ARC Grants 2006
The 2006 Discovery grants from the Australian Research Council were announced today and there is little surprize that the number of funded grants is down, and that those supported received less funding than previous years: 917 funded grants for 2006 as opposed to 1,055 for 2005; with a success rate of 24.5%, down from 30.9% last year (http://www.arc.gov.au/funded_grants/DP06_SelectionReport.htm)
But this only tells part of the story. By RFCD (Research Fields, Courses and Disciplines Classification) the position is starker: “Language and Culture” the main location of cultural studies scored 26 grants out of 161, or a success rate of 16.1%. “Arts” generally scored little better with 12 out of 68, or 17.6%.
In my own faculty (Arts, UQ) eight projects were funded: three in philosophy, three in history, one in religion, and one in cultural studies (a project about autobiographical writing).
It’s easy to whinge when things don’t go your way, or when you feel that things that are important to you are neglected. But I think that those of us who identify as cultural studies academics have grounds to question what is happening. Is it simply one of those statistical blips that happen from time to time; is it the pendulum swinging back the other way for a bit (cultural studies has grown largely at the expense of history in recent years); or is it evidence of funding priorities focussing on the “traditional” humanities disciplines? No one can doubt the effect conservative commentators such as Andrew Bolt and Miranda Devine have had on the populist Australian government, and maybe this is one of the inevitable outcomes.
It is certainly the case that many cultural studies projects in recent years have questioned the status quo and the compliant mainstream media. Is it too much a conspriacy theory to suggest that we are seeing the first blooms of political interference in the ARC’s hitherto independent agenda?