2022-23: Repair

The Society for the Humanities at Cornell University seeks interdisciplinary research projects for year-long residencies that reflect on the theme of Repair.

When ruptures, fissures, and breaks can no longer be ignored, it’s time for repair. Repair calls to mind practices of care, craft, and conservation as well as the exigencies of restoration and reparation. Repair invites reflection on how things fall apart and thus on how objects, relations, and histories are made, as well as how they can be re-made, made differently.

In our quotidian visits to cobblers and mechanics we engage in repair, while culturally, repair shapes our archives, museums, and collective histories. Any scholar faced with a fragment confronts the aesthetics of repair: toggling between what remains and what is frayed so as to induce or imagine a ‘whole’. Corrupt traditions or canons entice us to revise and reframe. “Reparative reading” (Sedgwick) forsakes suspicion in the name of solidarity and generosity. At the same time, acts of reconstructing and mending promise restoration while also threatening erasure. In this way, the question of who decides on the work of repair – not only its ‘how’ but its ‘why’ – becomes critical.

The domain of repair is as global and vast as damage and hurt. From reparations that seek to address the ongoing violence of colonialism and slavery to environmental restoration in the face of extractive economies, repair is essential, even an act of resistance. The transformative possibility embedded in the theme of repair is, however, also a potentially coercive space, implying a solution when none exists or is appropriate. Are some things irreparable? When repair fails our futures, we welcome its critique and reimagining.  

The Society for the Humanities invites applications from scholars and artists who are interested in participating in a productive, critical dialogue concerning the topic of repair from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

More on Repair

Image: Richelle Gribble, Nest, 2018, courtesy of JONATHAN FERRARA GALLERY, New Orleans