2021-22: The Year of Afterlives

Fri, 01/29/2021

Announcing the 2021-22 Fellows at the Society for the Humanities:

Paul Fleming, Taylor Family Director

Society for the Humanities Fellows

Leslie M. Alexander, History, Arizona State University
Legacies of Slavery in Modern-Day Policing and Mass Incarceration

Yomaira C. Figueroa-Vàsquez, English, Michigan State University
Archive of Disappearances: Afterimages of Afro-Puerto Ricans at the Edges of Empire

Katie Kadue, Comparative Literature, University of Chicago
The Language of Flowers: Commonplace Misogyny in Renaissance Lyric

Eunjung Kim, Women’s and Gender Studies and Disability Studies, Syracuse University 
A Crip Sensorial Ecology of Dying and Afterlife Companions 

Fatima Quraishi, Art History, University of California, Riverside
Necropolis as Palimpsest: The Makli Cemetery in Sindh,1380-1660

María Edurne Zuazu, Music
Ruin Sound

Society for the Humanities Faculty Fellows

Begüm Adalet, Government
Transnational Theories

Seema Golestaneh, Near Eastern Studies
Utopia Lost: Afghan Theories of Islamic Governance

Noah Tamarkin, Anthropology and Science & Technology Studies
Carceral Afterlives: Postcolonial Forensic Genetics in a Securitizing World

Irina R. Troconis, Romance Studies
Spectral Remains: The Politics of Memory in the Afterglow of Hugo Chávez’s Bolivarian Revolution

Mellon Graduate Fellows

Kun Huang, Comparative Literature
Racial Afterlives, Spectral Affinities: (Un)Translating Blackness in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture

Afifa Ltifi, Africana Studies
In the Wake of the “Middle Passage”: Maghrebean Blackness and the Afterlives of Trans-Saharan Slavery

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows                       

Juan Manuel Aldape Muñoz, Performing & Media Arts
Choreotopias: Performance, State Violence, and the Near Past

Eman Ghanayem, Comparative Literature
Nations without Nationalisms: On Palestinian and American Indian Literary Imaginations

Bamba Ndiaye, Music
Black Social Movement in the Age of Digital Technology

Mathura Umachandran, Classics
Critical Mythologies: Classical Reception and the Frankfurt School

HSP Postdoctoral Associates

Madeline Reynolds, English

Kaja Tally-Schumacher, History of Art


2021-22 Focal Theme: Afterlives

The Society for the Humanities at Cornell University seeks interdisciplinary research projects for residencies that reflect on the theme of afterlives.

In times of revolt, times of shutdown, times of crisis, times of hope and transformation, the focal theme of afterlives raises the double question concerning all moments of transition, upheaval, or demise: What lives on and what comes after? What survives, what fades away, and what emerges changed? 

In their diachronic trajectories, the humanities are inseparable from multifarious afterlives. This is evident in the ghosts and specters that haunt history and texts; in spiritual afterlives and rebirths; in artistic, psychic, and intellectual residues and traces; in the notion of ‘aftermath’ whether nuclear, natural, or traumatic; in reception studies and the re-use or re-coding of tales, texts, motifs, images, and ideas; in posthumanist futures, science fictions, speculative ecologies, and multispecies ethnographies.

Afterlives can be utopian projects – from heavenly lives to post-capitalist, post-work, and post-family societies – as well as strangely mundane worlds, in which the flip side of catastrophe is often the quotidian task of living on and with its aftermath. In fact, afterlives all too often have their violent modalities such as the enslavement of Black and Brown bodies persisting in the form of Jim Crow, segregation, mass incarceration, and daily microaggressions.

At stake in afterlives is, then, not only what lives on, but how such ‘living on’ occurs – its modalities, mechanisms, processes, and translations – in which something both recognizable and new, ongoing and ‘eventful,’ persistent and epochal is at work. Thus, we are interested in not only the afterlives of artistic movements, historical periods, literary styles, economic orders, political regimes, and religious institutions, but also how such afterlives are possible in the first place. What structures and enables (pragmatically, imaginatively) the afterlife of events, ideas, and institutions? What needs to take place for something truly new to emerge?

The theme of afterlives asks us to consult both histories and imaginaries, theory and practice, to interrogate how cycles are reproduced or radically ruptured.

Ghosts and neon shapes floating in space

Image: Andrea Dezsö, courtesy of the artist

Ghosts and neon shapes floating in space