Grant creates program to study border from humanities perspective

Grant creates program to study border from humanities perspective
MGN Online
The School Yard

POSTED: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 - 12:12pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 - 2:36pm

A two-year grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to The University of Texas at El Paso’s Center for Inter-American and Border Studies (CIBS) will promote a greater awareness of the human complexities involved in the issues and discourse of border security.

The $89,000 NEH grant establishes a faculty fellows program that will enhance two master’s programs at UTEP, while broadening the scope of discussion about border existence and security. UTEP faculty with specialties in history, literature, cultural anthropology, communication, languages and linguistics will participate.

“While border security has been at the center of public debates and has received the attention of scholarship in the social sciences, there is an ample body of work on cultural understanding, philology, language proficiency and the appreciation of different cultures that might deepen the conversation,” said Sandra Garabano, Ph.D., associate professor of Spanish and the interim director of CIBS.

The faculty fellows project proposes to study the experience of living and crossing the U.S.-Mexico border as portrayed in fiction, personal narratives, folktales and anecdotes to contribute a renewed perspective on security that has been absent from national media and political discourses.

“Engaging the humanities in topics such as border security will probe the scope and reach of its various disciplines in addressing the contemporary problems of an increasingly interconnected world,” Garabano added.

Through development of curriculum and specific courses, the program will enhance two existing UTEP graduate programs: the M.A. in Latin American and Border Studies and the M.S. in Intelligence and National Security Studies (INSS).

The grant covers funding to bring four distinguished scholars to the UTEP campus. Through a series of seminars and workshops, the leading scholars will guide the conceptual work that nine faculty fellows from across humanities fields at UTEP will undertake in considering and reconsidering border security.

Nationally and internationally renowned scholars will lead the fellows program. They include New York University Professor of Philosophy and Law Anthony Appiah, Ph.D.; PEN/Faulkner Award-winning author and UTEP creative writing department Chair Benjamin Alire Sáenz; University of Michigan Professor of Anthropology Ruth Behar, Ph.D.; and University of California, Berkeley Professor of Law Kathryn Abrams, J.D.

UTEP faculty selected for the fellowship are: associate professors of English Robert L. Gunn, Ph.D., and Marion Rohrleitner, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor of Languages and Linguistics Lowry Martin, Ph.D.; languages and linguistics Director Kristen Nigro, Ph.D.; languages and linguistics department Chair María-Socorro Tabuenca, Ph.D.; history department Chair Yolanda Chávez Leyva, Ph.D.; Associate Professor of Communication Eduardo Barrera, Ph.D.; Professor of Sociology and Anthropology Howard Campbell, Ph.D.; and sociology and anthropology department Chair Josiah Heyman, Ph.D., who will begin his term as director of CIBS on Sept. 1.

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