Nine Teams of Scholars Win ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowships


Sarah Mapps Douglass. “A token of love from me, to thee.” Watercolor and goache, ca. 1833. Douglass was a schoolteacher from a prominent free black Philadelphia family and a committed anti-slavery activist, and her work is among that analyzed by Anna Arabindan-Kesson and Mia L. Bagneris in their project on early African diaspora art and visual culture.

ACLS is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2017 Collaborative Research Fellowships. The program, which is funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, supports small teams of scholars as they research and coauthor a major scholarly product. The nine teams funded this year represent a broad range of institutions and include scholars at different stages of their careers working together as well as collaborations across disciplines.

“The teams that make up this year’s cohort of Collaborative Research Fellows exemplify the program’s aim of supporting scholars whose collaborations produce knowledge that their individual research would not,” said ACLS Director of Fellowship Programs Matthew Goldfeder. “These collaborations transcend disciplines, institutions, time periods, or geographic regions (and, in some cases, all four) to shape new understandings of our world.”

This year’s projects combine expertise in a broad array of fields such as music, geography, philosophy, literature, and history. Each team plans to take advantage of the collaboration to employ more diverse research methodologies, examine larger bodies of evidence than would be possible for a single scholar, and analyze their evidence from multiple perspectives.

  • Geographers Sapana Doshi (Assistant Professor, University of Arizona) and Malini Ranganathan (Assistant Professor, American University) and literature scholar David Pike (Professor, American University) mesh ethnographic research in India with literary and cultural analysis to investigate why descriptions of rapid urban change in India and the broader Global South are so often tied to narratives of corruption.
  • Historians Michael Fitzgerald (Professor, Saint Olaf College) and Sarah Silkey (Associate Professor, Lycoming College) analyze a newly accessible trove of letters and diaries of Ku Klux Klan supporters that reveals the interpersonal dynamics of racial extremism and the generational conflicts between Victorian gender expectations and notions of southern manhood during Reconstruction and its aftermath.
  • In The Problem of Bodies from Newton to Kant, philosophers Katherine Brading (Professor, University of Notre Dame) and Marius Stan (Assistant Professor, Boston College) identify a lacuna: by 1700 neither metaphysics nor mathematical physics were able to produce a coherent and robust notion of the body. By assessing the various attempts of philosophers and scientific theory builders to address this issue, this project shows why philosophy and physics diverged during the Enlightenment.
  • Musicologist Sarah Eyerly (Assistant Professor, Florida State University) and religious studies scholar Rachel Wheeler (Associate Professor, Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis) investigate how native Mohicans and German-Moravian missionaries developed a Mohican-Moravian hymn tradition in eighteenth-century North America. Their research offers new insights into music’s function as a site of cultural encounter between European missionaries and native peoples.
  • Analyzing visual sources—from maps, photographs, cartoons, and films, to drawings and paintings—of the WWII firebombing of Japan, historian David Fedman (Assistant Professor, University of California, Irvine) and geographer Cary Karacas (Associate Professor, City University of New York, College of Staten Island), demonstrate how media shape the experience of war as well as the comprehension and memorialization of trauma and suffering.
  • Incorporating approaches from archival theory, ethnohistory, gender and sexuality studies, and history of medicine, historians Martha Few (Professor, Pennsylvania State University), Zeb Tortorici (Assistant Professor, New York University), and Adam Warren (Associate Professor, University of Washington) study the rise and spread of postmortem cesarean operations and the baptism of unborn fetuses across the Portuguese and Spanish empires during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to show how the procedure became a tool of empire generating new ideas about women and fetuses as colonial subjects.
  • In their project on the past century of LGBT history in Nicaragua, historian and Chicano/a studies scholar Victoria González-Rivera (Associate Professor, San Diego State University) and political scientist Karen Kampwirth (Professor, Knox College) consider how sexuality affects power and politics in the Global South.
  • Legal scholar Ariela Gross (Professor, University of Southern California) and historian Alejandro de la Fuente (Professor, Harvard University) compare the legal tactics free and enslaved people of color in Cuba, Louisiana, and Virginia drew on to challenge the boundaries of slavery and freedom, and illuminate the role of these different legal regimes in challenging racial hierarchies.
  • Focusing on the interactions among artists of African descent in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, art historians Anna Arabindan-Kesson (Assistant Professor, Princeton University) and Mia Bagneris (Assistant Professor, Tulane University) reveal the often ignored complex cultural and aesthetic dialogues that produced the artistic identities of African diasporic artists in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and informed their work.

More information on this year's nine funded projects and research teams is available here.

Contact: Matthew Goldfeder, 212-697-1505 x 124