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Humanities research center marks anniversary with grant awards

​Community leader Laura Santos takes part in a traditional jongo dance at Quilombo Campinho da Independência in Rio de Janeiro, where UD’s Carla Guerrón Montero has been conducting fieldwork on the communities known as quilombos.

The College of Arts and Sciences’ Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Center (IHRC) at the University of Delaware has awarded grants to four projects it describes as intellectually ambitious, part of the center’s celebration of its 10-year anniversary.

The faculty projects involve a variety of disciplines and scholarly activities. Topics range from Delaware’s indigenous people to Afro-Latin American histories, the Atlantic pearl industry and African American suffragist and activist Mary Church Terrell.

The projects are:

“Learning from Delaware’s Indigenous Communities, Healing Delaware’s Watersheds” is led by McKay Jenkins, Cornelius Tilghman Professor of English; Jon Cox, assistant professor of art and design; Jame McCray, marine advisory specialist in the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment; and Anna Wik, assistant professor of plant and soil sciences. 

This collaborative project is designed to collate oral and photographic histories of Delaware’s indigenous Lenape people and their relationship with local watersheds and native plants. It will build bridges between University students and Lenape youth, as well as restoring a piece of Lenape tribal property.

Participants will include faculty and students from a variety of UD departments and the Environmental Humanities and Environmental Social Sciences programs, along with Lenape youth and elders. 

The second grant will fund the “Touring Quilombos: Memory, Citizenship and Identities in Rio de Janeiro’s Quilombo Residual Communities” project, led by Carla Guerrón Montero, professor of anthropology. 

Her research examines the intersection of culture, economics and domestic law as they relate to tourism development and the cultural heritage of quilombos, settlements founded in colonial Brazil by people of African origin, often those who had escaped from slavery.

Guerrón Montero’s project aims to advance studies in Afro-Latin American histories of resistance through anthropology, history, material culture studies and tourism studies. 

A third grant will support work by Alison Parker, professor and department chair of history, on her forthcoming book, Unceasing Militant: The Life of Mary Church Terrell, which sits at the intersection of biography, history, Africana studies, politics and social justice movements, material culture, and women and gender studies.

Terrell (1863-1954) was a suffragist and civil rights activist who, Parker argues, represents the African American elite in the nation’s capital at the turn of the 20th century. With funding from the IHRC, Parker will be adding two dozen images of Terrell to her book in order to document the physical manifestations of her wealth and status. 

Finally, the “Pearls for the Crown: European Courtly Art and the Atlantic Pearl Trade, 1498-1728” project by Mónica Dominguez Torres, associate professor of art history, examines five understudied artworks from the Atlantic pearl industry.

The Pearls for the Crown book project reaches the fields of ecocriticism, post-colonial theory and material culture studies. Torres will travel to Europe to complete her archival and photographic research as well as cultivate her knowledge in gem identification and pearl grading for future hands-on studies in research and teaching.

More about the IHRC

Since its launch in 2009, the Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Center has been a hub of innovation and support for University of Delaware faculty.

The IHRC values multidisciplinary, collaborative projects that bolster the public and digital humanities in the UD curriculum. Its seed grants have supported curricular development in the Environmental Humanities and Game Studies minors and the redesign of the Disability Studies minor.

Grant have supported inter-arts collaborations through performances and exhibitions, as well as scholarship and K-12 outreach. 

The IHRC has also announced the appointment of the following faculty members to the inaugural Advisory Council: Adam Foley, Alex Galarza, Philip Gentry, Alenka Hlousek-Radojcic, Barrett Michalec, Carla Guerrón-Montero, Deborah Steinberger and Jessica Venturi.

For more information about the center and the special 10-year anniversary grant projects, visit the website.

Article by Kathleen Lyons; photo courtesy of Zyko Nascimento

Published Jan. 8, 2020

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The Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Center has awarded grants to four intellectually ambitious projects as the center marks its 10th anniversary.

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