Cesare Birignani received his Ph.D in Architectural History and Theory from Columbia University in 2012, with a dissertation on the planning of early modern Paris. His main research bears on the practices developed by the Paris police to control, discipline, and manage the city as well as on a corpus of texts produced from the end of the seventeenth century until the Revolution under the rubric of “police science.” The theorists of the ville policée, he argues, turned the city into a new, complex object of knowledge: the discourse of police was the first critical effort to understand and come to terms with the modern urban condition. His current projects also include a critical edition of L’homme tel qu’il devrait être, the last, unpublished treatise by the French architect and theorist Pierre Patte, and the research project Architecture and Magnificence, which explores a range of festivals and collective events—from Renaissance royal entries to Olympic opening ceremonies—as moments that produce both ephemeral spaces and political subjects.
Damien Mahiet received his Ph.D in Music at Cornell University in 2011 and holds an M.A. in Political Thought from the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po Paris). Since 2010, he has been Assistant Professor of Music and Orchestra Director at Denison University in Granville, OH. His research centers on the role music has played and continues to play in the constitution of Western political regimes and lives. A current book project, The Concert of Nations: Music, Diplomacy, and Political Thought, explores music-making’s contributions to the conception of international relations and the practice of diplomacy. While at Cornell University, Damien Mahiet received additional support from the School of Criticism and Theory, the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, and the Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies. With Jean-Michel Bardez, he is the co-editor of the series Musique/Pouvoirs, published by Delatour (France).
Daniel Loick received his doctorate from Goethe University in Frankfurt, where he is now a junior faculty member in the Philosophy Department. His main research interests are in the areas of ethics, social and political philosophy, especially modern political theory, critical theory, and post-structuralism. His first book Kritik der Souveränität (2012) is a radical critique of state inflicted violence in all its different forms and aims at developing a notion of non-coercive law. His current project addresses the relationship between right and subjectivity through an investigation of "pathologies of juridicism," claiming that the legal sphere fundamentally contaminates the way in which we relate to ourselves, to others, and to the world so that our (inter-) subjectivity becomes ethically deformed, distorted, or deficient.
Julia Ng received her Ph.D in Comparative Literary Studies from Northwestern University in 2012 with a dissertation on Walter Benjamin's mathematical revision of the formal possibility of Kant's perpetual peace project. Her research, which centers on the early twentieth-century afterlives of late eighteenth-century political and literary theory, examines the self-consciously impossible character of Kant's projection of the just society. Fictions and failures, she argues, accompany and precede every determination of possibility imposed by the self-organization of embodied subjectivity, and ironically make possible alternative theories of political agency that do not rely on the presumption that human beings can build a world in which they protect themselves from every conceivable threat. Her current project, "Body, Force, Right: Towards a Literary Theory of Posthumous Life," tracks a change between 1800 and 1900 in the conception of "life" that exceeds what is deemed "possible" for human subjectivity, uncovering a cosmic perspective on the meaning of the word "life"—life at its bare minimum, or as Heidegger put it, "life as it bodies forth"—in the "posthumous work" of Kant, Novalis, Nietzsche, and George.
Michaela Schäuble is Assistant Professor in Social Anthropology at Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany, where she also received her Ph.D in 2010. She studied comparative literature and social anthropology at Tübingen und Yale Universities and holds an MA in visual anthropology from the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology at Manchester University, UK. In 2011-12 she was a EURIAS fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Bologna, Italy. She has authored numerous articles on the impact of violence on memory politics, the gendered character of ethno-nationalist discourse, and post-war transition in the former Yugoslavia. In her forthcoming book, Narrating Victimhood: Gender, Religion and the Making of Place in Post-War Croatia (Berghahn Books), she addresses the politics of ambiguous Europeanness and (in)subordination in the Balkans. Michaela is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker who has published widely on documentary films and on the role of fiction and animation in ethnographic cinema. In her current project, “The Art of Controlled Accident”: Corporeal Cinematography in Ethnographic Films on Trance and Spirit Possession (1940s-1960s), she investigates the corporeal and sensory dimensions of religious ritual practice and embodied spiritual experience in early ethnographic documentary films, comparing audio-visual material from West Africa, Haiti, and Italy.
Interdisciplinary Dissertation Completion Fellows
Alvaro Santana-Acuña is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at Harvard University. His dissertation investigates the making of the cadastre in France between 1763 and 1833. The cadastre, an administrative tool that registers a country’s real estate property to allocate taxes among owners, is a cornerstone of the liberal property system. Previous research analyzed its making as part of a process of state centralization and disregarded the organizational changes driving the training of cadastral experts. His dissertation tackles these questions and examines other aspects of nation-state formation and scientific expertise that were empowered by the making of the cadastre. The dissertation forms one part of his larger effort to study processes and systems of valuation. In that vein he researched the contentious question of how a literary work becomes a classic. This research received in 2011 the Edward Shils-James Coleman Memorial Award and the honorable in the Richard Peterson Prize, both awarded by the American Sociological Association. He holds an A.M. in Sociology from Harvard University, an M.A. in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago (under Fulbright sponsorship), and a D.E.A. and B.A. in History from the University of La Laguna (Spain).
Benjamin Woodring is a Ph.D candidate in English at Harvard University. His dissertation examines spaces of refuge as they are imagined and represented in Shakespearean England. He investigates what a place of last resort meant to an early modern Londoner, in theory and in practice. He argues that Renaissance dramatists are fascinated with sanctuaries—areas that release one, if only temporarily, from the grip of one’s immediate political and social milieu. He also analyzes the legal and ecclesiastical institutions of “sanctuary” and their controversial post-Reformation afterlives, contending that these semi-autonomous zones speckled throughout the city served as reminders of authority’s fragility. Benjamin holds a B.A. from Brandeis University with majors in Classics, Economics, and English, as well as an A.M. in English from Harvard. He served from 2010 to 2011 as President of Harvard’s Graduate Student Council (representing the university’s roughly 3500 doctoral students across its various programs and schools) and is currently a member of the Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibilty for the President and Fellows of Harvard College.