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Faculty, students at IU Bloomington receive international research, teaching grants


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Growing up in a small town in northern Italy, Indiana University assistant professor of history Roberta Pergher loved hiking in the Alps. But each time she walked those cliffs and glaciers, Pergher was struck by the many remnants from the World War I conflict between Italy and Austria.

“The trenches are still there -- the barbed wire, the big tunnels dug into the rock of these amazing mountains -- even ammunition,” said Pergher, who is conducting research for a book on the meaning of this war for both the soldiers and the people living below. “I always found it mind-boggling to think of a three-year war fought there.”

Pergher’s research for the new book will be supported by a 2014-15 Mellon Innovating International Research, Teaching and Collaboration award. The Mellon awards, totaling more than $300,000, have been given to 14 faculty members and seven graduate students on the IU Bloomington campus.

An Innovative Workshops Mellon award will also support Pergher to conduct a workshop in Berlin for early-career faculty on the aftermath of the Great War. She also received an IU World War I Legacy Fellows award, presented by the Center for the Study of History and Memory and the School of Global and International Studies. Her research is closely aligned with IU Bloomington’s academic-year events focused on the enduring impact and legacy of the war, World War 1: 100 Years.

The Mellon Innovating International Research, Teaching and Collaboration program, now in its third year, was initially funded through a $750,000 award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The awards support new directions in international research and area studies including collaborations among faculty in the humanities, social sciences and professional schools throughout the Bloomington campus. They also offer opportunities for faculty and students to collaborate.

In the first two years, the program awarded $468,937 to 20 faculty and 12 graduate students, with IU Bloomington schools or the College of Arts and Sciences matching awards for graduate students.

Madeline Chera, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology, will use her award to research women’s culinary practices and food culture in South India.

“The Mellon graduate student dissertation fellowship will enable me to gain deep cultural understanding by living in communities of consumers and working predominantly with women,” Chera said. “I'll be able to learn about the cultural categories and information sources women use in food-related decision-making and activities, including in purchasing, processing and preparing food.”

Lauren Robel, provost of the IU Bloomington campus and IU executive vice president, serves as principal investigator on the Mellon grant. Robel said the program fits well with goals expressed in the Bicentennial Strategic Plan for Indiana University Bloomington to invest in graduate student success and provide faculty with support and opportunities to further their research.

“We are grateful to the Mellon Foundation for its appreciation of the importance of scholars being able to do work in the country they are studying,” Robel said. “This program directly enhances the careers of our graduate students and faculty members by giving them the precious opportunity to conduct meaningful international research. It also furthers the goals of our Bicentennial Strategic Plan, which emphasizes research and creative activity that links cultures and communities.”

Four specific funding opportunities are offered through the MIIRT program: short-term faculty fellowships, graduate dissertation fellowships, curriculum development fellowships and innovative workshops. The countries covered by the awarded projects in the current round are Austria, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Costa Rica, France, Germany, India, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Russia and Taiwan.

"The breadth of disciplines and international areas of focus that MIIRT-funded faculty are pursuing is truly impressive," said Rick Van Kooten, interim vice provost for research at IU Bloomington, whose office manages the Mellon Innovating International Research, Teaching and Collaboration program. “I congratulate all of these faculty members for the work they are doing to foster international, area studies and global studies research.”

2014-15 Mellon Innovating International Research, Teaching and Collaboration awards recipients:

Graduate Dissertation Fellowships

  • Madeline Ann Chera, Department of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences: “Local Food for All? Discourse, Women's Culinary Practice and Food Culture in South India”
  • Betsy Jose, Department of Gender Studies, College of Arts and Sciences: “Queer Film Representations in India: A Churning of Discourses”
  • Kathryn Emilia Arnold Lehman, Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences: “Life, Labor and Violence in the Bolivian and Brazilian Amazon”
  • Elena Popa, Department of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences: “Politics of Belonging in the European Union: The Case of Romanian Migrants in France”
  • Sudipta Roy, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, School of Education: “Redefining and Re-evaluating School Success and Failure: A Comparative Case Study Among Schools and Madrasas on the Adaptive Capacity in Coastal Bangladesh”
  • Katie Lynn Stewart, Department of Political Science, College of Arts and Sciences: “Contentious Conceptions of We the People: Regional Variation in Russian Nation-Building”
  • Virginia Whealton, Department of Musicology, IU Jacobs School of Music: “Ideology and the Geographical Imagination: Parisian Musical Travelogues, 1830-70”

Short-Term Faculty Fellowships

  • Shaowen L Bardzell, Department of Computer Science and Informatics, School of Informatics and Computing: “Civic Making: Promoting IT Innovation, Cultural Industry and Democratic Governance in Taiwan”
  • Khalid Mahmood Khan, Department of Environmental Health, School of Public Health-Bloomington: “Agrochemical Exposures and Associated Health Effects in Adults Living in an Agricultural Community in Rural Bangladesh”
  • Manling Luo, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, College of Arts and Sciences: “Cultural Memory and Historical Miscellanies in Medieval China (618-960)”
  • Eden Medina, Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics, School of Informatics and Computing: “How Data Become Law: Computer-Mediated Evidence in Cases of Human Rights Violations”
  • John M. Nieto-Phillips, Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences: “Echoes of Empire: The Spanish Language and the Global Reach of Hispanism, 1910s-1940s”
  • Roberta Pergher, Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences: “The Battle for the High Ground: Nationalism, Nature and Technology on the Alpine Front in the First World War”
  • Marvin Sterling, Department of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences: “The Postcolonial Regime of Human Rights: The Jamaican Case in Historical and Ethnographic Context”

Innovative Curriculum Development Fellowship

  • Marion Frank-Wilson, head of area studies and librarian for African studies, and Wookjin Cheun, librarian for Slavic and East European studies, Indiana University Libraries: “Area and International Studies Librarianship -- Development of an Online Course”

Innovative Workshops

  • Maria Bucur-Deckard, Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences: “Gender Regimes and Property Practices in Post-Communist Europe”
  • Lara Kriegel, Departments of English and History, College of Arts and Sciences: “The Savage Wars of Peace”
  • Pedro Machado, Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences: “Jewish Commercial Cultures in Global Perspective”
  • Roberta Pergher, Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences: “Beyond Versailles: Governance, Legitimacy and the Formation of New Polities After the Great War”
  • Estela Vieira, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, College of Arts and Sciences: “Transatlantic Dialogues: Realism and Modernity in 19th-Century Portugal and Brazil”