Deadline for Applications: December 01, 2017
The Mahindra Humanities Center invites applications for one-year postdoctoral fellowships in connection with the Center’s Andrew W. Mellon Foundation seminar on the topic of migration and the humanities.
Migration plays as critical a role in the moral imagination of the humanities as it does in shaping the activist vision of humanitarianism and human rights. Too often, the humanities are summoned merely as witnesses to the spectacle of the significant currents and crises of contemporary life. Literature and the arts are viewed as iconic presences whose primary aesthetic and moral values lie in their illustrative powers of empathy and evocation. Yet the intellectual formation of the humanities—their very conception of the nature of meaning, knowledge, and morals—is deeply resonant with the displacement of values and the revision of norms that shape the transitional and translational narratives of migrant lives.
Built around pedagogies of representation and interpretation—textual, visual, digital, political, ethical, ecological, etc.—the humanities engage with the history of shifting relations between cultural expression, historical transition, and political transformation. The ethics of citizenship in our time are defined as much by migration and resettlement as by indigenous belonging, as much by global governance as by national sovereignty. And the humanities play a central role in defining the terms and the territories of cultural citizenship as it creates innovative institutions and identities in the making of a civil society.
The migration “crisis” makes it imperative for humanists to reflect on the foundational concepts and values of our disciplines in addressing the representation of others as they are recognized in the norms of cultural citizenship. The issues the seminar will explore include: the ethics of hospitality; modes of cosmopolitanism; negotiation of cultural “differences” under duress; the role played by interpretation and cultural translation in enhancing processes of social integration.
Applications from scholars in all fields whose work innovatively engages with migration and the humanities are welcome. For 2018-19 proposals that engage with migration, cultural memory, and the archive are of particular interest:
How do we understand the relationship between cultural memory as personal or collective narrative and the institutional demands of the legal discourse of memory used as a protocol of evidence that establishes the migrant’s claim to refuge, asylum and/or citizenship? What is the relationship between the affective aspects of migrant memory, such as fear, anxiety, humiliation, trauma, hope, and wish fulfillment, and the truth conditions encoded in jurisprudence and political rationality?
What are the narrative forms and discursive modes that constitute archives of migration, both contemporary an historical? What are the technologies and politics of these representations? How do archives of migrations function as purveyors of information, systems of classification, conduits of dissemination that create new public knowledge?
Terms and Conditions
In addition to pursuing their own research projects, fellows will be core participants in the bi-weekly seminar meetings. Other participants will include faculty and graduate students from Harvard and other universities in the region, and occasional visiting speakers.
Fellows will be joined at the Center by postdoctoral fellows from Germany, who will be coming as part of a collaboration between the Mahindra Humanities Center and the Volkswagen Foundation. Fellows are expected to be in residence at Harvard for the term of the fellowship.
Fellows will receive stipends of $65,000, individual medical insurance, moving assistance of $1,500, and additional research support of $2,500.
Eligibility and Deadline Information
Applicants for 2018-19 fellowships must have received a doctorate or terminal degree in or after May 2015. Applicants without a doctorate or terminal degree must demonstrate that they will receive a doctorate or terminal degree in a related discipline in or before August 2018. Applications must be completed by December 1, 2017.