IRWG awards eight 2018 faculty seed grants for various topics


The University of Michigan’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender has awarded eight seed grants for faculty projects on women, gender and sexuality.

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

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The 2018 recipients and their projects are:

Charlotte AlbrechtDepartment of American Culture, “The Sexual Politics of Settling: Arab Americans, Settler Colonialism, and the United States”

This project historicizes Arab presences in the United States through their varied relationships to U.S. settler colonialism. What are the sexual, gendered and racial mechanisms of Arab Americans’ implications in U.S. settler colonialism? How has U.S. empire facilitated settler colonialism “at home” through the disciplinary exigencies of sexual, gendered and racial citizenship? Albrecht builds upon a preliminary collection of primary source items and research sites that include WPA interviews with Arab homesteaders in the 1930s; the Lebanese-American senator James Abourezk and the creation of the Indian Child Welfare Act in the 1970s; and Laguna Pueblo-Métis-Lebanese-American writer Paula Gunn Allen.

Denise Saint ArnaultSchool of Nursing, “Healing and Help Seeking after Gender Based Violence: an International Consortium Study”

The road to healing after gender-based violence is challenged by cultural and social barriers, shame and the internalization of stigma. Saint Arnault’s research team studies help-seeking behaviors (or lack thereof) in survivors of violence across countries and cultures. Using the Clinical Ethnographic Narrative Interview, researchers explore cultural differences between the sociocultural barriers, facilitators, and meaning of trauma recovery in the U.S., Italy, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, and Romania, Brazil and Japan.

Rita ChinDepartment of History, “Invisible Labor: A History of Female Migrant Domestics in Postcolonial Europe”

Today, the phenomenon of female migrant domestic workers is most closely identified with Filipino women, who have become what scholars have called “servants of globalization.” But before the era of high globalization, this type of migration followed trajectories established through colonial conquest and imperial networks. Chin’s project brings a historical perspective to these issues, focusing on the post-1945 period when women were often recruited from ex-colonies to serve in British and French households. She compares the experiences of Antillean women recruited through French state-sponsored programs with Malaysian women who arrived through informal British networks. In both cases, laboring in private homes left female migrants isolated and highly vulnerable to abuse from their employers.

Melissa CrearySchool of Public Health, “At the Intersection of Feminist and Postcolonial Technoscience: Sickle Cell Disease Technology for Women by Women in Uganda”

The burden and blame of sickle cell disease (SCD), particularly in African countries, fall on women. AfriGal Tech is an all-woman team based in Uganda developing a diagnostic tool called mDex that detects SCD. This project centers women at the development and implementation stage of mDex. By studying the technology in early development, Creary will follow how this artefact gets co-produced and embodied — by both the creators and consumers. Drawing from the theoretical fields of the anthropology of technoscience, feminist and postcolonial technoscience, and mixed-methodology, she aims to situate social, geographical, and political debates about neglect, innovation, and empowerment.

Reginald JacksonDepartment of Asian Languages & Cultures, “Spectacular Dominion: Slavery, Performance, and the Boundaries of Personhood in Premodern Japan”

This project explores the relationship between slavery and performance in premodern Japan by analyzing the intersection between embodiment, economy and territory at three historical moments: the early Muromachi period (1392–1573), when Noh plays about slavery become popular; slave trade by Jesuit missionaries during the late-16th and early-17th centuries; and Commodore Matthew Perry’s mid-nineteenth century mission to Japan (1852–54), during which blackface minstrelsy performed by Perry’s “Ethiopian Players” supplements gunboat diplomacy’s more violent overtures. In each context, gender and sexuality become vital analytical concerns, particularly as they shape how various forms of religious or colonial subjection take hold.

Christian Matijas-MeccaSchool of Music, Theatre & Dance, “An Evening of Doris Humphrey and J.S. Bach: Romantic Modernism in Dance and Music”

This is a research and re-staging project of three dances created by Doris Humphrey, a pioneer of American Modern Dance. It will culminate in a performance in collaboration with the U-M organ department’s annual Organ Conference at Hill Auditorium on Oct. 2, “Trailblazers: Women’s Impact on Organ, Harpsichord, Carillon and Sacred Music.” This project involves both students and faculty from across the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, in collaboration with two internationally recognized guest artists who will assist in staging two of the three dances.

Ava PurkissDepartments of American Culture and Women’s Studies, “Fit Citizens: A History of Black Women’s Exercise, 1900-1960”

Purkiss examines the effect of intentional, physical exercise on African-American women’s bodies, health, beauty culture and recreational practices in the early to mid-20th century. She argues that African-American women used exercise to demonstrate their literal and figurative fitness for citizenship during a time when fit bodies garnered new political significance. As the first historical study on black women’s physical fitness, this project shows that the incentives of exercise went beyond physical exertion for the sake of health, but entailed a range of interrelated political stakes, like occupying contested public space, creating social safety nets and achieving gender equity.

Marie-Anne RosembergSchool of Nursing, “A Participatory Research Project to Explore Perceived Stressors and Identify Intervention Needs Among Women Hotel Housekeepers”

Hotel housekeepers and hotel laundry workers are primarily women and are at risk for poor health. Previous studies among these workers have noted their work hazards with scant attention to factors outside of their work affecting their health. Using a social ecological approach with an empowerment underpinning incorporating issues such as race and ethnicity, class and immigration status, Rosemberg will conduct focus group and individual interviews to explore 1) hotel housekeepers and hotel laundry workers’ perspectives on stressors (work and nonwork) and how they affect their health; and 2) workers’ and managers’ perspectives on intervention components they deem needed, acceptable and feasible.


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