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CAORC Announces 2019 Fellowship Recipients

CAORC fellows photo montage

CAORC is pleased to announce the 2019 award recipients for the Multi-Country Research Fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities Senior Research Fellowship, and the Mary Ellen Lane Multi-Country Travel Award.

Multi-Country Research Fellowship

Now in its 26th year, the Multi-Country Research Fellowship supports advanced regional or trans-regional research in the humanities, social sciences, or allied natural sciences for U.S. doctoral candidates and postdoctoral scholars. For the 2019 competition cycle, nine fellowships were awarded for grants of $10,500 each. The program is funded by the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Mary Ellen Lane Multi-Country Travel Award

The 2019 Mary Ellen Lane Multi-Country Travel Award was granted to Anna Weerasinghe of John Hopkins University toward her project, 'Gender, Medicine, and Law in Early Modern Portuguese India'. This award is granted to the highest-ranking Multi-Country Research fellow and provides $1,000 towards travel expenses. The award is named after CAORC’s founding director, Dr. Mary Ellen Lane.

National Endowment for the Humanities Senior Research Fellowship

The NEH Senior Research Fellowship supports advanced research in the humanities in Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Cyprus, Georgia, Indonesia, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Senegal, Sri Lanka or Tunisia. For the 2019 competition, three fellowships were awarded to projects that will be carried out in Indonesia, Mexico, Senegal. This program is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

CAORC 2019 fellows list

View the full list of 2019 fellows, project titles, and abstracts below.

Learn more about CAORC Fellowships.


Multi-Country Research Fellowship – 2019 Fellows

Henry Clements

Doctoral Candidate, Department of History, Yale University

Country(ies): Lebanon, Turkey

Documenting Community: The Süryani Christians of the Ottoman Empire

My project considers the process of communal formation undertaken by the Süryani Christians of the Ottoman Empire. Historians have by and large approached the question of religious communities in the empire with skepticism. Where clergymen and nationalists claim communal coherence, the historian exposes community's fractures, contested leadership, and porous boundaries. What this approach misses is that community is not simply an entity to be located, demonstrated, or debunked. Rather, community is an attempt and a process. The Süryani Christians understood that they had to constantly bring community into being. I argue that they used textual practices to do so. In the early modern period, scribes maintained and protected the community through the constant reproduction of manuscripts. The bureaucratic and intellectual transformations of the 19th century, however, expanded the options for communal production through text. Drawing on untapped communal archives featuring sources in Arabic, Ottoman Turkish, Syriac, and Garshuni (Syro-Arabic), my research will explore Süryani communal formation through text in the halls of Ottoman bureaucracy in Istanbul; amongst Süryani intellectuals in the nahda salons of Beirut; and in the provincial Ottoman city of Mardin, home to the Süryani patriarchate. My project hypothesizes that the transformation of Süryani religion and community in modernity was inextricably linked to the changing meaning of text and documentation.

Armelle Crouzières Ingenthron

J. Harvey Watson Professor of French and Francophone Studies, Department of French and Francophone Studies, Middlebury College

Country(ies): Morocco, Spain

Mediterranean Dialogues in Catalan and French: Najat El Hachmi and Malika Mokeddem

This book will explore connections within the Mediterranean region beyond national identities by comparing novels by two significant women authors of Maghrebian descent. Catalan Moroccan Najat El Hachmi, who moved from postcolonial Morocco to Catalonia at a young age in the eighties, writes in Catalan. French Algerian Malika Mokeddem, who writes in French, grew up under French colonialism and was thirty when she moved to southern France. By juxtaposing these intergenerational interlocutors who represent different historical models and migratory experiences, I will investigate changes in Maghrebian cultures and how both writers rethink the postcolonial condition. Writing in Catalan and French allows them to question a patriarchal order and homogeneous national identities, whether Moroccan, Algerian, Catalan, Spanish, or French, and leads to the reshaping of identities. While much has been written about Mokeddem in North America and Europe, and El Hachmi has been gaining notoriety, mainly in Europe, they have not been analyzed in a Mediterranean context. Scholars have not yet addressed these two authors together. As dissemination will occur in two languages, French and English, it will be a major contribution because current criticism about El Hachmi has been confined to Spanish and Catalan. Conducting research further south on El Hachmi’s Moroccan heritage will also help to connect her writings to those of other Francophone women writers of Maghrebian descent. My book will bring Mokeddem and El Hachmi’s work to a broader public and demonstrate their seminal impact on literature, through which they have created a dialogue beyond national borders.

Samaa Elimam

Doctoral Candidate, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University

Country(ies): Egypt, France, Sudan, United Kingdom

On Site: Engineering, Empire, and the Geography of the Nile Valley

Most historical studies of the Nile Valley during the nineteenth century focus largely on the ways in which European engineers and architects have dominated the river through large-scale public works. In this study, I ask the reverse: how did the geography of the Nile Valley shape the formation of design knowledge and techniques in the early nineteenth century? Between 1805 and 1848, Ottoman viceroy Mehmet Ali sought to build an autonomous state in the heart of the Nile with its own industrial foundations, refashioning Egypt into an imperial power. Both Ottoman and European engineers were at the core of this transformation. My research focuses on three ambitious engineering projects: the Mahmudiyyah Canal (1816-1843), the Alexandria dockyards (1828-1836), and the administration of the Sudanese Nile (1821-1865), examining the encounter of ‘modern’ design methods with a set of natural and cultural sites. Bringing together approaches from architectural history with the history of science and technology, I show how the geography of the Nile Valley forced designers to reckon with the limits of their technical methods as they confronted obstacles in the terrain alongside ancient artifacts of curiosity. Through a close reading of design drawings, maps, and court records in the archival collections of Cairo, Khartoum, London, and Paris, I will suggest the possibility of an alternative set of criteria for what constitutes the history of the design disciplines in Egypt and the Sudan.

Arjun Guneratne

Professor of Anthropology and Director of Asian Studies, Department of Anthropology, Macalester College

Country(ies): India, Sri Lanka

Ornithology at the Margins: The Social History of a Field Science in Sri Lanka

Among the sciences, ornithology is notable in depending on amateurs for its development. Given this fact, this project argues that the science is shaped as much by the social backgrounds, cultural beliefs and rivalries of its practitioners as it is by purely scientific considerations. I examine these issues in the context of Sri Lanka, where ornithology’s development was driven as much by the adoption of birding by new social classes with their own distinctive values as it was by new forms of technology and advances in scientific ideas and methods. The history of ornithology on the island is that of an increasing democratization of the field: introduced by an 18th century Dutch governor and established by 19th century British colonialists, the study of birds became the pastime of an anglicized elite following independence, but in recent decades has been embraced by a broader spectrum of society.

The significance of this work is twofold. First, the history of ornithology has focused on the West; little has been written about its history elsewhere. Thus, understanding of the development of the science in a country on ornithology’s margins, and its relationship to the centers of research is lacking, as is knowledge of its relationship to broader cultural and socio-political frameworks. Second, I treat ornithology as an example of what Arjun Appadurai calls a global cultural flow. How does a science originating in a western epistemology enter into and establish itself in a different socio-cultural context? How are its practices and purposes changed thereby?

Nour Joudah

Doctoral Candidate, Department of Geography, University of California, Los Angeles

Country(ies): Algeria, Jordan, Palestine

Mapping Decolonized Futures: Indigenous Efforts for Algeria, Palestine, and Hawaii

Maps portray a set of geographical imaginaries. Among viewers, they can evoke as strong a sense of affinity and belonging as they can pain and disavowal. As school age children, we are taught to find ourselves on maps, to tie identities to place and expect these places to affirm our presence in them. But what if one is unable to find themselves on a map? For indigenous communities in settler colonial societies, maps rarely include them, let alone affirm their histories or continued existence. Dominant state maps replace their presence on the land and their spatial knowledge with settler imaginaries.

However, mapping is not necessarily a unidirectional or topdown process. Four months before Algeria’s National Liberation Front launched the war of independence and two years before it adopted its political platform, it redrew the map and established a counter state to French Algeria. This counter state stood as a material and discursive contestation to the French colonial project, even prompting a French remapping. Using the countermapping and remapping of pre- and post-independence Algeria as a nodal point of inquiry, this study interrogates how contemporary indigenous mapping projects inform potential for and attempts at decolonization in other settler colonial contexts.

Using relational comparison and guided by the focus on maps as practice, this research explores how contemporary indigenous communities in Palestine and Hawaii view and use mapping as both a cartographic and imaginative decolonial praxis.

Caroline Kahlenberg

Doctoral Candidate, Department of History and Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University

Country(ies): Jerusalem, Palestine

Hawkers and Housekeepers: Gender, Class, and Jewish-Arab Relations on Palestine’s Margins (1887-1948)

This dissertation reevaluates Arab-Jewish relations in late Ottoman and British Mandate Palestine (1887-1948) by turning our attention to interactions among individuals in domestic spheres. I examine everyday relationships that arose when Jewish workers entered Arab employers’ homes and when Arab workers entered Jewish employers’ homes. Specifically, this project traces the experiences of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish peddlers, housekeepers, nannies, and midwives. Unlike interactions among politicians and intellectuals that mostly transpired in the “public” sphere, these workers visited their employers’ domestic spaces. This social history of Palestine makes use of sources including peddler license applications, census and court records, newspaper articles and want ads, existing archival oral histories, photographs, and memoirs. It contributes to scholarly fields of Jewish-Arab relations, Palestine’s economy, nationalism, and gender history.

Taylor Moore

Doctoral Candidate, Department of History, Rutgers University, New Brunswick

Country(ies): Egypt, Palestine, Turkey

Superstitious Women: Race, Magic, and Medicine in Egypt (1875-1950)

My dissertation explores the role that Upper Egyptian female healers, or wise women, played in the global development of anthropological and medical expertise in Egypt from 1875-1950. The project combines Middle East history’s rich foundation of social history, with fresh insights from science and technology studies, black feminist theory, and budding scholarship on the Islamicate occult sciences to consider how racialized constructions of the Upper Egyptian peasant woman—along with the socio-medical, spiritual, and environmental worlds they inhabited—impacted the global formation of the disciplines of anthropology and archeology during the interwar period. The development of anthropological thought in interwar Egypt and abroad, I argue, hinged on the study of “superstitious” healing practices (khorafat) or “old wives medicine” (tibb al-rikka) attributed to Upper Egyptian and formerly enslaved East African healing practitioners. The first half of the dissertation combines material objects, namely amulets housed in European and Egyptian ethnographic collections, with traditional nineteenth and twentieth-century archival sources in Arabic and Ottoman Turkish on magic (sihr), occult sciences (al-'ulum al-ghariba), and medicine (tibb) to reconstruct the political and spiritual economies of healing in late Ottoman Egypt. The second half of the dissertation exposes how wise women and their amulets found themselves entangled in the “internationalization of social sciences,” not as mere objects of study, or “go-betweens,” but critical producers of scientific knowledge that shaped the fields of anthropology, archaeology, and Egyptology. This study is one of the first in the field of modern Middle Eastern history to rely on amulets and talismans collected in Egypt by anthropologists, medical officials, and private collectors as an archival source to write the social and intellectual histories of lower class women, formerly enslaved Africans, and Upper Egyptian migrants who left few traditional archival traces.

Jeannie Sowers and Erika Weinthal

Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, and Director of the International Affairs Program, University of New Hampshire

Lee Hill Snowdon Professor of Environmental Policy, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University

Country(ies): Italy, Jerusalem, Jordan, Palestine

Conflict and the Targeting of Civilian Infrastructure and Livelihoods in the Middle East

We will be using a CAORC Multi-Country Fellowship to conduct field research for our current research project analyzing the direct and indirect impacts of targeting civilian infrastructure in Middle Eastern conflicts. We document patterns of targeting infrastructure across a variety of cases; analyze the interdependent ways in which destruction and deterioration of critical infrastructure undermines livelihoods, public health, and ecosystems; and explore the politics of rebuilding and reconstruction. Our research draws on an original database constructed over the past two years tracking infrastructure targeting in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and the Palestinian territories. Our fieldwork includes document collection, archival research, and interviews with humanitarian organizations, civil society, state agencies, and international organizations working on essential infrastructure. We also consider how these actors influence legal norms and practices dealing with human rights, humanitarian intervention, and the environment, in light of escalating violations of international humanitarian law (IHL), which prohibits the deliberate targeting of objects essential to civilian life. CAORC funding will help us conduct additional fieldwork in Amman, Ramallah, and East Jerusalem.

Anna Weerasinghe

Mary Ellen Lane Travel Award Recipient

Doctoral Candidate, Department of the History of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University

Country(ies): India, Italy, Portugal

Gender, Medicine, and Law in Early Modern Portuguese India

My dissertation investigates the practice and regulation of healing and bodily care by and for women in early modern Portuguese India. While historians of colonial medicine acknowledge that Indian, African, and mestiça women almost certainly provided a significant proportion of healthcare in early modern Portuguese India, research has focused primarily on sources, such as travel narratives and pharmacopeia, that record encounters between elite—and exclusively male—European and Indian practitioners. My research combines a gendered rereading of these familiar sources with little-studied legal, notarial, religious, and financial records to argue that women healers, sufferers, and patrons played a significant role both as brokers mediating contact between plural medical cultures and as distinct participants in the medical marketplace of early modern Portuguese India. More broadly, my dissertation brings together the historiographies of medicine, empire, and gender to understand how gender inflects contact between medical cultures in early modern colonial contexts.


NEH Senior Research Fellowship – 2019 Fellows

Hilary Jones

Associate Professor of History, Department of History, Florida International University

Country of research: Senegal

From Senegambia to the French Antilles: West Africa and the Making of the French Atlantic World

My project examines Senegambia and the French Caribbean in the era of the illegal slave trade. A study of slavery, the slave trade, and European imperialism in the nineteenth century, I follow the points of contact, engagement and exchange between slave traders, slave owners and the enslaved. Based on archival research, this work traces the nature of the slave trade, instances of reverse migration, and the creation of Libreville (Gabon) as a colony to resettle former slaves. Using property records, I map the circulation of goods and people between Senegal’s coastal ports and key locations in the French Atlantic. Bridging the gap between African History, modern France, and African Diaspora Studies, this project connects the history of the slave trade to Atlantic slave trade memorialization in the francophone Atlantic world.

Ageeth Sluis

Professor of History, Department of History and Anthropology, Butler University

Country of research: Mexico

Warrior Power: Dreaming, Drugs, Death and the Search or Alternate Spirituality in Mexico during the Sixties and Seventies

In the early 1970s, Carlos Castaneda’s series on Don Juan, an indigenous Mexican shaman, captured the imagination of a generation. Probing what Castaneda described as a secret world of “separate realities” through the use of psychedelic drugs, the books became instant bestsellers and propelled him to world fame, transforming the author from anthropologist to New Age guru. Representing indigenous shamans as alluring, wise, and—above all—powerful warriors, the “Don Juan series” proved extremely attractive to a vast and varied readership in search for spiritual guidance and ways to live authentic lives. Don Juan’s “lessons” resonated with counterculture travelers, Chicano youth, and Leftist activists alike, and provided a new generation of anthropologists in search of disciplinary redefinition with politically salient research subjects. Moreover, Castaneda described Mexico as not only attractive, but also connected its magic to terrifying ancient traditions, adding to the country’s longstanding reputation as a land steeped equally in romance and danger. This project examines Castaneda’s persona, books, and popularization of indigenous Mexico as critical lenses to examine the confluences between popular culture and the academy, violence and romance, spirituality and drug culture, New Age and tourism, and—ultimately—the US and Mexico at a time of seismic cultural shifts around the globe during and after “the long sixties.” Incorporating a transnational framework, I argue that Castaneda’s imagined Mexico, which in many ways reshaped how Mexico was understood abroad in the 1970s, remains strongly relevant and alive today and begs for further investigation.

Nicholas Williams

Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Linguistics, University of Colorado Boulder

Country of research: Indonesia

Losing Luekon: Collaborative Documentation of an Endangered Language on the Remote Indonesian Island of Simeulue

This project proposes to document and describe Leukon, an endangered language of Simeulue, Indonesia. The research will be conducted collaboratively with local Indonesian linguists and members of the speech community. The documentation will consist primarily of audio and video recordings of the language as used in daily life, which will be transcribed and translated into Indonesian and English. These recordings and additional research will help answer questions related both to the grammar of Leukon and its relationship to the other languages of Simeulue, as well as the other Barrier Islands and the languages of western Sumatra.

View the list of all current and past CAORC fellows here.

Learn more about CAORC Fellowships.

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