Award for UC Merced professor will spur more research

yamaro@mercedsun-star.comJanuary 21, 2013 

BEA AHBECK CASSON/bahbeck@mercedsunstar.com UC Merced professor Cristian Ricci at the university in Merced Wednesday. (1-16-13)

— UC Merced Associate Professor Cristian Ricci recently received a prestigious humanities award that will help him research Moroccan literature written in French, Dutch, Spanish and English.

He is one of only eight scholars across the country to receive the National Endowment for the Humanities award, which is approximately $51,400.

Ricci, who has been at UC Merced since 2004, has written about Moroccan literature in Catalan and Spanish. The award will allow him to broaden his research to other European languages.

The award is for an entire year, starting in June. He will be stationed in Paris, but will travel throughout Spain, Belgium, Holland and Germany.

"I feel absolutely very proud of (this opportunity), but not just for myself but for the good of the humanities at UC Merced," he said.

Start of new book

His research project is titled "Moroccan Literature and the Broadening of Postcolonial Literary Studies." This work is the start of his next book on the topic. Ricci already has two single- author books on the subject.

He estimates his next book could be ready in 2016.

The book will give new viewpoints of methodological schools and theories undertaken by scholars in the field of migration. Ricci hopes this book will encourage his colleagues working on research about the intercultural relationships between African countries and Europe.

For the purpose of connecting his work back to Merced, Ricci said his book could be used by students in the Central Valley to compare Latin American migration experiences into this country to those of Africans going into Europe.

His colleague, UC Merced professor Ignacio Lopez-Calvo, is working on research related to Asian cultures in Latin America. Ricci said everything they are doing is related to the peripheral Portuguese- Hispanic world.

They said they hope to build a solid program at UC Merced, which could help attract more students interested in the topic.

Ricci said that is something positive, because UC Merced is one of only two "Hispanic-serving institutions" in the UC system.

"As long as we keep building, we are going to do a huge job for the community and also for the reputation of our campus," he said. "Our work aims to put the humanities in the front page in this country. To make people aware that the humanities are of the same level than any other discipline."

Lopez-Calvo said it's really amazing that Ricci received the award. He said around 2,000 people applied.

"It pretty much puts the UC Merced humanities on the map," he said. "In humanities we don't have many awards, and this is one of the few that we have, and it's actually the most prestigious one."

He said he believes one of the reasons Ricci received the award is because his work is very original, opening up an entirely new field.

They organize a conference every year, and Ricci's work doesn't go unnoticed.

"I can tell how more and more people know him," Lopez-Calvo said, who received a similar award in 1998.

Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or yamaro@mercedsunstar.com.

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