The CDTS congratulates Professor Kamari Clarke on being awarded a 12-month Jackman Humanities Institute Faculty Fellowship for 2023-2024 for her project entitled The Elusive Work of Visibility: Toward a Theory of Absence
Kamari Maxine Clarke (Ph.D. Anthropology, University of California Santa Cruz, 1997) is Distinguished Professor of Transnational Justice and Sociolegal Studies at the University of Toronto. She has spent her career exploring theoretical questions concerning culture and power and in the field of law and anthropology, detailing the relationship between new social formations and contemporary problems. One of her key academic contributions has been to demonstrate ethnographically the ways that religious and legal knowledge regimes produce practices that travel globally. Clarke has published over 60 peer-refereed journal articles, book chapters, three single-authored books and six co-edited books. She is the author of Fictions of Justice (Cambridge, 2010), and Mapping Yorùbá Networks (Duke, 2004). She is also the recipient of the 2019 Royal Anthropological Institute’s Amaury Talbot Book Prize, as well as the 2019 finalist for the Elliot Skinner book award for her latest book, Affective Justice (Duke, 2019). She is a recent recipient of a 2021Guggenheim prize for career excellence in Anthropology.
Fellowship Research Project—The Elusive Work of Visibility: Toward a Theory of Absence
The Elusive Work of Visibility, a book project grounded in several years of ethnographic research in northern Nigeria, Mexico, The Netherlands, and the United States, develops a new theory of the “presence of absence” through the interpretation of data about how new geospatial technologies are being used to locate human remains. Drawing on dozens of interviews and years of ethnographic fieldwork in sites of extreme ethnic, religious, and political violence, this project delves into the contestations around meaning, visibility, and power related to the process of gathering, interpreting, and leveraging data about human remains. The book contends that, even with 21st-century technologies and sophisticated human rights alliances that link “grassroots” and “international” networks, the processes of rendering visible that which has been disappeared continue to keep as absent certain lived experiences and structural forces. The result may be an (unintended) recapitulation of the very colonialist and capitalist patterns that give rise to new manifestations of violence. A powerfully interdisciplinary project that combines ethnography, social theory, and considerations of pragmatic implications, this book will be of interest to academic audiences across several disciplines as well as to “international publics”—civil society organizations, governments, and citizens with a stake in understanding, addressing, and mitigating disappearances and violence.