Thabiti Willis, Associate Professor of History and Director of Africana Studies, has been awarded the prestigious New Directions Fellowship from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Fellowship will support Willis’ three-year research project, “Slaves and Singers: Race, Work and Heritage in a Gulf Country.” The substantial fellowship, in the amount of $300,000, will enable Willis to address social, cultural, and historical factors that shaped the experiences of Africans and their descendants in the Indian Ocean World, and their place in contemporary public depictions of the history of the Gulf states. The funding primarily supports summer and sabbatical leave time, along with fellow’s training programs.
New Direction Fellowships are awarded to highly accomplished faculty members in the humanities and humanistic social sciences who seek to acquire systematic training outside their own areas of special interest. Since 2002, the program has enabled strong scholars to conduct serious cross-disciplinary research in an academic field other than their primary area of specialization. Among all grants available to humanities scholars, New Directions Fellowships are among the largest in size and longest in duration. Eligible candidates include faculty members who have been awarded a doctorate in the humanities or humanistic social sciences within the last six to twelve years.