2019-20 Annual Report


These dynamic and flexible cross-disciplinary programs allow us to advance areas of research important to many scholars in the ASU community and to the public. Initiatives are designed to make an impact in critical areas of contemporary life. They are windows into imagining and building better futures for us all.

Grants and awards

Grants and awards at the IHR imagine and create new futures for research and scholarship at ASU by funding humanities projects and publications.

Seed grants
Research clusters


in grants and awards distributed in 2019-20


scholars received funding


projects received funding


The fellows program provides funding for faculty to commit to a year of intensive research and work together to meaningfully present their work to the community. What functions do borders and boundaries serve? Who makes and guards them? Who confronts and crosses them? Fellows studied different regions and peoples around the world to find answers to these questions inspired by the year’s fellowship theme, “Borders and Boundaries.”

Vanessa Fonseca-Chávez

Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary Humanities and Communication

Fonseca-Chávez’s project engages community histories in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico by examining how long-standing Spanish- and Mexican-origin communities created and preserved their “querencia,” a love or attachment to place rooted in landscape, on both sides of Arizona-New Mexico territorial and state borders. 

Calvin Schermerhorn

Professor, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies (SHPRS)

Schermerhorn’s project is a narrative history of economic inequality, which shows how barriers to Black income and wealth creation formed in the colonial era and transformed over 400 years as a bundle of disadvantages relative to white Americans.

Anna Cichopek-Gajraj

Associate Professor, SHPRS

Cichopek-Gajraj’s book project examines the postwar displacement of Polish Catholics and Polish Jews. It traces their journeys out of Poland through Africa, Europe and Latin America in the first 15 years after World War II.

Laurie Manchester

Associate Professor, SHPRS

In 1954, 100,000 Russians from pious, monarchist families voluntarily repatriated to the Soviet Union. Manchester’s research challenges the dominant theories that economic betterment, the desire to live where individual freedom is protected and family reunification were the dominant motivations for migration.

Miriam Mara

Associate Professor, School of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies

Ireland’s geographical status and national boundaries have profound effects on the ways agricultural guidelines change the land and its use. Mara’s project examines Irish agricultural practices and farming policy alongside contemporary literary texts that depict Irish farming practices.

William Hedberg

Assistant Professor, School of International Letters and Cultures

Hedberg’s project centers on the literary representation of “utopia” in early modern and modern East Asian literature. His research partakes of a growing body of scholarship devoted to previously overlooked connections between the literary corpuses of China, Japan and the West.

Seed grants

The IHR seed grant program empowers the ASU community to imagine, innovate and create humanities research that reveals new ways of understanding the past and future.

30% of seed grant projects were collaborative  

67% of seed grant applicants received funding 

Spring 2019 recipients

Biography of a Sound — Prince, Place and the Hidden History of the Minneapolis Sound

Rashad Shabazz, Associate Professor, School of Social Transformation; Sabine Feisst, Evelyn Smith Professor, School of Music.

Power, Society and the Senses: A Workshop

Toby Harper, Assistant Professor, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies; Richard Newhauser, Professor, Department of English.

Storytelling on Location: Emerging Modalities of Place-Based Writing

Jacob Greene, Assistant Professor, Department of English.

Who Wrote the Autobiography of Malcolm X

Keith Miller, Professor, Department of English.

Fall 2019 recipients

Bodies in Revolt: The Volatile Politics of Women’s Body Hair

Breanne Fahs, Professor, School of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies.

Monumental Objections: The Phoenix Indian School at Steele Indian School Park

Kathleen Lamp, Associate Professor, Department of English.

No Longer Just ‘Hyphenated’: The New ‘American’ Conversation

Pardis Mahdavi, Dean of Social Sciences, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Lois Brown, Director, Center for the Study of Race and Democracy.

External funding

The IHR offers grant support to The College’s Division of Humanities at ASU as well as IHR internal funding recipients. Note: External funding is measured over an 18-month project period (Jan. 1, 2019-Jun. 30, 2020).


dollars in external funding was awarded


project proposals were submitted


faculty participated in sponsored projects in collaboration with the Division of Humanities

Book Award

The IHR Book Award celebrates outstanding writers whose contributions to the humanities change the conversation by fostering new directions for their discipline.

Events and workshops

The IHR hosts several events and workshops to connect ASU scholars with the community, shape new research possibilities and help faculty and graduate students thrive as scholars in the humanities. Here are some highlights from the past year.


events were hosted or sponsored by the IHR


of these events were workshops


online events and workshops were offered to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic

Event highlights

Geologies of Race, with Distinguished Lecturer Kathryn Yusoff

How are geology and race connected? At this public lecture on February 27, IHR 2020 Distinguished Lecturer Kathryn Yusoff invited guests to discover the connection between the human impact on geology and the inhuman outcomes of colonialism. A major university and community event, the annual Distinguished Lecturer program brings to campus a prominent humanities scholar whose work highlights the importance of humanities research.

Opening Reception for Dust & Shadow: An Acoustic Ecology Salon

Maja Kuzmanovic and Nik Gaffney of FoAM traveled the desert in two years of site visits with ASU’s D.A.R.E. team collecting artifacts and sounds. From these experiences, they created a desert sounds vinyl album and series of accompanying images, which were displayed at the Acoustic Ecology Salon at the Hayden Library. Additional books, maps and images were supplied by the Hayden Library and its archives. This public reception (hosted by the Desert Humanities initiative and co-sponsored by the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, the Center for Philosophical Technologies and the Synthesis Center) gave attendees the opportunity to be immersed in a desert experience.

The Scholarly Book: Idea, Proposal, Execution, with William Germano

On October 24, William Germano taught participants how to conceptualize a scholarly book, how to distinguish research from idea, how to determine a structure that works and how to refine a document so that a publisher will give it serious consideration. Germano provided one-on-one feedback to attendees who were workshopping their own book ideas.

Writing Studios for Faculty and Graduate Students

Throughout the academic year, Chris Jones, director of graduate studies and associate professor of history at SHPRS, hosted six-week writing studios. He held two workshops for faculty and two workshops for graduate students. Faculty workshop participants discussed topics such as setting themselves up for success, avoiding negative self-talk and practicing habits that make it easier to keep writing on a regular basis. Topics for the graduate student studios included breaking large writing projects into manageable pieces and writing while researching.

‘The New Gay for Pay’ Lightning Talks and Workshop with Julia Himberg

On November 14, Julia Himberg, director and associate professor of Film and Media Studies at ASU, led a workshop for individuals interested in social change, advocacy and activism to talk to each other about how to get out of the academic “comfort zone” and make their work accessible to a public audience.   Guests had the option to present their own three-minute lightning talks on their topic of research in relation to social change, advocacy and activism. Together, the talks and following table discussions bridged the gap between academic research and how to inform the public about that research.

Adaptation, Resiliency and Care: A Series

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IHR launched the Adaptation, Resiliency and Care series. In this broader time of uncertainty, this continuing series seeks to provide conversations and resources to create a community of mutual support. Series event topics have included teaching online, conducting research and offering support to students, as well as new challenges for parenting and building community during a pandemic.

Looking forward

The 2020-21 academic year holds new challenges and possibilities. To meet the demands of the times, we are creating responsive programming.

Look for our new Black Ecologies initiative. Attend programming on Adaptation, Resilience and Care. Tune in and participate in our Scholarly Series on Hope and Empowerment.

Meet our innovative postdoctoral scholar in residence, Nnamdi Igbokwe, who is working on public policy and globalism. Join conversations with our 2020 Book Award winner Juan Du and honorable mention recipient Francine Banner. Hear from our 2021 Distinguished Lecturer, adrienne maree brown.

In the year ahead, we hope you will engage with us in creating new ideas for the humanities at ASU and in our community.