Professors Laura Matthew and Andrew Kahrl have each received fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, which sponsors a number of different research grant programs.
Laura’s ACLS Fellowship funds a small percentage of applicants for semester-long fellowships in the humanities and related social sciences. The ultimate goal of a funded project should be a major piece of scholarly work.
The tentative title of Laura’s project is “Circulations: Death and Opportunity in Southern Pacific Mesoamerica, 1480-1630.” In it, she asks whether Spanish conquest radically altered indigenous trade and migration along the Pacific coast of Guatemala and El Salvador, and with what cultural impact. Some Mesoamericans who helped Europeans colonize Central America were “Indian conquistadors”—the subject of her books Indian Conquistadors (Oklahoma, 2007) http://www.oupress.com/ECommerce/Book/Detail/554/indian%20conquistadors and Memories of Conquest (North Carolina, 2012) http://uncpress.unc.edu/browse/book_detail?title_id=2801. Others, however, were merchants from central Mexico, Chiapas, and Oaxaca. Many settled along the southern Pacific coast, a source for luxury and other goods such as cacao, jade, and salt. Did their migration represent a continuation of older patterns of regional trade and settlement, or a rupture caused by invasion and the terrible effects of epidemic disease on local populations? Were new opportunities created for some Mesoamericans out of the misfortune of others?
Laura received grants from Marquette’s Graduate School and the Office of International Education for preliminary research for this project in Guatemala and Mexico during 2010-12. The ACLS fellowship will support full-time research in Spain and Guatemala in the spring of 2013.
Andrew received a Ryskamp Fellowship, named after Charles A. Ryskamp, a literary scholar, distinguished library and museum director, and long-serving trustee of the Mellon Foundation, Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships support advanced assistant professors and untenured associate professors in the humanities and related social sciences who have already made substantial contributions to their research fields. Andrew’s first book, The Land Was Ours: African American Beaches from Jim Crow to the Sunbelt South, http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674050471 will be published by Harvard University Press in April 2012.
Ryskamp Fellowships support an academic year of research; only thirteen Ryskamp Fellowships were awarded in this round of applications.
The tentative title of Andrew’s project is “Lien on Me: Race, Power, and the Property Tax in Twentieth-Century America,” which will explore the precipitous decline of African American landownership in the 20th century, which remains one of the most important—and least understood—chapters in modern American history. In the midst of monumental achievements in the struggle for justice and equality, African Americans increasingly struggled to hold onto their land or build wealth through homeownership. While stories of real estate inequality are familiar and ongoing, the roots of inequality in property ownership run much deeper. “Lien on Me” uncovers the history of discriminatory assessment and collection of property taxes, examines the use of tax liens in the expropriation and redevelopment of black-owned land in appreciating real estate markets, and traces the evolution of a broader set of legal practices and investment strategies that exploit economically distressed and politically underrepresented landowners.