ACLS Fellows

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

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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. 

 

Francesca Russello Ammon
Francesca Russello Ammon  |  Abstract
This history of Philadelphia’s Society Hill neighborhood complements the dominant narrative of postwar urban renewal as focused largely on clearance; it shows how modernizing cities incorporated historic preservation as well. These two practices were both enemies and allies. Using digital humanities, the project maps renewal’s social and material impacts upon more than 1,500 parcels of land by aggregating photographs, oral histories, and site-level data from government reports. The 90 oral histories, conducted by and with area residents and businesspeople, illuminate a bottom-up history of urban renewal and show that power operated in many directions. Ultimately, this project reveals that the making of the postwar city was a contested enterprise, one that lacked clear heroes and villains and pitted utopian visions against practical realities.

Assistant Professor, City & Regional Planning, and Historic Preservation, University of Pennsylvania  -  Preserving the City: Urban Renewal and Restoration in Society Hill, Philadelphia

Hilary Falb Kalisman
Hilary Falb Kalisman  |  Abstract
This project investigates one of the most durable, pervasive, and understudied legacies of British imperialism in the Middle East: school examinations. “Standardized Testing: An Imperial Legacy of the Modern Middle East” uses Britain’s Middle Eastern mandates to underscore the colonial origins of standardized testing and its perceived value as a universalizing measure of proficiency. It argues that the mandate governments viewed testing as a means of suppressing antiimperial politics. Locals fought to keep and expand the tests, viewing exams as an international metric of academic prowess and often intelligence. This project shows how educational methods become globalized, and how local tensions and agreements regarding imperial policies shaped knowledge and subject formation.

Assistant Professor, History and Jewish Studies, University of Colorado Boulder  -  Standardized Testing: An Imperial Legacy of the Modern Middle East

Adrian Anagnost
Adrian Anagnost  |  Abstract
This project examines organic architecture, a twentieth-century design theory encompassing ecological sensitivity, human scale, and antiauthoritarian politics. Theorized by Frank Lloyd Wright in the early twentieth-century United States, organic architecture was politicized in post-World War II Italy as an antidote to the inhuman grandiosity of fascist monumentality. This project rehistoricizes and newly globalizes the study of organic architecture, identifying it as a diverse set of projects pursued by architects, urbanists, and critics across Italy, the United States, and Brazil. Using art historical methods of formal analysis, and archival sources including photographs, exhibitions, architectural journals, and networks of migration among Latin America, Europe, and the United States, this project traces changing approaches to organic architecture over the second third of the twentieth century. The project examines how intersecting aesthetic and political commitments produced a shift in notions of organicism, which moved from ideas about harmony with nature toward a new—sometimes opportunistic—attentiveness to sociospatial inclusion of marginalized populations.

Assistant Professor, Art, Tulane University  -  Organic Architectures

Ippolytos Andreas Kalofonos
Ippolytos Andreas Kalofonos  |  Abstract
Many observers describe the scale-up of HIV testing, care, and treatment in Africa during the first decade of the twenty-first century as a remarkable achievement of contemporary humanitarian intervention and the signature triumph of the new global health. This book elaborates the emergence, establishment, and reproduction of an AIDS economy with global, national, and local scales alongside the expansion of antretroviral (ARV) treatment in central Mozambique, a site characterized by high HIV prevalence, a fragmented health system, and grinding poverty. It places AIDS treatment within local moral and political economies of care to argue that while the scale-up of HIV testing, care, and treatment saved lives, it also produced troubling side effects. By providing a medical treatment focused on saving individual lives but indifferent to the material realities of collective survival, the intervention established new hierarchies and forms of exclusion.

Assistant Professor, Psychiatry, University of California, Los Angeles  -  “All I Eat Is ARVs”: Surviving the AIDS Economy in Central Mozambique

Kevin B. Anderson
Kevin B. Anderson  |  Abstract
Marx’s late writings show a new type of engagement with gender, the Global South, and indigenous societies in three major ways. First, the focus of his research turns eastward and southward, toward Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Second, he examines gender relations among indigenous peoples of the Americas, as well as early Greece and Rome, all the while castigating patriarchal male domination. Third, he ruminates over the possibilities for social revolution in three major agrarian empires: Russia in the 1880s, precolonial and colonial India, and ancient Rome.

Professor, Sociology, Political Science, and Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara  -  Mapping the Late Marx: On Colonialism, Gender, Development, and Multilinear Concepts of Revolution

Catherine M. Kearns
Catherine M. Kearns  |  Abstract
Human relationships with changing environments—and their social and economic dimensions—have become sites of intense academic and public debate. In fields like classics and archaeology, however, assumptions of societal collapse caused by environmental crises or analyses that eschew humanity's rich ecological histories still prevail. This interdisciplinary project argues for a more critical approach to past human-environment interactions, combining archaeological, ecological, and historical evidence to posit how diverse communities formed in relation to unstable climates. It explores these relationships through the understudied island of Cyprus and its dynamic semiarid landscapes during the Iron Age, a period of dramatic societal growth in the ancient Mediterranean. Using different scales of analysis, from rural sites to regional markets, this research foregrounds the shifting landscape practices and perceptions of environmental change that became instrumental to new social formations and political economies. In doing so, it advocates deep historical study in current climate-society discourse.

Assistant Professor, Classics, University of Chicago  -  Unruly Landscapes: Environment and Society on Ancient Cyprus

Laurie Arnold
Laurie Arnold  |  Abstract
Fellow Laurie Arnold (Sinixt Band, Colville Confederated Tribes) is working on “Native American Cultural Activism,” a project that characterizes authors Sarah Winnemucca, Mourning Dove, and Zitkala-Sa as historians of their time. The project investigates how women raised with ancestral traditions working from and for their communities achieved tangible benefits through public-facing activism. It connects the authors with twenty-first-century playwrights to illustrate cultural activism as a continuous process, and consequently it reframes activism as ongoing rather than interpreting it simply as an event. Contemporary Native dramatists are repurposing the history play to recount Native American stories that general audiences have either forgotten or never learned; this activist practice links them to earlier Native American intellectual traditions. This project takes seriously the community narratives that authors, activists, and playwrights build upon when they frame histories and interpret cultural significance from insider perspectives informed by family and place.

Associate Professor, History, Gonzaga University  -  Native American Cultural Activism as Historical Text: From Sarah Winnemucca to Twenty-First Century Drama

Greta L. LaFleur
Greta L. LaFleur  |  Abstract
"Rape is about power," Susan Brownmiller argued in 1975, "not sex." This oft-repeated idea abjects violence from the realm of sexuality, insisting on an understanding of modern sex that is distinct from power, and a vision of rape distinct from sex. “A Queer History of Sexual Violence” takes this twentieth-century feminist political distinction between sexual violence and sex itself as a point of departure to consider the relationship of sexual violence to the history of sexuality in the United States between the late eighteenth and the late twentieth centuries. This project asks how the understanding of the history of sexuality in America might change if one centers the experience of sexual violence or coercion instead of modern paradigms of pleasure, consent, and voluntary participation.

Assistant Professor, American Studies, Yale University  -  A Queer History of Sexual Violence

Yury P. Avvakumov
Yury P. Avvakumov  |  Abstract
The current conflict between Ukraine and Russia cannot be understood without considering its religious context, including the history of confessional tensions along the Christian East-West divide. A fruitful way to examine this history is by studying the figure who was at the front lines of those debates and conflicts, Ukrainian Metropolitan Sheptytsky. Against the backdrop of a confessional worldview that postulated Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy as two mutually exclusive and inimical denominational blocs, Sheptytsky’s inter-confessional Orthodox-Catholic project proposed a courageous theological vision that, by its very nature, resisted being captured under a single denominational category and challenged the confessionalist geopolitics of the period. The study narrates a history of Sheptytsky’s activities based on archival documents and examines ideas of Christian unity and Christian politics debated in the writings of Sheptytsky and his interlocutors.

Associate Professor, Theology, University of Notre Dame  -  Ukrainians, Russians, and the Holy See, 1900-1939: Metropolitan Sheptytsky’s “Orthodox Catholic” Project and Its Post-Confessional Challenge

Priya Lal
Priya Lal  |  Abstract
“Human Resources” tells the story of decolonization and its aftermath from the perspective of African professionals whose labor fueled national development in vital but overlooked ways. Focusing on Tanzania and Zambia since the 1950s, it examines the education, labor, and circulation of the first generations of African professors, doctors, and nurses alongside the broader dynamics of nation building, the Cold War, and neoliberalism with which they were intertwined. These individuals shouldered the weight of their governments’ aspirations toward national sovereignty, the demands of their students and patients, and the expectations of the foreign donors who paid for their training and equipment. Over time, they struggled to reconcile personal ambition with nationalist commitment in the face of tempting job opportunities abroad and resource shortages and contentious workplace politics at home. By following their lives and careers, “Human Resources” offers a new portrait of African nationhood and the late twentieth-century world.

Associate Professor, History, Boston College  -  Human Resources: Professional Labor and Nation Building in Southeastern Africa

Anthony Barbieri-Low
Anthony Barbieri-Low  |  Abstract
This book project is an interdisciplinary, comparative study of New Kingdom Egypt and early imperial China, examining issues of politics, administration, law, empire, religion, and art during the early imperial phase of the two civilizations. While many recently-published comparative volumes have focused on China and Rome, or China and Greece, very few have ventured to compare China and Egypt, an intriguing and instructive dyad for comparison. This study employs a combination of textual, art historical, and archaeological analyses to illuminate each civilization more clearly, revealing shared structural traits as well as distinctive features.

ACLS Yvette and William Kirby Centennial Fellow
Professor, History, University of California, Santa Barbara  -  The Black Land and the Middle Kingdom: Comparative Perspectives on Ancient Egypt and Early China

Melinda Latour
Melinda Latour  |  Abstract
“The Voice of Virtue” offers the first book-length study of moral song, a fascinating domain of musical activity that gained traction during the Wars of Religion in late sixteenth-century France. Setting pithy and profound morsels of vernacular wisdom to simple tunes or elaborate polyphonic compositions, moral song offered a multisensory engagement with contemporary ethical thought. Whereas medieval ethics developed within the bounds of professional philosophy, the Renaissance saw an explosion of informal interest in moral philosophy created by and for non-specialists. This book will illuminate song as one such expression of informal ethics, animating diverse moral principles drawn from ancient sources for a broad community of amateur musicians.

Assistant Professor, Music, Tufts University  -  The Voice of Virtue: Moral Song in Late Renaissance France, 1574-1652

Janine G. Barchas
Janine G. Barchas  |  Abstract
When Jane Austen was born in 1775, the burgeoning consumer culture of late-Georgian England increasingly allowed temporary ownership over certain luxury goods for a fee. Books and artworks could be borrowed, furniture and musical instruments rented, carriages or horses hired, and whole country mansions let. Some rentals were bizarre, e.g. pineapples, but all of them complicated identity politics by blurring traditional social signals of rank. Whereas old sumptuary laws aimed to fix luxury goods as markers of class, in Austen’s era privilege could be flaunted with kit and carriages not one’s own. This project explores the messy logistics of what was rented—where, to whom, and at what prices—to reveal the social implications for this early economy of temporary possession.

Professor, English, University of Texas at Austin  -  Renting in the Age of Austen

Keith D. Leonard
Keith D. Leonard  |  Abstract
This project characterizes as black avant-gardism the practices through which African American writers from three writers’ collectives formed since the 1960s paradoxically fulfilled the black nationalist call for independent black institutions and literary self-determination by garnering mainstream recognition. It complicates the binaries of accommodation versus revolution in black radical thought by adapting theories of social and aesthetic revolt in the avant-garde that are usually understood only as Anglo-American literary movements. These black artistic communities, it argues, represent blackness in a way that relies upon avant-garde aesthetic estrangement and resists the appropriation and accommodation implied in their work’s accolades, specifically by enacting in literary form and image how blackness always exceeds the frames in which it is represented. The project traces how these collectives cultivate the aesthetics of this estrangement through their sociality, empowering writers to build innovative, dissident artistry and successful careers by portraying how features of black cultural life resist representation.

Associate Professor, Literature, American University  -  Black Avant-Gardism

Marsha E. Barrett
Marsha E. Barrett  |  Abstract
This political history considers the career of New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller from 1959 to 1973, to contextualize the decline of centrism and moderation in US politics—with a regional focus on the Northeast—after the passage of 1960s federal civil rights legislation. With an emphasis on racially-inflected policies related to welfare, drug policies, policing, and mass incarceration, it reimagines the traditional political history that focuses solely on elected leaders and high politics by incorporating the concerns of social history. This project reveals how and why punitive policies known for their disproportionate effect on racial minorities originated with a moderate governor who first made his name as an advocate for civil rights legislation.

Assistant Professor, History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign  -  The Decline of Centrist Politics and the Rise of the Punitive State: A Political History of Nelson Rockefeller

James S. Leve
James S. Leve  |  Abstract
This study brings the practices and aesthetics of disability musical theater to bear on mainstream commercial musical theater, which has only recently and superficially considered the ethics of accommodation. Broadway musical theater reinforces an ableist ideology about bodily difference by exploiting disability as metaphor, relying on cliché narratives about overcoming disability and adopting exclusionary casting practices; away from the spotlights of Broadway, performers who are typically excluded due to physical, vocal, or mental impairments appear in musicals at non-commercial theater organizations committed to accommodation onstage, backstage, and in the audience. “Disability Musical Theater” stems from the recognition that these two realms of musical theater operate in total isolation from each other. By proposing a new musical theater aesthetic, this study aims to remove negative connotations of difference by emphasizing disability as a positive and omnipresent dimension of the human condition.

Professor, Music, Northern Arizona University  -  Disability Musical Theater: Dramaturgy, Performance, Accommodation, and Access

Erin Beeghly
Erin Beeghly  |  Abstract
This book project employs a philosophical perspective to investigate the ethical puzzles associated with stereotyping. It asks two kinds of questions. The first is conceptual: how should one conceptualize stereotypes and stereotyping? The second is evaluative: when and why is stereotyping ethically wrong? Is it is always wrong? Might it never be wrong due to its cognitive and practical indispensability? If stereotyping is only sometimes wrong, why? How does one distinguish bad cases from ones that are ethically benign? This project argues that the best answer to these questions requires a pluralistic theory that reflects the complexity of objections to stereotyping.

Assistant Professor, Philosophy, University of Utah  -  What’s Wrong with Stereotyping?

Darryl Li
Darryl Li  |  Abstract
No contemporary figure is more demonized than the Islamist foreign fighter who wages jihad around the world. Spreading violence, disregarding national borders, and rejecting secular norms, so-called jihadists seem opposed to universalism itself. In a radical departure from conventional wisdom on the topic, this project argues that transnational jihadists are engaged in their own form of universalism: these fighters struggle to realize an Islamist vision that transcends racial and cultural difference and is directed at all of humanity. The project reconceptualizes jihad as armed transnational solidarity under conditions of US empire, revisiting a pivotal moment after the Cold War when ethnic cleansing in the Balkans dominated global headlines. Muslim volunteers came from distant lands to fight in Bosnia-Herzegovina alongside their coreligionists, offering themselves as an alternative to the international community. It highlights the parallels and overlaps between transnational jihads and other universalisms such as the war on terror, United Nations peacekeeping, and socialist non-alignment.

Assistant Professor, Anthropology, University of Chicago  -  The Universal Enemy: Jihad, Empire, and the Challenge of Solidarity

Shanna Greene Benjamin
Shanna Greene Benjamin  |  Abstract
Nellie Y. McKay, co-editor of the groundbreaking “Norton Anthology of African American Literature,” made an indelible mark on the academy by creating space for black literature, black scholars, and black feminist thought. “Half in Shadow” traces twentieth-century black literary history through McKay’s life to reveal her role in field formation and to document the strategies black women use to fulfill professional aspirations beyond domestic labor. This intellectual biography considers McKay’s academic trajectory against the backdrop of a personal life concealed from even her dearest friends in the professoriate: the truth of McKay’s age, and marital and parental status, was revealed only after her death. “Half in Shadow” explores how McKay circumvented the limited professional opportunities race, gender, and class offered and marshalled the collective enterprise that produced black literary studies. This book maps McKay’s legacy through her scholarship, teaching, leadership, and mentoring to chart her vast disciplinary and institutional influence.

Associate Professor, English, Grinnell College  -  Half in Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Nellie Y. McKay

Marc Matera
Marc Matera  |  Abstract
By the 1960s, race relations had become the dominant way of conceptualizing racial tensions in Britain and the rationale for a broad array of research projects, publications, and non-governmental organizations. Interest in race relations, however, did not center initially on Afro-Caribbeans and other nonwhite migrants to Britain, as is commonly assumed. The concept had an earlier history in South Africa and elsewhere in colonial Africa, and it gained traction among powerful circles in Britain as a way to come to grips with the the challenge of African nationalism. This project is a history of the process by which race relations became a useful framework for reckoning with the prospect of decolonization in the British empire and for managing its economic effects in particular. It highlights the efforts of large corporations to navigate colonial independence and reveals the underestimated and continuous influence of Africa on thinking about race and racism in Britain.

Associate Professor, History, University of California, Santa Cruz  -  The African Grounds of Race Relations in Britain

Susanna Berger
Susanna Berger  |  Abstract
This project uncovers how Italian artists, elite collectors, and scientists first theorized the notion of visual expertise. Before the sixteenth century, visual expertise could, of course, emerge in practices that entailed attentive looking. Yet it was seldom a notion that received serious consideration as a discrete category of knowledge. By the turn of the eighteenth century, it had developed into a concept that was recognized and discussed by theorists and actors: learned observation had become a fundamental means for gaining knowledge about a range of fields, from the arts to the sciences. “Visual Expertise and the Aesthetics of Deception in Early Modern Italy” contends that the theorization and cultivation of visual expertise in Italy reveals a massive transformation in the understanding of the relationship between visual experience and knowledge.

Assistant Professor, Art History, University of Southern California  -  Visual Expertise and the Aesthetics of Deception in Early Modern Italy

Ndubueze L. Mbah
Ndubueze L. Mbah  |  Abstract
“Rebellious Migrants” examines how the social mobility and reintegration politics of nineteenth-century Biafran recaptives, particularly the Liberated Africans that returned from Sierra Leone to Calabar, facilitated postcolonial forms of ethnogeneses in West Africa. Through contraband transatlantic petty trading that undermined Euro-African monopolies, and by inaugurating illicit intraregional servile labor migrations to Cameroon, Fernando Po, and Gabon, these Biafran diasporas-in-reverse negotiated ambiguous forms of liberty, developed enduring infrastructures of regional mobility, and forged intraregional kinship networks. These flows of bodies and commodities constituted rebellious imaginations of communities, social belonging, labor power, and identity, all of which enabled Africans to negotiate abolitionism, mediate European colonialism, and contest control over modes of production. Unrealized African visions of freedom, borderland spaces, and fluid social belonging defined the dialectical nature of Euro-African colonial encounters, as well as the sociocultural struggles that underpinned the domestication of capitalism.

ACLS Centennial Fellow in the Dynamics of Place
Assistant Professor, History, University at Buffalo, State University of New York  -  Rebellious Migrants: Forging Cosmopolitan Identity and Postcolonial Spaces in the Bight of Biafra, 1840-1960

Allan M. Brandt
Allan M. Brandt  |  Abstract
Despite concerted efforts to reduce stigmas associated with disease over the last century—and especially in recent decades—stigma continues to cast a wide shadow over patients, and is a major obstacle to medical and public health efforts to improve both individual care and population health. Stigmatized diseases augment fundamental inequalities that center on class, ethnic, racial, and gender disparities; in this sense stigma and discrimination are closely connected. Those affected by stigma often suffer a double jeopardy of disease and prejudice. Some of these disease stigmas have been deep and lasting—for example, mental illness, addiction, obesity, and disability—while others, such as cancer and AIDS, have been modified by a range of forces, including targeted efforts for destigmatization. This project centers attention on rethinking the social, cultural, and political production of stigma as well as interventions and public policies for its reduction.

Professor, History of Science, and Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard University  -  Enduring Stigma: Historical Perspectives on Disease Meanings and Their Impact

Julie A. Minich
Julie A. Minich  |  Abstract
“Health, Justice, and Latina/o/x Expressive Culture” reconsiders the causes of racial health disparities and responds to contemporary debates around health care access in the United States. The Latina/o/x writers and artists examined in this study reject the notion that good health results from individual choices and behaviors, revealing instead the systemic factors—particularly the ability to obtain clean air and water, nutritious food, and cultural narratives depicting one’s life as valuable and worth living—that affect mental and physical well-being. In so doing, they reveal how literature and art can serve as valuable public health resources that offer new insights into how marginalized communities interact with health care systems and providers, understand well-being, and reimagine health. This book, therefore, argues not only for the importance of Latina/o/x cultural expression but also for the power of literature and art to intervene in urgent matters of public concern.

Associate Professor, English and Mexican American & Latina/o Studies, University of Texas at Austin  -  Health, Justice, and Latina/o/x Expressive Culture

Susan Burch
Susan Burch  |  Abstract
Centering on lived histories of people institutionalized at the Canton Asylum, “Committed” examines Native self-determination, kinship, institutionalization, and remembering. Between 1902 and 1934, this federal psychiatric hospital in South Dakota confined nearly 400 men, women, and children from 17 states and 53 tribes. Institutionalization not only impacts those removed, but ripples through families, communities, and nations, and across generations. The wide-ranging ways individuals, kin, and tribal nations responded to their circumstances constitute the through-line of this book. “Committed” expands the boundaries of Native American, disability, and general US social and cultural history by bringing these multiple analyses into conversation with one another.

Professor, American Studies, Middlebury College  -  Committed: Native Self-determination, Kinship, Institutionalization, and Remembering

Ada Palmer
Ada Palmer  |  Abstract
The digital revolution is triggering a wave of new information control efforts, from copyright battles to the Great Firewall of China. Many people think of censorship as carried out by a centralized Orwellian institution, a looming, distant them. “Why People Censor” challenges this idea by examining the real human beings who have been censors over five centuries. Using historical cases of what actual censors have attempted and why, this book dispels the myth that censorship is primarily conducted by malevolent, top-down, centralized organizations, and introduces the more common forms of local, ad hoc, commerce-driven, and bottom-up censorship, which easily persist even in societies that officially condemn censorship.

Associate Professor, History, University of Chicago  -  Why People Censor, from the Inquisition to the Internet

Christopher Collins
Christopher Collins  |  Abstract
This project looks at Sasi and Kua, two Khoisan languages spoken in eastern Botswana. It gives special focus to documenting the rich cultural life of the speakers through video recordings, which help inform the resulting grammars and dictionaries. An important component of this work is its availability to the local communities, citizens of Botswana, and other linguists in a user-friendly, open access web portal.

Professor, Linguistics, New York University  -  The Eastern Khoisan Languages of Botswana

Nandini B. Pandey
Nandini B. Pandey  |  Abstract
Many studies have examined Greek and Roman interactions with foreign peoples, but none has yet asked how the Romans conceptualized ethnic diversity within their own body politic. “Diversity and Difference in Imperial Rome” offers fresh evidence for race relations in antiquity by analyzing the literary, social, and material contexts in which Romans imagined and practiced ethnic pluralism. By tracing a longstanding complicity between Roman imperialism, consumerism, and modes of experiencing demographic variety, as well as the pragmatic value that Roman communities ascribed to inclusivity, this study writes a new chapter in the history of diversity and promotes critical reexamination of modern discourse on race.

Associate Professor, Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison  -  Diversity and Difference in Imperial Rome

Catherine Conybeare
Catherine Conybeare  |  Abstract
Scattered references in writings throughout his life show that Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE) was intensely aware of himself as an African. Yet his intellectual legacy has been subsumed into the purported universalism of a Eurocentric history of ideas. This book reconsiders Augustine's works, particularly the letters and sermons, which are less formal and less well-known than his grand treatises, to produce a detailed account of the Africanness of Augustine. The focus on an African perspective, rather than a Roman or “universal” one, yields a completely new account of Augustine’s thought and significance.

Professor, Greek, Latin, and Classical Studies, Bryn Mawr College  -  Augustine the African

Sun-Young Park
Sun-Young Park  |  Abstract
Spanning the years between 1750 and 1950 in France, this project investigates architectural and urban efforts to accommodate disabled subjects, and recovers how they negotiated environments that had been created for normalized subjects. In this period of political and social revolutions, and as conceptions of disability shifted from moral to scientific terms, material interfaces played increasingly formative roles in programs of education, therapy, and integration. This project traces the evolution of early blind and deaf schools, as well as urban reform measures that gradually made cities more accessible. It argues that these developments struck at the heart of charged debates on citizenship and the public sphere in a society making a difficult transition to democracy.

Assistant Professor, History and Art History, George Mason University  -  The Architecture of Disability in Modern France

Jay Crisostomo
Jay Crisostomo  |  Abstract
Sumerian, one of the earliest recorded languages, has been used for numerous purposes over the course of 3,000 years. Despite being one of history’s most important languages, a synthetic analysis of how the Sumerian language was used, appropriated, and conceptualized in relation to social meaning has not been considered. This project investigates the social and linguistic history of the language, demonstrating why and how certain populations adopted and adapted Sumerian in specific situations. More than 5,000 years ago, Sumerian came to life through the styli of scribes, the songs of women, the numeracy of accountants, and the invention of scholars. By considering through sociolinguistic frameworks how ancient language users employed Sumerian varieties, particularly in contrast to other linguistic options, “The Social Lives of Sumerian” brings Sumerian new life, allowing its users to impact new social worlds through the power of the language.

Assistant Professor, Middle East Studies, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  The Social Lives of Sumerian

Gerard Passannante
Gerard Passannante  |  Abstract
The aphorism “God is in the detail” is an old one and conveys an even older idea: that God’s hand can be discerned in even the smallest of things. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe used it to explain his use of restraint in architecture, and Aby Warburg, to capture his distinctive sensitivities to art. Yet this familiar phrase also calls attention to the way questions of scale have long been implicated in questions about the order of the universe. From ancient arguments about the nature of providence to Hamlet’s “bad dreams” to the discovery of infinitesimal calculus, this project seeks to understand the various lives of this idea, as well as how contemporary patterns of thinking about scale bear the imprint of largely forgotten theological and philosophical controversy.

Associate Professor, English and Comparative Literature, University of Maryland, College Park  -  God is in the Detail: Cosmic Order and the Sense of Scale

Joanna Dee Das
Joanna Dee Das  |  Abstract
Branson, Missouri seems an unlikely place to bill itself as the “Live Entertainment Capital of the World,” given that many people outside of the Midwest have never heard of it. In 2017, however, more US tourists watched live performance in this Ozark Mountain town than on Broadway. The theatrical performances in Branson promote a worldview that focuses on faith, flag, and family, a triumvirate linked to the rise of the modern conservative movement in America. “Dancing for God and Country” analyzes the influence of Branson’s live performance industry from its start in 1959 to the present. The book will reorient the understanding of the relationship between theatrical performance and conservative politics.

Assistant Professor, Performing Arts, Washington University in St. Louis  -  Dancing for God and Country: Performing Politics in "A Perfect American Town"

Nathalie M. Peutz
Nathalie M. Peutz  |  Abstract
This project examines the lived effects of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Global Compact on Refugees in an era of gated nations and shrinking humanitarian spaces. Based on ethnographic research in a Yemeni refugee camp in Djibouti between 2016 and 2019, “Gate of Tears” analyzes a complex set of displacements in a geopolitically-sensitive region where encamped Yemeni refugees come into direct daily contact with Ethiopian migrants walking toward Yemen. In this precarious climate, where “Arab” refugees are effectively held captive while “African” migrants are abandoned, the Compact reads less like a global commitment than it does a continuation of Southern captivity and Northern abandonment. This timely case study brings vital refugee voices and historical experiences to bear on academic and practitioner debates on refugee integration, self-reliance, and (im)mobility.

Assistant Professor, Arab Crossroads Studies, New York University Abu Dhabi  -  Gate of Tears: Migration and Impasse in Yemen and the Horn of Africa

Marlene L. Daut
Marlene L. Daut  |  Abstract
“Awakening the Ashes” is a comprehensive intellectual history of Haiti which places Haitian writers and politicians within the global history of ideas. Beginning with Haitian independence in 1804 and ending around the time of World War II, this book provides an in-depth study of key figures of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Haitian intellectual history and a broad analysis of what Haitian political, literary, and historical ideas writ large reveals. This research into the interconnectedness of Haitian intellectuals with their counterparts from around the world highlights the largely unacknowledged role of Haitian thinkers in the development of many of the concepts essential to understanding the modern world system, such as democracy, science, culture, colonialism, and even history itself. Ultimately, the goal of “Awakening the Ashes” is both to emphasize the innovative nature of Haitian thought and to demonstrate its centrality within broader global intellectual currents.

Associate Professor, African American Studies, University of Virginia  -  Awakening the Ashes: An Intellectual History of Haiti

Anne Pollock
Anne Pollock  |  Abstract
This book manuscript explores a series of distinct, evocative twenty-first-century events to illuminate wide-ranging elements of racial health disparities in the contemporary United States. Each chapter is grounded in close attention to a specific event: the deaths of postal workers in the 2001 anthrax attacks; the increase in chronic disease after Hurricane Katrina; the Scott sisters case, in which prison sentences were suspended conditional upon kidney donation; a teenage girl subjected to excessive force by a police officer at a suburban pool party; the differential protection of machines over people in the Flint water crisis; the life-threatening childbirth experience of Serena Williams. These extraordinary crises reveal fundamental racialization of access to citizenship and health in the contemporary United States.

Professor, Global Health and Social Medicine, King's College London  -  Race and Biopolitics in the Twenty-first Century

Joshua Foa Dienstag
Joshua Foa Dienstag  |  Abstract
This project’s central claim is that the problem of the twenty-first century will be the problem of the human boundary. What separates humans in a morally and politically consequential way from nature, animals, and new forms of artificial intelligence? Traditional answers to this question have lost much of their persuasiveness; whether and how new ones can be fashioned will determine a great deal about the shape of society and politics in the coming decades. This project’s goal is to reevaluate and reformulate some central concepts of political theory—freedom, citizenship, and democracy—in light of the eroding borderline between the human and the nonhuman. Rather than citizenship and human rights rooted in species dignity, democracy and a system of rights can be defended based on an understanding of a collective constitution of the conditions of freedom.

Professor, Political Science, University of California, Los Angeles  -  The Human Boundary: Freedom, Citizenship, and Democracy in a Post-Human Age

Emily Remus
Emily Remus  |  Abstract
The United States economy runs on consumer credit. Historians have traced the rise of this method of purchasing to the post-World War I era, when a “credit revolution” dramatically increased personal indebtedness and sustained the nation’s commercial growth. Women fueled this transformation. By the late 1920s, they accounted for the vast majority of consumer purchases made with credit—a primacy they maintain even today. Traditionally, however, credit was a preserve of men. Despite much work on the growth and importance of consumer credit, historians have not considered how women gained credit dominance, or the consequences of this dramatic shift. “Charge It” is the first project to examine these subjects. It asks how women were courted, educated, and integrated into credit relations; how they used and understood credit; and how their new credit practices shaped US commerce and culture in the twentieth century.

Assistant Professor, History, University of Notre Dame  -  Charge It: Women, Credit, and the Making of Modern America

Polina Dimova
Polina Dimova  |  Abstract
Inspired by Richard Wagner’s idea of the total artwork, modernist artists sought to conflate poetry, music, and painting in various multimedia projects. To evoke their ideal of artistic synthesis, they used the potent yet slippery metaphor of synaesthesia: the figurative or neurological blending of colors, sounds, and shapes. By weaving together literary, musical, and visual works with scientific theories of synaesthesia, “At the Crossroads of the Senses” contends that modernist multimedia experiments stemmed from a fascination with color-hearing, while synaesthetic metaphors promoted future adaptations across mediums. By examining the multimodal styles of eight major artists, the book argues that synaesthesia was a key component of the modernist aesthetic, and the catalyst for the time’s explosion of inter-art endeavors.

Visiting Scholar, German, Russian, and East European Studies, Vanderbilt University  -  At the Crossroads of the Senses: The Synaesthetic Metaphor Across the Arts in European Modernism

Jennifer Rhee
Jennifer Rhee  |  Abstract
“Counting” examines technologies of quantification and their entanglements with race, alongside artistic engagements with counting. It analyzes the racial dimensions of digital counting practices while paying close attention to who is counting, who determines what counts, who constitutes the uncounted or the uncountable, and who is all too readily counted. This project argues that the nineteenth century, which saw developments including statistics’ foundational role in eugenic science, modern capitalism’s emergence and expansion, and conceptions of mechanical objectivity, profoundly influenced today’s digital counting. This project argues that these earlier nineteenth-century phenomena and their inscriptions of race continue to structure contemporary counting practices, from big data, digital redlining, biometric surveillance technologies, predictive policing software, and the environmental costs of digital counting. As “Counting” analyzes these various digital counting technologies, it turns to artworks that reflect—and often challenge—counting technologies’ racial biases and claims of objectivity and neutrality.

Associate Professor, English, Virginia Commonwealth University  -  Counting: Cultures of Measurement, Quantification, and Surveillance

Laura F. Edwards
Laura F. Edwards  |  Abstract
“Only the Clothes on Her Back” tells the history of law and commerce in the United States between the Revolution and the Civil War by foregrounding textiles. Textiles figured prominently in the new republic because of their legal status, widely understood at the time, but overlooked in the scholarship. Longstanding legal practices recognized the attachment of clothing to its wearer, which extended to cloth and applied even to married women and enslaved people who could not claim other forms of property. When draped in textiles, people assumed distinct legal forms that were difficult to ignore: they could own textiles, trade them, and make claims to them. That was what they did, using textiles as leverage to include themselves in the new republic’s economy and governing institutions.

Professor, History, Duke University  -  Only the Clothes on Her Back: Textiles, Law, and Commerce in the Nineteenth-Century United States

Sara Ritchey
Sara Ritchey  |  Abstract
Cistercian nuns and beguines in the rapidly-industrializing cities and towns of thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Flanders, Brabant, and northern France provided a vast range of recognized healthcare services. They acted as nurses to the sick, custodians to the dying, midwives, caretakers of the leprous, and managers of hospices who provided food, shelter, medicine, healing prayers, and other comforts to the suffering. Their activities and, moreover, their body knowledge, have long been obscured due to historical trajectories that code them as religious or unauthoritative. Thus, the vestiges of their healthcare knowledge and practice are recoverable not in coherent medical treatises, but in fragments of liturgy, land transactions, recipes, sacred objects, and the everyday behaviors that constituted their world. “Communities of Care” gathers these fragments to reveal the distinctly feminine therapeutic epistemology that motivated their practices as well as the social circumstances that once allowed religious women’s knowledge production to flourish.

Associate Professor, History, University of Tennessee, Knoxville  -  Communities of Care: Women, Healing, and Prayer in the Late Medieval Lowlands

Jonathan E. Elmer
Jonathan E. Elmer  |  Abstract
What is the place of literature in a multiply mediated world? “Remedial Poe” answers this question by following the red thread of Poe’s promiscuous remediation to tell a story not about genius, but about media, about the experience of culture beyond the hegemony of the written word. Poe was a profoundly and self-consciously literary artist, but his work announced the surpassing of literature. Considering the uptake of Poe’s works and name in illustration, film, music, comics, animation, voice recording, and the web, “Remedial Poe” argues that the aesthetic categories of atmosphere, graphicality, voice, animation, immersion, and mash-up explain Poe’s influence in a pervasively mediated world. The post-literary modernity of Poe lies in his production of aesthetic experiences at once intense and exteriorized, immersive and ephemeral. Poe’s poems and tales are simultaneously indelible and provisional: one never forgets them, but one can always change them.

ACLS Carl and Betty Pforzheimer Fellow
Professor, English, Indiana University Bloomington  -  Remedial Poe

Kathryn Susan Roberts
Kathryn Susan Roberts  |  Abstract
Today, writers’ residencies are a globally ubiquitous form of literary patronage. The origins of this form are both modern and ancient. Beginning around 1900, writers and patrons tried to foster the ideal conditions for creative work in isolated corners of the United States: Cape Cod beaches, remote New Mexico, rural New Hampshire. Inspired by an American impulse to leave home, experiment, and build a better world from the ground up, these communities also recalled monasteries of old. In placing writers on the margins of society, they claimed a special social and spiritual status for literature. Eugene O'Neill, Willa Cather, Carson McCullers, and James Baldwin were a few of the writers who used this outsider status to gain a critical perspective on their own culture. “The New Monastics” is a study of creative community—how people come together to make art, and how cultures are transformed by that project.

Assistant Professor, American Studies, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Netherlands  -  The New Monastics: Creative Community and Literary Form

Amy Erdman Farrell
Amy Erdman Farrell  |  Abstract
“Girl Scouts of the USA” focuses on the little studied yet extraordinarily important history of the Girl Scouts of the USA, from its origins in 1912 to the present, exploring its complex struggles over race and civil rights, feminism, sexualities, and the legacies of empire and colonialism. Focusing on particularly evocative moments of its history, this project illuminates the ways that this major institution of US history worked to shape girls’ and women’s lives in the United States and the world during a century of extreme cultural and political change.

Professor, American Studies and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Dickinson College  -  Girl Scouts of the USA: Democracy, Sisterhood, and Empire

Joshua D. Rothman
Joshua D. Rothman  |  Abstract
The scholarship on the domestic slave trade in the United States tells us little about the traders who directed the traffic in human beings and built their lives by speculating on and profiting from the misery of the enslaved. This project reconceives the story of the slave trade through the biographies of Isaac Franklin, John Armfield, and Rice Ballard, who together operated Franklin and Armfield, the most important and powerful slave trading company the nation would ever see. The project amplifies the history of the slave trade and reframes ideas about entrepreneurialism and the protean shape of US capitalism, both of which have long been predicated on racially neutral myths about individualistic strivers and racially bound realities of sanctioned structural inequality.

Professor, History, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa  -  The Ledger and the Chain: A Biography of the Domestic Slave Trade

Julia Fawcett
Julia Fawcett  |  Abstract
This project reads plays and performance records alongside court transcripts, medical treatises, conduct manuals, and parliamentary debates to ask how an attention to personal space—the space around a body that remains private as the body passes through public places—might enrich understandings of London in the years surrounding the Great Fire of 1666. Focusing on personal space, the project argues, allows for a study of the city from the perspective of those who did not or could not own private property, and thus are not represented on the maps from which most such studies begin. These less privileged residents and visitors include women, the poor, the mad, and those whose religion, race, or immigration status marked them as different.

Associate Professor, Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, University of California, Berkeley  -  Unmapping London: Performance and Urbanization after the Great Fire of 1666

Britt Rusert
Britt Rusert  |  Abstract
William J. Wilson's 1859 periodical fiction, the Afric-American Picture Gallery, is a stunning and singular text that imagines the first museum of black art in the United States. This project is an intensive study of Wilson's Picture Gallery, a deeply visual and experimental text that reproduces no actual images but relies instead on the powers of ekphrastic description. It has two major aims: to situate the Picture Gallery within key political and aesthetic debates of the 1850s as well as cultures of black cosmopolitanism and queer bohemianism in late antebellum New York; and to chronicle how the Picture Gallery anticipates later genealogies of African American art and contributes to current conversations about the politics of black museums and art institutions in society.

Associate Professor, Afro-American Studies, University of Massachusetts Amherst  -  The Afric-American Picture Gallery: Imagining Black Art, circa 1859

Amanda H. Frost
Amanda H. Frost  |  Abstract
“Unmaking Americans” examines the US government’s long history of stripping citizenship from both naturalized and native-born Americans. It explores the following examples: during the Civil War the government revoked the citizenship of leaders of the Confederacy; between 1880 and 1930, Chinese Americans born in the United States were repeatedly denied entry into the country; between 1907 and 1931, women who married noncitizens automatically lost their citizenship; during World War II over 5,000 Japanese-American internees were pressured to renounce their citizenship; and in the McCarthy Era the government denaturalized tens of thousands of suspect citizens. “Unmaking Americans” combines a comprehensive historical review of forced expatriation with a legal and sociological analysis of the phenomenon, and ties the history of the practice to twenty-first-century debates about immigration and American identity.

Professor, Law, American University  -  Unmaking Americans: A History of Citizenship Stripping in the United States

Rashmi Sadana
Rashmi Sadana  |  Abstract
The arrival of the Delhi Metro—an ultramodern urban rail system and South Asia’s first major, multi-line metro—has become a touchstone for discussions of urban development, gendered social mobility, and India’s increasingly aspirational culture. A street-level ethnographic view of the city, this project captures the contradictions inherent in the spread of a globalized middle-class modernity that privileges capital interests in urban planning—the “world-class” city model—vis-à-vis the attempt to equalize the urban experience through infrastructure. The project delves into these contradictions through the stories of Metro riders, officials, architects, urban planners, government bureaucrats, and politicians; descriptions of different social and geographical landscapes in the city; and comparisons with other forms of circulation such as cars, buses, and auto-, cycle-, and e-rickshaws. In turn, it examines the Metro as a set of new public spaces in the city and a reflection of the politics of a changing urban landscape.

Associate Professor, Sociology and Anthropology, George Mason University  -  Gender, Urban Space, and Everyday Life in the Age of the Delhi Metro, 2002-2018

Matthew John Garcia
Matthew John Garcia  |  Abstract
“Eli and the Octopus” explores the life of Eli Black, the first and last chief executive officer of United Fruit Company. Although Black initially changed the image of United Fruit from an exploitative food conglomerate to one that cared about its employees, economic and political pressures drove him to decisions that led him to a tragic end. On February 3, 1975, Eli Black committed suicide by throwing himself from the forty-fourth floor of the Pan American Building in Manhattan. Soon after his death, journalists revealed that he had bribed the president of Honduras to lower tariffs on his bananas. The story of Black’s failed effort to reform United Fruit anticipates the trend toward socially conscious capitalism and explains the origins of a transnational food system governed by free trade.

Professor, Latin American and Latinx Studies, and History, Dartmouth College  -  Eli and the Octopus: The Man Who Failed to Tame United Fruit Company

Joel Alden Schlosser
Joel Alden Schlosser  |  Abstract
“Refusing Mere Existence” explores how the philosophical asceticism developed by Cynics, Stoics, and Epicureans in antiquity might inform a broader politics of refusal today. Refusal has become a keyword in contemporary movements including Occupy, Black Lives Matter, and Idle No More. Focusing on reshaping the bodies and souls of participants toward more abundant life, philosophical asceticism links ethical concerns with the self to political concerns with the collective. Intentional practices like friendship, writing, and free speaking shape "culture as creative refusal": cultivating alternative social and political spaces, languages, and subjects rather than simply withdrawing. Ancient asceticism raises questions about how today’s politics of refusal might better take up bodily and ethical practices to free subjects and collectives from domination.

Assistant Professor, Political Science, Bryn Mawr College  -  Refusing Mere Existence: Philosophical Asceticism and the Politics of Refusal

Valentina N. Glajar
Valentina N. Glajar  |  Abstract
This monograph reconstructs Herta Müller’s story of surveillance by communist Romania’s secret police. It includes detailed analyses of her own secret police file, the file of her former husband, writer Richard Wagner, as well as informer and cadre files. Each chapter presents a multilayered and polyphonic file story, unraveling the skewed life segments that are coded and recorded in these files and recovering them in biographical acts. This constellation of file stories that intersect and overlap with Müller’s own presents a precarious collage of life stories during the Cold War. Intricate and particular, these stories illuminate the blurred boundary between victims and perpetrators in a society ripe with fear, suspicion, and misinformation.

Professor, Modern Languages, Texas State University, San Marcos  -  The Afterlife of Files: Herta Müller's Story of Surveillance

Erik Rattazzi Scott
Erik Rattazzi Scott  |  Abstract
This project examines defection as a global phenomenon produced by the criminalization of emigration by socialist states and the strategic encouragement of departure by capitalist states during the Cold War. Drawing on archival documents from Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, the Baltic states, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the book project traces the global journeys of defectors through the contested borderlands of the period, including refugee camps, restricted border zones, international waters, and airspaces. Exploring the history of defection from 1945 to the present, the book considers how the competition for Soviet migrants shaped the governance of global borders and reinforced an international refugee regime whose legacy and limitations remain to this day.

Associate Professor, History, University of Kansas  -  Soviet Defectors and the Borders of the Cold War World

Andrea S. Goldman
Andrea S. Goldman  |  Abstract
This book analyzes the construction of normative sexuality in China from 1900 to 1950. Via intertwined biographies of French interpreter George Soulié and opera star Wang Yaoqing, this study traces the impact of imperialism on sex work in the late Qing capital and the professionalization of acting in China in the first half of the twentieth century. Soulié’s 1926 novella, “Bijou de Ceinture,” an adaptation of the 1849 work “Pinhua baojian,” offers a key window onto these changes. The original portrays the homoerotic elegance of the opera demimonde, while the rewrite marks the moment at which male-male sex was recast as backward. By analyzing the foreign military occupation of the capital, changing norms for commercial sex, and new transnational discourses about citizenship, this study offers a new perspective on the construction of masculinity in modern China.

ACLS Frederic E. Wakeman, Jr. Fellow
Associate Professor, History, University of California, Los Angeles  -  The Frenchman and the Chinese Opera: Imperialism, Homoeroticism, and Transnational Masculinities in China, 1900-1950

Samantha Katz Seal
Samantha Katz Seal  |  Abstract
The first biography of both the poet and his descendants, this book follows the Chaucer family from their merchant roots in Ipswich across two centuries through their tragic downfall at the hands of the Tudor kings and absorption into the French aristocracy. The Chaucer dynasty modeled themselves as England’s premier literary family, and balanced their ruthless political ambitions with their claims to a poetic legacy. As part of this self-definition, the family offered up an idea of literary production as collective endeavor, akin to their economic and social machinations. “Chaucerian Dynasty” not only provides an account of a brilliant family at a moment of profound cultural transition, but also challenges traditional narratives of how premodern poetry and the English literary canon were produced.

Assistant Professor, English, University of New Hampshire  -  Chaucerian Dynasty: The Father of English Poetry and His Family

Isabel Cherise Gómez
Isabel Cherise Gómez  |  Abstract
As translation studies moves away from a view of translation as unidirectional, where works are extracted from spaces lacking cultural capital to be consecrated in a global language, research into Latin American translation norms illuminates an alternative tradition centered around gestures of reciprocity and rooted in a region once seen as peripheral to theoretical interventions. “Cannibal Translation” studies Latin American writers from the 1960s to the present who replace straight translation with new procedures such as version, approximation, transcreation, and untranslation. These author-translators create two-way exchanges with their sources that reject assimilation or appropriation and demonstrate the stakes of South-South translations between Spanish and Portuguese. Saluting the provocative aesthetic practice of cannibalism, which Brazilian theorists coined to explore tactics of cultural reception, “Cannibal Translation” reactivates this playful concept within literary translation to show that reciprocal translation gifts between Latin American writers allow both parties to impact cultural spheres through ethical exchange.

Assistant Professor, Latin American and Iberian Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston  -  Cannibal Translation: Literary Reciprocity in Contemporary Latin America

W. Anthony Sheppard
W. Anthony Sheppard  |  Abstract
When encountering the human voice, the tone color, or timbre, of that vocal sound fundamentally shapes how one perceives meaning. Timbre is central to all music, but is not commonly discussed in detail given our limited vocabulary. The exploration of timbral possibilities in all forms of vocal music in the twentieth century was far reaching. This study investigates how European and US composers and performers of vocal music wielded timbre as a tool of expression. By analyzing and comparing art and popular examples, the project reveals striking continuities and connections in the history of twentieth-century music. Musicians explored the continuum between speech and song, employed nonverbal sounds and experimental techniques, and enlisted technology to create virtual voices. “The Performer’s Voice” develops new analytical and interpretive approaches to the expressive role of timbre and focuses intently on specific vocal performances, offering models for studying the performance experience.

ACLS Susan McClary and Robert Walser Fellow
Professor, Music, Williams College  -  The Performer's Voice: Timbre and Expression in Twentieth-Century Vocal Music

Cam Grey
Cam Grey  |  Abstract
This project explores everyday interactions between human populations and the physical world in the period between the third and sixth centuries CE. Those interactions were characterized, above all, by uncertainty. Consequently, natural hazards and the disasters they precipitated are especially visible in late Roman textual sources, where they play significant roles in the culture wars of the period. Recent scholarship has sought confirmation of those rhetorical, subjective presentations in environmental, climatic, and geophysical data, engendering grand narratives of fundamental societal transformation. This project eschews those grand narratives and focuses instead upon late Roman cultures of risk: societal mechanisms for understanding and responding to uncertainty as both a potentially hazardous experience and an opportunity for advancement or enrichment. In doing so, it seeks to recapture the contingency, complexity, and contradictions of this world.

Associate Professor, Classical Studies, University of Pennsylvania  -  Living with Risk in the Late Roman World

Satoko Shimazaki
Satoko Shimazaki  |  Abstract
This project uses early modern kabuki actors and kabuki theater more broadly as a framework to reconsider the media history of early modern and Meiji and Taisho Japan, from 1600 to 1926. Long before the emergence of mechanical recording technology, public fascination with actors and the theater turned woodblock print into a vehicle for the production and circulation of a communally shared sense of star actors’ “presence” focused on their bodies and voices. The project then turns to the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries to show how the understanding of actors’ bodies and voices shifted as it became possible for machines to record what people had formerly remembered by looking at books and prints.

Associate Professor, East Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Southern California  -  Kabuki Actors, Print Technology, and the Theatrical Origins of Modern Media

Christopher Hager
Christopher Hager  |  Abstract
This project is a cultural history of illiteracy—as an experience and a stigma, an object of teaching and of derision—in the United States from English colonization to the present. Although it spans four centuries, “Illiterate” focuses especially on the nineteenth century, the period in which literacy rates increased so dramatically that the word “illiterate” became nearly obsolete as a demographic label. Far from fading away in obsolescence, however, ideas about illiteracy gained new purchase. Social transformations including the destruction of slavery and the rise of universal public schooling destabilized associations of literacy with race, gender, and class, but they also provoked backlashes that continue to shape American cultural politics. This project exposes the ways powerful people in the United States have mobilized ideas about being illiterate to delegitimize figures who threatened their power: the Indian, the African, the immigrant, the worker.

Associate Professor, English, Trinity College (CT)  -  Illiterate: An American History

Heather Streets-Salter
Heather Streets-Salter  |  Abstract
“The Chill Before the Cold War” is the first monograph about the apprehension of a massive, covert communist network in 1931 Shanghai. The Noulens Affair, as the bust became known, involved operatives and counter-operatives from Moscow to the Dutch East Indies and from London to Singapore, and the networks it exposed had dramatic political, diplomatic, and social effects around the world. Well-known figures as diverse as Madame Sun Yat-sen, Chiang Kai-shek, Ho Chi Minh, Albert Einstein, and Willi Munzenberg were directly involved. This project also reveals how ideologies of gender and race structured the ways colonial authorities understood and responded to international communism, with long-term consequences for the future. Finally, “The Chill Before the Cold War” demonstrates that the global struggle between communism and non-communism that marked the years of the Cold War after 1945 cannot be adequately understood without reference to this earlier interwar period.

Professor, History, Northeastern University  -  The Chill Before the Cold War: The Noulens Affair and the Global Struggle Between Communism and Anti-Communism in the Interwar Period

Amy A. Hasinoff
Amy A. Hasinoff  |  Abstract
Social media allow people to connect and share content, but these platforms also facilitate harm, abuse, and online harassment. Platforms’ responses to online harm, which range from simply ignoring it to blocking content and banning users, do little to prevent harm or to fundamentally change any of the problems in online social environments. This project uses the case of revenge porn to intervene in debates about social media platforms’ responsibilities as content moderators by developing a model for shared accountability among perpetrators, bystanders, communities, and the technologies and media they all use. This project investigates the current legal, social, and technological responses to revenge porn in order to build models that provide perpetrators and bystanders the opportunity to repair harm and create systemic change by addressing both their technological and social contexts simultaneously.

Associate Professor, Communication, University of Colorado Denver  -  The Traffic in Images of Women: Revenge Porn and Shared Accountability for Online Harm

Xiaofei Tian
Xiaofei Tian  |  Abstract
Exploring the representation of empire and self in fifth- and sixth-century Chinese court literature, this project re-envisions the literary and cultural history of the period by considering how poetry became a potent form of cultural and political capital, enabled the gradual rise of a new cultural elite from medieval aristocratic society, and thus remained a privileged literary genre throughout the history of imperial China. It examines how poetry, long a crucial instrument in articulating and making empire, assumed a new role when empire fell: the most talented practitioners of poetic language used the form to give voice to intense pain and guilt, and provide the exiled survivors with a sense of cultural continuity through the rupture.

ACLS Donald J. Munro Centennial Fellow
Professor, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University  -  Writing Empire and Self: Cultural Transformation in Early Medieval China

Matthew S. Hedstrom
Matthew S. Hedstrom  |  Abstract
“The Religion of Humanity” chronicles the contested religious meanings of the United Nations—as a dream, a dread, and an institutional reality—in US culture, politics, and religion in the post-World War II period, situating that history in the longer history of ideas about world government and the “religion of humanity.” Conceptually, the book explores religious debates over cosmopolitanism and nationalism across the twentieth century. Extensive archival research reveals as never before the religious motivations, activism, and ideas of elite and popular actors as they grappled with the UN and all it represented. Moving from Washington and New York to grassroots organizations and everyday people in the United States, the narrative braids together accounts of the mystic UN, the prophetic UN, and the occult UN as imagined by utopian visionaries, liberal internationalists, and Christian nationalists.

Associate Professor, Religious Studies and American Studies, University of Virginia  -  The Religion of Humanity: Spiritual Cosmopolitanism, Politics, and the United Nations

Katherine Unterman
Katherine Unterman  |  Abstract
Following the War of 1898, the United States took possession of new island territories. In a series of decisions known as the Insular Cases, the Supreme Court ruled that the US Constitution did not apply fully in “unincorporated” territories like Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. Territorial inhabitants were subject to US rule, yet lacked the full constitutional rights that stateside citizens possessed. This project examines how the precedent set by the Insular Cases substantially affected the lives of people in the US territories over the course of the twentieth century. Territorial residents responded to the Insular Cases in different ways: some challenged their second-class status in court and on the streets, while others appropriated the cases to advance their own political agendas. This project sheds light on how law serves as an important facet of both governance and resistance in the US empire.

Associate Professor, History, Texas A&M University  -  The Colonial Constitution: Law and Empire in the US Territories

James Heinzen
James Heinzen  |  Abstract
This project contends that the Soviet shadow economy is a subject that is ripe for social-historical study on its own terms, from the inside, on the basis of new archival and interview material. Supported by fresh material from Russian archives and newly discovered interviews, this book project delves into the social and cultural history of Soviet black markets and their criminalized, if often ingenious, entrepreneurs. It aims to advance three promising fields: everyday life under mature Soviet socialism; the vibrant history of crime and law in this period; and the interplay of ideology, entrepreneurial activities, and the hyper-centralized command economy. The project connects the shadow economy to three major questions: the social dynamics of entrepreneurial activity under an authoritarian socialist regime; the complexity of informal ethnic networks in a modern multinational empire; and the peculiar politics of anticorruption in an increasingly corrupt party-state.

Professor, History, Rowan University  -  Underground Entrepreneurs and the Soviet Shadow Economy under Late Socialism, 1950s-1980s

Don Edward Walicek
Don Edward Walicek  |  Abstract
In the nineteenth century, before the abolition of slavery in the United States, thousands of African Americans migrated to Haiti. They were motivated by the prospect of living in a free society and various incentives provided by Jean-Pierre Boyer’s government, including financial support and land to farm. In one of the settlements, the town of Samaná (today part of the Dominican Republic), community members passed on the language of their ancestors, African American English, for more than 150 years; they also had significant contact with speakers of Spanish and Haitian as well as other groups, and some became bilingual. This interdisciplinary project puts concepts from third-wave sociolinguistics in dialogue with insights from creolistics and sociohistorical linguistics in order to explore how their spoken language, linguistic ideologies, and ideas about belonging changed over time. It culminates in a call to re-envision both ‘Samaná English’ and sociohistorical approaches to language.

Professor, English and Linguistics, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras  -  Speaking ‘American’ in Samaná: Migration, Freedom, and Belonging

Anna Henchman
Anna Henchman  |  Abstract
“Tiny Creatures” zeroes in on moments when nineteenth-century writers interested in the evolution of sentience contemplate the world as it appears to beings radically different from humans, such as snails or worms. Focusing on Charles Darwin, Thomas Hardy, Edwin Abbott, George Eliot, Margaret Gatty, and Charles Dickens, “Tiny Creatures” identifies a fascinating set of literary techniques used by scientists, philosophers, and literary writers to challenge models of mind that are hierarchical and centered on the human. These tools include suspending the reader’s visual imagination by bathing the world in darkness, invoking human blindness, or describing the gestures of creatures without eyes. With chapters on stones, shells, skin, stomachs, edges, and space, the project returns throughout to the paradoxical idea that all living beings must be simultaneously intact and porous in order to be considered alive.

Associate Professor, English, Boston University  -  Tiny Creatures and the Boundaries of Being in the Nineteenth-Century British Imagination

Keren Weitzberg
Keren Weitzberg  |  Abstract
From fingerprint to iris scans, biometrics—the application of statistical analysis to biological data—is increasingly part of people’s lives, especially in postcolonial countries such as Kenya. Though often portrayed as a frontier market for cutting-edge biometric technologies, Kenya has a long and fraught history with fingerprinting, which was used by British colonial authorities to monitor and discipline African laborers. “Marketized Identities” asks: How have East Africans harnessed, transformed, and subverted biometric technologies since they were first introduced in the early twentieth century? Can an identification and registration technique long associated with colonial extraction be a means of accelerating political and financial inclusion for the world’s poor, as many proponents suggest? Supporters argue that biometrics will enable African countries to “leapfrog” to new stages of development. This project flips the script by showing that while digital biometrics is a novel technology, it is layered atop an older, analog history.

Teaching Fellow, History, University College London  -  Marketized Identities: A History of ID Cards, Registration, and Biometrics in Kenya

Isabel Huacuja Alonso
Isabel Huacuja Alonso  |  Abstract
“Radio for the Millions” is a transnational history of radio broadcasting in Hindi and Urdu from 1920 to 1980. It argues that the medium of radio enabled listeners and broadcasters in South Asia to contest the cultural, linguistic, and political agendas of the British colonial administration and subsequent independent Indian and Pakistani governments. As such, this study unsettles the long-established narrative in modern South Asian history about the making of nation-states, and challenges central themes in radio works that emphasize the medium’s role in extending imperial rule and in fashioning national identities. Moreover, by engaging with sound studies, the book demonstrates that radio expanded upon older circuits of communication, such as rumor and word-of-mouth, and engendered new ways to listen to cinema.

Assistant Professor, History, California State University, San Bernardino  -  Radio for the Millions: Hindi-Urdu Broadcasting and the Politics of Sound in Modern South Asia

Kimberly Welch
Kimberly Welch  |  Abstract
This project reconstructs the world of black moneylenders in the antebellum US South in order to explore categories of property, commerce, citizenship, and rights. It demonstrates that free—and sometimes enslaved—black Americans were more than just property and labor in the southern economy; they were also essential arteries for capital, extending loans—large and small—to both whites and blacks. As sources and managers of capital, black people were important drivers of their local economies and the larger credit system in the nineteenth-century US South. These relationships of debt and obligation speak to important issues related to the development of market capitalism and to the relationship between race and economic citizenship.

ACLS Oscar Handlin Fellow
Assistant Professor, History and Law, Vanderbilt University  -  Lending and Borrowing Across the Color Line in the Antebellum American South

Calvin Hui
Calvin Hui  |  Abstract
This book manuscript draws on film and fashion to track the emergence of consumer culture in China’s encounter with global capitalism. The first part stages an analysis of a commodity chain of fashion involving production, consumption, and disposal. The second part focuses on the representations of fashion and consumption in Chinese cinema in the 1960s (the socialist period), the 1980s (the economic reforms period), and the 2000s (the globalization period). Such portrayals help decipher the symptoms of otherwise imperceptible contradictions of contemporary China. The third part discusses labor and waste as the repressed undersides of consumption. This research demonstrates the relevance of cultural studies, western Marxism, and post-structuralist theory in investigating Chinese visual cultures.

Assistant Professor, Modern Languages and Literatures, College of William & Mary  -  Useless: Fashion, Media, and Consumer Culture in Contemporary China

Claire Wendland
Claire Wendland  |  Abstract
Roughly one in twenty Malawian women can expect to die of a pregnancy or childbirth complication. As in other places where maternal mortality is high, both the numbers of deaths and the explanations for them are matters of contestation. In the absence of any generally accepted explanation, stories of causality proliferate among a range of practitioners: traditional birth attendants, doctors, herbalists, midwives. These experts’ stories circulate through hospitals and villages. Often, they blame maternal death on social change. “Partial Stories: Maternal Death in a Changing African World” draws on extended fieldwork to retrieve these explanatory narratives. Such stories disappear from the aggregate data of epidemiology but do powerful work in communities. Attention to them illuminates the dilemmas of reproductive choices and medical care in a context of scarcity, and raises questions about key dogmas of global public health.

Professor, Anthropology and Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison  -  Partial Stories: Maternal Death in a Changing African World

Jennifer Jahner
Jennifer Jahner  |  Abstract
The concept of the experiment possessed a far wider semantic range in the medieval period than it does today, as it embraced methods of testing propositions, forms of sensory apperception, proven medical recipes, and various occult or privileged artisanal practices. This project draws on the history of medicine and science, as well as book history, to argue that medieval vernacular literature proved to be a vital testing ground for the emergent discourse of experimentation. Exploring the role of "experimenta" in medieval manuscript production from the thirteenth through fifteenth centuries, this project shows how methods of vernacular poetic composition both absorbed and shaped contemporary natural philosophical debates over the status of experiential knowledge.

Assistant Professor, English, California Institute of Technology  -  The Medieval Experimental Imagination: Scientific and Literary Method in Later Medieval England

Ashli White
Ashli White  |  Abstract
“Revolutionary Things” explores the political, social, and cultural history of objects connected with the age of Atlantic revolutions, particularly those in the United States, France, and Haiti. It focuses on material culture that moved out of these national contexts and circulated throughout the Atlantic world—everything from ancien régime furniture and toy guillotines to life-sized wax figures and military coats. The conventional wisdom holds that material culture concretized political discourse, making sophisticated concepts and new national symbols more readily comprehensible. However, this project shows that objects were not simple repositories of fixed meaning. As items with revolutionary provenance traveled from one site to another, they inspired debate, protest, and commentary about Atlantic revolutions. A close consideration of revolutionary material culture thus affords a richer understanding of how contemporaries wrestled with clashing ideas regarding violence, equality, and citizenship in this key historical conjuncture.

Associate Professor, History, University of Miami  -  Revolutionary Things

Richard Janko
Richard Janko  |  Abstract
This new edition of the Derveni papyrus presents the most important new evidence since the Renaissance for the philosophical and religious enlightenment that occurred in the Athens of Socrates. Carbonized in a pyre near Thessaloniki in ca.330 BCE, the papyrus was found in 1962 but published only in 2006. It contains an allegorical and etymological interpretation of a scandalous poem ascribed to Orpheus and used in the mysteries of Dionysus. Its author argues that the poem is in fact an account of the creation of the world in terms of the materialist physics of Anaxagoras. The damaged opening portion contains interpretations of the rituals of the mysteries, including sacrifices to the Furies, and quotes Heraclitus and Parmenides. New images show that the first edition is seriously flawed. The edition that is under way relies on 10,000 digital microphotographs taken with a new method, and offers a full introduction, translation, and commentary.

ACLS Barrington Foundation Centennial Fellow
Professor, Classical Studies, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  The Derveni Papyrus: A New Edition with Introduction, Text, Translation, and Commentary

Michael E. Woods
Michael E. Woods  |  Abstract
John Van Evrie was a New York physician and editor who penned and printed some of the most repulsive racist texts of the Civil War era. Known for popularizing the term “white supremacy,” Van Evrie was less an original thinker than an avid publicist who used the mid-nineteenth-century communications revolution to make a business of bigotry by connecting lay readers to emerging racist pseudoscience. This project traces Van Evrie’s networking, advertising, and writing strategies to demonstrate how he transformed a struggling urban paper into a powerful publishing company that profited from pandering to white Americans’ most virulent prejudices. At a time when racism is festering within new media forms, this disturbingly relevant study has broad implications within academia and beyond.

Associate Professor, History, Marshall University  -  The Business of Bigotry: John Van Evrie and the Rise of a Racist Publishing Empire

Katie L. Jarvis
Katie L. Jarvis  |  Abstract
“Democratizing Forgiveness” analyzes how the French revolutionaries refashioned forgiveness from 1789 to 1802. It argues that, amid conflict, the French Revolution forged modern politics and society by reinventing reconciliation. The revolutionaries enacted a cooperative social contract by developing new reparative judicial practices, religious beliefs, economic relations, and political imaginings. This project explores how citizens repaired broken bonds by arbitrating local disputes, forgiving debts, and settling bankruptcies in court. It also considers how citizens reconceptualized reconciliation through sacramental confession, innovative religious cults, and the education of youth. “Democratizing Forgiveness” demonstrates how, through quotidian relationships, revolutionary forgiveness became both a brake on conflict and a motor for change.

Assistant Professor, History, University of Notre Dame  -  Democratizing Forgiveness: Reconciling Citizens in Revolutionary France

Marcia Yonemoto
Marcia Yonemoto  |  Abstract
“The Ties that Bind” is a social and cultural history of adoption in Japan from the eighteenth to the early twentieth century. It focuses on the practice of adult adoption—in particular son-in-law (or husband) adoption, which has been more frequently and consistently practiced in Japan than anywhere else in the world. Although the practice of adult and son-in-law adoption remained common throughout the time period in question, the motives and meanings of such adoptions shifted dramatically in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The project explores why and how this shift occurred and examines its legal, social, and cultural ramifications across the early modern/modern divide.

Professor, History, University of Colorado Boulder  -  The Ties that Bind: Adult Adoption and Family Formation in Japan, 1700-1925

Jeannette Eileen Jones
Jeannette Eileen Jones  |  Abstract
“America in Africa” examines US-African affairs from the colonization of Liberia to the end of World War I, demonstrating the shift from a US focus on the slavery question—the abolition of slavery and the suppression of transatlantic slave trade—to the African question: a set of political discourses about the place of Africa in the world from Western perspectives. The book argues that this transformation links inextricably to the histories of US empire, racial ideologies including the proverbial Negro question, which in its various permutations framed African Americans as a problem in US society and the body politic, and inter-imperial relations. Attending to the interplay between statecraft and racecraft, the book explores how the US’s desires to assert itself on the international stage diplomatically, economically, and culturally drove US interests in Africa.

Associate Professor, History and Ethnic Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln  -  America in Africa: US Empire, Race, and the African Question, 1821-1919