UA Confluencenter Expands Innovation Farm Program

The Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry has awarded two teams of faculty members a total of $30,000.
June 15, 2017

Two teams with a total of 12 faculty members represented from the University of Arizona Colleges of Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social and Behavioral Sciences recently were awarded $30,000 to initiate projects focusing on border issues.

The team members also have been named members of the UA Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry's cohort of Innovation Farm projects for the fall.

The center's Innovation Farm program provides grants to faculty teams that will make lasting contributions to scholarly and artistic life at the UA, said Javier Durán, the Confluencenter's director.

The goal of the program is to leverage the Confluencenter's resources to provide working groups with enough support to achieve long-term viability, specifically by enabling pilot activities that form the basis of external grant proposals and donor outreach initiatives.

"We are excited to see these two new working groups become part of the Confluencenter community," Durán said. "From the study of contemplative and Buddhist traditions to mapping human rights and supporting documentary studies, the Innovation Farm program has successfully convened key faculty and other stakeholders to facilitate projects that address society's grand challenges. Moreover, the program has provided a steady framework for groups to create sustainable ways to grow and continue advancing their research and creative agendas."

The two new Innovation Farm projects are:

On the Edge: Expressions of Shared Heritages Throughout Bounding Spaces

The team will explore how borders — of any kind at any time — create tensions that reflect cultural, ideological, linguistic and artistic expressions of division or cooperation among human beings.

"This new project will develop an international, interdisciplinary working group of scholars from different fields to address border problems in different cases, spaces and timeframes,” said Luis Coronado Guel, postdoctoral research associate and the College of Social and Behavorial Sciences' Mexico initiatives coordinator.

By exploring diverse expressions of shared heritages through the lens of different boundaries — political, legal, social, cultural, linguistic or economic — the project seeks to foster discussion and analysis on the complexity of change through forces and tensions, reflected in the transformations of people, spaces and identities.

"This Innovation Farm grant will provide support for fresh, innovative thinking on the meaning, significance and opportunities provided by borders and transition and contact zones of all kinds,"​ said William Beezley, history professor in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Other team members include:

  • Scott Whiteford, research professor emeritus in the Center for Latin American Studies
  • Jeff Banister, associate research social scientist, editor and research professor in the School of Geography and Development
  • Janet Sturman, associate dean of the Graduate College and Fred Fox School of Music professor
  • Stacie Widdifield, art history professor in the School of Art
  • Jennifer Jenkins, associate professor in the Department of English
  • Cristina Urias Espinoza, doctoral candidate in the Department of History

Transfrontera: Movements, Community and Identity in the Américas

This project will bring together interdisciplinary scholars whose work critically examines the material and symbolic manifestations of borders.

By centering on the concept of borderlands, Transfrontera is making an intentional appeal to scholarship that attends to the violence and inequality that borders perpetuate, or what Gloria Anzaldúa called "una herida abierta" (an open wound). It also speak to the creativity, solidarities and utopias that are possible when communities come together in the "third space," generally understood to be libraries, cafes, parks and other public spaces.

"With the Transfrontera initiative, we look to bolster the strong position of the University of Arizona as an international hub for scholarship on borders and borderlands. We hope to do so, in part, by cultivating the already existing expertise of faculty and researchers on campus, as well as by hosting leading scholars for public lectures and workshops," said Maurice Rafael Magaña, assistant professor of Mexican-American studies.

Transfrontera invites scholars to engage the multiplicity of meanings found in the idea of borderlands movements, community and identity in the Américas. By hosting networking events and a works-in-progress and speaker series, Transfrontera will create a space within the institution for intellectual exchange around these themes, an initiative that will include scholars inside and outside of the UA.

"Our project presents an exciting opportunity to not only examine movements and identities within the geographic U.S.-Mexico borderlands, but also allows us to create a dialogue around the borderlands within and between diverse U.S. Latinx communities. These conversations are timely and necessary given the current political and social moment," said Lillian Gorman, assistant professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

Other team members are Anita Huizar-Hernández, assistant professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and Michelle Téllez, assistant professor of Mexican-American studies.