Dr. Andrew Amstutz, assistant professor of history at UA Little Rock, has completed two fellowships in the past two years that have allowed him to continue his historical research and to develop new history courses at UA Little Rock that deal with public history and the history of epidemics.
During the fall 2021 semester, Amstutz was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University. The fellowship allowed Amstutz to live and work in a scholarly community and conduct research for an upcoming book that he is working on about the history of the Urdu language, experiments with printing techniques, and how the Urdu language is connected to the history of science education in India.
“The second thing that came out of the fellowship was a new class I taught in 2022, Plagues to Pandemics,” Amstutz said. “Many of the ideas for this course grew out of the research and conversations I had at the Institute for Advanced Study. It was a course about the global history of epidemics around the world. It was a great course, and I got excellent student responses.”
In the second fellowship, Amstutz received a fellowship from the American Institute of Pakistan Studies to investigate archival records on Pakistan that are housed in Italy for a book he is writing. His research focuses on the history of the collaborations between Italy and Pakistan in the 1950s and 1960s in Buddhist archaeological excavations in the ancient region of Gandhara, a site in northwest Pakistan (and Afghanistan), and on the global circulation of Buddhist art from South Asia.
Amstutz traveled to Italy during summer 2022, where he conducted research in archives and museums in Naples, Trieste, and Rome.
“People don’t normally think of Pakistan and Italy as being connected,” he said. “One significant tie in the 20h century is that Italian museum curators, scholars, and archeologists got involved in archeology in Pakistan after the end of British rule in the country. This collaboration between Italy and Pakistan began in 1955 with the founding of the Italian Archeological Mission to Pakistan. That became the central conduit of this relationship between museums, archeology, and history between these two countries.”
Amstutz said the most memorable thing about his fellowship to Italy, in addition to the delicious food, was the ability to study the history of Pakistan and the Indian subcontinent from the perspective of Italian archives.
“That was tremendously meaningful for me,” he said. “This was a lovely research opportunity, and it was exciting to do research about South Asian history in a very unexpected place.”
In addition to his book project, Amstutz will also use what he learned during his research trip to Italy as part of his Intro to Public History and Museum Interpretation classes at UA Little Rock.