The Hanna Holborn Gray Fellowships offer funded independent research in the humanities. We're highlighting the research of this year's fellows in a series of online profiles.
Musckaan Chauhan '20, Political Science
"The Wretched and the Political: On Subjectivity and Revolution"
Abstract: My research argues that reading Frantz Fanon in the double register of his political project and his selfhood allows us to envision new political futures from the perspective of an illiberal subject or—drawing from Fanon’s language—a “wretched subject." Through critical engagements with various aspects of Fanon’s work, ranging from his phenomenological account of his experience in France to his work dealing explicitly with revolution and democracy, my work puts him into conversation with contemporary theorists dealing with “wretchedness”—blackness, indigeneity, precolonial cultures—and political action. By elaborating upon a new reading of wretchedness, this essay attempts to reimagine citizenry, not in its current iterations, but as a revolutionary, non-episodic praxis, the ultimate politicality of being.
Was there anything surprising about the work you did for your project?
I think what continued to surprise me in my project was how certain questions resonate across time. Fanon writing in 1952 about the experience of misrecognition is directly relevant to our present moment and its politics.
What was the highlight of your work?
I had never, before this, focused on the entire canon of a particular thinker's work. Reading Fanon, from his early writings to his later work, and being able to anticipate and trace the maturation and alteration of his ideas was very exciting. There is not only something thrilling about being able to understand a person's thought or political project as a whole at the undergraduate level; it also completely transforms how one puts that person into conversation with other thinkers, not as an isolated point of an idea, but a complete and complex project.
How will you use your research in future studies?
I will be working on a thesis this year that draws its guiding questions from the problems I identified in the work I did over the summer. Further, the experience of doing independent research allowed me to figure out how I work, from the smallest things ("how do I take notes?") to the big questions ("how much should I interact with my advisor?"), things that are essential to do good, meaningful research.
The Hanna Holborn Gray Fellowships offer funded independent research in the humanities. Each summer, Bryn Mawr College awards up to 15 students a summer fellowship of $4,500 to undertake an independent research project in the humanities or humanistic social sciences. The research may either be the beginning of the senior thesis or a project that stands alone, but is relevant to their intellectual interests and must be supported by a faculty advisor.