Current Themes and Calls for Research Proposals

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Cultures of Risk

The American Communities Program invites you to participate in deepening our understanding of American identities, cultures, and communities with the announcement of the 2013-2014 fellowship theme: “Cultures of Risk:  Chance and Precarity.”  The theme is founded on the idea that any culture is inherently precarious, defined by risk-taking and dynamics of emergence, tension, and decline.  Recent critical attention has focused on the ways that such precarity is intensifying, whether in the increasingly contingent dynamics of the workforce, the financialization of everyday life, the fragmentation and unpredictability of our increasingly mediated experience, and other new regimes of uncertainty, dispossession, and instability.  As Judith Butler wrote, to understand precarity means recognizing that “there are others out there on whom my life depends, people I do not know and may never know.”  How might that recognition shape our cultural practice and open up new potentials and forms of life?   
Tenured and tenure-track faculty at CSULA are welcome to submit proposals for humanities-based inquiry addressing topics including, but not limited to, the following:

  • How has precarity been represented or expressed aesthetically?  What roles can contingency and experimentation play in creative contexts?  What other practices – gambling, games, play – can be understood as exploiting precarity?
  • How is contemporary experience defined by logics of investment, fluctuation, boom and bust, the abstraction of value, and other forms of the financialization of life?
  • What is the philosophical value of the aleatory, the nugatory, and the accidental?
  • How has the crisis of the nation-state generated emergent forms of political insecurity and exposure, as well as new possibilities for connection (social movements, revolts and resistance) in a fragmented or deterritorialized world?  How do increasingly mobile flows of capital, information, and population confront and exploit these conditions?
  • How are vulnerability and risk distributed regionally and globally?   
  • In what ways has “postmodernity” reconceptualized the future in light of new configurations of space and time?  What are the consequences of transience and impermanence?
  • How does precarity reflect the history and consequences of neoliberalism?  How might it serve the logic of “disaster capitalism”?
  • To what extent has the immateriality of contemporary experience undermined traditional affective relationships?  What varieties of emotional and mental “pathology” reflect this condition?  What liberatory prospects might these conditions also harbor?

The Fellowships
Up to three fellowships will be awarded to applicants who engage in humanities-based inquiry. Preference will be given to proposals that are most innovative in exploring the theme, that maximize student involvement and community engagement, and that promise potential for stimulating campus-wide conversation. One fellowship, the Bailey Fellowship, is awarded to an original project that applies this year's research theme to African American communities and/or individuals and preferably involves archival materials.
The program welcomes proposals from the arts that can be presented in a lecture/recital. All proposals, however, must include a research or analytical component based in the humanities. Each fellowship awards 8 units of release time and a $750 stipend for a student assistant or other project-related expenses. Fellows will participate in a fall panel discussion on the theme and present the results of their research at the ACP's Spring 2014 symposium.
Application Materials
Please submit four hard copies of your application to
Dr. Andrew L. Knighton
Joseph A. Bailey II, M.D. Endowed Chair of American Communities
Director, CSULA/NEH American Communities Program
Dean’s Office, College of Arts and Letters
MUS 228

Application materials consist of a two-page curriculum vitae, a 500-word research proposal, and a projected budget for research-related expenditures (up to $750). Proposals should explain the relevance of the proposed project to this year's research theme, the originality and significance of the research, and the integration of student involvement or community engagement.
The submission deadline for the 2013-2014 fellowships is Friday, April 19, 2013, at 5 p.m.