IRWG announces seven Faculty Seed Grant recipients


The Institute for Research on Women and Gender has awarded seven seed grants for faculty projects on women, gender and sexuality.

The IRWG grants support individual research activities, as well as collaborative projects, such as pilot studies or initial research efforts.

The 2016-17 recipients and their projects are:

IRWG Faculty Seed Grants are awarded once per year. The next opportunity will be in November 2017. More information

Sueann Caulfield — Department of History and Residential College, “Gender and Sexuality in the Inter-American Human Rights System, 1948-2016”

This book project explores the development of inter-American human rights law regarding gender and sexuality since the drafting of the Inter-American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man in 1948. Caulfield will examine core themes illustrated by landmark cases that were heard by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which investigates complaints brought by individuals or non-governmental organizations against a state and determines appropriate remedy, often as “friendly agreements.” In addition, her project looks at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which, at the commission’s request, adjudicates cases in which the state refuses to comply. This research aims to illuminate how local historical processes, grassroots activism, and individual actors were both influenced by and contributed to ideas that were incorporated into international law.

Clare Croft — Department of Dance, “A Different Kind of Lady: Jill Johnston’s Political Embodiments in Dance and Feminism”

Croft’s book-length project on the dance critic and radical feminist activist Jill Johnston aims to better understand the role of embodiment as a feminist tool. The book provides a close examination of Johnston’s political activism, her influence on contemporary dance, and her memoir writing. IRWG support will make possible archival and oral history work required for the project.

Nadine Hubbs — Department of Women’s Studies, “Country Mexicans: Sounding Gender, Race, and Class in Mexican American Country Music Fandom”

Emblematic of both American-ness and the white working class, country music is also embraced by many Mexican-American fans. Prevailing notions link country, the working class, and Mexican culture to masculinity. With these associations in mind, this project will observe and investigate the cultural and social logics of Mexican American country fans. In previous work, Hubbs illuminated country-musical articulations of white working class–specific genders. Now, focusing on musical engagements that challenge racially exclusive conceptions of the American working class, Hubbs will illuminate how identity categories such as Americanness, gender and sexuality are perceived by working-class Mexican-American country fans.

Diana Louis — Department of Women’s Studies, “Colored Insane: Slavery, Asylums, and Mental Illness in 19th-Century America”

Louis’ book project examines the untold social history of mental illness among African Americans.  She argues that 19th-century psychiatric discourses made African Americans mad by both constructing disorders according to prevailing notions of race and insanity, and inflicting real psychological harm within asylums, plantations, jails, and society writ large. Further, the book posits that 19-century enslaved and freed people developed their own thoughts on the causes, nature and treatment of mental illness. Black intellectual thought challenged the reigning psychiatric belief that slavery was beneficial for black mental health. This project reveals how multilayered, ubiquitous and ongoing experiences of insanity (real and imagined) among 19th-century African Americans set the stage for black experiences with mental illness for generations to come.

Lisa Kane Low — Departments of Women’s Studies, Nursing, and Obstetrics/Gynecology, “The Reproductive Beliefs of Newly Resettled Syrian Refugees”

Reproductive health rests on the ability to plan one’s pregnancies, yet planning can be challenging for groups in certain life situations, such as refugee women living in camps and resettlements. This project will explore how reproductive beliefs frame preferences and choices — both realized and unrealized — in order to encourage reproductive health services that are better tailored to this specific population. Female Syrian refugees who have resettled in Michigan within the past year will be interviewed to evaluate how major life events unique to their refugee status impact their reproductive desires and preferences, including where they obtain information, resources, and support related to reproduction. This research will be used to inform interventions to reduce unintended pregnancies amongst refugees, as well as informing the development of public policy for the culturally congruent support of refugee women and their reproductive health goals.

Vijay Singh — Department of Emergency Medicine, “Pilot Test and Evaluation of Violence Against Women Healthcare Training in the Ghana-Michigan Emergency Medicine Collaborative”

Intimate partner violence and sexual violence, collectively known as violence against women, are globally pervasive with significant health consequences. The World Health Organization has recently developed guidelines for the health care response to violence against women. As part of a larger project to develop training curricula for health-care providers and students in low-to-middle income countries, research collaborators from the Department of Emergency Medicine will travel to the Ghana-Michigan Emergency Medicine Collaborative to conduct on-site pilot testing and evaluation of the new curricula.

Golfo Tzilos — Departments of Family Medicine, and Psychiatry, “Understanding Reproductive Health Vulnerabilities in Adolescent Girls: Towards a mHealth Intervention”

Adolescent girls face unique health risks and vulnerabilities, including greater susceptibility to acquiring sexually transmitted infections, as compared to their male peers. When young women engage in alcohol use and sexual risk-taking simultaneously, they are more likely to acquire an STI. Mobile health (mHealth) interventions are ideally suited for adolescents. The current project will explore the views of adolescent girls (15-19 years old) on the desired qualities and content of an mHealth app for sexual health, informing the development of a culturally sensitive intervention with the potential to impact the reproductive health of substantial numbers of adolescent girls.


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