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UCLA International Faculty Take 4 Guggenheim Fellowships

The winners include African Studies Center Director Andrew Apter and Center for Chinese Studies Co-director Yunxiang Yan. The 2010 fellowships will support UCLA research on Roman theater, Byzantine villagers, the trans-Atlantic slave trade and morality in contemporary China.

By Meg Sullivan for the UCLA Newsroom

FOUR UCLA PROFESSORS are among 180 artists, scholars and scientists chosen from nearly 3,000 applicants to receive 2010 Guggenheim Fellowships.
 
Selected on the basis of "achievement and exceptional promise for continued accomplishment," each fellow receives a grant to support his or her work. The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has distributed more than $281 million to more than 16,900 individuals since its establishment in 1925.
 
This year's UCLA recipients and the projects they will pursue as Guggenheim fellows are:
 
Andrew Apter
 
A professor of history and anthropology and director of UCLA's James S. Coleman African Studies Center, Apter will use the fellowship to work on a book about patterns of religious practices and social stratification that developed co-extensively throughout the Black Atlantic world over the course of the slave trade.
 
During the year, Apter plans to consult key archives in Provence, London and Providence, R.I. In addition to this archival research, the book will mine more than 20 years of fieldwork on religious and social life in West Africa (Nigeria, Benin, Ghana) and the Caribbean (Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico). Apter is an authority on Yoruba religions that gave rise to Haitian Vodou, Cuban Santería and Brazilian Candomblé.

Sharon E.J. Gerstel
 
As professor of Byzantine art and archaeology, Gerstel will use the fellowship to complete a book based on a decade of archaeological and ethnographic fieldwork in Greece. Her book analyzes the devotional lives of the area's Eastern Orthodox Christian villagers between the 13th and 15th centuries. 
 
One of the leading scholars of late Byzantine social history and archaeology, Gerstel is interested in how common people, especially women, lived, farmed, worshiped and interacted and in the sacred and secular settings in which their lives unfolded.
 
During 2010–11, Gerstel will be a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. She will begin her Guggenheim Fellowship in 2011.
 
Sander Goldberg
 
A professor of classics and a renowned authority on ancient Rome's theatrical tradition, Goldberg will use the fellowship to explore how the Roman Forum may have been used as a venue for stage plays by Roman dramatists of the third and second centuries B.C.
 
Combining archaeological and textual evidence, Goldberg will use three-dimensional computer models to test hypotheses about possible stage locations in front of the Temples of Saturn and of Castor and Pollux, which are largely in ruins today. His experiments will be conducted in the cyberspace of the Digital Roman Forum, an intricate virtual-reality computer model built by UCLA's Experimental Technologies Center for the purpose of advancing just such scholarly debates.
 
Yunxiang Yan
 
A professor of anthropology, Yan will use the fellowship to write a book on the vast changes in Chinese culture since 1978, when the country opened to the West. Based on close to a decade's worth of field research in China, the book will explore the shift from a collective morality of responsibility and self-sacrifice to an individualistic morality of rights and self-realization.
 
Topics to be explored include the rise of premarital cohabitation, divorce, gay rights, volunteerism and environmentalism. Yan will also probe the role of China's changing moral landscape in recent food-safety crises. Yan, a Beijing native and co-director of UCLA's Center for Chinese Studies, is considered one of the world's leading authorities on cultural changes in contemporary China.

The four scholars from UCLA join a prestigious group of Guggenheim fellows from all sectors of the arts and sciences, including Ansel Adams, W.H. Auden, Aaron Copland, Martha Graham, Langston Hughes, Henry Kissinger, Vladimir Nabokov, Isamu Noguchi, Linus Pauling, Philip Roth, Paul Samuelson, Wendy Wasserstein, Derek Walcott, James Watson and Eudora Welty.

UCLA International Institute