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History Professor Asif Siddiqi is 2015 Guggenheim Fellow


Fordham Professor of History Asif A. Siddiqi, PhD, is one of 175 scholars, artists, and scientists awarded a 2015 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship.

Asif Siddiqi (Photo by Bill Denison)

Asif Siddiqi
(Photo by Bill Denison)

This year’s diverse group of fellows was chosen from among 3,100 applicants within the United States and Canada, the foundation announced on April 9. Fellows are selected for their “impressive achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishment” and are given a wide berth in which to engage in research in any field of knowledge or in any of the arts.

A scholar of the history of space exploration, Siddiqi is the author of The Rockets’ Red Glare: Spaceflight and the Soviet Imagination, 1857-1957 (Cambridge, 2010) and Challenge to Apollo: The Soviet Union and the Space Race, 1945-1974. He is a member of the National Research Council’s Committee on Human Spaceflight, tasked by Congress to review the long-term goals of the U.S. human spaceflight program.

He said he plans to use the fellowship to produce a global history of the human footprint left behind from the development of spaceflight, mapping places across continents where communities and cultures were transformed by such activities.

“There are literally dozens of places …, most of them abandoned now, that have the detritus of human activity from rockets and satellites,” said Siddiqi, whose interest includes how scientific elites interacted with the local populations.

Ultimately he hopes to produce an account, and possibly a museum exhibit, that is part history, part ethnography, and part oral history of what he calls the “departure gates” of spaceflight from Earth.

Guggenheim fellowships are awarded for a minimum of six months and a maximum of 12 months, with the size of the grant varies. The fellowships were established in 1925 by former U.S. Senator Simon Guggenheim and his wife, in memory of their 17-year-old son, John Simon Guggenheim, who died in 1922 of a bacterial infection before he was to leave for college.

— Janet Sassi


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