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SGS Welcomes Four New Faculty Directors

Aug 14 2017

Posted In:

Announcements, Faculty

Several Stanford Global Studies centers and programs are welcoming new faculty directors, beginning in the 2017-18 academic year. Read about the new directors below, and please join us in welcoming them to the SGS community!


The Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies and the Mediterranean Studies Forum welcomes new faculty director Lisa Blaydes, Associate Professor of Political Science at Stanford University and a Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. She is the author of Elections and Distributive Politics in Mubarak’s Egypt (Cambridge University Press, 2011). Her articles have appeared in the American Political Science ReviewInternational Studies QuarterlyInternational OrganizationJournal of Theoretical PoliticsMiddle East Journal, and World Politics. She holds degrees in Political Science (PhD) from the University of California, Los Angeles and International Relations (BA, MA) from Johns Hopkins University.


James Ferguson, the Susan S. and William H. Hindle Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences and Professor in the Department of Anthropology, joins the Center for African Studies as faculty director. His research has focused on southern Africa (especially Lesotho, Zambia, South Africa, and Namibia), and has engaged a broad range of theoretical and ethnographic issues. These include the politics of “development”, rural-urban migration, changing topgraphies of property and wealth, constructions of space and place, urban culture in mining towns, experiences of modernity, the spatialization of states, the place of “Africa” in a real and imagined world, and the theory and politics of ethnography. Running through much of this work is a concern with how discourses organized around concepts such as “development” and “modernity” intersect the lives of ordinary people.

Professor Ferguson's more recent work has explored the surprising creation and/or expansion (both in southern Africa and across the global South) of social welfare programs targeting the poor, anchored in schemes that directly transfer small amounts of cash to large numbers of low-income people. His work aims to situate these programs within a larger “politics of distribution,” and to show how they are linked to emergent forms of distributive politics in contexts where new masses of “working age” people are supported by means other than wage labor. In this context, new political possibilities and dangers are emerging, even as new analytical and critical strategies are required. His book on this topic (Give a Man a Fish: Reflections on the New Politics of Distribution) was published in 2015.  More recently, he has been working on two new projects: first, a programmatic paper (co-authored with Tania Li) outlining an alternative approach to global political-economic inquiry in the wake of the failure of long-established transition narratives; and second, a theoretical essay exploring the ways that “presence” (rather than membership) can serve as a basis of social obligation (including the obligation to share). 


Ari Y Kelman is the inaugural Jim Joseph Professor of Education and Jewish Studies in the Graduate School of Education, where he directs the Concentration in Education and Jewish Studies. Professor Kelman will be the interim faculty director of the Taube Center for Jewish Studies for the 2017-18 academic year. He is also an affiliate of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, a member of the American Studies Committee-in-Charge, and, by courtesy, a professor of Religious Studies. He is the author of Station Identification: A Cultural History of Yiddish Radio, the editor of Is Diss a System: a Milt Gross Comic Reader, and the co-author of Sacred Strategies: Transforming Congregations from Functional to Visionary, which won a National Jewish Book Award. He is the co-author of a number of influential studies of contemporary Jewish identity and culture covering topics from Israel to the internet.  He is continuing his scholarship at the intersection between religion and education primarily in non-scholastic settings. At Stanford, he and his wife (and children) serve as the Resident Fellows for Junipero House, an all-frosh dormitory.


Jisha Menon is an Associate Professor of Theater and Performing Studies, and the new faculty director of the Center for South Asia. She teaches courses at the intersection of postcolonial theory and performance studies. Professor Menon received her M.A. in English Literature from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and her Ph.D in Drama from Stanford University. Her research interests lie at the intersection of religion and secularity, gender and nationalism, cosmopolitanism and globalization. She has published essays on the Indian partition, diasporic feminist theatre, political violence in South Asia, transnational queer theory, and neoliberal urbanism. Her book, Performance of Nationalism: India, Pakistan and the Memory of Partition (Cambridge UP, 2013), considers the affective and performative dimensions of nation-making. The book recuperates the idea of "mimesis" to think about political history and the crisis of its aesthetic representation, while also paying attention to the mimetic relationality that undergirds the encounter between India and Pakistan. She is also at work on a second project, Pedestrian Acts: Performing the City in Neoliberal India, which considers new narrations of selfhood that are produced at the intersection of neoliberal state, global market and consumer fantasy. She is co-editor, with Patrick Anderson, of a volume of essays, Violence Performed: Local Roots and Global Routes of Conflict (Palgrave-Macmillan Press, 2009) that explores the coimbrication of violence, performance, and modernity in a variety of geopolitical spaces.