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Current Center Fellows

Fellow Year: 2014-2015

Attiya Ahmad

External Faculty Fellow

Department of Anthropology, The George Washington University

Precarity and Possibility: South Asian Migrant Domestic Workers' Newfound Islamic Pieties and Cosmopolitanism in Kuwait

Attiya Ahmad is an assistant professor of Anthropology and International Affairs at The George Washington University (Washington DC, USA) where she specializes in gender and feminist studies, the anthropology of Islam and religion, transnationalism and globalization, labour migration and diasporic formations, political-economy, and South Asia and the Middle East.

Ahmad’s project, “Precarity and Possibility: South Asian Migrant Domestic Workers' Newfound Islamic Pieties and Cosmopolitanism in Kuwait,” is an ethnographic and transnational feminist account of the circumstances through which South Asian migrant domestic workers in Kuwait develop newfound Islamic pieties. By tracing these women’s experiences, including their migration, work within Kuwaiti households and their participation in classes organized by Kuwait’s Islamic da’wa movement, this project highlights the importance of gender relations and discourses to two transnational processes—the spread of Islamic movements and labour migration—that are reshaping subjectivities, social belonging and political possibilities in the Arabian Peninsula and Inter-Asian region.

Lucy Alford
Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellow
Department of Comparative Literature, Stanford University
Forms of Poetic Attention
Lucy Alford is a poet and sixth-year doctoral candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature at Stanford University, completing a dissertation on “Forms of Poetic Attention.” Her research interests include poetry and poetics, ethics and metaethics, and phenomenological approaches to literary experience.
Alford’s dissertation project, “Forms of Attention,” offers a systematic exploration of the premise that poetry, at its core, is a forming of attention. Not only an interpretation of poems in terms of how they dispose attention, the project theorizes the process of attention-making itself: its objects, its coordinates, its variables. She focuses primarily on American twentieth century poets such as Eliot, Stevens, Carson, Ashbery and Wright, augmenting this focus with examples of earlier western and nonwestern poetries, including readings of Sappho, Shakespeare, Hölderlin, Mallarmé, and Celan. 
Marquis Berrey

External faculty fellow

Department of Classics, University of Iowa

Hellenistic Science at Court

Marquis Berrey is an assistant professor of Classics at the University of Iowa. His research explores how the cultural practices of gift-exchange, reading, and performance shaped scientific communities and scientific ideas in Greco-Roman antiquity.

Berrey’s project “Hellenistic Science at Court” tells how novel medical and mathematical knowledge came to be in a multicultural premodern world of monarchy, without universities or peer-reviewed journals, as a type of courtly discourse in the Greco-Egyptian court society of the pharaohs Ptolemy III and IV (reigning successively 246-205/4 BCE). The book aims to recover a premodern social setting for investigations of the natural world.

Joseph Boone

Marta Sutton Weeks Fellow

Department of English, University of Southern California

The Melville Effect: Meditations on Multimedia

A Professor of English and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California, Joseph Allen Boone is the author of three books: Tradition Counter Tradition: Love and the Form of Fiction, Libidinal Currents: Sexuality and the Shaping of Modernism, and, most recently, The Homoerotics of Orientalism. He has coedited two volumes on feminism and queer theory, as well as a special issue of PMLA on “Celebrity, Fame, and Infamy.” His interest in Melville, the subject of his fellowship project, has extended to authoring a musical drama, Con-Man: A Musical Apocalypse, based on Melville’s riverboat farce, The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade, (his brother Benjamin composed the music), and he has just finished a full-length novel.
The Melville Effect: Meditations on Multimedia asks why Herman Melville become such a source of inspiration for some of today’s most intriguing artists working across a range of genres and media. Examining the burgeoning array of multimedia making up Melville’s cultural landscape, as well as the wild mix of forms and genres making up his hybrid aesthetics, this book argues that Melville’s innovations not only anticipate the present turn towards multimedia in the arts; they invite the contemporary interventions and adaptations brought together in this study.
Michael E. Bratman

Donald Andrews Whittier Fellow

Department of Philosophy, Stanford University

Planning, Time, and Self-Governance

Michael E. Bratman is Durfee Professor and Professor of Philosophy at Stanford. He has written on individual and shared agency, rationality, and self-governance.  A central theme is the significance of planning to the temporal and social structure of human agency. His major book publications are Intention, Plans, and Practical Reason (1987), Faces of Intention (1999), Structures of Agency (2007), and Shared Agency (2014).

Bratman’s project “Planning, Time, and Self-Governance” explores inter-relations between planning, time, rationality, agency, and self-governance. It is part of an on-going effort to understand central forms of human agency--including our temporally extended, socially inter-connected, and self-governed agency--as to a significant extent grounded in our planning capacities. 

Jessica Chen

Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellow

Department of Religious Studies, Stanford University

Muhammad's Legacy in China: Islamic Narrative and Self Understanding

Jessica Chen is a doctoral candidate in Religious Studies at Stanford University. She holds a BA from Carleton College and has completed training at the Inter-University Program in Beijing, the Middlebury Arabic Language School, and the Persian Critical Language Program in Tajikistan. Her research interests include the localization of Islam and the social and literary history of Muslims in China.

Jessica’s dissertation analyzes biographical collections by Hui Muslims in 19th century China to see how they construct history and situate themselves within Chinese and Islamic civilizations. Her project addresses larger issues of how community is defined through the stories we tell about the past.

J.P. Daughton

Internal Faculty Fellow

Department of History, Stanford University

Humanity So Far Away: Violence, Humanitarianism, and Human Rights in the Modern French Empire

J. P. Daughton is an associate professor of modern European history at Stanford.  He is the author of An Empire Divided: Religion, Republicanism, and the Making of French Colonialism, 1880-1914 (Oxford UP). He is currently completing a book on quotidian violence, humanitarianism, and rights in the modern French empire.
Based on research in archives on five continents, this project explores the central role human suffering played as an experience, a moral concept, and a political force in the rise and fall of French imperialism from the late 1800s to the 1960s.  It places the successes and failures of colonial “civilizing” efforts within the broader context of the development of global sensibilities regarding violence, labor conditions, and rights.

In a brief Q&A, Daughton shares his research findings with the Stanford Humanities Center.
Fred Donner
Marta Sutton Weeks Fellow
The Oriental Institute and Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, The University of Chicago
The Development of the Earliest Islamic Community

Recent research suggests that Islam began not as a distinct religious confession, but as a monotheistic "Believers' movement" that originally included Jews, Christians, and new monotheists who followed the prophet Muhammad and his scripture, the Qur'an. By tracing changing notions of identity and communal boundaries, Donner hopes to clarify how this original community of Believers evolved during the 7th and 8th centuries into a distinctly Muslim religious confession. This should tell us much not only about the origins and development of Islam but also about how nascent religious communities generally develop over time.

Erika Doss

Marta Sutton Weeks Fellow

Department of American Studies, University of Notre Dame

Spiritual Moderns: Twentieth Century American Artists and Religion

Erika Doss is professor of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame. She has written widely on modern and contemporary American visual and material cultures, including Benton, Pollock, and the Politics of Modernism: From Regionalism to Abstract Expressionism (1991), Spirit Poles and Flying Pigs: Public Art and Cultural Democracy in American Communities (1995), Looking at Life Magazine (editor, 2001), and, most recently, Memorial Mania: Public Feeling in America (2010).
Her book project Spiritual Moderns: Twentieth Century American Artists and Religion examines how religious beliefs shaped aesthetic styles and ways of working for modern American artists. Concentrating on the period from the 1920s to the 1960s and centering on artists including Joseph Cornell, Agnes Pelton, Mark Tobey, and Andy Warhol, the project aims to enrich understandings of American modernism by considering the visual, material, and affective dimensions of piety.
Damien Droney

Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellow

Department of Anthropology, Stanford University

Weedy Science: The Culture and Politics of Herbal Medicine Research in Ghana

Damien Droney is a PhD candidate in the department of anthropology. He received a BA in Anthropology with a minor in African Studies from UCLA in 2006. His fields of interest include African studies and cultural studies of science, technology, and medicine.
Droney’s dissertation, Weedy Science: The Culture and Politics of Herbal Medicine Research in Ghana, is an ethnographic study of the vocation of science in postcolonial Africa. Based on twenty months of research in classrooms, laboratories, and clinics, it follows the graduates of sub-Saharan Africa’s first university degree program in herbal medicine as they enter Ghana’s vibrant herbal medicine industry. The dissertation examines their experiences of school, work, infrastructure, capital, and African identity as they pursue the vocation of science.
Michael Friedman

Violet Andrews Whittier Fellow

Department of Philosophy, Stanford University

Extending the Dynamics of Reason: A Post-Kuhnian Approach to the History and Philosophy of Science

After receiving his doctorate from Princeton in 1973, Friedman taught at Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Illinois, and Indiana University before coming to Stanford in 2002. His recent books include Dynamics of Reason (2001), The Kantian Legacy in Nineteenth-Century Science (2006), and Kant’s Construction of Nature (2013).

Friedman develops a new historical and philosophical perspective on the development of both science and philosophy since Kant’s philosophical assimilation of Newtonian science in the late eighteenth century, in response to Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. His exploration of some of the central interactions between science and philosophy during this period intends to further our understanding of the contested relationship between science and the humanities more generally. 

Vera Gribanova

Internal Faculty Fellow

Department of Linguistics, Stanford University

Subjects and Clause Structure in Three Turkic Languages

Vera Gribanova received her PhD in Linguistics from University of California Santa Cruz in 2010, and since then has been Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Stanford University. Her research explores the principles that connect word and sentence structure to sound structure, primarily in Russian, Bulgarian and Uzbek.

Gribanova's project "Subjects and Clause Structure in Three Turkic Languages" explores the special status of the notion grammatical subject by looking at its grammatical encoding in the clause in Turkic languages, where the grammatical markers for subjecthood typical of Indo-European languages are dissociated. This investigation reinvents contemporary theories of this relation via a comparative investigation of subject case and verb agreement in several under-studied, closely related Turkic languages (Kazakh, Uzbek, and Kirghiz).

Stephanie Hom

Marta Sutton Weeks Fellow

Department of Italian, University of Oklahoma

Limits of Space: Mobility and Colonialism in Italy & Libya

Stephanie Malia Hom is Presidential Professor of Italian at the University of Oklahoma. She is the author of The Beautiful Country: Tourism & the Impossible State of Destination Italy (Toronto, in press) and also writes about tourism and empire in Italy’s colonies, simulated imperialism, and post-colonial identities in Italy and the Mediterranean.

Limits of Space: Mobility and Colonialism in Italy & Libya explores the ways that mobility forges unsettling connections between contemporary Italy and its neglected colonial past in Libya (1911-1943) through the production of exclusionary spaces. It shows how the understudied Italian colonial experience articulates with its post-colonial present through mobility-generated inequalities caused by the accelerated movements of people, objects, and ideas that intensify the disparity between people who move by choice and those moved by force. It makes a case for the ways in which a discourse of mobility organizes lasting connections between colonial imperialism and neoliberal empire in Italy and beyond.

Helen Human

Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellow

Department of Anthropology, Stanford University

Rehabilitated Ruins: Development, Democratization, and UNESCO World Heritage in Turkey

Human's ethnographic research investigates the intersection of cultural policy, development and the state at World Heritage Sites in Turkey. As a part of her research, she managed the successful inscription of the Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük on the UNESCO World Heritage List. A Fulbright scholar, Human received her B.A. in Anthropology from Harvard University in 2006.

Her project "Rehabilitated Ruins: Development, Democratization, and UNESCO World Heritage in Turkey" is a historical and ethnographic study which traces the rise and evolution of an international heritage field, focusing on the political and economic effects of UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention. The study attends to a transnational shift in the relationship between heritage and the state in order to understand the paradoxical effects of UNESCO’s reframing of heritage as an opportunity for development and democratization.

Nicholas Jenkins

Internal Faculty Fellow

Department of English, Stanford University

Manhattan Transfer: W.H. Auden and the Last of England

Bio coming soon.

James Lock

Ellen Andrews Wright Fellow

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford Medical School

Foucault and Psychiatry: A Post-Mortem Update

James Lock, MD, PhD is Professor of Child Psychiatry and Pediatrics in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University where he is the Director of the Eating Disorder Program. His research focuses on integrating treatment research with neuroscience in eating disorders.

His project focuses on the works of Michel Foucault with the goal of using Foucault's insights and approaches as they apply to current issues in psychiatry. In general, the aspiration is to use the thought of Foucault as a springboard to address problems about the impact of the increasing use of technology to characterize, define, and treat mental illness.

Thomas O'Donnell

External Faculty Fellow

Department of English, Fordham University

Theoretical Lives: Identity-Critique and Monastic Community in England

Tom O'Donnell is an Assistant Professor of English at Fordham University. He specializes in the literatures of Britain and Normandy between the years 1000 and 1300, with strong interests in spirituality, community-writing and form. He has published on topics ranging from tenth-century lyric to twenty-first-century music.

Theoretical Lives explores medieval conceptions of community as expressed in the books created and used by medieval monks and nuns. It looks especially at writing's role in fulfilling ideals of the monastic common life and questions the importance of identity as a primary optic for understanding the social changes brought on by conquest and reform in England during the eleventh and twelfth centuries.
Jennifer Pegg

Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellow

Department of History, Stanford University

The Emergence of a Historical Understanding of the Universe

Jennifer Pegg is a doctoral candidate in the Program in History and Philosophy of Science at Stanford University. She earned her BA in astronomy and astrophysics from Harvard University. Her research interests include the development of historical thinking in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century natural philosophy, the role of hypothesis, speculation, and imagination in Enlightenment and Romantic science, and the historical relationship between science and religion.

Pegg's dissertation project "The Emergence of a Historical Understanding of the Universe" tells the exciting story of the emergence of a new understanding of the universe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Whereas most western astronomers had previously regarded the stars as static or relatively static objects of little interest, new theories interpreted the heavens as a dynamic, historical entity, full of life. These cosmic theories took shape at the intersection of the sciences and humanities, at a time when the boundaries between astronomy, natural history, religion, arts, literature, and human history were fluid.

Bruno Perreau

External Faculty Fellow

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Crossing the Atlantic: The Response to Queer Theory in France

Bruno Perreau is Associate Professor of French Studies at MIT and Non Resident Faculty at the Center for European Studies, Harvard. He is the author of several books in French on political institutions, gay parenting, and LGBT studies. His latest book, The Politics of Adoption, was published by MIT Press in May 2014.

Perreau's research project investigates French Theory's return to France through the lenses of queer theory. He shows that protests against the so-called “American Gender Theory” in the wake of the 2013 law on same-sex marriage in France question the notion of community on both sides of the Atlantic.

Molly Pucci

Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellow

Department of History, Stanford University

Security Empire: Building the Secret Police in Communist East Europe

Molly Pucci is a PhD candidate in the history department at Stanford University. She holds a MA from Harvard University in Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies and a BA from Cornell University in history. Her research interests include the history of communism, state building, and law.
Her dissertation “Security Empire: Building the Secret Police in Communist East Europe” takes a comparative approach to the history of communist revolution and state building in Czechoslovakia, Poland, and East Germany. It draws together new archival materials from several countries in the former Eastern Bloc to explore how the communist secret police emerged as a social and political institution in the period following the Second World War.
Joan Ramon Resina

Donald Andrews Whittier Fellow

Department of Iberian and Latin American Cultures, Stanford University

Journalism as Literature: Josep Pla and the Rise of a New Realism in the 20th Century

Joan Ramon Resina is a Stanford Professor of Iberian Cultures and Comparative Literature, and the Director of the Iberian Studies Program at the Europe Center. Resina specializes in the European novel, cultural theory, Spanish and Catalan literature and film, and urban culture. He has authored seven books and edited nine volumes. He has published one hundred and fifty essays in refereed journals and collective volumes and many contributions to the daily and weekly press. Awards include a fellowship at the Center for Advanced Studies of the University of Cologne, the Fulbright scholarship, the Alexander von Humboldt fellowship, and the Serra d’Or award for literary criticism.

His current project involves the completion of a book on the rise of journalism d’auteur centered on the work of Josep Pla. It will contribute to the critical history of literary journalism while introducing to the English readership a major 20th century writer who achieved exceptional literary value through his lifelong work for the press. 

Nate Sloan

Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellow

Department of Music, Stanford University

Jazz in the Harlem Moment: Performing Race and Place at the Cotton Club, 1926-1935

Nate Sloan is a PhD candidate in musicology at Stanford University. He has an AB in music from Brown University. His research interests include jazz, Tin Pan Alley, and urban geography. He has been an Associate Professor at the California Jazz Conservatory, and, as a composer, written music and lyrics for two musicals and scored several films.

Sloan's work focuses on the Cotton Club, a key venue of the 1920s and '30s Harlem scene, in order to investigate how jazz musicians interacted with performative conventions of the interwar entertainment industry. At a segregated institution with an aesthetic reliant on exaggerated depictions of racial difference, Cotton Club performers —  including Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway — used their music to navigate the complex codes of Harlem nightlife. Through analysis of this give and take, a new picture of early jazz emerges.

Luke Sunderland

External Faculty Fellow

Department of Modern Languages and Cultures, Durham University

Rebel Barons: Resisting Royal Power in the Middle Ages

Luke Sunderland specializes in medieval French literature. He was a graduate student at King’s College London, and held a research fellowship at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. He is Senior Lecturer in French at Durham University, and Associate Director (Research) in Durham’s Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies.
Sunderland is investigating sovereignty, revolt, feud and crusade in a corpus of twelfth- to fifteenth-century epic poems and chronicles about Carolingian kings and their barons. He reads this literary material through the lenses of modern theories of sovereignty (Agamben, Derrida), modern anthropology and medieval political thought.
Barbara Voss

Internal Faculty Fellow

Department of Anthropology, Stanford University

Burn Layer: The Archaeology of Anti-Immigrant Violence

Barbara Voss is a historical archaeologist whose studies the dynamics and outcomes of transnational cultural encounters in the Americas, especially colonialism and immigration. Voss’ work also forges new dialogues between queer studies and archaeology. Her research is guided by a deep commitment to public archaeology and collaborative research.
Burn Layer: The Archaeology of Anti-Immigrant Violence uses archival, oral history, and archaeological evidence to study a single afternoon in downtown San Jose: the May 4, 1887 arson fire that destroyed the Market Street Chinatown. Engaging with interdisciplinary studies of affect and communal violence, this project untangles the material and rhetorical strategies of the 19th century anti-Chinese movement and those subject to its discriminatory and violent tactics.
Claude Willan

Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellow

Department of English, Stanford University

The Tory Seizure of Literary History

Claude Willan holds a BA and an MSt. from the University of Oxford. He is completing his dissertation "The Tory Seizure of Literary History" in the English department this year. He works on the co-evolution of political and literary cultures, self-conscious canon formation, poetic form, and the interaction of manuscript and print in restoration and eighteenth-century England. He also works on text technology studies, material and quantitative history, manuscript studies and history of the book, and the history of European Enlightenment networks. He has published in Modern Philology, The Library, Notes & Queries and in an edited volume on literary historicism (University of Tennessee Press). He tweets @ClaudeWillan and blogs at

"The Tory Seizure of Literary History" argues that the canon of eighteenth-century literature as we know and practice is a self-consciously and deliberately constructed artefact given the appearance of accident. Willan shows how Alexander Pope and Samuel Johnson drew on the universalist and elitist rhetorics and forms of the foregoing literary cultures of (respectively) Whig non-fiction prose and Jacobite poetry in manuscript to position their deeply political writing as perversely apolitical. Beginning with covert manuscript circulation of Jacobite poetry at the close of the 17th century, and ending with visual satires of Johnson's pretences as a critic, Willan traces the history of statements about political affiliation and their vexed and deeply revealing relationship to our history of literary value and taste.