- Latin America and Caribbean
- North America
- United States
Dr. Nihad M. Farooq is Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication. She investigates the transformative power of encounter between scientists and indigenous and diasporic populations in the Americas in the long nineteenth century. Her research moves between literary studies, American and Atlantic Studies, critical race theory, and cultural studies of science and ethnography. Her first book, Undisciplined: Transatlantic Personhood and the Science of Diaspora, 1830-1940 is forthcoming from New York University Press. A second book, Slavery and Social Networks in the New World, is in progress.
Book – 2016
In the 19th century, personhood was a term of regulation and discipline through which slaves, criminals, and others, could be “made and unmade,” as scholars like Colin Dayan and others have argued. Yet it was precisely the fraught, uncontainable nature of personhood that necessitated its constant legislation, wherein its meaning could be both contested and controlled.
Examining scientific and literary narratives, Farooq’s Undisciplined encourages an alternative consideration of personhood, one that emerges from evolutionary and ethnographic discourse. Moving chronologically from 1830 to 1940, Farooq explores the scientific and cultural entanglements of Atlantic travelers in and beyond the Darwin era, and invites us to attend more closely to the consequences of mobility and contact on disciplines and persons. Bringing together an innovative group of readings—from field journals, diaries, letters, and testimonies to novels, stage plays, and audio recordings—Farooq advocates for a reconsideration of science, personhood, and the priority of race for the field of American studies. Whether expressed as narratives of acculturation, or as acts of resistance against the camera, the pen, or the shackle, these stories of the studied subjects of the Atlantic world add a new chapter to debates about personhood and disciplinarity in this era that actively challenged legal, social, and scientific categorizations.