Distinguished Visitors

Vivek Bald

Vivek Bald is a scholar, writer, and documentary filmmaker whose work focuses on histories of migration and diaspora, particularly from the South Asian subcontinent. He is the author of Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America (Harvard, 2013), and co-editor, with Miabi Chatterji, Sujani Reddy, and Manu Vimalassery of The Sun Never Sets: South Asian Migrants in an Age of U.S. Power (NYU, 2013). His films include Taxi-vala/Auto-biography, (1994) and Mutiny: Asians Storm British Music (2003). Bald is currently working on a transmedia project aimed at recovering the histories of peddlers and steamship workers from British colonial India who settled within U.S. communities of color during the Asian Exclusion era. The project consists of the Bengali Harlem book as well as a documentary film and digital archive and oral history website. He is also working on a second book, The Rise and Fall of 'Prince' Ranji Smile: Fantasies of India at the Dawn of the American Century. He is Associate Professor of Comparative Media Studies and Writing at MIT and a member of MIT's Open Documentary Lab.

Vincent Brown

Vincent Brown is Charles Warren Professor of History, Professor of African and African-American Studies, and Director of the History Design Studio at Harvard University. His research, writing, teaching, and other creative endeavors are focused on the political dimensions of cultural practice in the African Diaspora, with a particular emphasis on the early modern Atlantic world. He has been the recipient of fellowships from the Mellon, Guggenheim, and National Humanities Center. Brown is Principal Investigator and Curator for the animated thematic map Slave Revolt in Jamaica, 1760-1761: A Cartographic Narrative (2013), and Producer and Director of Research for the television documentary Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness (2009), recipient of the 2009 John E. O'Connor Film Award of the American Historical Association, awarded Best Documentary at both the 2009 Hollywood Black Film Festival and the 2009 Martha's Vineyard African-American Film Festival, and broadcast nationally in the PBS series Independent Lens. His first book, The Reaper's Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery (2008), was co-winner of the 2009 Merle Curti Award and received the 2009 James A. Rawley Prize and the 2008-09 Louis Gottschalk Prize.

Judith Butler

Judith Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley. She served as Founding Director of the Critical Theory Program at UC Berkeley. She received her Ph.D. in Philosophy from Yale University in 1984. She is the author of Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France (1987), Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990), Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex" (1993), The Psychic Life of Power: Theories of Subjection (1997), Excitable Speech (1997), Antigone's Claim: Kinship Between Life and Death (2000), Precarious Life: Powers of Violence and Mourning (2004); Undoing Gender (2004), Who Sings the Nation-State? (with Gayatri Spivak in 2008), Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? (2009), Is Critique Secular? (co-written with Talal Asad, Wendy Brown, and Saba Mahmood, 2009) and Sois Mon Corps (2011), co-authored with Catherine Malabou. Her most recent books include: Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism (2012), Dispossessions: The Performative in the Political co-authored with Athena Athanasiou (2013), Senses of the Subject (2015) and Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly (2015). Her future projects include work on messianic gestures in Kafka and Benjamin, philosophical fictions in Freud's work, and gender in translation.

Jessica Cattelino

Jessica Cattelino is a scholar of indigenous sovereignty, the cultural politics of nature, and everyday American political processes and imaginations. She is author of High Stakes: Florida Seminole Gaming and Sovereignty (Duke, 2008), which examines the cultural, political, and economic stakes of tribal casinos for Florida Seminoles, and which won the Delmos Jones and Jagna Sharff Memorial Book Prize (for best book published in the previous two years) from the Society for the Anthropology of North America. Her current research, which tells human stories of ecological restoration, examines the cultural politics of water in the Florida Everglades. Research has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the Howard Foundation. Cattelino collaborates on a related anthropological and photographic exhibition and is part of a large NSF Long-term Ecological Research project on the Florida Everglades. She is an associate professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies and an affiliate in American Indian Studies at UCLA, where she is also Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Women and Vice Chair of the Graduate Council.

David Chidester

David Chidester is Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Institute for Comparative Religion in Southern Africa (ICRSA) at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Chidester is the author or editor of over twenty books in North American studies, South African studies, and comparative religion. His major publications include Salvation and Suicide: Jim Jones, the Peoples Temple, and Jonestown (Indiana, 1988; revised edition 2003); Authentic Fakes: Religion and American Popular Culture (California, 2005); Christianity: A Global History (Penguin; Harper Collins, 2000); Savage Systems: Colonialism and Comparative Religion in Southern Africa (Virginia Press, 1996); Wild Religion: Tracking the Sacred in South Africa (California, 2012); and Empire of Religion: Imperialism and Comparative Religion (Chicago, 2014).

Lawrence Cohen

Lawrence Cohen is the Sarah Kailath Professor of India Studies and Professor of Anthropology and of South and Southeast Asian Studies, and Director of the Institute of South Asia Studies at UC Berkeley. He is the author of No Aging in India: Alzheimer's, the Bad Family, and Other Modern Things, awarded the Victor Turner Prize, the Staley Prize, and the American Ethnological Society First Book Prize. He has written extensively on sexuality (including "Song for Pushkin," "Lucknow Noir," and "The Kothi Wars"), aging (including "Senility and Irony's Age"), organ transplantation (including "The Other Kidney," Migrant Supplementarity"), and on medicine, religion, and ethics (including "Epistemological Carnival," "Ethical Publicity.") His current work engages big data and the state in India on the sexual, social, and political margin ("Duplicate, Leak, Deity").

Stef Craps

Stef Craps is an associate professor of English literature at Ghent University, where he directs the Cultural Memory Studies Initiative. He is the author of Postcolonial Witnessing: Trauma Out of Bounds (2013), and Trauma and Ethics in the Novels of Graham Swift: No Short-Cuts to Salvation (2005). He has guest-edited special issues of Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts (with Michael Rothberg) and Studies in the Novel (with Gert Buelens) on the topics of transcultural negotiations of Holocaust memory and postcolonial trauma novels. He is currently editing a special issue (with Rich Crownshaw) on climate change fiction. An edited collection, Memory Unbound: Tracing the Dynamics of Memory Studies (with Lucy Bond and Pieter Vermeulen) is forthcoming with Berghahn.

Elizabeth Dillon

Elizabeth Maddock Dillon is Professor and Chair of the Department of English and Co-director of the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks at Northeastern University. She teaches courses in the fields of early American literature, Atlantic theatre and performance, and transatlantic print culture. She is the author of New World Drama: The Performative Commons in the Atlantic World, 1649-1849 (Duke, 2014) which won the Barnard Hewitt Award for Outstanding Research in Theatre History from the American Society for Theatre Research and The Gender of Freedom: Fictions of Liberalism and the Literary Public Sphere (Stanford, 2004), which won the Heyman Prize for Outstanding Publication in the Humanities at Yale University. She is co-editor with Michael Drexler of The Haitian Revolution and the Early U.S.: Histories, Geographies, Textualities (Pennsylvania, 2016).

Demetrius Eudell

Demetrius L. Eudell is Professor of History at Wesleyan University, where he specializes in 19th-century U.S. history, intellectual history, and the history of Blacks in the Americas. In addition to a number of essays and articles on Black intellectual and cultural history, he is the also the author of The Political Languages of Emancipation in the British Caribbean and the U.S. South and co-editor with Carolyn Allen of Sylvia Wynter: A Transculturalist Rethinking Modernity, a special issue of The Journal of West Indian Literature. His current research projects include an exploration of the interconnections of the discourses of hierarchy of race and caste as well as an examination of the role of ideas of history, nature, and human differences in the 18th-century Enlightenment with special reference to the German Aufklärung.

Françoise Lionnet

A past-President of the American Comparative Literature Association, Françoise Lionnet is Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures, and African and African American Studies, at Harvard University. She is on leave from UCLA where she is a Distinguished Professor of French and Francophone Studies, Comparative Literature, and Gender Studies. Her research focuses primarily on Indian Ocean literary, cultural, and historical studies, in relation to Atlantic and Caribbean Studies. She is interested in the longue durée of colonialism in those regions, and focuses on 18th to 21st century writers in books that include: The Known and the Uncertain: Creole Cosmopolitics of the Indian Ocean (Le su et l'incertain: Cosmopolitiques créoles de l'océan indien) (2012), Writing Women and Critical Dialogues (2012), and Postcolonial Representations: Women, Literature, Identity (1995).

Mahmood Mamdani

Mahmood Mamdani is the Herbert Lehman Professor of Government at Columbia University, and the Director of the Makerere Institute of Social Research in Kampala, Uganda. An member of the "Dar es Salaam school" of social thought in the 1970s, his career as an research scholar and publicly-engaged intellectual spans many continents. His influential body of work includes Saviors and Survivors (2009), Good Muslim, Bad Muslim (2004), Citizen and Subject (1996), and Politics and Class Formation in Uganda (1976). Over the course of four decades, he has opened up critical points of view on the Cold War, the decolonization processes across Africa, the refugee crises of postcolonial African states, and the so-called "global war on terror." Through his writings and his role in creating new academic institutions in Africa, he has worked to carve out autonomous spaces for thought, debate and social action, free from the dominant scripts of politics expedience.

Emily Martin

Emily Martin has taught anthropology at the University of California, Irvine, Yale University, Johns Hopkins University, Princeton University and (currently) at New York University. She is the author of The Cult of the Dead in a Chinese Village (1973); Chinese Ritual and Politics (1981); The Woman in the Body: A Cultural Analysis of Reproduction (1987), winner of the Eileen Basker Memorial Prize; Flexible Bodies: Tracking Immunity in American Culture From the Days of Polio to the Age of AIDS (1994); and Bipolar Expeditions: Mania and Depression in American Culture (2007), winner of the Diana Forsythe Prize. Most recently, her 1986 L.H. Morgan lectures, The Meaning of Money in China and the United States, were published by the University of Chicago Press. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Social Science Research Council and as president of the American Ethnological Society. Her research has been supported by Fulbright awards, a Guggenheim fellowship, an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, and grants from the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the Spencer Foundation. She is the founding editor of the public interest magazine Anthropology Now.

Katherine McKittrick

Katherine McKittrick is Associate Professor of Gender Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Her interdisciplinary research attends to the links between black studies, theories of anti-colonialism and liberation, and creative texts. Katherine also researches the writings of Sylvia Wynter, with part of this work put forth in the edited collection, Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis. She authored Demonic Grounds: Black Women and the Cartographies of Struggle and co-edited, with Clyde Woods, Black Geographies and the Politics of Place. She is currently working on the monograph Dear Science and Other Stories.

Alondra Nelson

Alondra Nelson is Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies and Dean of Social Science at Columbia University, where she has served as director of the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality. She is Chair-elect of the American Sociological Association on Science, Knowledge, and Technology. Her most recent book The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome (2016), traces how claims about ancestry are marshaled together with genetic analysis in a range of social ventures. She is also the author of the award-winning Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination (2011). In addition, she is coeditor of Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History (2012); Afrofuturism, a special issue of Social Text (2002); and Technicolor, Race, Technology, and Everyday Life (2001). Nelson's interdisciplinary research has been supported by the Ford, Woodrow Wilson, and Andrew W. Mellon Foundations, and she has been a fellow at the W.E.B Du Bois Institute at Harvard University, the International Center for Advanced Study at New York University, the BIOS Centre at the London School of Economics, the Bavarian-American Academy in Munich, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, and the Academy of Advanced African Studies at the University of Bayreuth. She is a member of the NSF-sponsored Council on Big Data, Ethics, and Society, sits on the editorial boards of Social Studies of Science, Social Text, and Public Culture, and serves on the board of advisors of the Data & Society Research Institute.

Debarati Sanyal

Debarati Sanyal is Professor of French at UC Berkeley, where she is affiliated with the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory and the Human Rights Program. Her research interests span 19th-21st century French and Francophone literature, with a focus on memory studies; nineteenth-century poetics of revolution; the Occupation and Holocaust studies, and more recently, critical human rights and refugee studies. She is the author of Memory and Complicity: Migrations of Holocaust Remembrance (Fordham, 2015); The Violence of Modernity: Baudelaire, Irony and the Politics of Form (Johns Hopkins, 2006); and co-editor of Noeuds de mémoire: Multidirectional Memory in Postwar French and Francophone Culture (Yale French Studies 118/119, 2010). Her current book project, tentatively titled The Poetics of Political Asylum addresses the contemporary refugee experience in French-speaking testimony, fiction and film.

Shu-mei Shih

Shu-mei Shih is a professor of Comparative Literature, Asian Languages and Cultures, and Asian American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles and Hon-yin and Suet-fong Chan Professor of Chinese at the University of Hong Kong. Among other works, her book, Visuality and Identity: Sinophone Articulations across the Pacific (2007), has been attributed as having inaugurated a new field of study called Sinophone Studies. Sinophone Studies: A Critical Reader (2013) is a textbook that she co-edited for the field. Besides Sinophone studies, her areas of research include comparative modernism, as in the book The Lure of the Modern: Writing Modernism in Semicolonial China, 1917-1937 (2001); theories of transnationalism, as in her co-edited Minor Transnationalism (2005); critical race studies, as in her guest-edited special issue of PMLA entitled "Comparative Racialization" (2008); critical theory, as in her co-edited Creolization of Theory (2011); Taiwan studies, as in her guest-edited special issue of Postcolonial Studies entitled "Globalization and Taiwan's (In)significance" and the co-edited volume Comparatizing Taiwan (2015).

Audra Simpson

Audra Simpson is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University. She is the author of Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life Across the Borders of Settler States (Duke, 2014), winner of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association's Best First Book in Native American and Indigenous Studies Prize, the Laura Romero Prize from the American Studies Association as well as the Sharon Stephens Prize from the American Ethnological Society (2015). She is co-editor of Theorizing Native Studies (Duke, 2014). She has articles in Cultural Anthropology, American Quarterly, Junctures, Law and Contemporary Problems and Wicazo Sa Review. In 2010 she won Columbia University's School for General Studies "Excellence in Teaching Award." She is a Kahnawake Mohawk.

Alexander Weheliye

Alexander Ghedi Weheliye is Professor of African American Studies at Northwestern University where he teaches black literature and culture, critical theory, social technologies, and popular culture. He is the author of Phonographies: Grooves in Sonic Afro-Modernity (Duke, 2005), which was awarded MLA's William Sanders Scarborough Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Study of Black American Literature or Culture, and Habeas Viscus: Racializing Assemblages, Biopolitics, and Black Feminist Theories of the Human (Duke, 2014). Currently, he is working on two projects: Feenin: R&B's Technologies of Humanity, offers a critical history of the intimate relationship between R&B music and technology since the late 1970's; Black Life/Schwarz-Sein, situates Blackness as an ungendered ontology of unbelonging. His work has been published in American Literary History, The Black Scholar, boundary 2, CR: The New Centennial Review, The Journal of Visual Culture, Public Culture, Small Axe, Social Text, and the anthologies Black Europe and the African Diaspora, The Oxford Handbook of Mobile Music Studies, Critical Ethnic Studies, The Contemporary African American Novel, Wie Rassismus aus Wörtern spricht: (K)erben des Kolonialismus im Wissensarchiv deutsche Sprache, Remapping Black Germany, and re/visionen: Postkoloniale Perspektiven von People of Color auf Rassismus, Kulturpolitik und Widerstand in Deutschland.