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Present Postdoctoral Fellows

Bench Ansfield
RL Goldberg
Tory Jeffay
Hiroko Kumaki
Jorge Ramirez-Lopez
Jeemin Rhim
Miriam Rich
Amy Schiller
Danielle Simon
Natalie Teale
Kasia Warburton
Yiren Zheng


Bench Ansfieldansfield
PhD Yale University

Dissertation: "Born in Flames: Arson, Racial Capitalism, and the Reinsuring of the Bronx in the Late Twentieth Century"


Bench Ansfield (they/them) is a historian of racial capitalism and twentieth-century U.S. cities. Their book, Born in Flames (forthcoming from Liveright/W. W. Norton), examines the wave of landlord arson that coursed through the Bronx and scores of other U.S. cities in the 1970s. Despite its massive toll—the worst-hit areas lost 80% of their housing—this history has eluded scholarly scrutiny largely because the arsons of these years were obscured by the uprisings of the 1960s. The project pulls the arson wave out of the shadows of the uprisings, situating it within the long, untold history of insurance redlining and the subsequent, misguided efforts at federal redress. Bench's research has appeared in the Journal of American History, American Quarterly, Antipode, and the collection Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis (Duke 2015), edited by Katherine McKittrick. They have published for broader audiences in the Washington Post and have forthcoming essays in the New York Review of Books and Jewish Currents. Bench also worked as a researcher on the PBS-aired documentary Decade of Fire (2019), and they are a longtime member of the veteran transformative justice organization Philly Stands Up. In 2024, they will begin as Assistant Professor of History at Temple University.


RL Goldberggoldberg

PhD Princeton University

Dissertation:  "I Changed My Sex!: Pedagogy and Trans Narrative"

RL Goldberg studies trans gender theory and phenomenology; their teaching and work focus on mid-century United States literature and culture, queer theory, Black feminist studies, and critical carceral studies. Their first book project is titled I Changed My Sex! Pedagogy and Trans Narrative and explores the language trans writers use in giving an account of trans identity as espistemologies of knowing, feeling, and certainty. RL's work has appeared in, or is forthcoming from, TSQ, Philip Roth Studies, ASAP/J, the Los Angeles Review of Books, McSweeney's, the Paris Review Daily, and elsewhere. 


Tory Jeffayjeffay
PhD Universty of California, Berkeley

Dissertation:  "The Forensic Imaginary: Visual Media and Evidentiary Culture"


Tory Jeffay is a media historian and theorist who studies the way visual evidence has been understood and deployed. Her book manuscript, Rogue Images: The Birth of Visual Evidence, examines the history of photography and film as evidence before Rodney King to better understand contemporary politics of digital media evidence. Using archival research alongside methods from Black studies and queer theory, the work argues that the epistemological fallibility of photographic media stems from anxieties around differences in race, class, gender, and ability.

Her essay, “‘Flat-Out’ Formalism: Strong Island as Trans-of-Color Critique,” won the Society for Cinema and Media Studies Queer and Trans Caucus’s Chris Holmlund Graduate Student Essay Prize and was published in the New Review of Film and Television Studies. Her work has been supported by grants from the California State Library, UC Humanities Research Institute, Berkeley Center for New Media, the Center for Japanese Studies, and the UC Berkeley Graduate Division. She is also a filmmaker and former editor of documentary films. 


Hiroko Kumakikumaki

PhD University of Chicago

Dissertation:  "Reasonably Exposed: Politics and Ethics of Living Fukushima"

Hiroko Kumaki is a sociocultural anthropologist whose research and teaching lies at the intersections of health, environment, and technoscience. Her scholarship examines the affective, material, and conceptual world making around environmental change, particularly as it relates to the experience of health and well-being. Her first book project, “Reasonably Exposed,” asks what it means to live well in a world that embraces certain levels of environmental exposure as “reasonable,” to be accepted by the general public for the broader good that toxigenic practices enable. Focusing on the ongoing aftermath of the nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan, the project studies how knowledge and practices on environment and health interact and operate across multiple bodies, scales, and registers, to shape divergent political and ethical responses to the radioactive fallout. Hiroko is committed to ethnographic methods that engage and write “from” the lives of interlocutors, rather than “for” or “about” them. While at Dartmouth, she will begin her second project that investigates the relationship between technological innovation and environmental remediation in the U.S. and Japan.


Jorge Ramirez-LopezRamirez

PhD University of California San Diego

Dissertation:  "Indigenous Worldmaking in a World of Crisis: Race and the Making of the Migrant Circuit between Southern Mexico and the US/Mexican Pacific Coast, 1968-1994"

I am an interdisciplinary historian whose work focuses on social movements, labor, migration, and race between the United States and Mexico. My first book project examines the history of Indigenous people from Oaxaca as they were incorporated as a new racialized labor force in the agroindustries along the US/Mexican Pacific Coast. The book maintains that we cannot understand the history of racial capitalism and labor in the American West, specifically in the post-1968 period, without understanding the Indigenous people from Oaxaca who made up a significant portion of the workforce and the transnational dimensions of agriculture that recruited them. Inspired by my training in the Black Radical Tradition and my commitments to the Oaxaqueñx community, my book centers what I term “Indigenous Worldmaking,” to describe the efforts by Indigenous people to recreate their communal lives across multiple landscapes and alongside the people they met along the way. At Dartmouth, I will be working on additional publications related to Indigenous expressive culture and social movements, while also teaching courses related to transnational migration and Latinx-Native American politics.


Miriam RichRich

PhD Harvard University

Dissertation:  "Monstrous Births: Race, Gender, and Defective Reproduction in U.S. Medical Science, 1830-1930"

Miriam Rich is a historian of medicine and science in the modern United States, with a particular focus on the historical contexts of racial health disparities. Her first book project (under contract with Columbia University Press for their Series in Race, Inequality, and Health) explores how the biological category of "monstrosity" interfaced with developing concepts of race, reproduction, and embodied deviance in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States. She has previously written about the racialization of pain in nineteenth-century obstetrics, the social and political contexts of twentieth-century vaccination policy, and the resurgence of historical concepts of race in contemporary genetics and genomics. Her planned second book project focuses on the history of health and medicine within U.S. carceral systems. Before joining the Society of Fellows, she was a lecturer at Yale University, where she taught courses on the history of health and incarceration; the history of reproductive health and medicine; and the history of race, citizenship, and public health in the United States. She also serves as a historical research consultant for a project with Yale's SEICHE Center for Health and Justice, which examines historical and present-day contexts of pandemics in prisons.  


Amy Schillerschiller

PhD The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Dissertation:  "Caring Without Sharing: Philanthropy's Creation and Destruction of the Common World"

Amy Schiller's work explores the role of philanthropy in contemporary society, specifically the role philanthropy plays in reinforcing utilitarian and technocratic approaches to social progress, and the extent to which philanthropy can instead support human flourishing and build a common world. Her first book project examines these normative questions around philanthropy's purpose and the conditions necessary to return to its rightful place, using historical and contemporary figures from St. Augustine to Lebron James to illustrate different philanthropic mentalities. Her research has appeared in New Political Science, Society, and her public writing has been published in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and The Nation, as well as a contributed essay to The Ferrante Letters: An Experiment in Collective Criticism (Columbia University Press, 2020). 


Danielle Simonsimon

PhD University of California, Berkeley

Dissertation:  "Ecco la radio:  Music, media and Politics in Fascist Italy"

Danielle Simon studies emerging media technologies and musical performance in Italy during and after the fascist period. Her current book project explores how radio generated and mediated political relationships during the first three decades of Italian radio broadcasting. She is planning a second project that responds to recent developments in studies of transnational fascism by examining radio broadcasts transmitted from Italy to the Italian diaspora living in the United States, Latin America, and the African colonies during the 1920s and 1930s. Her research has been previously supported by fellowships from the American Academy in Rome and the Mabelle McLeod Lewis Foundation. Her writing has appeared in Opera Quarterly and Representations and is forthcoming in the Cambridge Companion to Music and Fascism and the edited volume Sonic Circulations, 1900-1950. In 2017, she produced and directed the modern world premiere of Il cuore di Wanda, the first Italian opera composed for radio, in collaboration with artist E.V. Day.  


Natalie TealeTeale

PhD Rutgers University

Dissertation:  "Investigating the relationship between atmospheric moisture transport and precipitation in the eastern United States"

Natalie Teale is a physical geographer with specialization in hydroclimatology and applied climatology. She utilizes methods and concepts from climatology, hydrology, and geography to examine the multidirectional and cyclical interactions between the climate system and the hydrologic cycle. Her scholarship is centered on precipitation patterns, including variability in regional precipitation, impacts of heavy precipitation, and linkages with atmospheric moisture. In her PhD, she used machine learning to identify major pathways of water vapor transport through the eastern United States and investigated how these patterns and their associated precipitation changed through the 20th and early 21st centuries, thereby contextualizing observed variability in regional precipitation within the larger framework of climate change. At Dartmouth, she will use a regional climate modeling approach to understand how variability in magnitude and phase of cold-season precipitation affects local streamflows and flood regimes, with particular focus on the impacts of rain-on-snow events.


Kasia Warburton

warburtonPhD University of Cambridge

Dissertation:  "The Response of Antarctic Ice Streams to Tidal Forcing" 

Kasia Warburton is a fluid dynamicist investigating the mechanisms setting the flow speed of ice sheets and glaciers. She constructs mathematical models to interrogate how limited quantities of data from Antarctica can nevertheless reveal the processes occurring beneath several kilometres of ice. Her focus is on water transport below glaciers, and the deformation of the wet sediments over which the ice slides. By better understanding these mechanisms on these small scales, we can build more reliable estimates for ice sheet evolution at the largest scale, particularly in response to unprecedented climatic change. During her PhD she looked at what the tidal acceleration of the Rutford Ice Stream implies for the transport of ocean water into subglacial sediments, and the resulting impact on sediment strength and rate of ice sliding. At Dartmouth, she plans to extend this work to the sculpting of sediments by ice flow, and connect the morphology of landforms in both formerly and currently glaciated areas to the stability of present day ice sheets.


Yiren Zhengzheng
PhD University of Chicago

Dissertation:  “Sounding Awry: Unusual Voices and the Problem of Speech in Seventeenth-Century Chinese Literature”

Yiren is a scholar of premodern Chinese literature who feels close to sound studies and media studies. She explores unconventional means of communication that involves a human or human-like vocal apparatus but decenters speech and human agency. Her current book project, Voices Going Awry in Premodern China, examines voices that create surprising connections among the human vocal apparatus, the body, and language (including whistling, talking birds, and a type of sonically mimetic storytelling called kouji) as they are portrayed in stories, biographies, poetry, commentary, and records of reportage mainly from the third to the seventeenth centuries. These accounts offer creative responses to questions that still matter to us today: What does it mean to have a human voice? How can a human vocal apparatus enable a meaningful communication when words fall short? She also undertakes a new project that explores how Chinese poets from the eighth to the nineteenth centuries reflected on what we call “the unconscious” in dream-inspired poems and essays. A comparatist at heart, she is invested in uncovering media-theoretical insights latent in premodern Chinese literary texts that can contribute to discussions in current sound, voice, and media studies even though these fields often prioritize media practices within Euro-American contexts. Her scholarship has appeared in positions: asia critique and Parallax.