Postdoc: Migration & the Humanities (Harvard)

The Mahindra Humanities Center invites applications for one-year postdoctoral fellowships in connection with the Center's Andrew W. Mellon Foundation seminar on the topic of migration and the humanities.

The current refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East has made it clear that migration plays as critical a role in the moral imagination of the humanities as it does in shaping the activist vision of humanitarianism and human rights. The conceptual framework of the humanities is particularly relevant to interpreting and analyzing the cultural and political lifeworlds of the migrant experience. Too often, the humanities are summoned merely as witnesses to the spectacle of the significant currents and crises of contemporary life. Literature and the arts are viewed as iconic presences whose primary aesthetic and moral values lie in their illustrative powers of empathy and evocation. Yet the intellectual formation of the humanities—their very conception of the nature of meaning, knowledge, and morals—is deeply resonant with the displacement of values and the revision of norms that shape the transitional and translational narratives of migrant lives.

Built around pedagogies of representation and interpretation—textual, visual, digital, political, ethical, ecological, etc.—the humanities engage with the "deep" history of shifting relations between cultural expression, historical transition, and political transformation. They play a mediating role in this three-way process. Humanistic disciplines articulate the changing, contingent relationships between cultural meaning and social value as they shape "agents"—individual, collective, institutional—who participate in the creation of public opinion and the definition of public interest. Although they are not activist in a traditional sense, the humanities are actively involved in studying the impact of the displacement of cultural values and trajectories of knowledge-systems as they migrate from one historical context to another, moving across discursive and geographic territories, and establishing hybrid disciplinary borders.

Terms and Conditions

In addition to pursuing their own research projects, fellows will be core participants in the bi-weekly seminar meetings. Other participants will include faculty and graduate students from Harvard and other universities in the region, and occasional visiting speakers. Fellows will be joined at the Center by postdoctoral fellows from Germany, who will be coming as part of a collaboration between the Mahindra Humanities Center and the Volkswagen Foundation. Fellows are expected to be in residence at Harvard for the term of the fellowship. Fellows will receive stipends of $65,000, individual medical insurance, moving assistance of $1,500, and additional research support of $2,500.

More details.

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