Jim Meriweather and Lydia DixonMay 10, 2024 - CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) Associate Professor of Health Science Lydia Dixon and Professor of History Jim Meriwether will both travel overseas in Spring of 2025 on Fulbright Scholar Awards.

Dixon is headed to Edinburgh, Scotland to research rural midwifery practices and Meriwether is off to Budapest, Hungary to lecture to American Studies classes and to continue to research his current project “1956: Freedom Struggles Crossing Continents.”

Dixon’s area of research has largely been rural midwifery in Mexico, but when she saw the opportunity in Scotland, she thought an immersion in Scottish rural midwifery might bring her research an interesting perspective. She will be connected with Edinburgh Napier University (ENU), which has one of the largest midwifery programs in Scotland.

“The UK is having a crisis around getting enough rural maternity care in general because it’s hard to train people in the cities and convince them to go to work in small towns,” Dixon said. “This new post graduate program is designed to train nurses who are already living in small rural towns using online education and periodic clinical rotations at approved sites.”

Mexico, Dixon said, is having a similar problem, but with more pushback from the medical community.

“In Scotland with the national health system and ubiquity of midwifes, they’re not fighting such an uphill battle,” Dixon said. “I’m fascinated to find out how differently midwives are viewed in Scotland.”

Meriwether’s fellowship in Budapest brings his research full circle as he traces an arc of human rights struggles in and around 1956, from Montgomery, Alabama to Pretoria, South Africa to Budapest. One of the elemental questions Meriwether hopes to research is, what was it about 1956 that had several parts of the world seeing human rights struggles?

“I think historians grapple with that,” Meriwether said. ‘What’s in the water? What’s making 1956 such a moment for these struggles for greater rights and freedom?

Much of Meriwether’s work up until now has been exploring connections between the civil rights movement and African liberation struggles.  This work looks into the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott of 1955-56 ignited by the arrest of a Black woman, Rosa Parks, for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. Pastor Martin Luther King Jr. emerged from heart of the protests as one of America’s prominent civil rights icons.

Meanwhile, in Pretoria South Africa, systemized racism called apartheid dictated what Black citizens could and could not do. In 1956, about 20,000 women marched to the government buildings in Pretoria to protest the government’s control over the movement of Black women in urban areas.

And in Europe, the 1956 Hungarian Revolution protested oppression from the Soviet Union.

“Europe is adding a new dimension to my research,” Meriwether said. “In Budapest, I’m going to look deeply into the archives and into the oral histories of that period of time to find out more about transnational connections taking place.”

As a László Országh Distinguished Scholar in American Studies in the Fulbright Scholar Program, Meriwether will spend the Spring 2025 semester at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) in Budapest. Founded in 1635, ELTE is the leading and longest continuously operating university in Hungary.

This is Meriwether’s third Fulbright award with the first one taking him to Zimbabwe and the next one to Kenya. Meriwether loves the international perspective the Fulbright experiences bring him, and the value it adds to his teaching.

“Living and working in an international setting reminds us how wide and wonderful our world is,” Meriwether said. “And it’s wonderful to bring some of that perspective back to campus.”

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