BY MELISSA DE WITTE
Five Stanford University scholars have been awarded 2020 Guggenheim Fellowships. This prestigious honor recognizes mid-career scholars, artists and scientists who have demonstrated a previous capacity for outstanding work and continue to show exceptional promise.
This year’s fellows from Stanford are James T. Campbell, Anna Grzymala-Busse, Alex Ketley, Bernadette Meyler and Nathaniel Persily.
James T. Campbell is the Edgar E. Robinson Professor in United States History in the School of Humanities and Sciences, where he teaches courses in American, African American and South African history. Campbell’s research focuses on African American history and the legacy of slavery in America.
“Working as I do on painful subjects – on topics like apartheid, the transatlantic slave trade, southern Jim Crow – I’ve grown increasingly interested in problems of historical memory,” Campbell said.
As a fellow, Campbell said his project will focus on the “Mississippi Burning” case, the Ku Klux Klan-orchestrated murder of three civil rights workers outside the town of Philadelphia, Mississippi, in the summer of 1964.
Some of the questions Campbell plans to explore in this research focus on how societies share stories about their past. He said: “How do people move on in the aftermath of atrocity? What stories become part of a shared patrimony and what stories are lost to time? How do processes of collective remembering and forgetting actually work in practice? What are the politics of these processes? These are some of the questions I’m trying to get at in my current project.”
Anna Grzymala-Busse is the Michelle and Kevin Douglas Professor of International Studies at the School of Humanities and Sciences and a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI). Her research focuses on political parties, state development and transformation, religion and politics, and post-communist politics.
“I’m delighted to receive the fellowship and honored to be in the company of such accomplished scholars,” said Grzymala-Busse.
Through the support of the fellowship, Grzymala-Busse plans to write a book about the historical and religious origins of the state, specifically exploring how medieval church institutions co-evolved with nascent royal administrations and courts. As she explained: “Clergy served as scribes, notaries and financial administrators, bishops attended royal councils, religious and civil law functioned side by side, and popes and kings struggled to define their authority against each other – and all of these developments shaped how the state arose, and how it functions today.”
Alex Ketley has been a lecturer in the Department of Theater and Performance Studies in the School of Humanities and Sciences since 2013. He teaches advanced ballet and contemporary choreography. Ketley is a former classical dancer with the San Francisco Ballet and is the founder of the Foundry, a multimedia dance company.
Ketley’s most recent theater projects examined how rural communities throughout the United States have little or no access to contemporary dance and how that lack of exposure has impacted dance as an art form.
For his fellowship, Ketley said he plans to use a similar process to that work, but focused on hospice patients and caregivers. “To choreograph a new work amidst all the vast social and emotional complexities surrounding our culture’s relationship to death is a project I am profoundly looking forward to exploring,” he said. “I am deeply grateful to the Guggenheim Foundation for their support.”
Bernadette Meyler is the Carl and Sheila Spaeth Professor of Law and the associate dean for research and intellectual life at Stanford Law School. She is a scholar of British and American constitutional law and of law and the humanities.
“I am thrilled to have received a Guggenheim Fellowship and incredibly grateful to the friends and mentors who have supported my work.” Meyler said.
Meyler, who will be in residence at the Stanford Humanities Center next year, will use her Guggenheim Fellowship to complete her book on constitutional interpretation, Common Law Originalism, which looks at the various meanings of constitutional terms and phrases. She also plans to finish an introductory textbook on law and literature designed for undergraduate and graduate classrooms as well as readers generally interested in the subject.
“I aspire to begin more serious research as well into my next project, which will involve delving into the historical rise of majoritarianism and its implications for legal theory,” Meyler said.
Nathaniel Persily is the James B. McClatchy Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and a senior fellow at FSI.
With his fellowship, Persily plans to build on his work at the Stanford Cyber Policy Center and its Program on Democracy and the Internet. He had intended for his fellowship project to be a book on ways the internet and social media platforms place unique stress on democracy in the U.S. and around the world. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the direction of Persily’s research, and he said he plans to spend much of the year researching and writing about the pandemic’s effect on the administration of the 2020 election.
“As has happened to me frequently over the last decade, events are overtaking my research, and for the few academics who work in the area of election administration, the challenge the pandemic poses is unprecedented and requires the participation of public interested scholars to understand and address the critical problems we are seeing in the states,” Persily said.
Persily was the senior research director of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration in 2013, where he dealt with topical issues such as lines at polling places and preparing for natural disasters and voting.