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Andrew W. Mellon Mediterranean Regional Research Fellowship Program

Arab Regional Workshop and Fellowship Program

Carnegie Saharan Crossroads Fellowship

Critical Language Scholarship

Outreach on Islam & Muslim Culture Project

(anchor these to their appropriate sections when everything is finished)

Andrew W. Mellon Mediterranean Regional Research Fellowship Program

The Andrew W. Mellon Mediterranean Regional Research Fellowship enabled pre- and early post-doctoral scholars to carry out research in the humanities and related social sciences in countries bordering the Mediterranean and served by American overseas research centers. Funding for this program is generously provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


CAORC carried out this fellowship for 4 years, from 2013 - 2017 and awarded 29 fellows. Nine of our Overseas Research Centers took part in this fellowship, the American Academy in Rome (AAR), the American Center of Research (ACOR), the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research (AIAR), the American Institute for Maghrib Studies (AIMS), the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE), the American Research Institute in Turkey (ARIT), the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA), the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute (CAARI), and the Palestinian American Research Center (PARC). Fellows reported unequivocally that the fellowships enabled them to finish their Ph.D. degrees, were essential to their research, helped deepen their knowledge in their field, greatly benefitted their fields, led to academic promotions  or resulted in offers of new employment or other prestigious fellowships, and/or led to other positions. By staying at the ORCs, fellows were in contact with experts in their fields and were able to build new and lasting working relationships. Many fellows have said that this interaction helped to shape the direction of their research in new ways and opened insights into other aspects of their research.

“This fellowship provided invaluable research time in my major research sites. As many of the sources are not digitized or even cataloged or in some cases, known, it was critical to be able to spend time on the ground exploring archival resources – this work could not have been done from outside the countries in question, and without it, my dissertation could not be completed.” (Susanna Ferguson, 2014-2015)

Arab Regional Workshop and Fellowship Program

In 2013 CAORC received a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to design a program to build cooperative networks among scholars from Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, and Yemen, working in the social sciences and allied humanities (including, but not limited to, political science, sociology, anthropology/ethnology, and history). The program drew on the resources, facilities, and contacts of American overseas research centers located in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, and Yemen to enable the recipients to further their research and to build professional networks in and among host countries. This program also supported CAORC's Saharan Crossroads Program (anchor this once everything is done), which explored under-studied convergences across history and the importance of the Sahel as more than a bridge between the two regions.

The program covered two joint initiatives: the first, an Arab regional workshop and fellowship program dedicated to strengthening scholarly research and networks in the region; and second, a Trans-Saharan fellowship program and closing workshop focused on building the emerging field of Trans-Saharan Studies.

18 fellows were selected and CAORC implemented a workshop for all participants in Amman, Jordan at the American Center of Research, that provided fellows the opportunity to refine their research methodologies prior to commencing short-term research fellowships. The fellows and their mentors represented a wide array of social science, humanities, and public health-related
disciplines, allowing for dynamic discussions around key scholarly issues from research methods to dissemination strategies, principles of grant‐writing, and ethical responsibilities in conducting research.

The Arab Regional Fellows participated in six‐to eight‐week fellowships with the support of the hosting American overseas research centers. In addition to receiving support with their research clearances and making use of the host facilities, fellows were incorporated into the academic communities within each center by participating in lectures, fellows’ meetings, and public events.

Carnegie Saharan Crossroads Fellowship


Saharan Crossroads sought to counter the conceptual divide separating North and sub-Saharan Africa and the tendency to view the Sahara Desert as an impenetrable barrier dividing the continent into the northern “white” and sub-Saharan “black” Africa. Countries to the north often find themselves placed in Mediterranean, Islamic, and Middle Eastern studies with little consideration of cultural, historical, or artistic contact with sub-Saharan countries, which are often considered more authentically “African.” Despite trans-Saharan cultural contact spanning centuries, this inaccurate perception of Africa as two distinct zones separated by an empty wasteland of desert continues to influence the way people think about this region and the continent as a whole.

The Saharan Crossroads Initiative was a partnership of the American Institute of Maghrib Studies (AIMS), the West African Research Association (WARA), and the Saharan Studies Association (SSA) that provides support for research, conferences and publications exploring the culture, geography, history, and sociology of this region.


Critical Language Scholarship

The U.S. State Department realized that there was a critical need for Americans to study and master what was considered ‘critical need foreign languages’, and in 2006, after working with CAORC for over 20 years, asked the Council of American Overseas Research Centers to run the Critical Language Scholarship due to its vast network of Overseas Research Centers and its capacity to send U.S. citizens overseas.


Initially the program started out with 6  languages including Arabic, Bangla, Hindi, Punjabi, Turkish, and Urdu. Grantees could travel to 7 countries and learn at the corresponding overseas research center including Bangladesh and the American Institute for Bangladesh Studies (AIBS), Egypt, and the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE), India, and the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS), Jordan, and the American Center of Research (ACOR), Tunisia, and the Le Centre d’Etudes Maghrébines à Tunis (CEMAT), Turkey, and the American Research Institute in Turkey (ARIT), and Yemen, and the American Institute for Yemeni Studies (AIYS).

In 2006, the program received almost 3,000 applications and gave out 163 scholarships . The program continued to grow over the years and in 2012 it had expanded to 13 languages, Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangala/Bengali, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish, add Urdu. The program was receiving over 5,000 applications annually. More and more languages needed to be added to the program, which would only increase the number of applicants and the time and energy that needed to be put into the program. In order for the program to continue to grow and flourish, CAORC had to hand over the program in 2013. As of 2023, CLS includes 14 languages in 17 countries. To learn more about the program today, click here.

Outreach on Islam & Muslim Cultures Project
CAORC implemented this project by making grants to a number of overseas research centers in order to provide a series of lectures and symposia at college campuses, community organizations, and academic association meetings that highlighted the work of Overseas Research Centers, the resources they provide, and different aspects of Islam or Muslim culture.
This project raised the visibility of CAORC and the overseas research center network, with its expertise on Islam and Muslim cultures among select U.S. colleges and the general public throughout the U.S. Because of this heightened visibility, it linked the overseas research centers to more of the nation's smaller colleges and to undergraduate teaching and students. The program reached and served smaller U.S. educational institutions and communities without Title VI centers, through new relationships with overseas research centers. It also promoted a broader and more nuanced understanding of the diversity of Muslim cultures to several smaller U.S. colleges and universities and the general public in their regions.
Here are a list of some of the project activities:
  • Lecture: Gender Politics in Tunisian Cinema, Tufts University - Medford, MA

  • Lecture: Islam in Yemen: Zaydi identity in modern Yemen, McDaniel College - Westminster, MD

  • Lecture: The Intersection of Islam, Politics, and Palestine, Henry Ford Community College - Dearborn, MI

  • Lecture: Women, Islamism, and Secularism in Palestine, University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse - LaCrosse, WI

  • Lecture Series: Islam: Tradition and Diversity, Camden Community College-Blackwood Campus - Blackwood, NJ

  • Lecture Series: Modern Art in Iraq: From the Pioneers of the 1930s to the Looting of 2003, - Portland, OR, Dallas-Fort Worth, TX, and Williamstown, MA

  • Panel: Contemporary Issues in Yemen, American Association of Geographers annual meeting

  • Preparation of “The Last Harvest: The Yemenis of the San Joaquin” for distribution via PBS

  • Symposium: Shari’a Beyond the Headlines: A Unique Perspective from Our Local Muslim Community, Indiana Interchurch Center - Indianapolis, IN

  • Symposium: Social Justice, Gender and Islam, Drew University - Madison, NJ

  • Symposium: Sufism as a Mediating Force in South Asia, Connecticut College - New London, CT

  • Symposium: Understanding Contemporary Islam, Frostburg University - Frostburg, MD

  • Symposium: West African Muslim Societies and their Contributions to US Culture, Cuyahoga Community College - Cleveland, OH

  • Symposium: West African Muslim Societies and Their Contributions to US Culture, Montgomery College - Rockville, MD and Howard University - Washington, DC

  • Workshop: Women in South Asian Islamic Societies - Chicago, IL


CLR/CAORC Grants for Short-Term Research in Portugal and/or Lusophone Africa

In 2013, administered under the auspices of the Center for Lusophone Research (CLR), these grants were for researchers in the arts, humanities, or social sciences based at US institutions who wished to conduct innovative research on topics pertaining to Lusophone culture, politics, or society, with a particular emphasis on Luso-Africa. The grants were designed to support advanced research focused on regional, cross-regional, and cross-disciplinary aspects of the Lusophone world. The grants enabled scholars to archives and/or conduct research in Portugal, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, or São Tomé and Príncipe. The fellowship program was offered in concert with, and as a counterpart to, the Fundação Luso-Americana para o Desenvolvimento (FLAD) Grant Program for Lecturing and Research in the US, which offers residencies for research and teaching at US universities. 


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