History professor wins prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship


Rita Chin, professor of history, has been awarded a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship in the European & Latin American History category.

Chin is one of 173 artists, scientists and scholars selected by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation from a group of nearly 3,000 applicants. The fellows are appointed on the basis of distinguished achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishment.

Rita Chin

“It’s a huge honor, and I’m very proud to be in the company of such an amazing group of artists and intellectuals,” Chin said. “This award is especially significant to me because it underscores the continuing importance of the humanities in the public square.

“The Guggenheim is one of those prizes that marks a major milestone in one’s career, and I’m thrilled because this fellowship will allow me to delve into the research for my new project.”

As a faculty member in LSA, Chin has taught at U-M since 2003. Her research involves postwar Germany, Britain and France, immigration and migration studies, racial and ethnic minorities, colonialism and postcolonialism, and gender. She is the author of “The Guest Worker Question in Postwar Germany,” and her most recent book is “The Crisis of Multiculturalism in Europe: A History.”

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Chin’s new project is “Invisible Labor: A History of Female Migrant Domestics in Postcolonial Europe.” With the issues of race and immigration in the headlines, her subject offers an alternative view of who immigrants are, one that counters their often negative depiction in U.S. and European media.

“These women were not faceless strangers, but people who worked in European homes and were trusted to care for families,” explained Chin, who is director of Graduate Studies in the history department.

Chin — who received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Washington in 1990 and 1992, and a Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley in 1999 — said her work highlights the importance of diversity for understanding contemporary European society.

“Despite the political rhetoric, European countries are stronger and more vibrant because of their multiethnic diversity. We need to make positive arguments about the benefits of multicultural society,” she said.

“We are pleased that professor Chin’s contributions to understanding divisions in society, particularly in Europe, have been recognized with this fellowship,” said Provost Martin Philbert. “As a researcher and a teacher, she makes important contributions to our understanding of the role of immigration, human mobility, race, and ethnicity in shaping the world.”

Foundation President Edward Hirsch said the fellows “represent the best of the best.”

“Each year since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has bet everything on the individual, and we’re thrilled to continue to do so with this wonderfully talented and diverse group,” Hirsch said. “It’s an honor to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do.”

The foundation has granted more than $360 million in fellowships to over 18,000 individuals, among whom are scores of Nobel laureates, Fields medalists, Turing Award winners, poets laureate, members of the various national academies, winners of the Pulitzer Prize, and other internationally recognized honors.


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