Srinivas Aravamudan has become the third member of the Group of 88 to be promoted to a deanship since signing the Group's statement. Aravadudan joins Lee Baker and Sally Deutsch as the Group's representatives among the ranks of Duke deans. And, of course, 88'er Paula McClain currently serves as chair of the Duke Academic Council, the highest-elected faculty position on campus.
Aravamudan's research interests--postcolonial literature and theory--place him squarely in the Group's intellectual mainstream. In explaining the appointment, Dean of Trinity College Dean George McLendon cited Aravamudan's work at the Franklin Humanities Institute, where he ran a seminar entitled--naturally--“Race, Justice, and the Politics of Memory.”
According to his official statement, Aravamudan describes his role as building “on the existing strengths and accomplishments of the humanities faculty [which is dominated by the Group of 88]. Duke humanities have been recognized as stellar across the world over the last 20 years and the university will strive to the utmost to maintain that reputation. The current economic challenges will, nonetheless, also help humanities departments recognize their most pressing priorities, and encourage collaboration and rejuvenation over mere reduplication. There is no doubt that humanities at Duke will continue to forge ahead in terms of new configurations of theory and practice, and continued innovations in disciplinary as well as interdisciplinary scholarship.”
Aravamundan, by the way, also signed the "clarifying" statement, which Robert O'Neil recently noted "substantially heightened" the concern with the Group's ad, since the signatories, even after "the steady erosion of the premises on which the lacrosse players’ guilt had been based at the time of the original ad . . . declined to apologize or retract, and essentially reaffirmed the position they had advanced nine months earlier."
That members of the Group have consistently been promoted speaks volumes of Duke's future path.