Announcing HAPA Spring / Summer 2016 Recipients

HAPA/HARA Recipients

HIA is pleased to announce four new History in Action Project Awards (HAPAs) for Spring/Summer 2016.

Congratulations to the recipients and best of luck as they move forward with their projects!

Check back here for project updates as well as future calls for applications.

Westenley Alcenat and Allison Powers will be collaborating to research contributions to Black Gotham Experience (BGX), a multimedia and visual storytelling project founded by Brooklyn-based artist Kamau Ware in 2010.  Alcenat and Powers write that BGX “combines history, art, and storytelling to bring New York’s Black heritage into public consciousness.” BGX encompasses a three-part historical walking tour, as well as a graphic novel series-in-progress, public lectures, and curated gallery exhibitions that seek to address the absence of pre-Harlem Renaissance Black histories from New York’s public history narratives.

Alcenat and Powers plan to use their HAPA to conduct archival research that supports the ongoing development of walking tour materials, to contribute visual historical references to the graphic novel  series, and to contribute editorial and curatorial support to BGX’s upcoming artistic and historical gallery exhibits.

Michael (Mookie) Kideckel will use his HAPA to help develop, research, and write copy for the Museum of Food and Drink‘s upcoming exhibit, Chow: Racism, Exclusion, and the Rise of Chinese American Cuisine.  

Kideckel writes:

Chow will explore the genesis and transformation of Chinese American cuisine from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, with a particular focus on the political forces that have shaped the Chinese American experience, and by extension, Chinese-American food.  At Chow, visitors will discover how this cuisine was created and became a national staple, taste historical replicas of early dishes, understand the ins and outs of the takeout business, and learn just how deeply Americans have embedded Chinese-American food into mainstream culture.  The exhibition will bring to the fore the strategies with which Chinese Americans confronted economic limitations, discrimination, and American identity, helping restore agency and specificity to the people in this story.”

Benjamin Serby will be developing an online exhibition from the Hofstadter papers housed in Columbia’s Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, to be titled “Richard Hofstadter at 100: Digitizing and Democratizing the American Historical Tradition.”

The project seeks to make the materials of the Hofstadter collection available to the general public through curated digitization, coinciding with the centenary of Hofstadter’s birth.  Serby writes that the exhibition “will communicate the profound relevance of [Hofstadter’s] highly influential work to a large audience of non-specialists and professional historians alike.”  Crucially, Serby seeks “to offer non-specialists a window onto the way that historians work with source material to build their interpretations of events.”

The project will also include critical commentary and media content, including audio of interviews with Hofstadter’s personal acquaintances an colleagues.  A portion of Serby’s HAPA funds will go towards curating existing audio materials as well as to taking new oral histories.

Wenrui Zhao will use her HAPA to conduct oral histories and produce a corresponding documentary entitled ‘The Image of Chinese Immigrant Artists.’  Her focus will be the community of artists from mainland China who settled in New York in the 1980s.  In addition to oral histories, Zhao’s research will cover textual and visual sources.  Ultimately, she plans to screen the resulting documentary at Columbia and share her research with institutional partners in the public history field.

Zhao writes:

“To those artists, making art is a process of negotiation between their past and future, between where they come from and where they head to.  Art is the crystallization of the Chinese immigrant artists’ experience encompassing the clash of cultures and the mediation of identities.  It becomes an alternative type of historical document.”

While immigrant groups engaging in other professions have received scholarly attention, Zhao argues that the “immigrant artist has been an overlooked category.”  “Being not necessarily confined to a fixed social strata, geographical boundaries, and having more fluid identities, they also challenge the conceptualization of Chinese Americans.”

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