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A Lens on the World: IDRF Photo Competition Winners

From Hunter to Guardian by Alexander Brey

The International Dissertation Research Fellowship Program, supporting the next generation of scholars in the humanities and humanistic social sciences pursuing research that advances knowledge about non-US cultures and societies, presents the winners of the 2015 IDRF Photo Competition. IDRF fellows from the most recent cohort were invited to submit a single photograph, a self-portrait, or a short photo essay conveying a sense of their IDRF-funded research and experience abroad. Typically, two winners in each category are selected—one by IDRF fellows from earlier cohorts, and the other by the SSRC Fellowships Office.

The fellows honored two single photographs this year, with a tie between Alexander Brey’s “From Hunter to Guardian” (above), a portrait of a park ranger at the Dana nature reserve in Jordan, and Sahana Ghosh’s “A Bridge that Needs Mending,” which shows schoolchildren at a crumbling colonial railway bridge on the increasingly contested border between India and Bangladesh. In the fellows’ pick for best self-portrait, a beaming Shashank Saini receives blessings from three generations of women in Village Ghitorni, India. The fellows’ winning photo essay documents Jacob Blanc’s “Contested Development” project investigating the Itaipu hydroelectric dam’s role in the transformation of modern Brazil.

Indian Cycles at a Bangladeshi Bazaar by Sahana Ghosh

The images chosen by the Fellowships Office include “Fishing Boat in Maputo Bay,” taken in the course of Zoe Graham’s exploration of the pedagogical legacy of anthropologist and filmmaker Jean Rouch in documentary ateliers in Brazil and Mozambique, and Margaret Hanson’s self-portrait celebrating the Persian festival of Nauruz, from her journey researching “Property Rights, Land, and Rule in Central Asia.” Sahana Ghosh, who also tied for best single photograph in the fellows’ selections, won best photo essay from the Fellowships Office for her related ethnographic images of the daily movements of Bengali men and women in the transborder economy between Bangladesh and India (above).

All the winners from this year and previous competitions can be viewed on the SSRC website.

In Council News

In a new SSRC Working Paper, Measure of America chief statistician Patrick Guyer provides an overview of the human development concept and uses case studies in Sonoma County, California, and Maricopa County, Arizona, to demonstrate how its application in MOA research drives public policy change at the local level [PDF available].

Measure of America codirector Sarah Burd-Sharps appeared on the Wall Street Journal talk show MoneyBeat to discuss MOA’s most recent human development study, Geographies of Opportunity: Ranking Well-Being by Congressional District [video available]. Codirector Kristen Lewis went over the report’s findings with David Brancaccio on American Public Media’s Marketplace [audio available].

Findings from the Education Research Program’s CLA Longitudinal Study published in its influential volume Academically Adrift were cited in “A Flagging Model,” an Economist piece on higher education in America, part of a special report on universities.

Education Research Program director Richard Arum discussed the Measuring College Learning project as part of a meeting on the future of instructional measurement in higher education recapped on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation blog Impatient Optimists.

The InterAsia Program’s Transregional Virtual Research Institute members Paula Chakravartty and Srirupa Roy coedited and wrote the introduction for “Modi and the Media: Indian Politics and Electoral Aftermath,” a special issue of the journal Television and New Media that also includes articles by TVRI members Somnath Batabyal and Aswin Punathambekar.

A number of SSRC fellows have recently published books representative of their fellowship research. Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship fellow Andrea L. Korda (2009) uses a media archaeology approach in proposing an alternative trajectory for the development of modernism in Printing and Painting the News in Victorian London: “The Graphic” and Social Realism, 1869–1891 (Ashgate Publishing). DPDF fellow Petra R. Rivera-Rideau (2007) looks at the transnational movement of popular culture and conceptualizations of racialized identities in Remixing Reggaetón: The Cultural Politics of Race in Puerto Rico (Duke University Press). Drugs, Security and Democracy fellow Graham Denyer Willis (2011) drew on ethnographic fieldwork from his São Paulo–based research for The Killing Consensus: Police, Organized Crime, and the Regulation of Life and Death in Urban Brazil (University of California Press). And Abe fellow Yuma Totani (2009) delved into trial records to illuminate diverse firsthand accounts of World War II in Justice in Asia and the Pacific Region, 1945–1952: Allied War Crimes Prosecutions (Cambridge University Press).

Abe fellow Sangmin Bae (2009) coedited and authored the introduction for Human Security, Changing States and Global Responses: Institutions and Practices, the latest in the Routledge Studies in Human Security series, an outcome of her fellowship research on human security in East Asia.

In an opinion piece for the Denver Post, “Taking the Long View on Recovery in Nepal,” International Dissertation Research Fellowship fellow Galen B. Murton (2014) called for a redesign of global development and aid that better integrates local knowledge with external support.

African Peacebuilding Network Individual Research grantee Bamlaku Tadesse Mengistu (2013) coauthored an article based on his APN research, “Ethnicity, Identity and Conflicts among Pastoral Groups in Eastern Ethiopia,” for the African Journal of Democracy and Governance.

The African Peacebuilding Network hosted an SSRC Seminar with the Crisis Group’s Africa program director Comfort Ero, who opened the discussion with a presentation on “Regional Responses to the Challenges of Managing Peace in Africa: Lessons for the United Nations and Africa.”

Board member Margaret Levi was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of her distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

From Our Forums

At Reverberations, Anna M. Gade surveys Muslim environmental prayer practices in Indonesia. The Prayer in Wider Perspective series continues with an interview with Sonja Luehrmann about her research on sensory media in Eastern Orthodox Christian prayer. And a radio series on prayer produced with New Directions in the Study of Prayer is introduced.

The Immanent Frame features a piece by Religion and the Public Sphere program and editorial associate Wei Zhu on the legal history of religious exemptions for vaccines in the United States. Judaic studies professor David Blumenthal reveals the links between pop star Madonna’s song “Isaac” and the story of the Akeda found in Genesis.

On Deadline

InterAsian Connections V: Seoul
Workshop Director Proposals Due: June 5