The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded $33.17 million to 245 projects, the agency announced this morning. The total represents a modest increase from the $28.4 million that was doled out to 239 projects in 2021, reflecting an upswing in funding for the agency under the Biden administration.
The grants range from $6,000 stipends for independent research and writing for chapter-long monograph contributions to $750,000 Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants to support renovation and build humanities hubs. Some grants will help preserve historical archives and make them accessible to the public; others will fund shows and programming; still others will underwrite new education initiatives and the development of curricula.
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Five grants were awarded in the category “Dialogues on the Experience of War,” projects that encourage discussion among veterans around the experience of war and the study of military service. One project, “Surviving the Long Wars: Visualizing Parallels Between the US ‘Indian Wars’ and the ‘Global War on Terror,’” is organized by a cohort of scholars at the University of Illinois at Chicago and artist-veterans. Building on a triennial and summit in Chicago that was funded by a 2018-2019 NEH grant, the project will include a two-semester class taught by Aaron Hughes, an artist, curator, and Iraq War veteran, with the participation of BIPOC veteran fellows who have served in recent wars. Fellows facilitating these discussions will examine connections between contemporary warfare and the so-called “Indian Wars” between White settlers and the Indigenous population of North America.
Another sizable grant was disbursed to the Yale Digital Dura-Europos Archive (YDEA), which is digitizing materials found at the Dura-Europos archaeological site in Syria, besieged in recent years by conflict and looting. Lying on the cusp of the Roman and Persian Empires, the ancient city — including its religiously diverse church, synagogue, and temples — is extraordinarily well-preserved thanks to a tactical move by Roman soldiers in the 250 CE, who constructed a large earthen embankment around the buildings. This fortuitous accident of history has furnished the site with its nickname: “Pompeii of the East.” But many of its artifacts have been trafficked illicitly or are now dispersed in European and American collections. The project will aim for their “digital reassembly.”
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) was another recipient of an NEH grant, and will produce an online portal containing archival materials from six independent Chicago art galleries, such as exhibition files, photographs, slides, and ephemera.
Melanie Emerson, dean of the library and special collections at the School of the AIC, told Hyperallergic that the project “will offer students, faculty, scholars, and the public the chance to better understand Chicago’s role in shaping contemporary art through innovative, collaborative, and pioneering gallery practices.”
Meanwhile, the Tenement Museum on New York’s Lower East Side will construct a new permanent exhibition recreating the home of Joseph and Rachel Moore, a Black couple who lived in the area in the 1860s. An accompanying guided tour and interactive media will consider the lives of Black and Irish immigrants living in New York City in the nineteenth century.
“These 245 projects will expand the horizons of our knowledge of culture and history, lift up humanities organizations working to preserve and tell the stories of local and global communities, and bring high-quality public programs and educational resources directly to the American public,” NEH Chair Shelly C. Lowe said in a statement.