The following was published in UChicago News on April 7, 2023.
By Tori Lee
Guggenheim Fellowships have been awarded this year to two University of Chicago scholars, chosen on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise.
Prof. Orit Bashkin and Prof. William Howell are among the 171 Fellows selected in this year’s class from nearly 2,500 applicants to the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Their respective fellowships will support projects on the history of Middle Eastern Jews and how U.S. political institutions shape our democracy.
“The new class of Fellows has followed their calling to enhance all of our lives, to provide greater human knowledge and deeper understanding,” said Edward Hirsch, president of the Guggenheim Foundation, according to the announcement. “We’re lucky to look to them to bring us into the future.”
Prof. Orit Bashkin is a historian who works on the intellectual, social and cultural history of the modern Middle East. As a professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, she teaches classes on nationalism, colonialism and postcolonialism in the Middle East, modern Islamic civilization and on Israeli history.
Her most recent books include “Jews and Journeys: Travel and the Performance of Jewish Identity” and “Impossible Exodus: Iraqi Jews in Israel.”
“I am honored and deeply thankful to my friends, colleagues, and mentors—from my language teachers to the scholars whose methodological insights shaped my research,” Bashkin said of receiving the prestigious award.
Her Guggenheim Fellowship will support a book project on the history of Middle Eastern Jews from the early modern to the modern period. Drawing from Arabic, Judeo-Arabic and Hebrew sources, Bashkin will show how Jews remembered and understood Ottoman and Arab politics through contemporary and biblical narratives.
“I am particularly happy that I was awarded a prize dedicated to the history of early modern and modern Middle Eastern Jews; I hope I will be able to provide, through my scholarship, a tribute to their often-silenced but incredible history.”
Prof. William Howell is a leading political scientist who has written widely on separation-of-powers issues and American political institutions, especially the presidency. He is the Sydney Stein Professor in American Politics at the Harris School of Public Policy and chair of the Department of Political Science. He also co-hosts Not Another Politics Podcast.
Most recently, Howell co-wrote “Presidents, Populism, and the Crisis of Democracy” with Terry Moe. He’s authored and co-authored numerous books, including “Relic: How Our Constitution Undermines Effective Government—and Why We Need a More Powerful Presidency.”
With the support of his Guggenheim Fellowship, Howell plans to work on writing projects during his sabbatical next year.
“I plan to write a book and some papers that examine how the design of political institutions and the emergence of the modern administrative state have downstream political implications for parties, electoral competition, and, more broadly still, democracy itself,” Howell said.
The Fellowship will also help continue his work as director of the Center for Effective Government, which was founded in 2019 to improve the performance of government through institutional reform.
“I can hardly wait to get after the work that this Fellowship is intended to underwrite,” Howell said. “What a great honor and privilege this is.”