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Hammond Uses Kluge Fellowship for Research at the Library of Congress

by | Feb 25, 2019 | Blog, Field Notes

Kelly Hammond, assistant professor of history in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, was recently awarded a Kluge Fellowship from the Kluge Center in the Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress is quite spectacular. I usually work in my office in the Kluge Center, which is in the north wing of the Jefferson Building, one of the three buildings that make up the main complex of the Library in downtown Washington DC. But if I need a change of pace, I’ll head over to the Asian Reading Room in the Jefferson Building. Each area of study has a separate reading room, like the European Reading Room, the African and Middle East Reading Room, and the Science and Technology Reading Room. They all have very different aesthetic feels, so depending on your mood, you can choose to read or study wherever you want.

I work in the Jefferson Building, but regularly venture into the tunnels underground that connect the three buildings and the Library to Congress. I mostly use the tunnels to get over to the cafeteria that is located in the Madison Building. This is one of the best perks of doing research at the Library and a well-known “secret” among staffers and lobbyists who work on The Hill: the Library of Congress has the best cafeteria around! Apart from this unexpected bonus, there are two other perks of being a Kluge Fellow: I get books delivered directly to my office! And, along with Members of Congress, Kluge Fellows are the only people who are allowed to check books out from the Library of Congress.

There are currently around 30 fellows in residence in the center. As an interdisciplinary center, there are academics working on all kinds of projects: from a philosopher who is exploring the intellectual limits of AI to an ethnomusicologist who is tracking early recordings of Irish folk music in America. Overall, the Center provides a great intellectual space to think and work on our own materials using the incredible collections available at the Library of Congress.

Kelly Hammond in the hallway leading to the Asian Reading Room and the Congressional Reading Room

For my own work, there are a number of collections held exclusively in the Library of Congress. There are also some digitized collections which are only available onsite to researchers. For instance, the other day, I was exploring the vast collection of books that were banned by the Japanese government during the 1930s. Most of them had to do with socialism or anarchism, or were critical of fascism. The books that I am using generally only exist in one or two places, and the Library of Congress does not release them for ILL. In another instance, while doing research, I came across an extremely rare copy of a 1941 edition of a Japanese book. It is a reprint of a book written by a Chinese Muslim in the seventeenth century with a commentary by a Japanese Pan-Asianist named Tanaka Ippei. These types of books are only found in one or two libraries around the world, and because they are so specialized, there is no rush to digitize them. I’m probably the only person who has requested this book in the past twenty years!

I am using my time as a Kluge Fellow to research and write three separate journal articles as a springboard for thinking more deeply about how I plan to approach my second book. The first paper is called, “Cold War Mosque: the Taipei Mosque as a Geopolitical Space.” It examines the early social and political history of the first mosque built after the Chinese Nationalists retreated to Taiwan after they were defeated by the Chinese Communists. I will present this paper at an invited symposium in April at the Center for Global Islamic Studies at George Mason University.

The second article is titled, “Rehe: Japanese Imperial Visions of Qing Borderland Spaces.” Rehe was the imperial hunting grounds for the Qing Empire. It is located around 300 miles north of Beijing. At Rehe, the Qianlong emperor built to-scale replicas of all of the important religious buildings in his empire, such as the Tibetan Potala Temple. The complex covers thousands of acres, contains around 30 religious-replica buildings, along with one of the largest Chinese-style gardens in North China, and one of the largest wooden Buddhas in the world. Rehe was also the scene of a strategic Japanese victory over the Chinese during World War II. I’m investigating the ways that Japanese bureaucrats—who were busy trying to define and defend their own imperial space—wrote about this massive display of Qing power and authority on the margins of empire.

Finally, I’m also working on an article called, “Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: The Red Crescent and Decisions Concerning Aid Distribution During the Cold War.” This article explores the ways that a supra-national Islamic organization (similar to the Red Cross) decided which Muslims were deserving of relief. For instance, were Shia Muslims less likely to receive aid from the Red Crescent? Or, were Indonesian Muslims considered “less Islamic” than Middle Eastern Muslims, and therefore less deserving of aid?

I have also been using my time here to collect primary sources to use in my classes from the incredible online databases that are available in the Library of Congress. For instance, I downloaded and catalogued an entire collection of late-Meiji Japanese woodblock prints of technological innovations and Japanese impressions of foreigners to use for an assignment in my Modern Japan survey this coming fall. I am also collecting all of the newspapers printed in Japanese internment camps during World War II to develop another exercise for both my Modern Japan and Pacific War classes. In this way, my time in DC is also enhancing the courses that I will continue to teach at the University of Arkansas.

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