Institute Co-Directors


Cameron Blevins is Assistant Professor of History and a core faculty member in the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks at Northeastern University. His work has pioneered digital and spatial methods to study the history of the nineteenth-century United States. Blevins authored the first digital history research article published by the flagship Journal of American History. As a leading digital historian, he has also published articles in Digital Humanities Quarterly and Debates in Digital Humanities 2016. He is the recipient of multiple teaching awards and has taught a variety of digital humanities courses relevant to the topic of the Institute, including Digital Space and Place, Introduction to Digital History, and Mapping the Past.


Serena Parekh is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Northeastern University. In 2014-2015, Professor Parekh participated in a Residential Fellowship Program at the Humanities Institute at Northeastern on the topic of “Space and Place,” led by Tim Cresswell which trained her to use the concepts of space and place in her research. Professor Parekh writes about the ethics of the way space is used in places such as refugee camps. She is the author of two book, Hannah Arendt and the Phenomenology of Human Rights (Routledge 2008) and Refugees and the Ethics of Forced Displacement (Routledge 2017) as well as numerous articles in philosophy. She has a wealth of administrative experience and experience organizing conferences. She is the co-recipient of a large grant from the Norwegian Research Council to look at global minorities, such as refugees and indigenous peoples, and is currently organizing an international conference on this topic in Boston in March 2020. As Director of the Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) program, Professor Parekh oversees a new and growing major in the university and serves as the undergraduate advisor for the program.


Liza Weinstein is Associate Professor and Chair of Northeastern’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Her research focuses on urban politics and city building, social movements, economic and cultural globalization, and the politics of housing and home. Her first book, The Durable Slum, is an historical and ethnographic analysis of “slum” formation and transformation in Mumbai. She is currently completing a second book, India’s World Class City Evictions: The Local Politics of Global Displacement, which takes an historical comparative perspective on residential evictions and anti-eviction activism in across urban India. She teaches courses in urban studies and globalization, and leads students on an annual summer program in the cities of Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban to examine the social and spatial transformations of urban space in post-Apartheid South Africa. 


Visiting Scholars 


Tim Cresswell is Ogilvie Chair of Geography at University of Edinburgh. He is a cultural geographer and author of five books on themes of place, space and mobility, including On the Move: Mobility in the Modern Western World (2006) and the widely used texts Place: An Introduction (2014), and Geographic Thought: A Critical Introduction (2013). He is also one of the founding editors of the journal Geohumanities.


Kate Derickson, Associate Professor of Geography, Environment, and Society at the University of Minnesota, is a scholar of race and urban geography and the editor of the journal Society and Space. Her work has appeared in a range of journals, including Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Progress in Human Geography, and Urban Studies.


Shannon Mattern, Associate Professor of Media Studies at The New School, addresses how the forms and materialities of media —broadly defined —are related to the architectural, urban, and social spaces they create and inhabit. Mattern is the author of three books: The New Downtown Library (2007), Deep Mapping the Media City (2015) and Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media (2017).


Arun Saldanha is Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Minnesota and is a geographer of race and race relations, travel and tourism, and globalization and colonialism. He is the author of Psychedelic White: Goa Trance and the Viscosity of Race (University of Minnesota Press, 2007), and is currently conducting research on Dutch exploration of the Indian Ocean at the beginning of the colonial and capitalist era.  


Regional Faculty Contributors


An array of Boston-area faculty will contribute to different sessions during the Institute.


Northeastern faculty members include: 


Nicole Aljoe (English and African American Studies), Associate Professor of English and African American Studies and Director of the Africana Studies Program. Her fields of specialization are eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Black Atlantic Literature, the Slave Narrative, Postcolonial Studies, and eighteenth-century British Novel. Professor Aljoe’s recent publications include “Caribbean Slave Narratives” in The Oxford Handbook of African American Slave Narratives. She is co-editor of Journeys of the Slave Narrative in the Early Americas, University of Virginia Press, 2014 and co-editor of Islands in the Stream: The Early Caribbean in Literary History (forthcoming Palgrave MacMillan).


Marty Blatt (History) is Professor of the Practice and Director of the Public History Program at Northeastern. Blatt is a board member of the Northeastern Humanities Center and part of the University Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Committee. He was Curator of the exhibit, Long Road to Justice – African Americans and the Courts, on permanent display at the Brooke Court House.  He serves on the Bostonian Society Interpretation Committee and on the Historian Advisory Board of the Freedom Trail Foundation. 


Victoria Cain (History), teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in U.S. history and public history, and has published widely on the history of visual culture, education, media, and museums. Her first book, Life on Display: Revolutionizing Museums of Science and Nature in the United States (University of Chicago Press, 2014), co-authored with Karen Rader, is a social and cultural history of exhibition in twentieth-century museums of science and nature. Her second book project, titled Schools and Screens and under contract with MIT Press, chronicles controversies over the rise and spread of screen media technologies in twentieth-century American schools.


Elizabeth Maddock Dillon (English), Professor and Chair of the Department of English and Co-director of the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks at Northeastern University. She is the author of New World Drama: The Performative Commons in the Atlantic World, 1649-1849 (Duke University Press, 2014) which won the Barnard Hewitt Award for Outstanding Research in Theatre History from the American Society for Theatre Research and The Gender of Freedom: Fictions of Liberalism and the Literary Public Sphere (Stanford University Press, 2004), which won the Heyman Prize for Outstanding Publication in the Humanities at Yale University.


Kathleen Kelly (English), professor of English at Northeastern University. She has published in Arthuriana, Exemplaria, postmedieval, Studies in Philology, and Year’s Work in Studies in Medievalism. She is the author of Performing Virginity and Testing Chastity in the Middle Ages and A. S. Byatt, and co-editor (with Marina Leslie) of Menacing Virgins: Representing Virginity in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, co-editor (with Tison Pugh) of Queer Movie Medievalisms and Chaucer on Screen: Absence, Presence, and Adapting the Canterbury Tales


Dan O’Brien (School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs) is Associate Professor in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern University, and co-director of the Boston Area Research Initiative. His work focuses on the ways that researchers, policymakers, and practitioners can work together to leverage modern digital data (i.e., “Big Data”) to better understand and serve cities. 


Chris Parsons (History), an interdisciplinary historian of science and the environment in the French Atlantic World. He has recently completed Cultivating a New France: Empire in Environment in Colonial North America, forthcoming with the University of Pennsylvania Press. 


Suzanna Walters (Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies). Dr. Suzanna Danuta Walters’ work centers on questions of gender, feminist theory and politics, sexuality, and popular culture and she is a frequent commentator on these issues for the media. Her most recent book, The Tolerance Trap: How God, Genes, and Good Intentions are Sabotaging Gay Equality (NYU Press), explores how notions of tolerance limit the possibilities for real liberation and deep social belonging. 


Faculty from nearby institutions include: 


Ulka Anjaria (English, Brandeis University), teaches and researches South Asian literature and film, with a focus on India. Her first book was a study of progressive writing, a movement that became dominant in mid-20th century India. Her second book considers the relationship of contemporary (2000 and beyond) Indian literature and film to new politics in India. She is currently writing a book on Bollywood cinema.


Asha Best (Geography, Clark University),  is an urbanist whose research and teaching is interdisciplinary. Her work links mobilities studies, post-colonial and black studies, critical race theory and studies of urban informality. She is particularly interested in popular, improvised and often unofficial urban practices deployed by black and migrant groups, and her research looks at how those practices impact how cities are understood, planned and mapped. 


Kendra Field (History, Tufts University),  Associate Professor of history and director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Tufts University. Field is the author of Growing Up with the Country: Family, Race, and Nation after the Civil War (Yale University Press, January 2018). The book traces her ancestors’ migratory lives between the Civil War and the Great Migration. Field also served as Assistant Editor to David Levering Lewis’ W.E.B. Du Bois: A Biography (Henry Holt, 2009). 


Kerri Greenidge (Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, Tufts University), Dr. Kerri Greenidge received her Doctorate in American Studies from Boston University, where her specialty included African-American history, American political history, and African-American and African diasporic literature in the post-emancipation and early modern era. 


John Kaag (Philosophy, University of Massachusetts Lowell), a Professor of Philosophy and author of American Philosophy: A Love Story.  It is a story of lost library, a lost American intellectual tradition and a lost person–and their simultaneous recovery.  


Jim McGrath (Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage, Brown University). Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Public Humanities at Brown University‘s John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage. I’m interested in digital humanities, digital archives, digital pedagogy, public history, public humanities, hyperlocal histories, new media, materiality and popular culture, and comic books