Four Trent University Researchers Receive Over $260,000 from Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)


Study of Peterborough’s vibrant arts scene over the past 30 years among funded projects

Wednesday, September 1, 2010, Peterborough

Trent University researchers in a variety of disciplines across the social sciences and humanities have received a $263,939 funding infusion to explore a series of diverse research projects ranging from an examination of the underground arts scene in Peterborough to a study of the relations between buccaneers and the Indigenous populations of Mesoamerica.

Announced today, the funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) is part of a $190.5 million investment in grants and scholarships to support nearly 4,000 of Canada’s best researchers and top scholars. The SSHRC funding will support four researchers at Trent, Drs. Alan O’Connor, Arne Bialuschewski, Hugh Elton and Rodney Fitzsimons.

Dr. Alan O’Connor, a professor of Cultural Studies, will receive a $81,780 research grant to study Peterborough’s underground arts scene, which first emerged in 1970 and has grown to become unusually vibrant for a city the size of Peterborough.

“It is important to document this kind of community organization, but also to understand the dynamic,” Prof. O’Connor says of the unique study, which is being undertaken with Trent professor emeritus Dr. Ian McLachlan. “It has implications for city policies to encourage the arts, theatre and music. Other researchers have suggested that a vibrant music scene is one factor in attracting young skilled people to cities such as Peterborough.”

Dr. Arne Bialuschewski, an assistant professor in the History Department at Trent, will focus on the relations between buccaneers and the Indigenous populations of Mesoamerica in the seventeenth century. Much of his research is conducted abroad in Paris, London and Seville. “I use large parts of the funds for archival research in Europe and the United States,” says Prof. Bialuschewski, adding, “Furthermore I have research assistants who help me locate, sort our and analyze primary sources.” A total of $63,000 in funding will be used to assist with this project. This project was also ranked number one among 81 applications in the field of history.

Dr. Hugh Elton, an Ancient History and Classics professor, received $43,127 for his research on the region of Isauria (on the southern coast of Roman Turkey), an area which has received little scholarly attention. Well integrated in the Roman Empire between the third and seventh centuries A.D., this project addresses the connectivity of the region to the later Roman Empire, which is particularly important given the changing ways in the Isaurians as they were part of both the Empire in both periphery and capital during the period studied. 
On his research, Prof. Elton says, “this project contributes to our rapidly changing knowledge of the Roman Empire in late antiquity. Of particular importance, studying the ways in which Isaurians were treated at home in the capital city allows a study of their ethnicity, diversity, and migration practices.”

Dr. Rodney Fitzsimons, also from Trent’s Ancient History and Classics Department, will use his $76,032 SSHRC grant to further his research project entitled the “Ayia Irini Norther Sector Archaeological Project.” Started last year with a colleague from the University of Akron in Ohio, this project seeks to explore and analyze changes in the material correlates of status and identity in the Middle and Late Bronze Age, a period characterized by dissemination, adoption and adaptation of a suite of cultural traits. The project aims to understand how individuals and groups of individuals negotiated the distinct social, political and economic positions they held in the immediate and more distant socio-political landscape. Pleased with the announcement from SSHRC, Prof. Fitzsimons says the funding will be used to “finance an international team of specialists from Canada, the Unites States, Great Britain, and Greece based at universities and research institutions in across both North America and Europe.” In addition, part of the money will be directed towards running a field school at which Trent undergraduate students will be introduced to the strategies and problems associated with the processing, analyzing and publication of archaeological material.

“Our government continues to invest in world-class research to improve Canadians’ quality of life and increase the supply of highly qualified graduates that Canada needs to be successful,” said The Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry at today’s announcement. “The social sciences and humanities show us how to harness and interpret innovation from a human perspective, which translates into benefits for society.”

SSHRC is an independent federal government agency that funds university-based research and graduate training through national peer-review competitions. SSHRC also partners with public and private sector organizations to focus research and aid the development of better policies and practices in key areas of Canada's social, cultural and economic life. The researchers at Trent University received funding through SSHRC’s largest research grant program – the Standard Research Grants program.


For more information, please contact:
Cathy Smith, coordinator, Office of Research, Trent University, 705-748-1011 ext. 7496,