Junior Research Fellows:
Michael Silvers (Music)
Voices of Drought: Forró Soundscapes in Northeastern Brazil
This project explores the musical and lyrical evocation of the landscape of northeastern Brazil and examines the interplay among the representation, knowledge, and experience of "nature" through forró music. Forró (originally baião) was once a genre of commercial music that nostalgically recalled the Northeast for migrants from that region. Today, it is considered northeastern "traditional" music. Based on archival and ethnographic research, "Voices of Drought" shows how northeastern Brazilian audiences have learned about the landscape and soundscape through music, and how environmental conditions such as drought have shaped the creation, circulation, and reception of forró.
Derrick R. Spires (English)
Reimagining a "Beautiful but Baneful Object": Black Theories of Citizenship in the Early United States
Black Theories examines how conceptions of citizenship developed through and with black print culture in the United States between 1787 and 1861. It foregrounds a rich archive of early black writing that includes convention proceedings, literary sketches, pamphlets, scientific and political treatises, novels, and periodicals to examine citizenship as both object of theoretical analysis and set of cultural and print practices. Through this archive Black Theories develops a social theory of citizenship as an ongoing process of community building based on five principles: neighborliness, the free circulation of civic power, economic equality, critique, and continuing revolution.
Senior Research Fellows:
Gilberto Rosas (Anthropology/Latina/o Studies)
Fugitive Life: On the Abandonment of the Contemporary
"Fugitive Life: On the Abandonment of the Contemporary" draws on ethnographic research and media analysis to analyze multiple recent moments of state violence in Mexico and the United States. Pushing against the pessimism of contemporary biopolitical analysis that often presumes resistance as an analog to power and a power that continually makes subjects, this project suggests that fugitive life seeks to abandon the contemporary. Such a framework allows researchers to witness furtive moments and instantiations of racial, gender, and Other projects of social justice.
Eleonora Stoppino (French & Italian/Medieval Studies/Comparative & World Literature)
Ugly Beasts, Talking Monkeys: Education and Contagion in Pre-Modern Europe
The inception of the plague pandemic in 1348 triggered an unprecedented interest in framing the distinction between human and nonhuman. Ugly Beasts, Talking Monkeys is a book-length project that explores the unstable boundaries between human and nonhuman animals in literary and scientific texts of the European Middle Ages and Early Modernity. Contagion and education are the two pressure points I use in my analysis: these texts represent animals either as ugly beasts that spread illnesses or as humanlike creatures who can teach lessons on vices and virtues. For the first time, I argue, or at least in a permanently influential way, these two forms of representation create a constant short circuit that still forces us today to ask what makes a human.