Diversity Fellowships

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About Doctoral/Postdoctoral Diversity Fellowships

The Cornell diversity fellowships are designed to support the early development of scholars who show promise of distinguished research careers and who are from sectors of the population historically underrepresented on the professorial faculties of U.S. colleges and universities. Eligible applicants might be from underrepresented minority groups, have faced economic hardship, be first-generation college graduates or work on topics related to these areas (this list is not meant to be exhaustive). Diversity and inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. We are a recognized employer and educator valuing AA/EEO, protected veterans and individuals with disabilities.

The two-year postdoctoral fellowships are funded by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The postdoctoral fellowship award for 2015-16 includes a salary of $56,000, full Cornell University employee benefits, a research/travel fund of $3,000 and a one-time $4,000 moving allowance.

Theme for 2015-16

Conformity and Its Discontents

Communities and individuals often find themselves governed by, but also circumscribed and at times trapped by, the existence of prevailing beliefs, norms and practices. At the same time, these prevailing norms can be stabilizing, even comforting. Encounters with diverse peoples, places and practices can reinforce the need to conform but can also generate discomfort. The seminar will explore interdisciplinary approaches to the notion of conformity and its discontents. What are the norms in the places, practices and epistemologies we study? What norms govern our own work? What and who constitutes the discontented? Does diversity challenge existing norms? Does it construct its own normativity? These are just a few of the questions to be explored.

Recent Postdocs

Mellon Post-Docs 2015-2016

Michael Hamilton, Linguistics
Ph.D. 2015, McGill University

My research focuses on First Nation's languages, particularly the Algonquian language family. My dissertation focuses on the effect of discourse on the structure and pronunciation of sentences in Mi'gmaq, an Eastern Algonquian language. At Cornell, I would like to continue more in-depth research with Mi'gmaq, as well as on variation in the structure and pronunciation of sentences across Algonquian languages. I would like to compare the effect of discourse in Mi'gmaq with other languages to develop a typology of the common ways in which discourse can affect the grammar in general. My research also includes the investigation of the factors involved in how sentence structure is built, and what various cross-linguistic grammatical constructions tell us about how this is done. Apart from theoretical linguistics research, I aim to package the data I gather into useful resources for the communities I work with. I would like to build an online corpus of utterances from a recent production experiment and make it available online for researchers, educators, and speakers.

José Ragas, Science & Technology Studies
Ph.D. 2015, University of California, Davis

My dissertation investigates the genealogy of the identification system in Peru between the Wars of Independence in the 1820s and the first national ID card issued by the Peruvian government in 1931. During the research, I went through an extensive yet disperse body of sources (photographs, correspondence, political party ID cards, internal passports, police reports, anthropometric records, personal documents, magazines, and official bulletins) to illuminate the various strategies, techniques, and technologies employed by authorities and Peruvian population to negotiate the identity of every citizen. At Cornell, I plan to revise my dissertation, focusing on the circulation and production of technologies of identification developed to extract quantitative information from citizens’ bodies.

Kristin Roebuck, East Asian History
Ph.D., 2015, Columbia University

I am an historian of modern Japan with research and teaching interests in the history of the body, the history of science, comparative studies of gender and race, and relations between Japan and other countries in Asia and the West. At Cornell, I will complete a book manuscript based on my dissertation, "Japan Reborn: Mixed-Race Children, Eugenic Nationalism, and the Politics of Sex after World War II." Although it is often said that Japanese nationalism collapsed in the wake of defeat in World War II, in this project I expose how nationalism was reconstructed rather than rejected by postwar intellectuals and activists who gave nationalism a new basis in the supposedly "pure" and timeless Japanese "race" rather than the recently failed state. I argue that the conflation of "race" and nation and the linked norm of homogeneity so pervasive in Japan today dates from the early-1950s, when a political, scientific, and mass-mediated furor erupted over "blood mixing" between Japanese women and foreign men associated with the occupying armies. The widely decried “crisis of blood mixing” racialized nationalism and generated a pervasive sense of “purity” in Japan, thereby overturning the norms of “mixing” and assimilation that had characterized the imperial era (1868-1945).

Mellon Post-Docs 2014-2015

Nicole Giannella, Classics
Ph.D. 2014, University of Southern California, Classics

I am a classicist specializing in Roman intellectual and cultural history. While at Cornell, I am working on my first book project building on research from my dissertation, “The Mind of the Slave: the Limits of Knowledge and Power in Roman Law and Society.” Through a study of moments of evaluation and exchange (e.g., purchase and sale, manumission) this project examines Roman concepts of status and ownership in the context of the master-slave relationship. I focus particularly on attempts to know the mind of the slave—the character of the slave and the intention behind his or her actions—and how these attempts shape the master-slave relationship and reflect the limits of a master's knowledge and power over his slave. In order to create a fuller understanding of the master-slave dynamic of knowledge and power, I read legal documents, juristic writings, and agricultural handbooks alongside contemporary philosophy, rhetoric, and historiography. In future work, I plan to study the idea of personal freedom in Rome, and I am also interested in the history of slavery in other societies and time periods.

Kya Mangrum, English
Ph.D. 2014, University of Michigan, English

My research looks at what happens to U.S. narratives of slavery when written texts and photographic images meet. In my book project, Picturing Slavery: Photography and the U.S. Slave Narrative, I argue that photography—its processes, effects, and cultural histories—transformed how U.S. narratives of slavery were written, circulated, and read. These new narrative forms were engendered by popular photographic formats like the carte de visite (a photographic trading card the size of a baseball card) and the stereoview (a 3D photographic image). In bringing these new forms to light, I call for a radical shift in how we define the slave narrative and its literary after-lives. A second project asks how the material objects of the past—scraps of paper, locks of hair, bits of fabric, pictures—transformed how and why twentieth- and twenty-first century African-Americans wrote about slavery. By analyzing modern day-narratives of U.S. slavery in diverse formats (graphic novels, museum exhibits, childrens’ books, and film), I hope to better understand how the everyday stuff of nineteenth-century life influences how we remember (or forget) U.S. slavery.

Faculty Participants 2015-2016

Andrea Bachner, associate professor, Department of Comparative Literature

Her research explores comparative intersections between Sinophone, Latin American, and European cultural productions in dialogue with theories of interculturality, sexuality, and mediality.Her first book, Beyond Sinology: Chinese Writing and the Scripts of Cultures (Columbia University Press, 2014), analyzes how the Chinese script has been imagined in recent decades in literature and film, visual and performance art, design and architecture, both within Chinese cultural contexts and in different parts of the “West.” She is the co-editor (with Carlos Rojas) of the Oxford Handbook of Modern Chinese Literatures (forthcoming 2015) and has published articles in Comparative Literature, Comparative Literature Studies, Concentric, German Quarterly, Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, Taller de Letras as well as in several edited volumes.

She has just completed a genealogy of the concept of inscription that probes the media imaginaries of poststructuralist theory (Inscriptive Passions, or Poststructuralist Prehistories) and is currently working on a reflection on the limits of comparison through an exploration of the rich history of cultural contact, exchange, and affinity between Latin American and Chinese cultures from the late 19th century to today (Comparison at the Margins: Latin America and the Sinophone World).  

Jonathan Boyarin, Mann Professor of Modern Jewish Studies, Paul and Berthe Hendrix Director of Jewish Studies, Department of Anthropology

His scholarly itinerary has focused on work that brings Jews and Jewishness within the purview of contemporary anthropological theory and cultural studies. He has pursued this goal in areas such as the politics of memory; orality and textuality; rhetorics of identity; and comparative diasporas. He has developed a range of courses that reflect his broad interests in Jewish ethnography, literature and cultural theory; some that are broadly comparative; some that focus on particular modern Jewish thinkers and streams in Jewish and modern ideologies; and an ambitious introduction to the academic field of Jewish studies itself. He is the author or coauthor of numerous books, including Mornings at the Stanton Street Shul: A Lower East Side Summer; The Unconverted Self: Jews, Indians, and the Identity of Christian Europe; and Powers of Diaspora: Two Essays on the Relevance of Jewish Culture.

Greg Londe, assistant professor, Department of English

His research and teaching explore 20th and 21st century transnational literature and culture. He has published essays on post-war English and Irish novelists, the poetics of the Cultural Cold War, and contemporary Irish crime fiction, and he's the editor of The Cracked Lookingglass: Essays in Honor of the Leonard L. Milberg Collection of Irish Prose Writers (2010), a collection of original essays by Paul Muldoon, Colm Tóibín, Paige Reynolds, Terence Brown, Clair Wills, and others that traces the history of Irish prose from 1800 to the present.

Currently, he is working on a book entitled "Enduring Modernism: Forms of Surviving Location in the 20th Century Long Poem," which examines an alternative to the restless cosmopolitanism that typically characterizes modernism, focusing on writers who decided to stay in one location and chronicle that chosen ground even as the world around them accelerated and connected (William Carlos Williams, Patrick Kavanagh, John Montague, Aimé Césaire, Léopold Senghor, Daphne Marlatt, and Roy Fisher). Making use of extensive new archival research into the transnational correspondence of these poets and the worldwide distribution of their writing, this study reveals a competition for the right to display regional concerns globally: between the poets who held their ground and the cultural agencies, such as the Ford Foundation, UNESCO, and the Irish Tourist Board, that promoted these recalcitrant modernist locations as an aesthetic alibi for globalization.

Tamara Loos, associate professor, Department of History.

Her current project offers a social history of nineteenth and early twentieth Siam (Thailand) through the eyes of a reluctantly rebellious prince, Prisdang Chumsai (1852-1935). His life story opens a window onto this crucial moment in Siam’s history, when that country simultaneously escaped imperial control and transformed into a monarchical absolutist state. By following his footsteps, we travel from Bangkok, to London for his education, to Europe where he served as Siam’s first foreign minister to twelve countries, and then into exile, in disguise, throughout colonial Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka. Prisdang transgressed social norms by challenging monarchical authority, allegedly engaging in adulterous infidelities, contemplating suicide, and audaciously pushing the limits of his social station. For this, he became reviled by the Siamese governing class, fled into exile, exposed to imperial powers Siam’s monarch for his depraved sexual habits, became a rabble-rousing monk for fifteen years in Ceylon, and returned broken, humbled and poor to Siam in 1911.

A study of Prince Prisdang is relevant to politics in Thailand today. His life experiences provide a dagger-to-the-heart critique of the construction of royal cultural authority, the compulsion to self-censor, and lèse majesté laws that began under King Chulalongkorn and continue to afflict Thailand in the 21st century. Loos’ project moves beyond the brutal realities of law to consider quotidian acts of self-censorship in repressive contexts, where individuals might self-censor out of political necessity or out of a desire to “fit in” with social and cultural norms, making it difficult to distinguish between these forms of “silence.”  

Jolene Rickard, associate professor, History of Art and Director of the American Indian Program.

She is a visual historian, artist, and curator interested in the issues of Indigeneity within a global context. She is currently a recipient of a Ford Foundation Research Grant and conducting research in the Americas, Europe, New Zealand and Australia culminating in a new journal on Indigenous aesthetics, and has a forthcoming book on Visualizing Sovereignty.

Nick Salvato, associate professor, Department of Performing and Media Arts, recent former Director of LGBT Studies

Working at the intersections of performance studies, media studies, 20th- and 21st-century studies, and feminist and queer theory, he is the author of Uncloseting Drama: American Modernism and Queer Performance (Yale UP, 2010), Knots Landing (Wayne State UP, 2015), and Obstruction (Duke UP, forthcoming in 2016). In a variety of contexts, he focuses attention on performances, representational practices, discourses, and dispositions that are figured (often dismissively) by critics as minor or that announce themselves deliberately as minor; and at the same time, he considers the ways in which the concept of minority influences or defines the modern, even as minority conceals the centrality of its definitional power and influence. His current research project explores the queer contours of American television animations of the past 60 years.

Carol Warrior, post-doctoral fellow, Department of English

For Indigenous peoples, the act of self-definition determines the terms of inclusion and exclusion, and yet can render tribal nations, their members and their resources, controllable and domitable. Such acts of definition represent a paradox. That is, self-definition is an exercise of national sovereignty, but due to nation-states’ responsibilities to fulfill obligations as described in legal instruments, such demarcations around Indigenous nations, communities and identities prevent Indigenous peoples from responding to changing circumstances in ways that emerge from Indigenous epistemologies and praxes, with emphasis on the processual and the relational. Flexibility to respond to changes in demographics and the location or condition of other-than-human relations (plants, animals, land, waterways) is thus limited. My current research, therefore, focuses on the negotiation of Indigenous identity and sovereignty outside of the legal instruments that describe and circumscribe Indigenous peoples, their nations, and communities.

2015-16 Seminar Director

Sandra E. Greene, Professor of History, Cornell Faculty Seminar Director

Her research interests focus on West Africa and more specifically on the social and cultural history of Ghana from the height of the Atlantic slave trade (in the 18th century) through the early colonial period (up to World War II). Her current research project focuses on analyzing the actions taken by a number of different African slave owners in West Africa in response to the colonial abolition of slavery. When abolition came, imposed on West Africa by European colonial powers, most slave owners felt it only necessary to shift how they defined their human property. Instead of insisting on their right to manage their slaves as they saw fit, they adapted. In response to the abolition, they redefined their slaves as members of their extended families, while keeping in place the social divisions (and in some instances, the labor expectations) that had previously governed these relations. European colonial authorities accepted this because they did not want the abolition of slavery to be disruptive of the local economy. Some slave owners, however, refused to take this approach. Many resisted the abolition, going so far as to use violence; yet others took a very different approach. They embraced abolition and even provided opportunities to their former slaves that were rarely available to even free members of their communities. Among the topics that inform this project are questions about norms, the history of their evolution, the reasons for conformity to those norms, and how, why and under what circumstances resistance to those norms takes place.