Faculty, students at IU Bloomington receive grants for international research, teaching

  • Feb. 3, 2016


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- As an undergraduate student at Carleton University in Canada, Akwasi Owusu Bempah intended to go into law enforcement, but a criminology class set him on a different path.

“My first criminology professor opened my eyes to a world of research related to race and policing, and I changed my career path,” said Owusu Bempah, who is now an assistant professor of criminal justice at Indiana University Bloomington.

Today, Owusu Bempah studies issues related to race and policing. He is using a 2015-16 Mellon Innovating International Research, Teaching and Collaboration award to further his study of cases regarding police use of force in Toronto, Canada, digging into data not previously made public. He intends his analysis of racial differences in police use of force to help inform police policy in Canada as well as examinations of police use of force being carried out by American researchers.

“I have already begun planning to compare the nature of policing in Toronto and Chicago,” Owusu Bempah said.

The Mellon Innovating International Research, Teaching and Collaboration awards, totaling more than $265,000, have been given to 11 faculty members and six graduate students on the IU Bloomington campus.

The award program at IU Bloomington was initially funded through a $750,000 award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Grants to faculty and students support new directions in international research and area studies including collaborations that extend well beyond the campus.

Ricardo Higelin Ponce de León, a doctoral candidate in the College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Anthropology, is using his award to work with descendant communities in Oaxaca, Mexico. The Mexican National Institution of Anthropology and History restricts access to artifacts and other material culture, making it difficult for indigenous peoples to connect with their cultural heritage. Higelin Ponce de Leon will take a “public archaeology approach,” using 3-D models and other digital methods to preserve objects and artifacts.

“I will leave digital copies of the 3-D models and documentation of human remains in either the community’s museum or with local municipal offices to make sure that they are accessible for descendants and society at-large,” he said.

Lauren Robel, provost of the IU Bloomington campus and IU executive vice president, serves as principal investigator on the Mellon grant. Robel said the program provides immeasurable value to graduate students and faculty in furthering their global theories and research.

“It’s incredibly powerful for our scholars to be able to immerse themselves in the countries they’re studying,” Robel said. “The Mellon program provides a tangible link between theory and practice for our graduate students and faculty members by giving them the opportunity to conduct meaningful international research.”

Four specific funding opportunities are offered through the Mellon program: short-term faculty fellowships, graduate dissertation fellowships, curriculum development fellowships and innovative workshops. The countries covered by the awarded projects in the current round include Algeria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, China, Cuba, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Guatemala, India, Mexico, Peru, Spain, Taiwan and Turkey.

"I’m very impressed with the quality and level of the projects receiving funding through the MIIRT program, which has been so instrumental in expanding important international explorations and collaborations," said Rick Van Kooten, vice provost for research at IU Bloomington, whose office manages the program. “I congratulate all of the current faculty and student recipients for the work they are doing to expand IU’s involvement and impact in international areas.”

2015-16 Mellon Innovating International Research, Teaching and Collaboration awards recipients are:

Graduate Dissertation Fellowships

  • Mary Elizabeth Borgo, Department of English, College of Arts and Sciences: “Shining Lights: Missionaries, Ministers, and the Magic Lantern, 1845-1901”
  • Ricardo Higelin Ponce de Léon, Department of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences: “Engaging Descendant Communities with the Ancient Past: Zapotec Cultural Heritage from Oaxaca, Southern Mexico”
  • Safak Kilictepe, Department of Anthropology: “High-Tech Islamist State Pronatalism and Kurdish Women’s Reproduction in Turkey”
  • Emma Katherine McDonell, Department of Anthropology: “The Global Creation of Locality: ‘Traditional’ Products, International Intellectual Property Rights, and the Management of the Symbolic Commons in Peru’s Quinoa Bust”
  • Paige Violet Wojcik, Department of Anthropology: “Diet, Health, and Migration in Antigua, Guatemala, 1541-1773”

Short-Term Faculty Fellowships

  • Vincent Bouchard, Department of French & Italian, College of Arts and Sciences: “The Film Commentator in West Africa: From Colonial Screenings to Video Animation”
  • Elizabeth Claffey, Studio Art Department, School of Fine Arts: “Matrilinear: A Study of Ritual, Mnemonic Objects, and Embodied Memory”
  • Arlene Diaz, Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences: “The Invisible War: Spies and Detectives in the Making of the Spanish-Cuban-American War and the American Empire, 1868-1908”
  • Jane Goodman, Department of Anthropology: “On Tour: Algerian Actors Prepare for the U.S.”
  • Jason McGraw, Department of History: “A Transnational History of Jamaican Popular Song”
  • Akwasi Owusu Bempah, Department of Criminal Justice, College of Arts and Sciences: “Special Investigation: An Examination of Police Use of Force Cases in Toronto, Canada”
  • Patrick Shih, Department of Information and Library Science, School of Informatics and Computing: “Understanding Cross-Cultural Differences of Crowd Work in U.S., Taiwan, and China”

Innovative Curriculum Development Fellowship

  • Morten Oxenboell, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, and Jonathan Risner, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, both in the College of Arts and Sciences: “Consumptions of Violence: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Studies of Violence in Media”

Innovative Workshops

  • Judith  Brown, Department of English: “Thinking Around Passive Resistance”
  • Tristan Dior Ivory, Department of Sociology, College of Arts and Sciences: “Cross-national Investigation of Migrant Outcomes Project”
  • Khalid Mahmood Khan, Department of Environmental Health, School of Public Health-Bloomington: “Public Health Workforce Development in Bangladesh”

Related Links

Akwasi Owusu Bempah

Akwasi Owusu Bempah

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Ricardo Higelin Ponce de Leon

Ricardo Higelin Ponce de Leon

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Media Contacts

Lauren Bryant