NCIS Welcomes Seven New Members

NCIS welcomes new members Amy Absher, Michel Accad, Lisa Cardyn, Elizabeth Everton, Thomas E. Kail, Angela Shaw-Thornburg, and Steven Williams.

  • Amy Absher is a historian, writer, and teacher specializing in the 20th century African American Experience.
  • Michel Accad, M.D., a physician practicing cardiology and internal medicine, holds a part-time faculty appointment at the University of California San Francisco-Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Dr. Accad’s areas of scholarly interest focus on the philosophy of nature and the philosophy of medicine (ontology, epistemology, and ethics of medical care). As an independent scholar, Dr. Accad has been publishing reports and full-length scholarly articles in peer-reviewed journals since 2010.
  • Lisa Cardyn, Ph.D., J.D., is a U.S. historian whose work has focused on the history of sexualized racial violence and sexual trauma from the Reconstruction through the mid-20th century. Dr. Cardyn received her Ph.D. and J.D. degrees from Yale and is an adjunct professor at Berkeley and Stanford.
  • Elizabeth Everton holds a Ph.D. from UCLA in modern European history, with subfields in French history, cultural history, and women's history/women's studies. After completing her degree in 2011, Dr. Everton worked as an adjunct professor in history, liberal studies, and women's studies for five years. In May 2016, Dr. Everton began working full time as a training program manager for a large corporation and plans to continue to research, write, and publish in history as an independent scholar.
  • Thomas E. Kail, Ph.D., has served in a variety of leadership roles in higher education, including as founding dean of the College of Continuing and Professional Studies (2003-2008) at Mercer University and as associate provost for adult programs (1995-2003) at Westgate Center for Management and Development in the School of Business and Public Administration at the University of the Pacific, where he served as interim dean, associate dean, and founding director (1985-1995).
  • Angela Shaw-Thornburg teaches and writes about African-American and American literature and culture. She also works as an educational consultant and freelance editor.
  • Steven Williams is an independent scholar with more than 20 years research experience, including two archeological excavations. His area of focus is the “deep past” of Bronze Age/Iron Age societies of Northern Europe. Originally trained as a literary historian, Williams has broadened his expertise to include archaeology and history. In particular, he has studied and written about Roman literature, early British history, and the history and archaeology of “Celtic” Britain and Ireland. Mr. Williams holds an MBA in Organizational Behavior from the Harvard Business School, an M.A. in Medieval English literature from Princeton University, and a B.A. in Medieval Studies from Queens College, CUNY. 

Is ‘Independent Scholar’ What You Call Yourself?

NCIS is crossposting the following discussion from our Facebook page which reflects upon Julie Enzer’s article in Inside Higher Ed, “What Shall I Call Myself?”

As Enzer writes:

"Many people use Independent Scholar. Perhaps I will settle on that designation as it seems to be an emerging convention for scholars outside of academia. For now, however, Independent Scholar feels like a statement of defeat: independent, because I was unable to secure an academic position. Though, of course, it is accurate."

[Enzer’s full article is here.] To add your comment, please visit the NCIS Facebook page.

Here is the ensuing comment thread on the NCIS Facebook page:

Freda Blake Bradley: I understand this author’s sentiments. I teach college history, yes, but they do not fund my research. That isn’t 100% bad, though, because they also have no vested interest in the outcome. In American history right now, gender history and “racial” histories are the most popular. Neither of those are my “passion” although I’ve taught in both areas. My passion is Appalachian history and environmental history—but it’s hard to find funding for the latter in my region. The former, however, is relatively easily funded by my state SHOULD I wish to do that and they don’t care if you’re a professional, have a PhD, or have a high school diploma IF you fit their needs.

So, as the author said, do I negotiate my title or leverage my topic? I’d prefer to leverage my topic. Therefore, I choose to “title myself” with a third option. I tell people I am a “professional historian” because that’s what I am. IF they ask who funds my research, I tell them that although I teach in higher education, they do not fund our research at my institution. (then I follow with, “. . .but I do accept donations to my work” which is usually followed by crickets—lol).

However, I’m also a historic reenactor. For many years, I’ve been researching and presenting two first person characters….begun before my degree. Many historic reenactors are not professional historians…….they are hobbyists. I’m also a genealogist. Many genealogists “feel” they are historians, but they are not….they are hobbyists. Again, do I leverage my degree or my topic? In this case, I DO leverage my degree. It’s necessary to set me apart—especially in the reenactor field.

What do I put on MY taxes? I use “adjunct faculty” because that’s where the lion’s share of my income comes from. To the IRS, that’s what’s important….they don’t care what my “title is.” All they care is does my blank on the IRS form match my W2 or 1099….and adjunct faculty matches.

So, I think the answer is what do you need to leverage and why? Am I professional? Yes. So, I choose professional historian. It fits all my needs currently. Am I an independent scholar? Yes, but that doesn’t leverage me in the boxes above, so I don’t use it. I WILL use it when I need it, but for the boxes above, other things fit better.

Joan Cunningham: I first came upon "Independent Scholar" when Googling the term "Private Scholar", encountered in a book by Alexander McCall Smith describing a female anthropologist character, who had no visible means of research or even personal support. As is typical of Smith's writing, she was treated gently and with respect, and I was endeared to her. Finding myself sometime later formally retired from academia, I thought that maybe I, too, could be a Private Scholar. The term has a certain dignity and sense of freedom from the politics and perversities of the academy. Of course this side of the pond the term turns out to be "Independent Scholar", which somehow does not have the same dignity.

But as I hear about more scientists,frustrated and disgusted with academic research, forming their own research companies and competitively obtaining funding from sources INCLUDING THE NIH, the term Independent Scholar becomes not one of defeat and failure but rather of, well, independence and pride. The meaning of the term should come from us. If we feel "less than", then we are. It is up to us. But for Independent Scholars to be respected by academics from the academy, we will need to uphold very high standards for our work.

Karen Garvin: Yes, "Independent Scholar" should be a badge of honor, not embarrassment. No one owns you, and as Freda Blake Bradley mentioned, if the current "hot topics" in your area of scholarship don't interest you then you can steer your research in whatever direction you want to go.

Of course funding is always an issue. I'd love to hole up in the British Library for a few months but it's unrealistic for me at this point in time. But I'm not writing the idea off!

Amanda Haste: Well said, Joan Cunningham. For me it's all about professional integrity. And as I used to tell my music students, you need to be professional, a term which has nothing to do with whether you're paid but has everything to do with how you conduct yourself, and how you approach your work, whether that be
performance or research.

Karen Garvin: I haven't really given much thought to a title. I suppose "Historian" is all I really need. I am an independent scholar, but that doesn't have to be my title.

I don't accept "Independent Scholar" as a defeat, though. Not everyone can or wants to work in academia, and the rarefied atmosphere can quickly become suffocating if you find that you don't meet others' expectations of what you should be researching -- or the conclusions you draw from your research.

So, "independent" means exactly that. Free to follow your own interests, research the sources you want to delve into, and ask questions -- and even question the ivory tower, too. Perhaps it's not a way to win friends in academia, but academia does not own scholarship. At least, it shouldn't.

Amanda Haste: I teach several courses at a university as a vacataire (equivalent to adjunct faculty) but as they're not really connected to my research, and as I have no job security and no funding for my research I still choose to describe myself as an independent scholar. And I'm proud of it! As you say, it represents freedom. ☺

Ancient Asia Accepting Submissions for 2016

Ancient Asia, the official continuous publication journal of the Society of South Asian Archaeology (SOSAA), is now accepting submissions for publication for 2016. The journal primarily publishes research papers but also welcome book reviews and short reports.  Please note: Article Processing Charges (APC) apply. To encourage submissions from developing regions, waivers are granted on a tiered basis according to the country the author's institution is based. 

Ancient Asia is a fully peer-reviewed, open access journal. The journal publishes as soon as articles are ready, meaning there is no delay in research being released.

The scope of Ancient Asia is vast - from Stone Age to the Modern times, including archaeology, history, anthropology, art, architecture, numismatics, iconography, ethnography, various scientific aspects including archaeobotany and archaeozoology, and theoretical and methodological issues. Its goals include highlighting underserved research areas, such as the North Eastern States of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Central Asia, Iran, etc.

Topics that are encouraged for submission are (but not exclusively):

  • Prehistory
  • Physical Anthropology
  • Environmental Archaeology
  • Proto and Early History
  • Settlement Archaeology
  • Maritime Archaeology
  • Industrial Archaeology
  • Art History
  • Ancient Architecture
  • Epigraphy
  • Heritage Management and Conservation
  • Ancient Technology and Computer Application
  • Museum Studies and Development
  • Religion
  • Trade
  • Folklore and Ethnology

Onine submissions accepted via journal website. See Author Guidelines for further information. Alternatively, please contact the editorial team for more information.

Ancient Asia is published by Ubiquity Press. For more information, please, see here.

2016 Evental Aesthetics

Call for Papers

The Editors of Evental Aestheticsa peer reviewed journal of philosophical perspectives on aesthetic practice and experience, are pleased to announce the following call for papers for 2016. The journal is completely open-access: we charge no fees to either our authors or our readers. We are also completely independent: the journal is unaffiliated with any institution.  We welcome submissions in English from independent and institutionally affiliated scholars worldwide.

Summer & Fall 2016 – Aesthetic Inquiries:

All issues of EA include a section called “Aesthetic Inquiries,” which features a selection of articles from outside the current theme.  Contributions to this section may address philosophical matters pertaining to any aesthetic practice or experience, including but not limited to art and everyday aesthetics.  In 2016, we will invite submissions for two theme-free issues entitled “Aesthetic Inquiries.”

Deadline for consideration in Summer 2016 issue: 28 February, 2016.

Deadline for consideration in Fall 2016 issue: 30 June, 2016.
Winter 2016 – Sound Art and Environment:  Deadline: 31 October, 2016
Guest Editor: Gascia Ouzounian
Suggested topics:

  • Sound art and ontologies of space, place, and/or sociality
  • Sound art and landscape, environment, geography, urban and public space
  • Sound art and experimental approaches to architecture, planning, and mapping
  • Sound art in remote or contested places, including conflict or post-conflict zones and under-served communities
  • Sound art and biopolitics; new approaches to ecology and acoustic ecology; sound art and environmental activism
  • Sound art and the non-human world

Topics may be freely interpreted.  However, all submissions must address philosophical matters.

The Winter issue will also include an "Aesthetic Inquiries" section (see above).

We welcome articles (4000-8000 words), Collisions (1000-2500 words), and proposals for our Reading section.  Please visit for submission requirements and instructions, including details on Collisions and Reading proposals.  For questions not covered by the site, contact the Editors at

Alexandra Wimberly Wins Dorbrecht Grant for Scientific Research

Alexandra Wimberly, NCIS member, was awarded $1,800 from the Dorbrecht Grant of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund for her research project, Yoga Intervention for Substance Use and Antiretroviral Therapy Adherence in Community Reentry. The randomized controlled trial will explore yoga’s impact on the well-being of people in reentry from prison or jail with HIV and substance use problems. Findings will inform the development of substance use interventions for this population.

Alexandra is a doctoral student in Social Welfare at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice.

SPARC Advocates Open Access for Scholarly Resources

"SPARC®, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, is an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication. SPARC believes that faster and wider sharing of the outputs of the scholarly research process increases the impact of research, fuels the advancement of knowledge, and increases the return on research investments. SPARC focuses on taking action in collaboration with stakeholders – including authors, publishers, and libraries – to build on the unprecedented opportunities created by the networked digital environment to advance the conduct of scholarship.

See more.

Dorbrecht Grant Recipient Publishes Research

Edith Brotman has recently published Mussar Yoga: Blending an Ancient Jewish Spiritual Practice with Yoga to Transform Body and Soul (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2014), using research funded by the Dorbrecht grant.  

Book abstract

While there are no statistics on the number of Jews participating in so-called Eastern religious practices, yoga and Buddhism anecdotally appear popular among liberal Jews in North America and even in Israel. According to Rodger Kamemetz, author of The Jew and the Lotus, the first known American convert to Buddhism in the late 19th century was a Jew named Charles Strauss. In the 1960s and 70s the term Jubu (or interchangeably, Buju) emerged as a way to refer to a person of Jewish religious and ethnic heritage who practices Buddhism in some manner or degree. The term is sometimes ironically used to refer to Jews who simply have a lifestyle that is highly infused with Eastern traditions such as yoga or meditation.

With the seeming rise of interest in yoga, there is growing curiosity and acceptance of spiritual parallels between Judaism and yoga’s philosophy and practices. Mussar Yoga draws on my own research into the similarities of the Jewish tradition of Mussar and yoga to offer a blended practice which draws on the similarities and strengths of the two.

Both Mussar and yoga are products of both the ancient and contemporary worlds. The yoga sutras date from around the Fourth Century CE, but yoga as we know it today is a likely outgrowth of the creation of the modern Indian nation-state. About the same time that the yoga sutras were written, Mussar, which means “instruction” was a recognized ethical discipline. In late nineteenth-century Eastern Europe, the Mussar Movement headed by Rabbi Israel Salantar developed as a community and yeshiva based approach to Mussar study. For many decades Mussar appeared to be another victim of the Holocaust. Currently, however, the practice is experiencing a revival.

The concurrent resurgence of both Mussar and yoga spotlights parallels between the two.  One parallel is the ethical principles—such as truth, zeal, loving kindness, order and moderation.  Another are the methods. Both practices work as conversations between the behaviors of every day life and the precepts of sacred texts. And, meditation, mantras and chanting are employed by both Mussar and yoga. The spotlight also reveals differences as well such a yoga’s greater use of the physical body as template for change, and the Jewish emphasis on action rather than intention.

The book, Mussar Yoga, works as an approachable “how to” manual with a discussion of the two traditions and how together they can facilitate transformation of body and soul.  The book offers insight into thirteen different middot (ethical precepts) from both Jewish and yogic perspectives and includes photos and instructions for yoga poses, suggested mantras and questions for daily journalling.

Conference Travel Grant Award Winners Announced

Congratulations to the winners of the NCIS Conference Support Grants.  The Awards Committee are currently considering the submisions received for the Fall 2015 cycle, and the award winners will be announced by 1 November, 2015. The Awards Committee is now accepting applications for the next grant cycle. Deadline: April 1, 2016.

For more information visit

The following members have been awarded grants:

2014: Neil Dukas and Jolanta Wrobel Best

Dr. Dukas participated in the first NCIS-cosponsored session of the American Historical Association Annual Meeting, “From Surviving to Thriving: Practicing History as an Independent Scholar,” giving a talk entitled, “The Independent Historian and the Questions of 'Academic” Rigor.”

Dr. Wrobel Best presented a paper entitled “Vilnius, Czeslaw Milosz, and Facing the River,” as part of the panel “Like a Pendulum Swinging Back and Forth: Images of Vilnius/Wilno in Polish Culture after 1989,” at the conference of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies.  Unfortunately Dr. Wrobel Best was unable to attend the meeting in person and therefore declined the grant.  She presented her paper remotely.

There were no Research Support Grants awarded in the Fall cycle, due to insufficient entries.

2015: Gary L. Herstein

Dr Herstein was awarded a Conference Support Grant for his paper "Whitehead’s 'Intuitive' Interpretation of Relativity" which he was due to give as part of the "Intuition in Mathematics and Physics" panel at the 2015 International Whitehead Conference "Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization" in Claremont, CA in June 2015.

Independent Scholar Wins MacArthur Foundation Award

Excerpted from The Washington Post article, September 17, 2014:
Pamela Long, 71, an independent scholar based in Washington, works from home and almost never answers her phone. So when she received an e-mail from the MacArthur Foundation asking her to call, she thought it was for an interview about someone else who had been nominated. Then she was told she had won. In the days that followed, her initial reaction — shock — slowly gave way to relief.
As a historian not affiliated with a university, she never knows how she will afford to do her work — research on the science and technology of 15th- and 16th-century Europe — from year to year. So far she has supported herself through grants. “But I don’t think you can get a grant every year for the rest of your entire life,” she said on a video call from Rome, where she is studying archival material for a book tentatively titled “Engineering the Eternal City.”
“Therefore I didn’t quite know how I was going to continue. Even though I was going to continue because I’m obsessed with what I’m doing, so there’s nothing that could really stop me. But it’s a wonderful thing because I don’t have to worry about that anymore.”


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