From great distances, two CHSS Fulbright scholars explore understanding of community and home

Two College of Humanities and Social Sciences faculty members have received 2022-23 Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program awards to conduct research that will speak to universal understanding. 

Tiffany Thames Copeland, an adjunct faculty member with the African and African American Studies program, is spending the year in the Republic of Ghana, teaching communication classes at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and studying the impact of Ghana’s “Year of Return, Ghana 2019” campaign.  

"Year of Return” welcomed visitors, particularly from the Black diaspora, during the year that marked the 400th anniversary of the first recorded enslaved Africans in the United States. Copeland’s research investigates African Americans’ response to Ghana’s call to return through digital media postings and direct interviews with Americans who chose to relocate to the West African nation. 

Four Fulbrights meet embassy officials

The U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Virginia E. Palmer (3rd from right), and the Deputy Chief of Mission, Nicole Ann Chulick (3rd from left), welcome Copeland (left) and the four other Fulbright scholars to Ghana for the 2022 - 2023 term. 

Relating migration to a search for freedom, Copeland considers the movement of the African diaspora in the context of the 20th century Great Migration of Black Americans, and to an understanding of home. “I really think that's the goal,” she said. "Where is home for you? Where do you feel most comfortable? Where do you feel like you belong?” 

Home and heritage also center the Fulbright sponsored research of Debra Lattanzi Shutika, director of Mason’s Watershed Lit Center for Literary Engagement and Practice and associate professor in the Department of English. Shutika is spending the year in County Mayo, Ireland, where she is teaching folklore, field documentation, digital storytelling, and sense of place at the Mayo and Galway campuses of Atlantic Technological University.  

Partnering with Emma Fallon of Mayo North East, she will complete a folklore collection in the three Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) communities: Achill, Crossmolina, and Erris. “The goal is that Mayo North East would like to set up a center for folklife study for the Gaeltacht in Mayo,” she said. “I’m very interested in rural life in Ireland, but I’m particularly interested in women’s traditions.” 

Debra Lattanzi Shutika in IrelandShutika on Achill Island, County Mayo, Republic of Ireland

Shutika looks forward to the dual objectives of the project: “to document the folklore of this particular moment and also to really encourage language preservation.... it's part of your cultural heritage, that becomes part of who you are.”