News | 24 September 2021

Celebrating Postdoctoral Scholars in the Humanities


UC Santa Cruz celebrates National Postdoc Appreciation Week from September 20–24. The Humanities Division is fortunate to have four outstanding postdoctoral scholars who play a critical role in our successful research programs. During their time at UCSC, postdocs complete advanced studies, research, and training under the mentorship of faculty members.

Since 2009, the National Postdoctoral Association has sponsored National Postdoc Appreciation Day/Week to recognize the significant contributions that postdoctoral scholars make to U.S. research and discovery. 

Daniela Gandorfer is Postdoctoral Scholar in Feminist Studies, mentored by Distinguished Professor Karen Barad. Daniela has been investigating emerging modes of private tech-governance on Earth and in outer space, which, if unaddressed, threaten to enhance historical and present injustices while also producing novel ones.

Her research lies at the intersection of law, science & technology studies, and process philosophy. Since earning her Ph.D. from Princeton University, Daniela’s work continues to investigate the implications of scientific and technological developments, such as quantum physics and blockchain technology, for law and legal concepts. 

“For me, working towards developing a sensibility for what exists at the very edges of sense-ability—be it in terms of physical capacities, technological tools, scientific experiments, philosophical concepts, or modes of thinking—is an ethical commitment; not to inclusivity, but to become attentive to different modes of existence and their mattering.”

Daniela co-edited the notable “Matterphorical” special issue of Theory & Event Journal (Johns Hopkins Press, January 2021) and The Research Handbook in Law and Literature (Edward Elgar Publishing, forthcoming 2022). Her book Matterphorics: On the Laws of Theory is forthcoming with Duke University Press. She is also the co-founder of the Logische Phantasie Lab.

Jaime Pérez González is a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Scholar in Linguistics, mentored by Associate Professor Ryan Bennett. Jaime is a Tseltal (Maya) researcher, writer, and translator from Tenango, Ocosingo, Chiapas, Mexico. Jaime is working on the linguistic structure of Mayan languages. He is a native bilingual speaker of Tseltal-Spanish, and does fieldwork on Tseltal and Mocho’ (Mayan languages). Mocho’ is a severely endangered and underdocumented Mayan language which is also quite different from other Mayan languages. In his postdoc research, he will develop a book-length grammar of Mocho’. He also works on language teaching, literacy, language revitalization and literature in Mayan languages (Tseltal and Mocho’).

“What excites me about the work I do is working with community members, bringing them together to understand their language and engaging them in language documentation, language description and language revitalization.”

Jaime earned his PhD in Linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin in August 2021. His naturalistic language-driven dissertation “The Genius of Mocho’ (Mayan): Morphosyntactic Alignment and its Interaction with Grammatical Aspect and Information Structure” exhibits the interface between morphology, syntax and semantics in this language. His work goes from language documentation, descriptive linguistics, language revitalization, language literacy, and literary criticism. He also works as language interpreter and translator Tseltal<>Spanish<>English.

Michelle C. Velasquez-Potts is a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Scholar in History of Consciousness, mentored by Associate Professor Banu Barguan. Michelle is an educator and writer working at the intersections of feminist and queer thought.

Her postdoc work will include her book project, Suspended Animation, which examines the relationship between medicine and punishment by analyzing the rise of force-feeding post-9/11.

“I think it’s an exciting and important moment for activist and scholarly work raising questions around violence and policing, and the critical and creative ways that such work attempts to refuse the prison industrial complex. I’m grateful to be writing this project at UCSC, which holds such an important place in abolitionist history and practice.”

Michelle’s work attempts to imagine more relational ways of approaching questions of state violence and punishment. She has published essays in Women and Performance, Public CultureAbolition Journal, Art Journal Open, and Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex (2011).

Jennie Williams is a Postdoctoral Researcher in History, mentored by Associate Professor Gregory O’Malley. Jennie writes about the coastal slave trade from Baltimore to New Orleans in the antebellum period, and the impacts of forced separation of families on the lives of enslaved people. She is the author of the Oceans of Kinfolk Database and Co-Editor of SlaveVoyages.




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