Mahindra Humanities Center Postdoctoral Fellowships, 2017-18


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.

We welcome applications from scholars in all fields whose work innovatively engages with migration and the humanities. Each year of the seminar will explore a different subtheme connected to this broader topic. The subtheme for 2017-18 will be posted in the near future.

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.

Eligibility and Deadline Information

Applicants for 2017-18 fellowships must have received a doctorate or terminal degree in or after May 2014. Applicants without a doctorate or terminal degree must demonstrate that they will receive a doctorate or terminal degree in a related discipline in or before August 2017.
 Applications must be completed by December 1, 2016.

Application Instructions

Please apply using our online application, which will be posted in the near future.

In addition to biographical and professional information, applicants are asked to submit:

1. A curriculum vitae.

2. A detailed statement of the research project (1,000-3,000 words) that provides a detailed description of what the applicant proposes to do during the fellowship year.

3. One chapter- or article-length writing sample (no longer than 40 pages).

4. Names and contact information of three referees, who will be asked by a system-generated email to upload a letter of recommendation once the candidate’s application has been submitted. Three letters of recommendation are required, and the application is considered complete only when three letters have been received. Recommendations may be those included in the applicant’s placement dossier, but they must specifically address the proposed research project. Letters should be uploaded to the electronic application.

Please contact Andrea Volpe with questions about applying for a fellowship.

Volkswagen Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships
Sponsored by the Volkswagen Foundation

The Volkswagen Foundation sponsors several fellowships at the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard. These fellowships are intended to give young German scholars the opportunity to take advantage of Harvard's libraries, archives, and other facilities, thereby providing opportunities for research and interdisciplinary exchange. Fellows will be able to strengthen their research knowledge and profile in a specific field of the humanities in an international perspective. Fellows are expected to be in residence at Harvard for the term of the fellowship.

Applicants should have finished their PhD with outstanding results two or three years (maximum five years) before. The selection of the fellows will be jointly organized by the Foundation and the Mahindra Humanities Center in a two-step procedure.

Further information about Volkswagen Foundation Fellowships at the Mahindra Humanities Center can be found here.