Program

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships , ACLS Sustaining Public Engagement Grants

Project

Hydrocarbon Frontiers: Science and Politics in the BP Oil Spill

Project

The Life Sentence: Prison Education After the Degree (Host Institution: Bennington College)

Department

Anthropology and Environment

Hydrocarbon Frontiers: Science and Politics in the BP Oil Spill

The BP Oil Spill defined a vital frontier of knowledge. Unfolding a mile underwater, this shockingly large oil spill overwhelmed the official understanding of both oil spills and the ocean. This ethnography centers on the new scientific knowledge and political responsibility emerging in the wake of the BP Oil Spill. Specifically, it documents the novel scientific and regulatory labor that went into mastering this deepwater blowout. Based on three months of fieldwork in laboratories and eight months in hearings and meetings, this research describes the epistemic politics of an environmental disaster. This process is significant not only for how official knowledge of the BP Oil spill was produced and validated but also for what was left out. The limits of this disaster have come to rest not on the edges of observable impacts but on the legibility of such claims within the now singular science of the BP Oil Spill.

The Life Sentence: Prison Education After the Degree (Host Institution: Bennington College)

Over 200,000 Americans are currently serving a life sentence. Most prison education programs terminate with a college degree. How can we make the humanities more accessible to those serving life sentences in the United States? What transformations might the humanities bring to this often forgotten population? This project centers literature and history as opportunities for those serving life sentences to deeply engage in inquiry, creativity, and human dignity. Through innovative curricular offerings and extracurricular programming, this project will overcome the headwinds of COVID-19 and develop a national model for opening the humanities to the unique needs and aspirations of those serving life sentences today.

This project partners with New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) and the administration of Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock, NY. This project also remains in ongoing conversation with the Bard Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison and the New York Consortium for Higher Education in Prison.