American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies (AISLS) fellowships

AISLS fellowships support two to six months of research in Sri Lanka by US citizens who already hold a PhD or the equivalent at the time they begin their fellowship tenure. Both scholars with little or no experience in Sri Lanka as well as specialists are encouraged to apply. A list of previous fellows is available. sri-lanka-grants-image

This program is funded by a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US State Department. One competition is held annually.

Eligibility Guidelines

  • Applicants must hold US citizenship.
  • Applicants must hold a PhD or equivalent academic degree or show that they will hold such a degree before taking up the fellowship. Scholars at all ranks are eligible. Members of the AISLS Board of Directors are not eligible. Please see the AISLS policy on board membership and fellowships.
  • No individual may be awarded AISLS fellowships for more than seven months over any three consecutive fellowship competitions.
  • Applicants must plan to spend at least two months in Sri Lanka and complete the fellowship (including travel back to the United States) before December 31, 2020. The time in Sri Lanka supported by the fellowship need not be continuous (e.g., it might be divided between the summers of 2019 and 2020), but only one round trip airfare will be reimbursed.

Fellowship Benefits

  • A per diem of $3,700/month, for a period of two to six months.
  • Reimbursement for round trip airfare between the United States and Colombo, for an amount up to $2,000. Travel must comply with the Fly America Act.  Details will be provided to successful applicants.
  • A very limited budget for research expenses, to be negotiated according to need and funding limitations. Fellows will be required to provide documentation for these expenses.

Competition Criteria

Projects in all fields in the social sciences and humanities are eligible. Proposals in other areas that contribute to the understanding of Sri Lankan history, culture, or society are also invited. Applicants need not have prior research experience in Sri Lanka. Proposals will be judged on their quality, on the extent to which they fall into one of the targeted categories listed below, and on their potential to strengthen US scholarship on Sri Lanka and develop links between US and Sri Lankan scholars. All applications, including those from US citizens resident outside the United States, must address all three of these criteria.

Applicants should apply for whatever length of tenure between two and six months best suits their research needs and personal schedules. There is no competitive advantage in applying for a shorter award. However, AISLS may offer a fellowship for a shorter period than that requested.

Targeted Categories

All proposals should fall into one of the following categories:

  • Proposals by scholars with an established interest in Sri Lanka, who can show that their research will contribute to the understanding of historical or contemporary connections with other parts of the world. Such connections may take the form of substantive links, or they make take the form of relating processes or events in Sri Lanka to analogous processes and events elsewhere.
  • Proposals by scholars whose primary interest is not in Sri Lanka, but who wish to include consideration of Sri Lanka as part of a wider project.
  • Proposals by scholars whose primary interest has not been in Sri Lanka, but who wish to undertake, or examine the feasibility of undertaking, a major research project there.

Application Contents

The completed application should contain the following items:

  • A one-page cover sheet, stating your name, mailing address, email address, office telephone, home telephone, citizenship, major field of study, institutional affiliation (if any), dates (if any) of previous research in Sri Lanka, length of award requested, tentative dates of project, project title, and a brief project description.
  • A curriculum vitae, not to exceed three pages. AISLS seeks to attract a diverse pool of applicants. To assist AISLS in monitoring its efforts in this regard, applicants may, on a voluntary basis, include information on such matters as gender and race/ethnicity.
  • A description of the proposed study, not to exceed three single-spaced pages. This is the most important part of the application. It should cover the following topics:
    1. questions to be addressed by the project
    2. the approach to be taken
    3. work done to date
    4. work to be accomplished during the fellowship period
    5. the applicant’s competence to carry out the project
    6. how the project addresses the criteria of the competition
    7. a statement of other support received or being sought for the project
  • A one-page project bibliography, including a selected list of publications by other scholars or primary sources that have been or will be used in the project.

Application Format

  • Pages should have one-inch margins on all sides.
  • Type size should be 10 points or larger.
  • Applications should be submitted by email. This should be in the form of a single Word or PDF file. Applications materials should be collated in the order given above (cover sheet, c.v., project description, bibliography). We do not request or accept reference letters.

Deadlines, Selection, and Notification

Applications must be sent by December 1, 2018. They will be reviewed by specialist readers, whose assessments will be taken into account in the final deliberations of the Selection Committee. Awards will be announced by early March, 2019.

Applications should be sent to:
John Rogers, US Director, AISLS:  rogersjohnd [at]

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