Resident Graduate Scholars
The Institute's Resident Graduate Scholars receive competitive one-year appointments, during which they receive office space and other resources to complete their dissertations, which are deemed as important contributions to the humanities.
We would like to welcome the Institute for the Humanities 2021-2022 Graduate Resident Scholars.
Scroll further down the page for links to past years' Graduate Resident Scholars.
Beyond Myths and Ruins: Archaeology and Nomadism in Russia (1850-1925)
Tentatively titled Beyond Myths and Ruins: Archaeology and Nomadism in Russia (1850-1925), my project is the first attempt to write a history of the archaeology of nomadism in the Russian empire and the early Soviet Union and chart its historical development. My dissertation is framed by, and seeks to explain, the paradoxical rise of “nomadic archaeology” in the Russian Empire in the mid 19th century, which emerged from the ostensible incompatibility of the two phenomena: nomadism and archaeology. Turn-of-the-century science understood nomads and nomadic cultures as “primitive”, “transient”, and implicitly incapable of historicity. Meanwhile, archaeology as a science aimed precisely to prove historical rootedness and historicity of a given group through “objective” material evidence. In the case of the Russian Empire there was an added element of complexity, as nomads– the “atavistic survivals” of bygone eras, were also a part of the diverse mix of imperial subjects with competing agendas and visions of the future in a rapidly modernizing polity.
The project argues that the diversity of scholarly interpretations of nomadic archaeology in the Russian Empire and early USSR reflects the complex relationships and tensions between archeology and imperial societies undergoing liberalization and nationalization from above and responding to the rising subaltern nationalisms from below. It shows how, for a sundry network of actors of varying cultural, socioeconomic, and political backgrounds, archaeology became a language of modernity, used to make participatory, or sometimes, overtly anti-imperial claims in the changing political climate of the fin de siècle.
The dissertation places these debates in a global context, examining how the vision of archaeology within the Russian Empire and early Soviet Union was influenced by the intra-imperial comparative optics of my dissertation’s various protagonists. Ultimately, the project aims asks questions not just about archaeology, or about the case of the Russian Empire and Soviet Union, but interrogates the politics of knowledge in nationalizing empires. The conclusions that my dissertation arrives at are therefore applicable not just to the Russian imperial case, but empires generally, as crucibles of modern knowledge production.
“Understanding Hypotheses in Newton’s Scientific Thought”
In his widely read Principia Mathematica, Newton wrote to “feign no hypotheses” concerning the cause of gravity. A ‘hypotheses’ for Newton was a conjectural, causal explanation, and some of his contemporaries understood his refusal to propose hypotheses as a more general methodological statement: the aim of science is descriptive only, so hypotheses have no place in it. The recent accessibility of Newton’s unpublished and overlooked works on alchemy, theology, and natural philosophy helped commentators form new, more accurate pictures of Newton. Many now acknowledge that Newton did use hypotheses. While showing that Newton did use hypotheses, most scholars set aside the task of articulating the makeup of Newton’s hypotheses: that is, exploring what specific roles hypotheses had his thought and what criteria they needed in order to be justified and worthy of acceptance. The aim of my dissertation is to fill these two gaps in the literature. I argue that there are six criteria that Newton thought hypotheses should meet in order to be justified: (i) the analogy of nature, (ii) experiment, (iii) non-contradiction, (iv) parsimony, (v) mechanism, and (vi) divine conformity. I further argue that serving as tools to guide empirical research and serving as underlying mechanisms for a scientific explanation were the two main roles justified hypotheses played in Newton’s scientific thought, particularly his physics and optics. These were the standards to which Newton adhered to avoid feigning a hypothesis.
Bad Comrades: Art and Answerability After Socialism
When Europe’s socialist regimes collapsed in the early 1990s, socialism’s memories, lived experiences, and artistic traditions did not vanish along with the walls, nation states, and political parties that once defined the region. My dissertation examines these afterlives of socialism in southeastern Europe. Across three chapters, I consider why and to what ends contemporary artists in former Yugoslavia and Albania continue to affirm state socialism’s art forms, attitudes, and institutional structures after its political model failed. Moving against “end of history” narratives that cast 1989 as the decisive victory of liberal capitalism, this project studies the artistic sensibilities, critical perspectives, and political desires that come into view when contemporary East European art is cast not as antithetical to but in continuity with its vexed socialist past.