Screen readers: Two navigational links to follow.Skip to site navigation.Skip to page content.
The University of Iowa News Services
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 31, 2006

Note: This is a corrected version of the release.

Filios And Sidel Awarded Stanley International Programs-Obermann Fellowships

Denise Filios of Spanish and Portuguese in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Mark Sidel of the College of Law and International Programs have been awarded Stanley International Programs-Obermann Center Research  Fellowships for Fall 2006.

These semester-long awards are given to select Obermann Center Scholars whose research focuses on international issues. In addition to receiving an award of $3,000 for travel and research support, fellows present their research at a public lecture to be co-hosted by UI International Programs and the Obermann Center.

Filios is currently studying the use of idealizing images of al-Andalus, an area of the Iberian Peninsula ruled by Muslims from 711 to 1492. Al-Andalus has been represented simplistically as an earthly Paradise where Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived and worked harmoniously together. Filios seeks to nuance this myth, which she says is “the other side of Western Orientalism” and which encourages some Western scholars to celebrate tolerant Andalusian Muslims of the past while condemning intolerant Islamicists in the present, thereby perpetuating negative attitudes toward Islam. She argues that “idealizing images  are a strategy in the current cultural negotiations over the role of  Islam in post-colonial Arab countries, in Europe, and in the United States.”
The fellowship will allow her to travel to Turkey next spring to research images of al-Andalus in a non-Arab Muslim country. The results of that trip will enable her to compare Turkish images and attitudes toward al-Andalus with those from North Africa, the Middle East, and the West. Filios plans to culminate her research in a book-length monograph.

Sidel, a current Faculty Scholar, is spending his time at the Obermann Center this year focusing on international human trafficking and involuntary servitude. Having already worked on this topic through an Obermann Interdisciplinary Research grant undertaken with UI History professor Ken Cmiel, he is now writing about a large trafficking case involving Vietnamese and Chinese workers on American Samoa as a case study of international trafficking to the U.S., and about American trafficking law and policy during the Clinton and Bush administrations.  The Stanley International Programs-Obermann Center Research Fellowship will allow him to travel to Vietnam and Samoa for to gather materials and conduct interviews.

These fellowships are supported by the Stanley-UI Foundation Support Organization, UI International Programs and the C. Esco and Avalon L. Obermann Fund.

The Obermann Center for Advanced Studies is dedicated to scholarship and intellectual exchange. Some Obermann Scholars work independently, stimulated by uninterrupted blocks of time and by informal conversation. Others work in close collaboration. Obermann Scholars have published numerous scholarly books and articles and have been awarded many external research grants and fellowships for projects begun at the center.

International Programs enables UI students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and about the world. Its offices, degree programs and events provide life-changing opportunities on campus and abroad, heighten intellectual and cultural diversity, and give all university Constituents access to vital international knowledge. For more information, visit or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the Office of the Provost.

For more information on this award, contact Jenna Burns, assistant to IP Associate Dean Jane Desmond, at 319-335-0368 or or Jennifer New, Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, 319-335-4034,

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026,; Program: Jenna Burns, 319-335-0368,; Jennifer New, 319-335-4034, Writer: Jennifer New