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"2022 faculty seed grant awards" surrounded by illustrations of flowers
"2022 faculty seed grant awards" surrounded by illustrations of flowers

The Institute for Research on Women and Gender has awarded 12 Seed Grants for faculty projects on women, gender, and sexuality. The grants support individual research activities, initial research efforts, performances, and community-based research, with more than $70,000 awarded. 

“The range of proposed projects we received this year was very exciting,” noted IRWG director Anna Kirkland. “IRWG’s mission is to support research on women, gender, and sexuality in the broadest sense. We are interdisciplinary, reach across all units, and are committed to an intersectional, scholarly, and theoretically informed conception of gender as mutually constituted by racial formations and other forms of power such as colonialism, ableism, and heterosexism. We fund work that uses many different research methods in the health sciences, social sciences, literary studies, and the performing arts. This year’s cohort of Faculty Seed Grant recipients embodies our ‘big tent’ view of IRWG’s mission.”

All IRWG seed grants are reviewed by a multidisciplinary faculty peer review panel and each proposal gets individualized feedback from the committee, given to the faculty applicant by IRWG’s Program Director for Faculty Research Development, Dr. Rebecca Shea Irvine. Rebecca leads the peer review committee and serves as translator for the feedback, helping shape next steps for projects. “Rebecca has re-designed our awards processes to give faculty the chance to practice the formats and skills they’ll need for extramural proposals,” said IRWG director Anna Kirkland. “The peer review feedback is unique at IRWG and will enhance the intellectual merit of all the proposals we see.”

Another new feature this year is that faculty whose proposals that were not funded will have the opportunity to revise and resubmit their projects this summer for a second funding opportunity. All applicants will be invited to meet with Rebecca to discuss concrete ways to strengthen their proposals or expand their projects through external funding. 

The spring 2022 seed grants were awarded to the following projects (in alphabetical order): 

Charli Brissey – Assistant Professor, Dance, School of Music, Theatre & Dance, University of Michigan
Collaborators: Elisandra Rosario, MFA, Dance, School of Music, Theatre & Dance; J’Sun Howard, MFA, Dance, School of Music, Theatre & Dance

Future Fish
Future Fish is an interdisciplinary performance that explores the choreography of oceans and benthic ecosystems as radical sites for co-dreaming our terrestrial future(s). The project blends choreographic sensibilities with science fiction narratives to excavate methods for care, resilience, and survival at and after “the end of the world.” Performed by Charli Brissey and MFA candidate Elisandra Rosario, Future Fish is a siren call through deep time, back to our queer sensate fishy bones and submerged feral desires. It questions the boundaries between civilization and wildness, illuminating the role of non-human ecologies on contemporary renderings of gender, race, and sexuality.

Emily Dove-Medows – Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Nursing, University of Michigan
Collaborator: Alison Walsh, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities, University of Michigan

Cultures of Blame Among Maternity Care Providers
Black birthing people in the US experience disproportionate rates of adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes that are insufficiently explained by socioeconomic differences. Research suggests that discrimination and blame-based clinician-interactions during pregnancy may contribute to differential burdens. In order to improve our understanding of how provider-patient communication influences birth and pregnancy outcomes, this mixed methods study will investigate how certified nurse-midwives discuss and attribute pregnancy risks with patients. This study will clarify the prevalence and predictors of biased messaging received by birthing persons, inform a follow-up study among birthing persons, and suggest avenues for future intervention development.

Oliver Haimson – Assistant Professor, School of Information, University of Michigan 
Collaborators: Megan Lane, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Michigan Medicine; Nabeel Shakir, Genitourinary Reconstructive Surgery Program, Henry Ford Health System; Mary Byrnes, Sociologist, Department of Surgery, Michigan Medicine

Facilitating Online Interaction Between Transgender Patients and Medical Providers
Because surgery-related communication resources are lacking within formalized healthcare settings, many transgender individuals participate in online spaces to find health information and engage in peer-to-peer medical decision making. Yet such spaces may facilitate misinformation spread. Prior research found that trans individuals would value health professionals’ presence in online spaces where health and surgery are being discussed, to provide advice, answer questions, and combat misinformation. Our proposed research tests the feasibility of conducting qualitative research with trans patients and healthcare providers in an asynchronous online focus group setting, and examines the dynamics of combining these two groups in an online space.

Holly Hughes– Professor, Art & Design, Theatre & Drama, and Women’s & Gender Studies, University of Michigan
Collaborator: Dan Hurlin, Theatre Artist & Director

With the support of IRWG funding, Hughes will develop and perform Indelible, a dialogic performance art piece that blends monologue with animated video projections designed to invite the audience to consider victims’ testimony in high profile sexual assault cases as a kind of performance art. Does the act of testifying turn victims’ trauma into a kind of a spectacle? Does our system ask survivors Anita Hill and Christine Blasey Ford to turn themselves into endurance artists like Yoko Ono and Marina Abramovic? Do these performances move us closer to non-carceral justice or do they reinjure and occasionally, entertain?

Raevin Jimenez – Assistant Professor, History, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, University of Michigan
Collaborator: Lorena Chambers, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Departments of History and American Culture, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, University of Michigan

The First 100: 50 Years of Chicanas Changing Knowledge, the Digital Archive
Of the 36.6 million Americans of Mexican descent in the United States, only 104 – a dismal .00000284 percent – of Mexican American women hold a doctorate in History. The First 100: 50 Years of Chicanas Changing Knowledge, the Digital Archive confronts the gap between the rhetoric of diversity, equality, and inclusion in the academy and the organizational culture that structurally excludes Mexican American women in the humanities. By documenting the women who have shaped different fields, the project showcases how Chicana historians transform the way we do and understand history, ultimately altering the academy's future.

Andrew Krishner – Associate Professor, Performing Arts Technology, School of Music, Theatre, and Dance and Stamps School of Art & Design, University of Michigan

Sex Radical
Sex Radical will be a feature-length, documentary art film that centers on the conflict between the Victorian anti-vice crusader, Anthony Comstock, and the less well-known feminist, marriage reformer, mystic, and free speech advocate, Ida Craddock. The legal and cultural confrontation between Craddock, whom the anarchist Emma Goldman eulogized as “one of the bravest champions of women’s emancipation” and Comstock, the self-appointed protector of American “purity,” came to a tragic end in 1902. Faced with further imprisonment under the Comstock laws for mailing frank instructional pamphlets about sex, Craddock took her own life in desperation. However, a short-term “victory” for Comstock, Craddock’s martyrdom quickly turned public opinion against him, and eventually led to an eclipse of his previously unchecked power. The IRWG Faculty Seed Grant will fund a research trip to the archives where Ida Craddock’s personal papers are kept.

Michelle Munro-Kramer – Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, University of Michigan
Collaborators: Sarah Compton, Research Assistant Professor, Department of OB/GYN, University of Michigan; Akanni Akinyemi, Professor, Department of Demography & Social Statistics, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria; Judith Chamisa, Senior Lecturer, Department of Nursing & Midwifery Sciences, National University of Science and Technology, Zimbabwe; Eugene Darteh, Dean of Students and Associate Professor, Department of Population & Health, University of Cape Coast, Ghana; Darlington David, Assistant Professor, Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Liberia, Liberia; Sinegugu Duma, Dean of Teaching & Learning and Professor, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa; Randa Moreoagae, Lecturer, Nursing Science Department, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, South Africa; Ruth Owusu-Antwi, Head of Psychiatry and Adjunct Lecturer, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana; Abdul-Aziz Seidu, Research & Development Unit Head, Centre for Gender & Advocacy, Takoradi Technical University, Ghana

Developing and Deploying a Multinational Campus Climate Survey to Understand University Students’ Knowledge, Attitudes, and Experiences Associated with Gender-Based Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa
Gender-based violence (GBV) on university campuses has garnered increased attention, but research has been limited in sub-Saharan Africa. This study aims to develop and deploy a GBV campus climate survey at eight universities in sub-Saharan Africa that will allow for comparisons related to knowledge, attitudes, and experiences of GBV. The study will: 1) use cognitive interviews to adapt a pre-existing survey, 2) develop an anonymous survey methodology, and 3) deploy the survey to students at each university. These data could both illuminate the magnitude of the problem and provide a baseline from which to compare future intervention outcomes.

Massy Mutumba – Assistant Professor, Health Behavior and Biological Sciences, School of Nursing, University of Michigan
Collaborator: Mariam Nambooze, Senior Advocacy Officer, Human Rights for Women and Girls with Disabilities, Kampala, Uganda

Contextual influences, Intervention points and Strategies for Addressing Violence against Women with Disabilities
Women with disabilities experience the combined disadvantages associated with gender and disability such as sexual and gender-based violence, limited access to education and economic opportunities, leading to low income and poverty. Available data indicate that women with disabilities experience disproportionately higher rates of physical and sexual violence and are generally excluded from general population programs targeting sexual reproductive health of women and girls. This research seeks to identify the multi-level factors that contribute to violence against women with disabilities, and identify potential intervention points and strategies to address this neglected public health challenge.

Carmel Price – Associate Professor, Behavioral Sciences, College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters, University of Michigan - Dearborn
Collaborators: Natalie Sampson, Associate Professor of Public Health, University of Michigan-Dearborn; Amani Abuelenain, Undergraduate Student Researcher, University of Michigan-Dearborn; Zeina Reda, Undergraduate Student Researcher, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; Hana Masri, ACLS Leading Edge Fellow, Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS); Samra’a Luqman, Community partner and a leading Arab American female environmental activist in the metro-Detroit area

Arab American Women: Environmental Justice Narratives
Dearborn, Michigan is home to the highest concentration of Arab Americans in the U.S. and is among the most polluted metro areas in the country. Although women of color have historically been at the forefront of grassroots environmental movements, there exists no examination of Arab American women’s experiences with environmental injustice. Our project, which will explore the narratives of Arab American women experiencing environmental injustice and leading efforts to address it, will be the first of its kind. We hope to bring Arab American women into conversations, while also combating the larger erasure of our communities.

Swapnil Rai – Assistant Professor, Film, TV, and Media, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, University of Michigan

From Modi’s India to Erdogan’s Turkey: Interstitial Spaces of Bi-Lateral Televisual Flows Between India and Turkey
The socio-political landscape of Erdogan's Turkey and Modi's India offers analogous visions of constitutionally secular republics being recast into ethnonational states, a change that is impacting women’s freedoms in both countries. While Media narratives are central to the construction of mainstream populist discourses, this project posits that certain genres of TV dramas offer an interstitial space of sanctuary from contentious politics. The bi-lateral flows of Turkish romantic TV shows to India, and the presence of Indian soaps in Turkey is reflective of a lateral bi-cultural interstitial space for expressions of freedom, parallel modernities and the limits posed on feminine expression.

Giulia Saltini Semerari – Lecturer and Research Affiliate, Anthropology, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, University of Michigan
Collaborators: Merixtell Ferrer, Universitat Pompeu Fabra; Mireia López-Bertran, Universitat de València

Gender Transformations at the Dawn of the Classical World
The Early Iron Age in the Mediterranean during the first millennium BC saw dramatic changes in the organization of its coastal communities. Exponential increases in social complexity, the establishment of Mediterranean-wide exchange networks, Phoenician and Greek colonizations, and the creation of urban centers underpinned these transformations. The proposed project seeks to investigate how these developments intersected with gender dynamics, which were likely instrumental to shaping local responses to these macro-scale processes. This Seed Grant will fund a workshop to start addressing this topic in view of future grant applications.

Mieko Yoshihama – Professor, School of Social Work, University of Michigan
Collaborators: Ana Paula Pimentel Walker, Assistant Professor, UM Taubman College; María Arquero de Alarcón, Associate Professor, UM Taubman College; Odessa Gonzalez Benson, Assistant Professor, UM School of Social Work

(Re)visioning climate action through gendered and intersectional lenses: Participatory action research with invisible climate warriors in São Paulo
Intersectionality is crucial to climate-resilient slums upgrading since women, non-binary, Black, Brown, and Indigenous residents living in these communities are highly vulnerable to myriads of impact of climate change. Although some government approaches include gendered and intersectional lenses, their responses often reinforce traditional gender roles, burdening community adaptation on low-income women. This proposal builds on multi-year participatory action research examining housing and environmental conflicts that informal and precarious settlements face in their quest for access to a more resilient future. The research team will focus on gender-based climate resilient slum upgrading in the South Periphery of São Paulo.

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