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Music Department Chair Suzannah Clark Named Director of Harvard's Mahindra Humanities Center

Professor Suzannah E. Clark will helm the Mahindra Humanities Center.
Professor Suzannah E. Clark will helm the Mahindra Humanities Center. By Kai R. McNamee
By Meera S. Nair, Crimson Staff Writer

Music department chair Suzannah E. Clark will serve as the next director of Harvard’s Mahindra Humanities Center, the University announced in a Wednesday press release.

Clark will replace South Asian Studies professor Sunil S. Amrith, who stepped in this year as interim director after Professor of the Humanities Homi K. Bhabha concluded a stint in the post after more than a decade. Amrith will remain interim director until Clark begins her term on July 1.

Harvard established the Mahindra Center to foster interdisciplinary work between the humanities and the sciences and social sciences. The center supports a series of lectures, conferences, panels, seminars, and graduate and postdoctoral fellowships.

A musicologist and music theorist, Clark’s work — much of which has been cross-disciplinary — has focused on the history of tonal music theory, medieval vernacular music, and the work of composer Franz Schubert. She currently serves as a member of the Mahindra Center’s executive committee.

University Provost Alan M. Garber ’76 and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Claudine Gay called Clark a “fierce supporter of the liberal arts” in a message to faculty announcing her appointment, per the release.

“Professor Clark brings to the Mahindra Center her belief in the power of the humanities to teach people how to ask questions and to think from different points of view,” they wrote.

In her role as a member of the executive committee for the newly-opened ArtLab in Allston, Clark has been a part of the University’s ongoing efforts to encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration “in pursuit of aesthetic innovation.”

“We are confident that Professor Clark will build upon existing connections and develop new ones with other disciplines around the University and beyond Harvard as she works with the center’s executive committee to shape the intellectual vision for the Mahindra Center’s next chapter,” Garber and Gay wrote.

Clark said in the release that she is grateful and “deeply honored” to receive the appointment, adding that she believes the arts and humanities hold particular importance during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic, which has shuttered most of the University’s in-person operations, led the Mahindra Center to cancel all of its events indefinitely beginning March 11.

“I look forward to building on the strengths of this dynamic and vibrant center and its legacy of cross-disciplinary intellectual exchange at the forefront of humanistic endeavor,” Clark said. “At this historic time, as we all face the unsettling prospect of prolonged social isolation and as the headlines of each day bring greater uncertainty, the humanities and creative arts bring strength to the human spirit and new understandings of human resilience in the darkest moments.”

—Staff writer Meera S. Nair can be reached at meera.nair@thecrimson.com.

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