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The U.S. Department of Education (DoE) announced recently that two GRS PhD students are being awarded a total of $85,000 in Fulbright-Hayes dissertation fellowships to pursue the research for their dissertations overseas. They are: Karl Hass, a PhD candidate in musicology, who will be traveling to Ghana for his project: “Time and Space, Music and Matter: A Musical Ethnography of the Kambonsi of Northern Ghana,” and Benjamin Twagira, a PhD candidate in history, who will be traveling to London and Kampala, Uganda, for his project “Religious Hills: Urbanization and Religious Traditions in Kampala, ca. 1950-1979.”
Haas’ project is an investigation of Kambon-waa, a music/dance genre associated with a lineage of warriors of the Dagbamba people of northern Ghana. These performances display a confluence of the cultural legacy of the Asante warriors who first brought the music to the region in the 18th century with Dagbamba dance-drumming styles. In the first-ever study of this performance tradition, he will argue against the homogeneity of Dagbamba culture by analyzing Kambon-waa in terms of the complex inter-cultural flows that define Ghana’s past and present. Rooted in pre-colonial practice, traditional performances in Ghana’s historically underdeveloped North remain culturally vital even as their meanings and contexts have changed following colonialism, independence, and, more recently, amidst the country’s rapid economic growth.
Twagira’s project explores the role that religion played in the evolution of the city of Kampala during the 20th century. A significant portion of his time during the grant period will be spent in Kampala, where he plans to interview the residents of the neighborhoods that were historically affiliated with different religions. While in Kampala, he will also consult the national archives to look at materials about Kampala—city plans, Kampala City Council minutes, etc. Then he will head to London, where he will work in the British National Archives. The archives hold the colonial era records of Kampala including personal papers of missionaries and colonial administrators.
The awards were part of a large grant announcement for two DoE Fulbright-Hays International Education programs. More than $1.14 million was awarded for 16 grants to institutions and organizations in 11 states for Group Projects Abroad Short-Term Projects; and more than $3 million to 34 institutions of higher education for Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) grants (including the BU grant). The grant money was disbursed before the recent government shutdown and was not affected by the temporary lapse in funding.
“In an interconnected, competitive global economy, the only way to secure our common future is through education,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “These grants will ensure a steady supply of graduates with expertise in world languages and global issues, helping to build stronger and more productive ties with our neighbors and fostering international collaboration.”
At the 34 institutions receiving DDRA grants, 80 individual fellowships are being awarded to doctoral students to conduct research in modern foreign languages and area studies in other countries for periods of six to twelve months. The goal of the research grants is to deepen knowledge of areas in the world not generally included in U.S. curricula.
The Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Short-Term Projects assist U.S. institutions of higher education, state departments of education, and private nonprofit educational organizations with the promotion, improvement, and development of area studies and modern foreign languages. The funds support short-term overseas projects in training, research, and curriculum development in modern foreign languages and area studies for groups of teachers, students, and faculty.
Both these programs hold annual competitions. Institutions of higher education are eligible to apply for the Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad program. For the Group Projects Abroad Short-Term Projects, state departments of education and private, nonprofit educational organizations are eligible to apply as well.