2011-12 Graduate Fellows
Sohini Kar is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology. Her dissertation, “Creditable Lives: Microfinance, Development and Financial Risk in India” examines how microfinance lenders and borrowers negotiate the often-divergent ethics of financial sustainability and locally constituted obligations and relationships.
Over the past decade, the rapidly growing for-profit (and highly profitable) microfinance sector in India has extended credit to the poorest populations under the auspices of the government’s “financial inclusion” policy aimed at inclusive growth. Yet, as an example of the increasing “financialization” of everyday life, this
ethnographic study of microfinance reveals the constant tensions and negotiations of individuals between financial abstractions and social embededness of economic life. Based on 14 months of ethnographic fieldwork in the city of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), and in the context of a crisis in the microfinance sector, this project takes credit as a site of encounter between global finance, state and institutional norms and regulations, and the situated everyday practices of the urban poor whose social worlds would not otherwise intersect. Through participant observation at group meetings for microfinance loans, and interviews with loan officers, borrowers, bankers and policymakers, this project investigates the kinds of moral, ethical and cultural norms financial institutions deploy to manage risk, and how these practices produce new economic subjects.
Ani Maitra is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Modern Culture and Media, working at the intersections of psychoanalysis, and theories of race and queerness. His dissertation, “Narcissism and the Scene of Reading: Towards a Global Politics of Local Aesthetics” examines what it means to “read” or “critique” from within the humanities, through a re-evaluation of the “structure of narcissism” in psychoanalytic theory and its articulations in recent literary and film texts, particularly those that underscore the imbrications between post-colonial, diasporic, and queer subjectivities and socialities. The dissertation draws on a wide variety of texts -from psychoanalysis to Asian-American and African-American literature to queer post-colonial cinema -to suggest that when viewed from a comparative and porous perspective that does not privilege “national homogeneity,” narcissisms and somato-linguistic narcissistic “mirrors” are not “aberrations” to be shunned but unavoidable structures that lie at the heart of the processes of reading and grasping the complexity of the forces that shape the politics and aesthetics of cultural production within a specific context of globalization.
Maitra was a recipient of the Pembroke Graduate Fellowship in 2009 and received a Cogut Center Tuition Fellowship to the Cornell School of Criticism and Theory in 2010. He has published articles in Camera Obscura, Continuum and South Asian Popular Culture.
Clint Bruce is a PhD candidate in the Department of French Studies. His dissertation project, entitled The Atlantic and Its Limits: Transatlantic Literary Crossings in France, Louisiana, and Haiti after the Haitian Revolution (written in French), explores literary representations of the Francophone Atlantic world between the end of the Haitian Revolution (1804) and the U.S. occupation of Haiti (1915-1934). Haiti’s revolution against France disrupted the system of colonial slavery, thus challenging the representations that underpinned that order, while, in geopolitical terms, it resulted in the loss of two of France’s overseas territories: Saint-Domingue —the newly independent Haïti—and Louisiana, acquired by the United States. Nonetheless, both areas maintained close cultural ties with France and produced literatures in French. The dissertation triangulates these three literary traditions in order to reconstruct how transoceanic imaginaries —postcolonial avant la lettre—dealt with the ongoing problems of slavery, race relations, and the legacy of metropolitan cultural hegemony.
Articles and book reviews by Clint have appeared in several journals, including Canadian Literature, Francophonies d'Amérique, The French Review, and Québec Studies; he has also contributed a chapter to the edited volume Transnationalism and American Serial Fiction (Routledge, 2011).
Clint is a John Cargill MacMillan Graduate Fellow.
Chiwook Won is a PhD candidate in Philosophy. His interests include mentality, morality, rationality, and normativity. He seeks to understand the natures of these, how they are related to each other, and how to fit them into a broadly physicalistic worldview. His dissertation, “Reasons, Normativity, and the Mind,” concerns a group of inter-connected questions involving some of these issues, with a special focus on the concept of reason. In his dissertation, Chiwook first offers a general, semantic account for our reason statements, which will be useful in regimenting and clarifying various normative (or meta-normative) issues, and develops, within the framework provided by this account, a kind of simulationist theory of our reason-based, or “rationalizing,” explanation of human action. He then explores what the results of this work can teach us about the nature of mind, particularly the so-called normativity of intentionality. He is also interested in causality and modality, and wrote “Morgenbesser’s Coin, Counterfactuals, and Causal vs. Probabilistic Independence,” Erkenntnis 71 (2009).
Chiwook is a John Cargill MacMillan Graduate Fellow.