Two Stanford scholars awarded inaugural Andrew Carnegie Fellowships

SHAHZAD BASHIR, professor of Islamic studies, and IAN MORRIS, professor of classics, will receive 2015 Andrew Carnegie Fellowships. Morris and Bashir will join an elite cohort of 32 fellows whose work advances the study of crucial aspects of the human experience.

According to the Carnegie website, the new program aims to identify “extraordinary senior, junior, and emerging scholars; journalists; and public intellectuals pursuing research on the challenges of the next 25 years, both at home and abroad, that compel attention and analysis from fresh perspectives.”

Headshot of Ian Morris
Ian Morris

During his time as a Carnegie Fellow, Morris will work on a project titled “Singularity and Nightfall: Trends in Social Development.” He says he’s hoping to use the grant to produce books that look at the history of the whole planet across the last 20,000 years and ask where the long-term trends are likely to take us in the coming century.

“It’s a huge honor to find myself among the first batch of Andrew Carnegie fellows, along with a truly distinguished set of scholars,” Morris said. “There aren’t many fellowships designed expressly to support research that moves across conventional disciplinary boundaries, and so I’m delighted to be able to add the Carnegie Foundation’s help to all the help I’ve been getting from Stanford since I came here in 1995.”

A historian and archaeologist, and a fellow at the Stanford Archaeology Center, Morris’ current research focuses on global history since the Ice Age. He has researched the rise of the Greek city-state and ancient economics. He has excavated in Britain, Greece, and Italy. He also directed Stanford’s dig at Monte Polizzo, a native Sicilian site from the age of Greek colonization.

His most recent book, Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels: How Human Values Evolve, was published this year by Princeton University Press. Some of his previous publications include War! What is It Good For? and The Measure of Civilization: How Social Development Decides the Fate of Nations.

Bashir Headshot
Shahzad Bashir

Bashir specializes in the intellectual and social histories of Persianate societies of Iran and Central and South Asia from around the 14th century to the present.

“I am delighted as well as honored to receive the fellowship,” he said, adding that the award will enable him to finish a book with the working title Islamic Times: Conceptualizing Pasts and Futures.

In order to explore this topic, he is currently conducting a wide-ranging assessment of materials produced in Persianate societies circa 1400-1600 that claim to represent the past. Bashir seeks to show constructions of time and human experience in those texts, leading to a cultural history of an Islamic cosmopolitan arena that derived its identity from Persian language and literary forms.

“The book addresses fundamental issues with respect to understanding global Islam and is topically focused on diverse Muslim constructions of past, present and future. Conceptual issues related to this theme can allow us to appreciate Islam as an internally diverse tradition that nevertheless functions as a unifying factor in world affairs at the rhetorical level,” Bashir explained.

Bashir has previously published works exploring Sufism and Shi’ism, messianic movements originating in Islamic contexts, representation of corporeality in hagiographic texts and Persian miniature painting, as well as other aspects of Islamic societies and culture.

The 2015 Carnegie fellows will receive awards of up to $200,000 each, which will allow them to take sabbaticals in order to devote time to their research and writing.

Susan Hockfield, former president of MIT and chair of the selection jury, said she was impressed by the quality of the proposals. “They seek to tackle some of the most pressing issues of our times with innovative and forward-looking ideas from a wide range of high-caliber candidates,” she said. “Solutions to the complex issues of today and tomorrow will not emerge simply through technology and science, but require humanistic and social science scholarship to use lessons of the past to devise paths to future peace and progress.”