Columbia University

Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Humanities War and Peace Initiative

War is, and has always been, one of the major factors in shaping the lives and cultures of people around the world, and scholars in the Humanities have studied it from many angles, as a central aspect of our work.  Faculty members are writing and teaching about war in many contexts, including human rights, environmental justice, violence against women, empire, migration, philosophy, religion, literature, and many others. 
At the same time, war itself is rarely the organizing rubric under which we frame our inquiries in the Humanities.  To make war the organizing concept opens up enormous opportunities to address this all-important subject, one that continues to dominate the lives of millions of people around the world today. 
With this in mind, the Division of Humanities is delighted to announce a new 3-year project, the Humanities War and Peace Initiative (HWPI), fostering the study of war and peace from the perspective of scholars in the Humanities, in conversation with colleagues from around Columbia and the world.  Generously supported by President Bollinger, this initiative aims to encourage creative thinking about the critical topic of war, with an ultimate goal of perpetuating a more peaceful world. 
The HWPI will support a broad range of activities, including individual scholarship, new scholarly collaborations, projects and events within existing interdisciplinary and collaborative structures, teaching, community outreach and programming, performance and exhibition, and ongoing dialogue in other forms.  There will be a Core Curriculum dimension, as well as projects that engage our global centers.  Our understanding of war and its meanings aims to be broad, and to account for war’s effects across the full spectrum of human experience.
The HWPI will be run by Sarah Cole as Dean of Humanities and managed by the Director of Decanal Affairs in the Humanities, Jessica Lilien, and will be guided by a steering committee. 
The perspective brought by humanists is critical not only to understanding war as an event that has massively shaped human history, but to intervening in its future. If the damage of wars and conflict is ever to be genuinely alleviated, and if war’s inevitability is ever to be challenged, it will require new imaginative structures and habits, and a deep engagement with culture, language, art, religion, and thought. 

2019 Humanities War & Peace Initiative Grant Winners

Summer 2019

Cultures of War / Cultures of Opposition
Jordan Camp (American Studies, Barnard)
Christina Heatherton (American Studies, Barnard)
Manu Vimalassery (American Studies, Barnard)
After the Arab Spring: Conflict and culture in the Maghreb
Madeleine Dobie (French)
Imaging War, Imagining Peace: Photography, Performance, Witnessing
Marianne Hirsch (English)
War and Peace in the Ancient Classical World:  
Itineraries in Greece, the Northern Aegean and North-Western Turkey
John Ma (Classics)
Year of the Dog
Deborah Paredez (SoA Writing Program, English)

Fall 2019

From the Dirty War to the Clean War (and Back)
Bruno Bosteels (LAIC, ICLS)
The Humanities in the Wake of War?
Technologies of Power, Displaced Histories and Reconstruction
Manan Ahmed (History)
Kaoukab Chebaro (Columbia Libraries)
Marwa Elshakry (History)
Brinkley Messick (Anthropology & MESAAS)
Madiha Tahir (Journalism)
Adrien Zakar (Stanford Humanities Center) 
War and Peace in the Ancient Mediterranean
Marcus Folch (Classics)
Jesse James (Classics)
John Ma (Classics)
Ongoing Battle. Women on the Front Lines in Italian World War II Films
Elizabeth Leake (Italian)
The Spanish Civil War 
The Psychic Life of the Postwar
Camille Robcis (History & French)

2019 Graduate Student Summer Research Funding

Bitter Harvest: Wheat and War in Mussolini's Mediterranean, 1917-1947
Robert Corban (History)
Becoming Natives: Place and the Politics of Presence in Western Sierra Leone
Nile Davies (Anthropology)
Sovereign Fictions: Self-Determination and the Literature of the Nigerian Civil War
Jessica Engebretson (English)
Guns, Boats, and Diplomacy: Late Qing China and the World’s Naval Technology, 1861-1911
Sau-yi Fong (EALAC)
Uncle Sam’s Slaves: Slavery in the United States Regular Army 1797-1865
Yoav Hamdani (History)
Cold War Crossings: Writing Between East and West in Germany and Poland
Xan Holt (German)
A Performance History of Farid
Manpreet Kaur (Religion)
Kingdom of a million bombs: Laos and UXO, 1975-1985
What Are You Afraid Of? Anxiety-production and Fear Politics in Zionist Discourse
Suad Hanine Shatou (MESAAS)
Reconstructing the American Union and Building the Democratic State in the United States and Britain, 1865-1885
Brooks Swett (History)
Documentary Form and the Spanish Civil War
Ameya Tripathi (English)


Call for Proposals

The Division of Humanities in the Arts and Sciences will be accepting further proposals for projects under the Humanities War and Peace Initiative in the coming academic year.  Details and upcoming deadlines will be available here soon.

We invite applications across four primary areas: scholarly collaborations on topics around war and peace, including those that feature work in a global context and involving the Columbia Global Centers; support for scholarship within current structures, where an emphasis on war and peace can transform the nature and outcomes of the work; support for courses that focus on war and peace; support for work beyond academia, involving partnerships with groups or individuals, locally or well beyond; other related projects, as envisioned by applicants.

2018-19 Humanities War & Peace Initiative CFP here.