Scholars at Work

Two Simpson Center collaborators have been awarded prestigious Guggenheim Foundation fellowships, which will allow them to pursue creative and scholarly projects over the coming year.

Katharyne MitchellKatharyne Mitchell (Geography) has received a fellowship for her research on sanctuary practices for asylum seekers and those at risk of deportation in Europe. She has also received a Brocher Foundation fellowship for her work on the concept of biological citizenship, allowing her to study in Switzerland in fall 2016.

Katharyne, who serves on the Simpson Center Executive Board, held the Simpson Professorship in the Public Humanities (2004-2007), a program modeled as an alternative to sabbatical leave, providing deep support for local, community-relevant research. Her community engagement project, Reclaiming Childhood, undertook a collaborative, interdisciplinary examination of the changing nature of contemporary childhood.

Rajesh RaoRajesh Rao (Computer Science & Engineering) has received a Guggenheim fellowship for his work in neuroscience. The award will support his project The Computational Brain: Understanding and Interfacing with Neuronal Networks. Rajesh received a Simpson Center grant in 2008 for Analysis of the 4500-year-old Indus Script using Machine Learning and Data Mining, a digital humanities grant that predates our Digital Humanities Summer Fellowship program.

UW Drawing Professor Helen O’Toole (Art) also received a Guggenheim fellowship for fine arts.

Congratulations, Katharyne, Rajesh, and Helen!

Anthony GeistAnthony Geist (Spanish and Comparative Literature) has been awarded knighthood by Spain, one of the nation’s highest civil honors. He joins the Order of Isabella the Catholic with his nomination to the title of Caballero de la Gran Cruz. The honor is conferred on those who have given exceptional service to the benefit of Spain.

Tony receives the distinction at a ceremony at 4 pm on Saturday, April 16, in the Brechemin Auditorium, UW School of Music, presented by Spain’s Honorary Consul in Washington state, Don Luis Fernando Esteban.

A longtime Simpson Center supporter and former member of its executive board, Tony has led multiple interdisciplinary projects, including the 2005 Simpson Center symposium Children of War. The event capped a traveling exhibition of They Still Draw Pictures: Children’s Art in Wartime from the Spanish Civil War to Kosovo, Tony’s book and art project of children’s drawings from the refugee camps of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and later twentieth-century war zones as well as documentary prints by photojournalist Robert Capa.

Tony also established the University of Washington Study Center in Leon, Spain, which has hosted programs from 15 UW units and involved more than 500 students since its founding in 2010.

More from the news release:

Geist has had an enduring love affair with Spain which began with his first visit to the country in his junior year abroad from the University of California.

Since then he has devoted his entire professional life to studying and teaching the language, literature, history and culture of Spain.

He has published a number of books, including: La poética de la Generación del 27 y las revistas literarias (1980), Cartografía poética (2004), El canon abierto (2015), as well as nearly 100 articles.

He has also been involved in numerous other projects including:

  • A recovery project that includes a traveling exhibition and book: They Still Draw Pictures: Children’s Drawings from the Spanish Civil War to Kosovo (2002)
  • The photo essay Passing the Torch: The Abraham Lincoln Brigade and its Legacy of Hope (2001)
  • Souls without Borders: The Untold Story of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (documentary film, 2006), as well as the first public monument to the Lincoln Brigade in the US, on the UW campus, 1998.
  • More recently he has curated an exhibit of the Basque exile painter Miguel Marina, Icons of Memory (Bilbao, 2015).

Geist continues to maintain an interest in literary translation. Early in his career he published Jorge Guillén: The Poetry and the Poet (1980) and just this year The School of...

Read more

Michael BlakeMichael Blake (Philosophy and the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance) has been awarded a summer fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities to study justice, migration, and mercy. The $6,000 award supports his book-length study on the morality of migration, the rights of citizenship, and asylum law.

Michael has been involved in several projects supported by the Simpson Center, including the Human Interactions and Normative Innovation (HI-NORM) research cluster, which will host a conference on Immigration, Toleration, and Human Rights on October 27-28, 2016. HI-NORM includes faculty from all three UW campuses engaging in extended interdisciplinary conversation with political philosophers and other scholars from around the world, particularly at the University of Frankfurt, Germany.

Michael also co-organized the Simpson Center’s Global Justice in the 21st Century conference in 2007 and the Information Ethics and Policy conference in 2013.

The peer-reviewed NEH Summer Stipend program is highly competitive, funding less than 10 percent of more than 800 applications received this year.

Congratulations, Michael!

RafaelLongtime Simpson Center collaborator Vicente L. Rafael (History) has published a new book with Duke University Press, Motherless Tongues: The Insurgency of Language amid Wars of Translation (2016).

The book examines the vexed relationship between language and history gleaned from the workings of translation in the Philippines, the United States, and beyond. From the publisher:

Moving across a range of colonial and postcolonial settings, Rafael demonstrates translation's agency in the making and understanding of events. These include nationalist efforts to vernacularize politics, US projects to weaponize languages in wartime, and autobiographical attempts by area studies scholars to translate the otherness of their lives amid the Cold War. In all cases, translation is at war with itself, generating divergent effects. It deploys as well as distorts American English in counterinsurgency and colonial education, for example, just as it re-articulates European notions of sovereignty among Filipino revolutionaries in the nineteenth century and spurs the circulation of text messages in a civilian-driven coup in the twenty-first.

The work dovetails with Vince’s work this year co-leading Troubling Translations, a crossdisciplinary research cluster at the Simpson Center. He is also co-teaching the spring 2016 HUM microseminar “Troubling Translations: Language & Literature, Politics, and Market.”

In 2008, he delivered a Katz Distinguished Lecture in the Humanities, “Translation in Wartime.” In 2004-05, he was a member of the Society of Scholars.

The new book is the latest in a string of publications exploring Filipino history and translation issues.

Congratulations, Vince!

MooreAdam D. Moore (Information School) has edited a new book analyzing the moral and legal foundations of privacy, security, and accountability, drawing on participants from a 2013 conference sponsored by the Simpson Center for the Humanities.

Privacy, Security and Accountability: Ethics, Law and Policy (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015) features multiple contributors from the conference, Information Ethics and Policy: Intellectual Property, Privacy, and Freedom of Speech, which Adam organized. The conference drew researchers and practitioners from across disciplines to consider emerging questions at the intersection of information studies and social policy.

The new collection reflects those concerns. From the publisher:

What is the appropriate balance between privacy, security, and accountability? What do we owe each other in terms of information sharing and access? Why is privacy valuable and is it more or less important than other values like security or free speech? Is Edward Snowden a hero or villain? Within democratic societies, privacy, security, and accountability are seen as important values that must be balanced appropriately. If there is too much privacy, then there may be too little accountability—and more alarmingly, too little security. On the other hand, where there is too little privacy, individuals may not have the space to grow, experiment, and engage in practices not generally accepted by the majority. Moreover, allowing overly limited control over access to and uses of private places and information may itself be a threat to security. By clarifying the moral, legal, and social foundations of privacy, security, and accountability, this book helps determine the appropriate balance between these contested values.

Adam co-wrote the introduction with Michael Katell (Information School). He also contributed the essay “Why Privacy and Accountability Trump Security.”

Congratulations, Adam!

SparkeKatharyne Mitchell (Geography) and Matthew Sparke (Geography and Jackson School of International Studies) have received fellowships to study at the Brocher Foundation in Switzerland in fall 2016. The Foundation hosts scientists and experts in ethical, legal, and social implications of the development of medical research and biotechnologies to conduct multidisciplinary research in emerging fields.

Both have longstanding ties to the Simpson Center, which has supported earlier stages of their research. Katharyne, who serves on the Simpson Center Executive Board, held the Simpson Professorship in the Public Humanities (2004-2007), a program modeled as an alternative to sabbatical leave, providing deep support for local, community-relevant research. Her community engagement project, Reclaiming Childhood, undertook a collaborative, interdisciplinary examination of the changing nature of contemporary childhood.


Matt has also served on the Executive Board, hosted a Katz Distinguished Lecturer, and participated in the Society of Scholars. This winter, he is co-organizing the January 25 visit of Chris Newfield, a leading scholar of critical university studies, for a lecture on “The Great Mistake: How Private-Sector Models Damage Public Universities, and How They Can Recover.”

In Switzerland, the two will develop a book on the ethical dimensions of new biosecurity technologies and so-called biological citizenship. From their proposal:

New biosecurity technologies that employ genetic screening and associated biomedical innovations in body-scanning and personalized medicine are transforming the ways in which transnational migration is governed around the world.  A notable divide is thereby opening up between privileged transnational migrants who are enfranchised as globally mobile biological citizens and a diverse set of disenfranchised others—refugees, asylum seekers, and guest workers—for whom the use of genetic screening and other biosecurity technologies imposes new personal costs, privacy concerns and risks of biological sub-citizenship and exclusion.  

Congratulations, Katharyne and Matt!


Louisa MackenzieLouisa Mackenzie’s (French & Italian) recent essay on sea monsters contributes to a lively discussion on animal studies and identity in Early Modernism. Her article, “French Early Modern Sea-Monsters and Modern Identities, via Bruno Latour,” appears in Animals and Early Modern Identity (Ed. Pia F. Cuneo, Ashgate, 2014), a collection investigating how animals — horses, dogs, pigs, hogs, fish, cattle, sheep, birds, rhinoceroses, even mythological creatures — allowed people to defend, contest, or transcend the boundaries of early modern identities.

The book drew a strong review from the Times Literary Supplement, which turned twice to Louisa’ article exploring “the tension between ‘purified’ and ‘hybrid’ knowledge in relation to the attempts of early modern zoologists . . . to tackle reports of sea monsters.”

“This beautiful and pleasurable collection . . . provides an excellent contribution to the current lively discussion within animal studies,” writes reviewer Annette Volfing.

Louisa developed her article as part of the 2012-13 Society of Scholars at the Simpson Center. She also co-leads, with María Elena García (Comparative History of Ideas) the Intersectional Animal Studies collaboration studio at the Simpson Center this year.

Congratulations, Louisa!

Sonal Khullar in office, courtesy Doug ManelskiSonal Khullar (Art History) has a new book, Worldly Affiliations: Artistic Practice, National Identity, and Modernism in India, 1930-1990 (University of California Press). From the publisher:

Drawing on Edward Said’s notion of “affiliation” as a critical and cultural imperative against empire and nation-state, Worldly Affiliations traces the emergence of a national art world in twentieth-century India and emphasizes its cosmopolitan ambitions and orientations. Sonal Khullar focuses on four major Indian artists—Sher-Gil, Maqbool Fida Husain, K. G. Subramanyan, and Bhupen Khakhar—situating their careers within national and global histories of modernism and modernity. Through a close analysis of original artwork, archival materials, artists’ writing, and period criticism, Khullar provides a vivid historical account of the state and stakes of artistic practice in India from the late colonial through postcolonial periods ... This richly illustrated study juxtaposes little-known, rarely seen, or previously unpublished works of modern and contemporary art with historical works, popular or mass-reproduced images, and documentary photographs.

Sonal's project builds on research she developed as a Society of Scholars fellow in 2011-12 as well as through New Geographies in Feminist Art, a conference she co-organized with Sasha Welland (Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies) in 2012 that examined the role of women artists, feminism, and visual representations of gender and sexuality in contemporary Asian art. 

Congratulations, Sonal!

O'MaraMargaret O’Mara (History) has published a new book, Pivotal Tuesdays: Four Elections That Shaped the Twentieth Century (University of Pennsylvania Press).

From the publisher:

Serious and silly, unifying and polarizing, presidential elections have become events that Americans love and hate. Today’s elections cost billions of dollars and consume the nation’s attention for months, filling television airwaves and online media with endless advertising and political punditry, often heated, vitriolic, and petty. Yet presidential elections also provoke and inspire mass engagement of ordinary citizens in the political system.

Pivotal Tuesdays looks back at four pivotal presidential elections of the past 100 years to show how they shaped the twentieth century. During the rowdy, four-way race in 1912 between Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Eugene Debs, and Woodrow Wilson, the candidates grappled with the tremendous changes of industrial capitalism and how best to respond to them. In 1932, Franklin Roosevelt’s promises to give Americans a “New Deal” to combat the Great Depression helped him beat the beleaguered incumbent, Herbert Hoover. The dramatic and tragic campaign of 1968 that saw the election of Richard Nixon reflected an America divided by race, region, and war and set in motion political dynamics that persisted into the book’s final story—the three-way race that led to Bill Clinton’s 1992 victory.

Margaret was a 2011-12 fellow of the Society of Scholars at the Simpson Center. She reads from her new work October 29 at the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle and has additional public talks in Palo Alto, California, Washington, DC, and Little Rock, Arkansas.

Congratulations, Margaret!

Suhanthie Motha (English) has won the 2015 Critics' Choice Book Award from the American Educational Studies Association. Suhanthie’s book, Race, Empire, and English Language Teaching: Creating Responsible and Ethical Anti-Racist Practice (Teachers College Press, 2014), shows how language is used to create hierarchies of cultural privilege in public schools across the United States, drawing on the work of four ESL teachers who developed antiracist pedagogical practices during their first year of teaching.

Suhanthie worked on her manuscript as a 2012-13 member of the Society of Scholars, a Simpson Center program that brings UW scholars together across disciplines to discuss and sharpen their work. She will receive the AESA award at its annual meeting in San Antonio in November.

Congratulations, Suhanthie!


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