Dakake, Gatling Awarded NEH Summer Stipend Grants

by Anne Reynolds

Dakake, Gatling Awarded NEH Summer Stipend Grants
Dr. Maria Dakake, Department of Religious Studies; Dr. Benjamin Gatling, Department of English

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences is proud to announce that two of its faculty members, Benjamin Gatling and Maria Dakake, have been awarded Summer Stipend grants from the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH).

On April 7, NEH announced $22.2 million in awards for a total of 224 humanities projects nationwide. Of these projects, 108 were Summer Stipend awards.

The Summer Stipend program offers a maximum award of $6,000 to support full-time work on humanities projects for a period of two consecutive months. They are awarded to individual scholars pursuing advanced research that is of value to humanities scholars, general audiences, or both. The program is extremely selective; the NEH reports that in the round of funding, it only awarded 11 percent of the proposals received.

Benjamin Gatling, director of Mason's Folklore Program and faculty member in the Department of English, received an award of $6,000 for his project, Afghan Stories of War, Migration, and Home. Drawing from his 15+ year experience working with Persian-speaking groups in the United States and in Central Asia, Gatling will work with representatives of the sizable population of Afghans living in the Washington, D.C. area to allow them to “give voice to their experiences.” The grant will allow him to research and write two chapters of a book that recounts their stories of displacement and migration.

Maria Dakake, a faculty member and the director of graduate programs in the Department of Religious Studies, also received the maximum award of $6,000 for her project, The Qur’an Commentary of Muslim Scholar Nusrat Amin (1886-1983). She will conduct research on and translate the Qur’anic commentary of Iranian scholar Nusrat Amin (1886-1983), a religiously conservative, pioneering researcher who has been the only female scholar to produce a comprehensive Qur’anic exegesis. The research will lead to a book-length study of Amin’s writing.

Funding for Summer Stipend projects is based upon a rigorous, three-step process that involves knowledgeable reviewers inside and outside the NEH, input from the National Committee on the Humanities, and a final decision from NEH Chair Jon Parrish Peede.

“It is such a joy to see Maria Dakake and Benjamin Gatling among those awarded for prestigious and competitive NEH Summer Stipends,” said Michele Schwietz, the college's associate dean for research. “The university can nominate only two faculty members each year, and to have both of our nominees selected in the same year is a testament to the strength of our faculty’s scholarship.”

In just the past five years, she added, five Mason nominees, from the Departments of Religious Studies, English, Sociology and Anthropology, and History and Art History, have received NEH Summer Stipend awards.