Two faculty members receive Guggenheim Fellowships

This year, two faculty members at the University of Chicago have received John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowships: Philip V. Bohlman, the Mary Werkman Distinguished Service Professor of Music, the Humanities, and the College, and Jennifer Cole, Professor of Comparative Human Development.

An ethnomusicologist, Bohlman studies a wide range of topics related to music and modernity, with a focus on Jewish music and the politics of religion and race in the music of the Middle East and South Asia.

Bohlman will use his Guggenheim fellowship to continue work on a new book, Music after Nationalism.

“The book itself grows from recent fieldwork, especially in India, and it challenges assumptions about the ways in which concepts and categories of music and musical practice depend on the ideologies and boundaries of the modern nation-state,” Bohlman said.

His other research interests include an ongoing translation of the works of the 18th-century philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder and the Eurovision Song Contest.

Bohlman is the author of Revival and Reconciliation: Sacred Music in the Making of European Modernity (2013), Focus: Music, Nationalism, and the Making of the New Europe (2011), Jewish Music and Modernity (2008), and World Music: A Very Short Introduction (2002). He edited The Cambridge History of World Music (2013).

An active performer as well as a scholar, Bohlman is the artistic director of the New Budapest Orpheum Society. The eight-member Jewish cabaret troupe is the ensemble-in-residence of the Division of the Humanities at the University.

The group’s recent projects include Jewish Noir, which draws on music from Yiddish and German-Jewish films from the 1920s to the post-Holocaust generation of the 1950s. For his work with cabaret during the Holocaust, Bohlman, together with the New Budapest Orpheum Society, were the recipients of the 2011 Noah Greenberg Award for Historical Performance from the American Musicological Society.

He served as the President of the Society for Ethnomusicology from 2005 to 2007, and currently co-edits Acta musicologica, the journal of the International Musicological Society.

Bohlman is a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received the University’s Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching in 1999.

Bohlman received his PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

A cultural anthropologist, Cole studies the interplay between historical change and individual experience. She has long worked in Madagascar, a former French colony, and more recently in France, focusing on how the historical legacies of the colonial encounter are worked out in everyday life. Intimate relations will be the focus of her work during her Guggenheim Fellowship.

Cole’s first book, Forget Colonialism? Sacrifice and the Art of Memory in Madagascar (2001), examined the ritual practices through which peasants in east Madagascar recollected some aspects of the colonial past while erasing others. The book offered a depiction of how one community dealt with a divisive past and a theory of social and cultural memory.

Her second book, Sex and Salvation: Imagining the Future in Madagascar (2010), examined the relationship between youth and social change in urban Madagascar. She traced two competing paths that have become the hallmark of contemporary Madagascar as much of Africa: women’s entry into the sexual economy and their search for European husbands on the one hand, and their conversion to Pentecostal Christianity on the other.

Her new book, based on work supported by the Guggenheim fellowship, will be No Longer the Bachelor’s Ball:  Malagasy Marriage Migrants and the Making of a Hybrid Transnational Culture.

She will write about an unusual migration stream: women from Madagascar, a former French colony, who marry men in rural and semi-rural areas of France.  These French men seek Malagasy brides because their social and economic position in France hinders their ability to meet and marry French women. Malagasy women turn to such marriages to solve the problems posed by increasing economic hardship and deteriorating gender relations. 

In the context of rising xenophobia and the French government’s efforts to regulate immigration, these bi-national, bi-cultural couples marry and have children, adopt children from Madagascar, return to Madagascar to build homes, engage in ancestral ceremonies, and support family members back home, Cole notes.

They also work on French farms, revive depopulated French villages, make regular pilgrimages to Lourdes and help fill the emptying parishes of the French Catholic church. They create a hybrid culture, says Cole, which reaches from rural Madagascar to the small towns and villages of southwest France and back to Madagascar. Cole will examine the emergence of this new, transnational social formation, how it works, and its consequences for notions of family and national belonging in the contemporary world.

Cole also has coedited a number of volumes, including Generations and Globalization; Youth, Age, and Family in the New World Economy (2007), Figuring the Future: Globalization and the Temporalities of Children and Youth (2008) and Love in Africa (2009).

A member of the UChicago faculty since 2001, Cole is chair of the Committee on African Studies and in 2009 won the University's Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching. She was previously on the faculties of Harvard and Williams College. She received her AB in 1988 from the University of California, Berkeley, an MPhil from Cambridge in 1989, and a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 1996.

In its 89th annual competition for the United States and Canada, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has awarded fellowships to a diverse group of 175 scholars, artists and scientists. Appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise, the successful candidates were chosen from a group of almost 3,000 applicants.

The great variety of backgrounds, fields of study, and accomplishments of Guggenheim Fellows is one of the most unique characteristics of the program. In all, this year’s Fellows, who range in age from 30 to 76, represent 56 disciplines, 85 different academic institutions, 30 states, and three Canadian provinces.

Edward Hirsch, president of the Foundation, is enthusiastic about the Fellows in the class of 2013: “It’s exciting to name 175 new Guggenheim Fellows. These artists and writers, scholars and scientists, represent the best of the best. Since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has always bet everything on the individual, and we’re thrilled to continue the tradition with this wonderfully talented and diverse group. It’s an honor to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do.”

Since its establishment in 1925, the foundation has granted more than $306 million in fellowships to more than 17,500 individuals, including many Nobel laureates, poet laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, Fields Medalists, and recipients of other important, internationally recognized honors.