February 24, 2006
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—Amherst College has welcomed five Copeland Fellows to campus for the spring semester. Each year Amherst provides scholars in the beginning stages of their careers with an opportunity to pursue their chosen field of study for a semester in residence as Copeland Fellows. Fellows are selected from any discipline, vocation or profession, to live and work with each other and with Amherst faculty and students.

In Nicole Asquith’s dissertation, she explored 19th- and 20th-century poetry’s relationship to popular culture, tracing the connection of French rap to its poetic antecedents. While at Amherst, she plans to study the aesthetics of French hip-hop, addressing the question of whether there is such a thing as a French hip-hop vernacular. She is sponsored by Rosalina de la Carrera, professor of French.

Prashant Bhargava, a writer, director and editor, is the founder and creative director of Jiva Universal Productions. His film Sangam was an official selection in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. Prashant has received awards from the New York Foundation of the Arts, the Broadcast Designers Association and Adobe Systems. During his Copeland Fellowship, he will be writing and refining the script for a feature-length film that will center on a kite festival in contemporary India. Marisa Parham, assistant professor of English, is Bhargava’s sponsor.

Yonca Köksal, whose research focuses on the empire and state formation, is an assistant professor in the Department of History at Koç University in Istanbul. While at Amherst, she plans to work on a book manuscript that is devoted to an analysis of the transformation from empire to nation-state, with the goal of re-thinking the end of the Ottoman Empire. She is sponsored by Uday Mehta, the Clarence Francis Professor in Social Sciences (Political Science.)

Umayalpuram Mahalingam (Mali) is a professional percussionist in South India’s classical music, the Carnatic music tradition, and is a virtuoso on a two-headed drum called the mridangam. He plans to work on a book manuscript about the artistry of rhythmic accompaniment in Carnatic music. David Reck, professor of music and Asian languages and civilizations, is his sponsor.

Benjamin Adisa Ogunfolakan is a lecturer in archaeology at Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria. His research focuses on the history of local settlements and the related material culture of the Osun Yoruba region of Nigeria. Using a combination of archaeological, oral-historical and ethnographic analyses, Ogunfolakan has been exploring ways in which smaller communities outside the ancient Yoruba city-state interacted with the capital and each other. He has already written drafts of several chapters of his work and plans to complete his study during the fellowship. Adisa is sponsored by Rowland Abiodun, the John C. Newton Professor of Fines Arts and Black Studies.

Each Copeland Fellow receives a stipend, living accommodations, meals, a travel allowance and some research support. These sponsors also work as advisors and mentors. Copeland Fellows share living quarters and spend a lot of time with each other.

Past fellows have been research scientists, a painter, a musician of Indian classical music, a photo-journalist and creative writers. Many are American citizens, but others have come from China, Africa, Russia, Poland, Switzerland and France. A fellow’s work might include an occasional guest lecture in a class, participation in a Five College Faculty Seminar, work with individual students or a recital, exhibition or public lecture.