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Humanities Faculty Members and Graduate Students Receive Hall Center Travel Awards

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

LAWRENCE – Three humanities faculty members and two graduate students were awarded travel grants by the Hall Center for the Humanities to aid in their research. The Hall Center provides financial support to researchers who require domestic or international travel undertaken as a necessary component of a research or creative project.

Maria Velasco, associate professor of visual art, received funding to travel to Tetouan, Morocco. Velasco received a competitive artist residency at Green Olive Arts in Tetouan to work on her project, “Releasing Control: Ephemeral Spaces; Historical Patterns.” Velasco will create a series of site-specific installations using repetitive patterns found in architecture, ceramics and traditional crafts both in Tetouan and Al-Andalus, the name given to the south of Spain during the Arab invasion spanning about seven centuries (710-1491). The residency also involves interaction with artisans and contemporary Moroccan artists through studio visits, workshops and roundtable discussions.

Sara Gregg, associate professor of history, received funds to travel to Glasgow and Billings, Montana. Gregg’s project, “Enlarging Opportunity: A History of Homesteading in America,” examines the history of the 1862 Homestead Act, attempting to explore how stories we tell about the land, the nature of opportunity and the meanings of history simultaneously elucidate and obscure our understanding of environmental change. Her project situates the transformation of the places most dramatically affected by the federal government’s distribution of “free land” to settlers, highlighting the personal dimensions of this movement of people and institutions into the American West. The trip will enable Gregg to lay the first layer of groundwork for the book project, situating an important, though understudied, aspect of the history of American land distribution.

Erik Scott, assistant professor of history, received funding to travel to Kiev, Ukraine. Scott’s project, “Soviet Defectors and the Borders of the Cold War World,” examines the history of defection and uses it to investigate how the national and ideological borders of the socialist world were defined, disputed and sometimes transgressed. It focuses on Soviet defectors and the development of the Soviet border regime in particular but also considers how defection developed in other settings. It looks at how capitalist states facilitated the practice, even though they were not always sure what to do with defectors themselves, often viewing them as ideologically unreliable and psychologically unstable. Tracing the winding journeys of defectors from the Soviet Union to the West through border zones and disputed areas beyond the limits of state jurisdiction, such as international waters and airspaces, the project challenges the notion of the Cold War world as a place of stable boundaries.

Ashley Mog, doctoral candidate in women, gender & sexuality studies, received the Jim Martin Travel Award to conduct research for her dissertation, “Discomforting Power: Bodies in Public” in Seattle. Mog will complete oral history interview collection and conduct archival research. In her dissertation, Mog analyzes public space and embodiment in order to develop a theory of the social construction of comfort. She posits a theory of comfort that questions how “being comfortable” in certain spaces gets allocated on the basis of socially defined privilege bestowed on certain bodies. Comfort is about access in essential ways and reinforces who can be where.

Adam Newhard, doctoral candidate in history, received the Andrew Debicki International Travel Award to conduct research for his dissertation, “Spiritual Motherhood: Gendered Interpretations of the Spanish Laity’s Religious Authority (1580-1730)” in Madrid. Newhard will study 38 Inquisition trials of visionary women in the Archivo Histórico Nacional (AHN) to support his examination of the religious communities of the Spanish laity of the 16th and 17th centuries in order to investigate how women interpreted and acted within this restrictive system. Newhard argues that women who had visions, dreams, manifestations or prophecies from God inserted themselves into public and theological discussions through their roles as nurturing women.

For more information, please contact the Hall Center at hallcenter@ku.edu or call (785) 864-4798.

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