Campus: CSU Long Beach -- November 04, 2002

Cal State L.A. Receives Rockefeller Foundation Grant for New Humanities Fellowship Program

Scholars will analyze how "American" identities are formed

The Rockefeller Foundation has approved a $325,000 grant to California State University, Los Angeles to support a humanities fellowship program, “Becoming and Belonging: The Alchemy of Identity in the Multiethnic Metropolis.” This is the largest private grant ever received by the University’s College of Arts and Letters.

Cal State L.A. is one of only eight institutions in North and South America selected as a Rockefeller residency site among 45 applicants. In recent years, the recipients have included Columbia University, Stanford University, and UC Berkeley.

The project, co-directed by Richard T. Rodriguez (Chicano Studies) and Alejandra Marchevsky (Liberal Studies), will begin in fall 2003 and continue for three years. Through the grant and matching funds from the College of Arts and Letters and the College of Natural and Social Sciences, two internal and two external fellowships will be supported.

“This major grant affirms the vitality of the University’s humanities programs and the excellence of our faculty,” noted Carl Selkin, dean of Cal State L.A.’s College of Arts and Letters. “In particular, it reflects the importance of the humanities in fostering a better understanding of and among Southern California communities.”

The grant—establishing Cal State L.A. as a Rockefeller residency site—will enable researchers to study the concept of “belonging” in American society, especially in the diaspora of greater Los Angeles and the Pacific southwest.

Although such topics are often thought of as exclusively the domain of the social sciences, Selkin said, “Here, faculty members in humanities disciplines such as literary and communication studies, art and music history, and philosophy, will partner with colleagues in the social sciences.”

“The College of Natural and Social Sciences at Cal State L.A. is a full partner in this project,” said Desdemona Cardoza, dean of the College. “In fact, our Natural and Social Sciences faculty in Chicano studies, Latin American studies, Pan-African studies, psychology, sociology and political science have long been engaged in innovative, interdisciplinary research. We are honored that the Rockefeller grant validates and brings further prominence to their work.”
Over the course of three years, selected scholars from the University and the global academic community will address three themes—fundamentalism(s) in a multicultural society, gendered labor in the global marketplace, and the transformation of family in hybrid cultures. Participants will analyze how “American” identities are forged through the confluence of cultural traditions, globalization, labor conditions, family structures, and gender roles.

Cal State L.A.’s location, at the intersection of several of the most significant diasporic communities in the nation, offers an ideal site for the study of cultural dispersion and resiliency, particularly in the Latino/a, Asian, and Middle-Eastern communities.

“One of the most important benefits of this project is the way in which it supports and builds the long-term stability of two emerging interdisciplinary programs: the American Communities Program established through an NEH matching grant, and the Center for the Study of Genders and Sexualities. Both of these projects will benefit from the momentum the Rockefeller Humanities Fellowship Program provides,” explained Selkin.

Rockefeller officials were particularly impressed with the non-traditional structure of the grant project that made it possible for Cal State L.A. to have an engaged community of scholars, said Professor Rodriguez. “Normally, Rockefeller residencies only support external fellows. By incorporating two of our own faculty scholars, we achieved a stimulating and productive research community.”

Marchevsky added, “The program is designed to involve the entire campus and the public through an ongoing seminar, an annual colloquium, and an academic conference in 2006.”
“The ultimate beneficiaries of this grant will be the Cal State L.A. students who are partners with our faculty in learning about the world, their communities, and themselves through the humanities,” said Herman D. Lujan, Cal State L.A. provost and vice president of Academic Affairs.

“Because the daily lives of our students are closely tied to our research theme, their participation in the fellowship will be especially meaningful, offering them not only cutting-edge humanities research, but a new context for their research, and possibly for their own lives,” said Lujan.

“For faculty, this project offers a way to encourage the optimism and intellectual energy of our young faculty, who will be participating in research group dialogue and a successful and innovative, faculty-inspired program,” Lujan continued.

For more information on the Rockefeller Humanities Fellowship program, the Center for the Study of Genders and Sexualities, or the American Communities Program, contact Robin Moler, director of development, College of Arts and Letters at Cal State L.A., (323) 343-5061.

CONTACT: Carol Selkin, Media Relations Director (323) 343-3044

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