UCR Anthropologist and Art Historian Awarded Fulbright Fellowships

Yolanda Moses will study new model of inclusiveness in Australia; Jason Weems will explore the intertwining of art and archaeology in the Americas

Yolanda Moses and Jason Weems

Anthropologist Yolanda Moses and art historian Jason Weems have been awarded Fulbright fellowships for 2016-17.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A University of California, Riverside anthropologist known internationally for her work on diversity and cultural competence in higher education and an art historian whose research on visual culture spans the Americas have been awarded Fulbright fellowships for 2016-17.

Yolanda Moses, professor of anthropology, will engage with scholars at the University of Sydney in Australia, which is developing strategies that place the well-being and success of Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander students, staff and faculty at the center of institutional life.

Jason Weems, associate professor of art history, will pursue research at the Instituto Franklin of the Universidad de Alcala in Madrid, Spain, to develop an intellectual and historical framework for understanding American art through the lens of the Americas.

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.

In Australia, Moses will share her extensive experience as a cultural anthropologist, university administrator and international leader in higher education as she studies the University of Sydney’s unique initiative to build a model of inclusivity that places cultural competency at its core.

Creating a cultural competency model that embeds within it the voices of all constituents is highly unusual,” she explained. “Most models that we see in the U.S. are either top down, or bottom up. Neither, we know, works well, and will not get us to that third level of institutionalized diversity and inclusion that we are seeking. What I will learn from this research will hopefully ultimately benefit UC Riverside and other research universities with the promise of a comprehensive institutional change strategy that engages all voices and perspectives.”

Moses, who spearheaded an award-winning, national public education project on race and human variation that toured U.S. museums for seven years, will help to document and evaluate the effectiveness of the Sydney model in transforming the university, its impact on research and teaching, and how it can be used as an institutional change model that universities globally can learn from.

“The literature of diversity in the U.S. often focuses on individual groups of isolated students, staff and faculty as the catalysts for incremental change on university and college campuses. This means that change can be very uneven, even across the same campus,” she said. “The cultural competency model adopted by the University of Sydney is a holistic model that focuses in a comprehensive way on the ways in which institutions and institutional leaders, not just individuals, are responsible for transformational change and sustaining that change. The University of Sydney is the only university in the world to date to have been brave and bold enough to adopt such a model to drive institutional change.”

The U.S. and Australia have similarities as well as differences to be explored as more universities in both nations grapple with recruiting and integrating more international and domestic diverse students, staff and faculty into traditional institutions and institutional practices, Moses added. “We have much to share with each other.”

Moses earned a bachelor’s degree from California State University San Bernardino, and master’s and Ph.D. degrees from UC Riverside. She is a former president of City College of the City University of New York, and at UCR has served as vice provost for conflict resolution and associate vice chancellor for diversity, excellence and equity.

Weems, who joined the UC Riverside faculty in 2008, will spend the winter and spring quarters of 2016-17 conducting research and teaching at The University of Alcala’s Franklin Institute in a project that he hopes will foster a more globalized approach to American art history both at home and abroad. Research conducted in colonial archives and at various art museums also will support a book-length project, “Inventing the Americas: Art, Archaeology and the Modern Making of a Pre-Columbian Past.”

“While American art has traditionally been understood as the study of ‘art of the United States,’ recently efforts have begun to understand the deep entanglement of national art within a more expansive network of indigenous, cross-cultural and international exchange,” he explained. “One result of this shift has been the expansion of American art to encompass the many places and peoples, across both the Western hemisphere and the globe, which played formative roles in the synthesis of American artistic and representational practices. This more diversified appreciation is often referred to as the ‘arts of the Americas.’”

Refocusing American art scholarship away from narratives of European colonial domination toward a more balanced approach to the Americas offers new and better opportunities to understand the rich cultural networks that shape the history and future of the hemisphere and the place of artistic expression within it, Weems said.

The art historian said he is interested in how Euro-American artists incorporated archaeological representations of indigenous architecture and artifacts into their work during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly in Pre-Columbian South America. He also seeks to unravel the ways that artistic preconceptions inflected, and at times compromised, the work of archaeology. To what degree was it possible for archaeological illustrators who had been trained in Europe to picture indigenous sites and artifacts with anything other than Western eyes?

Spain played a key role in colonizing the Americas and the shaping of its art and culture, and the fellowship will enable Weems to study early colonial records at national historical archives and libraries in Madrid and Seville, notably collections of maps, drawings and illustrated codices produced by Spanish and indigenous image-makers. He also will examine artifacts collected by Spanish explorers and archaeologists that are held in the Museum of the Americas and other repositories, as well as collections of New World landscape paintings at the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and other collections of Spanish art.

Weems holds a B.A. in art history and history from the University of Iowa, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in art history from Stanford University. His recent book, “Barnstorming the Prairies: How Aerial Vision Shaped the Midwest” (University of Minnesota Press), appeared in 2015.

Media Contact


Tel: (951) 827-7847
E-mail: bettye.miller@ucr.edu
Twitter: bettyemiller

Additional Contacts

Yolanda Moses
E-mail: yolanda.moses@ucr.edu

Jason Weems
E-mail: jason.weems@ucr.edu

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