
Hsuan L. Hsu  |  Abstract
While smell has long been marginalized in Western aesthetics as a chemical sense that is more embodied and immersive than sight and sound, this project argues that these very qualities make it ideal for staging the dynamics of transcorporeality in contexts of environmental injustice. “The Smell of Risk” traces cultural deployments of olfaction during a historical period that it terms differential deodorization: while odor has been eradicated or carefully designed in some civilized, bourgeois spaces, bad air has been redistributed to racialized geographies within and outside of the United States in the form of smog, pesticides, and a range of other externalities. Drawing on Peter Sloterdijk’s concept of “air conditioning”—which denotes how air is manipulated, and also how air conditions humans’ bodies, minds, and moods—the book project analyzes fiction, olfactory art, occupational law cases, transpacific discourses of “atmo-Orientalism,” and the use of olfactory weapons in mass protests.

Professor, English, University of California, Davis  -  The Smell of Risk: Atmospheric Stratification and the Olfactory Arts

David R. Vishanoff
David R. Vishanoff  |  Abstract
The Book of Psalms, long associated with King David, was rewritten by several medieval Muslim authors as a compilation of proverbs and parables in which God exhorts the prophet David to repent his sins and pursue a life of ascetic piety. A century ago, these psalms were dismissed as polemical forgeries and consequently were never published. In the present academic and social context, however, they provide an important illustration of the moral and religious landscape shared by the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions. This project brings these little-known psalms to public attention for the first time through an English translation, while a critical Arabic edition, translation, and analysis of the earliest surviving version makes them accessible to scholars and explores their sources, redaction history, and significance for theories of otherness and textuality.

Associate Professor, Religious Studies Program, University of Oklahoma  -  Psalms of the Muslim Prophet David: Edition, Translation, and Analysis

Evelyn Hu-Dehart
Evelyn Hu-Dehart  |  Abstract
This book project adds a new chapter to the long and continuous history of the Chinese diaspora: the largely missing narratives of Chinese migration and settlement in Spain and the Spanish empire. Yet the first permanent Chinese diasporic community arose in the late sixteenth century in Spanish Manila, which was an intercolonial transpacific extension of New Spain. Another transpacific moment in the transatlantic was located on Cuban sugar plantations in the mid-nineteenth century, where the Chinese diaspora confronted the African diaspora when Chinese contract laborers worked alongside African slaves. Finally, the project looks at the sudden arrival of new Chinese immigrants playing out in Spain today, which is part of the Chinese state-led policy to blanket Europe, Africa, and Latin America with massive investment followed by people.

ACLS Centennial Fellow in the Dynamics of Place
Professor, History and American Studies, Brown University  -  Locating the Trans-Pacific in the Trans-Atlantic: Tracing the Course of the Chinese Diaspora through Spain and the Spanish Empire

Charles F. Walker
Charles F. Walker  |  Abstract
“Violence and Its Long Shadow” examines the history of the Shining Path guerrilla movement in Peru, from its emergence to its defeat and beyond, including reconciliation efforts. It asks how a Maoist group took hold in Peru and how this conflict resulted in at least 70,000 dead. The project contextualizes the Shining Path in the history of global violence and terror, and studies its long-term impact on Peru as well as the efforts of and responses to Peru’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CVR). Building on the rich CVR archive and a recent surge of publications, the book project informs not only those interested in Peru and insurgencies, but also those interested in global terror, radicalization, memory, and human rights.

Professor, History, University of California, Davis  -  Violence and Its Long Shadow: The Shining Path in Peru

Derek Scott Hyra
Derek Scott Hyra  |  Abstract
This project looks at the complex dynamics undergirding the riots in the urban United States in the 2010s. It takes a historical approach and compares the circumstances of the 1940s and 1950s to those in the 1990s and 2000s to explain how increased expectations among African Americans, widening income inequality, urban renewal policies, gentrification, and demographic and economic shifts, in addition to aggressive police actions, collectively account for modern riots in Baltimore, Ferguson, and Charlotte. This book is one of the first manuscripts to rigorously compare and contrast these urban renewal periods and show how this history of urban renewal, combined with contemporary policies, have contributed to conditions that sparked social unrest in the contemporary metropolitan United States.

Associate Professor, Public Administration and Policy, American University  -  Urban Renewal and Unrest: Race, Riots, and Democracy

Michelle R. Warren
Michelle R. Warren  |  Abstract
This project investigates the many lives of a single medieval book across 800 years. This manuscript passes from luxury status symbol to pawn of religious polemic to disparaged romance before being caught up in the dramas of twenty-first century digital culture. The catalyst for this lively history—a book that contains a unique English translation of a French romance about the Holy Grail and King Arthur—resides in Parker Library, in Corpus Christi College at the University of Cambridge, and also on the digital platform “Parker Library on the Web.” “Lives of a Medieval Book in the Digital Dark Ages” brings together philology, media theory, information studies, and the digital humanities to expose the impact of research infrastructure on understandings of historical documents. The result is a method for literary history that accounts for the layering of text technologies—from scribes and print to photography and computer code.

Professor, Comparative Literature, Dartmouth College  -  Lives of a Medieval Book in the Digital Dark Ages

Samantha Gayathri Iyer
Samantha Gayathri Iyer  |  Abstract
Through the prism of food, this project traces how the United States emerged as a global power out of a British imperial world. Its point of departure is an oft-ignored characteristic of the United States after World War II: in contrast to imperial Britain, an industrial power reliant on a colonial hinterland for raw materials, the United States was an agricultural superpower in a world of nation states. Under its 1954 food aid program, the United States became the dominant exporter of food staples to predominantly agricultural countries. The study focuses on Egypt and India, British territories that became the largest consumers of US food aid after independence. This project reveals how food aid inspired a fundamental transformation and reimagining of the relationship between country and city, within and across national boundaries, and how an interimperial shift bore the imprint of the ideas and actions of farmers, workers, and consumers.

Assistant Professor, History, Fordham University  -  Agricultural Superpower: The Politics of Food in India, Egypt, and the United States, 1870s-1970s

Sunny Yang
Sunny Yang  |  Abstract
“Fictions of Territoriality” examines how US imperial boundaries and racial hierarchies were consolidated and contested from 1844 to 1914. Analyzing legal and cultural documents from four sites—extraterritorial cities in China, the Panama Canal zone, the Mexican Cession, and Indian Territory—it argues that US law and literature coproduced narratives about race and geography to naturalize the hierarchical management of certain jurisdictions and populations. Yet these fictions of territoriality were also appropriated and reimagined on behalf of Chinese, Latinx, black, and Native American communities. Through close readings of works by Mark Twain, María Ruiz de Burton, H.G. de Lisser, and Pleasant Porter, among others, the project reveals how a multiethnic set of American writers mobilized alternative geographies of belonging to articulate new forms of sovereignty and self-determination.

Assistant Professor, English, University of Houston  -  Fictions of Territoriality: Legal and Literary Narratives of Race, Geography, and US Empire

Sara E. Johnson
Sara E. Johnson  |  Abstract
This project examines the work of the Caribbean “philosophe” Moreau de Saint-Méry (1750-1819). A refugee of both French and Haitian revolutions, he was an early practitioner of hemispheric American historiography. The book places Moreau at the center of a narrative that explores the multilingual underpinnings of Enlightenment-era thought among slaveholding intellectuals. As such, it analyzes Moreau’s collaborations with Italian printers, Chinese watercolorists, French and North American typesetters, and his own mixed-raced family. The book simultaneously documents the “shadow army” of people of African descent who undergirded Moreau’s work on multiple levels, from the people he personally enslaved to those who served as interlocutors in his legal tomes and natural histories. The project makes Moreau’s intellectual environment tangible by highlighting the cacophony of languages, the warring perspectives, and the physical torture and despair that raged around him in the context of forced migration and the continuous struggle for freedom.

Associate Professor, Literature, University of California, San Diego  -  Moreau de Saint-Méry: Print Culture, Slavery and the Multilingual American Enlightenment

Ann Marie Yasin
Ann Marie Yasin  |  Abstract
This project investigates architectural restoration in the Roman Empire during the profound political and religious transformations of the first to sixth centuries. Then as now, architectural restoration occurred when structures needed repair or upgrading. It is a mistake, however, to see restoration in strictly practical terms. Period rhetoric surrounding architectural destruction and rebuilding, as well as the spatial and decorative configurations of restoration projects, reveal that such architectural interventions also responded to cultural concerns about longevity and ephemerality, tradition and novelty, and piety and empire. From temples and churches to aqueducts and fortifications, the project examines the mechanisms through which the age of “old” structures—variously celebrated, recast, or masked—shaped Roman and late antique perceptions of time in place.

Associate Professor, Art History and Classics, University of Southern California  -  Roman Restoration and Its Late Antique Legacy: On Time and Architecture

Dina R. Khoury
Dina R. Khoury  |  Abstract
The second half of the nineteenth century marked the integration of the Persian Gulf into global networks in which flows of capital, people, and liberal discourses on freedom of markets played a significant part in both the regulation of labor and claims to subjects by competing empires and national states. The unfolding of this story took place in a region with a history of indigenous forms of capitalist development, labor practices, and understandings of mobility. This study maps the recruitment and documentation of the migration of bonded, servile, and contract labor from East Africa, South Asia, and the Persian Gulf region across the borderlands of southern Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, and Bahrain. It asks how the regulation and documentation of such migrations transformed understandings of bondage and freedom, as well as notions of imperial subjecthood and, after the 1920s, of nationality.

Professor, History, The George Washington University  -  Who is a Migrant Laborer? Documenting Labor Migration in the Persian Gulf

Emily Zazulia
Emily Zazulia  |  Abstract
This project expands the notion of musical aesthetics to include visual elements. Whereas music is typically appreciated as sound, some fifteenth-century pieces also invite engagement on the page in order to arrive at a still subtler aesthetic experience. For a long time, interest in musical notation has extended only as far as practical knowledge demanded. Yet it is not enough to know the content of what notation conveys; understanding how composers and scribes transmitted some of the period’s most complex music stands to change ontological conceptions of this repertory. In turn, these cases open up to larger questions that concern musicologists and scholars of all stripes. How is experience shaped by the intermediary of writing? What is the relationship between a musical creation and the tools available to create it? How can issues of cultural literacy be overcome at such great historical remove?

ACLS Susan McClary and Robert Walser Fellow
Assistant Professor, Music, University of California, Berkeley  -  Where Sight Meets Sound: The Poetics of Late Medieval Music Writing

Judd Creighton Kinzley
Judd Creighton Kinzley  |  Abstract
The March 1941 Lend-Lease Act marked the beginning of a massive transpacific material exchange between China and the United States that continued throughout the 1940s. This exchange of US guns, petroleum, and bank notes for Chinese tungsten, hog bristles, and tung oil transformed China and East Asia more broadly in ways that have yet to be understood. While previous scholarship on the act and postwar aid has largely focused on high politics and diplomacy, this project makes the objects themselves central. The study’s approach exposes the important but often overlooked populations, institutions, and infrastructures charged with producing and moving these objects. Drawing on newly uncovered archival sources collected on three continents, this work offers unique insights into US-China relations and the formation of modern China and Cold War East Asia, as well as a new perspective on how foreign aid helped form economic and logistical frameworks that continue to shape the world.

Assistant Professor, History, University of Wisconsin-Madison  -  Arms for Ores: China and the Making of an American Foreign Aid Regime, 1941-1949

Barbie Zelizer
Barbie Zelizer  |  Abstract
When the Cold War ended in 1989, its journalistic mindset went underground, shaping coverage of many difficult public events since. This project tracks the emergence and maintenance of Cold War mindedness in US journalism during the war’s formative years, from 1947 to 1952. Tracing its reflection in the words and images of coverage, it demonstrates how journalists’ reliance on three interrelated suppositions—that dichotomous enmity between the United States and the Soviet Union deserved to be upheld; that war did not have to be seen to be believed; and that media reach indicated US impact on those under communism—shaped understandings of the war. This project also shows how Cold War mindedness continues to fuel coverage of current events, including the emergence of populism, the so-called War on Terror, and globalization.

Professor, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania  -  How the Cold War Drives the News