Religions in Diaspora and Global Affairs

Living in a Critical Condition: Religions in Diaspora and Global Affairs is a three-year initiative exploring the complex cultural and political relations between diasporic religious communities and their self-identified homelands. This initiative is supported by the Henry R. Luce Foundation’s Initiative on Religion and International Affairs, which seeks to deepen understanding of religion as a critical but often neglected dimension of national and international policies and politics.

LUCE FOUNDATION AWARDS $500K GRANT TO UCHRI
Systemwide Initiative Will Support Research on Religion and Global Politics

The UC Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI) has been awarded a $500,000 grant by the Henry R. Luce Foundation to support a three-year research initiative exploring the complex cultural and political relations between diasporic religious communities and their self-identified homelands. The grant will also support collaborations between UC and international scholars, journalists, policy makers and religious and community organizations.

The initiative is funded by the Henry Luce Foundation’s Initiative on Religion and International Affairs, a grant program that seeks to deepen understanding of religion as a critical but often neglected dimension of national and international policies and politics.

“The Luce Foundation is at the forefront of connecting academic research to major social issues in innovative ways,” said Marjorie Beale, executive director of development at UC Irvine. “We’re very grateful for the Foundation’s investment in our program, and delighted at their recognition of the intellectual contributions and institutional investments across the University of California to research on the interplay of religion, civic and public life, both locally and globally.”

“Over the past few decades, globalization and immigration have dramatically changed the religious landscape of the United States overall, and California in particular,” said UCHRI director David Theo Goldberg.

Goldberg cited a number of issues that spurred the development of the initiative, including increased global migration in response to growing economic and political challenges, the erosion of the welfare state and consequent rise of private charitable contributions through religious organizations, and the role of new media in diasporic communities’ religious and political engagement.

“The UC system boasts impressive research strengths in religious studies as well as transnationalism, migration and diaspora studies, ethnic and gender studies, and international politics,” Goldberg noted. “This initiative will enable us to bring these scholars together and support innovative research and outreach on these critical issues.”

The grant will fund a one-year working group of UC faculty, international scholars, journalists and policy organizations, followed by a two-year Humanities Lab that will support three large-scale multicampus research projects. Committed to the research discovery on a focal theme or topic, the Humanities Lab brings together experimental research, pedagogy, and public applications into interactive  and interdisciplinary collaborative production.

Beginning in fall 2013 with a global symposium on religion and international politics, the working group will collaborate over the first year of the initiative to share individual research and build interdisciplinary networks, identify core problematics, and develop multicampus project proposals for the Humanities Lab.

Competitively selected by UCHRI’s advisory committee, the Humanities Lab projects will convene a core community of researchers around different themes within the larger issue of religion in diaspora and global affairs. Over the course of the two-year collaboration, each group will be expected to share their research in ways that are engaging for broader audiences and relevant for public policy and community engagement.

“Depending on the focus and framing of the research projects, groups might develop a digital archive, an interactive online exhibit, a documentary film or video, an oral history project, a community media project, or a curricular innovation,” said Goldberg. “But at the end of the initiative, the Humanities Lab will have produced a substantial repository of research and resources on religion and global affairs.”

Each Lab project will work independently but the initiative includes multiple opportunities for intellectual cross-fertilization and networking among the projects, from an in-person residency intensive to webinars, wikis, social media and other digital strategies for connecting researchers and their work.

Other major components of the initiative include a journalist-led workshop on writing for public audiences, a digital platform for disseminating the work of the Humanities Lab projects, and a culminating summer institute.

“I think the Lab model holds great potential for collaborative research in the humanities,” said UCHRI associate director Jennifer Langdon, who worked with Goldberg to develop the initiative. “It supports the kind of nitty gritty research that humanities scholars do so well but also pushes participants to connect the dots and translate that research in a way that is meaningful for scholars but also for broader publics and policy makers. I’m excited to see what comes out of the initiative.”

The Henry Luce Foundation, established in 1936 by Time, Inc. co-founder Henry R. Luce, seeks to bring important ideas to the center of American life, strengthen international understanding, and foster innovation and leadership in academic, policy, religious and art communities.

The University of California Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI) serves all ten campuses in the UC system to promote collaborative, interdisciplinary humanities research and pedagogy throughout the University of California system and within the larger communities they inhabit.

View the original proposal to the Luce Foundation [PDF]