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Active Collaborative Research Clusters

The Northeastern Humanities Center’s Collaborative Research Clusters give faculty the opportunity for a range of interdisciplinary research collaborations with awards up to $2,000. These clusters bring together scholars and practitioners from different disciplines, both within and outside the university community, around a common issue of humanistic significance. The purpose is to facilitate productive discussions and collaborations among the participants, with a view toward the development of joint projects, conferences, publications, and grant applications.

The Humanities Center funds a wide range of themes and topics. Past groups have organized around such topics as critical social theory; sexual citizenship; urban environmental governance; food; and race and visual culture studies.


 “Security Studies Collaborative Research Cluster”

Max Abrahms
Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Policy

The Security Studies Collaborative Research Cluster aims to foster discussion among scholars at Boston-­area institutions exploring interdisciplinary research relating to traditional state­-centric security studies, as well as related topics in international cooperation and human security. The primary objective of this graduate student led network is the facilitation of training, mentorship, and research by connecting doctoral students across institutions with one another as well as with more experienced scholars. In doing so, the group will offer support for presentation, peer review, and publication of research as well as methodological and pedagogical training. Through fostering collaboration among students and faculty, this initiative seeks to explore, expand, and innovate on emerging topics in the field of security studies.


“Terrorism and Firm Resilience: Unpacking the Intersection ”

Max Abrahmns
Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Policy

Luis Alfonso Dau
Associate Professor of International Business and Strategy

Daniel Aldrich
Professor of Political Science and Public Policy

The primary goal of this research cluster is to explore the interdisciplinary connection between terrorism and business resiliency. Limited scholarly attention has been devoted to the impact of terrorism on firm performance and strategic responses. Moreover, almost no empirical work has been done on sustainable resilience of different types of firms amidst terrorist climates. Novel, interdisciplinary and policy relevant, this research cluster aims to bring scholars together from a myriad of disciplines to begin establishing the relationship between terrorism and sustainable resiliency. This research cluster will convene with the
intention of holding academic discussions of potential research projects, as well as to strategize on how to attain additional sources of monetary funding for future projects. The cluster will conclude with a presentation to the Northeastern University campus on the preliminary finding and avenues for future research on this timely subject.


“Sectarian Discourse in Arab Print and Social Media ”

Shakir Mustafa
Teaching Professor of Arabic

John Wihbey 
Assistant Professor of Journalism and New Media

The cluster will study the rise of openly or implicitly divisive discourses in Arabic journalism and social media. Differences and conflicts of sectarian or ethnic nature often translated into vocabularies that denigrate others’ religious or racial backgrounds. Especially after deposing the Saddam regime and the ascendance of Shia­dominated governments in Iraq, print and social media in parts of the Arab world—Iraq and neighboring Gulf and Levantine countries, specifically—witnesses a dramatic rise in divisive sectarian and ethnic discourses. Newspapers, Facebook, Twitter, to name a few major outlets of print and social media, engaged in what seemed taboos only a decade or two ago. Sunni and Shia Muslims, Iraqi Kurds, Syrian Kurds, and Turkmens started trading demeaning accusations and racial slurs at a rate unprecedented in Arab cultural exchanges. Overall, The cluster will closely analyze samples of such discourses, host speakers to address their implications, and organize activities for Arab journalists to discredit and contain divisive discourses.

“The Past and Future of Incarceration in Massachusetts”

Simon Singer
Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Marty Blatt
Professor of the Practice in History

 This research cluster will bring together scholars and practitioners to discuss the past and future of incarceration policies in Massachusetts and create an event that would enable invited policy makers, correctional officials, NU scholars and students and the general public to meet and discuss the history and future of incarceration. Additionally, we will present several papers that would discuss the past, current, and future states of incarceration. The research cluster will also facilitate collaborative work in a variety of ways. The proposed research cluster will enhance current undergraduate groups and NU faculty and student interests in correctional issues, and policies to reduce the incarcerated population and to enhance rehabilitation programs. Long­term incarceration policies are related to issues of social justice. Late 20th century U.S. determinate sentencing policies have dramatically increased the incarcerated population. Just this year (2017) Massachusetts legislators have proposed sentencing reforms that would eliminate numerous mandatory minimums, and enhance the possibility of parole.

“Freedom of Religion v. National Identity: Democracy and Secularism on Trial”

William Miles
Professor of Political Science

Politicization and “securitization” of religion in the United States and abroad is challenging long­held norms and policies that had balanced, however precariously, religious freedom with secular and democratic values. Recent examples include the European Court of Justice’s upholding of employers’ rights to ban religious clothing at the workplace and the contested ban on entry to the U.S. from six majority Muslim nations. A reinvigorated Christian right is stripping women in several American states of an established constitutional right to abortion. Israel’s constitutionally vague self ­definition of being both “Jewish” and
“democratic” is at long last subject to (contentious) moves towards legal precision. The role of sharia – imagined and real – in non ­Muslim majoritarian societies is coming under heightened, and often polemicized, scrutiny.

Law, politics, and religion lie at the intersection of this global phenomenon that pits religious freedom against national identity, secularization and state security. This research cluster will bring together Northeastern colleagues and graduate students from these three perspectives to engage in informed interdisciplinary dialogue and intellectual exchange. Invited scholars– beginning with Professor Shawkat Toorawa (Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations, Yale University) – will stimulate discussion by providing engaged and autobiographical perspectives.