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2024 Global Research Trips

In 2024, graduate students from across SGS' M.A. programs conducted fieldwork through Global Perspectives Awards, which are made possible through the generous support of Mr. Dapeng Zhu and Ms. Xiao Liu. Read a few highlights about their experiences abroad below. 

Understanding Japanese poet and author Nanao Sakaki

Adam Klein, East Asian Studies

Using the funding from the Global Perspectives Award, I visited Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick, Maine, to converse with poet and publisher Gary Lawless about his experiences traveling with and publishing Nanao Sakaki, a Japanese poet and author. Gary, Nanao’s literary executor, shared many incredible Nanao stories, and it was very gratifying to see him reminisce about his close friend and mentor.

For my thesis, I intend to discuss Nanao's non-literary activities in addition to his poetry. I was drawn to Nanao because of my interest in ecocriticism and ecopoetry, but also because of the mystique surrounding this vagabond poet getting by with the generosity of his friends. Gary’s intimate experiences with Nanao elucidated some of the context of his poetry, and, most importantly, gave me insight into Nanao’s psyche and philosophy. I have multiple hours of interview audio covering a vast range of Nanao-related topics that I will sift through, which will be an indispensable resource for my prospective thesis.

Gary also told me about an archive of Nanao’s works and related material at UC Davis that he has been compiling. Gary’s knowledge of Nanao is astounding, but equally impressive was hearing about some of his experiences with American poet and essayist Gary Snyder. Gary Lawless “apprenticed” under Snyder in 1973, during which he met Nanao. In addition, Gary discussed the political philosophy of bioregionalism and watershed consciousness—a hot topic of discussion during his time at Snyder’s—to which many of Nanao’s poems correspond. As Gary said, “Nanao’s bioregion was the galaxy.”

The research I was able to accomplish in Brunswick has exceeded my expectations, and I look forward to synthesizing some of the information I gathered in Maine in the coming year as I begin writing my thesis.

Examining the preservation and erasure of collective memory in El Salvador

Lola Amaya, Latin American Studies

My research activities included visiting museums and educational centers in El Salvador and examining the ways in which collective memory of Salvadoran history is publicly preserved, or otherwise erased. Throughout my life and academic experience, I have been exposed to two very different sides of El Salvador: that which is recognized in culture and daily life, and that which is generally the center of academic studies. I decided to pursue this research in an effort to reconcile the disconnect between the understanding of daily life in El Salvador against the largely unspoken traumatic and violent history of the country that is still very fresh in the lives of many.

Visiting museums and gaining a deeper understanding of Salvadoran history, I was also exposed to the deep tensions between state and non-state actors when it comes to truth telling and knowledge production. I had the great fortune of my trip to El Mueso de la Palabra y Imagen, a non-state actor, coinciding with a workshop the museum held on educating mental health professionals on the history of Salvadoran civil war and consequences on ex-combatants. Speaking with the individuals who participated in the workshop and seeing their own eagerness to learn about and discuss their country's history in a safe space of reflection was an incredibly profound intersection of the desire and struggle to cultivate and preserve a collective memory that the state may otherwise erase.

Without the opportunity to have been on the ground and build connections … I would not have been able to see for myself that the desire to reconcile the disconnect between daily life in El Salvador against its violent history is not only my own goal but a broader goal for many Salvadorans who understand the importance of recognizing and preserving the truth, and the role this plays in the present day.