University professor receives Guggenheim Fellowship


Photo Courtesy of Kevin Mumford

Kevin Mumford, professor in LAS, poses for a photo. Mumford was recently awarded the prestigious 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.

By Alexandra Gergova, Staff Writer

Kevin Mumford, Professor in LAS, was recently awarded the prestigious 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship alongside 184 other writers, artists, scholars and scientists.
The John Simon Guggenheim Foundation offers fellowships to “exceptional individuals in pursuit of scholarship in any field of knowledge and creation in any art form, under the freest possible conditions,” according to an official press release on April 8.
The fellowship provides recipients with $50,000, which can be spent at the discretion of the recipients and is not stringently monitored by the Foundation. The ability to utilize the funding in any way you wish lends itself to the imagination and feels empowering, according to Mumford.
The application process, which spanned roughly nine months, entailed submitting three works that reflect the applicant’s field of study.
Due to the pandemic, the Guggenheim Foundation abandoned its traditional non-digital approach to application materials and enabled all applicants to submit digital materials as opposed to tangible copies, according to Mumford.
“So I decided to take e-books where I could,” Mumford said. “My oldest book wasn’t in e-book form, so I actually substituted an article that I was super proud of for that.”
The first book that Mumford submitted as part of his portfolio chronicled riots and Black politics in Newark, New Jersey titled “Newark: A History of Race, Rights, and Riots in America.”
The second book, which was released more recently in 2016 and is titled “Not Straight, Not White: Black Gay Men from the March on Washington to the AIDS Crisis,” focuses specifically on Black gay activism and traces major movements between the 1950s and 1990s.
“I also proposed my new book,” Mumford said. “My new project is about the origins and politics of hate crime statistics, and it’s about the history of hate crimes from the late 1960s through the 1980s.”
The project will focus on the legislative process as well as individual cases of crimes — such as vandalism, assault and homicide — against Black men, gays, Asian men, Arab Americans and Jewish Americans.
Through this project and his fellowship at Stanford University in the fall, Mumford hopes to explore and establish a transnational perspective on his specific focus on hate crimes.
“I’m really interested in how, for example, the new KKK that emerged in the 1980s found steps in Germany,” Mumford said.
Mumford is interested in studying neo-Nazis in addition to the aforementioned transnational Klan activity. Besides simply the book, Mumford hopes to reach a broader audience through other efforts.
According to Mumford, scholars of color across campus have indicated that there is not sufficient respect or value provided to them or their works, which is why this fellowship is extremely significant and empowering for Mumford.
“This award world just makes me feel so good about feeling valued and respected,” Mumford said. “Like the University of Illinois News Service did a story on this and put it on the front page of the website. I was like, ‘Oh, I feel so proud of myself and my University for stepping up and saying this is also an excellent scholar!’”

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