The Chancellor Jackman Research Fellowships in the Humanities, 2017-2018
Jackman Humanities Institute Research Fellows: 12-months Research Fellows hold an office on the 10th floor of the Jackman Humanities Building and are central members of a Circle of Fellows. They are University of Toronto tenured faculty members by the time of their fellowship, chosen for their distinction in achievements relative to their career stage, the excellence of their proposed project, and its relation to the annual theme for 2017-2018, Indelible Violence: Shame, Reconciliation, and the Work of Apology
2017-2018 ANNUAL THEME: Indelible Violence: Shame, Reconciliation and the Work of Apology Performances of reconciliation and apology attempt to erase violence that is arguably indelible. What ideological and therapeutic work does reconciliation do, under whose authority, for whose benefit, and with what limits? What would it mean to acknowledge the role of shame? How might the work of truth and reconciliation commissions be compared to other ways of shifting relations from violence and violation to co-existence? How does the work of apology stabilize social identities, conditions, and relations and how do indelible traces of violence work for and against those conditions, identities and relations?
Mark Meyerson, Department of History and Centre for Medieval Studies (FAS) Mark Meyerson (Ph.D. Toronto, 1987) is Professor of History and Medieval Studies. In his career as a teacher and a scholar at the University of Notre Dame (1988-94) and the University of Toronto (1994-present), he has focused on the history of Christian-Muslim-Jewish relations in the premodern Iberian and Mediterranean worlds. As a social historian, he employs archival documents to analyze the quotidian social and economic interaction of religious groups in the Spanish Christian kingdoms, circa 1200-1600, as well as royal policies toward the Muslim and Jewish minorities. His monographs, The Muslims of Valencia in the Age of Fernando and Isabel: Between Coexistence and Crusade (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1991) and A Jewish Renaissance in Fifteenth-Century Spain (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004), have revised the standard narrative of a relentless decline in interfaith relations and of a Spanish monarchy bent on eliminating the minorities in an effort to forge a uniformly Catholic state. The project he is currently completing examines the history of violence in premodern Spain and is based largely on criminal court and Spanish Inquisition records. It involves a comparative ethnography of violence within Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities, which serves as essential background for an analysis of Christian mob violence against the minorities as well as the subsequent social behaviour of the Muslim and Jewish converts (Moriscos and Conversos) who were forcibly baptized in the course of the attacks. The research for this book moved him to develop an undergraduate course on the global history of violence, from prehistory to the present, which has, in turn, inspired him to pursue a broad comparative study of ethnic violence that bridges the premodern-modern divide.
The Shame of Reconciliation: The Spanish Inquisition as a Truth Commission My project will focus on the role of the Inquisition in providing an important form of ‘transitional justice’ in Spain, circa 1478-1700. It grows from my current research, an anthropological history of violence within and between communities of Christians, Muslims, Jew, Conversos (baptized Jews and their descendants), and Moriscos (baptized Muslims and their descendants). This work on interfaith and intrafaith violence has inspired a broader study of premodern and modern ethnic violence. I plan to explore how historically antagonistic ethnic groups managed to coexist for long stretches of time and thus how they dealt with intergroup conflict and minor instances of violence, the causes of major outbreaks of intergroup violence and the failure of traditional mechanisms of conflict management, and the efforts of ethnically plural societies to recover from such explosions of intergroup violence and reconstitute themselves. Although there were no truth and reconciliation commissions in the premodern world, the work of reestablishing social peace and order in the wake of large-scale ethnic violence was no less pressing. Viewing the Inquisition as a truth commission is perhaps counter-intuitive, for modern truth commissions apparently have quite different goals, such as establishing an accurate, authoritative record, aiding the victims of violence, promoting criminal accountability and preventing future abuses, and promoting the reconciliation of victims and perpetrators to facilitate the healing of a wounded society, and helping countries make the transition from repressive regime to democratic government. If, in early modern Spain, the transition to democracy was not an objective, assimilating thousands of Converso and Morisco New Christians into Catholic society and encouraging their peaceful relations with Old Christians certainly was. The Inquisition operated on the basis of ideological assumptions that rendered the processes of ‘apology’ and ‘reconciliation’ it oversaw markedly different from those promoted by modern truth commissions: most notably, it was the descendants of the Jewish and Muslim victims of the Christians’ conversionary violence who did the apologizing, not the Christian perpetrators. The limitations of Inquisitorial procedure in effecting reconciliation (in the modern sense of the word) perhaps seem obvious, since the Inquisition was intent on uncovering only some truths. Scholars have raised questions about the possible limitations of modern truth commissions as well: Is it possible in deeply divided societies to arrive at one authoritative account of past events when each ethnic group clings to its own version of the truth? Is uncovering the truth always necessary or helpful when it potentially reopens wounds and exacerbates ethnic tensions? Is reconciliation possible when the groups involved do not share a common moral ground? The Inquisition’s attempted imposition of Catholic orthodoxy and unity on early modern Spain can be fruitfully compared to modern states, such as the former Yugoslavia, that have attempted to subsume the identities of historically antagonistic ethnic groups under a new shared identity. In others, after outbreaks of violence antagonistic ethnic groups have sometimes been able, informally and gradually, to pick up the threads of preexisting economic and social relations or return to the institutional frameworks that had previously made coexistence workable. My work will be a comparative analysis of the different ways in which ethnically plural societies have tried to transition from violent relations to coexistence.
Courtney Jung, Department of Political Science (FAS) Courtney Jung (Ph.D. Yale University, 1998) is Professor of Political Science. She has written about identity politics, state obligations toward minority populations, indigenous rights and politics, transitional justice, economic and social rights, and the politics of breastfeeding. She has conducted research in South Africa, Mexico, Northern Ireland, and the United States. She has received fellowships and awards from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Fulbright, and The Mellon Foundation. In 2001-02 she was a member at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. Professor Jung taught as an assistant and an associate professor at The New School for Social Research (1999-2008), and has held visiting professorships at Yale University, University of Cape Town, and Central European University. Her books are Lactivism: How Feminists and Fundamentalists, Yuppies and Hippies, Physicians and Politicians Made Breastfeeding into Big Business and Bad Policy (New York: Basic Books, 2015); The Moral Force of Indigenous Politics: Critical Liberalism and the Zapatistas (London and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008); and Then I Was Black: South African Political Identities in Transition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000).
Reconciliation is a Practice This project theorizes reconciliation as a political framework and practice for governing state-indigenous relations. Unlike assimilation and multiculturalism, which have also guided state policies toward minority populations, reconciliation moves beyond cultural difference to highlight instead the question of historical injustice, and to establish the normative obligations of states to remedy such injustice. Drawing on indigenous conceptions of the treaty process as an ongoing relationship, I propose to explore the promise and limits of reconciliation as a political practice. Whereas assimilation and multiculturalism set out the normative obligations of states from the perspective of the state, reconciliation depends on engagement between (at least) two sides with different agendas and perspectives. The work of reconciliation is subject to ongoing negotiation through an iterative process whose success can only be determined by the victims of injustice. Whereas assimilation and multiculturalism both act upon minority populations, reconciliation vests indigenous people with political and normative agency in the power to withhold forgiveness and, ultimately, reconciliation.
Lisa Yoneyama, Department of East Asian Studies and Women and Gender Studies Institute (FAS) Lisa Yoneyama (Ph.D. Stanford University, 1993) is Professor of East Asian Studies and Women and Gender Studies. Her research is focused on the memory politics of war and colonialism, studies of gender and militarism, transnationalism, nuclearism, and the transpacific Cold War and post-Cold War U.S.-Asia relations. She was affiliated with the Literature Department of the University of California-San Diego (1992-2011), where she taught cultural studies, critical gender studies, and Asian and Asian American studies. Her books include Hiroshima Traces: Time, Space, and the Dialectic of Memory (University of California, 1999); a co-edited volume, Perilous Memories: Asia-Pacific War(s) (Duke UP, 2001); and Violence, War, Redress: Politics of Multiculturalism (Iwanami Shoten, 2003). Her third monograph, Cold War Ruins: Transpacific Critique of American Justice and Japanese War Crimes (Duke UP, 2016), explored the transpacific entanglement of Cold War knowledge production about war, post-conflict justice, and decolonialization.
Violence, Political Subject, and the Work of Apology in the Transpacific My project considers new exigencies that the idea and practice of apology and reconciliation have taken on since the 1990s. I will examine three instances of historical violence that connect Asia and North America: violations committed by the wartime Japanese military comfort system (the so-called Comfort Women issue); the atomic bombing of Hiroshima; and the Sahtu Dene people’s own apology for their history of uranium mining and unintended involvement in the Manhattan Project through the Canadian government. My methodology, which brings together cultural anthropology, comparative literary and cultural studies, Asian studies, Asian-American studies, and transpacific studies, will bring to light the ways that the post WWII condition of the Asia-Pacific—where Cold War geopolitics often interrupted thoroughgoing decolonization—has come to shape the currently available language, imaginations, and apparatuses of post-violence reconciliation. By juxtaposing three distinct instances of violence and the work of (non)-apology that are heterogeneous but decisively connected by the shared geohistorical conditions from WWII to the Cold War, my research will address questions of historical injuries, justice, and reconciliation, and illuminate how each of these contexts might have generated political subjects with new socialities and historical sensibilities. The curious contrast between the Dene apology and the American non-apology has inspired me to re-examine the effects of apology performance in the Comfort Women redress culture. At the same time, I will bring my previous study on Hiroshima memories into critical dialogue with a growing body of work including documentary film, testimonials, and new scholarship on these sites of violence with the goal of a full-length comparative and relational analysis of the use of atom bombs in relation to the question of apology and reconciliation in the transpacific.
Emily Gilbert, Department of Geography and Planning (FAS) and Canadian Studies program (UC)
Emily Gilbert (Ph.D. University of Bristol, 1998) is an Associate Professor who is cross-appointed between the Canadian Studies Program at University College, and the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto. She has published widely on topics such as terrorism, war and compensation; the territorialization of money; and borders, migration and security. Her writing has appeared in a number of journals, across different disciplines, including Antipode, Economy and Society, Security Dialogue, Critical Military Studies, Society and Space and Political Geography, and in chapters in books. She has co-edited two books, War, Citizenship, Territory (with Deborah Cowen) and Nation-States and Money: The Past, Present and Future of National Currencies (with Eric Helleiner). A manuscript entitled Beyond the Border: New Cartographies of Power in North America is nearing completion. She is an Associate Editor at the journal Security Dialogue, and is on the editorial board of both Critical Military Studies and Human Geography. In 2014 she received the Outstanding Teaching Award from the Faculty of Arts & Science at the University of Toronto.
Reparations and Reconciliation: From Accounting to Accountability? How is justice to be realized in societies that experience ongoing dispossession and violence? What mechanisms are available to redress historical and contemporary wrongs in ways that do not either replicate existing power structures, or evade the issue of accountability? My research addresses these questions with attention to the role of reparations in the aftermath of violence. Money can help meet some short- and long-term needs, but do payments simply reinforce existing power structures? Does putting a price on pain and suffering work to erase violence, or to preserve the foundations that make violence possible? What kinds of accountability or guilt, if any, are achievable through monetary redistribution? Or is the payment of money used precisely to deflect accountability? My research explores two contexts in which reparations have been paid out after violence: first, as part of its Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (2006), the United Nations (UN) has urged states to create special funds for victims of terrorism that will go beyond other provisions, such as life insurance or worker’s compensation. The international push for victim compensation arises directly out of the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) that was created by US Congress just days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In an unprecedented move, unlimited funds were made available to the victims. Over $7 billion US was allocated to over 5,550 claimants, with an average payment of $2 million US for those who died. My second strand of research on victim compensation has been with respect to the cash payments that are being disbursed in Iraq and Afghanistan when a civilian is ‘inadvertently’ injured or killed as a result of military actions, or when property damage is incurred. I find that monetary payments usually are made with no recognition of legal liability. In fact, the making of payment may precisely be used to refuse liability (as with the VCF). So while there is some accounting for harm, there is no accountability. Moreover, in that the payments are ritualized and framed in affective terms such as condolence or sympathy, and in that they stand outside of the law, I argue that they suture together interpersonal and geopolitical relations of reciprocity and indebtedness that are more in keeping with the gift economy. In other words, the payments are always already bound up in the interests of the giver, and re-inscribe relations of oppressor and victim—especially in that the payments are determined by the military, the very institution that caused the harm that is being compensated. My research project during the Jackman Fellowship will be to continue to work through these tricky questions, and expanding them to address the role that monetary payments are playing in contemporary movements to redress state violence, as exemplified by the examples of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Black Lives Matter.
Chancellor Jackman Research Fellowships in the Humanities Six-Month Fellows, 2017-2018
Tenure-stream or tenured faculty at the University of Toronto, each receives a six-month leave from the normal teaching and administrative duties in order to undertake research (including travel) on the project proposed in their application, and are chosen for demonstrated excellence of their record of scholarship and the merit of the research proposal.
Elspeth Brown, Department of Historical Studies (UTM) Elspeth Brown (Ph.D. Yale University, 2000) is Associate Professor of History, Director of the LGBTQ+ Digital Oral History Collaboratory, and former Director of the Centre for the Study of the United States (2006-13). Her research concerns modern American cultural history; the history and theory of photography; queer and trans* history and the history of US capitalism. She has received fellowships from the Getty Research Institute; the National Museum of American History; the American Council of Learned Societies; the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada; the Library of Congress Kluge Center; the American Philosophical Society, and others. She is the author of Sexual Capital: A Queer History of Modeling, 1909-1983 (forthcoming, Duke University Press) and the award-winning The Corporate Eye: Photography and the Rationalization of American Commercial Culture, 1884-1929 (Johns Hopkins 2005). She is the co-editor of Feeling Photography (Duke University Press, 2014); “Queering Photography,” a special issue of Photography and Culture (2014); and Cultures of Commerce: Representation and American Business Culture, 1877-1960 (Palgrave, 2006). She has published in GLQ, TSQ; Gender and History; American Quarterly; Radical History Review; Photography and Culture; Feminist Studies; Aperture; No More Potlucks, and others.
Reframing Family Photography: Queer and Trans Belonging My research project addresses the question of queer and trans relationships to family photography, with a particular (though nonexclusive) focus on diasporic Canadians based in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). This project asks: what is the cultural and political work of family photographs in the context of queer and trans lives? How has the process of migration shaped queer and trans lives in relation to these images? What role do family photographs play in creating and securing affective ties within queer and trans families? How do narrators understand and define queer kinship and family structure, given the rapidly changing legal status of queer relationships and trans subjectivity? This is a hybrid scholarly project that brings together traditional humanities research methods and scholarly writing with digital humanities and public engagement; it links the university with community partners and will result in scholarly articles, an international conference, two exhibitions of photographs, and a digital exhibition and archive.
M. Cristina Cuervo, Department of Spanish & Portuguese and Linguistics (FAS) María Cristina Cuervo (Ph.D. MIT, 2003) is Associate Professor of Spanish & Portuguese and Linguistics. Her research considers how specific grammatical phenomena in several languages (argument/event structure, dative arguments, and applicatives) inform the broader question of how structural properties restrict and shape the construction of meaning in human language. Her work has focused on the construction of verbal meanings on the basis of small grammatical units, with special attention to the relative contribution of lexical roots, their arguments and grammatical morphemes. She has also been collaborating with graduate students on the mood and the tense systems in Spanish and how they are acquired. She draws on natural language data from a variety of sources (speakers’ intuitions, corpora and experimental data) and speaker populations (children, adult native speakers, and second language learners). Her research is developed within a linguistic theory that studies language as a human-specific cognitive faculty.
The Domain of the Idiosyncratic My project is a study of the creative and restrictive power language structure has on the construction of linguistic meanings and the interaction of language and its social environment. It investigates the domain of grammar—the lexical domain—that can, in principle, be shaped by culture and social factors; a domain that has been shrinking in contemporary grammatical theory. It explores the limits set on this interaction by studying the limits of the lexical within the verbal domain. The project focuses on noun incorporation, a process by which the noun that would function as the direct object of a verb integrates with the verb forming a complex word (as illustrated by the English verb babysit), which many times has a meaning that is not predictable from the meaning of its component parts. My working hypothesis is that this process of “lexicalization”, of blurring the syntactic restrictions on interpretation happens only (or mostly) between the most minimal and local syntactic relation: a root and its internal argument. I plan to draw on phenomena on the verbal domain of two indigenous languages of North America, Inuktitut (Eastern Canadian dialects of Inuit, in the Eskimoan family) and Hiaki (an Uto-Aztecan language spoken in Southern Arizona and in Northern Mexico), and to continue work just started on Hungarian. These languages constitute an ideal empirical basis for my research because they have constructions (applicatives and noun-incorporation) in which to test my hypothesis on the restricted—but existing—role verbal roots have in building and interpreting sentences. When we talk about the influence of culture on language, and of language on culture or cognition, the talk is about what can be influenced and shaped; very rarely the reverse questions of what is not and cannot be influenced is addressed. By focusing on establishing the limits of the domain of the idiosyncratic, my research looks for a threshold above which culture cannot impose restrictions or exert direct influence on language and its complex units.
Andrea Muehlebach, Department of Anthropology (UTM) Andrea Muehlebach (Ph.D. University of Chicago, 2007) is Associate Professor of Anthropology. She is the author of The Moral Neoliberal: Welfare and Citizenship in Contemporary Italy (University of Chicago Press) and has published articles in the American Anthropologist, Cultural Anthropology, Public Culture, and Comparative Studies in Society and History. Her current work focuses on water and the new political ethics that are emerging around this highly contested resource in Europe. She is on the Editorial Board of Quaderni di Teoria Sociale and Etnofoor. Property, Right, or Commons? On the Water Insurgency in Europe My project is a historical-ethnographic exploration of how water has become a vehicle through which Europeans have not only challenged the privatization, commodification, and financialization of water but also proposed new models for the collective care of this precious resource. Having recently completed twelve months of ethnographic research on water insurgencies in Italy, France, Germany, and Ireland, I will be writing a monograph that investigates how water has become a vehicle for Europeans to pursue designs for a better life, all within a context of a Europe reeling from the effects of austerity and a growing democratic deficit. I hope to make two contributions: First, to show that water has become one of the most effective vehicles through which people are pursuing novel projects in law and democracy-making; and second, to demonstrate that water has become an important vehicle through which people have formulated very diverse popular critiques of privatization, financialization, and austerity. I thus respond to a challenge posed by Ben Orlove and Steve Caton, who recently asked what it means to call water a commodity or a right, especially in contexts where these concepts are "highly contested or do not hold sway." How then can we look to water as a vehicle for novel forms of political practice and social imagination?
Stephen Rockel, Department of Historical and Cultural Studies (UTSC) Stephen J. Rockel (Ph.D. University of Toronto, 1997) is Associate Professor of Historical and Cultural Studies. He is a specialist in African and Tanzanian history, with related interests in imperialism, the Indian Ocean, South Africa, African labour, slavery and urban history, as well as war and society throughout the continent and beyond. His book, Carriers of Culture: Labor on the Road in Nineteenth-Century East Africa, was published in the Heinemann Social History of Africa series in 2006 and was awarded the Joel Gregory Prize by the Canadian Association of African Studies. He edited (with Rick Halpern) ‘Collateral Damage’: Civilian Casualties, War and Empire (Between-the-Lines Press, 2009), a landmark book in the history of civilians and war. He has published in many of the major journals in the field including The Journal of African History, History in Africa, the Canadian Journal of African Studies, Azania, African Studies, and Comparative Studies of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Current projects include book length studies of the history of slavery in Tanzania and the urban history of Tabora, a nineteenth-century commercial town. He is also editing a book (with Professor Emeritus Martin Klein) on African experiences of slavery and emancipation. He taught history at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (1997-1999) and Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia (2012). In 2014-15 he was a fellow at the International Research Centre “Work and Human Life-Cycle in Global History” (re:work), Humboldt University, Berlin.
Slavery in Western Tanzania: Between the Global and the Local My project addresses several issues concerning the history of the slave trade and urban and agricultural slavery in the interior of East Africa in the wider context of the East African and Indian Ocean slave trade during the late 18th and 19th centuries. It concentrates on patterns of enslavement, the origins and movement of slaves both within and beyond the region, their labour and construction of new social and cultural identities in relation to host communities, and their role in commerce and urbanization in the interior of east Africa, especially in central and western parts of modern Tanzania and the Lake Tanganyika region. New sources of slaves opened up west of Lake Tanganyika as a result of the widening of the elephant hunting frontier and the expansion of the long-distance caravan system. Yet it seems surprisingly few slaves reached the coast through central Tanzania despite great mobility and the large numbers of caravans that worked this route. Most of the slaves who were taken to Zanzibar and Pemba, where they worked on clove and coconut plantations and in the households of the Arab elite, reached the coast by other routes. It seems that the great majority of slaves taken from the Congo, Uganda and western Tanzania were absorbed into chiefdoms and urban centres along the trade routes rather than sent to the coast. The project aims to uncover the histories of some of these centres; we know little about the lives and work of these slaves. They are largely invisible in the literature, which has concentrated on the coastal plantation systems, the export trade, or emancipation.
Luca Somigli, Department of Italian Studies (FAS) Luca Somigli (Ph.D. SUNY-Stony Brook, 1996) is Professor of Italian Studies. He has published extensively on European modernism and the avant-garde, with a particular emphasis on Italy, on theories of modernism, on literary historiography, and on contemporary Italian fiction (especially genre fiction and comics). His publications include Legitimizing the Artist. Manifesto Writing and European Modernism 1885-1915 (2003), which was awarded the 2004 best book prize by the American Association for Italian Studies, and Valerio Evangelisti (2007), the first monograph on Italy’s leading writer of science fiction. He has also edited numerous volumes, including Italian Modernism (with Mario Moroni, 2004) and Negli archivi e per le strade. Il ritorno alla realtà nella narrativa di inizio millennio (2013), on the debate on the turn to realism in contemporary Italian fiction. He has guest-edited special issues of journals, most notably the volume of Annali d’Italianistica on the Great War and the modernist imagination in Italy (2015), and the volume of the same journal dedicated to Futurism on the centennial of its foundation (2009). He has been invited to contribute to numerous international projects, including the volume on modernism in the “Comparative Literary History” series of the International Comparative Literature Association, The Routledge Companion to European Modernism, the volume on Europe in The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines and the Handbook of Futurism Studies, forthcoming from De Gruyter, for which he has written the chapter on Italian Futurist literature. He is currently editor of Quaderni d’italianistica, the journal of the Canadian Society for Italian Studies.
Literature and Religion in Italian Modernism This research project aims at reconstructing in a systematic fashion the relationship – both conflictual and complicit – between religion and literary production in Italy from the end of the nineteenth century to World War Two. Surprisingly, given the importance of the Catholic Church as both a religious faith and a social and political institution in forming Italian cultural life, this has never been the subject of a comprehensive and in-depth study. On the contrary, the project aims to show that one of the elements that characterize Italian modernism is precisely its reliance on tropes, motifs and rhetorical strategies derived from the discursive field of religion, and its ongoing concern with the proper place of faith in public life. At once theological and political, the “modernism” debates within the Catholic Church point to the ways that modernity in Italy was as enmeshed in and indebted to the transformations and tensions within Catholicism as it was to the effects of industrialization and modernization.
Byeong-Uk Yi, Department of Philosophy (UTM) Byeong-Uk Yi (Ph.D., UCLA, 1995) is Professor of Philosophy who specializes in logic, philosophy of language, semantics of classifier languages, metaphysics, and philosophy of mathematics. A main line of his work focuses on the nature of many things (e.g., Venus and Serena) as such, and the logic and meaning of expressions used to talk about the many, such as plural constructions found in English and many other natural languages. Another line of his work concerns to the nature of stuff (e.g., water) and the meaning of mass nouns (e.g., ‘water’), and relates to the distinction between number and amount and to the semantics of classifier languages, which include many East Asian languages, including Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. The two lines of work complement each other, and seek to draw a comprehensive picture of reality that comprehends both stuff (e.g., water) and individuals (e.g., cows). He is the author of Understanding the Many (Routledge, 2002) and of many articles in scholarly journals.
Speaking of the Many and the Much: Plurality and the Mass/Count Distinction across Languages It is usual to divide common nouns into mass nouns (e.g., ‘water’, ‘milk’) and count nouns (e.g., ‘student’, ‘cow’). The distinction is closely related to the distinction between stuff (e.g., milk) and individuals (e.g., cows) that dates back to Aristotle. But the usual criteria for the distinction invoke features specific to European languages and do not apply to classifier languages (e.g., Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Yucatec Maya, Bengali). The research aims to show that the linguistic distinction has significant cognitive roots and develop an adequate account of the distinction that applies to classifier languages as well as non-classifier languages.