Grants Fund Collaborations in Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences

More than $82,000 in grant money has been awarded by the Office of the Provost to three faculty members doing interdisciplinary work in the arts, humanities and social sciences. Their diverse projects range from preserving recorded histories of Arizona's Yaqui people to transforming a theatrical stage into an innovative electrical engineering playground.

The grants are the first awarded through a $300,000 Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Grants for Faculty program established by Provost Meredith Hay last semester to support collaborations between faculty in the College of Humanities, the College of Fine Arts and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

The remainder of the $300,000 will be awarded to a second round of applicants, whose applications are due no later than 5 p.m. on Feb. 15 to the Office of the Vice President for Research, Graduate Studies and Economic Development.

Linda Waugh, co-chairwoman of the nine-member Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Research Review Panel, which includes faculty members from the colleges of Humanities, Fine Arts and Social and Behavioral Sciences, said that 12 people applied for funding in November and she expects more applicants to apply next month. Paula Fan, a music professor, is the other panel chairwoman.

"We want to have many more and we hope to fund many more," said Waugh, a professor of French, English, anthropology, linguistics, and language, reading and culture.

The review committee looks for new projects, or new developments in ongoing projects, that promote significant collaboration between faculty within and across the three colleges in the areas of research, scholarship and creative activity, Waugh said.

"We want things that are really, truly interdisciplinary and really original and innovative in some way," she said.

The funding is especially valuable in these difficult financial times at the UA, when budget cuts have hit hard in the areas of fine arts, humanities and social sciences, she added. Grants range from $10,000 to $30,000 apiece.

Two of the first three winners were from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences:

Rosario Carrillo
Assistant Professor of Mexican American Studies

Carrillo's oral history project focuses on collecting data and completing videotaped interviews with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the Mexican American and American Indian communities in order to enhance the current archival holdings of the Arizona LGBT Storytelling Project Archive. The archive was launched last year by local filmmaker Jamie A. Lee, in collaboration with the UA's Institute for LGBT Studies and the University's Oral History Cluster.

Carrillo intends to add about 30 hours of video segments to the existing archive, bringing its total number of hours to 90. The project also is expected to result in two journal articles on the intersection of language, sexuality and identity.

"Minority LGBT community members comprise one of the most overlooked segments of society. The interviews will undoubtedly contain stories of great triumphs and sorrows. These stories will be informative and instructive on a wide range of issues," said Carrillo, who will collaborate with assistant English professor Adela Licona on the project.

Project advisers include Elizabeth J. Kennedy, pioneer in the field of LGBT oral history, Lydia R. Otero, specialist in the collection of Chicana/o oral history, and Eithne P. Luibhéid, director of the Institute for LGBT Studies, where the archive is located.  Doctoral students Erin Durban and Adrian Flores from the UA's gender and women studies department also will participate.

"One of the highlights of my work is to apprentice students in how to conduct research and to publish. This grant provides rich resources with which to offer students a well-rounded apprenticeship." Carrillo said.

Heidi Harley
Professor of Linguistics

Harley's project involves digitizing and remastering audio tapes of interviews with Yaqui elders in the Yaqui language, as well as producing transcriptions and translations of the interviews, which address the elders' experiences as children of warfare with and persecution and deportation by the Mexican government.

Several hours of interviews were conducted and recorded on cassette by Maria Florez Leyva, a native speaker of Arizona Yaqui, between 1969 and 2008. They have been kept in a shoe box in her home, and all of the interviewees have since passed away.

"Cassette tapes are easily damaged. Without the grant from the AHSS, this important material might never be digitally archived, or transcribed and translated, and the culturally, linguistically and historically important content could be lost forever," Harley said. "The work funded by the grant will ensure that this material is preserved for the tribe and for posterity."

Harley will do a linguistic analysis of the material, while Anabel Galindo, a doctorate student in history, will conduct contextual historical analysis under the supervision of history professor William Beezley.

"We are extremely grateful to the AHSS for making it possible for this project to go forward," Harley said.

In addition to being interdisciplinary, winning projects were expected to address one of the three "grand challenges" in areas where the UA has substantial strength:

Human Identity as a Complex System Exploring human conceptions of self, including ways that decision making is affected by the complex interaction of multiple factors – ecological, biological, economic, political, social, historical, linguistic, cultural and philosophical.

Transnational and Intercultural Dynamics Addressing the challenges faced by individuals, communities and governments at the intersections of places (real and virtual), societies, cultures, languages, identities and ideas.

Creativity and Society Giving expression to the heart and spirit of the human experience through disciplined individual creative endeavors. Promoting artistic collaboration and interaction, thereby enriching understanding across cultures, creeds, nations and races.

Information on how to apply for Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Grants for Faculty is available on the Office of the Vice President for Research Web site. An updated call for proposals for the grants due Feb. 15 will be posted soon.

Those who applied for funding in the first round will not be eligible to re-apply in February. However, additional funding and new deadlines are expected to be announced later in the semester, Waugh said.

It has not yet been determined whether future grant cycles will continue to focus on interdisciplinary projects or if they will look in a different direction, she said.
Alexis Blue
University Communications