2018 Faculty Seed Grant Awards Announced


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illustration of a seedling in various stages of growth. text reads "IRWG faculty seed grants, 2018"
illustration of a seedling in various stages of growth. text reads "IRWG faculty seed grants, 2018"

We are proud to announce nine Faculty Seed Grant recipients for projects on women, gender, and sexuality. The grants support individual research activities, as well as collaborative projects, pilot studies, and initial research efforts.

The 2018 recipients and their projects are:

Charlotte Albrecht – Department of American Culture
The Sexual Politics of Settling: Arab Americans, Settler Colonialism, and the United States

This project historicizes Arab presences in the United States through their varied relationships to U.S. settler colonialism. What are the sexual, gendered, and racial mechanisms of Arab Americans’ implications in U.S. settler colonialism? How has U.S. empire facilitated settler colonialism “at home” through the disciplinary exigencies of sexual, gendered, and racial citizenship? Albrecht builds upon a preliminary collection of primary source items and research sites that include WPA interviews with Arab homesteaders in the 1930s; the Lebanese-American senator James Abourezk and the creation of the Indian Child Welfare Act in the 1970s; and Laguna Pueblo-Métis-Lebanese-American writer Paula Gunn Allen.

Denise Saint Arnault – School of Nursing
Healing and Help Seeking after Gender Based Violence: an International Consortium Study

The road to healing after Gender-Based Violence is challenged by cultural and social barriers, shame and the internalization of stigma. Professor Saint Arnault’s research team studies help-seeking behaviors (or lack thereof) in survivors of violence across countries and cultures. Using the Clinical Ethnographic Narrative Interview, researchers explore cultural differences between the sociocultural barriers, facilitators, and meaning of trauma recovery in the U.S., Italy, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, and Romania, Brazil, and Japan.

Rita Chin – Department of History
Invisible Labor: A History of Female Migrant Domestics in Postcolonial Europe

Today, the phenomenon of female migrant domestic workers is most closely identified with Filipino women, who have become what scholars have called "servants of globalization." But before the era of high globalization, this type of migration followed trajectories established through colonial conquest and imperial networks. Professor Chin’s project brings a historical perspective to these issues, focusing on the post-1945 period when women were often recruited from ex-colonies to serve in British and French households. She compares the experiences of Antillean women recruited through French state-sponsored programs with Malaysian women who arrived through informal British networks. In both cases, laboring in private homes left female migrants isolated and highly vulnerable to abuse from their employers.

Melissa Creary – School of Public Health
At the Intersection of Feminist and Postcolonial Technoscience: Sickle Cell Disease Technology for Women by Women in Uganda

The burden and blame of sickle cell disease (SCD), particularly in African countries, fall on women. AfriGal Tech is an all woman team based in Uganda developing a diagnostic tool called mDex that detects SCD. This project centers women at the development and implementation stage of mDex. By studying the technology in early development, Professor Creary will follow how this artefact gets co-produced and embodied—by both the creators and consumers. Drawing from the theoretical fields of the anthropology of technoscience, feminist and postcolonial technoscience, and mixed-methodology, she aims to situate social, geographical, and political debates about neglect, innovation, and empowerment.

Michael Heaney – Departments of Organizational Studies and Political Science
Intersectional Challenges for the Women’s Movement during the Presidency of Donald J. Trump

Numerous groups, organizations, and movements have struggled to unite women as women over the course of American history. After the candidacy and election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States in 2016, there have been renewed efforts to organize women under a single, unified umbrella. The most visible effort along these lines is the Women’s March, which organized a massive march on Washington, DC and around the world on the day following Trump’s inauguration. The Women’s March also organized a convention, held in Detroit, Michigan in October 2017. This study examines these organizing efforts to assess the extent to which this nascent women’s movement is mending divisions among women and the extent to which divisions still represent challenges to the movement.

Reginald Jackson – Department of Asian Languages & Cultures
Spectacular Dominion: Slavery, Performance, and the Boundaries of Personhood in Premodern Japan

This project explores the relationship between slavery and performance in premodern Japan by analyzing the intersection between embodiment, economy, and territory at three historical moments: the early Muromachi period (1392–1573), when Noh plays about slavery become popular; slave trade by Jesuit missionaries during the late-sixteenth and early-seventeenth centuries; and Commodore Matthew Perry’s mid-nineteenth century mission to Japan (1852– 1854), during which blackface minstrelsy performed by Perry’s “Ethiopian Players” supplements gunboat diplomacy’s more violent overtures. In each context, gender and sexuality become vital analytical concerns, particularly as they shape how various forms of religious or colonial subjection take hold.

Christian Matijas-Mecca – School of Music, Theatre & Dance
An Evening of Doris Humphrey and J.S. Bach: Romantic Modernism in Dance and Music

An Evening of Doris Humphrey and J.S. Bach: Romantic Modernism in Dance and Music is a research and re-staging project of three dances created by Doris Humphrey, a pioneer of American Modern Dance. This will culminate in a performance in collaboration with the UM Organ Department’s annual Organ Conference at Hill Auditorium on October 2, 2018, "Trailblazers: Women’s Impact on Organ, Harpsichord, Carillon and Sacred Music." This project involves both students and faculty from across the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, in collaboration with two internationally recognized guest artists who will assist in staging two of the three dances.

Ava Purkiss – Departments of American Culture and Women’s Studies
Fit Citizens: A History of Black Women’s Exercise, 1900-1960

Professor Purkiss examines the effect of intentional, physical exercise on African American women’s bodies, health, beauty culture, and recreational practices in the early-mid 20th century. She argues that African American women used exercise to demonstrate their literal and figurative fitness for citizenship during a time when fit bodies garnered new political significance. As the first historical study on black women’s physical fitness, this project shows that the incentives of exercise went beyond physical exertion for the sake of health, but entailed a range of interrelated political stakes, like occupying contested public space, creating social safety nets, and achieving gender equity.

Marie-Anne Rosemberg – School of Nursing
A Participatory Research Project to Explore Perceived Stressors and Identify Intervention Needs Among Women Hotel Housekeepers

Hotel housekeepers and hotel laundry workers are primarily women and are at risk for poor health. Previous studies among these workers have noted their work hazards with scant attention to factors outside of their work affecting their health. Using a social ecological approach with an empowerment underpinning incorporating issues such as race/ethnicity, class and, immigration status, Professor Rosemberg will conduct focus group and individual interviews to explore 1) hotel housekeepers and hotel laundry workers’ perspectives on stressors (work and nonwork) and how they affect their health; and 2) workers’ and managers’ perspectives on intervention components they deem needed, acceptable and feasible.

For more information on our grant opportunities for U-M faculty, visit irwg.umich.edu/funding.
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