Fall 2023 Cohort

In academic year 2023-2024, History of Consciousness welcomes three new students to the department: Lilith Frakes, Nick Thacker, & Anna Yegorova. Read about their proposed research foci below. 

Lilith Frakes I am coming to UCSC with a background in anthropology, comparative literature, and most recently, primate behavior and ecology. Following from my master’s thesis, in which I studied paternal behaviors in captive orangutans, I have become fascinated in the ways that the perception and study of non-human primates has been shaped through biases of gender, race, and the ongoing violence of colonialism. I am especially interested in the perceived equivalences and differences between non-human and human primates, and the narrativizing of primate sexuality. Taking Donna Haraway’s primatological work as a starting point, I want to explore what antediluvian projections onto non-human primates betray about sex, consciousness, and race in the human imaginary— and the unstable boundary between “human” and “animal”—by engaging with fields of anthropology, ethnoprimatology, and animal studies.
Nick Thacker The work I want to pursue in our department emerges from the masters thesis I completed at San Francisco State University in 2022. This project focuses on the political thought of Pier Paolo Pasolini and makes two key arguments. First, I argue that Pasolini should be read as a political theorist who charts a non-reactionary course through anti-progressive politics. Second, where other thinkers have found only resignation and pessimism, I argue that Pasolini’s late work opens onto a revolutionary and anti-progressive hope that orients itself toward redemption of the past. So far I have read Pasolini in concert with Walter Benjamin, Franz Kafka, and Bertolt Brecht. I see this project expanding along three lines of inquiry: first, the Italian left of the mid 20th century and wider Marxist and communist traditions; second, queer theory and anti-progressive visions of sexual liberation; third, political theology and theology (particularly with regard to messianism and hope). 
Anna Yegorova Today, the challenges of the war in Ukraine, which have global ramifications and compel us to revisit the foundations of the contemporary political order and the pitfalls of the de-colonization discourse, signal the need to find a new universalist language. To reassemble it, I turn to the debates on the national question in the early USSR, a moment when various competing projects and trajectories had such a common language. I would like to look at the present conjuncture through those debates, reconstructing and theorizing historical projects inspired by national self-determination slogans, which tried to address the intersecting subalternities of class, race, nationality, religion, and gender. While my previous research was dedicated to the concept of class, given the critique of the linear conception of history and its subject, my doctoral research will focus on the nationality question and the many ways in which it pushed the practical elaborations of the concept of class and will attempt to bridge the political struggles of the past with contemporary social theory and emancipatory politics.