Lewis announces Inclusive History Project campus research directors

November 7, 2023

Faculty members Camron Michael Amin, James W. Cook, and Lisa M. Lapeyrouse will lead the Inclusive History Project’s research activities spanning the Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Flint campuses.

IHP is the yearslong project to study, document and better understand the university’s history with respect to diversity, equity and inclusion.

The directors will provide leadership to envision and execute new research projects that illuminate U-M’s full history as well as the history of each campus. They also will serve on the IHP’s executive committee and help to steer the project’s overall direction. Each research director will serve for two years.

“We are excited to be joined by our three colleagues,” said IHP co-chair Earl Lewis, the Thomas C. Holt Distinguished University Professor of History, Afroamerican and African Studies and Public Policy; professor of history and of Afroamerican and African studies in LSA; professor of public policy in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy; and director of the Center for Social Solutions.

“Their backgrounds, visions and energy will be critical to realizing the expansive ambitions of the Inclusive History Project, and the projects they lead will help us all better understand the university’s full history.”

Amin, professor of Middle East and Iranian diaspora studies in UM-Dearborn’s College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters, will lead efforts on the Dearborn campus.

His earliest research focused on state feminism in Iran, with additional work on Iranian press and media in the 20th century. His recent work has been in oral history, Iranian diaspora studies, and survey-based research.

Cook, professor of history and of American culture in LSA, will lead efforts on the Ann Arbor campus.

His work as a cultural and intellectual historian has ranged across areas including popular and mass culture, the history of the global culture industries, the interrelation of culture and capitalism, urban history and African American art, ideas and politics.

In his recent work as chair of the Department of History, Cook also played a central role in developing his department’s DEI, public engagement and history lab programs.

Lapeyrouse, associate professor of health behavior and health education in UM-Flint’s College of Health Sciences will lead efforts on the Flint campus.

She is a mixed-method researcher whose work focuses on how various social determinants of health — such as race/ethnicity, citizenship status, English-language proficiency and discrimination — contribute to health inequities experienced by Latinx and other vulnerable communities.

Her work uses community-based participatory research methods to establish effective, long-term university-community partnerships centered on fiscal transparency, shared decision-making, and respect for different ways of knowing and doing.

In addition to leading the project’s research activities, the directors will coordinate research staff, including postdoctoral fellows and student researchers; collaborate with colleagues leading projects related to the IHP; and facilitate communications with community-based research projects and activities.

The IHP aims to examine received histories, recontextualize existing narratives and center heretofore ignored stories. Each year, the IHP will launch research projects that fall under one of four essential themes that provide a structure for the project’s wide-ranging research.

Projects beginning this fall include an exploration of the origins of UM-Dearborn.

“It has become even more clear to us that our campus, like UM-Flint, is integral to the larger story of U-M’s efforts to extend opportunities to more communities in the state,” Amin said.

Efforts underway on the Flint campus include recruitment of faculty and community stakeholders to form a central committee that will help define, shape and prioritize which projects will be undertaken as part of what “we fully expect to be an honest, reflective, and reparative process,” Lapeyrouse said.

The first project on the Ann Arbor campus will take a deeper examination of the land transfer by the Ojibwe, Odawa and Bodewadmi nations in the 1817 Treaty of Fort Meigs that was key to the university’s creation.

“We’re exploring this pivotal transfer of land and resources in relation to the broader histories of U.S. settler colonialism and Native American land dispossession, as well as its place in tribal histories, collective memory, student activism and subsequent legal claims,” Cook said.

Other emerging IHP project sites include the next phases of the African American Student Project, in partnership with the Bentley Historical Library; and the long history of cultural performances, politics and student activism at Hill Auditorium, in partnership with the University Musical Society and the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, with more to come.

“This fall marks an exciting new phase in our work,” said IHP co-chair Elizabeth R. Cole, University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor; professor of psychology, of women’s and gender studies, and of Afroamerican and African studies in LSA; and director of the National Center for Institutional Diversity.

“The support and leadership the directors of research bring to the project will enrich our capacity to investigate our university’s history and ultimately, to inform reparative measures to make our campuses more welcoming and inclusive. We are excited to share more information and welcome people into the project as the research unfolds.”

This article was written by Lauren Love, Public Affairs