Philosophy professor awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

Susanna Siegel.

Susanna Siegel, Edgar Pierce Professor of Philosophy, won a Guggenheim Fellowship. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

2 min read

Harvard philosopher Susanna Siegel has been awarded a 2023 Guggenheim Fellowship to support her work studying vigilantism and political vision. 

Siegel, the Edgar Pierce Professor of Philosophy in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, is one of 171 fellows from across the U.S. and Canada who were chosen by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation this year, selected from a pool of nearly 2,500 applicants.  

The fellowship will support Siegel’s latest project, a book which she describes as the first systematic philosophical analysis of vigilantism. Vigilantism, Siegel says, can be a significant political force that can transform moral and political relationships as citizens try to supplant, enforce, monitor or oppose state functions. While vigilantism is a topic that has attracted little attention from philosophers until now, Siegel delves into the different ways people define it, and how it relates to unlawful protest, terrorism, mob violence, and self-defense in our world today. 

Siegel uses both philosophy and the sciences of the mind in her research, which focuses mainly on perception and the relationships between perception and culture, memory, knowledge, concepts and language. She has written about the kinds of things people can perceive, and how perception can be influenced by what one already knows, suspects or fears.  

 Guggenheim Fellowships are grants for mid-career scholars, scientists, writers and artists who have demonstrated “exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.” Many of the fellows’ projects this year directly respond to issues like the lasting effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, democracy and policing, scientific innovation, climate change, and identity. 

“Like Emerson, I believe that fullness in life comes from following our calling,” said Edward Hirsch, President of the Guggenheim Foundation, who was a poetry fellow in 1985. “The new class of Fellows has followed their calling to enhance all of our lives, to provide greater human knowledge and deeper understanding. We’re lucky to look to them to bring us into the future.” 

Since its establishment in 1925, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has granted nearly $400 million in Fellowships to over 18,000 individuals.