Pelin Kivrak’s Postdoctoral Fellowship

May 9, 2019

Our PhD candidate, Pelin Kivrak has won a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard University’s Mahindra Humanities Center. It is a one-year postdoctoral fellowship in connection with the Center’s Andrew W. Mellon Foundation seminar on the topic of migration and the humanities.

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. 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 history of shifting relations between cultural expression, historical transition, and political transformation. The ethics of citizenship in our time are defined as much by migration and resettlement as by indigenous belonging, as much by global governance as by national sovereignty. And the humanities play a central role in defining the terms and the territories of cultural citizenship as it creates innovative institutions and identities in the making of a civil society.

The migration “crisis” makes it imperative for humanists to reflect on the foundational concepts and values of our disciplines in addressing the representation of others as they are recognized in the norms of cultural citizenship. The issues the seminar will explore include: the ethics of hospitality; modes of cosmopolitanism; negotiation of cultural “differences” under duress; the role played by interpretation and cultural translation in enhancing processes of social integration.

Her appointment will be effective until September 2020.