Research Clusters

Faculty-driven collaborative research. 


The IHR facilitates and supports diverse Research Clusters at ASU. Our aim is to assist research and communication among scholars and to enrich the intellectual climate of the university. The Research Clusters frequently serve as an entry point for faculty engaging with the IHR. They should support activities related to the IHR mission to:

  • foster innovative interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research
  • examine today’s most important issues from humanistic perspectives
  • promote and support excellence in humanities scholarship
  • engage the university community in meaningful dialogue and exploration

The Jenny Norton Cluster on Women

The Reverend Jenny Norton has provided funding to support an annual Research Cluster in the Institute for Humanities Research. The Norton fund is designed to stimulate research on women in any field and on any topic. Gender scholars are encouraged to apply for the Norton Award by proposing an appropriate topic for an IHR Research Cluster that will promote research and communication among ASU scholars and enrich the intellectual climate of the university. 

The 2019–2020 application deadline for Research Clusters is 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.

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Citizen-Diplomacy, Past and Future: A Case-Study of Tempe Sister Cities, People-to-People International Arizona, and Global Ties Arizona, 1956-2021

The Citizen-Diplomacy research cluster will bring together researchers, librarians, archivists and community members around a multi-method, and multi-scale history of citizen-to-citizen diplomacy during and after the Cold War. We will focus on the role of civic associations established in response to President Eisenhower’s 1956 “People to people” initiative, and trace their changing forms, programming and status through significant geopolitical, socio-economic and technological change.


The Colonial, the Postcolonial and the Decolonial

The Colonial, the Postcolonial and the Decolonial research cluster aims to facilitate the exchange of ideas and production of research across historical, ideological, cultural, material, geographical and epistemological dimensions. Participation is welcome to those interested in all sites and forms of colonial conquest, resistance, complicity and aftermaths.

When I Say “Hip”, You Say “Hop”?: The Politics of Urban Arts, Culture and Knowledge within the Academy

The primary function of this research cluster is to unpack complex questions connected to hip-hop and urban cultural production in framing and reframing Phoenix and the US/American Southwest. The consortium of ASU faculty, scholars, artists, students, and community members connect monthly in the Sonoran Desert around a series of themes that deeply investigate some of the ethical implications of urban arts knowledges and culture as a research and educational framework in relationship to the humanities, performing arts, liberal arts and sciences.

Women, Youth, Nonbinary People and Art in the Migration Process

Art and research are gaining increasing popularity among humanities scholars and social scientists. Moreover, art has always been a way for immigrants to communicate with each other, as well as to build, develop and communicate identity.


2017 to 2018

Food and well-being in the Anthropocene

The Food and well-being in the Anthropocene research cluster will bring together environmental historians, philosophers, and food systems scientists in order to develop new research on the relationship between human well-being and global food systems. The participants will consider recent research in history of industrial agriculture and related food systems, the ethics of various food systems over time, the changing role of local food, and what constitutes a sustainable food system today.

Radical Feminism, Sexuality, and Resistance

This research cluster highlights the interplay between radical feminist thought—that is, the political project of going to the roots of gendered inequalities—alongside sexuality and political resistance.  We look at marginalized groups and ideologies (e.g., indigenous rights, radical environmentalism) and we make unexpected connections among allies (e.g., radical feminist men, heterosexual allies for LGBT rights) as a way to deconstruct hierarchies around how radical feminism, sexuality, and resistance are conceptualized within the academy.  We are specifically interested in interrogating (

Asian Americans and Mental Health

Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial group in the United States (21 million according to U.S. Census, 2016). Despite this, Asian America’s diverse experiences remain invisible as a result of the “model minority” myth, the perception that they are stress and problem-free. This project employs the concept of intersectionality with literary and artistic interpretations of the Asian American experience to the field of psychology to ask: How can the humanities and social sciences make visible Asian America’s unique and diverse risks and resilience in mental health?

Mindfulness and Social Justice

For this research cluster, we seek to bring together colleagues from across the university who share an interest in mindfulness and social justice to engage in collective dialogue on how to bridge these two realms in our intellectual thinking, critical engagement with the world, and personal, everyday practices. Our proposed research cluster has two foci: 


Listening to Refugees: Engaging with Arizona Refugee Communities

English-learning represents a central need for refugee integration into US society and is an area where ASU has substantial expertise. However, ASU faculty need to listen closely to refugee communities in order to better understand their experiences, present situation, and how to shape educational opportunity to meet specific communal needs. This research cluster will bring refugee community representatives and activists to ASU in order to learn educational, cultural, and economic situations.

Global Cultures of the Modern, 1750-1850

This research cluster brings together scholars from units across ASU whose work focuses on the period 1750-1850 to explore connections, convergences, and contradictions in our understanding of what it means to be modern. Even in our current post-modern (or post-post-modern) era, westerners still define themselves, their world, and the challenges they face in relationship to a concept of the modern which is based on the western experience from 1750 to 1850. In the west, this period marks the transition into the modern age.

Gender and Sport

This research cluster will help to establish ASU as a leader in the study of sport in the humanities. The study of sport and the study of gender both require transdisciplinarity and a foundation of knowledge grounded in the humanities to peel off the layers of social and cultural meanings held by a society.

Embodied Cognition in Performance

This research cluster will examine current research in performance theory, phenomenology, cognitive psychology, and the neuroscience of movement in order to develop a fuller understanding of the role that motion and proprioception plays in cognitive and affective processes. In launching an interdisciplinary, collaborative think tank focused on embodiment, they seek to lay the theoretical groundwork for collaborative research and pilot an experimental study.

Consuming the Other

This transdisciplinary and collaborative research cluster will explore how people engage with representations of otherness through the act of consumption. Participants will study the intersection of art and food, public festivals and race, class and ethnicity, and national identity and immigration.

2015 to 2016

American Studies Research Cluster

This research cluster builds on the successful work we have been doing in our 2014-2015 American Studies research cluster, through a new focus on making connections between the humanities and social sciences. The American Studies MA program will welcome our first cohort of students this fall, and the new iteration of the research cluster will be valuable in terms of building a vibrant intellectual community in this field.

Image credit: © Matt Garcia