Three University professors have been awarded National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) research grants for their innovative humanities projects.
Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese Christina Lee, Professor of History Ekaterina Pravilova, and Associate Professor of History Wendy Warren have received $480,000 (a grant shared with other recipients), $60,000, and $55,000, respectively, from the NEH.
The grants form part of the New Directions for Digital Scholarship in Cultural Institutions program — a joint effort by the NEH and the U.K.’s Arts and Humanities Research Council that seeks to promote digital scholarship in cultural institutions such as libraries, museums, and archives in order to make the humanities accessible to a global audience and spearhead new research initiatives.
Lee was awarded a $480,000 grant alongside Dr. Cristina Martinez-Juan, a research fellow in Philippine Studies at SOAS University of London, for their ambitious project of digitizing, translating, and transcribing an archive from the British occupation of the Philippines. Titled “A Digital Repatriation of a Lost Archive in the Spanish Pacific: The Library of the Convent of San Pablo (Manila, 1762),” their project aims to preserve more than 1,500 documents — including maps and manuscripts — that were acquired during the British occupation of the Convent of San Pablo in Manila, Philippines from 1762 and 1764 and that were later distributed throughout several countries.
“From 1607 to 1762, the library on the upper level of the cloister of the Convent of San Pablo in Manila was a quiet repository of more than 1,500 rare manuscripts, maps and early printed materials relating to the Philippines and other regions of Asia the Spanish missionaries dreamed of converting to Christianity,” Lee wrote in an email to The Daily Princetonian.
When the British occupation of the Philippines ended, most materials from the San Pablo library were in the possession of Scottish Hydrographer Alexander Dalrymple (1737–1808), Lee explained. When Dalrymple passed away without an heir, his collection of books and manuscripts, including “the Manila papers,” were auctioned off.
These documents were ultimately dispersed across three continents, with only about one-hundred items currently located at the original site, Lee explained. The rest of the papers can be found at various libraries and museums in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
The project aims to cover new ground in the history of colonialism in the Philippines while bolstering modern historical preservation efforts centered on accessibility and education, Lee noted.
“This project will be the first of its kind in the sense that it will be focused in the colonial Philippines under Spanish rule, but not with the archipelago alone or in isolation. Rather, it recognizes the Philippines as a contact zone among actors of various origins and ethnicities, all with varying levels of agency,” Lee wrote.
Lee added how the manuscripts included narratives of Philippines natives, Spaniards, Chinese migrants, and forced laborers from New Spain. According to Lee, these perspectives highlighted the conflicts and strategies for co-existence and survival.
The Princeton University Library (PUL) plans to showcase the digitized products of this project on the Digital PUL platform and recruit several library units to foster publicity and outreach for the project.
Pravilova received a $60,000 grant for her research examining various scientific standards during late 19th-century Russia. The work, titled “Russian Truths: Knowledge and Authenticity in the Age of Reforms (1860s – 1917),” examines the nature of truth and knowledge prevalent during this period.
In an email to the ‘Prince,’ Pravilova expressed her excitement at having been awarded the NEH grant for her research.
“I am thrilled and greatly honored to receive this fellowship. It means that the research topic that I proposed is important and interesting,” Pravilova wrote.
Pravilova added that the fellowship dispelled any doubts about whether she should continue conducting her research. The grant will allow her to “finish archival research in Russia and draft the chapters of the monograph,” she wrote.
Warren was awarded $55,000 for her research documenting the social history of imprisonment during the period of colonization in 17th- and 18th-century North America, titled “The Carceral Colony: Prisons and the Making of America.”
Warren did not respond to a request to comment from the ‘Prince.’
The three grants from the NEH were part of $24.7 million in funding given to 208 humanities projects in the U.S.
Amy Ciceu is a senior writer who often covers research and COVID-19-related developments. She also serves as a Newsletter Contributor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.