Professors Edward Murphy and David Wheat have each received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support their ongoing research in Latin American history.
Professor Murphy will use his fellowship to complete a book analyzing the ways in which squatters and former squatters, whose numbers worldwide may be as high as one billion people, fit into a world of rapidly expanding electricity use. Drawing on the revealing case of Santiago, Chile, the book develops how, during the past sixty years, approximately one million squatters have gained access to electricity in a city of a little less than six million people. In doing so, the book underscores the hidden, yet consequential ways in which gaining access to electricity has not only shaped the lives of the urban poor, but also the overall evolution of the electrical grid. In linking these two histories normally cast as separate, the book develops a novel perspective on the urban poor and the environments within which they live. It demonstrates how infrastructures have played crucial roles in the making of the city in the Global South, in which the political question of who gets access to them and under what conditions is critically important.
Professor Wheat’s fellowship is in support of his current book project on Catalina de los Santos, an Afro-Caribbean widow and shipowner who traveled to the Azores, peninsular Spain, and the Canary Islands before returning to the Caribbean in the late 1500s. The book uses her story to reconstruct the experiences of free women of African origin in relation to diverse maritime commercial circuits that flourished in the sixteenth-century Iberian Atlantic.
For more information, see https://www.neh.gov/news/neh-announces-281-million-204-humanities-projects-nationwide.