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Neubauer Collegium Announces New Research Projects for 2023-24

Rick Lowe, Notes on the Great Migration 1, 2022.

Rick Lowe, Notes on the Great Migration 1, 2022, on view at the Neubauer Collegium Oct 25, 2022 – Feb 10, 2023. Photo by Robert Heishman.

News Summary

The Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society has selected 13 new collaborative research projects for 2023-24.

Each year, the Collegium supports interdisciplinary research projects that bring together experts who draw on various methods and tools to address and solve complex problems. Since its inception, the center has supported 130 projects led by 253 Faculty Fellows representing nearly every division and professional school at the University. Seventy-eight Visiting Fellows from 21 countries have collaborated on Collegium projects and other research efforts at the University.

“These projects embody the kind of creative, collaborative research that the Collegium strives to foster,” said Neubauer Collegium Roman Family Director Tara Zahra. “We are particularly proud of the diverse disciplinary perspectives represented in this cohort, and the way in which many of the projects tackle critical problems and issues in the world.”

The following projects will launch July 1, 2023:

Ancient Greek Philosophy of Race and Ethnicity

John Proios (Philosophy), Patricia Marechal (University of California-San Diego)

The team on this project will edit a volume of essays on Plato and Aristotle’s understanding of racial and ethnic differences. The goal is to make the topic available to teachers, students, and researchers, as well as to set up debate for years to come.

Capturing the Stars: Women’s Networks and the Advancement of Science at Yerkes Observatory, 1895-1940

Richard G. Kron (Astronomy and Physics), Kristine Palmieri (Institute on the Formation of Knowledge), Andrea Twiss-Brooks (The University of Chicago Library), Emily Kern (History)

This project will reconstruct the scientific work and lived experiences of fifteen women who conducted research at Yerkes Observatory in the early twentieth century. By studying their scientific practices, collaborations, and professional networks, the team will transform our understanding of women’s contributions to astronomy and astrophysics.

Costuming Colonial Collapse

Leah Feldman (Comparative Literature), Hoda El Shakry (Comparative Literature), Payam Sharifi (Slavs and Tatars)

A series of workshops will compare Soviet and French textiles and costumes in relation to the Orientalist gaze, queer ecologies, anticolonial resistance, and imaginations of Muslim futurity.

Economic Planning and Democratic Politics: History, Theory, and Practice

Gary Herrigel (Political Science), Aaron Benanav (Syracuse University), Joel Isaac (Committee on Social Thought), Matthew Landauer (Political Science)

Ever since the 2008 financial crisis, governments and central banks have aggressively intervened to address economic crises and challenges. These interventions have coincided with growing public mistrust of political and economic institutions. The interdisciplinary research team on this project will explore the range of possible relations between markets, states, and democracy in this new “post-neoliberal” period.

Government Data Markets: Mapping and Evaluating Problems in Intergovernmental Data Flows

Bridget Fahey (Law), Raul Castro Fernandez (Computer Science)

Every day, a vast amount of sensitive personal data flows across governments without individuals’ awareness or consent. The research team on this project will identify the risks to citizens of oversharing their data and ask what technical and legal instruments could be implemented to reduce such risks.

Histories of Culture in Disastrous Times

Alice Goff (History), Jennifer Allen (Yale University)

Is culture useful in disastrous times, or does the urgent matter of survival render cultural practices irrelevant? How should the study of cultural history evolve in the face of contemporary disasters? This project will foster a network of cultural historians to take up these complex questions.

Phytological Critique

Thomas Lamarre (Cinema and Media Studies), Stacy Moran (Arizona State University), Michael Fisch (Anthropology), Zach Yost (Cinema and Media Studies), Yangquiao Lu (Cinema and Media Studies), Isabel Kranz (University of Vienna), Vicky Kirby (University of New South Wales, Sydney, Arts, Design and Architecture), Christina Jauernik (Institute for Art and Architecture, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna), Adam Nocek (Arizona State University, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts), Jun Mizukawa (Lake Forest College)

Research on plant intelligence has transformed not only how we understand plants but also how we understand memory, perception, sentience, movement, cognition, and intelligence. This interdisciplinary project will work with key texts, scientific models, and media paradigms that are operative within “plant studies” to reconsider some of the foundational concepts and frameworks for contemporary thinking about the environment and planetary formations.

The Power of Women in Eastern Nigeria

James Robinson (Harris School of Public Policy), Maria Angelica Bautista (Harris School of Public Policy), Sara Lowes (University of California-San Diego), Chima J. Korieh (University of Nigeria), Andrea Velasquez (University of Colorado-Denver), Francis Njoku (University of Nigeria, Nsukka)

The rise of the nation-state is often associated with the creation of gender hierarchies. Yet in eastern Nigeria it led women to forge a parallel set of political institutions to counterbalance the increased power of men. This project will deepen our understanding of the roots of “dual sex” political institutions in eastern Nigeria, which the team contends are unique in world history.

Silk Road Imaginaries

Richard G. Payne (History), Ariel Fox (East Asian Languages & Civilizations)

A series of workshops will bring together scholars of the polities and cultures traditionally associated with the Silk Road in order to theorize premodern representations of economic and cultural networks. The project’s key question is: How can an exploration of premodern trans-Asian exchange reinvigorate the “Silk Road” as a useful concept?

Textual Amulets of the Mediterranean World: 1000 BCE-1000 CE

Christopher A. Faraone (Classics), Carolina López Ruiz (Divinity), Sofia Torallas Tovar (Classics), Joseph Sanzo (Università Ca' Foscari Venezia), Rivka Elitzur-Leiman (Harvard University)

An international group of scholars will produce a corpus of translations of the most important and best-preserved textual amulets of the Mediterranean, as well as drawings and recipes for them. The team plans to arrange the corpus chronologically so that historical trends can be easily traced.

Toward a Global History of Music Theory

Thomas Christensen (Music), Carmel Raz (Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics), Nathan Martin (University of Michigan), Lester Hu (University of California-Berkeley)

This project will produce and digitize an ambitious anthology of translated sources covering the global history of music theory – the first-ever attempt to compile an annotated reader illustrating the rich diversity of the world’s musical theories over two millennia.

Transperformations: Breathing Machines Across Worlds

Kaushik Sunder Rajan (Anthropology), Stacy Hardy (Independent Writer and Researcher, South Africa), Neo Muyanga (Independent Composer, Musician, and Sound Artist), Daniel Borzutzky (University of Illinois at Chicago)

, an exploratory research project at the Neubauer Collegium, combines creative expression and theoretical inquiry to study colonial and postcolonial histories of tuberculosis in South Africa. The second phase of the project will deepen the research team’s investigations and create space for collaboration between scholars and artists working in the United States, South Africa, and Colombia.

Untidy Objects

Amber Ginsberg (Visual Arts), Marc Downie (Cinema and Media Studies), Sara Black (School of the Art Institute of Chicago), Samantha Frost (University of Illinois)

A “living sculpture” on the University’s campus that includes water and vegetation is also a social intervention, prompting viewers to consider the fact that humans are the only living organism with legal and political rights. This project will introduce “augmented reality” technology to the sculpture and study the way it alters viewers’ responses to the sculpture’s propositions.