Sharon Quinsaat Receives National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend

April 22, 2020

Sharon Quinsaat, assistant professor of sociology, will receive a summer stipend from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to complete her book project, The Active Diaspora: How Protest Forges Transnational Filipino CommunitiesThe NEH Summer Stipend provides $6,000 to support continuous full-time work on a humanities project for two consecutive months.

Quinsaat’s book project argues that migration alone does not create diasporas. They must be constructed through the formation of collective identities, and one way of doing this is through activism. Combining archival research, life history interviews and content analysis, the project analyzes diaspora formation through three transnational social movements: the anti-dictatorship movement (1965–1986), the movement for migrants’ rights (1972–1992), and the movement around collective memory of the authoritarian regime of Ferdinand Marcos (1986–2016). It makes an important contribution to the sociological literature; more broadly, it complicates easy political narratives about how migrants relate to their homelands and their adopted homes. 

“My project is important because documenting the stories of migrants and refugees and understanding the process of collective storytelling allow us to think of marginalized communities as active producers of knowledge and not just objects of study. Migrants and refugees have many stories to tell in their own terms. The preservation of these stories is the bedrock of future research on underrepresented groups, and my project is indispensable to building this foundation. Studying the way collective storytelling reflects national identity would have considerable value for the humanities at a time when so many are migrants and refugees,” Quinsaat said. 

The NEH Summer Stipend is a very competitive program; in recent years, only 9% of applicants to the program have received awards. While several Grinnell College faculty members have won this grant, Quinsaat is Grinnell’s first winner since 2015. She received the American Philosophical Society Franklin Grant in the summer of 2019 for the same project. 

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