Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellows

The Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships program awards 65 fellowships annually. The fellowships support a year of research and writing to help advanced graduate students in the humanities and social sciences in the last year of Ph.D. dissertation writing.

This program is made possible by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Read more about this fellowship program.

Please note: affiliations shown are as of time of award. Please click on fellows' names for current information.

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Watch "Emerging Themes and Methods of Research: A Discussion with ACLS Fellows," an annual meeting session featuring recent ACLS fellows. 

Sarah C. Alexander
Sarah C. Alexander  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores the aesthetic implications of mid and late-nineteenth-century fictional and journalistic writing about London street life. In the mid-nineteenth century, the focus of popular writing shifted from the rich to the poor. The shift to what was considered a more socially responsible art also entailed an aestheticization of moral questions. Each chapter of the project focuses on the ways in which Victorian representations of the poor not only challenged social and cultural boundaries, but also served to push against generic categories and literary conventions. The questions that guide this project revolve around the ways in which aesthetics and ethics intersect in Victorian narratives about London street life and poverty.

Doctoral Candidate, English, Rutgers University-New Brunswick  -  London Street Life and Literary Form: Victorian Aesthetics of Poverty

Valeria Manzano
Valeria Manzano  |  Abstract
This dissertation studies how youth became a central cultural and political actor in 1960s and 1970s Argentina. It demonstrates that middle- and working-class young people, albeit in different ways, became the bearers of an Argentine cultural modernization by creating new practices, spaces, and styles of sociability, and by reshaping the realm of consumption. As a consequence of this process, young people also transformed the ways of experiencing gender relations and identities as well as radically changed sexual mores and practices. In addition, young people altered Argentine politics not only by creating and participating in youth political organizations but also by fostering a political culture of contestation that profoundly questioned the terms of citizenship and nationhood.

Doctoral Candidate, Latin American History, Indiana University Bloomington  -  The Making of Youth in Argentina: Culture, Politics, and Sexuality, 1958-1975

Yuen Yuen Ang
Yuen Yuen Ang  |  Abstract
Why has the Chinese bureaucracy grown so dramatically during the reform period, despite a shift from the planned to market economy? This dissertation locates the roots of bureaucratic expansion in China’s anomalous state structure, labeled here as “bureau-contracting.” In China, public bureaucracy is fused with private contracting, creating a tiny core of civil servants and a massive periphery of service-business personnel who administer, organize public services, and run businesses. This dissertation stresses that much of bureaucratic expansion in China is in the “extra-state” sector, while the core government is surprisingly small, if not indeed, too small. The unusual organization of bureaucracy in China has consequences for rent seeking and public services delivery, as well as far-reaching implications for our understanding of modernization, state power, and market development.

Doctoral Candidate, Political Science, Stanford University  -  State, Market, and Bureau-Contracting in Contemporary China

Ashley Marshall
Ashley Marshall  |  Abstract
This study rewrites literary history in the realm of eighteenth-century satire. Scholars have formed their conclusions about eighteenth-century satire on the basis of a very few (unrepresentative) works. They have emphasized uniformity and tidy evolution, describing a “type” of satire developed by Dryden, Swift, Pope, and a few others. This obliterates the amazing heterogeneity of satiric practice in this period—that which made the great age of satire so spectacular. What we are seeing is only the tip of a very grand iceberg. Reading everything, in all genres and in all decades, dramatically changes the way we understand satiric practice in these years.

Doctoral Candidate, English, Pennsylvania State University  -  The Practice of Satire in England, 1650-1770

Kelly E. Arenson
Kelly E. Arenson  |  Abstract
What is the nature of pleasure and its role in the good life? This disseration examines the solution offered by the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus, who held that the highest pleasure is to be without pain. First, this dissertation argues for the view that Epicurus described the absence of pain in terms of the perception of the proper functioning of the organism. On this reading, he understood pleasures like those of taste and sex to be among the best pleasures, for they indicate the presence of the body’s good state. Second, the dissertation argues that, interpreted in this way, Epicureanism can be seen as a response to the anti-hedonism of Plato’s Philebus. Third, it examines the ethical implications of Epicurus' hedonism as it is understood in this dissertation, and contends that he identified a positive role for the body in the good life.

Doctoral Candidate, Philosophy, Emory University  -  Pleasure and the Absence of Pain: Reading Epicurus' Hedonism Through Plato's "Philebus"

Chris Meckstroth
Chris Meckstroth  |  Abstract
This dissertation develops a framework for deciding what makes some social and political reforms "democratic." It rejects the dominant model, which treats democracy as an ideal end-state we should approximate. Instead, democracy should be considered as an ongoing, historical process in which the people refashion their constitution over time. In part one, this study uses philosophical methods to demonstrate a paradox in the end-state model, and examines the history of nineteenth-century France to show that this history does not fit the narrative of linear progress that model suggests. In part two, it works out and defends an alternative model that draws on this complex history of conflict and conciliation to escape the paradox.

Doctoral Candidate, Political Science, University of Chicago  -  Democracy as Struggle and Regime: On the Theory of Democratic Change

Gergely Baics
Gergely Baics  |  Abstract
This dissertation offers an integrated study of how New York’s rise as an Atlantic metropolis in the nineteenth century depended on structural changes in food provisioning and consumption. Analysis based on archival sources demonstrates how consumers, retailers, and city administrators reconstituted their city’s pre-modern, public-market system of provisioning, making it into a free-market model of private stores, while the informal economy of street vending also expanded. Given the vital role of food provisioning in sustaining urban growth, these transitions altered the city’s spatial development, reshaped daily routines and social inequalities in food consumption, and transformed social interactions in public space, ultimately, re-orienting New Yorkers' experience of their modernizing city.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Northwestern University  -  Feeding Gotham: A Social History of Urban Provisioning, 1780-1860

Kathryn Merkel-Hess
Kathryn Merkel-Hess  |  Abstract
The renewed interest in the countryside among Chinese intellectuals in the 1920s and 1930s resulted in hundreds of “Rural Reconstruction” projects. Reformers from diverse backgrounds tackled rural problems through reform and outreach, sharing their ideas for a remade Chinese countryside through the growing popular press. By tracing the development of the rural reform movement, this project explores the emerging “rural modern,” arguing that the agenda for rural modernization in the decades prior to the 1949 Communist Revolution was not Nationalist or Communist but instead a reconfiguration of traditional ways of engaging the countryside. In shaping plans for rural modernization in the 1930s, reformers had a lasting impact on rural policies and Chinese visions of a modern countryside.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of California, Irvine  -  A New People: Rural Modernity in Republican China

Brian C. Ballentine
Brian C. Ballentine  |  Abstract
During the Renaissance, the English language expanded rapidly as it incorporated foreign--mostly French--words, revitalized old Saxon terms, and Englished the specialized Latin language of doctors and philosophers. This dissertation examines the literary and social rhetoric of these words, known commonly at the time as "hard words.” Through readings of early modern debates on the status of English, the self concious neologizing of Francis Bacon and Thomas Browne, the ostentatious importations of translators like John Florio, and the dramatization of unusual language by Shakespeare, this project examines how literary minds at once resisted and embraced the expansion of the language, and grappled with the identity of language itself.

Doctoral Candidate, Comparative Literature, Brown University  -  How To Do Things with Hard Words: New Language and Social Identities in Early Modern England

Daniel L. Newsome
Daniel L. Newsome  |  Abstract
This dissertation is a study of the relationships between the quadrivial disciplines of Boethius: arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy. These disciplines are specifically arranged from the most basic abstract notion of arithmetical numbers, to the proportions of harmonics to the physics of motion and the cycles of astronomy and astrology. The quadrivium represents a Platonic worldview of number as cosmic order, but these four fields in premodern times do not correspond to the same four disciplines today. What happened? This dissertation tracks the four topics of the quadrivium and the relationships between them, focusing on case studies of quadrivial masters from the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Doctoral Candidate, History of Science, City University of New York, The Graduate Center  -  Quadrivial Pursuit: An Interdisciplinary History of the Mathematical Arts in the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance

Stefan Bargheer
Stefan Bargheer  |  Abstract
This project investigates the emergence and transformation of moral concern for the conservation of wild birds in Great Britain and Germany from the early nineteenth century to the present. Contrary to the predominant view in the social sciences, this study demonstrates that the emergence of a concern for conservation is not an anti-, counter-, or post-modern departure from the previous course of modernity, but part and parcel of modernity as we know it. Bird conservation as the earliest and most vigorous expression of the concern for species conservation developed gradually out of already existing social forms. The embeddedness of the development of bird conservation within long-established practices and institutions is captured by the project’s title “moral entanglements."

Doctoral Candidate, Sociology, University of Chicago  -  Moral Entanglements: The Emergence and Transformation of Bird Conservation in Great Britain and Germany, 1800-2000

Elizabeth Jane Norcliffe
Elizabeth Jane Norcliffe  |  Abstract
Detailed studies of syntactic variation have been restricted to a typologically narrow set of languages in this project. The empirical base of variation research is expanded by investigating a domain of syntactic variation both within Yucatec Maya, and from a typological perspective. Yucatec phenomenon (Agent Focus), previously analysed as a voice alternation, is shown to be a subtype of pronominal resumption. Comparison with cross-linguistic variation in pronominal resumption reveals the Mayan variation to exhibit similar distributional patterns. The functional determinants of these patterns are explored, together with their interaction with the structure of grammar.

Doctoral Candidate, Linguistics, Stanford University  -  Syntactic Variation in Cross-Linguistic Perspective: A View from Yucatec Maya

Edward G. Baring
Edward G. Baring  |  Abstract
This is a historical study of Jacques Derrida's work from his early existentialist essays to his later uneasy relationship with structuralism. It places his work both in the intellectual context of postwar France and studies the key institutions that organized philosophical study, especially the École Normale Supérieure and the Agrégation de Philosophie. In doing so, it gives a new concrete perspective on one of the most important periods of intellectual activity in modern times, as well as clarifying and re-figuring Derrida's own philosophy

Doctoral Candidate, History, Harvard University  -  The Young Derrida and French Philosophy, 1946-67

Brian T. O'Camb
Brian T. O'Camb  |  Abstract
This project analyzes the rhetoric of spirituality and its role in the formation of political communities during the earliest recorded period of English history and literature, the Anglo-Saxon period. Specifically, it examines the rhetoric of wisdom poetry preserved in a manuscript known as the Exeter Book that was written out at a critical stage in the formation of England’s national identity, known as the Benedictine Reform (which began ca. AD 940). It argues that the rhetoric of the Reform, which sought to regularize England’s monastic communities and to strengthen knowledge of Latin learning, is essential to understanding this gnomic poetry, which was produced and preserved during a period soon after terrifying Viking raids had decimated England’s spiritual and educational infrastructures.

Doctoral Candidate, English Literature, University of Wisconsin-Madison  -  Towards a Monastic Poetics: Poetic Art and Social Function in the Exeter Book Maxims

Jordan E. Bear
Jordan E. Bear  |  Abstract
This project explores the role of visual illusions and their discernment in the culture of Victorian Britain during the emergence of photography. In particular, my dissertation investigates the vast terrain of belief and incredulity within which the new medium flourished, evaluating the objectivity associated with photography against a broader milieu of visual persuasiveness offered by modern industrial culture. The project analyzes specific photographers and practices to trace the rise of an audience with a provisionally granted capacity to judge the reliability of their own visual experience, a crucial feature of modern life which restively emerges from the parallel and often incommensurate demands of politics and commerce around the time of photography’s genesis.

Doctoral Candidate, Art History, Columbia University  -  Without a Trace: Early Photography and the History of Visual Objectivity

Scott G. Ortman
Scott G. Ortman  |  Abstract
One of the central issues confronting anthropology is whether recent human diversity is the result of parallel or independent change in genes, language, and culture. There are several points of view on this issue, but all agree that migration has played a central role in the development of human diversity. This dissertation provides a longitudinal study of migration and ethnogenesis, focusing on a classic problem in North American archaeology. It shows that the Tewa people of northern New Mexico inherited the genes and language of thirteenth-century Mesa Verde immigrants, but created a radically new culture and society as they settled the Rio Grande frontier. These results suggest that social consequences of migration should be theorized as expressions of agency rather than social kinetics.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, Arizona State University  -  Genes, Language, and Culture in Tewa Ethnogenesis

Ashly Jensen Bennett
Ashly Jensen Bennett  |  Abstract
While shame might, at first glance, appear the hallmark emotion of Victorian repression, this project argues that it shapes major developments in the nineteenth-century British novel form that challenge restrictive conceptions of gendered subjectivity, sexuality, and social relations. Tracing the formal and ideological impact of shame in the novels of Frances Burney, Jane Austen, William Makepeace Thackeray, Charlotte Brontë, and George Du Maurier illuminates how significant innovations in novel form, especially in novelistic voice, result from the search for intimate affective modes other than sympathetic.

Doctoral Candidate, English, Cornell University  -  Shameful Spectacles: Affect, Gender, and Subjectivity in the Nineteenth-Century British Novel

Nikos Alexander Pappas
Nikos Alexander Pappas  |  Abstract
In one layer of understanding, this narrative chronicles the dissemination of sacred music from the eastern seaboard to the West and South spanning a time frame from the late Colonial period to the Civil War (ca. 1760-1860). However, documentation of musical culture in its migration away from the eastern seaboard also parallels the greater Western and Southern expansion of the United States from its initial configuration of localized regional subgroups to a larger national identity shaped by Reconstruction-era politics. From this broader conceptual base, sacred music performance practice and composition become a vehicle for understanding not only religious and musical changes over time, but also the broader maturity of a nation. Focusing on this hundred-year period allows for detailed inquiries both into the development of Middle Atlantic hymnody in the East during the eighteenth century, and the subsequent separate sacred musical developments of the West and South during the antebellum period. Establishing chronological delimitations allows for a discussion of musical practice beginning with formative sacred music developments and continuing to the incorporation of techniques shaped by reform-minded musicians from the eastern seaboard.

Doctoral Candidate, Musicology, University of Kentucky  -  Patterns in the Sacred Musical Culture of the American South and West, 1760-1860

Benjamin Mark Benus
Benjamin Mark Benus  |  Abstract
While artists of the international avant-garde had by the mid-1920s fallen out of favor with the very political movements that their art had aimed to support, the Cologne-based Gruppe progressiver Künstler remained politically active well into the thirties. This dissertation, in charting the Progressives’ artistic activities and political engagement with international socialism during the years of Weimar Republic, explains how and why these artists enjoyed continued relevance at a time when reactionary aesthetics dominated the political landscape. This study further examine the practical application of the Progressives’ collective graphic style in the form of the modern pictogram, both within the field of graphic design and as an educational tool within the social sciences.

Doctoral Candidate, Art History, University of Maryland, College Park  -  The Cologne Progressive Style and the Birth of the Modern Pictogram

Alyssa Park
Alyssa Park  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the construction of a modern state boundary between Korea and Russia from 1860 to 1937. It describes the fluid borderland—circular migrations of Koreans, overlapping economies, and conflicting ideas about territory—and the attempts of the state to define and enforce a “hardened” boundary by creating passport systems, migration laws, border institutions, and cultural policies. These practices transformed the international boundary into the primary site of articulating distinctions in states and state membership. Even as Korean migrants and intellectuals resisted the nascent border regime by manipulating new laws and propagandizing anti-imperialist ideas, their actions helped universalize the view of the border as the domain of the state.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Columbia University  -  Borderland between Korea and Russia: Creating State Boundaries, Migration, and Ideologies, 1860-1937

Benjamin H. Brose
Benjamin H. Brose  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the relationship between religion and politics in medieval China. Specifically, it details the various ways political systems influence the development of religious movements and how religious communities adapt to shifting political conditions. Among the questions addressed in this research are: How and why do alliances form between secular and religious leaders? What is the nature of patronage contracts between royal families and powerful religious lineages? How does the state benefit from its support of religious communities and how does that support influence the development of religious doctrine and praxis? Finally, what is the role of government in the production, promotion, and control of religious art and literature?

Doctoral Candidate, Religious Studies, Stanford University  -  Buddhist Empires: Clergy-Court Relations in Medieval China

Emily J. Pawley
Emily J. Pawley  |  Abstract
To understand how nineteenth-century Americans saw the natural world, we must examine their knowledge of their farms. During the nineteenth century, the developing market altered relations between Americans and the organisms they managed. With its mutable, highly productive agriculture, New York was at the focus of these changes. This project analyzes the work of New York's agricultural improvers, asking how market values and quantitative practices changed how farmers understood and worked with farm landscapes. How did cash promote chemical forms of nutritional value? How did industrial metaphors shape how farmers saw animal growth? How did concepts of natural and monetary economy interact? With such questions, this project illuminates the spread of economic ways of knowing nature.

Doctoral Candidate, History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania  -  “The Balance Sheet of Nature”: Calculating the New York Farm, 1835-1860

Maria I. Casas-Cortes
Maria I. Casas-Cortes  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores the appropriation of research as an activist tool by social movements in Spain. It focuses on a prolific women’s collective based in Madrid, who are studying the gendered effects of changing labor patterns in the globalizing metropolis of Madrid. Through feminist research expeditions in the city, their goal is to develop innovative political actions appropriate to current transformations. Ethnographic work on this emergent trend of activist research demonstrates how civil society efforts are engaging processes of global restructuring, in this case its effects in the European Union, through the production of knowledge. This dissertation then speaks to the implications of grassroots research initiatives for the democratization of knowledge by social movements.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  -  Dissenting Expertise: Action Research, Feminist Social Movements, and the Democratization of Knowledge in a Globalizing Spain.

Carla A. Pfeffer
Carla A. Pfeffer  |  Abstract
Utilizing in-depth qualitative interviews, with a geographically–diverse sample of fifty women partners of trans men across the United States and Canada, the following research questions are addressed: 1) How do women partners of trans men describe the performance, structure, and division of household labor and emotion work in their relationships?; 2) How do these descriptions compare to one another as well as to those from women in both heterosexual and lesbian relationships (as reported in the existing body of sociological empirical literature)?; 3) How is sociological knowledge about “doing” sex, gender, bodies, identity, cohabitation, families, and work developed, expanded and challenged through studying everyday practices and experiences of women partners of trans men? In developing (and analyzing responses to) these questions, interrelated sociological analytic frameworks of symbolic interactionism, ethnomethodology and phenomenology are employed.

Doctoral Candidate, Sociology and Women's Studies, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  (Trans)Formative Relationships: What We Can Learn About Identities, Bodies, and Work from the Women Partners of Transgender and Transsexual Men

Enver M. Casimir
Enver M. Casimir  |  Abstract
As the country’s first boxing world champion, Afro-Cuban boxer Kid Chocolate was enormously popular among Cubans when he boxed professionally between 1928 and 1938. Indeed, he remains a national hero to this day. His career not only ignited a sense of national pride, but challenged racial ideologies of the time that cast African-descended peoples as incapable and inferior, allaying Cuban fears that the African heritage of their population doomed the newly independent nation to backwardness and poverty. This dissertation focuses on Cuban reactions to the career and success of Kid Chocolate in order to examine how athletic competition and racial ideology were implicated in the evolution of Cuban nationalism during the 1920s and 1930s.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  -  Champion of the Patria: Kid Chocolate, Athletic Achievement, and the Significance of Race in Cuban National Aspiration, 1928-1938

Mark T. Phelan
Mark T. Phelan  |  Abstract
A philosophical bias towards fact-stating—or propositional—language has led to two kinds of accounts of metaphor. One camp maintains that metaphors are not essentially propositional, so not a proper topic for philosophical theories of language. Another tries to save metaphor by assimilating it to philosophically standard propositional language. This dissertation argues that both approaches have resulted in theories that ignore important aspects of metaphorical discourse. It emphasize that what makes metaphor special is a unique relation between its propositional and non-essentially propositional aspects. An understanding of an author's intention to entertain and a hearer's process of understanding entertaining metaphors is central to this account.

Doctoral Candidate, Philosophy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  -  Entertaining Metaphors

Maggie Clinton
Maggie Clinton  |  Abstract
This dissertation investigates the idea of "cultural revolution" promoted by the Chinese right during the 1920s and 1930s. It explains how and why a notion more commonly associated with Chinese Marxism became centrally important to the fascist factions that dominated the ruling Nationalist Party from 1927-1937. Using period print and visual materials, it documents how "cultural revolution" formed a cornerstone of the right's anti-communist and anti-imperialist agendas. In tracing the circulation of this concept beyond its familiar Marxist iteration and revealing its currency among opposing political camps, this study accounts for its malleability and significance to longer-term patterns of mass mobilization in China.

Doctoral Candidate, History, New York University  -  Cultural Revolution in Republican China, 1927-1937

Dana Marie Polanichka
Dana Marie Polanichka  |  Abstract
This dissertation explicates the nature of Carolingian religious and social life through the lens of sacred space. Recognizing that the widespread Carolingian religious and social reform effort took place in churches, the project aims to understand these buildings by examining their structures and decoration, how and why they become sacred, who considers them sacred, and how their sanctification dictates behaviors and beliefs. Analysis is presented in in three sections: the conception, construction, and experience of sacred space in the Carolingian church. The varied sources are both textual and visual, including legislation, saints’ lives, liturgies, prayers, letters, art, architecture, and archaeology.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of California, Los Angeles  -  Creating Sacred Space in Carolingian Europe, 751-877 C.E.

Mailan S. Doquang
Mailan S. Doquang  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines how, and to what ends, chapels were grafted to French cathedrals in the thirteenth and fouteenth centuries. Focusing on a neglected phase of Gothic architecture and an understudied phenomenon, this project identifies chapels as important, new elements in cathedral typology. Further, it contextualizes the chapels both by situating them within their broader architectural settings and by addressing the socio-cultural dynamics propelling their construction. Approaching chapels as multimedia ensembles, this dissertation argues that architecture, objects, and rituals were strategically deployed and combined in mutually reinforcing ways to assuage patrons' fears of receding from memory, simultaneously fulfilling their desires for intercession, commemoration, and social display.

Doctoral Candidate, History of Art, New York University  -  Rayonnant Chantry Chapels: Architectural Additions and Changing Contexts in French Gothic

Felix Racine
Felix Racine  |  Abstract
This dissertation studies Romans' geographical knowledge as well as contexts for its acquisition during the late Empire (250-550). It ascertains that the most prevalent kind of geographical knowledge among educated Romans was literary geography, the elucidation of place-names found in classical poetry and myths. It was the only kind of geography taught in late Roman schools and provided the imperial elite with a frame of reference that transcended local geographical lore. This project also traces how intellectuals in this period created a typically Christian geographical knowledge by using techniques current in Roman schools to explain the geography of the Scripture to an uninitiated audience, and how efforts to include this new knowledge in the curriculum were defeated by conservative school teachers.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Yale University  -  Literary Geography in Late Antiquity

Ahmed El Shamsy
Ahmed El Shamsy  |  Abstract
Since the ninth century C.E., the four orthodox schools of Sunni Islamic legal thought have exerted immense influence over the individual interpretive efforts of Muslim scholars. The present research explains how these institutions achieved such hegemonic authority through an investigation of the as yet largely unexplored question of the schools' historical origins. By reconstructing the socio-political, textual, and intellectual history the Shafi'i school of law in the first century of its existence, this study provides the first detailed account of how the authority of these powerful institutions was constructed and justified, and why the cultural phenomenon of the schools emerged at this particular moment in Islamic history.

Doctoral Candidate, History and Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University  -  From al-Shafi'i to Shafi'ism: The Origins and Early Development of the Shafi'i School of Law in Ninth-Century Egypt

Chitra Ramalingam
Chitra Ramalingam  |  Abstract
This dissertation follows the experimental life of the electric spark in nineteenth-century Britain. The perceptual challenges involved in observing the spark required the development of new visual techniques for analyzing movement, prompted new explorations of human vision and its limitations, and brought the spark in contact with a variety of visual media. Through a focus on practices of observation, visualization, and image-making around this recalcitrant transient phenomenon, the history of physics is shown to intersect importantly with the histories of photography, cinema, spiritualism, and the study of human vision.

Doctoral Candidate, History of Science, Harvard University  -  Electric Visions: A Visual History of the Electric Spark in Nineteenth-Century Britain

Beverley Foulks
Beverley Foulks  |  Abstract
This dissertation focuses on a prominent but understudied Chinese Buddhist monk named Ouyi Zhixu, who lived in the late Ming (1368-1644) and early Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. He had a formative influence on Buddhist thought and practice for three centuries and played a fundamental role in the development of repentance rituals that are ubiquitous in contemporary China, Taiwan, and Chinese diaspora communities. Repentance becomes somewhat paradoxical in a Buddhist context because of the difficulty of determining what actions one has committed in previous lives. This dissertation argues that Ouyi viewed divination as a technique for determining his past karma, and that he used his body as a means of rectifying such karma.

Doctoral Candidate, East Asian Languages & Civilizations, Harvard University  -  Living Karma: The Religious Practices of Ouyi Zhixu (1599-1655)

Kathryn A. Rhine
Kathryn A. Rhine  |  Abstract
This ethnographic study explores the marriage trajectories of Northern Nigerian focusing on HIV-positive individuals enrolled in an antiretroviral treatment program. Arguing that these women, who face a future of illness, stigma, and certain death, hold the same social goals as all Nigerians, this dissertation reveals how the increasing availability of diagnostic testing and HIV therapies reinforces the importance of husbands and families. These same biotechnological developments and public health interventions, however, often complicate HIV positive women’s ambitions and pose difficult social and ethical dilemmas. Across the domains of biomedicine, biosocial groupings, and networks of kin, this study illuminates the logics and practices of women confronting these social dilemmas and prognoses through the “management of ambiguity.”

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, Brown University  -  AIDS, Marriage, and the Management of Ambiguity in Northern Nigeria

Lisa Goff
Lisa Goff  |  Abstract
This dissertation adds a missing piece to the story of the creation of the American middle class by documenting an overlooked category of low-income housing and the ways in which these self-reliant communities were assigned cultural meanings at odds with their physical form. Using sources that range from photographs and oil paintings to novels and sheet music, the dissertation traces the shanty house type from frontier homesteads to Depression-era Hoovervilles. It also examines their evolving cultural construction. Presented as domestic by their working-poor builders, shantytowns were nonetheless perceived as degraded by middle-class observers. This had public policy consequences, as shantytowns were razed and outlawed during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Virginia  -  Shantytowns in the United States, 1820-1930

Jonathan David Rick
Jonathan David Rick  |  Abstract
This dissertation argues that empathy is essential to our ability to deliberate impartially about moral value. It contends that a defensible version of moral sentimentalism—the view that moral evaluation is, in part, grounded in emotional sensitivities—requires recognizing the contribution of empathy to forming moral judgments. In developing this thesis, this study critically examine the historical sentimentalist psychologies of David Hume, Adam Smith, and Jean–Jacques Rousseau. Unlike most contemporary moral sentimentalists, they give serious attention to empathy as a psychological basis for moral judgment. By recovering these historical approaches, this project fills a gap in the psychology of contemporary moral sentimentalism, ultimately reconstructing Smith’s sentimentalist model of moral reasoning and defend it against current sentimentalist approaches in moral theory.

Doctoral Candidate, Philosophy, Columbia University  -  Empathy and Moral Engagement: Historical Lessons from Hume, Smith, and Rousseau Towards a Defense of Moral Sentimentalism

Katja Guenther
Katja Guenther  |  Abstract
My dissertation is an archivally-informed social history of reflex theory in neuropsychiatry around the turn of the 19th century. By studying the clinical uses of reflex physiology in Breslau, one of the leading centers of the clinical mind sciences at the time, demonstrate that the reflex was central to several important aspects of medical practice, including the diagnosis of mental illness and the treatment of chronic pain. My work overturns traditional accounts in which the reflex figured as the symbol of an unethical, reductionist biomedicine. By studying the real and concrete ways in which the reflex was used in clinical practice, the reflex rather becomes a model for understanding the conditions of ethical treatment within the confines of mainstream medicine.

Doctoral Candidate, History of Science, Harvard University  -  The Ethics of Medical Practice: Clinical Uses of Reflex Theory in Early Twentieth-Century Neuropsychiatry (1870- 1950)

Maria del Mar Rosa-Rodriguez
Maria del Mar Rosa-Rodriguez  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines Islam, Judaism, and Christianity as portrayed in Aljamiado Literature, Judeo-Spanish Literature, and a 1504 fatwa. These uncanny and hybrid texts exist on the borderline between the alphabet of one language and the sound of another (e.g. Spanish written with Arabic letters). They reveal covert and subversive gestures of religious and linguistic hybridity contrary to the hegemonic definition of Imperial Spain. Based on four years of extensive archival research in Madrid, this dissertation incorporates these marginalized texts into the Spanish literary history and explains the religious passing that takes place when a subject lives between the simulation of Catholicism, and the dissimulation of Islam and Judaism.

Doctoral Candidate, Spanish Literature, Emory University  -  Simulacra and Religiosity: Muslim, Jewish, and Christian Hybridity in Sixteenth-Century Spain

Kenneth Haig
Kenneth Haig  |  Abstract
A global discrepancy is emerging between national and local-level approaches to immigrant integration. Nowhere is this more surprising than in Japan, where local governments’ extension of political, social, and cultural rights to foreign residents defies ethnically-defined norms of Japanese citizenship and nationhood, as well as the widely-held image of a powerfully centralized Japanese state. Through qualitative comparisons of six cities in Japan, this dissertation explains: 1) why such opportunities have been created for foreigners in Japan at all; 2) why this has happened at the local level; and 3) why in some places but not others. It subsequently cross-nationally compares the Japanese cases under examination with similar research being done on sub-national immigrant integration politics in other OECD countries.

Doctoral Candidate, Political Science, University of California, Berkeley  -  National Aliens, Local Citizens? Immigration and Integration Politics in Japan in a Comparative Perspective

Emily Ryo
Emily Ryo  |  Abstract
Previous studies have shown that noneconomic factors, such as ethical beliefs and trust in legal authority, are important determinants of people’s decision to obey the law. Undocumented migrants are no less complex than other decision-makers. This dissertation develops and tests a decision-making model of undocumented migration that considers not only economic factors, but also normative factors, such as people’s views about the morality of US immigration law, the legitimacy of US authority, and social norms surrounding undocumented migration. As the first study of its kind to treat undocumented migrants as moral, as well as economic, agents, the study promises a new understanding of the causes and dynamics of undocumented migration.

Doctoral Candidate, Sociology, Stanford University  -  Becoming Illegal

Aaron Zachariah Hale
Aaron Zachariah Hale  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the political dimensions of violence in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with a particular focus on the North Kivu province from 2003-2007. Labeled a “failed” state by political analysts, this study argues that contemporary one-dimensional views of political violence that may lead to a “failed” state do little to help scholars and politicians understand why political violence occurs. The dissertation demonstrates that political violence in the DRC is a complex set of multilayered political dynamics that are structurally embedded political challenges at the local level, which are in turn complicated by regional political dynamics and reinforced by an extremely fragile, and what Nest has called, a “fragmented” state.

Doctoral Candidate, Comparative Politics, University of Florida  -  In Search of Peace: An Autopsy of the Political Dimensions of Violence in The Democratic Republic of Congo

Ana E. Schaller de la Cova
Ana E. Schaller de la Cova  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines how the disjunctures and contradictions between knowledge transmitted in Islamic and secular schools in urban Senegal and the lived realities of their students play out. Islamic education is confronted with new ways of being due to colonial transformations and the global market economy. Public secular schools are increasingly unable to connect students to professional opportunities and have lost prestige. Senegalese youth negotiate the idiosyncrasies and challenges of this gap by engaging in practices of “making do” and by relying on “seeming” or paraître, rather than “being” or être. This project examines the dilemma of education under modernity, namely its capacity both to enable and disillusion young people.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, Emory University  -  Lessons in "Making Do" with Modernity: Islamic Knowledge, Secular Schools, and Social Change in Senegal

Sean P. Harvey
Sean P. Harvey  |  Abstract
"American Languages" examines the widespread study of Native American languages in the late eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth centuries. The project is at once a delineation of linguistic ideas and debates as well as an investigation into both the ideological motivations behind philological studies and the practical functions that such studies served in formulating American policy. The study of Indian languages in the United States—by whites and by Natives, in the interactions that produced linguistic knowledge, and in the philological representations that resulted from them—was inextricably intertwined with the development of a specialized discipline of anthropology and with attempts to create a national identity and to consolidate and extend a republican empire.

Doctoral Candidate, U.S. History, College of William & Mary  -  American Languages: Indians, Ethnology, and the Empire for Liberty

Cesar Seveso
Cesar Seveso  |  Abstract
Examining the struggles of workers and students against authoritarian governments, this dissertation claims that the legitimization and social tolerance of political violence are the most significant facets of contemporary Argentine history. Drawing on previously untapped sources, it shows that violence became constitutive of political identities and that its exercise was a crucial ritual of intervention in the public sphere. The first in-depth historical analysis of the cultural and gendered aspects of political violence in Argentina, this study involves much more than research into the past. It is a work about memory struggles that deepens our understanding of the ways in which individuals and groups have dealt—and deal today—with a recent, still painful history.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Indiana University Bloomington  -  Violence, Mourning, and Memory: Political Rituals and Revolutionary Militancy in Argentina, 1955-1985

Nathan K. Hensley
Nathan K. Hensley  |  Abstract
Victorian England was the first empire in history to imagine itself as liberal, believing that its own power could bring law to the most unruly corners of the globe. My project tracks a network of London-based authors and theorists as they engaged in live debates about the role force played in an empire of peace. Using literary analyses to trace a world power's decline --as the mid-Victorian “age of equipoise” gave way to open militarism of the late 19th century-- this project shows how literary methods can help us read the dynamic political contests about force and order, liberalism and empire, in which these figures were engaged. It explains, too, how the pressures of a newer world rule, ours, continue to expose the difficulties that emerge when liberal theory faces up to violence.

Doctoral Candidate, English Literature, Duke University  -  Forms of Empire: Law, Violence, and the Poetics of Victorian Power

Lihong Shi
Lihong Shi  |  Abstract
Based on seventeen months of ethnographic fieldwork in rural Northeast China, this project explores the socio-cultural and economic underpinnings of the gendered transformation of reproductive choice in general, and changes of Confucian ethics of filial piety in particular. The research reveals that a substantial number of peasant couples in China have willingly embraced a singleton-daughter (one child, a daughter) rather than take advantage of the modified birth-control policy that allows a second child if their first birth produced a girl. Correspondingly, the male-oriented ideal of filial piety has been undermined by an increasingly intimate bond between parents and daughters in both emotional and economic arenas.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, Tulane University  -  “Little Quilted Vests to Warm Parents’ Hearts”: Transforming Reproductive Choice in Rural Northeast China

Andrew Robert Highsmith
Andrew Robert Highsmith  |  Abstract
“Demolition Means Progress” explores the spatial and structural barriers to racial and economic equality in metropolitan Flint, Michigan, from World War II to the present. With chapters on housing segregation, urban renewal, schools, suburban development, and deindustrialization, this project highlights the regional contestation between and among the labor and civil rights movements, General Motors, white homeowners, and civic leaders for control over Flint’s postwar development. This dissertation shows that the roots of urban poverty and racial resegregation in metropolitan Flint can be traced back to the postwar triumphs of pro-growth municipal policies that cultivated uneven consumer abundance, suburban sprawl, capital decentralization, and white racial privilege at the expense of social fairness.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  Demolition Means Progress: Race, Class, and the Deconstruction of the American Dream in Flint, Michigan

Sara Beth Shneiderman
Sara Beth Shneiderman  |  Abstract
This ethnography examines the relationships between political discourse, ritual practice, and circular migration in producing ethnic identity for the Thangmi, a community dispersed across Himalayan areas of Nepal, India, and China’s Tibetan Autonomous Region. The Thangmi deploy cultural mixture, racial hybridity, and religious syncretism as ethnic markers. Circular migrants transport these values across state borders, along with their experiences of ethnic policy in each country. The Thangmi case—in which identities are forged in a transnational dialectic between discursive statements of cultural absence and ritualized expressions of cultural presence—prompts us to reconceptualize how both ethnicity and ritual work, and to challenge the limitations of academic and political borders.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, Cornell University  -  Rituals of Ethnicity: Migration, Mixture, and the Making of Thangmi Identity across Himalayan Borders

Karen L. Hiles
Karen L. Hiles  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores the stature of Joseph Haydn and his music in Vienna during the Napoleonic Wars. By reconsidering Haydn, a heroic figure during his lifetime, within the context of contemporary events, the dissertation demonstrates the unique interconnectedness of artistic stature, heroism, and war in these years. Archival research and close musical analysis of selected works by Haydn from a variety of genres, along with attention to early criticism and biographical sketches, emphasize that the “Papa Haydn” persona is an unfortunate simplification of a complex musical personality, and also suggest alternatives to the Beethovenian models of heroism and “late style” which have hitherto dominated our understanding of the period.

Doctoral Candidate, Musicology, Columbia University  -  Haydn’s Heroic Decades: Music, Politics, and War, 1795–1809

Timothy Stewart-Winter
Timothy Stewart-Winter  |  Abstract
This dissertation charts the emergence of an “ethnic model” of lesbian and gay politics since the 1960s, through a case study of the political incorporation of gays and lesbians into municipal government. In nearly all of America’s major cities, gays and lesbians have achieved more political power than at any other level of government, yet most studies of post-Stonewall LGBT politics look at the federal level or at the arguably exceptional coastal “meccas.” This study examines Chicago, perhaps the largest American city without a strong popular association with homosexuality, and argues that African American leaders of the civil rights generation not only challenged the city’s exclusionary political machine, but also facilitated political mobilization based on non-heterosexual forms of intimacy.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Chicago  -  Raids, Rights, and Rainbow Coalitions: Sexuality, Race, and the Remaking of Chicago Politics, 1950-2000

Eleanor Kathryn Hubbard
Eleanor Kathryn Hubbard  |  Abstract
This dissertation uses manuscript court testimonies to access the lives of middling and working women in early modern London. It addresses lifecycle issues including migration, work, courtship, marriage, and widowhood through a combination of rigorous quantitative methods (based on a database of 2,662 female witnesses) and vivid anecdotal material in the women's own words. It emphasizes the ways in which individual women used informal institutions like the neighborhood to make choices about life and work in a world where most formal authority was held by men.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Harvard University  -  Maiden, Wife, and Widow: The Female Lifecycle in London, 1580-1640

Anna M. Stirr
Anna M. Stirr  |  Abstract
This research examines Nepali migrants’ construction of gendered national identity through language and music. Specifically, it concentrates on dohori song, a genre of improvised duets between men and women. In dohori, love, migration, and social issues are addressed through humorous lyrical play. Based on rural practices, dohori surged in commercial popularity during the recent conflict, and is increasingly represented in terms of national heritage. Using ethnographic and ethnomusicological methods in multiple sites—urban Kathmandu, migrants’ rural villages, and the routes in between—this project seeks to understand the expressive means by which Nepali migrants negotiate the changes in their lives, and the changing ideas of gender and nation emergent in dohori's musical discourse.

Doctoral Candidate, Ethnomusicology, Columbia University  -  Migration, Gender, and Nation in Nepali Dohori Performance

Beatrice Jauregui
Beatrice Jauregui  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores how legitimacy and authority are constructed and contested through the everyday practices of police personnel in India. The analysis demonstrates that what appears to be merely corrupt, disorderly, and illegal governance is in fact intelligible as a complex of legitimated logics and patterns of practice in a democratic order. This complex is constituted by dialectics of authority and obedience that are realized in dialogue with, though not necessarily in accord with, “the law.” Moreover, the analysis shows that even while social inequalities remain, a critical mass of “the people” manage to express agency and political will by participating in this complex, rather than remaining subjected by structures of dominance and power.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University of Chicago  -  Shadows of the State, Subalterns of the State: Police, Authority, and ‘Law and Order’ in Postcolonial India

Kara Swanson
Kara Swanson  |  Abstract
This is a history of human bodily fluid banks in the United States, focusing on three episodes in which such body products became market commodities between 1910 and 1980. It investigates the Progressive Era origins of human milk banks, the development of blood banks during World War II, and the late twentieth century emergence of sperm banks. Each case study involves the histories of biomedical research, technology, and law, and together, the studies illuminate questions of gender, race, and the body. These comparative studies amount to a history of commodification of the body in the twentieth-century United States, providing a way to understand American identity and experience and contributing to transnational discussions about the use and ownership of human body parts.

Doctoral Candidate, History of Science, Harvard University  -  Banking on the Body: Milk Banks, Blood Banks, and Sperm Banks, 1910-1980

Pamela Karimi
Pamela Karimi  |  Abstract
During the reign of the Shah (1941-79), Iran changed dramatically. Buoyed by oil and Western aid such as Truman's Point IV Program (1950-65), Iranians were pushed into a new space and the country became a showcase for the West's efforts in the region. These changes to home life and broader society were not imported wholesale without modification. The private realm became associated not only with "progress" and Westernization, but also raised questions about "authentic" Shiite daily life, indigenous taste, and consumer culture, as well as conventional gender relations. By looking at the roles and opinions of architects, leftists, religious scholars, and the revolutionary elites, this dissertation features the sociopolitical underpinnings and aesthetic ends of domesticity in Iran from 1941 through the first half decade of the Iranian Revolution.

Doctoral Candidate, History of Architecture and Art, Massachusetts Institute of Technology  -  Aesthetics and Ethics of the Iranian Home in the Age of Globalism

Neal A. Tognazzini
Neal A. Tognazzini  |  Abstract
An important, though often overlooked, part of our moral lives comprises the way we respond to those who have done wrong or right. In particular, we praise and blame both ourselves and others. These practices of praise and blame presuppose that the target of response is truly deserving of such treatment. However, there are powerful arguments for the conclusion that no one deserves anything. This dissertation explores the threat posed by our ordinary practices of praise and blame from these arguments. It argues that the best way to understand the various threats is in terms of how much our lives are subject to luck. It then explores how we as agents may be able to strike a balance between luck with respect to how the world unfolds around us and control with respect to our own actions.

Doctoral Candidate, Philosophy, University of California, Riverside  -  The Conceptual Foundations of Moral Responsibility

Mana Kia
Mana Kia  |  Abstract
This project explores the historical construction and negotiation of cultural difference in the Indian Ocean in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by examining the circulation of Persianate migrants and travelers from Iran and India. An ethics of social comportment integral to Persianate culture served as the basis of a tradition of interaction that helped negotiate differences of religion, place of origin, and gender. The rise of colonial domination and anti-colonial nationalism during the nineteenth century brought about changes within this tradition, without destroying it. This project critiques anachronistic projections of proto-nationalism onto the cultural sensibilities of pre-nationalist communities by providing an alternate reading of literary, anthropological, and historical sources that renders those sensibilities visible.

Doctoral Candidate, History and Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University  -  Contours of Community: Migrants from Iran in the Indian Ocean, 1730-1930

Zoe Trodd
Zoe Trodd  |  Abstract
Organized around six protest movements and their literature, 1867-2007, this dissertation shows protest texts adapting abolitionist aesthetics. It identifies an abolitionist politics of form, then traces six elements of that form across the protest literature of woman’s rights, labor, anti-lynching, civil rights, black power, and modern anti-slavery/human trafficking. Positioning the literary abolitionists as primary ancestors for modern protest aesthetics, it examines the role of historical memory in creating protest literature. It shows protest writers and artists working against the myth of American history and literature as a series of fresh starts, of America as a perpetual New World. The politics of memory emerges in American protest literature as tightly bound to the politics of form.

Doctoral Candidate, American Literature / American History, Harvard University  -  Never the New World: American Protest Literature, the Politics of Form, and the Reusable Past of Abolitionism

Jeffrey Todd Knight
Jeffrey Todd Knight  |  Abstract
Shakespeare's generation lived through a media revolution at least as significant as our own. This project draws on little-known archival evidence of real readers and book owners to explore an experimental dimension of print culture long obscured by modern bibliographic practices. It demonstrates that to their earliest users, printed books were interactive. Rather than static "wholes" like the kind in archives today, early printed books were assemblages—collections of movable parts to be continually reconfigured and remade. For writers like Shakespeare, this was a key impetus to create. This project explores the influence of a more physical history of reading on literary writing, and in doing so, it revises our knowledge of both pre-modern literature and modern archivology.

Doctoral Candidate, English, Northwestern University  -  Compiling Culture: Reading and the Use of Books, 1476-1676

Ema Vyroubalova
Ema Vyroubalova  |  Abstract
This project explores the dynamic of multilingual exchanges in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England in three major contexts: early modern linguistic theories, the English royal court, and London theaters. It brings into dialogue diverse texts, including Shakespeare's and Jonson's plays, Spenser's writings on Ireland, multilingual documents from the Tudor administrations, and contemporary dictionaries. Arguably, these works formed the people involved in their creation and consumption into members of complex linguistic communities, which in turn constituted a force in the country's political and cultural life with important implications for its literary and dramatic culture. In doing so, the dissertation uncovers a trans-national component in texts too readily considered quintessentially English.

Doctoral Candidate, English & Comparative Literature, Stanford University  -  ‘These Confusions of Lewd Tongues’: Linguistic Diversity in Early Modern England, 1509-1625

Elizabeth LaCouture
Elizabeth LaCouture  |  Abstract
This dissertation focuses on the middle-class home and family in Tianjin, China (1860-1949), and examines social change in late nineteenth and early twentieth century China. It examines the space of the middle-class urban home to investigate how changes in everyday life encouraged Chinese residents to develop new concepts of gender, status, and “Chineseness.” The modern home was not only a physical, built environment but also an ideological space filled with social meaning. Actors ranging from national reformers to architects to urban women residents debated how the home should be built and how families should conduct life within its walls. Ultimately, Chinese urban families themselves formed their own identities and created their own spaces.

Doctoral Candidate, East Asian History, Columbia University  -  Modern Homes for Modern Families, Tianjin, China, 1860-1949

Juliet C. Wagner
Juliet C. Wagner  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores the “discovery” and application of cinematography by neurologists and psychiatrists in the three decades after its invention (1895 -1925), focussing on its use by physicians in France, Britain, and Germany to document the physical symptoms of war neurosis during the First World War. The purpose of the research is to explain the distinct elective affinity that emerged in the early twentieth century between film and medicine, in particular to depict extreme mental states. Why did doctors choose to commit these images of their shaking, contorted, and often naked patients to film and to whom did they show the films they produced? How did the traumatic experience of war determine the nature and reception of these films? Conversely, what were the influences of such images on the depiction of mental illness in popular narrative films?

Doctoral Candidate, History, Harvard University  -  Twisted Bodies, Broken Minds: Film and Psychiatry in the First World War

John P. Leary
John P. Leary  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores the cultural history of the United States’ close relationship with Cuba between the expansionist 1840s and the Cold War 1950s. It traces that history across the genres of travel writing, journalism, poetry, and fiction during this “long American century,” when Cuba became a crucial measure by which Americans defined their nation’s modernity and democracy. By unearthing obscure texts, like the 1850s Cuban exile press, and reconsidering canonical authors like Stephen Crane and Langston Hughes, this project recovers a literary history often overshadowed by the Cold War. Moreover, its comparative approach explores this history from both sides, examining the transnational pathways of exile, empire, and intellectual exchange across the fluid boundary of the Florida Straits.

Doctoral Candidate, Comparative Literature, New York University  -  The Long American Century: Literature, Journalism, and National Culture in the United States and Cuba, 1848-1958

Sarah Dodge Warren
Sarah Dodge Warren  |  Abstract
How do indigenous people in urban areas understand their indigenous identity and the rights associated with it, and how does this understanding impact their political negotiations with the state? This dissertation answers this question through an analysis of urban Mapuche movements in Chile and Argentina and the processes through which they define their differentiated citizenship and engage in strategies of claims-making with the state. A comparison of urban Mapuche organizations in Chile and Argentina is instructive because they differ in how they define their urban Mapuche identity and in the demands that they make for collective rights based on this identity.

Doctoral Candidate, Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison  -  Urban Mapuche Identity and Definitions of Differentiated Citizenship

Megan R. Luke
Megan R. Luke  |  Abstract
This is the first study to examine the career of German avant-garde artist Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948) from the vantage of his late work. A master of collage and pioneer of concrete poetry, Schwitters pursued an aesthetic sustained by unfettered international collaboration and a manic mass culture, perversely resisting narratives of developmental inevitability and demanding an opening of the artwork to the entire beholding body. With the collapse of the Weimar Republic and his isolation in exile, Schwitters initiated a sculptural practice and a cache of experimental photographic work that remains virtually unknown, which intensified his ongoing experiments with the intersubjective, performative conditions of perception and the recurrent, mnemonic survival of form.

Doctoral Candidate, History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University  -  Seeking Recognition: The Late Work of Kurt Schwitters, 1930-1948