Joanna Dyl

Joanna Dyl, assistant professor of history at the University of South Florida,  studies the environmental history of the modern United States. She is particularly interested in urban environments and other places where conventional categories of nature and culture blur. Her current work on catastrophe uses the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire to explore how the physical or material effects of a natural disaster intersected with its cultural impacts and interpretations in an urban setting. In her research, Professor Dyl also seeks to incorporate insights from social history to understand how diverse groups of people have encountered and experienced nature in different ways—how have differences of race, class, and gender  affected environmental history? Professor Dyl is completing a book manuscript, “Seismic City: An Environmental History of San Francisco’s 1906 Earthquake,” and an article on itinerant laborers and nature in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American West.  Professor Dyl earned degrees in history from Stanford University (B.A.) and Princeton University (M.A. and Ph.D.).

 Amherst Sponsor: Professor Jill Miller, Department of Biology


  Kimberly Lowe

Kimberly Lowe comes to Amherst College from the history department at Yale University, where she specialized in modern European history.  During the course of her doctoral studies, she has been a visiting scholar at the Albert- Ludwigs Universität in Freiburg, Germany and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. Her research interests include the history of humanitarianism, human rights, and international organizations, as well as the twentieth-century history of societies at war. In addition to her scholarly research, she maintains an active interest in connecting academic research with contemporary humanitarian practice through the Humanitarian Practice Network.  Ms. Lowe is the author of “Humanitarianism and National Sovereignty: Red Cross intervention on behalf of Political Prisoners in Soviet Russia, 1921-23,” Journal of Contemporary History; and “Navigating the Profits and Pitfalls of Governmental Partnerships: the ICRC and intergovernmental relief, 1919-1939,” Disasters (Aid in the Archives: Academic Histories for a Practitioner Audience), both forthcoming in 2014. Her dissertation, titled “The Red Cross and the New World Order, 1918-1925,” analyzes the international Red Cross movement’s attempt to recover the ravaged moral foundations of “universal humanitarian” action after World War I. Using a series of case studies of international Red Cross relief efforts, it addresses scholarship in both the humanities and social sciences concerned with the war’s effect on the social and cultural development of the twentieth century, the politicization of humanitarian aid, and the relationship between human rights and national sovereignty. She is currently working on a book manuscript based on her dissertation.

Amherst Sponsor: Boris Wolfson, Department of Russian


Pooja Rangan

 In her research and teaching, Pooja Rangan, Assistant Professor of Culture and Media in Eugene Lang College at The New School, combines an interdisciplinary analysis of the visual culture of global humanitarian media with an interest in the discursive encounters staged in such media interventions between childhood, animality, disability, technicity, and temporality.  During her time at Amherst, she will be completing a book manuscript titled “Immediations,” in which she examines the predatory logics of immediacy and reflexivity propelling contemporary humanitarian media interventions in the context of catastrophe. In this work, Professor Rangan theorizes and historicizes the medial  frames and cultural repercussions of humanitarian projects in which visual media are provided as a prosthetic means of political visibility to endangered constituencies ranging from children to animals and autistics.  Professor Rangan is involved in two East Coast-based research groups devoted to the speculative study of visual culture and alterity: The Visual Culture Lab at The New School and The Dark Room at Northeastern University.  Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Camera Obscura, South Asian Popular Culture, Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, Parallax, Oxford Handbook of Postcolonial Studies, and The Sarai Reader. She earned a Ph.D. in Modern Culture and Media from Brown University, where her dissertation, titled “Automatic Ethnography: Otherness, Indexicality, and Humanitarian Visual Media,” was awarded the Pembroke Center’s Marie J. Langlois Outstanding Dissertation award in 2012.

 Amherst Sponsor: Professor Chris Dole, Department of Anthropology and Sociology  


Simon Stow

An associate professor in the Department of Government at The College of William and Mary, Simon Stow is the author of Republic of Readers? The Literary Turn in Political Thought and Analysis (SUNY Press, 2007) and is co-editor, with Cyrus Ernesto Zirakzadeh, of The Political Companion to John Steinbeck (The University Press of Kentucky, 2013). His work has appeared in the American Political Science Review, Perspectives on Politics, Theory & Event, The Journal of Moral Philosophy, Philosophy and Literature, and several edited volumes.  Professor Stow is currently working on a book about the politics of American public mourning.  Drawing on the ancient Greeks for his analytical framework, he is interested in the ways in which particular approaches to public loss help to shape democratic politics.  He argues for a distinction between tragic and romantic approaches to public mourning, suggesting that, while the latter tends to perpetuate and prolong public grief in ways that are damaging to the democratic polity, the former offers a productive approach to loss that helps the polity respond to catastrophic events in ways that promote democratic values. Drawing on resources within the contemporary polity, he seeks to identify and articulate what a tragic approach to loss might look like in a democratic America.  Professor Stow earned a B.A. in politics, philosophy and economics from Oxford University; an M.A. in political science from McGill University; and a Ph.D., also in political science, from the University of California, Berkeley.Amherst Sponsor:  Professor Andrew Poe, Department of Political Science