Okpewho, Quataert and McCurry were chosen from a pool of 3,200 applicants. The awards are presented on the basis of distinguished achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishment.
“We are very proud that professors Okpewho and Quataert and Stephanie McCurry have been selected,” said President Lois B. DeFleur. “Very few scholars receive this great honor, and for Binghamton University to have two faculty members and an alumna recognized for their research and scholarship is a great achievement.”
Okpewho will use his award to continue his research into African mythology in the new world. In the fall, Okpewho will travel to parts of the African diaspora in the Americas — the southern United States, South America and the Caribbean — largely for ethnographic investigations and to collect additional narrative traditions.
Through the fellowship, Okpewho is hoping to build upon his own extensive research and publications with work by scholars on both sides of the Atlantic. In so doing, he said he hopes to gather a better understanding of how the African roots in black communities in the western Atlantic have shaped modern-day identities.
Since many of these communities brought their storytelling traditions to the Americas, Okpewho hopes to understand how their tales were affected by their new environment and what factors influenced those changes.
Quataert will use his fellowship to continue his research of the coal miners of the Ottoman Empire, 1829-1922. The project will explore the everyday lives of Ottoman subjects who worked in the mines. His research includes not only the imperial Ottoman archives in Istanbul, but also mining inspector reports that detail life and death inside the mines. These and other records survive in the coal mining centers that just now are closing operations. He will also conduct research in the French National Archives in Paris.
Quataert has already published a number of articles on the Ottoman coal miners. He said he expects to publish his new findings in a book and on a website he hopes to synchronize with the launch of the book.
McCurry, who earned a PhD in history from BU in 1988, is an associate professor at Northwestern University. She will use the fellowship to continue her research on the American South during the Civil War.
Since 1925, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has granted more than $220 million in fellowships to nearly 15,200 individuals. Scores of Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners and eminent scientists appear on the roll of Fellows, including Ansel Adams, Aaron Copland, Langston Hughes, Henry Kissinger, Martha Graham, Philip Roth and Eudora Welty.