Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellows

The Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowships recognize humanities and social science faculty who teach at two-year institutions and their vital contributions to scholarship, teaching, and their communities. The awards are tailored to the circumstances of these faculty and support their wide-ranging research ambitions. Fellows may use the awards to pursue projects with a variety of outcomes, including articles, book chapters, or books; course materials; exhibitions; community or campus events; online resources; and more. This program is made possible through the generous support of 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. 

Monika Bilka
Monika Bilka  |  Abstract
In 1961, the federal termination policy transferred the Klamath Tribes' land in southern Oregon out of tribal ownership and ended all federal education and social programs guaranteed to the Klamaths through their treaty with the US government. Without dismissing the traumatic effects of the termination policy, "Remaking a People, Restoring a Watershed" analyzes how the Klamath Tribes asserted sovereignty to influence natural resource management on public and private lands in the decades following termination and into the twenty-first century. While this case study focuses on the Pacific Northwest, it speaks to environmental issues that Native American tribes and non-Indian communities face across the United States. This project will result in a book manuscript and lessons for history, Native American studies, and sustainability courses offered through Maricopa County Community College District in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Professor, History, Chandler-Gilbert Community College  -  Remaking a People, Restoring a Watershed: Klamath Tribal Empowerment though Natural Resource Governance

Andrea Morrell
Andrea Morrell  |  Abstract
“Prison Town” examines the carceral state in an upstate New York prison town, and shows how people live across the divides created by the carceral state. In one chapter, it uses interviews and participant observation on private bus routes carrying families of prisoners from New York City to see their loved ones in Elmira, one of New York's two state prisons. In addition, this project involves working in the New York State archives with documents related to the affirmative action committees created after the Attica rebellion to document the rank and file prison guards and their engagement and disengagement. In this way, it outlines a pattern of what David Roediger and Elizabeth Esch call a “collective racial development” of whiteness.

Assistant Professor, Anthropology, City University of New York, Guttman Community College  -  Prison Town: Race, Work, and Making the Carceral State in Elmira, New York

Tanya N. Cook
Tanya N. Cook  |  Abstract
This project unifies popular culture studies and sociological theory to better understand why and how fans of popular science fiction shows, books, and movies are becoming politically active. Important work on popular culture and social movements has explored the transmedia participation of millennials and the interconnections between fandom activity and political participation. The goal of this work is to build an overarching analysis of fandom-based activism. Through an analysis of ethnographic data gathered from fan interviews and participant observation of fandom events, this work builds a new understanding of why and how fans are increasingly charitable and politically active and why fandom can be understood as a force for social good.

Professor, Sociology, Community College of Aurora  -  Always Keep Nerd Fighting: Fandoms as Social Movements

Soniya Munshi
Soniya Munshi  |  Abstract
“Cultural/Sane” examines how mental health systems work with the law, particularly criminal and immigration law, to circulate and produce knowledge about race, gender, and violence within and beyond the realm of the legal system. With a focus on the experiences of immigrant domestic violence survivors, this project analyzes the ways that public health policies and practices concerning mental health reflect and shape understandings of citizenship through assessments of “healthy” and “sick” migrants. Based in Queens, New York City, where almost half of the population is foreign-born, this project traces the genealogy of domestic violence as a matter of public health, studies legal cases involving immigrant survivors-defendants to analyze the relationship between mental health systems and the carceral state, and employs ethnographic research to understand everyday implications for racialized migrant communities who may themselves engage public health discourses as they advocate for community safety and wellbeing.

Assistant Professor, Social Sciences, Human Services, and Criminal Justice, City University of New York, Borough of Manhattan Community College  -  Cultural/Sane: Immigrant Domestic Violence Survivors, Mental Health, and Logics of Citizenship

Maggie Dickinson
Maggie Dickinson  |  Abstract
Disaster relief is designed to strengthen claims of repair and restoration through homeownership. In this way, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) aid replicates some of the most troubling aspects of the broader redistributive state in the United States, exacerbating the wealth gap and inequalities in terms of race, education, and homeownership. As disasters become more frequent and destructive, and as aid becomes a larger flow of resources, it is important to understand the ways current policies contribute to entrenched inequalities. Ultimately, this research asks how disaster aid could be remade in order to reduce, rather than exacerbate, social inequalities.

Assistant Professor, Liberal Arts, City University of New York, Guttman Community College  -  Repairing Inequality?: Disaster Relief, Deservingness, and the Growing Wealth Gap in the United States

Jennifer R. Myhre
Jennifer R. Myhre  |  Abstract
“1500 Stories” is a collaborative art and digital storytelling project that gives voice to the real lived experiences that underlay devastating statistics about economic inequality. With story gathering by volunteers through face-to-face in-depth interviews as its central activity, “1500 Stories” has a collection of over 500 qualitative interviews from around the country, the largest and most diverse qualitative data set about class and economic inequality in existence. Because “1500 Stories” is primarily an art and storytelling project, this is the first time that qualitative data analysis will be used to apply a sociological lens to this rich collection of narratives.

Instructor, Sociology, De Anza College  -  1500 Stories: Giving Voice to Economic Inequality

Wanda Little Fenimore
Wanda Little Fenimore  |  Abstract
This book examines the rhetorical battle that paved the way for change in the landmark Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education. As a rhetorical biography, it offers an account of resistance to white supremacy as seen through the lives and words of Elizabeth and Waties Waring. The Warings initiated a two-person movement with a series of speeches delivered from 1949 to 1951 designed to shift public opinion to the extent necessary to force the federal government to intervene in the South and end legally-mandated school segregation. The Warings' goal was to influence the outcome of Briggs v. Elliott, the school segregation case that originated in Clarendon County, South Carolina.

Assistant Professor, Arts & Letters, University of South Carolina, Sumter  -  Elizabeth and Waties Waring: Paving the Rhetorical Road to Brown v. Board of Education

Meena Arora Nayak
Meena Arora Nayak  |  Abstract
People of the LGBTQ community in India are isolated, ridiculed, and often blamed for corrupting India with reprehensible Western influences. In actuality, homosexual, transsexual, and transgender identities have been a part of mainstream Indian society from its inception, and this is clearly evidenced in ancient Hindu texts, which portray the third gender as integral to cosmic balance. The research in this book examines the inclusion of people of the third gender in ancient literatures and their gradual exclusion through ostracizing interpretations and interpolations. Thus, through the lens of the living legacy of Hindu mythology, a humanist inquiry comes to light, which shifts the narrative about how LGBTQ people are perceived in Indian traditions.

Professor, English, Northern Virginia Community College  -  The Third Color in Indra’s Bow

Olivia Gruber Florek
Olivia Gruber Florek  |  Abstract
Combining art historical research with exhibition and teaching opportunities specific to Delaware County Community College, “The Celebrity Monarch” explores the influence of celebrity portraiture on the visual arts. A renowned beauty whose photographs were collected across Europe, Empress Elisabeth of Austria (1837-1898) was both a consumer of celebrity culture and producer of imagery that shaped modern female portraiture. Images of celebrity queens like Elisabeth saturated the visual culture of nineteenth-century Europe, yet such aristocratic imagery rarely appears within considerations of the shifting stylistic and contextual strategies of modern art. The book manuscript “The Celebrity Monarch” argues for the critical role of celebrity monarchs in constructing modern portraiture between 1848 and 1918. This research informs a Spring 2020 exhibition examining celebrity portraiture within twenty-first century art in the College Art Gallery, which serves as a central case study within a humanities course about contemporary art practices and critical viewing.

Assistant Professor, Communications, Arts, and Humanities, Delaware County Community College  -  The Celebrity Monarch: Empress Elisabeth and the Modern Female Portrait, 1848-1918

James D. Nichols
James D. Nichols  |  Abstract
“A Fate Worse than Debt” looks at the practice of debt peonage in the southwestern borderlands of the United States up to and beyond the era of Reconstruction. Debt peonage was a form of servile labor throughout the region that is today the US Southwest. Yet, despite its ubiquity in this region, peonage has not yet received much scholarly attention. Most scholarship on peonage in the United States focuses on African Americans in the post-Civil War South. Through uncovering the practice of debt peonage and the effect of this institution on Latino/as through the US-Mexico borderlands, this project further complicates the national narrative of slavery and freedom. “A Fate Worse than Debt” brings a more complex and thorough understanding of emancipation in the United States, its effect on Latino/as and Native Americans, and even its effects south of the border in Mexico.

Assistant Professor, History, City University of New York, Queensborough Community College  -  A Fate Worse than Debt: The Rise and Fall of Peonage in the US-Mexico Borderlands

Santiago  Andres Garcia
Santiago Andres Garcia  |  Abstract
Working with clay and self-reflective writing at Rio Hondo College in Whittier, California, has allowed the students of Humanities 125: Introduction to Mexican Culture—many of whom are of Purépecha, Zapotec,or Mayan ancestry—to materialize their views on race, ethnicity, and ancestry in clay-figurine form. These kinds of culturally relevant teaching practices best serve indigenous students by allowing them access to humanistic knowledge and understandings of the human body and ideology through their personal stories and their contributions to their families. This project analyzes these teaching practices and disseminates the results of this teacher-student scholarship birthed at a Hispanic-serving institution through journal articles, conference presentations, and a daylong community forum.

Adjunct Professor, Anthropology and Humanities, Rio Hondo College  -  Supporting the Scholarship and Contributions of Indigenous Mexican Students through Clay-Work and Self-Reflective Writing

Michael Phillips
Michael Phillips  |  Abstract
The Texas eugenics movement started almost 30 years before the term “eugenics” was coined and 53 years before Indiana passed the first forced sterilization bill in the United States. In spite of the presence of renowned eugenics advocates and a movement that deeply penetrated its political life, Texas was one of only 16 states that never passed eugenics measures. Due to this lack of legislative success, the history of eugenics in Texas and its impact worldwide has been almost entirely ignored by scholars. This study of Texas eugenics—and its failure—deepens understandings of how the movement influenced immigration debates and intersected with politicized religious fundamentalism in the late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century United States.

Professor, History, Collin College  -  The Strange Career of Eugenics in Texas, 1854-2018

Padhraig Higgins
Padhraig Higgins  |  Abstract
This study offers a cultural and social history of eighteenth-century Dublin through an examination of the experiences of the poor and the survival strategies of marginal groups like vagrants and beggars. It builds on recent work on the history of poverty, while also offering new insights into topics such as the culture of begging, representations of the poor, and life in the eighteenth-century workhouse. At the same time, it attempts a comparative history of poverty that asks: how did Dublin resemble other cities in Europe and the Americas in its responses to poverty? What was distinctive about it? It argues that social policy was largely based on Protestant elite fears over the resilience of Catholicism as well as worries about the collapse of traditional social hierarchies.

Professor, Social Science, Mercer County Community College  -  The Rights of the Poor: Poverty in Eighteenth-Century Dublin

Antonio Ramirez
Antonio Ramirez  |  Abstract
“Chicagolandia” uses oral histories of Latina/os living in the Chicago suburbs from 1960 to the present to complicate popular and scholarly understandings of late-twentieth-century suburbanization and immigration. The project engages questions of race, citizenship, and equality at the nexus of two fields of scholarship—suburban history and Latinx studies—to examine how Latina/os navigated and helped shape the suburbs, a critical site of economic opportunity and political power in the postwar United States.

Assistant Professor, History and Political Science, Elgin Community College  -  Chicagolandia: Oral Histories of Chicago’s Latinx Suburbs

Sarah L. Hoiland
Sarah L. Hoiland  |  Abstract
“Righteous Sisterhood” uncovers new working-class feminisms within a patriarchal and often misogynist biker subculture. It traces the origins of female participation in motorcycle clubs through archival research, which sets the stage for extensive fieldwork within an international women’s motorcycle club that has been accepted by its more notorious counterparts in the “outlaw” biker world. Drawing on Chicana feminist theories of borderlands and shape-shifting identities that complicate existing conceptualizations of citizenship, “Righteous Sisterhood” shows how these women negotiate between the overt masculinity of a “righteous biker” and deft constructions of strong sisterhood to assert a unique feminist identity within the subculture.

Assistant Professor, Behavioral and Social Sciences, City University of New York, Eugenio María de Hostos Community College  -  Righteous Sisterhood: Constructing a Feminist Biker Identity in a Misogynist Subculture

Piro Rexhepi
Piro Rexhepi  |  Abstract
The final integration of the western Balkans into European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) security structures is concluding and the Euro-Atlantic geopolitical borders along the Balkans refugee route are being sealed off both legally and politically. In this context, overlapping national and postnational governing processes have racialized border regimes such that the separation of the postsocialist Balkans from the postcolonial Middle East has come to influence new everyday politics and infrastructures of life. “Geopolitical Whiteness” examines this postsocialist recalibration of European colonial race-making in relation to contemporary Euro-Atlantic bordering processes in the Balkans.

Assistant Professor, Humanities and Social Sciences, Northampton Community College  -  Geopolitical Whiteness: Euro-Atlantic Integration and the Postsocialist Assembling of Race and Sexuality in the Balkans

Natasha R. Howard
Natasha R. Howard  |  Abstract
This project has three parts. Guided by Black feminist thought and Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann’s “Social Construction of Reality,” the first part examines the thematic content and sexual scripts of the music videos of Black female rappers. The second part of the project uses invitational rhetoric theory to analyze the song lyrics of the same Black female rappers. Finally, the third part of the project involves examining the possible influences of these videos on young Black women, aged 18 to 30, in terms of their self-concept and relationship ideals. Ultimately, this project shows how popular culture and media inform many of the ideas and conversations that circulate in today’s society. In addition, this research can be used as a prompt to get students to think more critically about the music and videos they consume to interrogate their themes, scripts, and lyrical content.

Assistant Professor, Communication Studies, Community College of Baltimore County  -  The Content and Influence of Black Women in Hip Hop

Randall A. Salm
Randall A. Salm  |  Abstract
With roughly 200,000 child soldiers at any one time—and that number turning over every few years—child soldiers are a significant social problem. One aspect is the development of, and changes to, a sense of identity and self for the child soldier over time. This study examines child soldier identity from a life course perspective, considering the effects of prewar, wartime, and postwar experiences on personal and social identity. It explores how prewar family and community experiences; wartime combatant roles and group attachments; and postwar family, community, occupational roles, occupational statuses, group identifications, and social stigma interact to form the postwar child soldier identity. It uses grounded theory and narrative analysis to conduct a comparative study of 40 former child soldiers in Colombia and Syria.

Assistant Professor, Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Education, College of Southern Maryland  -  Prewar, Wartime, and Postwar Identity of Former Child Soldiers in Colombia and Syria

Susan Jacobowitz
Susan Jacobowitz  |  Abstract
“Far From Childhood” tells the story of the fellow’s father, who survived the Holocaust as a child. Born in Czechoslovakia, he and his family were deported to Auschwitz during the Hungarian deportations of 1944, when he was 15. His mother and four younger siblings were killed upon arrival, while he survived a year of captivity and forced labor at multiple camps in Poland and Germany, and then the first death march. Liberated by American troops at 16, he spent two years in displaced persons camps before arriving in the United States alone one month before his eighteenth birthday. He never wanted to speak about the past. This is the story of his survival and an exploration of identity of children of survivors; it is also a powerful personal story that draws out themes of persecution, discrimination, suffering, and struggle for students in the humanities.

Associate Professor, English, City University of New York, Queensborough Community College  -  Far from Childhood: A Holocaust Memoir

Justine M. Shaw
Justine M. Shaw  |  Abstract
Mayanists have long focused on the Maya collapse, which left broad swaths of the peninsula once teeming with large settlements virtually abandoned. However, much less attention has been paid to how, or why, some more resilient populations survived this prolonged period of tremendous social upheaval. Initial studies of the round structures unique to this period indicate that the way inhabitants organized their use of space and the kinds of activities that took place in and around these structures may have been different from typical Classic Maya behaviors. This research more thoroughly documents the activities that took place in eight round structures through artifact, ecofact, and soil chemistry patterning. Exploring what enabled this resilience is important both for understanding past peoples and present cultural processes.

Professor, Social and Behavioral Sciences, College of the Redwoods  -  Resilient Populations during the Late Terminal Classic in the Cochuah Region of the Yucatan Peninsula

Susan E. Kalt
Susan E. Kalt  |  Abstract
Linguistic diversity is in danger around the world, especially where groups experience pressure against speaking the mother tongue to their children. Often, groups adopt features of the colonizers’ language. This project establishes the first intergenerational digital collection of videotaped stories told by Quechua speakers in the rural highlands of Chuquisaca, Bolivia, and engages heritage speakers in the analysis of language acquisition, loss, and change. Transcribing, analyzing, and returning the collected corpus to the community in the form of captioned picture books allows participants to celebrate their local language. Speakers of the language inherited from the Inka have special ways of expressing stance, perspective, and source of information that are fast disappearing. New ways have arisen that are stigmatized by being different from older variants of both Quechua and Spanish. Participants will challenge the stigma by contributing to a research article and building upon the intellectual resources of Quechua-dominant communities.

Professor, Language, Roxbury Community College  -  Telling Stories Our Way: Changes in the Evidential System of Southern Quechua

Amy E. Traver
Amy E. Traver  |  Abstract
From 1853 to 1929, the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) employed “orphan trains” to emigrate thousands of New York City children to family farms across the United States. Despite—and perhaps because of—familiarity with these orphan trains, little is known about the large number of CAS émigrés placed on Upstate New York farms. As a work of historical sociology, this project uses primary and secondary source data to identify patterns and processes of CAS emigration in New York State. In so doing, it details the CAS’s connection to Upstate dairy farming, shedding light on how diverse New Yorkers drew on family and migration strategies, Protestant and agrarian ideologies, and scientific and bureaucratic techniques to institute and integrate distinct organizations—and regions—across the state.

Associate Professor, Social Sciences, City University of New York, Queensborough Community College  -  New York's Dairy Dependents: The Children’s Aid Society’s Emigration Program and Upstate Dairy Farming, 1853-1929

Andrea Lowgren
Andrea Lowgren  |  Abstract
“The Reasons We Are Here” is a project focusing on the stories of immigration from community college students, staff, faculty, and alumni. It consists of a series of over twenty oral histories transcribed and compiled into an e-book for use as a text in college US history survey courses. The goals are for students to see immigrants as a core part of recent US history and to disrupt the media’s oversimplification of immigrant motivations. Students will analyze the narratives to explain the impact of US foreign and immigration policy on the lives of individuals. This project also includes portraits, a gallery exhibition, and a website for a connection to the broader community.

Instructor, History, Portland Community College  -  The Reasons We Are Here: Oral Histories of Immigration at Portland Community College

Erica M. Vogel
Erica M. Vogel  |  Abstract
This project explores the rise of Korean pop music (K-pop) in Mexico City as a venue through which people with unequal privileges establish connections and imagine themselves as producers and consumers of global trends. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Mexico City and Seoul, this project researches how Mexican fans, the Korean state, the press, and entertainment companies interact to promote K-pop in Mexico and, in turn, create and experience globalization. It explores how this interaction is fueled by the online acknowledgements and other forms of mutual recognition participants covet and gain from disparately placed participants, which help to mitigate the anonymity of a globalizing world. This project challenges globalization as US-centered and shows how Asian cultural products create new forms of value, identity, and meaning as they move between Asia and Latin America.

Associate Professor, Anthropology, Saddleback College  -  K-Pop in Mexico: Creating and Consuming Globalization through “La Ola Coreana”

Aaron Margolis
Aaron Margolis  |  Abstract
“Negotiating Boundaries” explores the modern historical development of the Guatemalan-Mexican border, focusing on themes such as state power, security, identity, and everyday life on the border. It uses both Guatemalan and Mexican archives to show that most borderlanders had a unique relationship to the line on the map: it was seen as part of the cultural and social landscape, ignored, or exploited for commercial purposes. State building projects saw insecurity in this fluid landscape, and the borderlands became a site of nationalist and exclusionary practices. This project contributes to the growing field of borderlands studies, and is situated between this field and Latin American, Mexican, and Cold War history.

Associate Professor, Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, Kansas City Kansas Community College  -  Negotiating Boundaries: Resistance, Cooperation, and State-Building in the Guatemalan-Mexican Borderlands

Jewon Woo
Jewon Woo  |  Abstract
“From Archival Absence to Digital Presence” investigates the Black press in nineteenth-century Ohio through archival research and digital humanities tools to illuminate its distinctively collaborative editorship. This interdisciplinary study challenges the racially discriminatory practice of the archive in the process of preservation and digitization, curates the under-studied Black press to reconsider it in literary study, and produces both a scholarly journal article and a website that uses digital techniques for text analysis and data visualization as an open source for the learning public. This study gives insight into overlooked historic texts through the humanistic use of digital technology to show the dynamics and complexity of early African American communal life.

Associate Professor, English, Lorain County Community College  -  From Archival Absence to Digital Presence: (Dis)Covering the Nineteenth-Century Black Press in Ohio