As the new director of the Institute for Humanities Research, I was supposed to arrive at Arizona State University in August 2020, but I could not make it until March 2021. My late arrival was of course due to COVID-19 and the delays it created in visa issuing as well as several cancellations of flights from Australia to the U.S.
During this delay, however, I was in weekly contact with the team at the institute, and I was impressed by the success of the online programming they had put in place. ...
Grants and awards
Grants and awards at the institute imagine and create better futures by funding humanities-based projects and publications.
dollars in grants and awards was distributed in 2020-21
projects received funding in 2020-21
of seed grant projects funded in 2020-21 were interdisciplinary
of seed grant projects funded in 2020-21 supported marginalized communities
The Fellows program provides funding for faculty to commit to a year of intensive, collaborative research.
What does it mean to be human and humane in an age that undermines our humanity? “Recovering the Human(e) in an Age of Dehumanization” was the 2020-21 theme for the institute’s fellowship program.
Is Shakespeare an 'engine of inequity'?
In May 2017, James Wermers was leading a presentation on microaggressions and structural racism in a room of over a hundred people.
He began the discussion with a brief exercise:
First, he asked the group to identify plays by Shakespeare, to which they responded enthusiastically, naming 26 different works.
Then, he asked a second question: Can you name works by Indigenous authors, female authors or authors of color?
Suddenly, the initial excitement shifted to uncomfortable silence. After a few hesitant responses, the question was called out:
“Are you calling us racist?”
The institute’s seed grant program empowers the ASU community to imagine, innovate and create humanities research that addresses significant social challenges in the past, present and future.
Spring 2020 seed grant recipients
Jason Bruner, associate professor, SHPRS.
Janis Nuckolls, professor, Brigham Young University; Tod D. Swanson, associate professor, SHPRS.
Chouki El Hamel, professor, SHPRS, director, Center for Maghrib Studies; Said Ennahid, associate professor, Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane; Edward Oetting, librarian, ASU Libraries; Matthew Toro, director of maps, imagery and geospatial services, ASU Library Map and Geospatial Hub.
Julie Codell, professor, School of Art.
Rebirth and Resurgence in Southern Arizona: A Political History of Hia Ced O’odham Sovereignty Since 1850
David Martínez, associate professor, American Indian Studies.
Imge Oranli, assistant professor, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts.
Julia Himberg, associate professor and director of film and media studies, Department of English.
Fall 2020 seed grant recipients
Anand Gopal, assistant research professor, Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and Center on the Future of War; Daniel Rothenberg, center co-director and professor of practice, School of Politics and Global Studies.
Jennifer Sandlin, professor, School of Social Transformation.
J.T. Roane, assistant professor, School of Social Transformation, program lead, Black Ecologies Initiative; Huewayne Watson, instructor, School of Social Transformation.
The institute’s Book Award celebrates outstanding writers whose contributions to the humanities change the conversation by fostering new directions for their discipline. The 2021 award was open exclusively to publications by ASU faculty.
Author: Hannah Barker, assistant professor, SHPRS
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
The history of the Black Sea as a source of Mediterranean slaves stretches from ancient Greek colonies to human trafficking networks in the present day.
At its height during the 14th and early 15th centuries, the Black Sea slave trade was not the sole source of Mediterranean slaves; Genoese, Venetian and Egyptian merchants bought captives taken in conflicts throughout the region, from North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, the Balkans and the Aegean Sea.
Yet the trade in Black Sea slaves provided merchants with profit and prestige; states with military recruits, tax revenue and diplomatic influence; and households with the service of women, men and children.
Reading notarial registers, tax records, law, merchants’ accounts, travelers’ tales and letters, sermons, slave-buying manuals, literary works and treaties, Barker gives a rich picture of the context in which merchants traded and enslaved people met their fate.
Author: Vanessa Fonseca-Chávez, assistant dean of diversity, equity and inclusion, College of Integrated Sciences and Arts
Publisher: University of Arizona Press
Author: Ana Hedberg Olenina, assistant professor, School of International Letters and Cultures
Publisher: Oxford University Press
The institute offers support to The College’s Division of Humanities at ASU as well as internal funding recipients in developing and crafting humanities-based projects for external funding applications.
Support includes identifying funding sources as well as providing assistance with all aspects of an external application, with no regard to the size, scope, funding level or experience of the researcher(s).*
*Research advancement data are measured over an 18-month project period (Jan. 1, 2020-June 30, 2021).
dollars in external funding was awarded
collaborative proposals were submitted
proposals included direct engagement with local communities
ASU faculty participated in sponsored projects in collaboration with the Division of Humanities
project proposals were submitted
proposals were awarded funding (with 12 still pending at the time of reporting)
virtual events and workshops were offered to the community
events employed humanities methodologies to advocate for more just futures for marginalized communities
events addressed challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the role of the humanities in overcoming those challenges
These dynamic programs are designed to make an impact in critical areas of contemporary life through interdisciplinary humanities research.
They are windows into imagining and building better futures for us all.
interdisciplinary initiatives were supported in 2020-21
dollars in funding was provided to institute initiatives
events were hosted by institute initiatives
‘Extraction, Disposability and Resistance’
The “Extraction, Disposability and Resistance” series hosted by the Black Ecologies Initiative brought together environmental justice organizers, farmers, performance and visual artists and intellectuals.
Together, participants discussed overcoming extraction and disaster, confronting ecological crises and connecting Black communities across time and place.
Bias, racism and colonialism in the history of epidemics
The COVID-19 pandemic is not the first or the only disease outbreak that has threatened human health and disproportionately affected those already disadvantaged by established institutions and networks of care.
The Plagues, Epidemics and Culture: Histories of Crisis and Care series hosted by the Health Humanities Initiative explored historical changes in the cultures of care that arose from past epidemics. Speakers addressed how bias, racism and colonialism are intimately bound up in the histories of epidemics and what can be learned from these histories.
(Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons. Camp Funston, at Fort Riley, Kansas, during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.)
The past year has brought on challenging new circumstances and called attention to existing social injustices. In response to these challenges, the Institute for Humanities Research has funded and organized events, initiatives and projects that seek to build better futures through humanities methodologies.
Thank you to our friends, colleagues and stakeholders who have supported these efforts. Together, we can create just, ethical and sustainable worlds.