2016-17 Faculty Fellowship

The 2016-17 Warren Center Faculty Fellowship is on the theme Imagining History, Doing Politics: The Uses and Disadvantages of the Past, led by Kirsten Weld (History) and Brandon Terry (African and African American Studies). 

Here follows the fellowship/workshop's description, as it appeared in the Call for Applications...

The Charles Warren Center, Harvard’s research center for American history, invites applications for the 2016-2017 seminar “Imagining History, Doing Politics: The Uses and Disadvantages of the Past.” We seek scholars investigating how diverse invocations and imaginings of the historical past have provided the foundation for political thought and action in an array of hemispheric settings. Our aim is to explore how people recover and construct the past in order to situate their struggles in the present and envision possible futures, while also considering the ethical, aesthetic, epistemological, and, above all, political questions raised by such marshalings of historical memory. Scholars from the humanities and social sciences working on all periods of history in the Americas are invited to apply.

We will convene an interdisciplinary group of researchers interested in how people invoke and derive inspiration from the past as they participate in movements for social change. From debates over the legacies of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, to the ongoing litigation of Cold War violence in Latin America, it is clear that whether explicitly or implicitly, knowingly or unwittingly, political actors locate themselves in time as they frame their aspirations and formulate their plans. To do so, they rely upon both the material record of the past (archives, oral and artistic traditions, embodied practices) and a set of ideational strategies or modes of narration (romantic, tragic, ironic, picaresque). Their picking, sorting, and re-working uses history as a resource and remakes the past in the image of its imagined future, whether in the courtroom or on the streets.

The seminar will encourage participants to situate individual case studies within a broader theoretical and comparative framework. We aspire to generate a conversation about the politics of historical memory that is nourished by a wide range of topics and approaches, including research on reparations, land claims, activism and social movements, “heritage” and history, post-conflict dynamics, state formation, political philosophy, and beyond. Our approach is interdisciplinary and transnational.

Fellows will present their work in a seminar led by Brandon Terry (African and African American Studies; Social Studies), and Kirsten Weld (History).  Applicants may not be degree candidates and should have a Ph.D. or equivalent.  Fellows have library privileges and an office which they must use for at least the 9-month academic year. The Center encourages applications consistent with the Workshop theme and from qualified applicants who can contribute, through their research and service, to the diversity and excellence of the Harvard community.