Excerpt from the original article:

ANN ARBOR—For their distinguished achievement and exceptional promise for future accomplishment, five University of Michigan professors have received the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowships.

Among this year's fellows are: Victor Caston (philosophy), Charles R. Doering (applied mathematics), Mark Newman (applied mathematics), Derek R. Peterson (African studies), and Valerie Traub (intellectual & cultural history).

The fellows, who are in the U-M's College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, were among the 178 scholars, artists and scientists chosen from a group of nearly 3,000 applicants. U-M had three fellows in 2015.

"This is a high honor both for the individual faculty members whose work has been judged to be exceptional and for the institution," said U-M Provost Martha Pollack. "We are so pleased to have the outstanding scholarship of our faculty recognized in this way."

Peterson, a professor of history and African Studies, says he will use the Guggenheim funding to finish work on a project about Idi Amin's Uganda. Amin is a larger-than-life character, he said. But in the last half decade new kinds of sources of come to light, making it possible to get around Amin's outsized personality and see the wider field of public culture.

With funds from the African Studies Center and the Center for Research Libraries (in Chicago), Peterson has been working with colleagues in Uganda to preserve, organize, catalogue and digitize local government archives, mostly in the south and west of the country. These new materials allow him to see how Ugandans were mobilizing. He is interested in a wide range of characters—royalists, secessionists, smugglers, museum curators, librarians, ethnohistorians—who were involved in the making of dissident subcultures. The project will not be a story about heroism and resistance to the Amin government, but Peterson hopes to illuminate the alternative ways of thinking about politics that Ugandans pursued during the 1970s.

"The lovely thing about a Guggenheim—besides the validation and funding that it offers—is the occasion to think of one's scholarly work as a contribution to humanistic knowledge," he said. "African Studies scholars are accustomed to writing to vanishingly small audiences about a place that is far distant from many Americans' concerns. A Guggenhei Fellowship allows me to think about my work as being at the center of things, as having a general resonance that speaks outside the confines of area studies."

Read the full article »

Related links:

John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow Spotlight: Derek Peterson »

Derek Peterson's website »