Postdoctoral Fellows

Konstanze Baron studied Modern History and Modern Languages (French) at the Queen’s College, Oxford University (BA 2000, MSt 2001) and at Université Denis Diderot Paris VII (DEA 2002) before moving on to Konstanz, where she obtained her PhD in 2010 after having qualified in the DFG-Graduate Program “Figuren des Dritten / Figures of the Third” and having collaborated at the Center of Excellence “Kulturelle Grundlagen von Integration / Cultural Foundations of Integration.” From 2009-2015 she was a full time research fellow at the Interdisciplinary Center for European Enlightenment Studies (IZEA) in Halle. Her book on Denis Diderot, exploring features of literary anthropology in the genre of the “character tale,” was published in 2014 with Wilhelm Fink Verlag. In June 2015, Konstanze Baron took up a position as assistant professor (Akademische Rätin) at the Romance Literature and Languages Department at Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen.

Matthew H. Baxter received a PhD (2013) in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley with a dissertation titled, "For SubContinental Political Theory: On the Non-Brahmin Self-Respect Critique of Gandhian Self-Rule." This work focuses on the Non-Brahmin Cuya-Mariyātai Iyakkam (Self-Respect Movement) during the 1920s and 1930s, draws on colonial, missionary, and Tamil archives across the 18th through 20th centuries, and situates articulations of political theory joining South India and Western Europe. Part of this focus involves the limits and possibilities of Gandhian non-violence when addressing structural hierarchies during the interwar period globally — both everyday and extraordinary. His interest in Tamil-speaking South India began as a Shansi Fellow in Madurai, Tamil Nadu from 2000-2002; his subsequent research has been made possible through generous support, including multiple Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowships, an American Institute for Indian Studies fellowship, and a Fulbright-Hays DDRA fellowship. From 2012-2014 he served as the Associate Editor for South Asia at the bimonthly journal Asian Survey and from 2014-2015 as a postdoctoral fellow at Rutgers University’s Center for Cultural Analysis.

Nils Bock is Lecturer in Medieval History at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany. He studied history and archaeology at the Universities of Trier (Germany), Bologna (Italy), and Toulouse (France). He received his doctorate in medieval history in 2012 from WWU Münster, with a dissertation on the heralds in late medieval German Empire focusing on their communicative function for the nobility (Die Herolde im römisch-deutschen Reich, 2015). His current project is a study on the integration and interaction between politics and economy in the Middle Ages. The main focus is the activities of Italian merchants and trading companies in France between 1250 and 1350. This period is characterized by an expansion of the use of money, of credit and debt on the one hand, and severe financial, economic, political, military, and social crises leading to deep societal changes, on the other. It is likely that the society had to face problems at a new level resulting from processes of wealth redistribution. This raises the question of how society responded to individual and collective indebtedness.

Zain Lakhani holds a PhD in History from the University of Pennsylvania, granted in 2014. Her current project, "Becoming Sexual Subjects: Rape and the Political Meaning of Violence in the Age of Human Rights," explores the relationship between sexual violence, human rights, and the politics of border control. Specifically, her work examines the intersection of gender and human rights language within the politics of immigration, asylum administration, and anti-trafficking policy over the second half of the twentieth century. She has received numerous awards and fellowships, including grants from the Charlotte Newcomb Dissertation Fellowship Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the AAUW. She holds a BA, Honors from Queen’s University in Canada, and was previously a postdoctoral fellow in History and Human Rights at the University of California at Berkeley.

Quentin (Trais) Pearson received a PhD in History from Cornell University in 2014. His current project, “Politics of Dismemberment: Siam and Its Subjects,” is a study of law, medicine, and sovereignty in semi-colonial Siam (Thailand). Based on neglected documents from the National Archives of Thailand, the project examines transnational and cross-cultural debates over the value of human lives and limbs. When Siamese subjects were injured or killed by new technologies or foreign residents in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Bangkok, demands for restitution and justice were channeled through legal institutions and the bodies were subjected to legal and medico-legal scrutiny. Such interventions transformed the bodies of Siamese subjects into fertile grounds for asserting Siamese sovereignty. Prior to arriving at the Mahindra Humanities Center, Trais taught in the History Department at Wheaton College (MA) as an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Asian History. His research has been supported by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, as well as the National Science Foundation. His work has appeared in the Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia, and an article is forthcoming in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine.

Mónica Salas-Landa received a PhD in Anthropology from Cornell University in 2015. Her project "Living among a Field of Ruins: (In)Visible Residues of Violence and Revolution" combines an archival approach with ethnographic research and examines the afterlife of the material traces left by post-revolutionary state interventions in the northern lowlands of Veracruz, Mexico. Through an engagement with the agentive and affective qualities of decaying oil infrastructure, ethnological photographs, agrarian documents, and the debris left by the development of an archaeological site, her project demonstrates how these scattered objects — disregarded, negated, cherished, or reified — continue to shape the political sensibilities of those who live amid what she conceives to be the concrete residues of violence and dislocation. As a postdoctoral fellow with the Mahindra Humanities Center, Salas-Landa will launch research into her second project: an ethnographic investigation into the Mexican state’s handling of drug-related violence. By focusing on the forensic and bureaucratic practices through which resurfacing human remains are being constituted and negotiated as persons and things, subjects and objects, meanings and matter, she seeks to render visible not only current processes of mourning and historicization, silencing and assertion, but also long-standing processes of violence normalization. Her research has been supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Cornell’s Latin American Studies Program, as well as Mexico’s Council for Science and Technology (CONACyT).

Mira Rai Waits holds a PhD in the History of Art and Architecture from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Her research and teaching focus on spatial and post-colonial theory, modern architecture and urbanism, visual culture studies, and human rights. Her current project, "Producing the Prison: Space, Labor, and Representation," explores the architectural history of British colonial prisons in India. This project also examines the manner in which everyday acts of non-nationalist prisoner resistance contributed to the production of the prison space in order to argue for the recognition of a geography of everyday violence that conditioned the larger ethos of the penal experience. She has published on the relationship between capitalism and architecture in the colonial Indian prison system. Her work has been funded by the University of California President’s Program and she was the recipient of the 2014 Margaret Mallory Award for Best PhD Dissertation at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Interdisciplinary Dissertation Completion Fellows

Charrise Barron is a PhD Candidate in African American Studies, with a primary field of concentration in religion and secondary in ethnomusicology. Her research interests center on African American history, religion, and sacred music. She also studies black American music more broadly, as well as Pentecostalism and Evangelicalism. Her dissertation explores contemporary African American gospel music in the United States since the 1990s, and its marked shifts away from previous eras of gospel. Focusing on the changes in gospel performance and culture over the last twenty-five years helps to illuminate revised theologies of salvation and sanctification among African American Pentecostal churches. Charrise holds a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science from Harvard and a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School and Institute of Sacred Music.

Emily Harrison is a PhD candidate in the History of Science at Harvard University, where her work is oriented on health sciences. Her current project focuses on infant mortality to analyze globalized interactions at the intersection of health and development in the second half of the twentieth century. The narrative of the project follows an individual named Leona Baumgartner, an expert in infant mortality reduction and an important but marginal actor in health and development, through select local sites among which techniques and technologies to address infant mortality are being produced, circulated, and consumed. Harrison holds a prior Masters degree from the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Global Health and Population and a Bachelors degree in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology from Harvard College.