Skip to content Skip to navigation

Internal Fellows

Portrait of Leslie Bow
Leslie Bow
English and Asian American Studies, UW-Madison
Senior Fellow (2013-2017)
Racist Love: Asian Americans and the Fantasy of Race

Has oppression gone metaphoric? My project explores the ways in which fantasy underwrites contemporary understanding of racial difference in the U.S. With specific emphasis on the visual representation of Asian Americans, I analyze displaced portrayals of social injustice where the rhetoric of social movements becomes leveraged not on behalf of Asian Americans per se, but on behalf of their object substitutes, whether talking animals, computer-generated portraiture, the supernatural, multicultural dolls, or fetish objects. I'm interested in sites where racial difference is experienced as a form of ambivalent pleasure—as "racist love": kawaii, children's literature, pornography. The cultural narratives generated here invoke and displace the “wounded” subject of grievance; all enmesh non-human substitutes within fields of visual and textual representation that rely upon post-Civil Rights narratives of visibility, inclusion, and equal rights. What national desires come to be expressed through the imaginary and what are the implications underlying the increasingly metaphoric circulation of race?

Leslie Bow is the Eccles Professor of English and Asian American Studies at UW-Madison. She is the author of the award-winning "Partly Colored": Asian Americans and Racial Anomaly in the Segregated South (New York University Press, 2010); Betrayal and Other Acts of Subversion: Feminism, Sexual Politics, Asian American Women's Literature (Princeton University Press, 2001); and editor of Asian American Feminisms (Routledge, 2012). Her work has appeared in the Utne Reader, the Michigan Quarterly Review, the Southern Review, as well as in numerous academic journals and anthologies. Formerly the Director of Asian American Studies at UW-Madison, Leslie was previously on the faculties of Brown University and the University of Miami. She has been named Exceptional Professor, recognized for Excellence in Teaching, and received a UW System Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award, in addition to being nominated for Professor of the Year and Excellence in Mentoring. She served on the advisory boards of American Literature, Contemporary Woman Writers, and the Society for the Study of American Women Writers. Leslie is also a contributor to the Progressive Media Project through which her op-ed columns appear in newspapers across the United States. She is at work on a project entitled "Racist Love: Asian Americans and the Fantasy of Race."

Steve Stern
History, UW-Madison
Senior Fellow
Between Human Rights and Social Justice: Latin America and the World in Film and History

How did human rights become a dominant value of our times? Did its rise eclipse an earlier politics of social justice? This project argues that a view from Latin America transforms the world history narratives we often deploy to address such questions. Since the 1960s, Latin Americans engaged in the conflictive makings of a social justice imperative and a human rights imperative, neither reducible to the other. Yet because states and societies fell so short, Latin Americans also resorted to creative on-the-ground adaptations, often migration and urban mobilization, to improve life chances while pressuring for state responsiveness. This research focuses on film as an especially powerful way to trace the process culturally. Latin America’s making of a doubled rights imperative—human rights and social justice, notwithstanding tensions between them—dramatically rewrites the global history of values in our times.

Steve J. Stern is the Alberto Flores Galindo and Hilldale Professor of History at UW-Madison. He researches Latin American history, and recently published The Human Rights Paradox: Universality and Its Discontents (2014), co-edited with Scott Straus. Stern's research demonstrates the inventiveness of Latin American responses to unequal structures of power, with sometimes surprising impact on world history. Honors include election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the Bolton-Johnson Prize for best book in Latin American history, for Battling for Hearts and Minds: Memory Struggles in Pinochet’s Chile, 1973-1988; and fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Program, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Social Science Research Council. Stern is a founding editor, with Scott Straus, of the "Critical Human Rights" series at the UW Press, and has won a UW-Madison Distinguished Teaching Award. He is at work on a project entitled "Between Human Rights and Social Justice: Latin America and the World in Film and History."

Steven Nadler
Philosophy, UW-Madison
Senior Fellow
Becoming Spinoza: The Making of a Philosopher

I am currently working on two projects: a biography of Menasseh ben Israel (1604-1657), a rabbi in the Amsterdam Portuguese-Jewish community and arguably the most famous Jew in seventeenth-century Europe, for the "Jewish Lives" series (Yale University Press); and a book tentatively titled Becoming Spinoza: The Making of a Philosopher, a study of the various contexts -- Cartesian, Stoic, Jewish, Hobbesian, Dutch Republican -- in which Spinoza's philosophy developed.

Steven Nadler is the William H. Hay II Professor of Philosophy and the Evjue-Bascom Professor in Humanities at UW-Madison, where he has been teaching since 1988. He specializes in the history of early modern philosophy (especially the seventeenth century) and in medieval Jewish philosophy. His books include Spinoza: A Life (Cambridge, 1999, winner of the Koret Jewish Book Award); Rembrandt's Jews (Chicago, 2003, named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize); The Best of All Possible Worlds: A Story of Philosophers, God, and Evil (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2008); A Book Forged in Hell: Spinoza's Scandalous Treatise and the Birth of the Secular Age (Princeton, 2011); and The Philosopher, the Priest, and the Painter: A Portrait of Descartes (Princeton, 2013).

Ronald Radano
African Languages and Literature and Music, UW-Madison
Senior Fellow
The Secret Animation of Black Music

My project explores the quality of aliveness ("animation") that listeners world-wide commonly experience in US black music. Whereas animation is typically theorized as an inversion of the economic processes of reification (an alienated, reified person/laborer gives way to an animated, sentient thing), I argue that black music's origin as a product of slave labor introduced a unique set of animated properties that underlies its immense cultural value. Originating as an audible extension of an ambiguous, living property-form under the regime of US slavery, black music—a veritable property of a property—became imbued with fleshly presence, carrying forward into the global modern a racially anachronistic sense of livingness-in-sound.

Ronald Radano is a Professor of African Languages and Literature and Music at UW-Madison. He is the author of two award-winning books, New Musical Figurations: Anthony Braxton’s Cultural Critique (Chicago, 1993; Italian translation, forthcoming) and Lying up a Nation: Race and Black Music (Chicago, 2003), and coeditor of Music and the Racial Imagination (Chicago 2000) and Audible Empire: Music, Global Politics, Critique (Duke, in print). His work has appeared in numerous journals, including Musical QuarterlyDaedalusCritical InquiryModernism/Modernity, and Radical History Review. His discussion of black musical value will also appear in the February 2016 issue of boundary 2. He is coeditor of two book series, Refiguring American Music (Duke) and Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology (Chicago). Radano has held research residencies and fellowships at numerous institutions, including the Du Bois Institute (Harvard), the Smithsonian Institution, and the University of Pennsylvania (as a Rockefeller Fellow). He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1997-1998. He is at work on a project entitled "The Secret Animation of Black Music."

Louise Young
History, UW-Madison
Senior Fellow
Sociology and the "Social Question" in Prewar Japan

Sociology and the "Social Question" in Prewar Japan is a monograph that explores the history of social ideas in Japan and their engagement with global currents of thought. Tracing the development of sociology as an academic discipline from the late nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries, Young argues that the core ideas as well as the institutional configuration for the study of society were shaped by two key factors: the influence of Western philosophy on Japanese thought; and the political struggles over government policy to counter the social disruptions of industrialization.

Louise Young is a Professor of History at UW-Madison and is affiliated with the Center for East Asian Studies, where she served as director from 2005-2008. As an historian of modern Japan, her successive major research projects have focused on the relationship between culture and empire, urban modernism between the wars, and most recently, sociology and social policy. She is the author of Japan's Total Empire: Manchuria and the Culture of Wartime Imperialism (University of California Press, 1998; winner of John K. Fairbank and Hiromi Arisawa prizes and a Choice Outstanding Academic Book) and Beyond the Metropolis: Second Cities and Modern Life in Interwar Japan (University of California Press, 2013). Young spent time as a visiting researcher at Tokyo University, Waseda University, and Kyoto University and conducted research at multiple local archives in Japan, with support from the Fulbright Foundation, Social Science Research Council, the National Endowment for Humanities, among other sources. With a B.A. from UW-Madison and a Ph.D. from Columbia University, Young held appointments at Georgetown University and New York University before joining the UW-Madison faculty in 2003. She is at work on a project entitled "Sociology and the 'Social Question' in Prewar Japan."

Paola Hernández
Spanish & Portuguese, UW-Madison
Resident Fellow
Upstaging the Real, Documenting Life in Theatre and Performance in Latin America

In his celebrated 1969 manifesto about documentary theatre, Peter Weiss contends, “documentary theatre shuns all invention.” Twenty-first century documentary theatre could not fall further from this assertion. Contemporary artists seek to fuse fiction and facts, creating a new approach to both official archives and documents, as well as personal and public narratives. This project analyzes the role of the “real” in the theatre and performance of the twenty-first century in Latin America. I contend that the affective hold of the real, orchestrated through site-specificity, auto/biography, the innovative use of non-actors, personal documents, video and photography onstage, may transform spectatorship, private and public memories, modes of participation, and the kinds of truth claims theater can make. In this context, I argue that playwrights, performers and artists use the real to explore the liminality between fact and fiction, authenticity and role-playing, as well as the veracity of the “archive” as an object of truth. My book’s objective is twofold: to explore how this new approach to theatre brings forth issues of the traumatic and the political turmoil by underscoring the fragile role of memory, as well as to focus on the provocative use of real archives to explore history and the present time through the manipulative interpretation of documents. 

Paola S. Hernández specializes in contemporary Latin American theatre and performance. She has published numerous articles on Southern Cone theatre, performance, memory politics, sites of memory, and human rights. She is the author of El teatro de Argentina y Chile: Globalización, resistencia y desencanto (Corregidor, 2009), and co-editor (with Brenda Werth and Florian Becker) of Imagining Human Rights in Twenty-First-Century Theater: Global Perspectives (Palgrave, 2013). Hernández is the South American drama editor for the Handbook of Latin American Studies, Library of Congress, as well as Book Review editor for Latin American Theatre Review. Her current research project examines the role of the "real" in theatre and visual arts with an emphasis on contemporary documentary theatre and urban ethnography in Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, and Peru. 

Andrew Zolides
Communication Arts, UW-Madison
Dana-Allen Dissertation Fellow
Cult of Personalities: The Influence Economy of Digital Culture

My dissertation uses the concept of celebrity labor – the creation and maintenance of a public persona for the creation of capital – as a framework to study the performance and construction of the self on social media platforms. A new economic imperative has emerged that prioritizes ‘influence-based marketing’ over broadcasting and narrowcasting models and can be seen in personal, political, and corporate online profiles and their activity. I contest that social media, neoliberalism, and post-Fordism have encouraged an influence economy that rewards cultural and financial capital to those who with dedicated and desirable online audiences.

Andrew Zolides is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Communication Arts Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also currently a Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at UW. His research explores the influence economy, an economic framework for understanding the strategies celebrities and brands utilize through social media to generate audiences with significant value. Comparing these practices reveals how influence is generated and evaluated in contemporary neoliberal culture. Andrew has served as an editor for Antenna and The Velvet Light Trap, as well as teaching courses such as Survey of Contemporary Media, Critical Internet Studies, and Television Industries. His work appears in Persona Studies, Horror Studies, Antenna, and the forthcoming books Childhood & Celebrity and The New Television Industries. He received his B.A. in Philosophy and Media Studies from the University of South Carolina and his M.A. in Media, Culture, and Communication from New York University.

Nicholas Jacobson
History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, UW-Madison
William Coleman Dissertation Fellow
The Ends and the Means: Trans-Mediterranean Networks of Calculation and the Development of a Civil Theory of Proportion (1215-1315)

My dissertation follows the development of Arabic theories and techniques of analysis and calculation as they were received into Western Europe from 1215 to 1315. I show that, in twelfth- and thirteenth-century Arabic Iberia, mathematical practices of analysis and calculation were adopted into elite circles who believed them to represent an exemplary cognitive habit of moral deliberation deemed necessary for cultivating spiritual and civic virtue. During the period of Latin Christian conquest and occupation in the thirteenth century, European scholars and patrons came to adopt the mathematical values of Arabic court life in the practical and textual form of a new Latin moral philosophy. Calculation and mathematical proportion came to take on important religious and social significance, particularly among the new itinerant classes of erudite friars and their lay patrons. These figures sought to repurpose the virtues of calculation and deliberation for the evangelizing mission of conversion and the social ideal of orthodox uniformity. The dissertation seeks to highlight the complexities of cultural and intellectual appropriation across Mediterranean scholarly networks during the High Middle Ages, as even Latin Christian cultivation and emulation of Arabic cultural values served to entrench and reinforce religious, social, and political boundaries of difference.

Nicholas Jacobson is a doctoral candidate in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research interests focus on the interplay of mathematical and moral conceptions of civil society in the thirteenth-century Mediterranean world.  His research has been generously supported through two UW-Madison Global Studies’ FLAS Scholarships for the study of the Arabic language and two UW-Madison University Fellowships, as well as the Coleman Fellowship through the Institute for Research in the Humanities. His teaching interests include networks of cross-cultural scholarly exchange during the Global Middle Ages and the development of practical knowledge alongside the "religions of the book" and the theoretical sciences of the Medieval Mediterranean World. He received his BA in 2007 at Seattle Pacific University Summa cum laude, and his MA in 2011 from the UW-Madison. He is currently working on his dissertation, “The Ends and the Means: Trans-Mediterranean Networks of Calculation and the Development of a Civil Theory of Proportion (1215-1315)."

Pablo Gómez
Department of Medical History and Bioethics, UW-Madison
Department of the History of Science
Resident Fellow
Risky Bodies: Race, Disease, and Fungibility in the Seventeenth Century Atlantic

My current research project studies the development of novel ways of thinking about the human body and disease that appeared in Atlantic slave trading circuits during the seventeenth century. Specifically, it explores the emergence of ideas about fungible and universal bodies that were measurable in reproducible ways, and of diseases as ontological entities. I argue that these ideas, which today scholars identify as modern and “scientific,” first emerged in slave trading circuits. Their genesis was intimately linked to the unprecedented rise in the size and complexity of the commerce of human bodies in the early modern South Atlantic.

Pablo F. Gómez is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical History and Bioethics and the Department of the History of Science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He holds a PhD from Vanderbilt university, a MD from CES University and did his residency in Orthopaedic surgery at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. Pablo’s work examines the history of health and corporeality in the early modern Atlantic world. He has published numerous articles and book chapters. His forthcoming book, The Experiential Caribbean: Creating Knowledge and Healing in the Early Modern Atlantic (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017), explores belief making and the creation of evidence around the human body and the natural world in the early modern Caribbean and black Atlantic. Pablo is currently working on a history of the universal quantifiable body and risk in the early modern world. 

Elizabeth Bearden
English, UW-Madison
Resident Fellow
Monstrous Kinds: Body, Space, and Narrative in Renaissance Representations of Disability

This book investigates how people with disabilities defined and were defined by early modern representations of bodies, spaces, and narratives. It builds on insights that I have gleaned from investigating the relations between experimental genres, visuality, and vulnerable cultural identity, focusing this knowledge on the theorization of disability in the global Renaissance. Understanding how early modern writers normed, located, and related disability not only provides us with more accurate genealogies of disability, but it also helps us to nuance current aesthetic and theoretical disability formulations.

I consider conduct books and treatises, travel writing, wonder books, and essays. The cross-section of texts is comparative, putting canonical European authors such as Castiglione and Cervantes into dialogue with transatlantic and Anglo-Ottoman literary exchange. Its methodology takes a formal and philosophical approach to pre-modern formulations of monstrous bodies, spaces, and narratives, which continue to shape our understandings of disability today.

Professor Elizabeth B. Bearden is a scholar and teacher of early modern literature with training in Comparative Literature, Classics, the History of Rhetoric, Visual Culture Studies, and Disability Studies. She received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from NYU in 2006 and her A. B. in Comparative Literature at Princeton in 1998. She is an Associate Professor in the English department at UW-Madison. Her first monograph, The Emblematics of the Self: Ekphrasis and Identity in Renaissance Imitations of Greek Romance, was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2012  and has been positively reviewed in leading journals. She has published articles in PMLA, The Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, Ancient Narrative Supplementum, and Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies. Additionally, she directed a Digital Humanities project on Philip Sidney’s funeral, which appeared in a Folger Shakespeare Library exhibition in Washington, DC.

Kristin Phillips-Court
Italian and Art History, UW-Madison
Resident Fellow
Machiavelli's Tragic Geography

My project investigates Machiavelli’s frequent recourse to images of the Italian terrain in The Prince and his other literary works as a means of defining and communicating knowledge. My study shows how Machiavelli’s writings substantiate more than their distillation into a political theory that stripped morality from politics. Utilizing cross-disciplinary analytical tools to interpret Machiavelli’s geographical imagery, I uncover the surprising centrality and meaning of Machiavelli’s rhetorical engagement with the contours of his native land. Landscape as a subject figures little in debates over themes of conquest that are often darkened by inference regarding Machiavelli’s dangerous secularism. Departing from these scholarly contexts, I combine the tools of literary studies (close reading and rhetorical analysis) with those of other disciplines, namely humanistic geography, art history, history of cartography, and some hermeneutical approaches offered by post-colonial theories. The liminality of Machiavelli’s thinking shines through his passages about the land: combining reasoned observation with poetic imagination, these passages reveal an impatient humanist who observed, tracked, and despaired of his tragically exploited land – yet he hoped, wrote, and dreamed of a united and peaceful “Italy.”

Kristin Phillips-Court is Associate Professor in the Departments of French and Italian and Art History at UW-Madison. She is the author of The Perfect Genre: Drama and Painting in Renaissance Italy (Ashgate, 2011), which was awarded the MLA Scaglione Prize for Italian Studies. Her second book manuscript, Vasari’s Literary Art, provides close readings of seminal lives and episodes in Giorgio Vasari’s Vite (1550 and 1568) with attention to how Vasari negotiated the legacies of Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio. Professor Phillips-Court’s work has appeared in the Sixteenth Century Journal, MLN, Renaissance Drama, Annali d’ Italianistica and other peer-reviewed journals. She is a contributor to Oxford Bibliographies in Renaissance and Reformation (Italian Renaissance Comedy; Italian Renaissance Tragedy), The Literary Encyclopedia, and other collected volumes. After completing her PhD at UCLA she was granted a Fulbright Fellowship to study 20th-c. Italian Visual Poetry, but has since focused primarily on 15th- and 16th- century Italian literature, visual art, and intellectual culture. Professor Phillips-Court currently holds a Vilas Associates Fellowship Award (2016-18) for her new research on Niccolò Machiavelli. At the IRH this Spring, she will work on her project entitled "Machiavelli’s Tragic Geography."

Aparna Dharwadker
English and Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies, UW-Madison
Resident Fellow
Cosmo-Modernism and the Other Theatre

The global turn in modernist studies has begun to forge strong connections between twentieth-century modernisms and the aesthetic forms engendered by such politically fraught but culturally transformative markers of modernity as colonialism, decolonization, and diaspora. A key feature of the resulting disciplinary formation—“geomodernism”—is an emphasis on non-prescriptive critical methods that can balance the global horizons of modernism with qualities intrinsic to particular cultural geographies. My book draws on these recent reorientations to develop new definitional frameworks for Indian modernisms, and to consider Indian theatre of the later twentieth century as a significant field of geomodernist representation. I argue that the binary of centre-periphery relations, and labels such as “vernacular modernism” or “vernacular cosmopolitanism,” misrepresent the complex forms of multilingual literacy outside the Europhone fold that have historically characterized Indian literary cultures. For the new modernist studies to accommodate this writing fully, we need to add language as a fourth, “lexical” dimension of analysis to the spatiotemporal and vertical expansion of modernism-as-subject. The objective in Cosmo-Modernism, then, is to position Indian modernisms clearly in relation to transnational modernist studies, to highlight the interlinked but relatively neglected genres of drama, theatre, and performance, and to give Indian theatre a new visibility in modernist theatre studies.

Aparna Dharwadker is Professor of English and Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and works primarily in the areas of modern Indian and postcolonial theatre, comparative modern drama, theatre theory, and the global South Asian diaspora. Her book, Theatres of Independence: Drama, Theory, and Urban Performance in India Since 1947, received the Joe A. Callaway Prize in 2006 as the best book on drama or theatre published in 2004-05. Aparna’s articles and essays have appeared in journals and collections such as PMLA, Modern Drama, Theatre Journal, New Theatre Quarterly, Theatre Research International, Studies in English Literature, Studies in Philology, South Central Review, English Postcoloniality, Representing the Past: Essays in Performance Historiography, The Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, and The Routledge Handbook of Asian Theatre. She has received fellowships from the NEH, the American Institute of Indian Studies, the International Research Centre (Freie Universistät, Berlin), the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Newberry Library, among others; at UW-Madison, she held the multi-year H. I. Romnes Fellowship for outstanding scholarship in the humanities. Aparna’s collaborative translation of Mohan Rakesh’s modernist play, Ashadh ka ek din (One Day in the Season of Rain, 1958) was published by Penguin Modern Classics in 2015, and A Poetics of Modernity: Indian Theatre Theory, 1850 to the Present, an edited collection of source-texts in theatre theory from multiple Indian languages, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press in 2017.  

Lori Lopez
Communication Arts, UW-Madison
Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity Fellow
Gendered Dynamics in Hmong American New Media Cultures

For over 260,000 Hmong Americans living in the U.S., digital media play a key role in creating and maintaining connections and identities.  My research explores the unique characteristics of the Hmong American media landscape, focusing in particular on the gendered dimensions of media production and consumption.  In my forthcoming book manuscript, I ask how Hmong digital media cultures reflect and shape changing power dynamics for women, as well as how new technologies are remediating traditional forms of Hmong culture and community.  This project is based on an ethnographic analysis of a wide range of everyday interactions with media technologies—including an examination of new forms of radio that rely on mobile phones, community debates facilitated through YouTube videos, and the development of podcasts, Twitter hashtags, and Facebook groups for Hmong Americans.

Lori Kido Lopez is Assistant Professor of Media and Cultural Studies in the Communication Arts Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is also an affiliate of the Asian American Studies Program and the Gender and Women’s Studies Department.  She is the author of Asian American Media Activism: Fighting for Cultural Citizenship (2016, NYU), and co-editor of the forthcoming Routledge Companion to Asian American Media.  She is the founder of the national Race & Media Conference, and was a recipient of the Outstanding Women of Color Award in 2015.

John Boonstra
History, UW-Madison
Dana-Allen Dissertation Fellow
A Mandate to Protect: A Mandate to Protect: Imperial Encounters and Affective Ideologies between France and Lebanon, 1900-1930

My dissertation examines the French relationship with Lebanon in the early twentieth century, interrogating how notions of protection shaped French intervention in the Near East. Through a diverse array of archival sources, I explore how affective discourses of French imperial paternalism and prestige were articulated, contested, and reconfigured across social, economic, political, and cultural exchanges. At sites of quotidian encounter, I argue, French and Lebanese men and women—authors and travelers, industrialists and employees, political officials and local inhabitants—reworked the meaning of Franco-Lebanese contact according to idealized premises of civilization and modernity, alongside contextual politics of conduct and reputation. The dissertation aims to provide insight into how the interaction of ideas as well as individuals shaped the imperial formation between France and Lebanon as it transitioned from informal protectorate to post-World War I colonial mandate.

John Boonstra is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History at UW-Madison. His work focuses on sites of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century European colonial encounters, particularly in ambiguously imperial contexts. Research for his dissertation has been supported by a Social Science Research Council IDRF, a Fulbright Fellowship, and the Mellon Foundation, among other sources. His teaching interests include European gender and colonial history and the modern Mediterranean. He received a BA with High Honors from Swarthmore College in 2007, and an MA in History from UW-Madison in 2012. An article based on previous research recently appeared in the December 2015 issue of German History. He is currently working on his dissertation, “A Mandate to Protect: Imperial Ideologies and Affective Encounters between France and Lebanon, 1900-1930.”

Julia Dauer
English, UW-Madison
Dana-Allen Dissertation Fellow
Natural History and Personhood in Early America

How did transatlantic writers use “I” in their discourse?  When did “I” become the familiar protagonist of American letters?  Julia's project uses the first-person observations at the heart of natural history writing to interrogate the models of personhood developing between 1783 and 1830.  Critics have traditionally emphasized forms of first-person prose associated with Puritan spiritual autobiography, especially narratives about personal transformation.  She argues that natural history revolves around an equally significant form of first-person prose, one that prioritizes exterior experience rather than interior life.  By focusing on empirical observation and its legacies, Julia identifies a wider net of narrators and strategies garnering authority in early American prose.  Empirical observation shapes prose writing across contexts, forcing us to reconsider the models of personhood and individuality circulating in the period.  Her project constellates a series of cases in which observation, personhood, and narrative agency meet their limits. 

Julia Dauer is a PhD candidate in the Department of English at UW-Madison.  Her research focuses on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American literature and the history science.  Her dissertation uses natural history to access a much larger crisis of personhood that characterized literary, scientific, and political discourse at the turn of the nineteenth century and continues to resonate in the contemporary United States.  Dauer has taught literature and composition courses at UW-Madison and worked as an instructor in the Writing Center.  Her dissertation research has been supported by fellowships from the Department of English, the Graduate School, and the Library Company of Philadelphia.  She is currently at work on her dissertation entitled “Natural History and Personhood in Early America.”  

Jennifer Pruitt
Art History, UW-Madison
Resident Fellow
Sectarian Identity in the Architecture of the Caliphs (909-1171)

Jennifer Pruitt's project investigates the architecture of the Fatimids (909-1171), a medieval Shi’i Muslim dynasty that founded Cairo and dominated the early medieval Mediterranean world. Generally considered a golden age of multicultural tolerance, the Fatimid era was characterized by an efflorescence of art and architecture. Her research complicates this narrative by centering its discussion around the single exception given to this tale of interfaith utopia, the patronage of the “mad” caliph, al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah (r. 996-1171). Al-Hakim is notorious as a psychotic destroyer of churches and synagogues; cruel persecutor of Christians, Jews, and women; killer of dogs; and a divine figure to the later Druze faith. Without question, he was a singular historical figure. However, delving into this dramatic, but productive, exception to the Fatimid narrative of tolerance reveals the sophisticated role of architectural patronage in the medieval Islamic world. Her book project analyzes the role of multi-confessional and sectarian identities in the patronage of the Fatimid rulers, comparing al-Hakim’s controversial projects to those of his predecessors, his successors, and those in competing Islamic realms.   

By considering construction and destruction as part of a unified building program, her research problematizes the simplistic notion of an age of artistic cooperation that could only be disrupted by a mad man. 

Jennifer Pruitt is an Assistant Professor in Islamic Art History at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Her research interests include art and architecture in the medieval Islamic world; the role of the caliphate and sectarian identity in architectural production; the status of Christian art in medieval Islam; and cross-cultural exchange in the medieval world. She is also interested in artistic production in the wake of the Arab Spring; the re-imagining of the “medieval” in contemporary arts in the Middle East; and architectural patronage in the Arabian Gulf.

Anne Hansen
History, UW-Madison
Resident Fellow
Fire Burns the Water: Prophesy, Buddhist Millenarianism and Social Violence in Cambodia from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-first Century

Anne Hansen's book project examines conceptions of time and history in the Theravada Buddhist world, focusing on cosmological notions of “Dhammic decline” (the waning influence of the Buddha’s Dhamma or teachings over time) that have served as alternative interpretive frameworks for understanding global experiences of large-scale societal upheaval, violence and political oppression such as those that took place in the context of the Cold War in Southeast Asia and particularly the Khmer Rouge Cambodian genocide from 1975-79.  She argues for the importance and religio-political potency of “Dhammic decline” as a re-occurring motif in the Buddhist world and use it to think about the larger question of how and why certain scriptures/texts emerge as key interpretive media at different critical moments of historical change.  To this end, Anne traces out the historical lifeworlds of a genre of Buddhist prophetic (“damnāy”) texts, both oral and textual, that foretell the catastrophic events tied to Dhammic decline, exploring how they have both figured in and configured religious, political and literary responses to social violence in the Buddhist world.

Anne R. Hansen is Professor of History and Religious Studies at UW Madison in the Department of History and Program in Religious Studies, where she researches and teaches about the history and development of Theravada Buddhism, Southeast Asian religions, modern Buddhist reform movements, religion and colonialism, Buddhist ethics and moral history, and theory and method in the study of religion.  She received a PhD in religious studies from Harvard University and a MDiv from Harvard Divinity School. Hansen is the author of How to Behave: Buddhism and Modernity in Colonial Cambodia, 1860-1930 (2007) and editor of At the Edge of the Forest: Essays on Cambodia, History and Narrative (2008).  She is currently working on two books, one on Buddhist conceptions of time, social change and millenarianism in Cambodia, and another on Buddhist ethics of care in Southeast Asian visual culture.  Her most recent article “Painting Ethics: Death, Love, and Moral Vision in the Mahāparinibbāna,” appears as part of a symposium on visual ethics in Journal of Religious Ethics 44.1 (March 2016): 17-50.

Larry Nesper
Anthropology, UW-Madison
Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity Fellow
Elaborate Charades: The Dispossession of the Lake Superior Mixed-Bloods and the Racial Transformation of the Western Great Lakes

This project is an exploration the racial and ethnic transformation of the Western Great Lakes landscape as an outcome of the dispossession of the mixed-blood sector of the Ojibwe Indian polities in the middle of the nineteenth century.  Hundreds of mixed-blood people were guaranteed lands in a major treaty signed with the federal government in an effort to settle them amongst the increasing number of non-Indians in the region.  With the loss of those lands to emergent mining interests, the mixed-bloods defaulted to absorption into the Indian communities, changing those communities’ social and cultural constitution.  Focusing on changing conceptions of belonging and difference, within and between indigenous and settler populations, the project involves detailing that process of assimilation and the consequential production of a biracial regional landscape. 

Larry Nesper took his PhD at the University of Chicago and is professor of Anthropology and American Indian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is author of The Walleye War: The Struggle for Ojibwe Spearfishing and Treaty Rights and co-editor of Tribal Worlds: Critical Studies in American Indian Nation Building. His current research is on the development of tribal judiciaries in the state of Wisconsin and on relations between the state and tribal court systems. His research has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, and several of the native nations of the state of Wisconsin.   

Mitra Sharafi
Law and Legal Studies, UW-Madison
History
Resident Fellow
Fear of the False: Medical Jurisprudence in Colonial India

My project examines the rise of medical jurisprudence (or forensic science) in colonial India, 1856-1947. Medical jurisprudence addressed a key anxiety of the colonial state: the fear of "native dissimulation" and manipulation of the criminal justice system through fabricated evidence and false charges. Combining legal history, the history of science and medicine, and the history of the professions, I examine allegations of false charges in murder, rape, abortion, and sodomy cases through the work of colonial officials like the Chemical Examiners and the Imperial Serologist. The project explores notions of truth and trust; race, resistance, and corruption; and legal pluralism through non-colonial notions of private disputing, collective responsibility, punishment, and causation.

Mitra Sharafi is a legal historian of South Asia and Associate Professor of Law and Legal Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (with History affiliation). Her first book, Law and Identity in Colonial South Asia: Parsi Legal Culture, 1772-1947 (2014) was awarded the Law and Society Association’s 2015 Hurst Prize. In addition to her second book project, she is also writing an article on abortion during the Raj and another on Asian and African law students who were expelled from the Inns of Court. Since 2010, her South Asian Legal History Resources website has shared resources for the historical study of law in South Asia. She is a regular contributor to the Legal History Blog.

Image of Elizabeth Lhost in front of a brick wall
Elizabeth Lhost
History and South Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago
Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellow (2016-2017)
Between Community and Qānūn: Documenting Islamic legal practice in 19th-century British India

My dissertation, “Between Community and Qānūn: Documenting Islamic legal practice in 19th-century British India,” traces the origins of Islamic legal modernism in 19th-century South Asia. By focusing on the mundane practices of paperwork and bureaucratic routines adopted by qāẓīs (Muslim judges) and muftīs (jurisconsults, writers of legal opinions), my work explores the role indigenous legal practitioners played the construction of colonial legal modernity. To do so, I study previously overlooked vernacular sources in Persian and Urdu, including qazi notebooks and registers, published and unpublished fatwa collections, and private legal documents. By focusing on the role of paperwork in the everyday practice of law, my research considers the transformation of legal activity at the local level, moving beyond the colonial construction of law codes and legal categories to consider the written artifacts individuals encountered in the execution of their everyday affairs—from documenting marriages and divorces, to buying and selling land, to negotiating inheritance and the distribution of personal property. This research demonstrates the ways in which public conceptions of law worked outside the colonial courts to create an expansive ethical–legal discourse that continues to shape civil society and civil litigation in post-colonial South Asia. 

Elizabeth Lhost is a PhD Candidate in the Departments of History and South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. Her work focuses on the history religious law and colonial policy in 19th- and 20th-century South Asia. She is particularly interested in the role of paperwork in the formalization of legal procedure and the intersections between formal legal structures and popular conceptions of the moral and ethical. With a background in literary studies, Elizabeth enjoys teaching courses on modern South Asian and global history that incorporate close reading, textual analysis, and the consideration of multiple perspectives. She received her BA summa cum laude in English literature and Cognitive Science from Northwestern University and an MA in Languages and Cultures of Asia from UW–Madison in 2009. Her work has been supported by a Fulbright–Nehru Student Research Fellowship, a Junior Research Fellowship from the American Institute of Pakistan Studies, a Social Science Research Council International Dissertation Research Fellowship, and the Committee on Southern Asian Studies and Nicholson Center for British Studies at the University of Chicago. She is currently working to complete her dissertation with support from a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship.