Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellows

The Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships support a year of research and writing to help advanced graduate students in the humanities and social sciences in the last year of PhD dissertation writing. Now in its fifteenth year, the program has supported over 1,000 promising emerging scholars.

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. 

Begum Adalet
Begum Adalet  |  Abstract
This project examines the making and travels of modernization theory, which reigned in social science and policy circles during the Cold War. The dynamic encounters between American and Turkish scholars, architects, and engineers reveal that theories and projects of modernization were not merely diffused, but were subject to strategies of translation that reworked the inevitabilities their creators imagined. Political scientists have, for the most part, ignored the history and political effects of their theories and research agendas. A study of modernization theory and the concomitant reshaping of Turkey in material terms helps trace the history and concrete enactment of a political theory, one whose imprint continues to guide current debates on political and economic development.

Doctoral Candidate, Political Science, University of Pennsylvania  -  Mirrors of Modernization: The American Reflection in Turkey

Jennifer Lynn Lambe
Jennifer Lynn Lambe  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores the history of psychiatry, psychology, and popular mental healing in Cuba and its diaspora in the twentieth century. The project foregrounds the history of the Mazorra Insane Asylum, the only public psychiatric hospital in Cuba until the 1959 Revolution and a key site of political intervention and social reform. The dissertation also tracks the fraught interaction between psychiatry and popular religion, especially Spiritism. The project argues that psychiatry in Cuba has been, and continues to be, closely connected to both high politics and social, racial, and cultural politics, and that the space of the mental asylum offers an intimate window onto the evolution of the Cuban state and the social and cultural history of Cuba more broadly.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Yale University  -  Baptism by Fire: The Making and Remaking of Madness in Cuba, 1899-1980

Marcus P. Adams
Marcus P. Adams  |  Abstract
Thomas Hobbes offers a remarkably consistent, unified philosophy, but there has been little consensus on how to characterize the unity of his philosophy. This project provides a new way to understand it that sheds light on the structure of the Leviathan and exposes the source of Hobbes’ objections to Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy and Cartesian philosophy more generally. The project articulates Hobbes’ unity by arguing that his commitment to mechanical philosophy permeated all aspects of his philosophy, from a ‘mechanical epistemology’ to his later views on causal explanation in natural philosophy and politics. It argues, moreover, that Hobbes provided a unified philosophy in which causal explanations in politics and natural philosophy depend upon, but are not deduced from or reducible to, causal principles from geometry and first philosophy. It characterizes this dependence by showing that Hobbes viewed natural philosophy and politics as mixed mathematical disciplines, akin to astronomy and optics.

Doctoral Candidate, History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh  -  Mechanical Epistemology and Mixed Mathematics: Descartes’ Problems and Hobbes’ Unity

Heather Ruth Lee
Heather Ruth Lee  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines Chinese restaurants as a site of chain migration, labor, and capital accumulation during the period of Chinese Exclusion. It argues that the Chinese responded to the legal and cultural conditions under Chinese Exclusion by designing a business model based on small family restaurants that sustained a transnational family economic structure. Exploiting a loophole in the exclusion law, Chinese laborers gained special immigration privileges by first investing in and working for Chinese restaurants. They then established a flurry of small restaurants to give as many Chinese as possible the right to visit China or sponsor relatives to the United States. This business model secured both labor and capital for expanding the Chinese restaurant industry.

Doctoral Candidate, American Studies, Brown University  -  Consuming Labor: Migration and Mobility of Chinese Restaurant Workers in New York City, 1894-1965

Abigail Andrews
Abigail Andrews  |  Abstract
For more than twenty years, undocumented migrants to the United States have faced exclusion and exploitation. Yet some of these migrants demand inclusion in the US and feel they belong, while others withdraw. This dissertation, based on two years of bi-national ethnographic research, compares the cases of two Mexican villages, both of which experienced heavy migration to California between 1980 and 2000. It examines key junctures at which the two villages diverged, leading to different migration patterns, gender relationships, and strategies to build lives of dignity. While past research has highlighted macro-economic and household factors, this dissertation focuses on politics and state power. It argues that politics in sending and receiving sites, both ‘from above’ and ‘from below,’ shape migration, gender, and development. Thus it calls attention to the possibilities imagined and pursued by migrant communities themselves.

Doctoral Candidate, Sociology, University of California, Berkeley  -  Negotiating Capitalism, Community, and Gender: Power and Agency in Two Streams of Mexican Migration

Philipp N. Lehmann
Philipp N. Lehmann  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the late nineteenth-century debate on climate change and desertification and its impact on large engineering projects designed to transform desert environments. While the academic discussion among European scientists stalled early in the twentieth century, the theories and terminology that the debate generated enjoyed staying power. The large engineering projects discussed, from French and British schemes to flood large parts of the Sahara, pan-European plans for a geo-engineered Euro-African continent, to a Germanified and newly fertile Eastern Europe, were expressions both of the anxieties of catastrophic environmental change and the enthusiasm about the capacity of industrial technology to ameliorate and ‘fix’ nature.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Harvard University  -  The Threat of the Desert: Colonial Climatology, Theories of Desiccation, and Climate Engineering, 1870-1950

Meghan C. Andrews
Meghan C. Andrews  |  Abstract
This project argues that Shakespeare's social relationships and institutional affiliations greatly affected the composition of his works. Combining an examination of his intertextual engagements with an investigation of the social contexts through which he knew his fellow authors, it traces how Shakespeare's writing practice grew in a dialectical process with his peers' writing, and how institutional atmospheres such as that of the Middle Temple conditioned this dialectic. The dissertation, contending that we need to study these influences when assessing his literary agenda, reads Shakespeare's works against the backdrop of his social networks in order to achieve a fuller understanding of the works themselves, his writing practice, and his place in early modern literary culture.

Doctoral Candidate, English Literature, University of Texas at Austin  -  Shakespeare's Networks

Priscilla Leiva
Priscilla Leiva  |  Abstract
This dissertation approaches stadiums as political, economic, and cultural infrastructure that shape ideas about place, conditioning who belongs and what spaces are desirable. As sites of immense ideological and financial investment, stadiums provide a generative site for exploring the unresolved relationship between race and power in the postwar period. This project argues that the stadium’s transformation from a site of athletic prowess to a symbol of progress serves as a critical window into racialized and gendered struggles for civic identity and alternate urban future over time. It offers Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Houston, and New Orleans as important metropolitan spaces that chart architectural, technological, and ideological stadium transformations amidst rapidly changing demographic landscapes. In focusing on cities with majority-minority populations, the dissertation contends that communities of color have capitalized, and continue to capitalize, on the importance of the stadium to create new urban imaginaries and alter civic identities.

Doctoral Candidate, American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California  -  Bigger Stadiums, Better Futures? The Cultural Politics of Difference and Civic Identity in Postwar Urban Imaginaries

Emilia Bachrach
Emilia Bachrach  |  Abstract
The seventeenth century Hindi hagiographies of the Vallabh Sampraday, known as vartas, impart sectarian history, theology, and models for right-livelihood through tales of the tradition’s founders and disciples. Followers of this Hindu sect in today’s western Indian state of Gujarat read and discuss the narratives in temples, homes, and even on the Internet. This dissertation seeks to understand the enduring significance of the vartas and determine to what extent the narratives continue to inform the socio-religious and moral lives of contemporary devotees. By showing how devotees interpret the vartas in a variety of ways, this project hypothesizes that the narratives provide a context for readers to perform devotion and to negotiate between ideals inherited from the past and life in the present.

Doctoral Candidate, Asian Studies, University of Texas at Austin  -  The Living Tradition of Hagiography in the Vallabh Sect of Contemporary Gujarat

Huwy-min Lucia Liu
Huwy-min Lucia Liu  |  Abstract
Through an historical and ethnographic examination of the funeral industry and its governance in Shanghai, this dissertation shows the kinds of subjectivities the Chinese state has worked to construct, what alternatives exist, and how they are fostered. It argues that semi-legal private funeral agents generated a platform for alternate subjectivities by pushing the legal and moral boundaries of ritual and economy. This study details how religious and emotional alternatives enabled by these platforms challenge funeral governance. Finally, the research argues that the recent failure of the state’s move toward memorializing the deceased as autonomous individuals rather than as socialist citizens suggests that alternatives to neoliberal-authoritarian governance may also reside in nostalgias for socialist subjectivities.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, Boston University  -  Dying Socialist in Capitalist Shanghai: Ritual, Governance, and Subject Formation in Urban China’s Modern Funeral Industry

Micaela K. Baranello
Micaela K. Baranello  |  Abstract
This project examines the musical development and social history of ‘Silver Age’ Viennese operetta through representative works of four major composers: Franz Lehár, Emmerich Kálmán, Oscar Straus, and Leo Fall, as well as their reception. The massively popular genre articulated the anxieties of a newly cosmopolitan empire in a hybrid form of musical theater incorporating a variety of national and generic influences such as Offenbachian operetta, Italian opera, Germanic folksong, and English music hall material. After the fall of the Habsburg empire, operetta’s identity, intensely bound with the empire and increasingly outdated in the face of film and revue, memorialized this world gone by. Works considered include Die lustige Witwe, Die Csárdásfürstin, and Das Land des Lächelns.

Doctoral Candidate, Musicology, Princeton University  -  The Operetta Empire: Viennese Music Theater and Austrian Identity, 1900-1935

Nidhi Mahajan
Nidhi Mahajan  |  Abstract
This dissertation is an ethnographic and archival study of the articulation between Indian Ocean trade networks on the East African coast, the Kenyan nation-state, and the international order. Since the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam by Al-Qaeda, the Swahili coast of Kenya has become a flashpoint for national and international security. These security concerns are ultimately linked to an anxiety over the coast’s long history of trade in the Indian Ocean. This project analyzes attempts to make Indian Ocean trade networks in East Africa legible to state power and the response of merchants, sailors, and residents who rework these networks in the shadow economy, suggesting that this articulation has led to increasing insecurity for both government and coastal residents.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, Cornell University  -  Securing the Present, Unsettling the Past: Trade and Control on the Swahili Coast

Robert O. Beahrs
Robert O. Beahrs  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the cultivation, circulation, and negotiation of Tuvan ‘khöömei’ throat-singing voice from 1981 to 2013, during the historic conjuncture surrounding the collapse of state socialism in the USSR and subsequent political reorganization in the post-Soviet period. The project’s primary focus is on ‘khöömeizhi’ master throat-singers in the Tuva Republic (Russia), but it also investigates how international ‘fan-practitioner’ communities of throat-singers have played a significant role in shaping the meaning and value of ‘khöömei’ voice at various moments in the late Soviet and post-Soviet eras. To what extent should the (re)emergence of practices associated with Tuvan ‘khöömei’ be understood as a post-socialist phenomenon? What other factors, technologies, and alliances have actively shaped the conditions of possibility for this distinct cultural production in late/post-Soviet Tuva? This project seeks to illuminate stakes and concerns for various communities involved, rethink a relationship between fan culture, practice, and circulation, and further contribute to an understanding of how humans learn and shape our voices.

Doctoral Candidate, Ethnomusicology, University of California, Berkeley  -  Economies of Voice and the Politics of Transmission: Tuvan Khöömei Throat-Singing, 1981-2013

Timothy S. Miller
Timothy S. Miller  |  Abstract
This dissertation analyzes Chaucer’s narrative endings as the key battleground in the poet’s complex reception history, whether in later medieval England, in medieval and early modern Scotland, or the present day. Combining narratological and historicist perspectives, it first situates Chaucer’s endings in what we can reconstruct of medieval narrative theory, and then examines how and why so many later authors rewrite or otherwise intervene in Chaucer’s endings. In various regions and times, to ‘close the book’ on Chaucer has constituted a political or nationalistic act as well as a poetic or aesthetic one. The project also makes use of digital tools like searchable text corpora to reveal how Chaucer’s endings continue to reappear in new contexts far beyond the Middle Ages.

Doctoral Candidate, English, University of Notre Dame  -  Closing the Book on Chaucer: Medieval Theories of Ending and the Ends of Chaucerian Narrative

Alexander Bevilacqua
Alexander Bevilacqua  |  Abstract
During the Enlightenment, Europeans began to reappraise Islamic culture. For the first time, they accurately translated the Qur’an and Arabic poetry, and used native sources to study Islamic history. Drawing on Italian, French, English, German, and Dutch sources, this project explains how Europeans came to understand Islamic culture, as early modern globalization brought into contact the peoples, goods, and cultures of Eurasia. To justify their newfound interest in Islam, Europeans relied on comparisons to their own heterogeneous intellectual tradition. This project demonstrates the importance of global encounters to the birth of comparative philology in the Enlightenment. In a sad irony, by 1798 this new knowledge had come to serve imperial ventures; scholarship generated in the spirit of inclusion ultimately facilitated European conquest.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Princeton University  -  Islamic Culture in the European Enlightenment

Kate Nolfi
Kate Nolfi  |  Abstract
Why ought we conform with epistemic norms in believing? Many think that the nature of belief itself issues the mandate to conform with epistemic norms. But what is it about the nature of belief that issues this mandate? The most popular answer is: belief aims at truth. This dissertation argues that, if belief really did aim at truth, then the nature of belief would be unable to explain the mandate that we conform with epistemic norms. If, however, belief aims at being well-suited to play a certain distinctive role in a believer’s mental economy, then the nature of belief can very well explain this mandate. Accordingly, this dissertation advances an account of the nature of belief according to which a belief is successful or correct if and only if it is well-suited to serve as a map in guiding action. And it shows how this account can underwrite a satisfying explanation of both how and why it is that we are bound by epistemic norms. Finally, this dissertation develops an account of doxastic control that succeeds where other extant accounts fail in explaining why some epistemic evaluations take the form of guidance or instructions regarding how a believer ought to reason.

Doctoral Candidate, Philosophy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  -  Understanding Epistemic Normativity

Beth Blum
Beth Blum  |  Abstract
Described as difficult, elitist, and inaccessible, modernism is not generally known for its practical insights. Yet this dissertation uncovers modernism’s historical rivalry with the industry of advice. Self-help and modernism emerged contemporaneously during the late-nineteenth century, and vied for space on the same bestseller list until 1918. This project shows how formal qualities now associated with modernism, such as fragmentation, parallax, and interiority, developed as correctives to self-help’s formulaic advice. From Gustave Flaubert’s deconstruction of cliché to Nathanael West’s acerbic irony, the project argues that attending to the industry of self-help can clarify the nature and stakes of modernist difficulty, which emerged in response to the commodification of counsel in the popular sphere.

Doctoral Candidate, English Literature, University of Pennsylvania  -  Proverbial Modernism: Difficult Literature and the Self-Help Hermeneutic

Zeynep Ozgen
Zeynep Ozgen  |  Abstract
This ethnographic and historical project analyzes the relationship between rapidly growing religious education sites and mobilization efforts by Islamic movements in Turkey. The study focuses on the period from Turkey’s 1980 military coup through the present to explain how Islamic movements have appropriated the secular vision of social engineering through education to reach, recruit, and organize followers. Through a combination of ethnographic field notes, interviews with key local and national actors, and analysis of archival documents, the dissertation demonstrates that state efforts at integrating Islam into public education to tame its political message unintentionally inspired Islamic actors to build their own educational organizations to provide an alternative message and make inroads into society.

Doctoral Candidate, Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles  -  Schooling, Islamization, and Religious Mobilization in Turkey

Susan Hanket Brandt
Susan Hanket Brandt  |  Abstract
This dissertation uncovers women healers’ hidden practices and their vital role in the early mid-Atlantic healthcare marketplace. It challenges the current historiography that marginalizes women healers and narrates their declining medical authority. Some women found new sources of healing authority, including female education, women’s authorship, the culture of sensibility, access to scientific print media, and Quakers’ alternative gender norms. Laywomen healers provided affordable healthcare and participated in a flourishing transatlantic self-help medical print culture and a consumer-driven healthcare marketplace that challenged physicians’ monopoly on medical knowledge and practice. This project explores the contingencies inherent in the development of the current hierarchical healthcare system.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Temple University  -  Gifted Women and Skilled Practitioners: Gender and Healing Authority in the Delaware Valley, 1740-1830

Intan Paramaditha
Intan Paramaditha  |  Abstract
This project examines the new generation of Indonesian filmmakers emerging after the downfall of Suharto’s dictatorship in 1998, focusing on their artistic practices and political activism. The aftermath of authoritarianism is a critical moment when the processes of trial and error, materialized in state policies and activism performed by citizens, produce friction, congestion, and ambivalence. Linking cinema and activism to the sexuality discourse indispensible from the national debates in the past decade, the dissertation investigates how these secular, cosmopolitan filmmakers redefine the nation through sexual politics. It further analyzes how such desire is shaped and limited by the discourses of paternalism, transnationalism, and religion, within which other desiring national actors are implicated.

Doctoral Candidate, Cinema Studies, New York University  -  The Wild Child’s Desire: Cinema, Sexual Politics, and the Experimental Nation in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia

Andrew Benjamin Bricker
Andrew Benjamin Bricker  |  Abstract
This dissertation offers a legal account of the growth and putative death of what has often been called ‘Augustan satire.’ In doing so, it demonstrates the extent to which both statutory laws and the common law developed to target later seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century satiric practices and techniques. At the same time, writers and their booksellers responded to these legal advances, evading new laws, precedents and procedures, while simultaneously devising new rhetorical and bibliographic strategies to stymie potential actions and prosecutions.

Doctoral Candidate, English, Stanford University  -  Producing and Litigating Satire, 1670-1760

Giulio Pertile
Giulio Pertile  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores the problem of consciousness in the Renaissance by considering those moments in literary works when consciousness is somehow breached, and characters fall into a trance or a swoon. It considers swoons in works by Ariosto, Spenser, Sidney, and Shakespeare in the context of medical and philosophical works of the period, and argues that the prevalence of the swoon not only reflects the Renaissance conception of what we today call consciousness, but also heralds a major shift in the understanding of how body and mind are connected, a shift to be most fully articulated in the philosophy of Descartes.

Doctoral Candidate, Comparative Literature, Princeton University  -  Literature and the Limits of Consciousness in the Renaissance

Paul A. Broyles
Paul A. Broyles  |  Abstract
This dissertation argues that medieval English romances are a vital field for imagining the world, offering unique models for understanding places and the peoples who inhabit them. Focusing on formal elements like the naming of places, narrative perspective, and structural division, this project demonstrates that the geographies of romances, which can seem simplistic or merely fantastical, are, in fact, engines for spatial production, configuring the world to which they refer in readers’ minds. Through careful analysis of the virtual spaces generated by romances about the insular past, the project argues that medieval romances possess a special freedom to subdivide and array narrative spaces, enabling them to invent geographies and communities quite different from the seemingly stable categories of Britain or England.

Doctoral Candidate, English, University of Virginia  -  Remapping Insularity: Geographic Imagination in Medieval English Romance

Andrei Pesic
Andrei Pesic  |  Abstract
This project explores the intersection between religion and the Enlightenment by studying several early concert series in the eighteenth century. For the first time, spectators could buy tickets to hear music outside of the court, church, or opera. It focuses on the Concert Spirituel, a series founded in Paris in 1725 and imitated in Berlin, Leipzig, and Port-au-Prince. Comparing the concerts in these different cities, the dissertation shows that the public concert, often seen as an institution of Enlightenment sociability, was deeply influenced by earlier religious mentalities, especially debates about the propriety of ‘operatic’ music in churches. By comparing this to the display of religious paintings in secular spaces, the study tells a broader history of inadvertent secularization over the course of the century.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Princeton University  -  The Enlightenment in Concert: The Concert Spirituel and Religious Music in Secular Spaces, 1725-1790

Danielle Christmas
Danielle Christmas  |  Abstract
American literary debates during the 1960s and 70s, especially the debates over William Styron’s profit-motivated Holocaust and slavery perpetrators, reflect the increasing urgency to understand why Nazis and slave owners did what they did. While many historians now view this period as the one in which neoliberalism—with its emphasis on the economic value of efficient markets as much as their moral value—became dominant in the US, the intensified desire to identify racism as the source of history’s greatest evils might be linked with a growing interest in rehabilitating greed. It is this nexus of relations between the emerging sense of the horror of genocide and the different but compatible sense of the value of markets that is at the center of this dissertation.

Doctoral Candidate, English, University of Illinois at Chicago  -  Auschwitz and the Plantation: Labor and Social Death in American Holocaust and Slavery Fiction

Amanda Phillips
Amanda Phillips  |  Abstract
This dissertation is a transdisciplinary study of video games and gaming culture that builds on a foundation of race-conscious feminist and queer scholarship, as well as existing paradigms on electronic media and gaming to understand ‘gamer trouble.’ Gamer trouble is the rich interplay between the cultural control structures embedded in a digital game system and the freedom allowed by the possibilities of play, or by the virtuosic disruption of the system through modification, cheating, and emergent behavior. This project works across multiple layers of the gamic system, from technology to representation to community discourse, and brings traditional critical methodology together with digital humanities experimentation like text analysis and image manipulation.

Doctoral Candidate, English, University of California, Santa Barbara  -  Gamer Trouble: The Dynamics of Difference in Video Games

Clara Cohen
Clara Cohen  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines how we use different types of information during speech planning. Specifically, it examines the interaction of abstract structural knowledge with detailed usage-based knowledge, focusing on the realization of subject-verb agreement suffixes in English and Russian. To produce an agreement suffix, one must be aware of both the abstract relationship between subject and predicate, and also the usage patterns that can make a suffix more or less likely in a given context. Accordingly, this project asks how the pronunciation of those suffixes varies with their contextual probability, and compares the results in English and Russian. The results help to show how the complexity of speech planning is navigated, and how the approach can vary across languages.

Doctoral Candidate, Linguistics, University of California, Berkeley  -  Incorporating Abstract and Usage-based Information: The Effect of Syntactic Context on the Production of Morphemes

Naomi Ruth Pitamber
Naomi Ruth Pitamber  |  Abstract
The year 1204 witnessed the cataclysmic fall of Constantinople, capital of Byzantium, to Latin crusaders. The Laskarid dynasty established the new capital at Nicæa, ruling until 1261. Laskarid art, architecture, and material culture reflect the inevitable adaptations, transformations, and changes that result from the trauma of urban displacement. Framed through theoretical discussions on exile and memory, this dissertation defines and interprets the art, architecture, and material culture produced in the Laskarid period, offering the field of Byzantine Studies an original, interdisciplinary project devoted to the Laskarid artistic legacy in the thirteenth century as exiled populations returned to Constantinople following the reconquest of the city.

Doctoral Candidate, Art History, University of California, Los Angeles  -  Re-Placing Byzantium: Laskarid Urban Environments and the Landscape of Loss, 1204-1261

J. Brent Crosson
J. Brent Crosson  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines practices of spiritual work known as science in the Anglophone Caribbean. While often glossed as ‘witchcraft’ or ‘superstition,’ Caribbean science signals an ideology of force and justice that catches and re-values juridical powers and categories of race. Through the ethnography of a protest movement against police brutality, in which ‘supernatural’ forces animate solidarity, this project argues against the opposition between superstition and law that justified the colonial management of Caribbean peoples. By examining practices of ‘catching power,’ in which Afro-Trinidadian mediums manifest Hindu deities or European scientists to heal clients, it proposes a counter-narrative of ‘altered solidarity’ that unsettles the politics of race and syncretic mixture in the Americas.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University of California, Santa Cruz  -  Catching Power: Science, Spiritual Work and Altered Solidarities in Trinidad

Sara Protasi
Sara Protasi  |  Abstract
The dissertation explores fundamental philosophical questions about envy. It first provides an historical backdrop, analyzing the accounts of envy and rivalrous emotions in early modern thought. It argues that these accounts differ from ancient ones in virtue of their focus on, as Kant wrote, man’s “social unsociability.” Second, it develops a new psychological account of envy that posits four kinds of invidious emotions: emulative envy, inert envy, aggressive envy, and spiteful envy. Third, it applies this psychological account to present a new analysis of envy’s moral badness, its potential remedies, and even its morally valuable aspects. Finally, it contends that envy is, paradoxically, the dark side of love; the same conditions that foster love also make us envious.

Doctoral Candidate, Philosophy, Yale University  -  Envy: Varieties, Evils, and Paradoxes

Adam Dahl
Adam Dahl  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the central role of empire in the development of democratic thought and culture in the antebellum United States. Instead of centering the analysis exclusively on shifting and contested conceptions of constitutional democracy, it focuses on how cultural narratives intersected with constitutional discourses in providing justification for the global and continental expansion of American power. In their empire-building efforts, citizens and politicians articulated a vision of ‘democratic empire’ grounded in American national culture that reconciled liberal self-conceptions of the antebellum era with the coercive aspects of imperial rule such as global economic expansion, military conquest, and racial violence. At the center of this political ideology was an idea of democracy characterized by notions of popular sovereignty, individual liberty, and social equality that were uniquely calibrated to the dual processes of settler colonialism and global empire.

Doctoral Candidate, Political Science, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities  -  Empire of the People: The Ideology of Democratic Empire in the Antebellum United States

Annie Rudd
Annie Rudd  |  Abstract
This dissertation offers the first in-depth study of the hidden camera in documentary photography, focusing on the period extending from the 1880s, which saw the first possibilities for surreptitious photographyvia the ‘detective camera,’ through the World War II era, which saw the consolidation of ‘documentary’ as a distinct photographic genre. In so doing, it stands to illuminate a critical development in the history of the medium: a crisis of faith in photography’s capacity to represent reality truthfully, and the emergence of a distinct, historically specific ‘documentary style’ intended to connote candor, authenticity, and the absence of authorship. This history focuses on four central figures: Paul Martin, Erich Salomon, Humphrey Spender, and Walker Evans.

Doctoral Candidate, Communications, Columbia University  -  The Hidden Camera and the Aesthetics of Authenticity in Documentary Photography, 1880-1945

Chris Donlay
Chris Donlay  |  Abstract
Kazo is a seriously endangered minority language spoken in a single village in Yunnan, China. The speakers descend from the Mongol troops who conquered the region under Kublai Khan in 1253. Kazo evolved in contact with other groups such as the Bai, Yi, and Han. Today, it is classified as variant of Yi (Tibeto-Burman), although the two are mutually unintelligible. Speakers are under increasing pressure to speak Mandarin in order to pursue an education or find work outside the village, making documentation of Kazo urgent. The grammar, lexicon, and texts presented in the dissertation provide a permanent record of the language, which is valuable for scholars as well as the Kazo people. They also lay the groundwork for future research into language change, language contact, and linguistic typology.

Doctoral Candidate, Linguistics, University of California, Santa Barbara  -  A Grammar of the Kazo Language in Yunnan, China

Sara Safransky
Sara Safransky  |  Abstract
Over the last half-century, Detroit has suffered steady job loss and population decline. Now the ‘Motor City’ is being promoted as a laboratory for twenty-first century urbanism. Yet, even as actors in the city and beyond proclaim a renaissance, Detroit remains a site of persistent racialized poverty. Based on institutional and community-based ethnography, this dissertation analyzes the contentious politics of land and property through case studies of city planning, emergency management and finance capital, green development, and social movements. Struggles around Detroit’s abandoned’ lands reflect larger tensions associated with a neoliberal shift in urban governance worldwide. The research illuminates the complex interplay of race, sovereignty, citizenship, and governance, in the contemporary US city, and uses property as a lens to examine how competing visions for Detroit are drawing new lines of inclusion and exclusion.

Doctoral Candidate, Geography, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  -  Promised Land: The Politics of Abandonment and the Struggle for a New Detroit

Jatin Dua
Jatin Dua  |  Abstract
This project focuses on maritime piracy and attempts to regulate the social and commercial world of the Western Indian Ocean. Reframing piracy outside of a discourse of criminality and failed states, it suggests that maritime piracy may be understood as an economy of protection and a form of capital-intensive armed entrepreneurship. As such, piracy as a system of protection competes with a variety of state and non-state forms of protection in this area. This dissertation investigates these encounters between overlapping regimes of protection and security. Piracy in this sense is not an anomaly or an aberration, but a broad optic through which to think issues of mobility, labor, sociality, and the economy in this contemporary moment.

Doctoral Candidate, Cultural Anthropology, Duke University  -  Regulating the Ocean: Piracy and Protection along the East African Coast

Sara Saljoughi
Sara Saljoughi  |  Abstract
This dissertation is the first in-depth study of the founding years of the Iranian New Wave cinema, from 1962 to the Islamic Revolution of 1979. It focuses particularly on the New Wave’s expression of a longstanding antagonism between state and society in Iran. Through formal analyses of ten New Wave films by figures such as Forough Farrokhzad, Fereydoun Rahnema, and Kamran Shirdel, this project demonstrates that the New Wave draws on centuries of varied media practices (poetry, Islamic iconography, architecture, and regional textile arts) in order to put forth its own intermedial history of art and antagonism. From this perspective, it is impossible to understand Iran’s contemporary national imaginary without the New Wave. This dissertation is thus both a theory of the cinema and a cultural and social history of contemporary Iran.

Doctoral Candidate, Cultural Studies and Film Studies, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities  -  Burning Visions: The Iranian New Wave and the Politics of the Image, 1962-1979

Abigail A. Dumes
Abigail A. Dumes  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the controversy that surrounds the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease in the United States. In particular, it investigates why, in a new era of ‘evidence-based medicine,’ there are two emergent ‘standards of care’ for Lyme disease and, more critically, how these standards of care are intimately connected to understandings of political power and the environment. Drawing from eighteen months of intensive ethnographic fieldwork among Lyme patients, physicians, and scientists throughout the northeastern US, this dissertation will shed light on shifts in competing claims to how the infected body should be known medically, regulated politically, and protected environmentally.

Doctoral Candidate, Sociocultural Anthropology, Yale University  -  Divided Bodies: The Practice and Politics of Lyme Disease in the United States

Benjamin A. Saltzman
Benjamin A. Saltzman  |  Abstract
The bivalent belief that God’s secrets are unknowable and that God knows all human secrets underpins one of the most widespread and overarching ideologies of the European Middle Ages. This belief, as assumed in Anglo-Saxon England, profoundly affected the ways in which believers acted and thought as subjects under the law, as religious within monasteries, and as readers before books. However, largely overlooking this phenomenon and ignoring the role of God in the human experience of concealment, scholars have assumed that medieval secrecy was like ours. This dissertation demonstrates how the legal and monastic practices of the period shaped an ethics of secrecy and concealment radically different from our own and how, in turn, Anglo-Saxon literature established its own systems of hermeneutics that confront the limits of human perception and the potency of God’s knowledge.

Doctoral Candidate, English and Medieval Studies, University of California, Berkeley  -  Holding the Sacred: Discourses of Secrecy and Concealment in Early Medieval England, 600-1100

Stacy Fahrenthold
Stacy Fahrenthold  |  Abstract
This dissertation studies Syrian and Lebanese political culture in the diaspora during the interwar period. Tracing intellectual and activist networks between the Syrian communities in São Paulo, Buenos Aires, and New York City, the project triangulates the Levant’s colonies abroad and analyzes the political culture they shared. It documents transnational activism from the 1916 Arab Revolt to the emergence of the Syrian Nationalist Movement in the 1920s and 1930s. Through building transnational political infrastructure—the press, patriotic communities, and charities, emigrants also imparted their own vision of political community, one which emphasized familial nationalism and altered gender roles, family patterns, and ideas about social welfare and responsibility.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Northeastern University  -  Making Nations, in the Mahjar [Diaspora]: Syrian and Lebanese Long-Distance Nationalisms in New York City, São Paulo, and Buenos Aires, 1913–1929

Suzanne L. Schulz
Suzanne L. Schulz  |  Abstract
This project historically and ethnographically traces the implementation of laws and policies regulating cinema exhibition and distribution in several sites in urban Lucknow, the administrative capital of the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. What does a local view from Lucknow’s cinema halls, optical disc markets, and streets reveal about cultural production at the intersection of the state and cinema in postcolonial India? The project’s findings, structured around several regulations ordered by the Indian state at key points within the history of Indian cinema, suggest that although the state has sought to rationalize, order, and measure cinema, such attempts have been contested in numerous ways—both by audiences and by lower level state agents who are often deeply invested in localities.

Doctoral Candidate, Radio-Television-Film, University of Texas at Austin  -  Lucknow Screens: Cinema and the Everyday State in Postcolonial India

Madeleine Patricia Fairbairn
Madeleine Patricia Fairbairn  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the role of international financial actors in the global rush to acquire farmland that began in 2007. The multi-cited ethnographic research involved interviews with investors and policy-makers in Brazil, Mozambique, and New York. It explores the cultural tensions that arise when traditional understandings of land, as a repository of cultural values and a symbol of national sovereignty, collide with a view of land as a financial asset. The project examines the historical antecedents to the current farmland investment boom before exploring the ways in which land is being constructed as a global commodity through government policies and investor discourses. This argument has implications for analyzing the interaction between financialization and increasing global resource scarcity in a variety of contexts.

Doctoral Candidate, Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison  -  Betting the Farm: Speculation, Regulation, and the Creation of a Global Farmland Market

Christopher Shirley
Christopher Shirley  |  Abstract
This dissertation reconstructs the reading practices of persons living in the English Renaissance, 1530-1700. It contends that reading constitutes a mode of identity performance and probes the copious archive of readers’ manuscript documents recording their use of erotic lyric poetry to consider the types of identities they performed in the period. It both recovers apparently paradoxical identities like ‘misogynistic femininity,’ the performance of feminine identity via reiteration of misogynistic poetic conventions, and finds unexpected subtlety in apparently more straightforward identities, like misogynistic masculinity. It ultimately offers a revised literary history of the Renaissance that includes the activities—and identities—of readers in its broadened scope.

Doctoral Candidate, English, Northwestern University  -  Reading by Hand: Manuscript Poetry and Readerly Identities in Renaissance England

Scott G. Feinstein
Scott G. Feinstein  |  Abstract
After the Soviet Union’s collapse, ethnic minorities in ten countries called for secession, but only five resorted to war. Why did some Soviet successor states experience secessionist wars following independence in 1991, while others experienced minimal resistance? This project answers the question through multi-method comparative historical analyses of ethnic-group-parings across the former Soviet Union from 1905-1994. It explains the role of identity and resources in shaping how rebellious ethnic minorities formed, why they coordinated and collectively acted, and why only some seceded. Furthermore, the study demonstrates the formation of national group coherency and how it helped shape organizational capacity and the power relationships that determined the likelihood of secession.

Doctoral Candidate, Political Science, University of Florida  -  The Political Foundations of Secession, Stability and Chaos: Russia, Moldova, and Ukraine

James Patrick Steichen
James Patrick Steichen  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines choreographer George Balanchine’s early career in America, during which he was active within ballet, opera, musical comedy, and film musicals. It examines the meaning of presenting art in a noncommercial spirit before the official category of the nonprofit organization existed, with selected case studies including Balanchine’s iconic ballet Serenade, his controversial dance-intensive staging of Gluck’s “Orfeo ed Euridice,” and the vaudevillian excess of the film “The Goldwyn Follies.” The project argues that artists such as Balanchine, who would literally spend the morning with Stravinsky at the Metropolitan Opera and the afternoon on Broadway with Rodgers and Hart, helped to foster a nonprofit aesthetic sensibility through their crossing of classical and vernacular boundaries.

Doctoral Candidate, Musicology, Princeton University  -  George Balanchine in America: Institutions, Economics and Aesthetics of the Nonprofit Performing Arts, 1933-1954

Arunabh Ghosh
Arunabh Ghosh  |  Abstract
This dissertation is a study of statistics and state-society relations in the first decade of the People’s Republic of China. Two broad lines of inquiry frame the project. The first is empirical: how did the nascent PRC state build capacity to ‘know’ the nation? The second is theoretical, exploring the role of statistics and numbers in a strongly ideological state. These two lines of inquiry translate into three sets of inter-related questions structuring the project. The first investigates the extent to which the Chinese communist revolution reshaped statistical science and work. The second examines how new systems of statistical data collection affected the relationship between state and society. Finally, the third, by focusing on links between Chinese and Indian statisticians during the 1950s, explores international networks of scientific exchange that potentially, if only for a limited time, provided alternatives to the ideological strictures imposed by Cold War loyalties.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Columbia University  -  To 'Know' the Nation: Statistics, Quantification, and State-Society Relations in the Early People’s Republic of China, 1949-1959

Siri Suh
Siri Suh  |  Abstract
In the early 1990s, the global health community introduced post-abortion care (PAC), an intervention that trained medical providers to treat complications of spontaneous and induced abortion even in settings where induced abortion was prohibited. This project explores how providers navigate professional boundaries between medicine and law when practicing PAC in Senegal. In this setting, providers must decide between limiting their intervention to treatment and treating patients while violating confidentiality by notifying the police of suspected cases of illegal abortion. Using ethnography, this project investigates the daily discursive, clinical, and written practices deployed by providers to circumvent police involvement in abortion and maintain professional jurisdiction over a forbidden practice.

Doctoral Candidate, Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University  -  Boundaries at Work: Practicing Abortion Care at the Intersection of Medicine and Law in Senegal

Anna Marie Gibson
Anna Marie Gibson  |  Abstract
This project explores how Victorian narratives, both literary and scientific, shifted the locus of consciousness from a self-contained mind to a sensory-biological body reacting to its environment. Reading popular and canonical Victorian novels alongside the fledgling discipline of psychology, the project shows that fiction was uniquely able to experiment with an embodied consciousness that science was only able to theorize and describe. The result was a concept of a person quite different to the self-governing, mind-centered ideal usually attributed to Victorian literature. The novels focused on here use formal techniques to imagine the person as a multi-centered, process-oriented body reacting to situations and stimuli as they arise by mobilizing appropriate cognitive and sensory functions.

Doctoral Candidate, English, Duke University  -  Forming Person: Narrative and Psychology in the Victorian Novel

Aaron Sullivan
Aaron Sullivan  |  Abstract
The British occupation of Philadelphia marks a turning point in the revolutionary war for the loyalty and political affections of colonial British-America. An analysis of the military and civilian records of the period suggest that, to an extent rarely recognized by scholars, the colonial population in the middle colonies had become disengaged from the revolutionary cause and that revolutionary leadership, driven by a republican ideology that relied on expressed consent for its legitimacy, was increasingly intolerant of neutrality and disaffection. Consequently, the neutrality of the people did not have a neutral influence on the conflict, but tended to benefit the British military, though it too misinterpreted the people’s sentiments and so failed to capitalize on its advantage.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Temple University  -  In the Jaws of the Lion: Loyalty and Liberty in Occupied Philadelphia

Aglaya Glebova
Aglaya Glebova  |  Abstract
This dissertation argues that aesthetics was a crucial component in the rise of Stalinism, and that the fledgling state’s policies were deeply informed by how they would look. To demonstrate this, the project investigates official representations of Soviet forced labor camps, GULags, between 1927 and 1934. While after 1934 and despite their rapid growth the GULags essentially disappeared from view and became an invisible chain of repressive sites, in the early 1930s the Soviet government framed the penal system as a humane way to educate and rehabilitate criminals and its political opponents. This study focuses especially on the moments where the official images fail as propaganda, sometimes in effect undoing their own claims, in order to show how these pictorial incongruities reveal the fault lines in the evolution of the state’s view, and representation, of itself.

Doctoral Candidate, History of Art, University of California, Berkeley  -  Visualizing Stalinism: Photography of the Early GULags

Angela Sutton
Angela Sutton  |  Abstract
This project explores the various challenges to Dutch and English monopoly in the Atlantic slave trade from 1621 to 1720. Drawing on English, Dutch, Prussian, and Swedish documents of the trade, as well as archaeological evidence, it contextualizes how West African peoples, such as the Ahanta and Fetu, pitted European slave traders against one another in order to weaken the growing power of the English and Dutch in Africa. This led to a fragmentation of the trade, perpetuating a mercantile culture dependent upon personal relationships which undercut royal monopolies. These broken monopolies led to the destruction of the mercantilist system and the rise of free trade capitalism in the early modern world. This project describes the African contributions to that process.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Vanderbilt University  -  Mercantile Culture of the Slave Trade: Piracy and Broken Monopolies in the African Atlantic World, 1621-1720

Jamie Greenberg Reuland
Jamie Greenberg Reuland  |  Abstract
This project demonstrates music’s role in refining a theology and politics of the voice in late-medieval Venice and its growing empire in the Greek-speaking world, and shows how the Republic imagined song to effect spiritual change in its leaders and institutions. Vocal performances as diverse as stylized cheering, plainchant, simple polyphony, and the erudite motets of Ciconia and contemporaries all emerge as expressions of the voice’s perceived ability to channel divine powers through political leaders, or to transform sacred objects into agents of government. Examining how these same repertoires were reimagined within the Orthodox rituals of Venice’s Greek communities, this project addresses the function of music within the power structures of an increasingly international and multi-faith Mediterranean.

Doctoral Candidate, Musicology, Princeton University  -  Sounding Resemblances: Music and Ritual in Late-Medieval Venice and its Maritime Colonies, 1204-1450

Maggie Taft
Maggie Taft  |  Abstract
This dissertation investigates the fabrication, distribution, and use of modern design in Denmark and abroad between 1945 and 1960. It focuses on the traffic in Danish furniture in order to trace and analyze the interrelationship between the politics of consumption and the discourses of modernism during the early years of the Cold War. Driven by close readings of furniture objects and a vast archive of pictorial and textual materials that have never before been studied, the project interrogates how the material and formal properties of Danish Modern both carried cultural meanings and intervened in national formations at a critical moment in the history of modernism.

Doctoral Candidate, Art History, University of Chicago  -  Making Danish Modern, 1945-1960

Luke Habberstad
Luke Habberstad  |  Abstract
This dissertation investigates courtly institutions during the Western Han dynasty, the first period of sustained imperial unification in China. How did the “court” operate and how was it defined? The questions invite an alternative narrative to outdated notions of China as an “autocratic” empire. Analysis of written and material sources reveals a fundamental shift: from an emperor-centered institution, the court became a more inclusive body with an increased range of responsibilities and more entry points for participation in courtly life and politics. By the end of the Western Han, the emperor’s power was sharply limited, even while celebrations of and debates about imperial power continued. Such discussions allowed court members to fashion their own status within courtly institutions that operated with increasing independence.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of California, Berkeley  -  Courtly Institutions, Politics, and Status in Early Imperial China, 206 BCE-9 CE

Stacey Van Vleet
Stacey Van Vleet  |  Abstract
During the late seventeenth to early twentieth century period remembered for the rise of science along mercantile-colonialist sea routes, Tibetan served as an important lingua franca within medical literature and Tibetan Buddhist monastic medical colleges, which flourished across East Asia along inland routes stabilized by the pax Manjurica. This dissertation analyzes these institutional and intellectual developments, drawing on an array of multi-lingual sources, to historicize the Tibetan medical system, its cosmology, and its community of practitioners within the context of Qing imperial expansion and decline. Bringing recent perspectives on the multi-ethnic dimensions of the Qing empire into conversation with scholarship on the history of science in China, this research considers how the Tibetan medical system bridged disparate cultures and political economies across northern China, Mongolia, and Tibet, providing a beneficial resource for sometimes competing projects of local governance and imperial diplomacy within the diverse medical marketplace of the Qing empire.

Doctoral Candidate, East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University  -  Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries and the Medical Marketplace of Qing China

Elizabeth Hennessy
Elizabeth Hennessy  |  Abstract
The Galápagos Islands are a world-renown ‘natural laboratory of evolution’ and one of the best-preserved ecosystems on earth. Yet, even this remote archipelago is not immune from global environmental crises: in 2007, UNESCO put it on the list of World Heritage Sites In Danger because of booming tourism development. This dissertation focuses on the islands’ most iconic species, the giant tortoises, to trace the evolution of human relations with nature through three key historical moments: Darwin’s visit in 1835, the founding of the Galápagos National Park in 1959, and the UNESCO declaration. It returns to the ‘cradle of evolution’ to argue that even in this ‘pristine’ space, evolution can no longer be considered a purely natural process, but rather one thoroughly imbricated with social histories.

Doctoral Candidate, Geography, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  -  On the Backs of Turtles: A Critical Geography of Evolution in the Galápagos Islands

Stacey Vanderhurst
Stacey Vanderhurst  |  Abstract
While internationally lauded as a model for other African states, most of the women in Nigeria’s counter-trafficking programs do not identify as victims and actively resist their detention in rehabilitation shelters across the country. Based on twelve months of ethnographic research at one such shelter, this dissertation considers what is at stake in these unwanted interventions, particularly in the mundane routines, programs, and idle bickering of the rehabilitation process. Ultimately, it argues that shelter debates over the risks of migrating and the purposes of state intervention reveal novel forms of migration management, African citizenship, and postcolonial governance, especially when viewed in the context of the Nigerian government’s broader efforts to improve its image around the world.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, Brown University  -  Sheltered Lives: Sex, God, and Mobility in Nigeria's Counter-Trafficking Programs

April Dawn Hughes
April Dawn Hughes  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines apocalypticism from the end of the third century to the middle of the eighth century. The research centers on apocalyptic interpretations of the future descent of Maitreya Buddha, who was the focus of devotional practices as well as the inspiration for mass rebellions against the imperial state. These varying interpretations of Maitreya emerged from scriptural descriptions, and this project goes beyond prior studies by making use of both canonical and apocryphal scriptures. The project aims to answer the following question: how were certain apocalyptic ideas employed in a subversive manner to support political rebellions in medieval China, while similar messianic notions were concurrently utilized to reinforce the dominance of the imperial state?

Doctoral Candidate, Religion, Princeton University  -  Waiting for Darkness: Apocalyptic Eschatology in Early Medieval China

Christine Walker
Christine Walker  |  Abstract
Using Jamaica as a case study, this project examines how women played significant roles in expanding slavery and commerce in the early modern Atlantic world. In order to sustain a rampantly exploitative, yet highly lucrative form of colonialism, free people abandoned patriarchal customs and wove slave-ownership into the very fabric of the family, creating a society that was markedly different from the one they left behind. In Jamaica, one’s status as free mattered more than one’s gender, economic position, or race. Drawing upon a diversity of archival materials, this project studies different aspects of colonial life, including marriage, parenthood, inheritance, female slave-ownership, and women’s work. It reveals how the growth of slavery enhanced the economic, legal and social authority of free women of European and African descent.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  To Be My Own Mistress: How Women in Jamaica Shaped the British Empire, 1660-1760

Jang Wook Huh
Jang Wook Huh  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines how African Americans and Koreans innovated literary forms to animate a cross-racial solidarity against two forms of empire in Korea—Japan’s colonization of Korea, 1910-45, and US political intervention in Korea, 1945-53. It combines African American and Korean studies to reconstruct a literary history of Afro-Korean radical intersections. It argues that three poetic modes, African Americans’ metaphorical, US missionaries’ interlocutory, and Koreans’ appropriative translations between racism and imperialism, connected the racial subjugation in the US to the colonial subjugation in Korea. By drawing on the issues of diaspora, racial uplift, missionary work, jazz composition, and militarization, it considers the little-known legacy of black radicalism in the Pacific.

Doctoral Candidate, English & Comparative Literature, Columbia University  -  Black Radicalism in Korea: The Poetics of Overlapping Dispossessions in Afro-Korean Literary Intersections, 1910-1953

Emily M. Wanderer
Emily M. Wanderer  |  Abstract
This project is an account of the place of the biological in Mexico. Mexican nationhood and identity are, in many ways, founded upon conceptions of the biological, from notions of citizenship and belonging to ideas about plants and landscape. The dissertation shows how biologists are now key to the way Mexicans imagine their national community, and how the scientific practices, social logics, and institutional forms associated with biosecurity transform earlier ideas of Mexican national biologies and the linkages between people, ecology, and place. In Mexico, scientists are formulating new practices of human and ecological biosecurity as they produce knowledge about what life forms are considered natively Mexican and which are dangerous, alien species that put local ecologies at risk.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Anthropology, and STS, Massachusetts Institute of Technology  -  Remaking Mestizaje in the Age of the Biological: An Ethnography of Biological Invasion and Nation-Building in Mexico

Kristy Ironside
Kristy Ironside  |  Abstract
This dissertation is a social history of the Soviet money economy after the Second World War. According to Marxist ideology, money would become obsolete with the transition to a communist society. However, as this dissertation shows, it became increasingly integral to the Soviet system during postwar reconstruction under Stalin and as the Soviet Union marched toward communism under Khrushchev. Though an examination of social security benefits, retail prices, real wages, taxes, fundraising, and family budgets, it charts the emergence of “the workers’ ruble,” a currency that was supposedly devoid of the exploitative economic relations Marx viewed as inherent to money, protecting the most vulnerable citizens, stretching further for ordinary workers, and delivering socialist prosperity.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Chicago  -  The Value of a Ruble: A Social History of Money in Postwar Soviet Russia, 1945-1964

Kevin Whalen
Kevin Whalen  |  Abstract
During the early twentieth century, hundreds of native people from around the American Southwest used the labor curriculum at Sherman Institute, an Indian boarding school in Riverside, California, to secure work in the burgeoning wage labor markets of Southern California. Sent by school administrators to work at white-owned factories, farms, and households in the name of racial ‘uplift,’ Sherman students adapted quickly to the school’s often-coercive labor programs and used them to make money, see new places, and establish early footholds in urban Los Angeles, California. In telling their stories, this dissertation explores how a significant group of Native people combined education, mobility, and wage labor to forge modern pathways into the twentieth century.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of California, Riverside  -  Beyond School Walls: Labor, Mobility, and Indian Education in Southern California, 1902-1940

Samantha Gayathri Iyer
Samantha Gayathri Iyer  |  Abstract
In the 1950s to 1970s, the international organization of food supply became contingent on the US export of food aid in what sociologist Harriet Friedmann has called the “international food order.” This dissertation recounts the story of US food aid to Egypt and India, its largest consumers, drawing on extensive archival research in those three countries and the U.K. Scholars have generally characterized development aid as the product of ideas conceived in the US and Europe and implemented in the developing world. This story, instead, shows how the post-war food order nurtured and depended on a contemporaneous, international transformation of governance—both ideas and institutions—beginning in the late nineteenth century. A range of global actors, from peasants and wage-workers to social scientists and policymakers, played a vital role in this process of change.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of California, Berkeley  -  The Paradox of Plenty and Poverty: A Political Economy of Food in Egypt, India, and the US, 1870s-1970s

Naomi R. Williams
Naomi R. Williams  |  Abstract
This project explores the rich and complex working-class community that emerged in Racine, Wisconsin in the 1930s and extended into the 1970s. This was a community composed not only of white males working industrial jobs, but also minorities and women, especially black and Latina workers, who were active in labor and social justice issues. The dissertation assesses the meaning of class by focusing on the history of the service workers union and its relationship with industrial unions in the Racine labor community. Using oral histories along with archival documents from unions, political organizations, and social justice groups, this project seeks to understand the evolving class identity of Racine workers and the extent to which the altered conceptions of class shaped the local political economy of the city.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Wisconsin-Madison  -  Workers United: The Labor Movement and the Shifting US Economy, 1950s-1980s

Aaron George Jakes
Aaron George Jakes  |  Abstract
This dissertation is a study of the Egyptian state and of efforts to transform, perfect, and overthrow it in the four decades following the British occupation of 1882. It argues that the political struggles of the colonial era unfolded as a multi-sided debate about the relationship between material wealth and political legitimacy. Though originally aimed at boosting agricultural production, the reform policies that anchored British rule ultimately helped to make Egypt a key site for investment in a moment of global financial expansion at the close of the 19th century. Ultimately, the abstract and uneven character of financial boom and bust played a central role in shaping the concepts with which nationalists advocated independence and influenced their understandings of what a sovereign nation-state would look like.

Doctoral Candidate, History and Middle Eastern Studies, New York University  -  State of the Field: Agrarian Transformation, Colonial Rule, and the Politics of Material Wealth in Egypt, 1882-1922

Sunny Xiang
Sunny Xiang  |  Abstract
This dissertation uses the literary device of ‘voice’ to track the interactions between Asia’s racial form and the human’s universal form. Looking at characterizations of Asianness in contemporary novels and in US Cold War foreign policy, it examines how the unreliable Asian literary narrator indexes an Anglo-American Cold War program committed to managing the Asian voice. Specifically, the project reads Asian voice through unreliability as a long-running Oriental trope and as a formal signifier of humanness. By doing so, it asks how the evocation of the ‘Asian human’ as a literary effect and as a historical contradiction forces us to rethink a racial form defined in negative relation to the universalistic claims and moral utopianism that inhere in human rights.

Doctoral Candidate, English, University of California, Berkeley  -  Asia’s Unreliability: Literary and Historical Positings of the Asian Human from the American Century to the Pacific Century

Zenia Kish
Zenia Kish  |  Abstract
Since the outset of the 2008 global financial crisis, many have asked with renewed urgency: what are the ethics of finance? Impact investing, an emergent philanthro-capitalist sector of socially and environmentally responsible finance, claims to re-moralize money markets by saving the world from extreme poverty and climate change at a profit. Engaging ethnographically with impact investors and social entrepreneurs concentrated in New York, this research connects their ideas about ethical markets with investment projects in Ghana, examining how these investments affect local communities. As the fastest growing economy in Africa, Ghana is an important case study in the investor-led privatization of development in the region. By converting social and environmental spheres of life into profitable markets, impact investing raises the critical question of how, and to whose benefit, ethical engagement with the world is transformed into a new frontier for creating wealth.

Doctoral Candidate, American Studies, New York University  -  Investing for Impact: Philanthrocapitalism and the Rise of Ethical Finance

Sunny Yang
Sunny Yang  |  Abstract
During the nineteenth century, the rapid territorial expansion of the United States raised unprecedented questions about the legal status of territories and their inhabitants. This dissertation examines the legal and literary texts that grappled with these debates over the relationship between race, rights, and imperial governance. It argues that while narratives of race, space, and time were invoked to withhold constitutional protections from racialized bodies, these fictions of territoriality were challenged or complicated by writers of color. Focusing on ‘contestation zones,’ or spaces where US law, culture, and understandings of race collided with at least one other competing system, this project uncovers the struggles to implement and resist the terms that structured American empire.

Doctoral Candidate, English, University of Pennsylvania  -  Fictions of Territoriality: Legal and Literary Narratives of US Imperial Contestation Zones, 1844-1914

Mary P. Kuhn
Mary P. Kuhn  |  Abstract
This dissertation argues that the science and technology of plants was a crucial context for American literature across the nineteenth century, particularly Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Emily Dickinson, and Charles Chesnutt. Cultivation has long been recognized as a crucial trope for self-improvement and social mobility, but no study has yet offered a sustained examination of the way that seemingly domestic writers invoked plant science to engage central social issues of the century: abolition, technology and the body, women’s rights, and the democratic use of space. This project demonstrates how seemingly domestic writers marshal an international botanical network to frame pressing local political controversies as a matter of natural law and transatlantic ecology.

Doctoral Candidate, English, Boston University  -  The Garden Politic: Botany, Horticulture, and Domestic Cosmopolitanism in Nineteenth-Century American Literature