Fellow’s Talk: Nu-Anh Tran on How Democratic Should Vietnam Be?

Poster for talk How Democratic Should Vietnam Be? by Nu-Anh Tran. Text on blue background, with a political cartoon showing protesters and a man paying what appears to be a bribe.

How Democratic Should Vietnam Be? The Debate on Democracy in Saigon in 1955

Nu-Anh Tran (Assistant Professor of History and Asian and Asian American Studies)

with a response by Kornel Chang (Assistant Professor of History and American Studies, Rutgers—Newark)

Wednesday, October 21, 2020, 2:00pm (Online—Register here)


The political factionalism in the Republic of Vietnam (RVN, or South Vietnam) often puzzled contemporary western observers, and most accounts attributed the infighting between anticommunists to personality politics and the ongoing struggle for power. In contrast, Nu-Anh Tran argues that the factionalism reflected substantive differences in ideas. Specifically, this presentation will examine the debate between Ngô Đình Diệm’s faction and his rivals in the summer and fall of 1955. Virtually all anticommunists favored democracy, but they defined democracy in starkly different ways, disagreed on the degree of democracy that was suitable given the communist threat, and debated the range of parties and individuals that had a legitimate place in politics. Diệm and his followers were the most illiberal elements in the debate, and their victory over other anticommunists placed on the RVN on the path to hardline authoritarianism.

Nu-Anh Tran is Assistant Professor at the University of Connecticut with a joint appointment in the Department of History and the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute. She is the author of the forthcoming book, tentatively entitled, Disunion: Anticommunist Nationalism and the Making of the Republic of Vietnam, published by the University of Hawaii Press. Her research is focused on the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam).

Kornel Chang is Associate Professor of History and American Studies at Rutgers University-Newark. His research and teaching interests include Asian American history, the United States in the Pacific world, and race, migration, and labor in the Americas. His current book project, tentatively titled Occupying Knowledge: Expertise, Technocracy, and De-Colonization in the U.S. Occupation of Korea, examines the role of technocrats and expert knowledge in the U.S. Occupation of Korea.

Registration is required for this event.

If you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact us at or by phone (860) 486-9057.

Call For Applications: Humanities Without Walls

Humanities Without Walls (HWW) is a consortium of humanities centers and institutes at 16 major research universities throughout the Midwest and beyond. In summer 2021, HWW is holding its first online, national, virtual summer workshop for doctoral students interested in learning about careers outside of the academy and/or the tenure track system. Through a series of workshops, talks, and virtual field trips, participants learn how to leverage their skills and training towards careers in the private sector, the non-profit world, arts administration, public media and many other fields. All aspects of the workshop will be remote, virtual, and online in nature. Follow this link for more information about the program and applications.

UConn, through UCHI and the Graduate School, invites applications from doctoral students pursuing degree in the humanities and humanistic social sciences to participate in this three-week, virtual summer workshop. This is a limited-submission application. Eligible doctoral students must be nominated for this fellowship by their home institutions, and only one nomination may be made to HWW by each university.

To be considered, interested doctoral students must submit their applications to UCHI: by NOON, October 31st, 2020. Please do not submit your applications directly to HWW. Application requirements can be found on the HWW website.

Fall 2020 Events

UCHI has an exciting roster of events coming up this fall, detailed below. Be sure to peruse our offerings and register for the events you’d like to attend. Stay tuned as we announce more upcoming events!

Publishing NOW with Ilene Kalish of NYU Press

September 24, 2020



Fellow’s Talk: Nicole Breault

October 14, 2020



How to Do Nothing Book Discussion

October 19, 2020



Fellow’s Talk: Nu-Anh Tran

October 21, 2020



Publishing NOW with Matt McAdam of JHU Press

October 23, 2020



UCHI and DHMS Present Jenny Odell

October 26, 2020



Fellow’s Talk: Kerry Carnahan

October 28, 2020



DHMS Presents Sarah Sharma

November 9, 2020



André Leon Talley

November 12, 2020



Dissertation Grant Writing Workshop

November 16, 2020



DHMS Presents Book Traces with Kristin Jensen (UVA) and Michael Rodriguez (UConn Libraries)

November 18, 2020



Fellow’s Talk: Ashley Gangi

November 18, 2020



Publishing NOW with Gita Manaktala of MIT Press

December 2, 2020



Fellow’s Talk: Shaine Scarminach

December 2, 2020



DHMS Presents Jenny Odell

Event poster with floral background. Text reads: UCHI, DHMS, and the creative writing program welcome NYT best-selling author of How to Do Nothing Jenny Odell, in conversation with Yohei Igarashi. Monday, October 26, 2020 at 6:00pm.

If you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact us at or by phone (860) 486-9057.

The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute and the Digital Humanities and Media Studies Initiative present:

Multi-disciplinary artist and New York Times best-selling author of How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy (2019)

Jenny Odell

in conversation with Yohei Igarashi

Monday, October 26, 2020, 6:00–7:00pm

An online webinar. Registration is required for attendance.

co-sponsored by the Creative Writing Program


How to Do Nothing Book Discussion

In advance of the lecture, UCHI has organized an online book discussion group for UConn faculty and graduate students. This event will take place online on Monday, October 19, 2020, 6:00 p.m. and will be led by Alexis Boylan and Yohei Igarashi.

For this dialogue, we have limited free ebooks (only ebooks) of Jenny Odell’s How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy (2019) available on a first-come first-served basis. To sign up for an e-book and the book club, visit the Eventbrite page and register with a UConn email address BY SEPTEMBER 25, 2020, noon.

Publishing NOW: Ilene Kalish of NYU Press

Publishing NOW. A virtual conversation between NYU Press executive editor Ilene Kalish and UConn Sociology Professor Manisha Desai. September 24, 2:30-4:00. Image includes headshots of both participants.

If you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact us at or by phone (860) 486-9057.

The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute presents:

Publishing NOW!


A conversation between Ilene Kalish (NYU Press) and Manisha Desai (Department of Sociology) about academic publishing.

September 24, 2:30–4:00pm

An online webinar. Event registration is required for attendance.

Ilene Kalish is Executive Editor at NYU Press, where she acquires books in the areas of sociology, criminology, politics, and women’s studies. With over twenty-five years of experience in academic publishing, she publishes books for the general reader as well as for the scholarly and professional reader.

Manisha Desai is Professor of Sociology and Asian and Asian American Studies at the University of Connecticut, and currently Department Head of Sociology. Her most recent book is Subaltern Movements in India: The Gendered Geography of Struggle against Neoliberal Development (2016)

Co-sponsored by the UConn Humanities Institute and the Department of Sociology.

Political Theory Workshop: Elva Orozco Mendoza

The Political Theory Workshop presents:

Some Considerations on the Maternal Contract

Elva Orozco Mendoza (Texas Christian University), with Deng Yinghao (Political Science) as discussant

September 15, 2020 12:20-2:00pm ON ZOOM

Scholars of maternal politics have traditionally characterized maternal activism as a social movement, a performance, a protest, and, lately, as a public expression of precariousness. These accounts of maternal politics have helped to illuminate the relationship between maternal activism and citizenship by analyzing the ways in which mothers’ groups from different localities work to challenge—and sometimes to legitimize—political regimes. However, most scholars overlook the relationship between maternal activism and sovereignty. This chapter develops the concept of the maternal contract by reading the social contract tradition in political philosophy alongside public statements, manifestos, and televised interviews of maternal activists. Orozco Mendoza argues that the proliferation of mothers’ collectives reveal the existence of a subaltern social contract— the maternal contract—whereby minoritized peoples are left to undertake crucial functions of sovereignty due to a pervasive context of extreme violence and institutional abandonment. By offering this argument, the chapter contributes to the study of sovereignty within political theory by suggesting that political theorists engage maternal activists to broaden our understanding of power and in-security in the twenty-first century.

Elva Orozco Mendoza is an assistant professor of political science at Texas Christian University. Her research interests include extreme gender violence, democratic theory and practice, protest politics and political action in Latin America, critical approaches to state sovereignty, and comparative political theory. Orozco Mendoza’s research has been published in journals, including Theory & Event, New Political Science, and the Journal of Latin American Geography. In fall 2019, Orozco Mendoza received the Claudia V. Camp Research and Creativity Award for academic excellence at Texas Christian University. She is a 2020 Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellow

Poster with same text as above and image of Elva Orozco Mendoza.
Download the poster

UCHI Welcomes You To 2020–2021

The UCHI logo in front of a picture of a bookshelf.

Dear friends,

It has, by any measure, been a hard, puzzling summer that occasionally veered into chaotic and devastating, making it difficult to write an ordinary welcome back letter in such fraught, extraordinary times. What we’re here to say though is that it is our intention to continue to offer forums to learn, talk, and listen, opportunities to think harder, and occasions to ask new questions—all as we move our programming online for the time being. We welcome you to join us as we try out new methods, explore new ways to connect intellectually, and create collaborative cohorts. In short, UCHI offers this year what we offer every year: opportunities to shape the humanities. More than ever, we want to remind you that your research, your ideas, and your voices matter and can change the world.

What does this mean tangibly? It means we are going to continue to do what we do and even expand our reach in this online moment. This includes:

  1. UCHI Fellows’ talks and all activities will go online. The formats will shift, but Fellows’ talks remain an opportunity to hear cutting-edge researchers and their new material. Join us to see the best new books, articles, and dissertations take shape.
  2. We have funding and look forward to supporting scholars’ talks, colloquia, working groups, and other research events. Again, while travel is limited, online options offer new potentials for expanding and diversifying the dialogues we can share here with the UConn community.
  3. Our Digital Humanities and Media Studies initiative will continue to offer programming that addresses our (more than ever) digitally-mediated world and scholarship, as well as its graduate certificate program.
  4. Our programs such as faculty grant application aid and humanities book support remain active and wait for your applications.
  5. We were awarded this summer a $750,000 Mellon grant to build and sustain the New England Humanities Consortium’s Faculty of Color Working Group (FOCWG). This program will offer fellowships, mentorship, and advocacy in support of BIPOC faculty here at UConn and then also nationally. UCHI remains committed to working for equality, diversity, and change here at UConn and beyond.
  6. As part of this Mellon/FOCWG we are thrilled to welcome our first UCHI/Mellon Faculty Fellow, Professor Sean Frederick Forbes. For more on Sean and all our 2020-21 fellows see our site.
  7. Publishing NOW will again bring top editors to talk with UConn faculty and students about publishing and about projecting their scholarly voices in new publishing environments.
  8. Our Luce Foundation funded initiative, The Future of Truth, will host several events this year building toward our multi-year traveling exhibition, in collaboration with the American Museum of Natural History, Seeing Truth: Art, Science, and Making Knowledge.

And is there something here you don’t see but that would help you and your colleagues now? Reach out to us. Again, we are here, and want to see you get to where you need to go. We’re eager to learn about the work you’re doing this year and to support your projects.

Best wishes for the start of the new school year.


The UCHI Team

Alexis L. Boylan, acting director
Yohei Igarashi, acting director of academic affairs
Jo-Ann Waide, program coordinator
Nasya Al-Saidy, financial coordinator
Elizabeth Della Zazzera, post-doctoral humanities fellow

UConn Humanities Institute Awarded Mellon Grant to Expand the Faculty of Color Working Group

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a three-year grant of $750,000 to the University of Connecticut for the Humanities Institute to expand the New England Humanities Consortium (NEHC) Faculty of Color Working Group (FOCWG). The thirteen member institutions of the Consortium support programming in humanities fields such as history, politics, language, art, literature, and philosophy.

Following a 2018 Mellon Foundation $100,000 grant that permitted a pilot phase, faculty of color at NEHC member institutions created and led the Faculty of Color Working Group (FOCWG) for the purpose of increasing mentorship, community building, and dedicated time for scholarly production among faculty of color. Coupled with the development of the NEHC’s social media and publicity, through cross-institutional networks, research and teaching mentorship, and fellowships, the Mellon Foundation grant enables FOCWG to bolster faculty success across schools in the region and the nation.

The Principal investigator for the program is Michael P. Lynch, director of the UConn Humanities Institute, director of NEHC and Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor, Philosophy. Co-principal investigators are Melina Pappademos, director of the UConn Africana Studies Institute, associate professor of history, and director of the Faculty of Color Working Group; and Alexis L. Boylan, director of academic affairs of the UConn Humanities Institute and associate professor of art and art history and Africana Studies.

“With generous support from the Mellon Foundation, this initiative recognizes the environmental obstacles and, at times, outright hostilities to professional advancement that faculty of color face at predominantly white institutions. FOCWG seeks to address these institutional failures by enabling scholarly productivity and professional relationships, even self-care, as safe-guards for aggregated individual success,” says Pappademos. “The FOCWG challenges institutions to dismantle rather than uphold their inflexible structures designed and defended to advantage some faculty members over others.“

In addition to UConn, the consortium includes Amherst College, Colby College, Dartmouth College, Northeastern University, Tufts University, University of New Hampshire, University of Rhode Island, University of Vermont, Wellesley College, and Wheaton College.

The FOCWG provides an urgently needed pathway for faculty of color to navigate the particular challenges they face in academic life. As part of a large network of institutions, the FOCWG grant will develop collaborative fellowship and mentoring opportunities to produce outcomes unachievable by any single institution.

The core activities made possible by the grant include:

  • Organizing an annual conference for faculty of color that will be the centerpiece of activities and outreach, which will include crucial professional dialogues on panel topics such as publishing, tenure and promotion and the challenge of transitioning into administrative roles. The conference will include pre-conference and post-conference interviews and surveys.
  • Development of a mentorship program to identify and train senior faculty mentors throughout the New England Humanities Consortium to offer a resource for faculty of color at all stages of their careers, including those holding administrative positions, in the region.
  • Establishment of The Mellon Faculty of Color Fellowship program, that will create opportunities for faculty to spend a year as a research fellow at another Consortium institution’s humanities institute or center contributing to crosspollination across the Consortium while furthering faculty’s individual research.

There will also be increased support for NEHC administrative functions including a separate FOCWG website, expanded social media presence and creation of an Instagram account to attract younger generation students and scholars, particularly those who attend liberal arts institutions.

UConn’s First Global Distinguished Humanities Fellowship Awarded

The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI), in partnership with UConn Global Affairs, is proud to announce Professor Maoz Azaryahu as the first awardee of their joint Global Distinguished Humanities Fellowship (GDHF). Azaryahu is a professor of cultural geography at the University of Haifa in Israel, and the Director of Herzl Institute for the Study of Zionism. His research includes urban and landscape semiotics, the cultural and historical geographies of public memory and commemoration, the spatialities of memory and narrative, and the cultural history of places and landscapes. He has studied the political history of war memorials and the cultural politics of commemorative street (re)naming in different historical periods and geopolitical settings.  These themes are highlighted of his numerous authored, co-authored, and edited works including, among others, Positioning Memory (2018), The Political Life of Urban Streetscapes (2018), Narrating Space / Spatializing Narrative: Where Narrative Theory and Geography Meet (2016); Namesakes: History and Politics of Street Naming in Israel (2012, Hebrew); Tel Aviv: The First Century. Vision, Myth and Reality (2012); Tel Aviv: Mythology of a City (2006); State Cults. Celebrating Independence and Commemorating the Fallen in Israel 1948-1956 (1995, Hebrew), and Von Wilhelmplatz zu Thälmannplatz. Politische Symbole im Oeffentlichen Leben der DDR 1945-1985 (1991). 


Maoz Azaryahu


Dr. Azarhayu has built his career on a remarkable ability to speak across disciplinary boundaries to build productive collaborations with scholars across a wide range of fields. This is one reason Dr. Azaryahu has been welcomed previously as a Visiting Professor of Anthropology at Brandeis University, in Jewish Studies at Penn State University, and in Geography at the University of Colorado at Boulder. We see his visit as a way to spur a similar range of fruitful publishing collaborations with our colleagues here at UConn. 

Azaryahu’s fellowship at UConn, which takes place in Spring 2021, is sponsored by Ken Foote, the Director of Urban and Community Studies Program & Professor of Geography; Nathaniel Trumbull, Associate Professor of Geography & Maritime Studies; Sebastian Wogenstein and Avinoam Patt of The Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life; and Chris Vials, Director of the American Studies Program.

GDHF was a new opportunity created by UCHI and Global Affairs last year in an effort to foster international collaboration and highlight the importance of the humanities in creating a future that speaks globally to social justice, equity, and the environment. This initiative is designed to strengthen ties with UConn’s international partners by inviting faculty scholars from universities that have ongoing Memoranda of Understanding with UConn.

Note: Due to COVID-19, Professor Azaryahu’s visit to UConn will take place in Spring 2022.

Three UConn Faculty Awarded NEHC Seed Grants

Three UConn faculty members are among 30 scholars from across 11 New England institutions who were awarded seed grants by the New England Humanities Consortium. These competitive seed grants are awarded for research initiatives in the humanities that seek to capitalize on the collaborative network of the consortium.

Jason Oliver Chang (Department of History and Asian & Asian American Studies Institute) and Fiona Vernal (Department of History and Africana Studies Institute) serve as co-Principle Investigators on a project entitled Shade: Labor Diasporas, Tobacco, Mobility, and the Urban Nexus. This project, which will be conducted in collaboration with former UCHI fellow Jorell Meléndez-Badillo (Dartmouth College) and Sony Coranez Bolton (Amherst College), will investigate. the ways that U.S. imperialism, colonization, corporate industry, and white settler normativity have evolved and matured in the Connecticut River Valley.

The other UConn awardee is Kevin McBride of the UConn Department of Anthropology. He is a co-Principle Investigator on a project entitled Public Memory, Place, and Belonging: Unearthing the Hidden History of the Native and African American Presence on Block Island. Other co-investigators and collaborators on this project include Amelia Moore, Jessica M. Frazier, and Kendall Moore (University of Rhode Island). This project will support fieldwork and planning that will lead to the development of a temporary, traveling exhibition, opening in July 2022. After its initial display at a number of regional museums, the exhibit will eventually find a permanent residence at the Gobern family homestead on Block Island, the future site of a Manissean community center.