CIVIC radical collaboration initiative makes six new hires

With a number of new hires this year, CIVIC (Critical Inquiry into Values, Imagination and Culture), the provost’s Radical Collaboration initiative focused on the humanities and the arts, is halfway toward its goal of 10 new faculty.

The radical collaboration task forces are intended to help with faculty hiring and retention in targeted interdisciplinary areas and fields. CIVIC consists of two interwoven initiatives: 

  • Media Studies, Material Cultures and the Senses; and 
  • Humanities, Arts and Public Life.

“The humanities and the arts are critically important to radical collaboration at Cornell,” said Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff. “Thanks to the excellent efforts of the CIVIC committee and the strength of the humanities at Cornell, the searches this year were all successful in recruiting their top choice candidates. These dynamic faculty are already doing great things at Cornell.” 

One new search has so far been approved for the 2020-21 academic year, for a position in Digital and Media Practice and Theory, with a home base in the Department of Art in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning. A search for a second position is yet to be approved.

“Media and Public Life both address critical concerns in the contemporary arts and humanities, in ways that transcend traditional disciplinary divides. They are exciting areas of innovation,” said Verity Platt, professor of classics and history of art in the College of Arts & Sciences, and chair of the CIVIC committee. “The hires we’ve made for these two initiatives have brought faculty to Cornell who will help foster relationships and communication between departments, programs and colleges, and bring people together in new and exciting ways.”

Media studies at Cornell is noted for its broad historical reach and for the collaborative interaction among the disciplines, from classics to information science. With a new home base – the Uris Library Media Room – three appointments add to Cornell’s strength in this area:

Erik Born, assistant professor of German studies, brings insights from contemporary (German) media theory to bear on diverse historical contexts, especially the late Middle Ages and early European modernity. He is playing a major role in organizing the media studies conference, “Siren Echoes: Sound, Image, and the Media of Antiquity” Nov. 7-9.

Natasha Raheja, a postdoctoral associate in anthropology, will join the department as an assistant professor in 2020. An ethnographic filmmaker, Raheja emphasizes the study and production of film as a way to understand what she calls “the embodied, sensory dimensions of knowledge production.”

Parisa Vaziri, assistant professor of comparative literature and Near Eastern studies, studies the legacies of Indian Ocean world slavery through prisms of visual media. Her current project looks at “articulations of blackness” in Iranian visual culture, primarily through the media of experimental documentary and art cinema. 

The Public Life initiative taps Cornell’s existing strength in this expanding new field, exploring creative points of intersection between colleges, programs and institutes – such as the Ethics and Public Life Program, the Center for the Study of Inequality, the History of Capitalism Initiative, the Cornell Prison Education Program, Engaged Cornell, Global Cornell, the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability, and the Society for the Humanities.

New hires in this area:

Stephen Vider, assistant professor of history, is leading a new initiative in public history, which kicks off this fall with a lecture series beginning Oct. 29. Vider’s research examines the social practices and politics of everyday life in the 20th century U.S., with a focus on intersections of gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity. 

Tao Leigh Goffe, assistant professor of Africana studies and of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, examines the relationships between technology, the senses, memory and nature. She specializes in the environmental humanities and histories that emerge from imperialism, migration and globalization. 

Sabrina Papazian, a two-year postdoctoral fellow in critical heritage studies and anthropology in the Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies, joins the CIVIC fellowship group in Public Life, which is focusing on “Unsettled Monuments, Unsettling Heritage.” She explores the complex social, political and economic networks of relations that arise from the financing and management of archaeological cultural heritage in post-Soviet Armenia. 

Linda B. Glaser is news and media relations manager for the College of Arts and Sciences.

This story orignially appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

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