Three researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have been awarded 2021 American Council of Learned Societies Fellowships.

The recipients are Bobby Smith II, a professor of African American studies; Retika Adhikari Desai, a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Asian American Studies; and Juliet Larkin-Gilmore, a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in American Indian Studies. They were among 60 fellows chosen from nearly 1,300 applications, according to an ACLS news release. The ACLS Fellowship supports scholars for six to 12 months of full-time research and writing.

This year’s ACLS Fellowship competition focused on early career scholars – nontenured faculty members and those who have earned a PhD within the last eight years.

Larkin-Gilmore’s project “Mobile Medicine: Public Health and Indigenous Lives on the Lower Colorado River, 1880-1940” centers on disease in Native American history to show how mobility blurs neat conceptions of spatial and racial order. Between the 1880s and 1930s, federal policies tried to eliminate tribal sovereignty and, in the process, created medical crises for tribal nations across the country, Larkin-Gilmore said.

Along the Lower Colorado River, tribes responded through purposeful movement that gave them freedom from surveillance, the opportunity to make a living, and the ability to maintain strong community bonds, sacred customs, and relations to the land – in short, the ability to maintain their health. Diseases often link communities in new and complicated ways, and their trajectories outline the contours of colonization in its many unwieldy forms. “Mobile Medicine” tracks the liminal and powerful roles of Indigenous people and their health in U.S. history.

Larkin-Gilmore also was named the ACLS Oscar Handlin Fellow in American History. The award supports scholars pursuing archival research on American history.

Jodi Heckel, ©Illinois News Bureau