Mellon/ACLS Scholars and Society Fellows

The Mellon/ACLS Scholars and Society program provides opportunities for faculty who teach and advise doctoral students to engage significant societal questions in their research, serve as ambassadors for humanities scholarship beyond the academy, and deepen their support for doctoral curricular innovation on their campuses. Scholars and Society Fellows pursue research projects while in residence at US-based cultural, media, government, policy, or community organizations, where they can create mutually beneficial partnerships in which they collaborate, interact, and learn about each other’s work, motivating questions, methods, and practices. In addition to supporting a year of research in residence, the awards also provide funding for fellows to develop on-campus and off-campus programming that draws on connections developed during the fellowship year and fosters greater understanding of the value of humanities scholarship and doctoral education beyond the academy. The program is made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Read more about this fellowship program.

Please note: affiliations shown are as of time of award. Please click on fellows' names for current information.

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Watch "Emerging Themes and Methods of Research: A Discussion with ACLS Fellows," an annual meeting session featuring recent ACLS fellows. 

Jonathan Shapiro Anjaria
Jonathan Shapiro Anjaria  |  Abstract
This project, a collaboration with the City Council of the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts, seeks to understand how ethnography can enable more equitable and effective sustainable street upgrading and redesign. It focuses on community feedback during major street redesigns, including the city’s use of flexible infrastructure such as plastic bollards in its efforts to promote non-motorized transportation. This project asks: how do the materials used in street upgrading projects relate to the way residents participate in the design process, and how can an ethnography of mobility and transportation infrastructure encourage a more inclusive process of street redesign and upgrading? This collaboration demonstrates how anthropological research can contribute to solving problems related to urban equity and fossil fuel consumption.

Associate Professor, Anthropology, Brandeis University  -  Designing Sustainable and Equitable Streets: A Scholarly and Governmental Collaboration
For residence at the City Council – City of Cambridge, MA

Catherine Gudis
Catherine Gudis  |  Abstract
“Skid Row, By Design” is a multi-tiered collaborative project with Los Angeles Poverty Department’s Skid Row History Museum & Archive (SRHMA) aimed to illuminate the deep historical roots and community activism shaping the 50 blocks of downtown LA’s Skid Row. The project engages and enhances the SRHMA collection of oral histories and activists’ papers, with the goal of filling gaps in the documentary record. It also encompasses co-produced research with community members, curatorial conversations, and public dialogues in association with an upcoming exhibition and performance exploring contradictions between public policy and public compassion for homelessness. The collaboration culminates in the development of a book project entitled “Skid Row, By Design” that offers an accessible history of Skid Row, representing, in part, the museum’s collections (and the community wisdom in abundant evidence in the archive) and materials related to the LA Poverty Department’s work in Skid Row since 1985.

Associate Professor, History, University of California, Riverside  -  Skid Row, By Design: History, Community, and Activism in Downtown Los Angeles
For residence at the Los Angeles Poverty Department's Skid Row History Museum and Archives, Los Angeles, CA

David S. Barnes
David S. Barnes  |  Abstract
Immigration is displacement, upheaval. Long, uncertain journeys expose migrants to danger, privation, and stress. Hostility and even violence often greet them upon arrival. The health risks of immigration have been well documented. But immigration is not a single event; rather, it is part of a life course marked by serial mobility and ongoing connections between place of origin and destination. This project, undertaken in partnership with the pioneering clinic and community development organization Puentes de Salud in Philadelphia, draws on individual and collective narratives as a tool to reveal the sometimes hidden social determinants of health among immigrant communities past and present. Researchers can now quantify the health effects of factors ranging from unemployment and racial discrimination to social cohesion and political empowerment. Stories, examined carefully, can show us how these factors operate on a human scale, and how they have shaped and reshaped American society for centuries.

Associate Professor, History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania  -  “Our Misery Was Great”: Narratives of Suffering and Resilience as Windows on Immigrant Health in the United States, Past and Present
For residence at Puentes de Salud, Philadelphia, PA

Ralina L. Joseph
Ralina L. Joseph  |  Abstract
“Interrupting Privilege” is an intergenerational, skills-building, anti-racism space of dialogue and critique that is both research project and class. “Interrupting Privilege” argues that everyday people can work together across generations to combat racism with the support of youth leadership, commitment to critique-in-action, spaces to share and hear racial hurt, and careful training modules. “Interrupting Privilege” will move from the University of Washington to Seattle's Black community hub, the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM), in order to center the perspectives of African Americans.

Associate Professor, Communication, University of Washington  -  Interrupting Privilege
For residence at the Northwest African American Museum, Seattle, WA

Deborah A. Boehm
Deborah A. Boehm  |  Abstract
This collaborative project focuses on the complex and expanding US immigration detention system, especially spaces that are typically unseen by much of the public. Partnering with Freedom for Immigrants, a national organization that supports people in detention, and using anthropological methods in multiple field sites in the United States, the research contributes to understandings of immigration control and detention regimes, global movement and barriers to it, and inequalities within systems of justice. By privileging the lived experiences of people in detention and those challenging it, the project considers the tensions that arise when governments are in the dual role of receiving and welcoming but also criminalizing and incarcerating newcomers to the nation.

Professor, Anthropology and Gender, Race, and Identity, University of Nevada, Reno  -  A Study of Unseen Spaces: US Immigration Detention in the Twenty-first Century
For residence at Freedom for Immigrants, Los Angeles, CA and Oakland, CA

Marissa López
Marissa López  |  Abstract
“Picturing Mexican America” is a collaboration between UCLA and the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) to use geolocation technology to display historical images of Mexican Los Angeles relevant to a user’s coordinates through a mobile app. Guided by librarians at both institutions, student researchers will comb LAPL and UCLA archives for photographs, maps, and historical documents. In consultation with public outreach staff at both UCLA and LAPL, this project is developing user engagement strategies that digital humanities staff at UCLA are bringing to technical fruition. Collaborators will work with LAPL event coordinators and branch librarians on events designed to introduce library users of all ages to the app, inviting their reflections on Los Angeles’ rich, Mexican history and its relevance to both their own lives and contemporary politics.

Associate Professor, English, University of California, Los Angeles  -  Picturing Mexican America: A Digital, Visual, Networked History of the Future
For residence at the Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles, CA

Elizabeth Alice Clement
Elizabeth Alice Clement  |  Abstract
In the 1980s, Utah had only one doctor willing to treat people with AIDS and only one hospital willing to admit them. This project explores how and why Dr. Ries, the nuns of Holy Cross Hospital, and Utah’s gay community battled the stigma of AIDS and homosexuality in conservative America and the crisis of caregiving it produced. Straddling the fields of public and academic history, this project includes the creation of an archival collection about the AIDS epidemic housed at the University of Utah’s Marriott Library, an oral history project, a documentary film and a scholarly monograph titled "The Reckoning: AIDS in Conservative America." The archive and oral history project preserve evidence from the epidemic for future students and scholars to explore. The documentary and monograph begin the hard work of analyzing the epidemic and disseminating that analysis to the wider public in Utah and around the country.

Associate Professor, History, University of Utah  -  HIV/AIDS in Utah: Oral History, Archives, and Stigma
For residence at the Utah AIDS Foundation, Salt Lake City, UT

Sunaina Maira
Sunaina Maira  |  Abstract
This research investigates the experiences of Arab immigrant and refugee communities in the San Francisco Bay Area in order to understand how their experiences might reframe the current debate about immigration, race, national identity, Islam, and sanctuary movements. The project includes ethnographic research, oral history interviews, digital storytelling, as well as public forums about the experiences of Arab immigrants and refugees and what these suggest for immigrant rights, cross-racial alliances, as well as public policy.

Professor, Asian American Studies, University of California, Davis  -  Sanctuary, Solidarity, and Missing Stories: Arab Immigrants and Refugees in the Trump Era
For residence at StoryCenter, Berkeley, CA

Helena Feder
Helena Feder  |  Abstract
This volume of intertwined essays is a critical and aesthetic intervention in the intersecting crises of rapid technological and ecological change. Structurally similar to Calvino’s “Six Memos for the Next Millennium,” “Apprehensions” develops six new theoretical nodes for the environmental humanities: balance as a sense of connection, intuition as a sense of direction, empathy as a sense of ethics, sexuality as a sense of animality, culture as a sense of time, and art as a sense of ambiguity. The project makes an argument about the importance of these “senses,” and the ways in which new technologies are reshaping them, through close-readings of literature, art, popular culture, and science. It will articulate a consideration of public engagement with art and the environmental humanities researched during a residency at the North Carolina Museum of Art.

Associate Professor, English, East Carolina University  -  Apprehensions: Six Senses of the World
For residence at the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC

Rayna Rapp
Rayna Rapp  |  Abstract
“Disability Arts in an Age of Genetic Testing” explores cultural frictions between expansive disability arts and explosive genetic testing in contemporary US culture. The methods of cultural anthropology in conversation with disability arts and humanities are used to research past, present, and future communication across these sectors. There is a growing but under-discussed presence of disability in our culture: the existence of human difference is both celebrated through disability arts and humanities, and its genetic causes interrogated and imagined avoidable in the expansive world of both medical and commercial genetics. This project will be advanced through a partnership with Positive Exposure, researching how the group might expand its compelling photography exhibits and short film projects toward more inclusive conversations engaging an array of disability humanities scholars/activists; while continuing and enhancing its connections with medical scientists and relevant support networks working on cutting-edge genomic knowledge. The goal of this research is to engage humanities resources to spark widespread public conversations of this enduring tension between disability and genetics .

Professor, Anthropology, New York University  -  Remix: Disability Arts in an Age of Genetic Testing
For residence at Positive Exposure, New York, NY

Kimberly A. Gauderman
Kimberly A. Gauderman  |  Abstract
“Practicing Asylum” is an interdisciplinary, scholarly, and practical guide to expert witness testimony. As the scale and severity of violence in Latin America, and Central America in particular, has grown in the last decade, scholars and lawyers have collaborated to defend the due process rights of women, children, and LGBTQ persons who have experienced domestic, sexual and gang violence in their home countries to claim protection through the US immigration system. This volume brings together contributions from experienced expert witnesses, asylum attorneys, and immigration rights advocates to provide direct, practical guidance for current and prospective expert witnesses and their attorney colleagues, thereby disseminating best practices and facilitating the expansion of academics ready and willing to provide expert testimony for asylum cases.

Associate Professor, History, University of New Mexico  -  Practicing Asylum: History and Civic Engagement (A Handbook for Academic Expert Witnesses on Latin American Gender, Sexual, and Gang-based Violence, LGBTQ Status, and Mother/Child Asylum Cases)
For residence at the Women's International Study Center, Santa Fe, NM

Elizabeth Son
Elizabeth Son  |  Abstract
This book examines the interrelationship between Korean diasporic women’s experiences of social and political violence, place, and performance. It focuses on how these women use embodied practices in different social and cultural sectors to practice the Korean concept of innae (persistence). These performances of innae have taken place in the aftermath of the division of the Korean Peninsula at the 38th parallel in 1945, the Korean War (1950-53), US militarism on the peninsula (1945-), and immigration to the United States (1953-). In daily practices of innae, Korean diasporic women strive to create a sense of home for their families, to reclaim their stories, and to advocate for justice. The book relies on archival research at community organizations and museums as well as on ethnographic fieldwork in the United States and in South Korea.

Associate Professor, Theatre, Northwestern University  -  Possessing History: Korean Diasporic Women and the Performance of Persistence
For residence at KAN-WIN: Empowering Women in the Asian American Community, Chicago, IL