UCSC receives NEH awards that will further research in anthropology and musicology

By Grace Stetson

The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded over $5.6 billion toward humanities projects across the United States since its inception in 1965 — and this year, Santa Cruz-based educators joins this historic group of awardees.

On January 10, the NEH announced $28.1 million in grants toward 204 humanities projects nationwide. Two of this year’s recipients are part of the Slug family themselves, and their new grants will help to further their research in both anthropology and musicology at UC Santa Cruz.

Dard Neuman, Associate Professor of Music and Hasan Endowed Chair in Classical Indian Music, was awarded a Digital Humanities Advancement grant of $149,998, put toward his project, “A Platform for Digitally Transcribing and Archiving Hindustani Music.” Carla Hernández Garavito, Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology, received an Award for Faculty at Hispanic Serving Institutions of $45,000, put toward her project, “Reimagining Colonialism: A Local History of Community and Empire in the Peruvian Andes Between the Fifteenth and Eighteenth Centuries.”

NEH grants aim to fund educational resources, programs, curricula and other projects related to both teaching and learning in the humanities. For Neuman, this funding will help him to continue collaborating with his colleague, Jon Myers, a recent UCSC graduate in the Music department’s Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) program in composition as well as to support his graduate students with fully funded GSRs to advance their research.  For Hernández Garavito, that means time to further her own research and future publications.

Neuman — who’s been a member of the UC Santa Cruz music faculty since 2005 — focuses on the relationship between music pedagogy and performance of Hindustani music and its relationship to the politics of creativity. Over the last few years, he developed a transcription model that tabulates numerical data and generates analyzable datasets. With the support of two Arts Research Institute (ARI) grants, Neuman has collaborated with Myers to port that system onto an interactive web interface, a project that the NEH grant helps to advance. 

With this grant, Neuman and his team hope to advance humanistic inquiry with regards to affective communities where music or organized sound play an integral role: “ By rendering the sound archive computationally analyzable, what kinds of new research questions can be asked?”

For Hernández Garavito — a Peruvian archaeologist who joined the university’s Department of Anthropology in January 2022, from Wake Forest University — the fellowship will support the completion of her first book, which investigates indigenous experiences within a continuum of colonialism through the narrative of a single Andean community (the people of Huarochiri in Peru). This book challenges traditional research on Inka and Spanish colonialism in the Andes, asking what if these empires were an addition to local history rather than the filter through which we discuss the diverse and complex communities that inhabited the Andes. 

“It’s archaeological research, archival research, and a lot of spatial modeling in order to analyze how local communities of a specific region in the highlands of Lima appropriated colonialism in their own local mindsets, practices, and community-building,” she explained. 

With the addition of this grant, a Wenner-Gren Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship ($40,000) and the support of her department, Hernández Garavito will be able to focus full time in the completion of her book through the calendar year.

Both Neuman and Hernández Garavito will have the chance to celebrate their awards with the other grantees at the NHA Annual Meeting and Humanities Advocacy Days, in Washington D.C. on March 19 through 21.