Junior Research Fellows, 2018-2020
Clara Bosak-Schroeder (Classics)
Other Natures: Environmental Encounters with Ancient Greek Ethnography
Other Natures investigates the relational environmental discourse of Greek ethnographies, descriptions of non-Greek lands and peoples, and its enduring presence in museums of natural history. This pre-Platonic strand of Greek writing enmeshes humans with the rest of nature and imagines different relationships between humans and other species. Like the non-binary theories scholars such as Donna Haraway and Karen Barad now pursue, ancient Greek ethnography affirms that human life and well-being are inextricable from the life and well-being of the nonhuman world. At the same time, Greek writers challenge thinkers in the environmental humanities by showing how humans can pursue self-interest ethically.
Lila Adib Sharif (Asian American Studies)
Olive is a book about 21st century settler-colonialism. Specifically, it connects displacement, land conquest, and memory with the politics of everyday survival for Palestinians located in Palestine and the West, through the optic of the olive. Through multi-sited ethnography, I trace the olive from the moment it is harvested in the West Bank to its circulation to the West—linking the West Bank to olive destination sites like San Francisco—in order to analyze what is enabled by market inclusion for indigenous people, and the violence that is muted in the process. I also conduct close readings of cultural texts including cookbooks, labels, advertisement literature, and brochures for olive commodities, in order to analyze the relationships between neoliberal market inclusion, displacement and memory, and Western settler colonialisms.
Senior Research Fellows, 2018-2020
Anustup Basu (English)
Hindutva and Advertised Modernization
The works of Carl Schmitt, the Nazi jurist, have returned to the center-stage in recent decades due to a crisis of the secular, erosion of liberal institutions and democratic cultures world-wide, and the concomitant rise of authoritarianisms. Schmitt had famously declared that all political concepts were secularized religious ones, and the ‘political’ was the primary impelling (based on friend and foe distinctions) that decided sovereign exception in the last exacting instance. This idea of political theology presumes a monotheistic cast of religiosity. See in that light, the broader historical project of Hindu nationalism India and its extreme right-wing ethnic incarnation in Hindutva become complicated projects. It would involve the invention of ‘Hinduism’ along Abrahamic lines, with one God, one church, and one laity that could then evolve into a national citizenry. It would mean telescoping a pantheon of several million gods and a wide armature of syncretic traditions of faith – monist, atheist, pantheist, or henotheist – into a singular edifice of faith. It would mean the invention of a Hindu congregational model by superseding caste divisions and untouchability. Hindu India, in order to be a ‘nation,’ needed a Hindu-Indian monotheism. The book looks at this historical invention of ‘Hinduism’ in terms of two broad terrains. The first is a modernist literary-philosophical enterprise that began around 1816 and sought to narrate a Monotheistic Hindu subject into being by way of philosophy, theology, and the novel form. It was a project that necessarily remained incomplete. The second is a media dispensation of the contemporary that can be called an ecology of advertised modernization. In this, the Hindu nation need not be narrated as such. It can simply be advertised in a ‘post-truth’ environment, where endemic contradictions between postulates of ‘tradition’ and ‘modernity’ need not be resolved. Rather, such postulates can simply be orchestrated together to create an ethno-nationalist monotheism-effect. This is an interdisciplinary project in critical theory, involving inputs from philosophy, literature, history, and cinema and media studies.
David Wilson (Geography)
Toward a Refined Racial Economy Perspective: Gentrification and Political Resistance in Chicago’s South Side Blues Clubs
As Chicago’s poor, largely African American South Side residents negotiate the rise of something unexpected, gentrification, subterranean processes of resistance are alive and well. This proposed research, with two goals, firstly restructures and advances an interdisciplinary theoretical perspective, racial economy, and second, uses it to unveil the nuances and intimacies of this resistance politics. Firstly, I seek to critically “spatialize” the racial economy perspective in a new and novel way, drawing on the work of Ed Soja, Neil Smith, Doreen Massey, and other “scholars of space” around their articulations of the power of discursive space as this is used in narratives. Racial economy has notably imposed a massive erasure on the power and prowess of discursive space that embeds in racialized narrative. Secondly, this revisionist perspective is applied to understand a new politics having gained a foothold in Rust Belt subaltern environments generally, and these blues clubs specifically, what Ananya Roy calls a politics of emplacement, which we know too little about. This politics, enacted in the cracks and crevices of taken-for-granted local life, has been only recently recognized.To accomplish these goals, the proposed research interrogates everyday social engagements in two current blues clubs in South Chicago, Linda’s Place and the New Apartment Lounge.