Through the awards program, twenty-six fellows working in fields ranging from evolutionary anthropology and paleoclimatology, to graphic novels and social art, to restorative justice will each receive $625,000 over five years. Popularly known as the "genius grants," the awards come without stipulations or reporting requirements and provide fellows with maximum freedom to follow their unique creative vision.
This year's fellows include attorney and restorative justice practitioner sujatha baliga, who is working to expand access to survivor-centered alternative strategies that address the criminalization of people of color and break cycles of recidivism and violence; Mel Chin, a category-defying artist whose practice calls attention to complex social and environmental issues; geochemist and paleoclimatologist Andrea Dutton, who is reconstructing the extent and rate of sea levels and ice sheet changes during earlier periods of global warming to better estimate future sea level rise; Columbia University professor Saidiya Hartman, whose works explore the legacy of slavery in modern American society and bear witness to lives, traumas, and moments of beauty that historical archives have omitted or obscured; University of California, Los Angeles professor Kelly Lytle Hernández, who is challenging long-held beliefs about the origins, ideology, and systemic evolution of U.S. incarceration and immigrant detention practices; and urban designer Emmanuel Pratt, co-founder and executive director of the Sweet Water Foundation in Chicago, who is creating a model of resident-driven community development in neighborhoods that have suffered the effects of long-term disinvestment.
"From addressing the consequences of climate change to furthering our understanding of human behavior to fusing forms of artistic expression, this year’s twenty-six extraordinary MacArthur Fellows demonstrate the power of individual creativity to reframe old problems, spur reflection, create new knowledge, and better the world for everyone," said MacArthur Foundation president John Palfrey on the foundation's website. "They give us reason for hope, and they inspire us all to follow our own creative instincts."
For a complete list of the 2019 MacArthur Fellows, see the MacArthur Foundation website.