CONTACT: MARY GERAGHTY
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UI International Programs wins $50,000 Ford Foundation grant
IOWA CITY -- A $50,000 grant from the Ford Foundation will allow University
of Iowa professors in South Asian Studies and in African Studies to begin
erasing the lines that have traditionally been drawn between individual
branches in "area studies."
The UI is one of 30 institutions to receive funding under the foundation's
"Crossing Borders: Revitalizing Area Studies" program.
Michael McNulty, associate provost and dean of International Programs,
says the program is part of an effort to help area studies scholars begin
to broaden their research and intellectual interests. "The 'area studies'
rationale grew out of the logic of the Cold War era," when the government
needed scholars to be experts on specific areas of the world, he says.
Now that the barriers of the Cold War have been broken down there and
social and cultural information flows more freely from one nation to another,
scholars need to broaden their studies to look at the ways in which societies
are affected by the influences of surrounding nations.
"We will continue to have grounded study in one area," McNulty
says, "but scholars need to know how other areas impinge on that."
This time of transition also has implications for graduate training,
he says, since professors schooled in the original area studies model are
now charged with teaching a new way of thinking to a new generation of
"This grant will help us bring together faculty and student for
research that is both cross-national and interdisciplinary," McNulty
International Programs has planned two projects to complete with the
Ford Foundation grant. One is a year-long series of events including visits
to Africa and India and coordinated conferences on "Diasopras and
Exchanges across the Indian Ocean." In the second project, "Indian
Films and Filmmakers beyond the Subcontinent," South Asian Studies,
African Studies, and film studies scholars will explore the activity of
directors of South Asian origin who work in multiple locations and address
different audiences, yet still maintain native connections.
Allen Roberts, a UI professor of anthropology who will participate in
the projects funded by the Ford grant, says the projects will give scholars
the opportunity to study long-ignored aspects of the historical and cultural
influences and links between India and eastern Africa.
"There is a very long-standing and justified interest in the U.S.
and elsewhere regarding the trans-Atlantic diaspora," Roberts says.
"But much less attention has been paid to the eastern African diaspora
that has connected people across the Indian Ocean for centuries. Eastern
Africans may have more in common with people of the Indian Ocean rim than
with western Africans."
Other faculty members involved in developing the winning grant proposal
include: Virginia Dominquez, of the department of anthropology; Paul Greenough,
of the department of history; Kathleen Newman, of the department of Spanish
and Portuguese; and Jael Silliman of the department of women's Studies.
The Ford grant is for one year, but those who were awarded grants this
year will be invited to prepare a second proposal next year in a $350,000
multiple-year competition to select a smaller number of schools to continue
the development of their pilot programs, McNulty said.
UI International Programs, which consists of a number of offices, centers,
degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized
under the associate provost and dean for international programs, these
units serve to further internationalize the campus and community and promote
global scholarship, research and teaching.