© photo by Jeff Day

Bennett-Polonsky Humanities Labs

Asylum H-Lab (2020-21)

The Asylum H-Lab focuses on information/evidence/data regarding asylum seekers and the asylum process in the United States. The Lab investigates which organizations and government entities have information/evidence/data on asylum seekers, and (how) are they keeping it. The Lab is also exploring how such data can be ethically and legally archived and shared in ways that (a) meet the needs of asylum seekers and the organizations that support them, (b) generate awareness about the asylum crisis, and (c) will also be useful for current and future researchers.

Cross/Currents H-Lab (2021-22)

The Cross/Currents H-Lab takes the word currents as its inspiration, as both a metaphor and a tool, enveloping not only its main definition in relation to water or its movement, but also its broader reverberations. By connecting the words cross and currents, our main goal is to bring into dialogue environmental humanities and migration studies (with an emphasis on race, diaspora, and indigeneity). In our work together we hope to rehearse ways of bringing literary and artistic analysis to bear on issues of the environment and migration, and vice-versa.

Digital Theory H-Lab (2018-19)

Digital technologies permeate our culture today, leaving virtually no area of meaning-making untouched. Vast social media platforms struggle to cope with the political consequences of their own scale, economics increasingly acknowledges a new type of capital in digital data, and artificial intelligence has gained an incipient infrastructural role in our societies through the help of planetary-scale computing.

Knowledge Alphabets H-Lab (2021)

The Knowledge Alphabets H-Lab is examining the problem of translation in natural and digital languages. We aim to redefine translation theory today in the light of new developments in artificial intelligence (AI), machine translation, biotranslation, aesthetic practices and forms of knowledge production that are translation-based, or that define translation in a particular way as epistemology, transference, methodology, and mode of interpretive cognition.

Multi-Species H-Lab (2019-20)

The unfolding climate crisis poses a fundamental challenge to the humanities because of the questions it raises about human agency, power, and the relationship of humans to—and in—the world we inhabit. We are confronted by the paradox that while human activities have physical world-altering effects, the scale of these effects puts them beyond human control: although we ourselves have changed the planet in frightening ways, we find ourselves increasingly helpless in the face of those changes.

Radical Ecologies H-Lab (2020)

Increasingly, our relationships with “natural” phenomena are being mediated by algorithms, screens, and machines: consider, for example, remote sensing of geological activity, or modeling of atmospheric climate change. As new computational methods (e.g., machine learning and artificial intelligence) promise to further improve the fidelity of systems sciences, which assume that more data equals better knowledge, we contend that these methods simultaneously reproduce colonial systems of dispossession and extermination, as well as structure significant blind-spots rendering invisible the radical ecologies surrounding us today.

War H-Lab (2019-20)

The War H-Lab explores the ways in which major human sciences—psychology, psychoanalysis, cybernetics, anthropology, etc.—were crucially transformed by the shifting conceptions and practices of warfare between 1910-1955. It will focus on WWI, interwar France, Germany and Britain, WWII, anti-colonial revolutions taking place during this period, and the beginning of the Cold War. The lab will engage recent historiographical and methodological innovations (the advent of a new international history, indigenous studies and Native American history, intellectual, legal and economic history), and disciplines that have been largely absent from historiographical or social-science-oriented approaches to war—including literature and aesthetics—and their attention to representation, memory, and trauma.