Transregional Research Junior Scholar Fellowship: InterAsian Contexts and Connections 2017

Publish Date: Jul 13, 2017

Deadline: Sep 27, 2017

Transregional Research Junior Scholar Fellowship: InterAsian Contexts and Connections


Transregional Research Junior Scholar Fellowship: InterAsian Contexts and Connections, builds upon the SSRC’s current transregional grants program through which more than 65 individual fellowships totaling nearly $2.5 million have been awarded. These longer-term fellowships are designed to support junior scholars as they work on first or second projects and to be disbursed flexibly over a sixteen-month period. Fellows can be affiliated anywhere, need not be full-time employed, and can use the funds for research or writing. Fellowship amounts will vary based on the proposed research activities, timeline, and location, and awards will be granted of $20,000–$45,000.

What are the overall purposes of the SSRC Transregional Research Junior Scholar Fellowships? 
Transregional Research Junior Scholar Fellowships: InterAsian Contexts and Connections are awarded for projects that reconceptualize research on Asia as an interlinked historical and geographic formation stretching from West Asia (including Turkey) through Eurasia, Central Asia and South Asia to Southeast Asia and East Asia, as well as projects that explore linkages beyond this expanse. Proposals that explore the connections between Asia and Africa are particularly encouraged.

Specifically, the fellowships will reward work that promises to push the boundaries of current frameworks for transregional and transnational research. The grants will enable fellows to devote sustained attention to completing first books and/or formulating second projects and developing innovative teaching materials and resources, including publicly available digital resources. In addition, the fellows’ workshops will create networks that will continue to support fellows well beyond the grant period.

By targeting junior scholars up to five years out of the PhD, these fellowships provide crucial support at a time when it may be easier for researchers to explore broader dimensions of and contexts for their work (including interdisciplinary perspectives) than during the dissertation itself. In addition, these fellowships will:

  • Enable researchers whose training has been primarily disciplinary to deepen engagements with regional scholarship (and vice versa).
  • Enable researchers to develop cross-regional or multi-site projects that depend on investments in language learning and gaining site-specific knowledge.
  • Provide occasions for bringing people from more literary, historical and social science branches of the humanities into stronger interactions with one another through the study of specific themes or sites (e.g. classicists, historians, art historians, anthropologists and sociologists engaged in Mediterranean studies).
  • Allow for bringing people with experience in specific transregional contexts together to undertake comparative research around transregional phenomena such as waterways, diasporas, aid relationships, or cultural flows. 

What do you mean by “InterAsian Contexts and Connections”? 
We view InterAsia in the context of connections, convergences and comparisons -

  • Connections - the exploration of historical and/or contemporary transnational/cross-national/transregional processes, structures, practices, and flows within, across and beyond the territorial and imaginative space of Asia. Importantly, we hope to support research frameworks that look at connections across the boundaries of regions and countries, including: border zones; economic and cultural continua; pathways of migration including forced migration, bondage, indentured labor; and those occasioned by shared access to natural resources or legal systems as well as those facilitated by new forms of communication; markets and economic reconfigurations. Issues concerning the spread of ideas and practices of cultural expression are also encouraged, including those of religion, art, music, and so on.
  • Convergences - viewed as the responses of different Asian societies to common processes, or the traces of international connections within a particular location or around a particular set of objects and/or phenomena; and
  • Comparisons - involving the investigation of particular topics across specific societies/polities within and across Asia, especially those that explore diverse and innovative units of comparison.

Through “InterAsian Contexts and Connections” we seek to reconceptualize Asia as a dynamic and interconnected formation and to move discussions beyond the territorial fixities of area-studies research without discounting the importance of contextually grounded, place-based knowledge. More broadly, through a focus on the “reregionalization” of Asia, the projects supported by the fellowship program will further the understanding of how globalization operates through various types of territorial and extraterritorial processes.

For detailed examples of previously supported projects, see workshops and conferences organized by the SSRC on this theme and project abstracts for the previous cohorts of Transregional Research Fellows. 

What is required of selected Fellows? 
Fellows are required to carry out their research projects as outlined in their submitted preliminary proposals and final narrative statements and must obtain pre-approval if they wish to make any substantive changes to these projects over the course of the fellowship term. Fellows are also required to attend two fellows’ workshops (the first in spring 2018, exact dates and location tbd and the second in spring/fall 2019, exact dates and location tbd). The SSRC will cover all attendance-related costs for both workshops, and fellows will not be required to use Fellowship funds for this purpose. Fellows are also required to submit a final fellowship report at the end of the grant term ($500 in grant funds will be withheld pending the receipt of these reports). 


Is funding limited to particular topics or themes? 
We encourage applications addressing a diversity of themes–both historical and contemporary–and applicants will be asked to describe the ways in which their project contributes to the understanding of InterAsian contexts and connections. In addition, for this year’s competition we have selected five Invitational Priorities. These five priorities are not designed to be mutually exclusive, and applicants may indicate an interest in more than one invitational priority. Applications that do not fall into one or more of these categories will receive equal consideration.

  1. Afro-Asian Connections: Applications should address the significance of the intellectual, social, cultural, and/or political networks that connect Asia with Africa, and address the historical and contemporary linkages between specific locations or continuums across the two continents. Potential research themes include: religious networks; migration routes; histories of slavery or empire; diaspora, and cultural exchange.
  2. Environmental Humanities: Applications should address regional and global environmental change, and the many ways that economic, political, and social structures are intertwined with ecological phenomena. Humanistic disciplines, in particular, are grappling with methods to re-orient their paradigmatic objects of study to include ways in which human behavior, institutions, philosophies, narratives, visual and performative materials may speak to the urgent needs of the population and environment of developing Asia. Applications should consider these paradigmatic shifts and examine them in relation to particular themes and/or geographies.
  3. Religious Networks: Within and beyond the InterAsian expanse, multiple religious networks foster, facilitate, and shape the flow of people, capital, and cultural resources through holy sites, temples, pilgrimage routes and local communities. Applications can address the historical development and/or recent renewal of these networks—whether through ritual or other socio-cultural processes— and explore the multiple dimensions of such phenomena from ritual knowledge to economic exchange.
  4. Migration/Refugees: Forced population movements within and across borders are an important part of the remaking of Asian spaces, the internal destabilization of societies and the defining of border regimes. Long-standing practices of the creation and administration of “refugee spaces” such as refugee camps, holding centers, safe havens and so on are newly challenged by the rise of new refugee populations and renewed pressures on existing ones. Applications may consider how population flows impact both inter-state relations as well as social and cultural relations between different Asian populations. Applications may also consider the ways in which international and domestic migration reshape political sovereignty, subjectivity, and citizenship practices, looking at migration as a generative force (not a reactive phenomenon) in/for politics.
  5. Resources & Archives: Applications should address the importance of the creation, dissemination, use, and preservation of original sources, and research activities should include the production and dissemination of a unique digital resource/public archive.

What countries are included in “InterAsia”? 
InterAsia includes all countries and regions stretching from West Asia through Eurasia to Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia and East Asia. We are interested in rethinking Asia as an interconnected historical, cultural, and contemporary formation spanning the continent. We have also expanded the geographical interests to include the African continent in terms of its connections with Asia and vice-versa (Invitational Priority # 1).

Do you accept comparative proposals that include one or more countries within Asia as well as countries/regions outside of Asia? 
Yes. We encourage proposals that conduct innovative comparisons within and beyond Asia. Projects that address the ways in which global and inter-continental processes flow through and connect with Asian locations are welcomed and we specifically encourage proposals that explore linkages between Africa and Asia (Invitational Priority #1).

Is funding limited to particular disciplines? 
No. This fellowship competition is open to all disciplines across the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

Is this fellowship only open to scholars at particular stages in their academic careers? 
Yes. Applicants must have the PhD in hand at the time of application, and should be no more than five years out of a PhD program (e.g. all applicants must have received the PhD no earlier than 2012 and by September 2017).

However, in cases involving extenuating circumstances, applicants who are up to six years out of a PhD program can be considered. Applicants with extenuating circumstances (e.g. maternal or paternal leave) should contact the InterAsia Program at prior to applying and submit a detailed statement explaining the circumstances surrounding his/her particular situation. We will consider these requests on a case-by-case basis.

Are there affiliation requirements for this fellowship? 
No. Applicants and fellows need not be full-time employed at an academic institution at the time of application,-and independent scholars can apply. However, fellows will be asked to affiliate with an institution during the fellowship tenure and to describe the nature of both formal and informal affiliations in the preliminary pre-proposal as well as to provide letter/s of affiliation if invited to submit a full proposal. Our committee will consider the nature and strength of affiliations when evaluating applications as this may affect the feasibility of certain projects as well as prospects for project completion. Applicants will also be asked to detail the ways that the proposed research will serve to build upon larger, institutional infrastructures, or to create new structures where they did not previously exist and/or benefit from or contribute to the work of other scholars, or networks of researchers, within the affiliated institution(s).

In addition, the SSRC works closely with a select number of partner universities, or InterAsian hubs, that promote faculty and graduate student expertise on transregional research. These include:

  • Arab Council for the Social Sciences
  • Centre for Indian Studies in Africa (CISA) at the University of Witwatersrand
  • University of Göttingen: Global and Transregional Studies Platform, Centre for Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS), and Centre for Modern East Asian Studies (CeMEAS)
  • Duke University, Global Asia Initiative
  • Harvard University Asia Center
  • Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (HKIHSS) at the University of Hong Kong
  • Seoul National University Asia Center (SNUAC)
  • Yale University Asia Center

These institutional hubs provide a mechanism through which the SSRC and its partners can integrate the InterAsia rubric into and across existing institutional structures, and organize activities that serve as platforms for exchange, helping to increase the visibility, prestige and recognition of InterAsian scholarship.

While fellows will neither be required to affiliate with nor guaranteed an affiliation/placement with a particular hub, applicants are asked to indicate if they have an interest in affiliating with a hub institution during the preliminary application stage. The SSRC and Advisory & Selection Committee members may encourage collaboration as appropriate, including, but not limited to, linking fellows with hub researchers and scholars based on research themes and shared areas of interest. We will make recommendations concerning such affiliations after the preliminary application stage and upon inviting select applicants to submit full proposals for review in fall 2017.

Are there citizenship requirements for this fellowship? 
Can I apply for this fellowship if I applied unsuccessfully in the past? 
Yes, as long as you meet all other eligibility criteria as outlined here. 

Application Process and Award Details

What is the application process? 
All applicants will be required to submit the following information using the SSRC online application portal by the submission deadline of September 27, 2017 (5:00 PM EST):

  • Online application, consisting of personal information and project details
  • Short CV
  • Project Bibliography
  • One letter of reference 

When will applicants receive notification about the competition results? 
Transregional Research Fellows will be selected through a two-part process. Preliminary online applications, including one letter of reference, are due September 27, 2017. In late-fall 2017, and by mid December, select applicants will be invited to submit a full narrative proposal, including institutional letter/s of affiliation. These full narrative proposals will be due approximately two-months after notification, in early-to-mid-February 2018. All award decisions will be announced in March 2018.

What is the amount of the fellowship? 
There is no fixed fellowship amount. Fellowship awards will range from $20,000–$45,000 and applicants will be asked to provide a detailed budget request and justification.

What are considered eligible fellowship expenses? 
Fellowships funds may be expended over the sixteen month period from May 1, 2018 to August 31, 2019 and can be used for: salary support (including fringe benefits); travel and living expenses in the field; data collection; language acquisition; research assistance (up to 10% of total amount requested); books and materials; and limited equipment and software. For projects that explicitly engage with Invitational Priority #5 (Resources & Archives), additional costs associated with resource production will be considered. Research funds may NOT be used for university overhead; for individual or institutional contributions to retirement plans, social security, or other insurance programs; for payments on loans or other personal indebtedness; the storage of personal/household effects; tuition for children’s schooling or subsidies for publications.

Do fellowship funds need to be expended in one continuous period? 
No. Fellowship funds may be expended flexibly over the sixteen month period from May 1, 2018 to August 31, 2019. Applicants will be asked to provide a draft research schedule/timeline in the preliminary pre-proposal phase, and to provide a final research schedule/timeline if invited to submit a full proposal. Applicants will be asked to describe the feasibility of meeting the fellowship objectives within the proposed timeframe, but fellowship funds do not need to be expended in one continuous period. Funds can be used, for example, for salary support and research assistance during the fall semester and for international travel support in a different semester or during the summer months.

Will award funds be disbursed through research/grants administration offices or directly to the individual fellow, and will applicants need to involve grants administration staff at the submission and budgeting stage? 
This is left to the discretion of the applicant and his/her home institution (if relevant), and should be based on which option is most favorable given how the applicant would like to utilize the funds. For example, some fellows find it easier to receive the award directly if they are utilizing the funds for overseas research expenses while others find it easier to have the funds processed through their universities if they are using the funds for salary support/course buy-outs or they wish to obtain a salary ‘top-up’ through their university. In all cases, the formal grantee will be the individual fellow, and not his/her home institution. We can issue grant payments through an institution once the institution agrees that a) it will administer the award on the fellow’s behalf and will NOT deduct any overhead expenses and b) it will handle all taxability issues and reporting associated with the grant. 

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