Designated Emphasis Students Paul Martorelli and Milad Odabaei Receive Critical Theory Dissertation Fellowships

The Program in Critical Theory is pleased to announce the selection of UC Berkeley graduate students Paul Martorelli and Milad Odabaei for its 2016-2017 Dissertation Fellowships. The fellowship is awarded to Critical Theory Designated Emphasis (DE) graduate students with a record of achievement and promising dissertation projects. This year’s awardees will receive a semester of support, generously provided by the Magistretti Graduate Fellowship Fund, through the UC Berkeley College of Letters and Sciences, Division of Arts and Humanities.

martorelli_fellowshipPaul Martorelli is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science with a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. His dissertation “Mobilization and Its Discontents: Identity Politics in the Age of Identity Critique” examines how subordinated identity groups can organize for political change on their own behalf while avoiding self-descriptions that exclude or marginalize some of their members. The dissertation describes and critiques the kinds of injurious effects that can result when normative identities are constituted in and through collective political action; drawing on thinkers such as Crenshaw, Habermas, Warner, and Wittgenstein, the dissertation goes on to offer a set of political languages and practices vis-à-vis normativity and identity that could avoid such effects.

CT-CM-Photos-Odebaei-BrighterMilad Odabaei is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology with a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. His dissertation “Giving Words: Translation and History in Modern Iran” examines practices of translation of Western social thought in post-revolutionary Iran. Odabaei considers the conditions and effects of such translations by tracing their genealogy to nineteenth-century Qajar travel accounts of Europe that contributed to the reformulation of Iranian political vocabularies on the one hand, and the twentieth-century revolutionary attempts to promote an authentic yet modern Islamic culture against “Westoxification” on the other. Drawing on two years’ fieldwork (in Tehran and Qom; the Iranian academy; education and research institutions within Shi’i seminaries; and private institutions and translation circles), Odabaei argues that translation is a symptom of an epistemic rupture underlying modern Iran’s turbulent history. The dissertation demonstrates how translation reflects and refracts this rift; and it goes on to elaborate the travails of religious and political subjectivities caught in its midst.

Because of a generous contribution to Critical Theory, the Program was also able to provide summer research grants to two additional applicants, who will each receive a summer grant to support their research projects:

William Callison is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science with a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. His dissertation “Neoliberal Constructions and Weberian Legacies: On Theories of Political Rationality” traces the theoretical and discursive figuration of capitalist “rationality” in currents of twentieth-century social science and political economy. Tracing the contributions of thinkers from Max Weber through various figures of the Frankfurt, Austrian, and Freiburg Schools, and recasting aspects of Foucauldian theory, the project discloses the conceptual constructions and methodological presuppositions that underwrite alternative accounts of the relationship between economy, state and subjectivity.

Abraham Ramírez is a Ph.D. candidate in Ethnic Studies with a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. His dissertation “Thick within the Veil: Double-Consciousness, Ethics of Liberation, and the Method Towards Decoloniality” considers the work of various anti-racist and post-colonial thinkers, while emphasizing the writings of W.E.B. Du Bois, Enrique Dussel, and Paulo Freire.  Ramírez argues that Du Bois’s phenomenology of race and philosophy of self-consciousness, brought together with Dussel’s and Freire’s ethics and pedagogy of liberation, offer grounds from which to project a “decolonial standpoint” that critically grasps not only the histories of racism, but also the histories and present tasks of anti-racist social movements.