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Researchers gain pounds 200,000 grants for social projects.

Byline: GARETH EVANS

UNIVERSITY scholars have been awarded pounds 200,000 research grants to help promote better understanding of humanities and social sciences. Dr Joy Porter and Dr Mike Franklin from Swansea University's College of Arts and Humanities both won British Academy Mid-Career Fellowships.

The British Academy, the UK's national body for the humanities and social sciences, awards research funding to less than 10% of applicants.

The awards support individual researchers who submit exceptional research proposals and who help greater public understanding of the discipline.

Dr Porter's research award follows further investment in Native American studies at Swansea University by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in 2010.

Her latest British Academy research is titled: The American Presidency and Tribal Diplomacy in the 20th Century. Dr Porter said: "My research addresses the most important question in 20th-century Native American politics - how decisive were personal tribal relationships with individual American presidents? "The answer could alter fundamentally not only our existing understandings of the presidency but also how we regard relationships between 'small nations' and dominant powers more generally.

"This is work likely to be of profound interest to native peoples and to anyone curious about how individual presidents functioned. The research will be publicised via American Indian Radio Satellite, Native American Public Telecommunications, Lincoln, Nebraska - a library group for Public Service Broadcasting in the US - and through a major US press."

As part of the award, Dr Porter will carry out extensive research in presidential libraries in Maryland and New Mexico during 2012.

Dr Franklin's project is entitled: Pluralism and the Multicultural Heritage of Maurya and Mughal India: the contribution of Warren Hastings' Orientalist Regime.

His work investigates the literary, political and religio-cultural aspects of Hastings' period of office as Governor and Governor-General of Bengal, 1772-85.

Dr Franklin said: "Hastings was fascinated by Hindu and Indo-Persian culture and encouraged Charles Wilkins to translate the 'sublime' Bhagvat-Geeta (1785); patronised Indo-Persian poets; sang Hindi songs; established a Calcutta Madrasah and composed an Oriental tale from a Mahabharata source.

"For Hastings, the mystical aspects of both Hindu mysticism and of Islamic Sufism encouraged a subcontinental tradition of respect for all religions. Muslims frequently attended Hindu religious festivals and Hindus revered Sufi saints. Such tolerance was politically useful; it facilitated multicultural governance.

"For Hastings and his circle, as for Pandit Nehru, India was more than Hindutva (Hinduness) and this remains relevant in a world where many are seeking to destroy the diversity and plurality of Islam."

Dr Franklin's research will be highlighted in press interviews in a range of broadcast media and in public lectures.

Professor Chris Williams, director of the Research Institute for Arts and Humanities, said: 'We are delighted to welcome further success by arts and humanities staff in gaining prestigious awards in what is an intensely difficult competition.

"The two awards reflect the extensive geographical diversity of research being undertaken in the College of Arts and Humanities.

They are a marvellous tribute to the scholarly reputations of Joy Porter and Mike Franklin and a great morale boost for colleagues working in this area at the present time."
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 1, 2011
Words:515
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