ARIZONA NEWS

Tempe anthropologist, Tucson writer chosen for MacArthur Fellowships, aka ‘genius grants’

Oct 4, 2023, 11:00 AM | Updated: 11:11 am

Tempe anthropologist Amber Wutich and Tucson fiction writer Manuel Muñoz pose in separate photos. ...

Tempe anthropologist Amber Wutich and Tucson fiction writer Manuel Muñoz were chosen to receive fellowships known as “genius grants,” the MacArthur Foundation announced Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023. (John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Photos)

(John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Photos)

PHOENIX – Two Arizonans — an anthropologist and a writer — have been chosen to receive the prestigious fellowships known as “genius grants,” the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced Wednesday.

The foundation selected 20 people from around the U.S. to receive 2023 MacArthur Fellowships, including Tempe anthropology professor Amber Wutich and Tucson fiction writer Manuel Muñoz.

Each MacArthur Fellow receives an $800,000 grant over five years with no strings attached to how the money is spent.

Who is MacArthur Fellow Amber Wutich?

Wutich, an expert on the impact of water insecurity, is director of the Center for Global Health within Arizona State University’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change.

“Global water insecurity will worsen as climate change destroys infrastructure, displaces populations and intensifies inequalities,” she said on the MacArthur Foundation website.

“We can learn from how humans have survived water insecurity, across cultures and across human history, to overcome our own water challenges.”

Who is MacArthur Fellow Manuel Muñoz?

Muñoz is a professor in the University of Arizona’s English department. He is known for writing stories about life in Mexican American communities in California’s Central Valley.

“My community is too often regarded in narrow, shallow dimensions. The short stories I write are proof to the world that we are as complex and complicated as art demands and that our lives belong in works of art,” he said.

“My stories are not essays or tracts, nor do they merely refute bias or prejudice. They are evidence of our existence and the very human emotions that coil around our lives.”

How does MacArthur Foundation select genius grant recipients?

According to the MacArthur Foundation’s website, the fellowships are awarded “to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.”

Recipients are nominated and endorsed by their peers and communities through an often yearslong process that the foundation oversees. They do not apply and are never officially interviewed for the fellowship before it’s awarded.

More than 1,100 people have received MacArthur Fellowships since the program began in 1981.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Tempe anthropologist, Tucson writer chosen for MacArthur Fellowships, aka ‘genius grants’