Fellows 2020-2021

Kaitlin Banfill

Kaitlin Banfill is a PhD Candidate in Cultural Anthropology. Her research focuses on social change, education, migration, and kinship in Nuosu Yi communities in Southwest China. She is specifically interested in the ways in which ethnic minority youth in China revitalize ethnic practices through creative self-representation. She utilizes both traditional ethnographic methods and visual methods in her research. You can see some of her visual ethnography here.

For the Mellon Public Writing Fellowship, Kaitlin is working with Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (AVLF), an organization that provides legal assistance to tenants facing eviction and survivors of domestic violence. Kaitlin is helping the organization design client facing content that will help people better navigate the legal system and access valuable resources. Drawing on her background in visual anthropology, Kaitlin is working to combine text and visual aids that explain legal processes and accessible resources to AVLF clients. She hopes that this will contribute to AVLF’s mission to create safe and stable homes and families in the Atlanta area.

Isaac Foster Mirza

Isaac Foster Mirza is a PhD candidate in Islamic Civilizations Studies (ICIVS). His research focuses on music and trance experience during Sufi music-listening rituals in South Asia. More specifically, his work explores how ritual practices at listening events prepare participants by teaching them ritual propriety and aesthetic appreciation, while simultaneously creating a space that invites trance experience by rendering the spiritual world present in the physical world.

Isaac lives in East Lake with his wife and their nine cats: Hamza, Chloe, Bilaal, Maheen, Nala, Claudio, Reza, Dante, and Bruce. Originally trained as a jazz musician and ethnomusicologist, he also runs the Emory Gamelan Ensemble.

For the Mellon Public Writing Fellowship, Isaac is working with Common Good Atlanta (CGA). CGA offers accredited college courses to incarcerated and formerly-incarcerated individuals through programs at three Atlanta-area prisons and (now in the time of COVID-19) via Zoom. Isaac is helping CGA start their own online and physical periodical to publish students’ work.