ISI Call for Applications 2014 - 2015: Value (Application Deadline Extended)

The Interdisciplinary Studies Institute has chosen the theme "Value" for its 2014-15 faculty seminar. "Value" is one of our keywords, easy to say and to claim, though almost impossible to pin down in its complexity and range all the way from the most material to the most ethereal. Yet, has there ever been a society where questions of value have not been front and center, both foundation and purpose, assumption and teleology, a matter for dispute, conviction and doubt? As a term that has been construed in so many different forms in so many different contexts, it is an ideal topic for interdisciplinary investigation.

For our 2014 - 2015 seminar, we invite participants to explore our theme from the vantage point of different disciplinary and/or creative perspectives. How has value been construed at different points in history, or by different cultures? How has it been construed in philosophy, literature, economics, psychology, journalism, education or science? As a concept that evokes broad theoretical issues as well as specific historical, political, intellectual and creative concerns, we are confident that it will create a rich and invigorating topic for our selected cohort of faculty fellows. All fellows will receive a $1500 research allowance.

For a fuller description of the theme and information on how to apply, please click here. Please note: The deadline for submitting an application has been extended to Friday, March 7.

Clingman Gives Mandela Tribute at Faculty Senate

On December 12, 2013, ISI Director Stephen Clingman addressed the Faculty Senate with a tribute to Nelson Mandela. Clingman's tribute recalls his own meeting with Mandela in 1991 and commemorates Mandela's vision of liberation, and his legacy. The full-length tribute can be found here on the Massachusetts Review's website.

Earlier this past summer, Clingman was interviewed by the Hampshire Gazette for the article "South African UMass Professors Reflect on Life of Nelson Mandela." In the article, Clingman describes conversing with Mandela while conducting research for his book Bram Fischer: Afrikaner Revolutionary, about the lawyer and anti-apartheid activist Bram Fischer who defended Mandela. Clingman's recollections about Mandela, as well as those of other South African UMass professors, can be found here.

Current ISI Fellow Shona Macdonald Discusses Her Work

Current ISI fellow Shona Macdonald discusses her creative process and the relationship between landscape and memory in this video produced by UMass as part of the Research Next project, which highlights faculty research for its scholarship and creativity. Macdonald describes her work's relationship with interdisciplinarity, clarifying, "We talk about interdisciplinarity. And sometimes when people say that they mean the links between sculpture and painting. But when I say it I actually mean the links between art and geography, art and history, art and architecture, art and English." 

Joya Misra Jump-starts Her Research

Joya Misra, ISI fellow 2012-13, used her fellowship year to jump-start her research with a focus on publicizing her work through a variety of mediums, as well as the research in top journal Gender and Society. In addition to developing the journal's online presence, Misra's work appeared in several forums over the year: the symposium on Equal Pay, two radio interviews (one the cost of child care and the other with Arnie Arnesen for "The Attitude"). Her work was also cited two in the New York Times (links can be found here and here). 

Negotiating Culture Book Launch

Celebrate ISI's first book! A book launch and book signing for ISI's first edited collection, Negotiating Culture, will be held at Amherst Books on October 11 at 4.30 p.m. Edited by Laetitia La Follette, the volume includes contributions from David Bollier, Stephen Clingman, Susan DiGiacomo, Oriol Pi-Sunyer, Margaret Speas, Banu Subramaniam, Joe Watkins, & Martin Wobst and originated from ISI's productive faculty seminars. A review by contributor David Bollier can be found here. Negotiating Culture examines issues of cultural heritage and intellectual property in a variety of contexts, from contests over tangible artifacts to more abstract forms of culture such as language and oral traditions.

Lugosch Named Fellow by American Insitute of Architects

ISI Board member Kathleen Lugosch was elevated to fellow of the American Institute of Architects on June 21, 2013 at the AIA's National Convention in Denver, Colorado. 

Lugosch's honor recognizes her outstanding contribution to the creation of the first public accredited architecture program in New England as well as her excellence in the profession. Her nomination notes that the architecture program is distinctly interdisciplinary, drawing faculty from diverse departments such landscape and regional planning, engineering, art history, history, and the interdisciplinary environmental sciences program. Lugosch's contributions to the program include working to provide access to an architectural education regardless of financial ability and to promote women's interest and involvement in architecture careers. 

A full list of the 2013 fellows can be found here.

Theory from the South: Jean and John Comaroff


The Interdisciplinary Studies Institute (ISI) hosted inspirational anthropologists Jean and John Comaroff for its inaugural residency. For the past thirty years, the Comaroffs’ work has influenced a generation of scholars interested in questions of identity and resistance in both colonial and postcolonial cultures in Africa and elsewhere. Writing both separately and together, their recent work has ventured into the intersections of law and ethnicity as well as relations between the global north and south. For many years distinguished professors at the University of Chicago, Jean and John Comaroff are now Professors of African and African American Studies and Oppenheimer Fellows in African Studies at Harvard University. Their most recent books include Law and Disorder in the Postcolony (2006), Ethnicity, Inc. (2009), and Theory from the South, or How Euro-America is Evolving Toward Africa (2011).


Call for Applications 2013-2014: Emancipation

As we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, it is appropriate that the ISI turns to the theme of ‘Emancipation’ for its 2013-2014 seminar. Yet in keeping with our traditions, we wish to explore the topic in broad, interdisciplinary, and multidirectional terms. The concept has been closely connected with notions of democracy, universal human rights, social and economic justice, gender and sexual equality, and the freedom from any constraint that might inhibit our capacity for self-determination. For the ISI seminar on emancipation, we would like to invite participants to explore issues and conceptions of human autonomy and freedom as inspired by your own interests, whether they be from historical, philosophical, sociological, psychological, anthropological, scientific, or cross-cultural angles. All fellows will receive a $1500 research allowance. Proposals for our year-long seminar should be sent by email to by Friday, March 1st, 2013.

Intersections Intersected: The Photography of David Goldblatt

The ISI is a proud co-sponsor of “Intersections Intersected: The Photography of David Goldblatt” at the University Museum of Contemporary Art. David Goldblatt (b. South Africa, 1930) is one of the great photographers of our time. As both citizen and photographer, he was witness to apartheid’s infiltration into every aspect of South African life. The exhibition of over 100 photographs, taken by Goldblatt during the past 50 years, focuses on South Africa’s human landscape in the apartheid and post-apartheid eras. Visit the Museum website to learn more.