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Press Release

Jonathan Potts

For immediate release:
May 15, 2003

Carnegie Mellon History Professor Receives Grant to Support Education Research

PITTSBURGH—The National Academy of Education has awarded Paul Eiss, an assistant professor of history and anthropology at Carnegie Mellon University, a $50,000 grant to fund his proposal to investigate the history of indigenous education in southeastern Mexico.

Eiss is one of 34 scholars nationwide selected this year to be a National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow. The program is funded by the Spencer Foundation. Now in its 18th year, the program's alumni include some of the most prominent education researchers in the nation.

Eiss will study indigenous education in Yucatan from 1880 to 1940 and the role that education played in liberal reforms during Mexico's 20th-century revolutionary period. Reformers viewed education as a nation-building tool that would "de-Indianize" indigenous populations, and it has exerted a vast influence over the relationship Mexico has had with indigenous people, Eiss said. He believes that education reform served as the model for future reforms, which were viewed as "redemptive" for the native populations.

Much of Eiss' previous research has revolved around the revolutionary period, but in the course of his travels in Mexico, including time spent with elementary school teachers in Yucatan, he concluded that a thorough investigation of indigenous education is critical to making sense of the period's political and social reforms.

Often, Spencer fellows are drawn from education schools, or have focused on education as their primary research area.

"What's unique about this for me is they chose to award this to me based on what for me is a newly emerging research interest," Eiss said.


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