Two Professors and One Alum Awarded Guggenheim Fellowships

April 25, 2018

Professor Esther Allen, Professor Alison Griffiths, and Nandini Sikand Ph.D. '10, Anthropology) were awarded 2018 Guggenheim Fellowships, one of the most prestigious prizes in the arts and humanities.

Professor Esther Allen (GC/Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Cultures; Sociology/Modern Languages), Professor Alison Griffiths (GC/Baruch, Theatre/Communication Studies), and Nandini Sikand (Ph.D., ’10, Anthropology) were awarded 2018 Guggenheim Fellowships, one of the most prestigious prizes in the arts and humanities.
The winners were among 173 scholars and artists who were chosen from close to 3,000 applicants based on their achievement and promise. Allen and Griffiths were the only recipients in their respective fellowship categories.

Esther-Allen headshot

Allen is the author or co-editor of many works, including The Man Between: Michael Henry Heim and a Life in TranslationIn Translation: Translators on their Work and What It MeansTo Be Translated or Not To Be, and José Marti: Selected Writings (Penguin Classics, 2002). She is also a co-founder of the PEN World Voices Festival in 2005 and was named a Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres by the French government.
“This recognition is a singular honor because so many former Guggenheim Fellows have made such distinguished contributions,” Allen told the CUNY news service, which reported on the awards.
During her fellowship, Allen will complete the translation of The Silentiary (first published in 1964) and The Suicides (1968), two novels by the Argentine writer Antonio Di Benedetto (1922–1986). In 2016, Allen translated Di Benedetto’s 1956 novel, Zama, which was named by Publishers Weekly as one of the year’s 20 best works of fiction.
“These are three very different novels, with very different relationships to time, and each translation presents its own set of challenges,” Allen told the GC. She says she came late to Di Benedetto, who is considered one of the greatest 20th-century writers within Argentine literary circles. “Once I began reading his work and felt its quietly devastating power, I could understand what a lot of the writing that came after him was responding to and developing.”

Allison-Grffiths headshot

Griffiths is the author of three books and more than 35 journal articles and book chapters. Her first book, Wondrous Difference: Cinema, Anthropology, and Turn-of-the-Century Visual Culture, won the Katherine Kovacs Award for Best Book in Film and Media. Her “research has brought the fields of early cinema, museum studies, visual anthropology, and medieval visual culture into productive dialogue,” the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation said in its announcements about this year’s awards.
“I’m over the moon about it and deeply humbled to be in the company of such notable former and current winners,” Griffiths said.
The fellowship will support Griffiths’ work completing Nomadic Cinema: A Cultural Geography of the Expedition Film, a book that explores the genre during the interwar period, along with its intellectual roots. “The book also constructs a longer intellectual history of images of exploration dating back to the Middle Ages as well as ending with a brief analysis of the role of digital technologies in documenting contemporary expeditionary travel,” she told CUNY.


   photo by John Arrington

Sikand, an associate professor at Lafayette College, is a filmmaker, dancer-choreographer, and cultural anthropologist. She is using her fellowship to help finish her film on women and mass incarceration in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.
“This news was exciting and humbling,” she said. “I am especially thrilled that the issue is deemed important and worthy of further inquiry and because I don't have to finance post-production with a credit card.”
Sikand credits her time in the GC’s Anthropology Department with making her a “more thoughtful and more ethical filmmaker.” “Participant observation and fieldwork — critical methodological research tools for anthropologists — has guided the production of this film which has taken five years, as I continue to volunteer at a local jail. I will continue to be involved with the incarcerated and reentering community in Easton, Pennsylvania, long after the film is completed,” she said.
This is the fourth consecutive year that The Graduate Center has seen Guggenheim recipients among its ranks. Last year, Distinguished Professor Nancy Foner (GC/Hunter, Sociology) was named a Fellow in the field of sociology. Distinguished and Presidential Professor Robert Reid-Pharr (English) was named a 2016 Fellow in the field of literary criticism, and Ph.D. student Joshua Mehigan was named a 2015 Fellow in poetry.