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CAORC Announces the 2023 CAORC-NEH Research Fellows

CAORC is pleased to announce the 2023 award recipients for the CAORC-NEH Research Fellowship. The fellowship supports advanced research in the humanities and provides the opportunity for scholars to spend significant time in one country with a participating Overseas Research Center as a base. The awards for this year's cohort range from $20,000 - $25,000 each. The program is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) under the Fellowship Programs at Independent Research Institutions (FPIRI).

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


Christopher McCarthy

Independent Scholar

All Roads Lead to Karakorum: Mapping Mongolia's Silk Roads and Preservation of the Gobi Desert

Overseas Research Center Affiliation: ACMS (Mongolia)

During the 13th century, Chinggis Khan and the Mongol Empire transformed the Silk Roads into an efficient, systematic, and safe network of trade routes that facilitated the exchange of goods, people, and information between Far Eastern and Western civilizations that was unprecedented in human history. Under Mongol Unity, a period known as Pax Mongolica, Karakorum, then the capital of Mongolia, became one of the most important destinations on the Silk Roads. However, despite their historical significance, Mongolia’s Silk Roads and caravan routes are not well understood. While extensive research is available on the western routes of the Silk Roads, accounts of caravan travel in Mongolia are scant among Silk Roads heritage studies.

This project is a continuation of my 7-years exploring the forgotten caravan routes of Mongolia, including Mongolia’s caravan routes to Tibet. Previous explorations identified archeological evidence that show these routes connected thriving monastic communities and commercial hubs with important political and administrative centers across Inner Asia. During my fellowship, I will draw on historical sources, GIS and remote sensing, and field research to further document Mongolia’s Silk Roads. These efforts will result in an academic paper that offers an important geographic and cultural perspective on how Mongolia’s caravan routes shaped Inner Asian identities and led to shared cultural traditions that still exist to this day. In addition, this research aims to make an important contribution toward advancing Mongolia’s application to have the Gobi Desert, an important backdrop to caravan travel, designated as UNESCO World Heritage.

Rebecca Mitchell

Associate Professor, Department of History, Middlebury College

Discordant Empire: Sound and Song in Imperial Russia, 1861-1930

Overseas Research Center Affiliation: ARISC (Georgia)

This project re-positions the Georgian sacred chant revival of the late nineteenth/early twentieth century within the multiethnic context of imperial Russia. Attempts to save Georgian national identity as embodied in the sound of sacred chant were spearheaded by a range of historical actors, including church officials, musical activists (Russian and Georgian) and the broader community. Through exploring debates over the “correct” nature of religious song, the relationship between local aural practices and religious ritual, and the link between national identity, ethnic attributes and music, this work offers a nuanced perspective on the complexity of religious identity in the Georgian Exarchate.

Bamba Ndiaye

Assistant Professor, Institute of African Studies and Division of Humanities at Oxford College, Emory University

African Social Movements in the Digital Era

Overseas Research Center Affiliation: WARC/WARA (Senegal)

On January 31, 2012, a Senegalese university student named Mamadou Diop was run over by a police armored tank while participating in a protest against then-president Abdoulaye Wade for “unconstitutionally” seeking a third term in office. Diop became a martyr whose death marked the consecration of a non-partisan youth movement launched by three hip-hop artists called Y en a marre (Enough is Enough). In less than a decade of its existence, Y en a marre became iconic in Senegalese civil society and beyond. Their effects reverberated beyond the Senegalese border through their slogan “touche pas à ma constitution” (Do not touch my constitution), a rallying cry that young people in Burkina Faso and the Democratic Republic of Congo later appropriated, thus giving the movement a Pan-African platform. The birth of Y en a marre and its confrontation methods (street protests, verbal attacks via radio, TV, concerts, rap sons to name a few) enabled several important interrogations that my book project aims at exploring. What triggers the formation of social movements in contemporary Senegal and Francophone West Africa? How does Y en a marre’s blueprint fit in the general struggle for Pan-Africanism in the 21st century? How are music and art used to create transnational solidarity against bad governance and neocolonial processes? What role do African social movements play amidst a global pandemic? My study argues that Y en a marre and similar African social movements are spearheading the renaissance of Pan-Africanism which has entered a new phase called Neo Pan-Africanism.

The next call for applications for the CAORC-NEH Research Fellowship will launch in September, 2023. Learn more about CAORC Fellowships.


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