Linda Hall Library Fellows Awarded Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowships
The Linda Hall Library congratulates 2022-23 research fellows Alfredo Escudero and Michele D. Pflug, recent recipients of Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies.
Alfredo’s project, “The Land is the Laboratory: Indigenous Labor, Land Inspections, and the Engineering of the Colonial Andes,” is a study of how, in the documentary genre known as “visitas” (land inspections), Spanish colonial inspectors and Andean Indigenous peasants engaged in the task of transforming qualitative, in-person observation into quantitative, paper-based information during the early colonial period. It emphasizes how Andean communities produced information about their natural resources, labor practices, and local population. This project engages in an interdisciplinary interrogation of knowledge production, including the history of science and technology, indigenous studies, the new history of capitalism, and the history of state formation in Latin America. This dissertation expands into visualization and data analysis with digital mapping and builds its theoretical and methodological framework as a result of interactions with peasant communities who engage in experimentation with crops.
Michele’s project, “Hidden Histories of Insect Collections: Women, Empire, and Entomology in the Early Eighteenth Century,” reaches across disciplines and institutions to make visible to public audiences the hidden histories behind insect specimens belonging to the 300-year-old James Petiver Historical Entomology Collection held at the Natural History Museum of London. Between 1690 and 1720, a diverse range of marginalized actors—women, enslaved people, children, indigenous people, and servants—contributed to the collection. This dissertation draws on methodologies from digital humanities, museum studies, historical biography, and the biological sciences to excavate their presence. Three interrelated projects retell their stories: a digital, interactive social network analysis of contributors; a public exhibition on the Petiver insect collection; and a biography of the English entomologist Eleanor Glanville. By bringing the collection into the public eye and unpacking the stories held within it, the dissertation prompts critical public discussions on the intertwined developments of natural history, gender, and empire.
The Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowship program supports doctoral students in the humanities and interpretive social sciences as they pursue bold and innovative approaches to dissertation research. The fellowships are designed to intervene at the formative stage of dissertation development and promote research methodologies, project formats, and areas of inquiry that challenge traditional norms of doctoral education.
Alfredo and Michele join a cohort of 45 fellows selected from a pool of nearly 700 applicants through a rigorous, multi-stage peer review process that drew on the expertise of 170 scholars from institutions of higher education nationwide.
Congratulations, Alfredo and Michele!