By Published: May 30, 2023

Fulbright Global Scholar Awards will enable Tim Oakes of geography and Brian Valente-Quinn of French to spend up to a year in travel, study, research and teaching

Tim Oakes and Brian Valente-Quinn have won Fulbright Global Scholar Awards for 2023-24, allowing them to spend up to a year abroad to pursue their studies, develop ongoing research projects and teach courses at other institutions.

The Fulbright Global Scholar Award allows U.S. academics and professionals to engage in multi-country, trans-regional projects. The Fulbright Scholar Program, funded by the U.S. State Department, is designed to “expand and strengthen the relationships between the people of the United States and citizens of the rest of the world.” 

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Brian Valente-Quinn is a specialist of Francophone African theater and literature. His research focuses on the interplay of theatrical performance with contemporary societal issues such as decoloniality, immigration, diversity, and the various threats of extremism found across a range of national contexts.

Oakes, a professor in the University of Colorado Boulder’s Geography Department, will be developing his research project: “The hinterlands of global China: infrastructures of life beyond the urban.” He describes the project as a continuation and extension of his previous project, “China Made,” which has been ongoing since 2018. 

China Made focuses on Chinese investments in infrastructure development, both in China and Southeast Asia. Oakes is project lead but works with researchers all over the globe throughout Canada, Europe, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Oakes’ research centers around “urbanization, most recently new towns and new cities in areas that were most recently rural farmland in China.” Since 2020, Oakes has been unable to continue his research in China because of that country’s COVID-19 restrictions, so he will expand to surrounding countries for his Fulbright research.

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Tim Oakes is an expert in his field. He focuses on social and cultural transformation in contemporary China and, in particular, the uses and reinventions of local culture as a resource for economic development and governance objectives.

Oakes will travel to Oslo, Norway, to work with fellow researchers, then go to Singapore to continue “laying the foundations of the project and getting it started,” Oakes said. He is particularly interested in “digital infrastructures that China has been building in recent years, and how those projects impact the surrounding areas where they are made,” Oakes said.

Valente-Quinn, a professor in CU’s French and Italian Department, will pursue his research in Francophone African literature and culture to address “questions of immigration and decoloniality in contemporary France and West Africa,” Valente-Quinn said. His research focus is Francophone theater and performance in West Africa.

“After spending years researching in Senegal, my proposal to Fulbright was that I want to take a more transnational perspective and broaden my research to countries like Mali, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire.” 

“I am interested in the question of extremism, and how these theater makers define extremism and bring the public together to address the threat of extremism in their own countries and in a global context. This is a current topic in Francophone Africa—not only because of terrorist threats in France—but because of extremist movements and rulership in some West African countries,” Valente-Quinn said.

He will teach a graduate seminar in Francophone African theater and performance, and another on theories of performance in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, at the Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny. 

Both professors said they are excited and honored to be awarded the Fulbright, and hope to use the next academic year to broaden the scope of their research, teach in new universities and collaborate with fellow researchers to continue building their projects.