Lauren Berlant English
Professor Berlant’s work has focused on politics, emotion, and intimacy in the U.S. nineteenth and twentieth centuries—now the twenty-first: in particular, in relation to citizenship, to informal and normative modes of social belonging, and to affective attachments and fantasies that take shape through ordinary practices. These scenes zone and disturb the relations between public and private, white and non-white, straight and non-straight, and/or citizen and foreigner—along with providing settings for other, inventive kinds of social bond through which people imagine and practice world-making.
She is interested in how institutions and people orchestrate the overcloseness of the world, the fundamental non-sovereignty of people in relation to each other and of states in their interdependence. This involves pursuing how people and populations absorb the blows of power and the discriminations of privilege while preserving critical and optimistic attachments to the political and/or to what’s intimate and magnetizing in the ordinary. To this end, Professor Berlant developed a national sentimentality trilogy—in order of their historical address, The Anatomy of National Fantasy (1991); The Female Complaint: The Unfinished Business of Sentimentality in American Culture (2009); and The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship (1997). She has also followed out this interest in attachments and affects in the edited volumes Intimacy (2000); Our Monica, Ourselves: Clinton and the Affairs of State (with Lisa Duggan; 2001); Venus Inferred(with Laura Letinsky; 2000);Compassion: the Culture and Politics of an Emotion (2004), and Desire/Love (2013).
In the past, Professor Brown’s research has focused on popular literary genres (e.g. science fiction, the Western), on recreational forms (baseball, kung fu), and on the ways that mass-cultural phenomena (from roller coasters to Kodak cameras) impress themselves on the literary imagination. Rather than assuming that historical contexts help to explain a particular literary text, Professor Brown assumes that literature provides access to an otherwise unrecuperable history. That is, he assumes that the act of literary analysis (including formal analysis) can become an "historiographical operation" all its own.
Currently Professor Brown’s work lies at the intersection of literary, visual, and material cultures, with an emphasis on what he calls "object relations in an expanded field." His work asks how inanimate objects enable human subjects (individually and collectively) to form and transform themselves. How do individuals try to stabilize the "significance" of their lives through the act of collecting? What role do objects play in the formation of gender, sexual, ethnic, and national subjectivity? How are subcultural formations (or projections of cultural form) mediated by objects? What kinds of fetishism have yet to be conceptualized? Professor Brown’s approach to such questions makes use of psychoanalysis, materialist phenomenology, aesthetic theory, and the anthropological discourse on the "social life of things." He has also tried, in a piece called "Thing Theory," to point out how things and thingness might become new objects of critical analysis.
Professor Chakrabarty specializes in Modern South Asian history and historiography; subaltern, indigenous, and minority histories; history in public life and public life; theory and history; decolonization; environmental history and the implications of climate change for human history.
Professor Chakrabarty’s research is currently focused on two areas: he is working on a book project on the implications of the science of climate change for historical and political thought (see his essay in Critical Inquiry, Winter 2009, for a beginning) and is working on two long-term projects: one on democracy and political thought in South Asia and the other on a cultural history of Muslim-Bengali nationalism. He is currently working on two books, provisionally entitled The Climate of History (Chicago) and History and the Time of the Present (Duke). He is also the coeditor, along with Henning Trueper and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, of Historical Teleologies in the Modern World (Bloomsbury Press, forthcoming 2015). His other publications include The Calling of History: Sir Jadunath Sarkar and His Empire of Truth (Chicago, 2015); Rethinking Working-Class History: Bengal 1890–1940 (Princeton, 1989, 2000); Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (Princeton, 2000; second edition, 2008); Habitations of Modernity: Essays in the Wake of Subaltern Studies (Chicago, 2002). He has also edited (with Shahid Amin) Subaltern Studies IX (Delhi: Oxford, 1996); (with Carol Breckenridge, Homi Bhabha, and Sheldon Pollock) Cosmopolitanism (Duke, 2000); (with Rochona Majumdar and Andrew Sartori) From the Colonial to the Postcolonial: India and Pakistan in Transition (Delhi: Oxford, 2007); and (with Bain Attwood and Claudio Lomnitz) "The Public Life of History," a special issue of Public Culture (2008). Provincializing Europe has been translated into Italian, French, Polish, Spanish Turkish, and Korean and is being brought out in Chinese. Habitations has been published in Arabic. A collection of two essays translated into Spanish was published in 2009: El humanismo en la era de la globalizacion and La descolonizacion y las politicas culturales (Buenos Aires: Katz Editores, and Barcelona: Centro de Cultura Contemporanea de Barcelona, 2009). A Dipesh Chakrabarty Reader (in Chinese) was recently published (Nanfang Press, 2010). An assortment of essays was published in German under the title, Europa als Provinz: Perspektiven postkolonialer Geschichtsschreibung (Frankfurt: Campus Verlag, 2010). A collection of essays written originally in Bengali was recently brought out in Calcutta, Itihasher janajibon o anyanyo probondho (The Public Life of History and Other Essays) (in Bengali) (Calcutta: Ananda Publishers, 2011). Chakrabarty is a regular contributor to Bengali newspapers and journals published from Calcutta.
Professor Dawdy is an anthropologist whose fieldwork combines archaeological, archival, and ethnographic methods with a focus on the U.S. South and Gulf of Mexico. The central thread running through her work concerns how landscapes and material objects mediate human relationships, whether this means an examination of the historical ecologies of capitalism, or the emotional trajectories of those who lost their intimate object worlds to Hurricane Katrina. Her first book, Building the Devil's Empire, offers 'rogue colonialism' to explain how French New Orleans, and many colonies like it, functioned outside state controls, developing a political economy loosely moored to metropolitan interests. Her new book, Patina: A Profane Archaeology, investigates nostalgic practices surrounding antiques, heirlooms, historic houses, and ruins. It argues that these practices provide a means of critiquing the capitalist present and of bonding people together through a type of kinship. Her current project focuses on rapidly changing death practices in the U.S., particularly around disposition and transformation of the body. Collaborating with a filmmaker, the work also explores what happens when we turn an archaeological lens on contemporary life, and the possibilities of an artistic approach to anthropological questions. For more information on Dr. Dawdy's archaeological research, go here.
Professor Glaeser is a sociologist of culture with a particular interest in the construction of identities and knowledges. His work interlaces substantive interests with efforts to build social theory. In this vein, his first book develops a theory of identity formation processes in the context of an ethnographic study of Germany's post-unification woes. He is currently finishing a book aiming at the development of a political epistemology which asks how people come to understand the world of politics from within their particular biographical trajectories and social milieus. The substantive focus of this book is the late socialist German state's effort to understand its citizens and to control the opposition as well as the opposition members' efforts to form their independent understanding of state socialism.
Professor Glaeser has begun work on a new project which studies the emergence of dominant understandings about Muslim immigrants in the interaction between contingent historical events, the cycles of electoral politics, everyday experiences and mass-mediated discourses in Germany, France and Britain.
Professor Markell has wide-ranging interests in contemporary political and social theory and the history of political thought. He is especially interested in the disparate theoretical traditions that trace their roots back to Kant, Hegel, and Marx; in the political thought of Greek and Roman antiquity, as reflected in literature as well as philosophy, and its reception by later thinkers; in 19th and 20th century American political thought, especially on the Left; in the history of the intellectual self-understandings of political theorists inside and outside the discipline of political science; and in several areas of 20th-century and contemporary theory and philosophy that cut across the distinction between "continental" and "Anglo-American," including feminist and queer theory, ethics, aesthetics, and the philosophy of language. As a reader, he is committed to approaching theoretical texts not, or not only, as containers for systematically interconnected sets of propositions, but also as revealing records of an author's usually only partly successful attempt to accomplish something; for this reason, his critical engagements with the work of past and present political theorists are often diagnostic in character, and involve attention to the literary and rhetorical dimensions of theoretical texts.
Thematically, much of Professor Markell's work has been concerned with the nature and conditions of political action and political agency, especially in relation to such other important phenomena as identity, power, and democracy. He is especially interested in the ironic turns through which over-strong visions of agency can become disempowering, as well as in the often-neglected connections between human action and the experiences of exposure, uncertainty, affectedness, and vulnerability. His first book, Bound by Recognition (2003), explored these issues through a critique of the renaissance of the Hegelian concept of "recognition" in political theory; that book was informed by Hannah Arendt's political thought, though it discussed her work only in passing. Markell's second book will be devoted to Arendt's The Human Condition, combining close reading, historical contextualization, and extensive archival research to transform our understanding of the meaning and function the concepts of labor, work, and action in Arendt's text, as well as our sense of Arendt's legacies for 21st-century political theory. That book will set the stage for two further projects: a critical and reconstructive study of the conceptions of agency, power, and rule that inform contemporary democratic theory; and, in the longer term, a project on the past and future of the critique of capitalism.
Professor Mazzarella writes and teaches on the political anthropology of mass publicity, with special reference to India. His books include Shoveling Smoke: Advertising and Globalization in Contemporary India (Duke, 2003) and Censorium: Cinema and the Open Edge of Mass Publicity (Duke, 2013). He is also the co-editor, with Raminder Kaur, of Censorship in South Asia: Cultural Regulation from Sedition to Seduction (Indiana, 2009). He is currently working on a project tentatively titled 'The Mana of Mass Publicity,' which involves, at a conceptual level, a re-interpretation of classic anthropological material on magical efficacy and charismatic agency with a view to developing a new theory of mass publicity, and, at an empirical level, an ethnography of the Bombay advertising world of the 1960s and 1970s juxtaposed with recent developments in digital media. Please visit https://chicago.academia.edu/WilliamMazzarella for a sampling of Dr Mazzarella’s publications.
Professor Masco writes and teaches courses on science and technology, U.S. national security culture, political ecology, mass media, and critical theory. He is most recently the author of Theater of Operations: National Security Affect from the Cold War to the War on Terror (Duke University Press, 2014), which locates the origins of the present-day U.S. counterterrorism apparatus in the Cold War's "balance of terror." His work has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the John D. And Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. His previous work, The Nuclear Borderlands: The Manhattan Project in Post–Cold War New Mexico (Princeton University Press, 2006), was the winner of the J. I. Staley Prize from the School for Advanced Research and the Rachel Carson Prize from the Society for the Social Studies of Science.
Professor Postone is currently co-director of 3CT. His research and teaching focus on nineteenth- and twentieth-century European intellectual history, with emphasis on critical social theories. He is particularly interested in self-reflexive theories of historical context—theories that seek to grasp social, economic, and cultural processes in ways that illuminate the relation of such processes to the theories themselves. His work also focuses on the problematic of modern anti-Semitism and questions of history, memory, and identity in postwar Germany, as well as on the issue of the global transformations of the past three decades and their implications for understanding the historical trajectory of the twentieth century.
In 2015–16 Professor Postone will conduct research in Europe with fellowships from the American Academy in Berlin and the Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften in Vienna.
Professor Sewell’s work has two distinct foci: (1) the history of early modern and modern Europe and (2) the relationship between history and social theory. His empirical historical research concerns French social, labor, political, and cultural history, particularly in the revolutions of 1789, 1830, and 1848. He is currently working on the relationship between eighteenth-century capitalism and the cultural origins of the French Revolution. Over the past fifteen years, much of his writing and teaching has centered on the development of a theoretical vocabulary that simultaneously speaks to history and the other social sciences. Most of this work is now published in Logics of History: Social Theory and Social Transformation (University of Chicago Press, 2005)
Professor Sewell’s courses are generally cross listed with Political Science; many of them focus on theoretical approaches or problems in interdisciplinary historical studies. Although the history of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century France often figures somewhere in these courses, they usually include cases drawn from various regions of the world and from different historical periods. He has also recently taught more conventionally historical courses on the old regime and the French revolution and on the emergence of capitalism in early modern Europe.
Professor Sunder Rajan’s work has focused on a number of interrelated events and emergences: firstly, the increased corporatization of life science research; secondly, the emergence of new technologies and epistemologies within the life sciences, such as, significantly, genomics; and thirdly, the fact that these technoscientific and market emergences were not simply occurring in the United States, but rather globally. His book, Biocapital: The Constitution of Post-Genomic Life, tries to capture a flavor of these emergences. On the one hand, it is a multi-sited ethnography of emergent genomic research and drug development marketplaces in the United States and India. On the other hand, it traces the historical emergence of what he calls biocapital in the late 20th century, which asks questions of the nature and manner of the co-production of economic and epistemic value in the life sciences today. In the former register, Sunder Rajan’s work has followed a number of actors – scientists, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and policy makers – involved in genomics research and market development in a range of sites in the US and India (in the US, primarily in the Bay Area; in India, primarily in Delhi, Bombay and Hyderabad). In the latter register, his work engages social theories of epistemology, political economy, ethics, subjectivity, language and value (most directly the analysis of Karl Marx, Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida), in order to provide ways to think about a current moment in world history that is significantly shaped by techno-scientific capitalism.
Professor Sunder Rajan is currently researching two distinct though inter-related new projects. One focuses on the political economy of pharmaceutical development in India in the context of changes in global capital flows and governance regimes. This has two aspects to it: 1) A study of capacity building for global pharmaceutical clinical trials in India and 2) A study of the consequences of India’s new, World Trade Organization (WTO) compliant, patent regime on the Indian pharmaceutical industry and on access to essential medicines. The second project focuses on the changing nature of the research university in India in the life sciences. The focal point here is the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), a new biomedical research institute being set up as a collaboration between the Government of India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Division of Health, Science and Technology (HST) at MIT. This involves tracing a) The history and context of institutional development in Indian life sciences; b) The history and context of translational research as a category and mode of research in the United States; and c) The nature of global institutional and research collaborations in the life sciences.
Professor Wedeen is currently co-director of 3CT. Her major areas of interest include comparative politics; the Middle East; political theory; feminist theory; and qualitative methods. Her publications include Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria (1999); "Conceptualizing 'Culture': Possibilities for Political Science" (2002); "Concepts and Commitments in the Study of Democracy" (2004), Peripheral Visions: Publics, Power and Performance in Yemen (2008), "Ethnography as an Interpretive Enterprise" (2009), "Reflections on Ethnographic Work in Political Science" (2010), and "Ideology and Humor in Dark Times: Notes from Syria" (2013).
She is the recipient of the David Collier Mid-Career Achievement Award and an NSF fellowship. She is currently working on a book about ideology, neoliberal autocracy, and generational change in present-day Syria.