Center for Ideas & Society Resident Fellows

2021-22

Philipp Lehmann
History

Data Migration: Global Climates Between Africa and Europe
Mellon Second Project Fellowship

“Data Migration” traces the emergence of a global environmental and climatological outlook through the often-forgotten work of both data gatherers in colonial Africa and data compilers in Europe around the turn of the twentieth century. The project attempts to uncover the scientific contributions of both African and European lay observers, who recorded and relayed climatological data from African colonies to the metropole. In Europe, clearing houses like the Deutsche Seewarte (the German Marine Observatory) in Hamburg assembled, sorted, and prepared the incoming data for publication. “Data Migration” will pay particular attention to the methods and ways in which individuals and institutions transformed the often place-specific and sometimes even qualitative information from the colonies into streamlined and quantitative data, portrayed in neat tables and smooth world maps. This process of standardization, the project argues, tended to obscure the local specificities of climatological conditions and their circumstances of recording, but also contributed to a nascent vision of an interconnected planet, characterized by a singular world or global climate.

Jennifer Syvertsen
Anthropology

Imaginative counter-geographies of the opioid crisis in the Inland Empire
Mellon Second Project Fellowship

Across the United States, the opioid crisis has received significant attention as drug overdose has become the leading cause of injury-related death, with nearly 70% of cases involving an opioid. Opioid overdose deaths have largely been cast as a medical problem in white communities warranting compassion. However, scholars have noted how these constructions reinforce racialized hierarchies of who is “deserving” of care while minimizing the importance of sociopolitical conditions in perpetuating drug-related harms in communities of color. In the Inland Empire (IE), overdose has escalated in recent years and intensified during the coronavirus pandemic, with deaths increasingly affecting historically marginalized communities to little public acknowledgement. This project inverts Edward Said’s concept of imaginative geographies, or representations of people and places that articulate fears, stereotypes, and judgments about less desirable “Others,” to propose an alternative: an imaginative counter- geography of the opioid crisis in the IE. The project envisions counter-geographies as narratives of resistance to dominant representations of the IE that reify health inequities and miscast opioid overdose as an individual fault rather than sociopolitical condition. Specifically, this project centers the neglected perspectives of people who use drugs and harm reductionists who implement strategies to reduce the negative consequences of drug use as a social justice alternative to punitive drug policies. Through observant participation in community-based outreach and ethnographic methods, this project will collaboratively map an imaginative counter-geography to disrupt dominant ideologies that legitimize some lives but not others.

Deborah Wong
Music

Rogue Methodologies: Ethnomusicology, Woman, Other
Mellon Term Professorship

What does it take for a discipline to upend its foundational histories? This project proposes an alternative history of ethnomusicology that addresses the deep impact of White liberal humanism on ethnomusicology by exploring methods beyond ethnography. Wong, an ethnomusicologist and a US feminist of color, will focus on the progressive politics of ethnomusicology by deploying critical methods that force new assumptions about location and positionality. The book project will leverage methods deployed by humanistic scholars in critical race studies, including witnessing, rereading, erotics, intercultural encounter, and subjectivity in a range of materials – audio recordings of police brutality, Disney empowerment ballads for girls, a Black woman musicologist, and late 19th-c. White sopranos performing transcriptions of ‘Indian songs’.

Susan Zieger
English

Logistical Life
Mellon Term Professorship

The history of logistics is said to begin in the 1960s with the shipping container. But contemporary logistics, which moves goods, people, and information from point to point efficiently to maximize profit, has a history as old as capitalism itself. And, because corporate growth is the horizon of its every operation, the logistical mindset imbues quotidian life with a transactional, competitive, and security-minded disposition that erodes alternative ways of being in the world. This book project, Logistical Life, blends literary, cultural studies, Black studies and visual studies with the history of science, technology, and economics, to tell a new story about the long rise of logistics, from the eighteenth century to the twenty-first. Even before the pandemic, logistics and its iconic form, the supply chain, had changed everyday life, as at-home delivery, cheap travel, on-demand digital services, and instant global communication became ordinary expectations. The term itself saturated our consciousnesses: “It’s logistics,” we’d say, when organizing domestic projects, family gatherings, and other mundane business. The corporate bywords of logistics, “agility,” “leanness,” “resilience,” and “flow,” became ideals of personal development and individual economic security in uncertain times. The pandemic has heightened the critical stakes of logistics, as current delays in vaccine rollouts and racial and class inequity in “essential” logistical work reshape our cultural discourses in ways unstudied by management, economics, and sociology scholars. Logistical Life offers a comprehensive critical reading of logistics’ tightened grip on everyday life in globalized culture.

2020-21

Crystal Baik
Gender and Sexuality Studies

Reparative Horizons: On Korean American Activisms
Mellon Second Project Fellowship

Abstract

Thomas Cogswell
History

The Murder of the Duke of Buckingham and the Transformation of English Political Culture
Mellon Term Professorship

Abstract

Gloria Kim
Media & Cultural Studies

The Microbial Resolve: Visualization, Speculation, Security
UC President’s Faculty Research Fellowship

Abstract

Padma Rangarajan
English

Thug Life: The British Empire and the Birth of Terrorism
Mellon Second Project Fellowship

Abstract

Eric Schwitzgebel
Philosophy

Philosophy Meets Science Fiction
Mellon Dean’s Fellowship



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Sherryl Vint
English

The Ethics of Debt: Speculation, Imaginaries, Futures
Mellon Term Professorship

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2019-20


Jody Benjamin
History

The Texture of Change: Cloth, Commerce and History in Western Africa, 1700-1850
NEH Fellowship

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David Biggs
History

Pacific Gyres and the Base Archipelago: An Environmental History of Militarized Circulations in the Pacific, 1945-Present
Mellon Term Professorship

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Marissa Brookes
Political Science

Bringing Labor Back In: How Histories of Conflict Tame Corporate Power Over Time
Second Project Fellowship

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Matthew King
Religious Studies

Faxian and the Invention of Asia
Second Project Fellowship

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Jade Sasser
Gender & Sexuality Studies

Many Cooks in the Kitchen: Stoves, Fuels, and Women’s Agency in the Global South
Mellon Dean’s Fellowship

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Stephen Sohn
English

War Everlasting: The Militarized Technogeometries of Korean American Literature
Mellon Term Professorship

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2018-19

Amanda Lucia
Religious Studies

Transformational Festivals, Spirituality, and American Yoga
Second Project Fellowship

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Andreja Novakovic
Philosophy

Experience in Hegel’s System
Second Project Fellowship

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Christina Soto van der Plas
Hispanic Studies

New Chronicles of the Indies
Second Project Fellowship

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2017

Farah Godrej
Political Science

Prison Yoga and Meditation: South Asian Text and Practice in U.S.
Senior Fellowship (2017-20)

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George Haggerty
English

HORACE WALPOLE: A Life in Letters
Senior Fellowship (2017-20)

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Anthony Jerry
Anthropology

The Racialization of Space and Youth Citizenship in the Southwest United States
Second Project Fellowship (2017-18)

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Stephen Sohn
English

Recalculating Combat: The Militarized Technogeometries of Korean American Literatures
Senior Fellowship (2017-20)

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Rachel Wu
Psychology

Inducing cognitive growth in aging adults
Second Project Fellowship (2017-18)

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2016

Paulo Chagas
Music

Sonic Imaginations: Sound Studies, Sound Practices and Sound Creativity
Senior Fellowship (2016-19)

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Christine Schwenkel
Anthropology

The Afterlife of Solidarity: Vietnamese Reanimation of Urban ‘Ruins’ in Eastern Germany
Senior Fellowship (2016-19)

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Ajay Verghese
Political Science

The Last Days of Magic: Religiosity in Modern India
Second Project Fellowship (2016-17)

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Jason Weems

History of Art

Inventing the Americas: Art, Archaeology, and the Modern Making of a Pre-Columbian Past
Senior Fellowship (2016-19)

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