SIFK Graduate Fellow 2017-18 and Ph.D. Candidate in History
Zachary Barr is a seventh-year graduate student in the History Department studying the history of science. His dissertation argues that popularization and popular science, broadly construed as modes of interaction between credentialed experts and non-experts, were productive of knowledge in Austrian natural science from 1860 to 1934, serving as distinct forms of scientific practice with distinct epistemic aims. That is, his dissertation argues that the difference between model scientific practices like experimentation and observation, on the one hand, and writing texts for non-experts and engaging with practitioners of “folk science,” on the other, at least in turn-of-the-century and interwar Austria, was one of scope and purpose, not of kind.
During his time as a 2017-2018 SIFK Dissertation Research Fellow, he will concentrate on two aspects of his dissertation. First, he will examine popularization efforts at two biological research stations, the Vienna-based Biologisches Versuchsanstalt and the Trieste-based K.K. Zoologischen Station, looking at the ways in which scientists’ attempts to engage with non-expert publics influenced their research. Second, he will study science popularization and popular science in more marginal venues, specifically the Social Democratic voluntary organization Die Naturfreunde and the for-profit Urania, focusing on the ways in which these organizations played a role in defining—if only negatively—the limits of engagement with non-experts as a form of scientific practice.
SIFK Graduate Fellow 2017-18 and Ph.D. Candidate in Art History
Meekyung MacMurdie is the recipient of the SIFK Dissertation Research Fellowship for 2017-18. Her dissertation, entitled "Geometric Medicine: aniconism and medieval Arab painting," interrogates the role of tables, diagrams, and other schemata in manuscript culture. The research tackles the stakes of pre-modern databases, such as tabulated medical synopses, which were considered revolutionary in the 11th century, and its invention challenged established knowledge systems, causing robust debate. Working across disciplines, MacMurdie argues that medieval tables, circular diagrams, squares of opposition, and arboreal charts transgressed knowledge frameworks.
SIFK Graduate Fellow 2016-17 and Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science
Bogdan Popescu is a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate, studying comparative politics, historical political economy, and geo-statistical methods in the Department of Political Science. His research revolves around imperial legacies, corruption, and perceptions about corruption and public opinion.
As a SIFK Dissertation Research Fellow for the 2016-17 academic year, Bogdan investigates the Ottoman legacy on popular trust and perceptions about the incidence of corruption in Central and Eastern Europe. Drawing on extensive archival work at the Ottoman Archives in Istanbul, Turkey (Başbakanlık Devlet Arşivleri Genel Müdürlüğü) he will examine the forms of knowledge that the Ottoman Empire needed to assume in order to function and argue that the Ottoman center interpreted religion to make strategic choices whereby new articulations of law, state and society were constructed to define an Ottoman project of power.
Eun Young Hwang
SIFK Graduate Fellow 2016-17 and Ph.D. Candidate in Divinity
Eun Young Hwang is a sixth-year Ph.D candidate in the field of religious ethics at the Divinity School, working on questions about religious vision, therapeutics, evaluative practice and virtue in ordinary life as well as the methodological question of cross-cultural comparison. Relating with diverse theoretical reflections on human agency in an interdisciplinary way, his aim is to develop a method of reconstructing ancient ways of knowing, practice, and self-cultivation that can address historical understanding of ancient religious-ethical thoughts as well as our contemporary constructive interpretation.
During 2016-17 academic year as a SIFK Dissertation Researh Fellow, his research examines how two thinkers in historically unrelated religious-cultural traditions, Augustine, a Catholic Christian thinker in the 5th century Roman Empire and Zhi Yi, a Tiantai Buddhist thinker in the 6th century Sui China, can be set in comparison in terms of ordinary virtue. His work will address how Augustine and Zhi Yi reveal similarities and differences in envisioning ordinary virtue as a person’s effective power of constructing a holistic horizon of ordinary world-experiences, motivations and practices in and through various structuring forces such as a distinct community of tradition and systems of ritual and penitence.