Research Assistants

Call for Applications

The Stanford Humanities Center offers research opportunities for Stanford undergraduates throughout the year. Research Assistants (RA's) work directly with Humanities Center fellows on faculty-led projects and build up skills to conduct humanities research. We invite students to apply for RA positions and look forward to the diverse backgrounds and perspectives that each student brings to the program.

If you are interested in becoming an undergraduate research assistant, please email Svetlana Turetskaya, International and Academic Programs Manager.


List of Faculty Mentors

Monique Allewaert, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Elaine Fisher, Stanford University
Susan Stryker, University of Arizona
Heather Vrana, University of Florida

Research Projects

(1) Project Title: Luminescence: Insect Knowledges and Power in the West Indies
Faculty Leader: M. Allewaert, UW-Madison/Stanford Humanities Center External Faculty Fellow,
Project Description: This project explores black Jamaican cultural forms to excavate how eighteenth and nineteenth-century black Jamaicans understood their relation to the natural world. As a mode of knowledge, luminescence demands that humans attend to the interpretations of a range of animals and plants, it requires special attention to tensions within any milieu, and its soft glow has darkness as its generative condition. Via a cross-sectional study of folktales collected between 1790-1907, the project delineates the key aesthetic elements of Jamaican Anansi tales and explain how they partake in animist multinaturalism.
URA Responsibilities and Outcomes: The RA will work with the faculty member and Green Library Racial Justice Librarian Felicia Smith to track down references to Anansi stories and other black cultural forms (proverbs, puns, songs) in nineteenth-century Kingston Daily Gleaner digital archives readily available via the Stanford Library portal. The RA will review Daily Gleaner issues between 1878-1890 for mention of black story and song in issues published in this period when white collectors and black intellectuals alike began to argue for the centrality of black folk traditions. The RA will meet weekly with the faculty mentor to share findings, discuss new additions to the shared archive, and review relevant articles together, allowing the RA first hand understanding of how archival material is reviewed, classified, and organized. The RA will gain experience learning how to interpret black cultural forms that were curated by colonial cultural institutions like the Gleaner. Familiarity or interest with Jamaica, the West Indies, or black cultural history are a plus.


(2) Project Title: The Meeting of Rivers: Translating Devotion in Early Modern India 
Faculty Leader: Elaine Fisher, Stanford University,

Project Description: In March of 2018, a new religion was born in India. Its story, however, has yet to be told. This book project, The Meeting of Rivers: Translating Devotion in Early Modern India, reconstructs the prehistory of India’s newest religion, known as Vīraśaivism or Liṅgāyatism, from its own voices, drawing on a novel corpus of unstudied and unpublished archival sources in a plurality of languages. In the process, the project brings religious studies and translation studies into dialogue, developing a new conceptual vocabulary for speaking about multilingualism across regions and humanistic disciplines.

URA Responsibilities and Learning Outcomes: The RA will gain an in depth introduction to historical research and analysis through their efforts investigating the religious debate and translation across the subcontinent. They will acquire and refine skills such as secondary and primary research (i.e. a literature review of scholarship from multiple source, and identification of relevant religious materials through research in databases and printed compendia), and different kinds of literary, cultural, and historical analysis (i.e. the creation of a database cataloging relevant translational debates according to criteria the faculty mentor and RA will develop together). Lastly, the RA will gain experience in analyzing comparative findings across textual sources over time. No language skills required, but knowledge of South Asian languages could be helpful. 


(3) Project Title: Changing Gender: Memory, History, Manifesto 
Faculty Leader:  Susan Stryker, Stanford Humanities Center External Faculty Fellow,

 Project Description: Changing Gender investigates how practices of gendering have changed over time in the parts of North America that became the United States, from colonization through the present, by exploring the history of individuals who have changed gender; it builds an argument for why—and how—gender needs to continue changing as part of a broader set of social transformation practices oriented, here in the late Anthropocene, toward a livable future. Research will contribute to the completion of a creative non-fiction manuscript that weaves together historical scholarship, personal and public memory, socio-cultural analysis, and unabashed advocacy.
 URA Responsibilities and Learning Outcomes: The RA will gain an in-depth introduction to interdisciplinary cultural studies scholarship pertaining to gender. They will acquire and refine skills in doing database searches; amassing bibliographies; reading, taking notes, and summarizing works of secondary literature; locating and working with primary source documents in both online and physical archival repositories; exploring and interpreting literary and artistic works; and organizing paper-based and digitized research materials in an easily accessible manner. Ideally, the project will also involve working with human-centered AI and other digital humanities tools to enhance traditional forms of research. The RA will also learn, through regular consultation with the faculty leader, how better to formulate specific research queries, how best to pursue answers to them, and how to follow research findings toward the next set of questions. They can expect to gain knowledge of human diversity as it pertains not only to gender and sexuality, but to race and ability, and to develop a more sophisticated understanding of the interplay between the micro-scale of individual identities and such macro-scale historical processes. Facility with languages other than English desired but not required.


(4) Project Title: Guerilla Medicine and Disability in Cold War Central America
Faculty Leader:  Heather Vrana, University of Florida/Stanford Humanities Center External Faculty Fellow,

Project Description: Guerrilla Medicine and Disability in Cold War Central America reexamines the Cold War by centering disability in the civil wars of Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. The project focuses on the lived experiences of disabled Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and Nicaraguans before, during, and after the wars to understand the social conditions that created and defined particular attributes as disabilities. Using an archive of medic field journals, guerrilla film and radio broadcasts, government reports, case notes, public health publications, interviews, and ephemera, Guerrilla Medicine and Disability expands our understanding of disability as a cause of war, challenges the measures of loss that dominate truth and reconciliation scholarship, demonstrates how all sides of the global conflagration of the Cold War wielded health practices and discourses to achieve their geopolitical objectives, and shows how guerrilla medicine approached disability through interdependence and solidarity and challenged the biopolitics of human rights.

URA Responsibilities and Learning Outcomes: The RA will gain an in-depth introduction to the dynamics that characterized the complex social conditions of Cold War and post-Cold War Central America. ​​The RA will be introduced to an interdisciplinary array of historical methodologies surrounding the cultural, intellectual and social history of Latin America in the twentieth century. The student will gain valuable experience in collecting and managing primary research from archival papers, newspapers, government reports, and much more. Lastly, the RA will learn how to synthesize these materials into a historical narrative arc which tracks change over time. Regular meetings will be scheduled with the faculty mentor to discuss progress and to gain input on the methods, research design, and findings. Responsibilities include: researching and implementing management systems for research photographs; collaborating with faculty members on a list of keywords/tags; tagging research images in data management applications. Learning outcomes include: competency in archival and oral history methodology and process, digital history and data management experience (Tropy and Zotero), and mentorship in writing. Required competencies: Spanish-language fluency; preferred competencies: experience with Tropy and/or Zotero.