IPRH Campus Fellows
Clara Bosak-Schroeder Classics
“Other Natures: Ecocultural Change in Ancient Greek Historiography”
Other Natures is a new materialist reading of ancient Greek writings about non-Greek peoples. I argue that Greek historians did not subscribe to a strict division between “humans” and “nature,” but saw themselves as embedded in a web of relationships with plants, animals, and land- and waterscapes. Greek ethnographies construct Greek environmental thought and imagine alternatives to normative Greek environmental practices. During the time of the fellowship, I will revise chapter 6, which shows how non-Greeks shaped Greek ethnography, and write a new chapter that applies ancient Greek ecocultural values to exhibits in the Chicago Field Museum.
Amanda Ciafone Media and Cinema Studies
“Growing Old in a Mediated Age”
Growing Old in a Mediated Age examines the impact of media and technology in the emergence of a “new paradigm of aging” in the last fifty years in the US, through an analysis of archival sources, media texts, and technologies themselves. Over this time, popular discourses of demographic crisis converged with the perception of rapid technological innovation, simultaneously producing concerns about the growth of “unproductive” populations during the shift to a post-industrial economy with new forms of technological unemployment straining individual livelihoods and collective social welfare systems, while also encouraging technological solutions for prolonging, managing and caring for old age.
Jenny L. Davis Anthropology
“Speaking with Two Spirits: Indigenous Language, Gender, and Sexuality in the Two Spirit Movement”
Speaking with Two Spirits explores of the semiotic negotiations of the multiple marginalities and (mis)recognitions faced by Native Americans who identify as ‘Two Spirit,’ or spiritually both male and female. Drawing on 10 years of ethnographic research, I bring together critical theory and methodologies from linguistic anthropology, Indigenous studies, and queer studies to demonstrate the constant, simultaneous positionings negotiated by Two Spirit people in their daily lives, and the tensions between recognizeability and accuracy; communality and specificity; indigeneity and settler culture; and the burden multiply marginalized people carry in negotiating between all of those metaphorical and literal spaces.
George Gasyna Slavic Languages and Literatures and Comparative and World Literature
“A Time for the Province: Palimpsest and Contact in Twentieth-Century Polish Borderland Literature”
A Time For The Province: Palimpsest and Contact in Twentieth-Century Polish Borderland Literature analyzes the fascination with Polish borderland and provincial experience and elaborates a paradigm-shifting critique of its myths and post-memory representations, as seen in writings of seven Polish or Poland-born authors whose careers span the last century (plus or minus a decade) and who set the majority of their works in these districts.
Lindsay Rose Russell English
“Women and Dictionary Making: Gender, Genre, and English Language Lexicography”
An important contribution to the study of lexicography and the English language, this project illuminates six centuries of women’s participations in the dictionary genre: As prominent patrons and readers, women sponsored English’s earliest dictionaries; as volunteers and employees, they contributed to the most well-known male-attributed dictionaries in history; as observers of and participants in dictionary making, they critiqued the androcentrism and sexism of dictionaries that ignored English as spoken by women and paid prominent men working alongside overlooked and underpaid women, and, as dictionary makers, they compiled a great many fascinating dictionaries ranging traditional to radical in form, content, and function.
Eleonora Stoppino French and Italian
“Ugly Beast, Talking Monkey: Contagion and Education in Medieval and Early Modern Culture”
This project explores the formation and changes of boundaries between humans and nonhumans in texts from the European Middle Ages and early modernity written in Italian, Latin, Spanish, Catalan, and Old French. The categories I use to investigate these distinctions are on the two opposite ends of a conceptual spectrum: contagion and education. In these texts, animals can be the ugly beasts spreading illnesses or they can be mirror images of humans for pedagogical purposes. I argue that the plague of 1348 is a threshold moment in the constant reconceptualization of what is conceived as human and what is conceived as non human.
David Wright English
“That Nigger Wild, a Novel”
Though slavery was central to the Civil War, few Civil War novels make slave characters central to their stories. That Nigger Wild will examine the paradigm shift that occurred when the Union began using recently escaped slaves as troops by retelling the ur-Civil War story, “brother against brother.” Only this time, one will be black, the other white, one the former master of the other. TNW will be narrated by the principal black actor. With IPRH support, I will complete research at UNC and the NC Division of Archives and History, and write a solid first draft of the manuscript.
Marilia Correa History
“Unusual Suspects: Persecuted Soldiers Under Military Rule in Brazil, 1964–1985”
This project proposes a paradigm shift to the study of military rule in Brazil, from 1964 to 1985, that focuses on the experience with dictatorship within institutions. My dissertation discusses dissent and repression within the armed forces studying the trajectories of the thousands of soldiers and officers expelled from the forces as military leaders consolidated decades of authoritarian political power. Through the examination of state archives and oral history, I study how certain groups within the military were marginalized from the Brazilian armed forces and consequently from Brazilian society.
Brandon Jones English
“Tentative Ecology and the Weak Utopianism of Postwar American Fiction”
My project questions the dominant apocalyptic paradigm of American environmentalism since World War II. Analyzing the counterproductive ways in which cautionary tales of natural decline lead to collective immobilization, I argue for the political efficacy of a shift in environmental storytelling away from the apocalyptic and toward narratives that represent a combination of what I refer to as tentative ecology and weak utopianism. The postwar American fictions constituting my archive offer future imaginaries based neither on the assumption of eco-catastrophe nor the promise of pastoral redemption, but on the pragmatism and endurance of confronting environmental precarity with uncertainty and possibility.
Joshua Levy History
“Eating Empire, Going Local: Food, Health, and Sovereignty on Pohnpei: 1898-1986”
My dissertation argues that contestations over food and food production on Pohnpei, Micronesia stood at the very center of the island’s colonial encounters. Pohnpeians actively engaged food as a political space through which empire could be negotiated and resisted, extending food’s traditional role as locus of political influence and using it to navigate deceptively transformative interventions in ecology, consumption, the market, and the body under German, Japanese, and American rule. Food became Pohnpei’s middle ground, but among the fruits of that middle ground has been a sharp spike in rates of non-communicable disease. Specifically, I use global commodity histories of coconuts, rice, canned foods, and breadfruit that converge on Pohnpei to illuminate the local and global forces that have produced the colonized Pohnpeian body. Ultimately, my project uses the lenses of ecology, race, domesticity, and sovereignty to investigate the ways Pacific Islanders collided with an increasingly globalizing food system to produce problematic health impacts and new political entanglements.
Carolina Ortega History
“De Guanajuato to Green Bay: A Generational Story of Labor, Place, and Community”
This dissertation examines the multiple sites of migration to the United States by people from the state of Guanajuato, one of Mexico’s most prolific migrant sending states, throughout the twentieth century. I argue that a focus on a single state provides a more intimate examination of Mexican migration to the U.S. and allows us to understand the contours of Mexican migration as a whole. My project’s focus on the local history of Guanajuato and the lived experiences of its migrants—both in Mexico and the U.S.—serves as a shift from the arrivant narrative, a prevalent narrative in migration studies.
Zachary Riebeling History
“After Meaning, After Trauma: The Crisis of History in Postwar German Thought, 1945–1987”
My dissertation explores a crucial paradigm shift in postwar German historical thought which developed in response to various traumas—persecution, exile, imprisonment—inflicted by the Second World War. After 1945, Germans confronted a crisis of history in which the value of history itself was questioned. Previously dominant progressive philosophies of history were delegitimized and replaced with frameworks that relativized historical meaning. I argue that this paradigm shift generated novel philosophical-historical arguments aimed at overcoming trauma and restoring a proper historical consciousness.
Michael Shetina English
“Are They Family? : Queer Parents and Queer Pasts in Contemporary American Culture”
My project examines contemporary engagements with queer pasts in the context of LGBT historical narratives that emphasize increasing freedom and visibility for LGBT people. Through analyses of an emerging figure in contemporary film, television, and literature, the historical queer parent, I analyze how LGBT people negotiate the call to take pride in these histories while acknowledging the abjection and loss they contain. Engaging recent queer scholarship on temporality, I call for a revision in historical models that focus on political trajectories and privilege public visibility, thereby obscuring the role of these parental figures in the transmission of queer knowledges.
Augustus Wood, III History
“Island of Fire in the Neoliberal City: The Black Working Class in Struggle in Atlanta, 1970–2000”
My project examines how Black working class communities in Atlanta, Georgia responded to the city’s neoliberal policies, specifically urban renewal, between 1970 and 2000. This research shifts African-American Urban historiography and Atlanta historiography towards a dialectical approach that emphasizes resistance and domination by foregrounding previously unused working class and radical newspapers, archival sources, and voices. Focusing on Black working class perspectives will complicate the way we interpret how racial oppression operates in urban cities and recover marginalized perspectives.
Emerging Areas in the Humanities: Bio-Humanities Research Group
Samantha Frost Political Science/Gender and Women's Studies
Samantha Frost is a Professor who teaches political theory and feminist theory in the Department of Political Science and the Gender and Women’s Studies Department at the University of Illinois. Her research focuses on the ways that philosophical and scientific accounts of matter and embodiment shape the way we think about subjectivity and politics. Her first book, Lessons from a Materialist Thinker: Hobbesian Reflections on Ethics and Politics (Stanford UP, 2008), received the First Book Award from the Foundations of Political Theory section of the American Political Science Association. Her second book, New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, and Politics (Duke UP 2010), was co-edited with Diana Coole. In 2010-11, Frost received an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation New Directions Fellowship through which she undertook training in molecular and cellular biology. Her most recent book, Biocultural Creatures: Towards a New Theory of the Human (Duke UP, 2016), draws on that training to develop an account of humans as thoroughly biocultural. Currently, she is investigating some of the political implications of the idea that humans are biocultural creatures. She is also developing interdisciplinary curricula that integrate the humanities, the social sciences, and the sciences.
Rosine Kelz PhD, Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, 2014“‘Beyond the human?’: Concepts of Humanity, Responsibility, and Agency in Political Theory and Biotechnology.”
'Beyond the human?' investigates the proposition that biotechnology poses novel moral and political challenges, which exceed the perspective of the autonomous human individual. In order to properly define and address these challenges a relational view of human existences is necessary. Only if continuities and connections between human and non-human forms of life are taken into account can we develop suitable notions of responsibility and agency. The project thus seeks to develop a conceptual framework that enables us to assess the effects of genetic engineering in terms that consider the interrelations between genetic research and its applications in the fields of agriculture and human medicine. To do so, it draws on current research in biology, trends in the humanities such as 'posthumanism' and 'new materialism', and debates in the philosophy of biology.
First, my project thus assesses how current moral arguments in fields such as bioethics, animal ethics and the ethics of ecology define notions of value and responsibility in relation to their conceptions of 'life'. Exploring the different ways in which natural and humanistic sciences disinguish between different forms of life, the project questions whether these distinctions are feasible and productive when questions about the moral justifications for practices such as genome editing or cloning arise. Second, concepts of agency are considered, which argue that outcomes of biotechnological interventions cannot be ascribed solely to autonomous human agency. Here specific emphasis is placed on the question, in how far humans would be able to foresee and control the outcomes of genetic modifications in complex environments. Finally, the project seeks to highlight that the costs, risks, and benefits of biotechnology are distributed within human and non-human communities in terms that are influenced by pervasive inequalities of power and 'visibility'. Evaluations of the political and moral effects of biotechnology thus have to include a thorough analysis of social and political structures in globally interconnected research communities, human societies, and 'natural' environments.
Rosine Judith Kelz's research concentrates on intersections between political theory, moral philosophy, science studies and biology. She received her MA in Sociology of Nation, Citizenship and Human Rights from the University of Essex, UK, and her D.Phil in Political Theory from the University of Oxford, UK. During her doctoral studies a DAAD stipend for the return of German scholars from abroad allowed her to visit the Philosophy Department of Goethe-University, Frankfurt, Germany. Her first monograph, 'The non-sovereign self, responsibility and otherness. Hannah Arendt, Judith Butler and Stanley Cavell on moral philosophy and political agency' explores how notions of selfhood are interwoven with concepts of community and responsibility for 'others'. Continuing her investigation of notions about the formation of political communities and solidarity with non-members, Rosine Kelz has also worked on the ethics and politics of movements for migrants' rights. Her most recent project explores the roles concepts of 'life', 'the animal' and 'the human' play in moral thought. Dr. Kelz has taught Social and Political Theory at the School of Visual Arts, New York, Humboldt University, Berlin and the University of Hamburg, Hamburg.
Daniel Liu PhD, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2016
“Visions and calculation of living matter”
How do our approaches and understandings of life change when our approaches and understandings of matter change? For over a century biologists have been adopting different physical and chemical theories of matter, at various times emphasizing the importance of colloidal aggregates of heterogenous substances, finely detailed molecular structures, molecules as merely information, and dense networks of interaction. Each of these materialisms has its own technical vocabulary and instrumentation, but they also carry different analogies, representational strategies, and assumptions about function, causality, structure, and resilience in living things. I propose here that the bio-humanities can expand the scope of its recent turn to new kinds of “materialism” by examining how biologists have used these very different theories of matter to understand life and living organisms. In particular I suggest that it would be most fruitful to look at the differences between conceptions of living matter that privilege either visual observation on the one had, and calculative and computational approaches on the other. Quantitative approaches have tended to trade visual and observational evidence in favor of the epistemic surety of precision measurement and calculation, and these different approaches have been historically viewed as incompatible, even incommensurable approaches in biology. Can computational approaches to life (popular in cell systems biology) that rely on probabilistic reasoning be compatible with continuing exploration of biochemical pathways, or microscopic observation of cellular anatomy?
Dan Liu is an historian of the modern biological, physical, and material sciences, and received his Ph.D. in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016. Broadly speaking, Dr. Liu’s research examines how historical assumptions about the fundamental nature of matter are shaped by the human imagination, scientific vocabulary, and research into exemplary materials. His current research topics include the history of research in cell ultrastructure and cell systems biology, the history of advanced microscopy, the history of colloid and materials science, the use of metaphorical language in biology, and the relationship between visual, tactile, and mathematical reasoning in the life sciences. His recently-completed dissertation, “Molecules in Biology Before Molecular Biology, 1839–1941,” looks at how biologists thought about “living matter,” and how biologists came to believe that individual molecules in a “biological microworld” were capable of assembling and aggregating themselves into a living cells and organisms. Dan was the 2014–15 Charles C. Price Dissertation Fellow at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia; he has been a Chancellor’s Fellow, a Mellon-Wisconsin Fellow, and a John Neu Distinguished Graduate Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received his BA in History from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and moved to the Upper Midwest in 2009 by biking from Portland to Duluth along U.S. Highway 2 and the BNSF’s Northern Transcontinental route. When Dan is not at his office in the Levis Faculty Center prattling on about colloids or a U of I library reading about dead German biologists, you will probably find him in the Urbana-Champaign area riding his bicycle, scaling walls, or obsessing over vegetables, noodles, or strange cuts of meat at any number of local Asian grocery stores.
Robert Rouphail History
“Embodying Resilience: Race, Gender, and Natural Disaster in Mauritius, 1890s-1970s”
This study examines the relationship between nature and gender in Mauritius. An island nation in Africa’s Indian Ocean, Mauritius is historically unique for both its multiracial population and for its vulnerability to landfalls from powerful tropical cyclones. Drawing on untapped archival and ethnographic sources, this project argues that debates over what it meant to be a man, a woman, and a family in modern Mauritius were critical to projects aimed at making Mauritius ecologically “resilient.” It does so by narrating the collisions between state attempts to mitigate natural risk and the responses of both elite and subaltern Mauritians to these state projects.
Michael Uhall Political Science
I intend to formulate a novel theory of the human subject. To do so, I attend closely to the ecologically porous and productive conditions of the human. Accordingly, I propose a theoretical innovation – “companion ecologies” – which refers our attention to the organic and inorganic agencies that environ and affect our existence as distinctive personal subjects with political agency and social identity. After all, our subjectivity emerges in ecological contexts necessarily, and the vocabulary of the companionate is useful because it emphasizes the degree to which we are accompanied continually by the ecologies we traverse – and which traverse us.
Victoria Halewicz Psychology, minor in Communication
Hyun Park Psychology and English
Henry Yeary English
Emerging Areas in the Humanities: Environmental Humanities Research Group
Bob Morrissey History
A native of Oak Park, IL, Bob Morrissey is Associate Professor of History, Helen Corley Petit Scholar (2016-17), and Conrad Humanities Scholar (2016-2021) at U of I. A specialist on early American history, his scholarship has focused on the relationship of people and non-human nature in the early modern period, and particularly in the Great Lakes and Mississippi Valley regions of North America. In his current projects, he explores how the special ecological transition zone of the mid-continent—the former tallgrass prairie peninsula which covered much of Illinois, Iowa, Southern Minnesota and Wisconsin—shaped a dynamic and often overlooked human history between the fall of Cahokia and the arrival of the steel plows that utterly transformed the tallgrass in the mid-19th century. A major premise of this project is that the middle of North America was one of the most important ecological and cultural borderlands of early America. In a larger sense, Morrissey’s intellectual projects have explored the important role of the North American heartland in environmental history and thought. Bob has published work widely in journals such as Journal of American History, William and Mary Quarterly, Environment and History, and Early American Studies. His book, Empire by Collaboration: Indians, Colonists, and Governments in Colonial Illinois Country, is available from University of Pennsylvania Press.
IPRH New Horizons Summer Faculty Research Fellows
Jessica Greenberg Anthropology
“Ghosts in the Machine: Rights, Sovereignty and (post)Institutional Crisis in Europe”
My research asks how legal actors and human rights advocates are redefining the practice of democracy through the very pan-European, technocratic institutions that many blame for the crisis of Europe’s liberal democratic order. If social actors are looking to judicial institutions to fix a European democratic crisis what kind of democracy or vision of justice might such institutions produce? This project focuses on the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), in Strasbourg, France. It is one of the world’s most successful international human rights courts and adjudicates rights violations across the 47 Council of Europe member states. It is also an institution that is exemplary of both Europe’s commitment to social justice and the sluggishness and disappointments of its technocratic regimes. Based on ethnographic field research with lawyers, judges, activists and officials, I will analyze how people invested in the ethical possibilities of institutions of liberal and democratic governance make sense of unruly and illiberal democratic orders. I examine how judicialized and rights-based visions of democracy are mediated by legal practices, genres and forms. I argue that the Court has provided a legal blueprint for redefining state sovereignty, rights regimes and the epistemological anxieties that define 21st century democratic practice.
Junaid Rana Asian American Studies
“The Life of Dada Amir Haider Khan”
This project proposes to re-edit and publish the memoirs of Dada Amir Haider Khan called Chains to Lose, develop a digital archive and website, and create a short documentary. It requires archival investigation, the collection of oral histories, and the filming and production of an accompanying short documentary. The main task is the digital recovery of the original manuscript of the memoir of Dada Amir Haider Khan Chains to Lose available in the Pakistan Study Centre (PSC) Archive of the University of Karachi, Pakistan.
Emmanuel Rota French and Italian
“Before Unemployment: Work, Idleness and the Uber-working Class. ”
Until the end of the 1970s, Western Societies still cultivated the dream of a very short working week. Many economists, philosophers, politicians and journalists believed that the improved efficiency of our production system would translate in a new society, where leisure time was as important as working time. Then, something did not work out as planned. The length of the working week, if anything, has increased, and the prospect of a society liberated from labor has disappeared from the public discourse. The war against idleness, which was once waged in the name of efficiency but also with the prospect of a future with leisure, has chased the dreams of a labor-less future from the industrious world. My research reconstructs the European and American battle for an industrious society as a way to reconstruct the social and economic history of the Western attitudes toward laziness. Kavya Nair and Maria Grigortsuk are conducting the research on the representation of Idleness in Japan and Russia as my Research Assistants.
Melissa Pokorny Art + Design
Melissa Pokorny’s research focuses on the sense of place, and its role in structuring memory and identity. Her large-scale sculptures, mixed media tableaus, and installations incorporate fragmented images of landscape and nature that highlight contested spaces, edges and boundaries between the natural world and our presence in it. She is an Associate Professor in the School of Art + Design. During her residence at Ragdale Professor Pokorny plans to extensively photograph and map the fifty-acre prairie at Ragdale. As in past residencies in Wyoming and Iceland, she’ll be using this immersive experience to create sculptural situations that initiate a perception of collapsing or telescoping boundaries between temporal, locational, cultural, and physical relationships.