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Fellows 2021-2022

April 26, 2021—Congratulations to the 2021-2022 cohort of Fellows for the Kaplan Humanities Institute!

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Masi Asare

Assistant Professor, Departments of Theatre and Performance Studies

Masi AsareProject: Voicing the Possible: Technique, Vocal Sound, and Black Women on the Musical Stage 

“My book project examines the transmission of singing techniques and the impact of black women singers in U.S. musical theatre from 1900 to 1970. I trace a line of historical singing lessons locating blues singers in the lineage of Broadway belters. Contesting the narrative that black women who performed on the musical stage during the blues era and beyond possessed 'untrained' voices, I study the ways that singing is sonic citational practice. As singers, we always cite our teachers, the ones from whom we have learned the song. “

Adia Benton

Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology and Program of African Studies

Adia BentonProject: The Fever Archive: Race, Risk and Survival in the Wake of Sierra Leone’s Ebola Outbreak

"My book, The Fever Archive, is an account of the 2013-16 West African Ebola epidemic, focusing not on simply evaluating or assessing the success or failure of the interventions mobilized by international actors, but also on the cultural and institutional logics of these interventions. More specifically, the work focuses on the ways that these cultures, particularly those of 'global health,' engender and reproduce racialized and hierarchical relations around 'capitalism, humanitarian ethics, and ideologies of risk.' Drawing on participant observation, social media and open-source mapping and analysis, and field and archival research, The Fever Archive highlights the following practices and processes: how communities and institutions reckon with difference in times of a health epidemic; how they calculate risk and manage uncertainty during an epidemic such as Ebola; and how (affected) communities fight against inequalities and injustices in the midst of crises. Much of the final phases of work on the book will be focused on foregrounding race and racialization as key analytics; historicizing the processes of racialization via legacies of residential segregation in the colonial era through containment, isolation and policing practices into the present day; expanding the historical literature on public health and tropical medicine in the region, as well as on Ebola outbreaks; and deepening engagement with black studies approaches to health, medicine, and and the body."

Lina Britto

Associate Professor, Department of History; Affiliate Faculty, Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Lina BrittoProject: Healing Democracy: A Medical History of Medellín's Cocaine Wars

“My next book examines a vanguard of scientists, doctors, and medical practitioners that made Medellín, Colombia, one of Latin America’s premier centers of medical research and clinical practice at a moment of ascent of a new service economy whose dynamism increasingly depended on cocaine exportation. Healing Democracy recasts a paradigmatic case of illegality and criminality in the Americas by reconstructing the violent defeat of alternative visions for the future of a city in crisis, and analyzing how medicine and public health became central battlegrounds of democracy in a country at war.”

Ashish Koul

Assistant Professor, Department of History

Ashish KoulProject: Caste Reinvented: Arains, Islam, and Politics in Twentieth Century South Asia

“This project is a history of caste, Islam, and politics among South Asian Muslims between the 1890s and 1980s. The book reveals the intertwining of caste and Islam among the Arains, a South Asian Muslim caste, and its ramifications for the Arains’ political selfhood first in British India and later in independent Pakistan.”

Jennifer Lackey

Wayne and Elizabeth Jones Professor, Department of Philosophy; Director, Northwestern Prison Education Program

Jennifer LackeyProject: Criminal Testimonial Injustice 

“In this project, I explore how testimony is extracted from individuals in the criminal legal system in the United States through processes that are coercive, manipulative, or deceptive, and is then unreasonably regarded as representing the testifiers’ truest or most reliable selves. I show that this practice is powerfully vivid with respect to four distinct phenomena: confession evidence, eyewitness testimony, plea deals, and the recantations of sexual assault survivors. The result will be a book at the intersection of philosophy and criminal law that shows how extracted testimony that bypasses or undermines agency inflicts a unique and pernicious form of injustice on testifiers.”

J. Michelle Molina

Associate Professor, Departments of Religious Studies and History

J. Michelle MolinaProject: Inventories of Ruin

“I study the demise of the Society of Jesus (‘the Jesuits’), a global order of religious men. The 1767 ‘Suppression’ of the Jesuits has been historicized as a dramatic but temporary setback. In contrast, I recast this as a trans-Atlantic story of near-total demise. The Mexican Jesuits are my principal focus. Adapting a micro-historical approach to the story of people, books, and things in motion, Inventories of Ruin draws upon such varied perspectives as the Spanish Crown, members of freed-black Jesuit confraternities, a Swede entangled with Jesuit refugees en route to exile, and a single Jesuit who scribbled 379 mini-biographies of deceased Mexican Jesuits. Spanning a period of 50 years, this intimate story of demise is anchored in three types of inventories that catalyze our historical understanding of ‘inventorying’ as a humanistic practice of making order out of disorder, even chaos.”

Anna Parkinson

Associate Professor, Department of German, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, and Jewish Studies Program

Anna ParkinsonProject: Contrapuntal Humanism: The Afterlives of Humanism in Holocaust Studies

“My project puts into dialogue the modernist fiction and social scientific writings of two exiled German-language authors and Jewish Holocaust survivors: psychoanalyst Hans Keilson and historian H.G. Adler. Counter-intuitively, perhaps, their postwar interdisciplinary writing cleaves to a paradigm of humanism, even as it exposes its fragility, paradoxes and limitations. Contrapuntal humanism examines the ongoing political and ethical practices we engage in, especially in moments of heightened social and historical crisis that challenge the axiomatic ontology of humanism.”

Ozge Samanci

Associate Professor, Department of Radio/Television/Film, School of Communication

Ozge SamanciProject: Evil Eye (graphic novel)

“The graphic novel, Evil Eye, explores the tactics right-wing populist leaders are using throughout the world: planting seeds of fear, celebrating binary thinking, 'othering' marginalized groups, and using anger and hostility to increase divisions. Evil Eye uses the murder mystery genre, lived anecdotes, humor, and suspense as narrative devices to explore questions about the rise of authoritarianism in non-didactic ways.”

(Samanci photo by Annette Hornischer.)

Rebecca Zorach

Mary Jane Crowe Professor of Art and Art History, Department of Art History

Rebecca ZorachProject: The Designs of Nature, The Ecology of Race

“I’m pursuing two projects that address political implications of the ways art has been defined historically in relation to nature. The first project, The Designs of Nature, studies how in the European Renaissance, the personified figure of Nature acted 'like an artist' in producing natural images thought to rival the products of human artistry. The second project, tentatively entitled Temporary Monuments, studies how the very idea of art in the United States hinges inevitably on concepts of nature, territory, and race.”

Rachel Zuckert

Professor, Department of Philosophy; Affiliate Faculty, Department of German

Rachel ZuckertProject: Not Just a Matter of Taste: Essays on Eighteenth-Century Scottish Aesthetics

“The project aims to broaden discussion of Scottish Enlightenment aesthetics by attending to transformative theories of beauty, sublimity, artistic imitation, and the paradox of tragedy, presented in now-neglected, but historically influential texts. The book also treats the role of aesthetics within larger Scottish Enlightenment projects: natural-scientific investigation; the defusion of religious enthusiasm; and politically emancipatory education.”

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