Hamline News

Hamline Professor Awarded Prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship

Hamline University is pleased to announce that College of Liberal Arts anthropology professor Kathryn Linn Geurts has been named a 2009 Guggenheim Fellow by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation for her ethnographic work on disability in Ghana. The fellowship will help support Geurts' research during a sabbatical leave from teaching next year.

“My project focuses on how Ghanaians make sense of and deal with disability oppression,” explained Geurts. “I am interested in gathering stories that help us to understand how the contours, shapes, and sensory feelings of our human body are informing principles of disability experiences and identities—not unlike how skin color informs racial experiences and identities, or sex informs gender experiences and identities. As my colleagues in Ghana like to remind us: ‘Disability—Anybody's Lot, Anytime!’ And, while people with disabilities make up ten to fifteen percent of every society, disability discrimination is one of the more pernicious forms of social exclusion all over the world.”

Geurts, who has taught at Hamline for the past seven years, is the author of Culture and the Senses: Bodily Ways of Knowing in an African Community, which was nominated for the Melville J. Herskovits Award for most distinguished publication in African Studies in 2003. Drawing on research conducted with a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship, the book works to explain the cultural construction of sensory orientations among Ewe-speaking people in Ghana, showing that it is a construction that diverges sharply from that of the Western world. As a logical extension of that work, Geurts is now studying the cultural construction of physical disability, again in Ghana.

“We are delighted that Professor Geurts’ work on disability in Ghana has garnered a Guggenheim Fellowship,” said Dr. David Stern, vice president for academic and student affairs at Hamline University. “This international recognition makes clear that she is doing scholarly work at the very highest level, and she shares that work with Hamline’s undergraduate students in the classroom and on study abroad trips to Africa. She epitomizes the ideal of the scholar-teacher so central to Hamline’s mission.”

This is the eighty-fifth year that the Guggenheim Foundation has awarded fellowships. Those selected were appointed on the basis of stellar achievement and exceptional promise for continued accomplishment. From a pool of 3,000 applicants, 180 artists, scientists, and scholars in the United States and Canada received a Guggenheim Fellowship to fulfill the foundation’s mission of “adding to the educational, literary, artistic, and scientific power of this country, and also to provide for the cause of better international understanding.” In all, sixty-two disciplines and sixty-eight different academic institutions are represented by this year's recipients.

Since its establishment in 1925, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has granted more than $273 million in fellowships to nearly 16,700 individuals. Scores of Nobel, Pulitzer, and other prize winners grace the roll of Guggenheim Fellows, including Ansel Adams, W. H. Auden, Aaron Copland, Martha Graham, Langston Hughes, Henry Kissinger, Vladimir Nabokov, Isamu Noguchi, Linus Pauling, Philip Roth, Paul Samuelson, Wendy Wasserstein, Derek Walcott, James Watson, and Eudora Welty.