English Professor Named a Fulbright Scholar

Award will support Adriana Craciun’s Arctic Enlightenments research

Adriana Craciun

English professor Adriana Craciun has won a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award for 2015-16.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Adriana Craciun, a professor of English at the University of California, Riverside, has been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award for 2015-16 to support her Arctic Enlightenments project. This ongoing research connects the Global Seed Vault in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard with Enlightenment studies.

“By bringing together Arctic and Enlightenment in this original way, my project investigates the entanglement of histories, sciences and collecting that connect the Arctic to metropolitan centers of knowledge in surprising ways with ongoing significance for us today,” Craciun explained.

During the 2015-16 year she will hold a position as the Fulbright-Scotland Visiting Professor at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, where she will contribute to interdisciplinary research in Enlightenment studies, geography, environmental humanities, and northern studies.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, with its iconic luminous entrance and location atop an Arctic mountain, has captured the popular imagination since its creation in 2008, Craciun noted.

“Virtually all public attention is focused on how the vault will preserve, like Noah’s Ark, seeds for millennia, allowing biodiversity to survive climate or human catastrophe into a deep future. Seed banks are institutions committed to preserving biodiversity for future use and yet those involved often have little interest in questions of history, even of the historicity of their own practices,” she said.

Contemporary debates about the Arctic tend to focus on a version of the future – such as an ice-free Arctic – that is inevitable, promising economic opportunity to some or climate catastrophe to others, she added.

“Because the Arctic is typically figured as a timeless wilderness to be either protected from or developed by modernity, it is a place particularly at risk of losing its connections with larger global developments in human history,” Craciun said. “In contrast, I am interested in connecting the Arctic and its seed vault to the ongoing historical commitments and networks of Enlightenment modernity through which we continue to think and act.”

Craciun joined the UCR faculty in 2008. She is an international partner in the Arctic Modernities research group, funded by the Polar Programme of the Norwegian Research Council (2013-2016), and in the Ice Law Project at Durham University’s Centre for Borders Research in the United Kingdom. She has been awarded research fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (U.K.), the National Maritime Museum (U.K.), the Canadian government, the University of Limerick (Ireland), and the University of California.

Her newest book, “Writing Arctic Disaster: Authorship and Exploration,” will be published later this year by Cambridge University Press. It examines the roles played by print and manuscript authorship practices in Arctic exploration, from the 17th through the late 19th century, and examines the circulation of multidisciplinary knowledge about and in the Arctic through diverse institutions, media, and authors. Her work on the 1845 John Franklin Arctic disaster was featured in Canadian radio, newspapers, and magazines when the wreck of his ship the “Erebus” was located in the Arctic in 2014.

She also is the author of more than 30 journal articles these books: “The Material Culture of Enlightenment Arts and Sciences (with Simon Schaffer, forthcoming from Palgrave, 2015), “Fatal Women of Romanticism (Cambridge University Press, 2003, 2009), and “British Women Writers and the French Revolution: Citizens of the World (Palgrave, 2005).

The Fulbright Program is the leading international education exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and people of other countries, according to the program’s website. The program, which awards approximately 8,000 new grants annually, was established in 1946 under legislation by Arkansas Sen. J. William Fulbright and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It operates in more than 150 countries.

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