Rob Kroes Travel Grant 2018

NASA offers a travel grant of €500 to help defray the cost of travel and accommodation for research trips to the United States. The grant is named after Professor Rob Kroes, former NASA and EAAS president and a great promoter of internationalization. The grant is available for Masters and PhD students only. Only NASA members are eligible to apply.

The regulations are as follows:

  1. Applicants must submit a 500-word proposal outlining their research project, an itinerary of their intended research trip to the United States, and a CV;
  2. The deadline for submitting applications is 31 December 2017;
  3. All applications should be sent to the NASA board at nasabestuur@gmail.com;
  4. A committee formed by the Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer of NASA will assess the applications and announce the successful candidate by 15 January, 2018;
  5. Within a month of completing their research trips, each successful candidate will write a brief report (+/-1000 words) on their experience, which will be placed both in the NASA Newsletter and on the NASA website;
  6. The grant should be spent in the year it is awarded.

One of our primary goals is to encourage and assist young scholars in American Studies. This is especially important in times of economic hardship, when funding for research in the humanities is squeezed. Since 2010, NASA has awarded grants of €500 each year to assist Dutch studens who are studying for an MA or PhD to undertake research in the United States.

In order to sustain this initiative – and, we hope, to expand it – NASA is giving members the opportunity to contribute to the Rob Kroes Scholarship Fund. This ring-fenced fund is dedicated solely to the provision of research grants to students at Dutch universities. You may make a one-time contribution or, if you choose, a regular donation. Donors can be published in the NASA-Nieuwsbrief, although you may of course choose to give anonymously. Please give generously! Donation may be transferred directly to the NASA account (IBAN: NL23 INGB000 2976924 and BIC: INGBNL2A). Please indicate whether or not you want your name to appear on the annual list of donors.

 

The Rob Kroes Scholar Grant 2017 was given to Heleen Blommers. She wrote a report about her experiences during this time.

BlommersreportfotoLast February I traveled to the United States to conduct archival research for my master’s thesis. In my thesis I am examining the failure narrative on the War on Poverty. This antipoverty program of the 1960s is often remembered as a failure and as a program that caused resentment against welfare policies in the U.S. In this thesis I will analyze how the construction and implementation of the War on Poverty policies could have contributed to this failure narrative. For this purpose, I focus on the sort of social and economic knowledge about poverty and the poor used in the policy-making process and on how this knowledge was reflected in the practical implementation of the program. For this latter part, I will conduct a case study of the local implementation and adaption of the federal War on Poverty in Baltimore, Maryland. Furthermore, I will analyze how the New Deal legacy played a part in the construction of and choice for the sort of programs in the War on Poverty.

In February I thus left for the United States and I conducted research in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and in the Baltimore City Archives. Initially I would only stay for four weeks, but the Rob Kroes Travel Grant enabled me to stay a week longer to conduct more in-depth research. Therefore, I could also visit the Library of Congress, where I for instance consulted the Daniel P. Moynihan papers.

Moynihan was a political scientist working for the Labor Department in the 1960s and active in the early policymaking process of the War on Poverty programs. However, later on, Moynihan became a fervent War on Poverty critic. He is perhaps most famous for his report The Negro Family: A Case for National Action – also called the Moynihan Report – which was influential for the construction of the War on Poverty policies. The Moynihan papers in the Library of Congress gave me insight into Moynihan’s writing process and research for this report and into the responses to it. Moreover, the collection gave me insight into the early federal government proposals for an antipoverty program (already drafted under the Kennedy administration) and into Moynihan’s later critique on the War on Poverty, which was specifically articulated in his book Maximum Feasible Misunderstanding. The Rob Kroes Travel Grant thus enabled me to have a look at materials other than the official government documents and therefore allowed me to conduct an in-depth analysis of the construction of the War on Poverty policies and the origins of the knowledge used for this policy-making process.

Besides these results for my master’s thesis, the Rob Kroes Travel Grant allowed me to take some time to examine the possibilities for a possible Ph.D. project that will build further on my thesis. In this project, I hope to extend my research to the New Deal and to actively compare and analyze the connections between the two programs. In this way, I hope to provide an even fuller answer to the question what factors contributed to the failure narrative on the War on Poverty and why this differs from the narrative on the New Deal. For this purpose, I explored the extent of the available sources and the possible angle such a project could best be conducted from.

Altogether, the Rob Kroes Travel Grant enabled me to conduct a more in-depth analysis for my masters’ thesis and provided me with time to explore a possible Ph.D. project. It therefore provided an invaluable experience!

Heleen Blommers