Pomona Humanities Studio Fellows

Welcome, 2021-22 Fellows!

Faculty Fellows

Colin Beck is Associate Professor of Sociology. He is interested in both how revolutions occur and how revolutions have been studied. During the fellowship year, he will analyze 50 years of revolution studies to identify what knowledge has been gained and what has been lost, with a particular focus on Black revolutionaries.

Angelina Chin is Associate Professor of History and Asian Studies. She plans to use the fellowship to examine various Chinese diasporic intellectual movements in Hong Kong and overseas since World War II and explore the changing meanings of identity, home and belonging for people who left mainland China.

Heidi Nichols Haddad is an Associate Professor of Politics. She will use the fellowship year to conceptualize various factors—including the idea of the city, city authority and federalism, municipal governance structures, and local culture and economics – that affect city “localization” of global human rights norms.

Esther Hernández-Medina is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology. She will use the fellowship to work on her project about the Dominican feminist movement and its 20-year-plus fight defending the three “causales:” three extreme situations where the majority of the population agrees that abortion should not be penalized (when the woman’s life is in danger, when she has been the victim of rape or incest, and when the fetus is not viable outside the womb).

Joti Rockwell is an Associate Professor of Music and a core faculty member in American Studies. He will devote his year as part of the Humanities Studio to theorizing motion in music, with particular attention given to ideas of movement in, of, and with the pedal steel guitar.

Student Fellows

Tony Jin is an Anthropology and Romance Languages and Literatures double major. In his ethnographic research, he is interested in Chinese queer individuals/activists and their daily tactics and strategies. Noting the Euro-American origins of queer theory, he looks at the transnational (re)production, articulations, alliances of “queer politics,” and the queer imaginaries in the local context of the People’s Republic of China.

Luke Meares is a politics and media studies double major, researching the ways digital life has shifted community building and historical archiving for rural, queer people. By examining disparate aspects of the cybersphere such as algorithms and their emotive elements as well as identity formation between digital and real-life worlds, he hopes to contemplate how digitization has mediated the oftentimes less than hospitable life of rural, queer people and their histories.

Laila Ruffin is a Public Policy Analysis major with a concentration in Gender and Women's Studies. With looking at movements, Laila work will be grounded in the interdisciplinary fields of Gender and Women’s Studies, Public Policy, and Geography (critical geographies and domestic geopolitics especially) looking at strategies for survival considering relation to land and identity, and how this dictates one's movements.

Alice Shinn is an English and Environmental Analysis double major investigating how fiction can function as a worldmaking vehicle that allows for the exploration of what a de- and postcolonial future would look like. By examining the fine line between “metaphorizing” the environment and reifying our struggle against the climate crisis in works of postcolonial ecocriticism and ecofiction, she hopes to demystify imagined realities that have––until recently––been found only in theory.

Ruby Simon is a History major concentrating on the United States. She is researching how communities in Brooklyn, New York responded to the relocation of industrial jobs out of the city beginning in the 1950s. By examining the experiences of those who remained in the borough during a period of migration out of it, she aims to explore what it meant to stay put in a moment defined by movement.

Nick Yi is an American Studies major interested in critical race and digital media studies. He will be researching how race "moves" between the physical and digital, "real" and imaginary, and how racial knowledge is produced and reproduced by computer logics. His thesis will focus on role-playing games as a site of racial meaning-making.

Postdoctoral Fellows

M. Bilal Nasir is currently a Chau Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Intercollegiate Department of Asian American Studies at Pomona College. He will use the fellowship year to work on his book manuscript, which examines the targeted surveillance of Muslim Americans in Los Angeles, CA, to probe the secular formations of racial governance in the US counterterror state, as well as social movements rooted in Islamic traditions of critique concerned with the abolition national security and policing. 

Rev. Nikia S. Robert, PhD is a religious scholar whose expertise engages the intersections of race, gender and class with an emphasis on the criminalization of Black motherhood and religious responses to the U.S. criminal system. Dr. Robert is the founder of Abolitionist Sanctuary, which helps churches to advance a faith-based abolitionist movement with Black women and mothers at the center. As a Chau-Mellon Fellow in the Religious Studies department, Dr. Robert will work closely with the Inside/Out program and completing her first manuscript.

Past Humanities Studio Fellows

2020-21 Fellows ("Indigeneities")

Alfred Cramer is an Associate Professor in the Music Department and an affiliate of the Linguistics & Cognitive Science Department. He is a music theorist particularly interested in the ways linguistic, technological, and societal contexts give meaning and expression to musical sounds. This year he will be working toward an account of the complicated ethics of Woody Guthrie's song "This Land Was Made for You and Me."

Zayn Kassam is the John Knox McLean Professor and Chair of Religious Studies. She is interested in exploring whether and in what ways the experiences of migrant Muslims relate to the forced dislocations of indigenous peoples, and what these tell us about the structures of settler colonialism. What theoretical and political processes are at work in the erasure and control of indigenous and migrant Muslim populations and how might a decolonized, non-assimilationist home be imagined?

Victoria Sancho Lobis is the Sarah Rempel and Herbert S. Rempel ’23 Director of the Benton Museum of Art and Associate Professor of Art History. During the fellowship year, she plans to conceive a permanent collection publication or series of publications related to the Benton’s Native American art holdings, which number approximately 6,000 objects and represent over one hundred indigenous North American cultures.

April J. Mayes is an Associate Professor of History, teaching courses in Latin American and Caribbean history. She will use the fellowship year to develop a project-based, research class in which students will learn and apply Indigenous and non-Indigenous methodologies and theoretical frameworks to access California Indigenous histories as recorded in birth, baptismal, and death records archived in California Missions.

Char Miller is the W.M. Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis and History. This fellowship year, COVID allowing, he will be collaborating with Tongvan elders and archivists at the Claremont Colleges Library to recover the histories of Indigenous people who have been dispossessed and marginalized in Southern California by locating relevant primary sources.

Malak Afaneh is a rising senior at Pomona College double majoring in Politics and Middle Eastern Studies, with a passion for working within the intersections of law, social justice, and policy. Through examining the utilization of Palestinian embroidery, or tatreez, as a form of healing and visual resistance to settler colonialism, Afaneh hopes to document the ways indignity and identity can be uplifted through creative mediums.

Hutchinson Fann is a Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) major researching theories of property acquisition and their application to society. By studying libertarian and Marxist theories of property, he aims to look closely at different conceptions of “self-ownership." He then uses these ideas to evaluate the ethics and efficacy of estate taxes.

Ahana Ganguly is an English major interested in experimental nonfiction and the essay. Her thesis is a hybrid creative project about the way disgust functions as a boundary-drawing force in private spaces. Drawing on affect theory and indigenous studies, she is examining what the American fine arts museum allows and disallows.

Lucy Onderwyzer Gold is a Religious Studies major. Her research examines the experience of interpersonal violence, particularly among diasporic or “stateless” people. Many accounts by survivors of traumatic violence articulate a common sense of being suddenly and permanently alienated from human community. Examining essays by the writer James Baldwin, as well as Holocaust survivor and intellectual Jean Améry, she asks: how does the experience of victimization differ for individuals whose belonging in human community has always been already under threat?

Amy Igri Lowndes is studying Politics and Studio Art. She is researching the resurgence of traditional methods of governance in Indigenous communities in her native Alaska. Stressing community accountability, restorative justice, and cultural revitalization, she asks: how can traditional methods of jurisprudence help us to build a prison-free future? She draws upon Indigenous Futurisms, abolitionist scholars, and Iñupiaq knowledge systems.

Gabby Lupola is a History Major with a thematic track of the Transpacific, researching the Chamorro sovereignty movement of the late 20th century. Through analyzing its connection to a legacy of Native resistance on island as well as solidarity with other Indigenous movements in the Pacific & continental U.S., she aims to contextualize a centuries long fight for self-determination as it adapts to a globalized, modern world. Her work is directly inspired by & hopes to contribute to growing Pacific Islander scholarship.

Anam Mehta is an Environment Analysis major studying and learning from the disruption of the Anthropocene as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and Global Climate Change. Through making kin with both living and nonliving, he aims to find threads and tangles in new spatial formations, fixes, and relations that can allow us to situate ourselves on Land and adapt to long term crisis and collapse.

M. Bilal Nasir is currently a Chau Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Intercollegiate Department of Asian American Studies at Pomona College. He will use the fellowship year to work on his book manuscript, which examines the targeted surveillance of Muslim Americans in Los Angeles, CA, to probe the secular formations of racial governance in the US counterterror state, as well as social movements rooted in Islamic traditions of critique concerned with the abolition national security and policing. 

Rosalía Romero is the Chau Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Art History. During the fellowship year, she will explore concepts and representations of “indigeneity” in the radical art of Mexican anarchist groups in the early twentieth century. 

2019-20 Fellows ("post/truth")

Aimee Bahng is an Assistant Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies. Currently at work on a book manuscript titled “Transpacific Ecologies,” she will be thinking about “truth” not only vis-à-vis the political stakes of how we produce knowledge, but also “trust,” as it has contoured environmental discourse around stewardship as well as forms of governance over life itself, such as the “trust territories” of the mid-twentieth century.
Oona Eisenstadt is the Fred Krinsky Professor of Jewish Studies and Professor of Religious Studies. She specializes in continental philosophy and Judaism, with a special interest in two postmodern Jewish philosophers—Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida. She has also focused extensively on religious themes in literature for children and young adults.
Amanda Hollis-Brusky is an Associate Professor in the Politics Department. For the fellowship year, she will be exploring the relationship between lawyering, lying (or what Stephen Colbert called “truthiness”) and the growth of presidential power in the United States. Specifically, she will examine how executive branch lawyers have creatively interpreted the constitution, statues and treaties to enable the Imperial Presidency.
Colleen Ruth Rosenfeld is an Associate Professor in the English Department, specializing in early modern poetry and poetic theory, form, style, and epistemology.  She will be thinking about the value of fiction in an era of post/truth.  If, as Philip Sidney declared in the Defence of Poesy (1580), the poet “never lieth” because he “nothing affirms,” what are the criteria by which we evaluate poetic knowledge?  And what is the relation of those criteria to determinations of truth and falsehood?
Tomás Summers Sandoval is an Associate Professor of Chicanx-Latinx Studies and History. He will use the fellowship year to explore the tensions between the meaning-making processes we use to construct our “truths” about the past and historical fact, grounded in his examination of the impact of the Vietnam War in Latinx America.
Heather Williams is a Professor of Politics and also serves in the Programs in International Relations and Environmental Analysis. Her work on post/truth focuses on the politics of water in Inland Southern California. Specifically, her current study examines the slippage between everyday assumptions that growing cities are served by a clean, ever-normal and state-managed hydroscape, and the observable reality that fire, flood, traveling toxins, and homelessness are changing the way water moves through river basins, what water carries with it, and how states police and regulate human use of river courses.
Oliver Dubon is majoring in music with a concentration in music composition. His thesis is a half-hour song cycle setting various philosophical texts defining the word “truth.” Oliver hopes to spend his time in the studio exploring ways artists such as himself engage with other disciplines in order to make art that has something important to say.
Ethan Kostishak is an Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies double major, researching the possibilities of queer transnational solidarity. Through examining the grassroots organizing work of the LGBT Lebanese group, Helem, and the queer Palestinian group, al-Qaws, they aim to articulate what it means to have multiple "truths" of queer praxis, and how al-Qaws and Helem have historically responded to different queer realities.
Rachel Marandett is a Religious Studies major with a concentration in religio-political violence and a minor in Middle Eastern Studies.  Her senior thesis focuses on employing the field of Genocide Studies and constructions of religious identity to reframe understandings of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  She plans to use her fellowship year to explore the role that living in a post/truth society shaped by media narratives has on contemporary understandings of this conflict. 
Olive Maurstad is an English major writing her thesis on speculative fiction by trans and genderqueer authors. She’s studying how these works create models of realness, authenticity, and  artificiality, both on a personal and narrative level, and how the interaction of those concepts in the literature complicates the idea of a “true” self.
Skye Mitchell is a Media Studies major whose thesis will explore how the hidden imperatives of music streaming algorithms—specifically Spotify—are altering the ways in which music is created, curated and consumed, and how the rise of hyper-personalized, automated cultural curation might engender a form of “post-truth” social fragmentation.
Hans Zhou is a double major in Environmental Analysis (with a concentration in Race, Class, and Gender) and Classics whose thesis will examine how Asian American neighborhoods experience gentrification and other environmental justice issues. By analyzing various walking tours organized by community members to highlight their stories of oppression and activism, he is hoping to explore the “truths” of urban development in relation to the production of space.
Cristina T. Bejarano is a Mellon Chau Postdoctoral Fellow in the Anthropology Department.
Rosalía Romero is the Chau Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Art History. During the fellowship year, she will explore the “post-truth politics” of U.S. and Mexican anarchist groups at the turn of the twentieth century by reflecting on anarchist art that utilized “untrue” representations, interpretations, and imitations.  

2018-19 Fellows ("Fail Better")

Gizem Karaali is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics. During the 2018-19 "Fail Better" fellowship year, she investigated failure both in mathematics and mathematics instruction. Among her animating questions: “What kinds of failures can be desirable?” “What makes some failures better than others?” And: “Who gets to fail?”

Jordan Kirk is an Assistant Professor of English. His project for the 2018-19 "Fail Better" fellowship year centered on an exploration of the Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, exploring his “poetics of failure” in search of a new understanding of the whole of the Tales, the preeminent work of medieval English letters.

Joanne Nucho is a Mellon Chau postdoctoral fellow, and will joined the Pomona faculty as an Assistant Professor of Anthropology in July 2019. During the fellowship year she focused on the urgent material problem of “failed” infrastructure and the political discourses that shape the future of the built environment.

Michael O’Malley is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Art. In addition to his sculpture work that engages explicitly with the topic of failure, he embarked on a series of writings that “untangle some of the hunches and questions” he had “about the many tendrils of failure.”

Friederike von Schwerin-High is an Associate Professor of German & Russian. During the fellowship year she continued her exploration of success and failure relating to epistemology (knowing another person), ethics (telling another person’s story), and aesthetics (telling a story well) in works of fiction that explore the dynamics of friendship.

Julie Tannenbaum is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy. Her project explored cases of “moral failure,” in which one does not deserve blame for one’s action but is nevertheless morally responsible for harming others. How can such individuals be helped to come to terms with what they have done?

Peter Brown majored in Politics and English, writing theses that focused on the work of Hannah Arendt and Toni Morrison. He used his time in the Studio “to think more carefully with those whom historical archives and current governments alike have failed to account for”—exploring how our structures have failed us.

Jacob Lubert worked on a senior thesis for Classics in which he used the phrase “learning through suffering” as a tool both by which to explicate the literary content of Aeschylus’s Oresteia trilogy and to analyze the psychology involved in both viewing and acting in the drama.

Natalie McDonald was a History major with a Late Antique-Medieval Studies minor who used the fellowship year to investigate the dynamics of gendered power structures in Middle Eastern, Caribbean, and Indian women’s service in the British army during WWII. What happens when such stories fail to survive in collective memory?

James McIntyre wrote a thesis in Philosophy complicating accounts that characterize indoctrination as education which restricts the learner’s freedom, augmenting them with an alternative account based upon the doctrine of fallibilism: that we should always keep in mind that many of our most cherished beliefs could be false.

Natalie Slater’s Environmental Analysis thesis examined the recent breakdown of Rome’s fountains and aqueducts, symbols of society’s conquest over nature, using them to examine notions of progress, modernity, and animacy versus inanimacy in the face of global climate change—and searching for moments of hope within environmental and political breakdown.

Candice Wang, a double major in Neuroscience and Religious Studies, examined hymnals, Christian storybooks for girls, and illustrated Bibles, translated into various Chinese dialects, held by the Honnold-Mudd Library. Through textual, visual, and historical analyses, she studied the translation and transmission of representations of Christianity in late imperial China.

Cristina T. Bejarano was a Mellon Chau Postdoctoral Fellow in the Anthropology Department. As a member of the Humanities Studio, she explored how the nature/culture divide “fails” in the Anthropocene in order to shed light on the complex relationships between bodies and environments, especially in the context of long-term exposure to toxic substances.

Sheetal Gandhi was a Mellon Chau postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Theatre and Dance. During the fellowship year she consciously engaged with her body’s own failures to reimagine and reinvent what her dancing body is capable of.