2016-2018 Project Grant Recipients!

The Humanities Collaboratory is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2016 project grants. Funding of more than $500,000 has been awarded to “Hyecho’s Journey,” an interdisciplinary investigation of the travels of an eighth-century Korean monk, and “Precarity Lab: A Thick Humanities Collaboration on Digital Inequalities,” a study of the inequalities and insecurities generated by digital technologies in the contemporary world.

The Humanities Collaboratory supports intergenerational teams of faculty, librarians, graduate and undergraduate students over a two-year period as they conduct innovative research projects that will produce new knowledge as well as model new collaborative methods for humanities research. The project teams will publish their research results in a variety of media for multiple audiences, and the collaborative structure of the projects also suggests new ways of training graduate student in research and professional development.

Hyecho’s Journey
“Hyecho’s Journey” explores the travels of a young Korean monk who traveled throughout the Buddhist world in the eighth century. Using the monk Hyecho’s travel journal, the project will follow in Hyecho’s footsteps virtually, mapping his journey’s trajectory through his encounters with Buddhist art and the material cultures of the regions he visited. The project models a new approach to the study of Buddhism, offering a picture of the entire Buddhist world at a single historical moment, seen through the eyes of a single monk. This view of Buddhism as a network of interlocking traditions that cross national and cultural boundaries counters a more traditional historical narrative that traces the development of Buddhism as a movement away from an original center. Team members plan to create an interactive map and app that will be featured at a three-year exhibition at the Freer|Sackler Galleries in Washington opening in October 2017; they also expect the research to result in a monograph, a new undergraduate course, a study abroad opportunity, and a graduate student conference on collaboration.

Donald S. Lopez, Jr., Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies, is the project’s principal investigator, and the Hyecho’s Journey team includes Professor Kevin G. Carr (History of Art), Professor Carla Sinopoli (Anthropology and Museum Studies), Keiko Yokota-Carter (Asia Library), and graduate students Rebecca Bloom (Asian Languages and Cultures and Museum Studies), Chun Wa Chan (History of Art), and Ha Nul Jun (Asian Languages and Cultures).

Precarity Lab: A Thick Humanities Collaboration on Digital Inequality
The Precarity Lab team uses the notion of precarity to describe populations that have been disproportionately affected by the forms of inequality and insecurity generated, along with new affordances and possibilities, by digital technologies. Studying the way that precarity unfolds across disparate geographies and cultural practices in the digital age, lab members bring together a diverse set of sites and practices in their research, including the placement of Palestinian Internet cables, the manufacture of electronics by Navajo women, the deployment of drones on the U.S.-Mexico border, and the techno-cultural productions of Chinese makers. Using the notion of “thick humanities” to evoke a claim for central place of the humanities in large-scale and multi-sited research, team members will explore how these sites and practices are related to each other, interrogating the connections and frictions among them, and seeking to understand how they are configured by larger flows of capital, bodies, cultural practices, trade, and labor. Team members anticipate that the research will produce a multi-authored monograph and digital-born critical mapping project.

Lisa Nakumara, Gwendolyn Calvert Baker Collegiate Professor of American Culture, is the project’s principal investigator, and the Precarity Lab’s research team includes Professor Irina Aristarkhova (Stamps School of Art and Design), Professor Anna Watkins Fisher (American Culture and the Residential College), Professor Tung-Hui Hu (English and the Zell Writers’ Program), and graduate students Iván Chaar-López (American Culture) and Meryem Kamil (American Culture).

NEH – The Humanities Laboratory Conference

Humanities Collaboratory Coordinator Peggy McCracken attended a meeting at the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington last week entitled “The Humanities Laboratory: Discussions of New Campus Models.”  Inside Higher Ed posted the article “Labs are for Humanities, Too” summarizing the discussions and highlighting what various institutions are doing in collaborative humanities research.

Precarious Networks

Precarity Image

We have little control over what Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platforms do with our data; software that worked perfectly well yesterday locks us out of our archived experiences today.  Meanwhile, apps like Uber and Waze promise us the ability to transcend sovereign boundaries.  Access across borders, access to devices and platforms, are based on criteria that change by the minute, fueled by processes that are obscure and powerful.  Our group decided to come together and give ourselves the name Precarity Lab because we are all working on the various forms of insecurity, vulnerability, and social and cultural exclusion arising from digital platforms.

Precarity Lab aspires to bring together a network of scholars, activists, and public intellectuals who want to interrogate the digital’s claims to openness. Precarity Lab’s founders include:

  • Irina Aristarkhova, Associate Professor of Stamps School of Art and Design, has written extensively on new media theory, online communities, cyberfeminism and contemporary art, and new communication and biomedical technologies within international contexts;
  • Iván Chaar-López is a Ph.D. candidate in American Culture traces how contemporary use of drones to track and target immigrant bodies in the U.S.-Mexico border are built on the trajectories of cybernetics and Vietnam-era intrusion detection systems;
  • Anna Watkins Fisher is Assistant Professor of American Culture and the Residential College and writes on art, politics, and network culture;
  • Tung-Hui Hu is a poet and Assistant Professor in English and the Helen Zell Writers’ Program, whose work examines the materiality of technology and its cultural rhetoric;
  • Meryem Kamil is a Ph.D. candidate in American Culture, whose research examines the possibilities and limitations of online activism around Palestinian sovereignty;
  • Silvia Lindtner is Assistant Professor in the School of Information, whose work examines histories and cultures of “making” and “hacking” in urban China;
  • Lisa Nakamura is Gwendolyn Calvert Baker Collegiate Professor of American Culture and Digital Studies and writes on race, gender, and digital inequality.

Our Lab is inspired by collectives such as Deep Lab, Matsutake Worlds, The Petrocultures Research Cluster, and Disruption Network Lab, which model ways for humanities research to be less isolated and isolating, as well as by platforms such as Mukurtu, built to support indigenous communities’ cultural heritage, which push back against the idea that information should be open and accessible all the time.  

We are invested in finding ways for critical scholars to create works of lasting value together and also believe that the academic monograph needs to become more collaborative, more fun, and more free.  We have been intrigued by the Book Sprint as a tool for book writing that is social, collective, and above all fast.  At the same time, we are committed to slow scholarship pushing back against the notion that the digital will make the humanities more “productive.”  We value the conviviality and intellectual stimulation that comes from working side by side and are very grateful for the Humanities Collaboratory’s support.

Alternative Career Post-Doctoral Internship in Humanities Research Administration/ Research Fellow

We are excited to announce a collaboration between the Humanities Collaboratory and Institute for the Humanities!

The two units have teamed together to offer a one-year alternative career post-doctoral internship.  This is a year-long opportunity commencing in summer 2016 through June, 2017; specific timing to be negotiated.  50% appointment each in the Institute for the Humanities and the Michigan Humanities Collaboratory

Humanities Institute Responsibilities:

  • Develop and advance outreach to undergraduate students on behalf of the Institute for the Humanities; work with humanities units to develop undergraduate initiatives; develop and implement a strategy for encouraging undergraduate students to participate in Humanities Institute programs and opportunities both in cooperation with the Assistant Director, Arts Programming and through separately developed academic programming. Act as advisor and coordinator of the HI Undergrad Advisory Group and undergraduate book read groups.
  • Develop, organize and manage workshops, lectures, symposiums, etc… related to digital pedagogy in cooperation and coordination with CRLT for the graduate certificate program in teaching with digital media (GTC+).  Expand the knowledge, use and understanding of digital research and pedagogical work in the humanities to faculty and graduate students working with Hatcher library resources and others.
  • Engage faculty/instructional staff in the activities and programming of the Institute through collaboration and coordination of programming with targeted classes.  Volunteer to be a guest speaker in classes related to programming at the Institute.  Initiate and develop relationships with instructional staff in order to increase awareness of the Institute and collaboration possibilities across campus.
  • Act as a public presence and face in collaboration with the Director and Assistant Director, Arts Programming for the Institute.
  • Coordinate and plan two or three endowed lectures per year.  Within the guidelines established by each endowment donor provide a forum for university constituencies as well as the regional community to hear about and discuss issues of broader societal relevance within the humanities and the Institute’s yearly theme.
  • Promote, solicit and review applications for fellowships and grants administered by the Institute for the benefit of Michigan graduate students.
  • Utilize social media to make constituencies on campus and beyond of above outlined activities and links to pertinent articles or activities elsewhere related to the humanities and its importance to society.
  • Teach one interdisciplinary topics course for the Institute (cross listed or meet together with a humanities department) per year (1-3  credits).  Topic to be agreed upon between Director and Research Fellow.

Michigan Humanities Collaboratory Responsibilities:

  • Provide highly responsible administrative support to the Faculty Coordinator and Project Manager.  Coordinate seed grant proposal and project proposal process.  Create, organize and gather applications, coordinate proposal review with Steering Committee members and external evaluators.  Oversee and support general administrative needs including ordering office supplies and equipment as needed.  Respond to inquiries from faculty and the university community at large as needed and appropriate.  Staff Collaboratory space, provide administrative support to faculty teams as needed and directed in cooperation.  Provide logistical support to faculty teams with public dissemination stage of projects.  Plan and organize workshops, project recruitment activities, meetings and other events as needed.  Take minutes at Steering Committee meetings.  Provide general space/facilities support as needed.
  • Work with Faculty Coordinator to develop assessment tools, gather data, track and analyze data.  Develop reports to present assessment findings to steering committee and other oversight bodies.   Research grant opportunities for scholars in the humanities; post links and resource information on website.  Assist Faculty Coordinator and Project Manager with special projects as needed and assigned (i.e. research status of collaborative team research in the humanities at R1 institutions across the nation, shadow collaboratory teams to analyze the collaborative process).
  • Work with graphic design staff to develop publicity for workshops and collaboratory in general.  Ensure proposal deadlines, workshops and public dissemination events are extensively publicized through various means such as websites, posters, emails, etc… Proactively update website as needed; assure news/announcements/workshop events are updated eekly.  Update general content regularly. Prepare and disseminate weekly newsletter through MailChimp.

Qualifications:  Recently defended  (since January 1, 2015) or defended by August 2016 University of Michigan PhD in the humanities; experience and expertise in some aspect of digital humanities work; knowledge of scholarly and pedagogical currents in DH work including digital communication; strong interest and/or experience in the future of scholarly communication in the humanities.  Some experience in academia organizing projects/programs.  Proven ability to initiate and proactively network, form relationships and collaborate with faculty and graduate/undergraduate students.  Demonstrated ability to work independently while exercising sound judgement, decision making and problem solving skills.  Strong organizational skills and attention to detail.  Experience teaching an undergraduate course in the humanities is required.

The ideal candidate has the ability to think outside the box:  to think creatively and imaginatively about programmatic possibilities for the Institute with the practical ability to understand and implement the details behind those ideas.  The ability to exercise a high level of initiative, to handle a wide variety of diverse hands-on tasks, and to do so with a friendly, customer-service oriented approach are key characteristics of a successful candidate for this position. Prior experience in social media is highly desired.

Submit your application on-line through the U-M job postings site, Research Fellow 12483.

Congratulations to our Proposal Development Grant Recipients!!

Decisions on the first round of proposal developments grants awarded by the Collaboratory were communicated to recipients on Wednesday, February 24.   We were especially pleased to be able to support five (5) projects.  Congratulations to the following projects and teams:

Audio Visual Africa; Kwasi Ampene PI, Associate Professor, Department of Afroamerican and African Studies
African American and Women Artists; Anita Gonzalez PI, Professor School of Music, Theatre & Dance
Precarious Networks and Digital Inequalities; Lisa Nakamura, PI, Gwendolyn Calvert Baker Collegiate Professor of American Culture and Screen Arts and Culture
Hyecho’s Journey; Donald S. Lopez, Jr. PI, Arthur E Link Distinguished Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies, Asian Languages & Cultures
Karanis Egypt, Arthur Verhoogt, PI, Professor of Papyrology and Greek, Classical Studies