IASH faculty fellows reach new audiences
October 8, 2012Tweet
Two faculty fellows from the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) are seeing their work reach national and international audiences.
Ana Ros, assistant professor of Spanish, recently published a book that she completed during her IASH fellowship, and Scott Henkel, assistant professor of English, was selected from an international pool of applicants to present a paper that he worked on during his IASH Fellowship to scholars at the Social Science Research Center in Berlin on Oct. 17.
Established in 2009, IASH fellowships allow faculty members, visiting faculty, graduate and undergraduate students to present their work to the public and their peers at a weekly seminar — the IASH Speaker Series. The fellowships can be stipended or unstipended, and reduce fellows’ teaching or student obligations, allowing them to focus on research.
Ros’ book, “The Post-Dictatorship Generation in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay,” was published in June 2012. The book provides a look at the effects of repressive dictatorships in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay on the younger generation who did not experience it firsthand, yet are altered nonetheless by the experiences of their parents.
“The parents’ generation suffered in more visible ways during the repression, but the children also suffered,” Ros said. “They were the children of persecuted activists who were tortured or went into exile, and the children of shocked bystanders. How does the younger generation make sense of their parents’ experiences of activism and repression, and how does this understanding impact their own lives? My book is about this complicated relationship to the past, and how the younger generation tries to understand their parents and their own lives.”
Ros said the book was inspired, in part, by her own experiences as a child living under a 12-year-military rule in Uruguay, which ended when she was 8 years old.
“My mother had a traumatic experience in her own way, and that made communication about what happened difficult for a long time,” Ros said. “I preferred not to talk about it, thinking that the younger generation had to move on and leave the past behind. When I came to the U.S. and started researching, I realized to what extent my generation has been shaped by dictatorship and repression. I realized that in order to be able to act in the present we needed to revisit the recent past.”
Ros was an IASH Fellow for the 2011-2012 academic year. She said she credits the program with allowing her to complete her book.
“The IASH Fellowship reduces the teaching load and duties assigned, which is invaluable because it is hard to focus on writing and research when you are so busy teaching,” Ros said. “I also had a stipend that could be used for services, like traveling or hiring an editor or translator.”
Henkel, who has been an IASH Fellow for three semesters, said he attributes the completion of his recent work to the program. His paper, “‘There are 2,000 Leaders’: Swarm Democracy in the Haitian Revolution,” is the first chapter of his current book project, a literary history of direct democracy in the Americas.
“I’ve been able to do a volume of writing at a higher quality than I would have otherwise been able to do,” Henkel said. “To have the time to research, write and polish my ideas is wonderful.”
The paper uses C. L. R. James’ book, “The Black Jacobins,” to explore instances during the Haitian Revolution where uprising slaves worked together without a leader in what Henkel calls “swarm democracy.”
Henkel said he was inspired by the natural world; for example, how swarms of bees and schools of fish move and work together to avoid predators.
“Researchers were misled for years and years, thinking there was one lead fish, but there is no lead fish,” he said. “Every individual fish is relying on the information directly around it, and that gets multiplied out throughout the school. It’s remarkably successful. I take that idea and apply it to human interactions.”
Henkel’s paper explores the idea that there doesn’t need to be a leader for people to take positive, collective action.
“People can think for themselves and cooperate with others without being told to do so by an authority figure,” Henkel said. “That’s a very hopeful thing.”
Henkel first presented his paper in spring 2012 at the IASH Speaker Series, where he was able to discuss his ideas with other fellows and academics.
“The IASH Speaker Series is an opportunity for researchers to share their work and develop connections,” Henkel said. “It’s rare to have a good, scholarly community where ideas are exchanged, and for this reason IASH is very valuable. I think it’s fantastic.”
Ros said that participating in the speaker series with colleagues from different disciplines gave her fresh perspectives on her work and new ideas.
“The interaction I had with colleagues is hard to get without the IASH Fellowship,” she said. “During the speaker series we take time to learn about each other’s work, which we don’t typically do outside of it.”
The IASH Speaker Series events are open to the public. Henkel will present his latest work, “Censorship and Cooperation in Salt of the Earth,” at noon Wednesday, Oct. 10, in the IASH Conference Room, LN-1106.