Pembroke Center Seed Grants

Pembroke Center Seed Grants for Collaborative Interdisciplinary Research

Application Deadline April 1, 2015 for funding up to $10,000

The Pembroke Center's competitive seed grant program supports collaborative research initiatives that involve Brown faculty from the humanities, social sciences, creative arts, and health sciences. In keeping with the Pembroke Center's intellectual mission, these research initiatives will examine intersecting dimensions of difference such as gender, sexuality, generation, work, class, race, ethnicity, language, citizenship, and religion.

Goals of the Seed Grant Program

1) Support the formation of focused interdisciplinary groups working across fields and academic divisions, with distinct theoretical and methodological approaches, in order to explore innovative research questions.

2) Incorporate intersecting dimensions of difference (such as gender, sexuality, generation, work, class, race, ethnicity, language, citizenship, and religion) into broader research agendas.

3) Serve as a catalyst for developing research projects that may ultimately qualify for external grant funding.

Application Requirements

• One faculty project director, plus a minimum of one additional faculty member from a different field

• One-page bios of research group participants, including their disciplines, research interests as they relate to the seed grant application, and their other interdisciplinary projects

• Title of research project and a two- to three-page description that details the central research questions, common themes, and project goals
• Plan to involve other faculty researchers, visiting scholars, postdoctoral fellows, and students

• Dissemination plan for research findings

• Proposed budget of up to $10,000. Please list all current and pending funding from Brown and other sources related to the project.

Applicants should design their program to best serve their research goals.

Pembroke Center grants may be used for a mix of workgroups, symposia, and performances for collaborative exchange, visiting scholars, lectures, student research assistantships, small research stipends for the lead faculty organizer, and publication support. Groups must be anchored at Brown University but may include outside researchers. Preference will be given to projects that involve faculty across academic divisions.

Applications are due Wednesday, April 1, 2015. Please send electronically to or deliver hard copy to:

The Pembroke Center – Box 1958
Pembroke Hall, Room 111
172 Meeting Street
Brown University
Providence, RI 02912

Distribution and Expenditure of Funds

Award decisions will be made by Friday, May 1, 2015. Funds will be available starting on July 1, 2015. Expenditure of funds must be completed by June 30, 2016. A final report that details the activities supported by the grant and provides a full accounting of expenditures will be due September 1, 2016.

Contacts for Questions:

Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg, Director of the Pembroke Center

Debbie Weinstein, Associate Director of the Pembroke Center 


Seed Grant Recipients: Academic Year 2014-15

Traditional Aymara ceremony in Copacabana, on the border of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia.Traditional Aymara ceremony in Copacabana, on the border of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia.Andean Project

In recent years, scholars in many disciplines have produced an outpouring of work on the histories and societies of indigenous people in the Andes (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile). This upsurge in interest is due in part to the extraordinary growth of indigenous ethnic mobilization, cultural florescence, and political parties in the Andean nations, which have engaged scholars throughout the social sciences and humanities. But there has been too little conversation between the disciplines.

With sponsorship from a Pembroke Center Seed Grant, the Center for Caribbean and Latin American Studies, the Humanities Initiative, and the Dean of the College, an interdisciplinary group of Brown professors and students formed the Andean Project. Co-led by Laura Bass, associate professor and chair of Hispanic Studies, and Jeremy Mumford, lecturer in History, the group hosted a series of lectures and public performances, both academic and of general interest. The group also held a workshop for sharing and critiquing work-in-progress by faculty and students. The lecture series explored topics such as “The Rise of Ethnic Politics in the Andes,” “Indigenous Women and World Politics in Ecuador,” and “Atrocities against Afro-Colombian Communities: Killings, Disappearances, and Forced Displacement on Colombia’s Pacific Coast.”

  • Laura Bass, Associate Professor and Chair, Hispanic Studies 
  • Jeremy Mumford, Lecturer, History

The Hannah Town Cultural Group leading a vigil for people who have died violently, as part of the "Letters from the Dead" research and performance project, Kingston, Jamaica, 2014. Copyright Anique Jordan, 2014The Hannah Town Cultural Group leading a vigil for people who have died violently, as part of the "Letters from the Dead" research and performance project, Kingston, Jamaica, 2014. Copyright Anique Jordan, 2014Black Women at the Grassroots of Politics in Jamaica

This interdisciplinary collaborative project focused on women's participation in struggles against forced land evictions, arts based activism, and the contemporary Rastafari movement in Jamaica. Keisha-Khan Y. Perry, associate professor of Africana Studies, and Brown University doctoral students Shamara Wyllie Alhassan and Nicosia Shakes organized a seminar, "The Political Context of Social Movement Activism in Jamaica." The seminar laid the theoretical groundwork for foregrounding women's experiences in political thought and praxis in Jamaica
and the broader Caribbean.

Invited speakers made presentations to begin the discussion. Anthony Bogues, professor of Africana Studies at Brown, explored the political history that differentiates the theorization of revolution, rebellion, national protest, and community-based mobilizations. Jermaine McCalpin, assistant professor of Government at the University of the West Indies at Mona, focused on democratic regimes, trust in civil society, and media-based political protests. Hume Johnson, assistant professor of communication at Roger Williams University, discussed the different forms of protests and black women's participation as civil and uncivil actors. Maziki Thame, assistant professor of Government at the University of the West Indies at Mona, focused on creole/brown nationalism in a socio-historical context and how claims to modern blackness allow some Jamaicans including the current female Prime Minister to rise to power. The research collaborators also gave shorter presentations on their planned research in Jamaica in relation to the ideas discussed by the invited scholars. Local scholars working on related themes in the Caribbean also participated in the discussion.

The transnational research seminar and dialogue incorporated the use of Skype so that scholars located in Jamaica could participate. The presentations and discussions provided scholars with new knowledge of the Jamaican political context to deepen their understanding of how and why black women organize and lead social movements. The seminar was also a significant space to begin to formalize ongoing collaborations between the University of West Indies Mona and Brown University and formed the beginning of a transnational working group aimed at expanding the scholarship on race, gender, and class in social movements in the Caribbean. 

  • Keisha-Khan Y. Perry (Project Director), Assistant Professor of Africana Studies
  • Anthony Bogues, Lyn Crost Professor of Social Sciences and Critical Theory; Director, Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice
  • Maziki Thame, Lecturer in the Department of Government, University of the West Indies, Mona
  • Nicosia Shakes, doctoral candidate, Africana Studies
  • Shamara Alhassan, doctoral student, Africana Studies

Breaking the Rules: Gender, Power, and Politics in the Films of Lars von Trier

Lars von Trier's films – including Melancholia (2011) and Nymphomaniac (2014) – are unsettling, urgent, and often controversial. His films raise often disturbing questions about violence and gender, immigration, and the disabled, while focusing on the contemporary conditions of work, marriage, morality, inequality and more.

Co-directed by Bonnie Honig, professor of Modern Culture and Media and Political Science and holder of the Nancy Duke Lewis Chair, and Anthony Cokes, professor of Modern Culture and Media, the project hosted a conference in Pembroke Hall November 6-8, 2014. The Brown community joined an international group of scholars at the conference to think specifically about politics and gender in the films of von Trier and about film as a political and aesthetic technology. The conference brought together 12 scholars from all over the world who work at the intersections of classics, women's, gender, and sexuality studies, racial politics, political science, philosophy, humanities and communications arts, and film studies. Scholars worked not only to generate political commentary on von Trier's films but also to develop new work in political, literary, film, feminist, or critical theory. There were 5 panels, each featuring 2-3 scholars, presenting new work on von Trier. The first panel, which drew a crowd of over 100 people, was devoted exclusively to the question of the representation of gender in von Trier's films. Since November, the scholars who were at the conference have rewritten their papers in response to questions posed at the conference and in response to editorial commentary given afterwards. A collection of a total of 16 papers will appear later in 2105 in a special issue of the online journal, Theory & Event, an interdisciplinary journal with a reputation for cutting-edge theoretical and political inquiry. 

Photo from the November 2014 Breaking the Rules conference (L-R): Phil Rosen, Tony Cokes, James Martel, Thomas Elsaesser, Tim Bewes, Ourida Mostefai.

  • Bonnie Honig (project director), Nancy Duke Lewis Professor, Modern Culture and Media and Political Science
  • Anthony Cokes, Professor, Modern Culture and Media

Nadege Green and Lara Stein Pardo, Tie Your Waist, and Gather Your Strength, Digital Print, 11 x 17 inches, 2012.Nadege Green and Lara Stein Pardo, Tie Your Waist, and Gather Your Strength, Digital Print, 11 x 17 inches, 2012.Writing the Undercommons

This working collective of scholars, led by Rebecca Carter, assistant professor of Anthropology and Urban Studies, and Courtney Martin, assistant professor of History of Art and Architecture, explores the problems of humanism and humanness across several interrelated fields, including anthropology,

Black studies, geography, history of art and architecture, literary studies, and women’s and gender studies. Through collaborative and interdisciplinary engagements developed through thinking, research, and writing, members generated and shared primary research pertinent to both their discrete disciplines and to wider concerns of humanistic study. Topics of interest included aesthetics and cultural production, diaspora, feminism, gender, (collective) memory, representation, social survival and sustainability, and space, place, and geography.

The group worked to advance and broadly disseminate their research findings, to develop new courses to offer to Brown’s students, and to create related pedagogical tools, teach-ins, and other collaborative forums for learning and exchange. Scholars are organizing a public symposium at which members will present their work to the larger community. The Pembroke Center was pleased to host group member Kimberly Brown as a visiting scholar this academic year.

  • Rebecca Louise Carter (project co-director), Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Urban Studies
  • Courtney J. Martin (project co-director), Assistant Professor of History of Art and Architecture
  • Karida L. Brown, Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology, Cogut Center for the Humanities Graduate Fellow
  • Kimberly Juanita Brown, Assistant Professor of African American Literature, Northeastern University
  • Patricia Anne Lott, Ruth J. Simmons Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice
  • Lara Stein Pardo, Postdoctoral Research Associate, John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage
  • Linda Quiquivix, Independent Scholar



Past Seed Grants

Inaugural Seed Grants - 2013

Academic Year 2013-15 Seed Grants

The Pembroke Center Seed Grant Program is made possible thanks to the generosity of the donors to the Pembroke Challenge.