Andrew W. Mellon East-Central European Research Fellows
Fellowships in the Humanities
1993 to 2010, the program of fellowships enabled Bulgarian, Czech,
Estonian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian and Slovak
humanities and allied social sciences to carry out research at institutes
study in other countries. Fellows were funded for short-term residencies
at one of the seventeen designated institutes in Austria, England,
France, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Jordan, the Netherlands,
Scotland, Spain, Turkey, and Yemen.
The fellowships were intended to serve younger scholars who had already
obtained a Ph.D. or had equivalent experience and who wished to undertake
a specific research project at one of the participating institutes.
Each institute issued its own announcement and handled all matters concerning
application and selection.
This initiative was coordinated by The Council of American Overseas
Research Centers and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The following participating institutes received Andrew W. Mellon East-Central
European Research Fellows.
- American Academy in Rome (AAR)
- American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR)
- American Institute for Yemeni Studies (AIYS)
- American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS)
- American Research Institute in Turkey (ARIT)
- American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA)
- Centre for Advanced Study (CAS)
- Fondation Maison des Sciences de L'Homme (FMSH)
- Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbuttel (HAB)
- Institute for Human Sciences (IWM)
- Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and
Social Sciences (NIAS)
- Superior Council of Scientific Research (CSIC)
- The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH)
- The Warburg Institute (WAR)
- Villa I Tatti - The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance
- W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research (AIAR)
- Wissenschaftskolleg Zu Berlin (WSK)
In the early 1990s, after the demise of communist regimes in East
and Central Europe, one of the academic community’s most urgent
priorities was to reconnect scholars in these countries with
their counterparts in the West. This was especially important in
since scholars in these areas had been essentially cut off
with the West during the communist era. Focusing on the humanities
also enabled us to address the bias being shown by public and
sources to support the fields of policy, economics, development,
and natural sciences in East and Central Europe. To address this,
W. Mellon Foundation awarded the Council of American Overseas
Research Centers (CAORC) an initial grant of $650,000 in June
1992 to establish
and coordinate a program of residencies for East-Central European
humanities scholars at institutes of advanced study in Western
grants (totaling $10.2 million) from the Mellon Foundation,
as well as interest income generated from grant funds, enabled the
to continue to award fellowships through 2010.
The Mellon Program was conceived as an initial step toward integrating
younger (PhDs under 40 years old) Czech, Hungarian, Polish, and Slovak
humanities scholars into the broader European academic community
from which they had been effectively excluded during the previous
four decades. At the request of the participating institutes, we
later expanded the Mellon Program to include scholars from Bulgaria,
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Romania.
The goals of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation East-Central European
Research Fellows Program were to:
- Reconnect scholars and re-establish scholarly communications
between East/Central and West European scholars and institutions
the demise of communism in East and Central Europe;
- Help these researchers
create new networks in their home countries and throughout
East and Central Europe; and
- Develop “tripartite” collaborations
among East, Central, and Western European scholars and institutions.
We structured the Mellon Program in a decentralized way, with implementation
carried out primarily by the participating institutes and CAORC providing
overall program uniformity, administration, financial management,
and reporting. At first, we selected eight institutes to participate:
the American Academy in Rome, American School of Classical Studies
at Athens, Herzog August Bibliothek (Wolfenbuttel, Germany), Maison
des Sciences de L’Homme (Paris), Netherlands Institute for
Advanced Study, Villa I Tatti (Florence, Italy), The Warburg Institute
(London, England), and Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Berlin, Germany).
We later expanded the program to include the American Center for
Oriental Research (Amman, Jordan), W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological
Research (Jerusalem, Israel), American Institute of Indian Studies
(New Delhi, India), American Institute for Yemeni Studies (Sana’a,
Yemen), American Research Institute in Turkey (Istanbul, Turkey),
Council of Scientific Research (Madrid, Spain), Institute for Advanced
Studies in the Humanities (Edinburgh, Scotland), Institute for Human
Sciences (Vienna, Austria), and Center for Advanced Study (Oslo,
In summer and fall 1993, the first 21 fellows began their three-month
residencies at the eight participating institutes. In the final year
of the program, 46 fellows held fellowships at 12 participating institutes.
Overall, from 1993 through 2010, CAORC was able to award almost 700
fellowships to 600 East and Central European humanities scholars.
Every year, each participating institute received far more qualified
applications for fellowships than it could fulfill, primarily because
the Mellon Program represented the only sustained opportunity for
East-Central European scholars in the humanities and related social
sciences to carry out intensive research through residencies at institutes
of advanced study in and beyond Western Europe. It is a measure of
both the program’s success and the participating institutes’ commitment
to the program that some funded additional fellowships from the institutes’ own
limited budgets for some of the unsuccessful applicants for the Mellon
Program who nonetheless submitted impressive applications.
year of the Mellon Program, we awarded fellowships to scholars
in Anthropology, Arab Studies, Archaeology, Art History,
Assyriology, Classical Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature/Literary
Studies, Philology, Philosophy, Post-Classical Humanistic Studies,
and Sociology. Over the 17 years of the Mellon Program, the fields
of scholars’ interest expanded to include Aesthetics, Architectural
History, Biblical Studies, Business & International Studies,
Byzantine Studies, Economics/Economic History, Education, Egyptology,
Epigraphy, Ethnography, Ethnology, Ethnomusicology, Folklore, Gender
Studies, Information Technology, Jewish Studies, Legal Studies, Musicology,
Paleoanthropology, Political Science, Psycholinguistics, Semiotics,
Theater Studies, Theology, Theory & History of Cinema, Thracology,
and Turkic Studies.
The program continued to grow not only in the number of fellowships
given annually, the number of eligible countries and participating
institutes, and the range of scholarly fields, but also in the type
and number of activities that developed beyond the initial contacts.
These activities included seminars, exhibitions, joint excavations,
publications, colloquia, working groups, partnerships, institutional
co-sponsorships, and a wide variety of formal and informal exchanges,
many of which CAORC was able to support via interest on monies invested.
The wide range of intellectual diversity supported by the Mellon
Program is reflected in the fellows’ fields, in their topic
titles, and in the evolution of their work following their fellowships.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation East-Central European Research
Fellows Program (Mellon Program) was successful in creating a paradigm
in scholarship for East and Central Europe. It had far-reaching
and long-lasting effects on the 600 fellows, their home institutions,
the participating institutes, their geographical regions, and the
international scholarly community
In summer 2007, CAORC convened a roundtable meeting of
Mellon fellows and participating institute representatives at
for Human Sciences in Vienna, Austria, to evaluate the Mellon
Program at that point. The group identified the following as
the Mellon Program’s
greatest successes and unique services to humanities fields
in East and Central Europe:
- The program changed and increased our knowledge of the human
record, especially in European prehistory, Byzantine, and Ottoman
fellows made major contributions to emerging fields, notably state formation
- The fellowships exposed East and Central European humanities
scholars to the diversity of scholarship and types of institutions
in the West,
and subsequently raised the standards of scholarship and research in East
- The Mellon Program may have been the only program that linked
U.S. and East and Central European scholars and institutions.
other program provided European institutions with support for
East and Central European scholars.
- East and Central European scholars
were exposed to “normal” standards
and practices of scholarly study (e.g., research techniques,
access to administrative support), and the program helped them
develop academic resources in their
own countries on their return.
- The fellowships gave East and Central
European scholars their first taste of freedom – to conduct
research without obligations to institutions, free access to
information, free use of libraries, and general and academic
- The flexible post-fellowship aspect of the program
helped connect fellows in their home countries.
- Scholars in related
fields became connected – and became connected
to scholars in other disciplines.
- As the program evolved
to include additional centers in Eastern Europe and the Baltic
countries, Mellon funds were crucial in supporting seminars
on interdisciplinary topics in those countries.
- The program brought
to the forefront important topics in the humanities and social
sciences, with East and Central European scholars researching
essential themes, generating new knowledge, and creating new
- Through the fellows’ work, they disseminated
knowledge and understanding of East and Central European scholarship
to the rest of the scholarly world.
- The concept of an institute
of advanced study is now familiar in East and Central European
academia – and being used as a model.
- Because most U.S.
foundations and government agencies support only U.S. citizens,
the Mellon fellows “internationalized” many overseas
- The Mellon Program gave young scholars
access to resources they didn’t
have in their home institutional libraries. Many of these
scholars made copies of materials they could not access at their
universities and took these materials
back when they returned to East and Central Europe, enriching
their home institutions.