Announcing the 2024–2025 IAS Residential Faculty Fellows!


The Institute for Advanced Study is delighted to announce our Residential Faculty Fellows for 2024–2025.

Faculty fellows spend a semester in residence at the IAS. Together with our Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellows (who spend a full academic year in residence) and other scholars in residence, they constitute a supportive interdisciplinary intellectual community in which they work intensively on their own research and creative projects and gather regularly to collaborate, discuss their work, and exchange ideas.

We look forward to welcoming each of these new fellows to our growing community!



Fall 2024

Hakim Abderrezak
French and Italian, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

“Burning the Sea: Clandestine Crossings in the Mediterranean Seametery”
Currently, I am working on my second book project, Burning the Sea, which examines the refugee crisis from the Middle East and Africa. While in residence at the Institute for Advanced Study, I will focus on the last chapter of my manuscript, which proposes a theoretical apparatus rooted in local vernaculars and academic studies from the Global South, redressing common misnaming and misconceptions. The chapter will provide the critical distance missing in Eurocentric studies of this phenomenon. During this time, I will also make final revisions to one chapter thanks to my interactions with my IAS fellows. Through my exchanges with them I will approach questions of migration, representation and discourse from different perspectives such as law, politics and media. As my project is at the interface of the humanities, social sciences and art, it will benefit from scholarship and data derived from disciplines such as sociology, mass communication, comparative literature, political science, art and art history. As an artist as well as a literary and cultural analyst, I will share my expertise, findings and paintings about the refugee crisis with my peers and the community at large.

Michael Dockry
Forest Resources, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

”The Indigenous Roots of Sustainable Forestry in the USA and Bolivia“
I am proposing an IAS Fellowship to finalize a book manuscript based on my 2012 PhD dissertation, currently titled: The Indigenous Roots of Sustainable Forestry in the USA and Bolivia. The book will show how two Indigenous communities, the Menominee Nation of Wisconsin and the Guarayos communities in Bolivia, understand their relationship with forests, how they define sustainability, and why they engage in forestry. As an IAS fellow, I am excited to work with humanities scholars with experience in completing book projects and who can bring an interdisciplinary focus to forestry, a topic typically reserved for natural sciences. The interdisciplinary IAS community will provide support, ideas, and opportunity to complete my first book project. The book will be important to the fields of American Indian Studies, forestry, and environmental studies. As a faculty member in a science-based department, I will benefit from focused collaborative learning within the IAS community. The IAS community will benefit from my scientific and Indigenous ecological knowledge. I also look forward to deeper participation in events like the Decolonization Roundtable, Thinking Spatially, and IAS public events.

Christina Ewig
Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

“Making Substantive Democracy:  Women’s, Indigenous and Afrodescendants’ Representation in Latin America”
Thirty years after democratization, Latin America has the most women in national elected political office of any world region and a growing number of Indigenous and Afrodescendant elected leaders. What impact, if anything, has this demographic shift had on laws and policies? Making Substantive Democracy answers this question utilizing an original database of over 20 years of parliamentary legislation in Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador and interviews with elected representatives and activists. While far from utopia, and rife with continuing inequalities, the inclusion of more women, Indigenous peoples and Afrodescendants among the ranks of Latin American politicians has led to greater representation of issues important to these groups. But the paths to substantive representation have not been the same for each group, and intersectional coalition building has been the exception rather than the rule. This project, which aligns with the IAS priorities of advocating for racial justice and expanding international partnerships, would benefit from the interdisciplinary environment of the IAS, especially other scholars working on questions of gender, race, indigeneity, and global engagement.

Megan Finch
English, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

“Black Women Unhinged: Idiocy, Madness, and Perverse Relations in Post-1960s Black Women’s Novels”
This project engages recent conversations focusing on black cultural productions and the intersection of madness, blackness, and gender. It rethinks the deployment of unreason in the struggle for late 20th century black women’s liberation using the concept of idiocy coalescing in the work of John Locke. I read Morrison’s The Bluest Eye (1970) and Beloved (1987), Jones’s Corregidora (1975) and Eva’s Man (1976), Bambara’s The Salt Eaters (1980), and Butler’s Dawn (1987) as engaging mainstream feminist and Black Power/Arts contestations of abjection through literary depictions of critical madness, often by producing black women as abject in their stead. As the figure of the “mad black woman” continues to haunt real black women’s lives—from Michelle Obama cast as an angry black woman to the “madness” that drove Sandra Bland to suicide— these literary representations critique and provide the kernel of those freedom dreams realized beyond reason.

Christine Marran
Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

“Documenting Environmental Displacement and Trans-Pacific Immigration with Creative Nonfiction as Method”
My book project, Tsugi, chronicles the experience of a family of environmental refugees turned immigrants as they confronted the impacts of ecological catastrophe and familial collapse after nuclear fallout in Fukushima, Japan. The Tomisawa’s story will be woven into a broader narrative of trans-Pacific immigration, environmental pollution, and cultural identity. Tsugi will speak to broader ecopolitical struggles of communities whose degraded condition has been indispensable to postwar development narratives, yet has remained mostly invisible. It will examine the range of health issues and forms of death particularly endured by these environmentally displaced northeastern ruralites. It will also describe the ways that immigration provided a form of solution that also presented significant obstacles especially with regard to cultural aesthetics. Tsugi will make larger thematic and ecopolitical points, but I have chosen the creative nonfiction form for this book in order to allow weaving of multiple literary forms in writing this story of environmental displacement and immigration based on interviews, diaries and photos. 


Yuko Taniguchi
Center for Learning Innovation, University of Minnesota Rochester

“Fostering well-being through creativity, collaboration, and civic minded exploration”
As a writer and Art-in-Health scholar, I will use this fellowship to process, and articulate our findings from our creativity studies that explore if deep engagement in creative activities benefits adolescents with depression by introducing more flexible ways of thinking, helping adolescents recognize their creative talents, and developing more positive views of themselves and their futures. My first fellowship goal is to deepen my knowledge and perspectives by examining relevant theoretical frameworks to understand complex qualitative data.  This will lead to communicating our insights with the wider scientific community. The second goal is to develop strategies on how to challenge the established systems to make real change in our practice. My hope is to engage with other interdisciplinary scholars to contemplate how new approaches and ideas can be explored, tested, and implemented to make real changes. This fellowship will serve to advance my practice in supporting adolescents and young adults who struggle with mental health challenges. 


Spring 2025

Cawo Abdi
Sociology, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

“Intractable Public Education Inequities and The School Choice Debate: Somali Students in Minnesota”
This book project examines how recent refugee communities such as Somalis are partaking in the educational choice debate. The arrival of this community in the state of Minnesota in the early 1990s coincided with the emergence of heated debates about school choice and charter schools in the United States. My book brings in newcomers into this debate by asking how new migrant and refugee communities relate to public institutions such as the education system and the role that their racial, religious and class positions play in their dealings with these institutions. The aim is to advance our sociological understanding of structural inequalities that are embedded within the education system as well as the dilemmas around school choice and whether this expansion opens up new democratic spaces or simply more segregated ones.

Sara Blaylock
Art and Design, College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, University of Minnesota Duluth

“Slow Time and Small Talk: A Study in Art as Empathy”
We make sense of our lives through creative action as a means of connection. Art does not just serve a function; it is a function of human existence. These are the premises of Slow Time and Small Talk: A Study in Art as Empathy. The book uses case studies of artworks made in the last three decades to argue five core themes: 1) Art is care; 2) Art is repair; 3) Art is testimony; 4) Art is survival; and 5) Art is community. Grappling with the proposition that “Art is not enough” the book also considers obstacles to empathy posed by conflict and commodification. Slow Time and Small Talk prescribes attention to process and scale as antidotes to polarization and indifference. While an IAS fellow, I will conduct field research into Twin Cities initiatives that have sought to connect art institutions with marginalized communities. I will wed local examples to ones further afield to argue for the necessity of a definition of art that embraces collaboration and uncertain outcomes. In this way, Slow Time and Small Talk can demonstrate that empathy must be built over time and into the future for which we are all responsible.

Lisa Channer
Theatre Arts & Dance, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Eileen in '60: a documentary film”

''If you want Universal, first look at what is going on in your kitchen"—Theatre and Film Director Robert Lepage. I am seeking an IAS fellowship in order to conduct research and write a first draft of the script for my next film, Eileen in ‘60 (working title). The documentary film is to be an exploration of life for American women in the year 1960 told through one woman’s specific story. It is the story of a secret pregnancy and birth and the culture that created both. It is also a story about my own mother Eileen Channer and the contexts within which she and her generation of women made life decisions. A fellowship at the IAS next year will allow me to delve more deeply into mid-century views of reproductive rights, women’s autonomy and social norms in the U.S. and give me space to work on a deeply personal and urgent project. I am interested in allowing 1960 to speak to us today as we once again debate women’s bodily autonomy in the halls of Congress, in the Supreme Court, and in public discourse.

Jean O'Brien
History, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

“Memory and Mobility: Grandma's Mahnomen, White Earth”
My book-length manuscript in progress traces the social and cultural history of the White Earth Reservation in northwestern Minnesota drawing on my Ojibwe grandmother’s writings from the 1970s and 1980s about her family coming to and living on the reservation, as well as sources in the Minnesota Historical Society and Chicago and Kansas City branches of the National Archives. I center what I call her memoirs, which offer a unique vantage point on Ojibwe history at the turn to the twentieth century, when US policy makers sought to eradicate Native cultures and sovereignty there and elsewhere, first by fixing them on reservations, then by breaking those reservations into individually owned parcels of lands to force assimilation under the policy of Allotment and other assimilative initiatives such as day schools and boarding schools. My grandmother’s memoirs offer rare insight into Ojibwe family history, especially from the 1890s through the 1930s, but also reaching back to our Ojibwe family’s roots to Julia Hole-in-the-Day, sister of the prominent Gull Lake Ojibwe leader Hole-in-the-Day the first (Buganageeshig).

Catharine Saint-Croix
Philosophy, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

“Blades of Grass: Protest, Attention, and the Epistemic”
The #MeToo movement’s power came from drawing attention to the ubiquity of sexual harassment. Say Their Names Cemetery, the symbolic graveyard near George Floyd Square, draws attention to disproportionate use of police violence against Black people in the U.S.. These protests say that we have a moral obligation of attention. Attention matters. It matters because what we attend to determines what learn, what we know, and what we remember. Yet, within epistemology, there is little research on the topic. This is because epistemology is dominated by belief and knowledge. These cognitive attitudes are the main lines of analysis for new questions. Their centrality is often the measure of whether something counts as “epistemology.” So, epistemologists work almost exclusively in terms of agents' beliefs reflecting their evidence, without room for attentional criticism. Blades of Grass challenges that status quo. It subjects this standard to scrutiny by looking at actual cases of epistemic criticism—conspiracy theorizing, unethical beliefs, and protest—and showing that these criticisms are grounded in a more active, agential understanding of epistemology. An understanding rooted in attention.

Jamele Watkins
German, Nordic, Slavic & Dutch, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

“From Solidarity to Terror: East Germany and Race Through the ’Free Angela Davis Campaign‘”
At the intersection of African diasporic studies, German Studies, and Cold War history, my research examines the ephemera sent to Angela Davis from East Germans during her trial in San Jose (1970-1972). I examine the East German iconization of Davis through multiple state-run campaigns by utilizing a recently uncovered archive sent primarily from the German Democratic Republic to California. Bringing together the contents of this archive (e.g. letters, postcards, posters, and gifts), I argue that these materials represent an affective (or emotional) allyship to Davis while she was in jail. These materials represent the imagined connection between Davis and East Germany. Through close readings, analyzing letter contents and different objects within the archive, and the impact of the archive on Angela Davis, I show the potential and limitations of solidarity during the Cold War while offering a generative framework for understanding East German collective memory. My work charts the passionate solidarity of East Germans and the use of Davis as foundational to anti-racist communism in East Germany while also provoking questions about racial violence of reunification.





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