Three leading academics from the Global South have been appointed as the latest visiting scholars at TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities). The Global South Visiting Professorship and Fellowship scheme is part of a wider aim to diversify the curriculum in Oxford’s humanities departments. The scheme is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and forms part of TORCH’s ‘Humanities and Identities’ series.
Professor Supriya Chaudhuri is Professor Emerita in the Department of English at Jadavpur University, India and specialises in renaissance studies, philosophy and critical theory, Indian cultural history, urban studies, sport, travel, translation and modernism. She has held visiting appointments at the University of Cambridge and the University of Paris-Sorbonne, and lectured at many universities in India and abroad. Professor Chaudhuri’s host in Oxford, Ankhi Mukherjee, Professor of English and World Literatures and Fellow of Wadham College, said, ‘I am delighted that Professor Chaudhuri, pre-eminent Indian scholar of the humanities and an active public intellectual in India will be joining us this term. She will bring issues such as the crisis of the humanities and higher education, gender and women's safety, so urgent in their Indian context, into the scope of discussion in an international frame.’
Associated with the Pitt Rivers Museum and the School of Anthropology will be Professor Jok Madut Jok and Dr Nana Oforiatta-Ayim. Professor Madut Jok is co-founder of the Sudd Institute and professor in the Department of History at Loyola Marymount University in California. He was undersecretary in South Sudan’s Ministry of Culture and Heritage, a J. Randolph Senior Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace and a fellow at the Rift Valley Institute. He has also worked in aid and development, first as a humanitarian aid worker, and has been a consultant for a number of aid agencies. Dr Nana Oforiatta-Ayim is an award-winning writer, filmmaker and art historian. She is director of the ANO Institute of Arts & Knowledge, through which she has created two pioneering projects: a pan-African Cultural Encyclopaedia, reimagining narratives from across and about the continent; and a mobile museums project that travels into communities, collects material culture and exhibits it in those communities, creating a discussion about stories, memory and value. Dr Oforiatta-Ayim has also been elected a Visiting Scholar at the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing at Wolfson College.
Dr Laura Van Broekhoven, Director of the Pitt Rivers Museum and Dr Oforiatta-Ayim’s sponsor, said, ‘Nana will bring a wealth of experience in helping scholars and students at Oxford think through the complex issues now faced by many ethnographic museums worldwide and in particular the Pitt Rivers Museum currently. We intend to start long-awaited against-the-grain readings of the collections, reinterpreting objects and looking for untold, hidden or silenced histories that have long been left unattended.’ Professor Madut Jok’s sponsor, Dr Christopher Morton of the Pitt Rivers, said, ‘we are delighted to welcome Jok, probably the most important South Sudanese social and cultural anthropologist working today, as a TORCH Global South Visiting Professor. He will bring a wealth of experience in helping scholars and students at Oxford think through the complex issues now faced by a new state such as South Sudan.’
Through the Visiting Professor scheme, academics from countries in the Global South (including, but not limited to, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Malaysia, Philippines, Mauritius, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, and across Southern Africa and the Caribbean) are hosted by a University of Oxford academic for one term. The TORCH Global South Visiting Professorships also provide role models and increase awareness around diversity and inclusiveness across the wider University. The scheme builds on and reinforces existing links between Oxford (including TORCH), Mellon and universities in the Global South.