Skip to main content

Two Jackson School professors win National Endowment for the Humanities grants

December 14, 2017

NEH new winners announcement

Two Jackson School professors have won National Endowment for the Humanities grants in a nationwide competition. The National Endowment for the Humanities announced on Dec. 12 the full list of winners from across the country, representing  $12.8 million for 253 humanities projects. Only five from Seattle received these grants.

Professor Robert PekkanenProfessor Robert Pekkanen, a Japan specialist, will use the $25,200 Fellowship for Advanced Research on Japan for research on populism in Japanese politics of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The award, a partnership between the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission and the National Endowment for the Humanities, is highly competitive. This year only three projects were selected out of 24 applications.

“Around the world, populism seems to be having a moment in the sun. Politicians, political parties and political movements associated with populism have taken power in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the United States,” said Pekkanen about his project. “There are a lot of topics I could have chosen that would have been easier and more straightforward to research. However, as a scholar, I feel an obligation to understand the world around me and this clearly includes populism.”

The other Jackson School awardee, Issac Alhadeff Professor of Sephardic Studies and Chair of the Sephardic Studies Program Devin Naar, won a Common Heritage grant for $11,990 for a Seattle SephardicIssac Alhadeff Professor Devin Naar Legacies Project. Seattle is one of the major global centers of Ladino culture and language. The project involves a digitization day and simultaneous presentation on Ladino history and culture in the Pacific Northwest. Specifically, the grant will support a public program at Garfield High School in May 2018 that will explore Sephardic history and culture as an integral thread of the urban fabric of the Central District and Seattle, more generally.

Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse, UW Department of Art History, also won a fellowship, making UW the majority number of Seattle-based recipients of The National Endowment for the Humanities humanities project grants this year.

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: