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. 

Joel Anderson
Joel Anderson  |  Abstract
The thirteenth and fourteenth centuries witnessed the dramatic growth of a legal and governmental apparatus centered at the papal court, as well as the widespread use of document-based forms of administration throughout Christendom. This project examines some of the ways in which writers and communities on the medieval European periphery recruited, refashioned, and repurposed the legal principles and official documents of the universal Church for their own ends. Focusing specifically on a group of medieval Norse texts known as the bishops’ sagas, it demonstrates how Icelandic clerics deployed fictitious papal documents and imagined canonical-legal procedures in order to legitimize some of the thoroughly abnormal practices of Iceland’s native bishops.

Doctoral Candidate, Medieval Studies, Cornell University  -  Imagining Universal Government at the Edge of the World: Institutional Forms in Norse Bishops' Lives

Antoine Lentacker
Antoine Lentacker  |  Abstract
This dissertation is a comparative study of drug advertising in France and Austria from the rise of the drug industry to the mid-twentieth century. Bringing together the historiography on drugs and the study of print cultures, it shows how, before the time of drug patents, clinical trials, and regulatory agencies, advertising served as the main vehicle of information about drugs. Then, it interprets the rise of compulsory prescriptions and medical insurance as attempts to deal with the issues posed by the free drug market driven by advertising. Finally, it chronicles the resulting shift from consumers to prescribers as the main target of the drug industry’s marketing efforts, which between the two wars laid the foundations of our own way of distributing drugs and information about drugs.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Yale University  -  Signs and Substances: Publicity, Information, and Trust in the Drug Markets in France and Austria, 1880-1950

Hillary Angelo
Hillary Angelo  |  Abstract
Though urban greening is generally explained as a reaction to slums, density, or lack of green space in the industrial metropolis, this practice unfolded in Germany’s Ruhr region in the absence of precisely these conditions. Instead, a social imaginary of nature as a vehicle for social goods turned green into a planning tool, which was recurrently used to help “fix” the Ruhr’s urbanism in the service of a changing ideal middle class. The dissertation compares the social goods delivered through gardens and green space in 1910, 1970, and 2010 to show how “urbanized nature” is (1) consistently used aspirationally, as a bearer of indirect social goods; (2) better understood as a tool to make the city than as a reaction to it; and (3) distributes narrowly defined social goods widely, in the name of the public good.

Doctoral Candidate, Sociology, New York University  -  How Green Became Good: Urban Greening as Social Improvement in Germany’s Ruhr Valley

Brian P. Long
Brian P. Long  |  Abstract
Scientific and medical translations represent a major cultural phenomenon in Europe's long twelfth century. In many studies translators are abstracted from their immediate intellectual, social, and cultural contexts. This dissertation seeks to envision translators in their particular contexts and in the round, not merely as part of a broader, pan-European movement. In three case studies, this project considers translators in depth, including the manuscript tradition of their texts and their relation to their Greek and Arabic source texts. The consideration of these translators up close ultimately suggests that medical and scientific thought deserve a more prominent place in the intellectual history of the long twelfth century.

Doctoral Candidate, Medieval Institute, University of Notre Dame  -  Towards the Cultural History of the Twelfth-Century Translation Movement

Stephanie Bosch Santana
Stephanie Bosch Santana  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores how writers from South Africa, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Zambia have used interstitial genres of fiction in popular media to imagine multiple, entangled geographies of interconnection and belonging. These hybrid forms envision Africanness and blackness within a variety of overlapping spatial scales, from the township to the diaspora, thereby challenging the conception of these literatures as tied primarily to nationalist projects. It is particularly important to consider non-canonical forms in the southern African context, where the absence of a robust publishing industry has meant that popular media serve as vital literary outlets, often the only ones for African-language fiction. Drawing on English and Chichewa/Chinyanja texts from the 1950s to the present in a number of overlooked publications, including African Parade, Africa!, the Malawi News, and Chimurenga, the dissertation identifies four alternative generic categories, each of which makes visible new relationships between narrative, spatial affiliations, and modes of being.

Doctoral Candidate, African and African American Studies, Harvard University  -  Forms of Affiliation: Nationalism, Pan-Africanism, and Globalism in Southern African Literary Media, 1950-present

Stephanie C. Maher
Stephanie C. Maher  |  Abstract
Between 2006 and 2008, tens of thousands of predominantly male “boat migrants” departed from Senegalese shores for the Canary Islands in small wooden fishing pirogues. An untold number never made it, either perishing at sea, or becoming marooned off the coast of Maghreb states; of those who did, forced repatriation back to Senegal was common. While the Senegalese state has developed novel forms of governmentality to manage returned migrants, the experience of failed migration continues to pose psychological and material challenges for thousands of young people. This dissertation explores how local institutions and cultural contexts influence migratory practices, and how failed migration can become a kind of social barzakh, or “elsewhere,” from which young West African men must strategize their futures. Failure, in this sense, is reframed not as a space of negation, but as a terrain of potential.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University of Washington  -  Barça ou Barzakh: The Social “Elsewhere” of Failed Clandestine Migration Out of Senegal

Jennifer S. Bowles
Jennifer S. Bowles  |  Abstract
“Hands on the Green Leaf” is a political ethnography and phenomenological account of the harvesters and farmers who produce yerba mate, the naturally bitter green tea which is consumed in most Argentine households. Based on fieldwork conducted over six years in the hinterlands of Northeast Argentina, it analyzes labor rights, morality, and sentiment in everyday culture in fields where mate is hand-harvested each year by multiethnic crews of wage workers called tareferos. In focusing on the production site instead of consumption, it captures a view of the first temporal, material, corporal, and affective spaces of the commodity chain from which twenty-first century agrarian alienation springs. A collaborative politics of memory and recognition runs throughout, demonstrating how ongoing social stigma toward wage workers might be assuaged. Finally, this dissertation argues that the interests of producers and wage workers must be considered together in order to counter agrarian crisis and rural exodus.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  Hands on the Green Leaf: Everyday Dwelling in Argentina´s Yerba Mate Country

Kathryn A. Mariner
Kathryn A. Mariner  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines how adoptive parents, birthparents, and adoption professionals reformulate kinship in the face of immense uncertainty and risk of failure. The adoptable child has been theorized in certain lay and scholarly discourses as either an affectively imbued gift or a problematically commodified subject. An ethnographic investigation of private agency adoption within the race and class dynamics of Chicago reveals complex circulations of power, knowledge, money, and time that both encompass and transcend gift/commodity models. Imagining the adoptable child as a multivalent and highly contingent imagined future—in which a great deal is invested (money, time, hope, and anxiety)—allows for the conceptual and ethnographic overlap of intimate, economic, and temporal logics. Focusing on the process of adoption rather than its outcomes, this project brings adoption studies into conversation with broader interdisciplinary scholarship on futurity, hope, and risk—shifting the object of analysis from problematic origins to uncertain futures.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University of Chicago  -  Intimate Speculation: The Flows and Futures of Private Agency Adoption in the United States

Benjamin Breen
Benjamin Breen  |  Abstract
In the hybrid colonial spaces of Amazonia and Portuguese Africa, figures such as African slaves, indigenous Brazilians, and mestiço healers emerged as alternatives to European medical practitioners. This dissertation analyzes scientific correspondence, government memoranda, pharmacopeias, Inquisition trials, and travel narratives to trace the circulation of tropical drugs and pharmaceutical knowledge in the 1640-1755 period. It argues that this earliest phase of the global drug trade entangled the inhabitants of the Portuguese imperial world with natural philosophers, merchants, and medical consumers in an expanding British empire. This transimperial trade in tropical drugs contributed to both Western science and global trade in ways that scholars have yet to fully recognize.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Texas at Austin  -  Tropical Transplantations: Drugs, Nature, and Globalization in the Portuguese and British Empires, 1640-1750

Maya Maskarinec
Maya Maskarinec  |  Abstract
This project investigates the importation and integration of saints' cults from abroad in early medieval Rome. Case studies examine the various communities and circumstances which brought "foreign" (primarily Eastern Mediterranean) saints to Rome and illustrate how these cults, adapted to their new surroundings, helped renegotiate the city's ancient legacy of Empire, its relationship to Constantinople, and Rome's (and the papacy's) place in Christian history. In turn, many of these cults were exported north of the Alps, securing Rome's claims to preeminence. This process reveals a city enmeshed in a wider world, whose distinctive profile of sanctity was not autochthonous or predestined, but which developed gradually, drawing on the far-flung resources of the medieval world.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of California, Los Angeles  -  Building Rome Saint by Saint: Sanctity From Abroad at Home in the City, Sixth-Ninth Century

Katie Ann-Marie Bugyis
Katie Ann-Marie Bugyis  |  Abstract
This project uncovers the liturgical and pastoral ministries performed by Benedictine women religious in England from 900 to 1200, primarily through codicological and textual analyses of the liturgical manuscripts that these communities produced and/or used. Five ministries of the “word” are examined in detail: the creation and maintenance of histories and saints’ lives, communal teaching and preaching, the practice of penance, the proclamation of the gospel, and the celebration of the Divine Office. This project challenges previous scholarly accounts of these ministries that either locate them exclusively in the so-called “golden age” of early Anglo-Saxon women religious, or read the Benedictine and Gregorian reforms of the late tenth to twelfth centuries as effectively relegating women religious to complete dependency on the sacramental care of male clerics. Far from being wholly dependent on such care, this research shows that many women religious exercised control of and creativity in the ministries of their communities.

Doctoral Candidate, Medieval Institute, University of Notre Dame  -  Ministers of Christ’s Word: Benedictine Women Religious in Early and Central Medieval England

Aleksandar Matovski
Aleksandar Matovski  |  Abstract
Shifts in mass sentiments can seal the fate of dictatorships, as witnessed by the collapse of Communism, the color revolutions in East Europe and the Arab Spring. But does popular opinion also play a key role in the establishment of authoritarian regimes? This dissertation argues that electoral autocracies – the most persistent type of non-democracy today – are established in the wake of acute crises that have delegitimized mainstream political alternatives. In such contexts, authoritarian leaders with records of effective response to popular demands for stabilization establish reputational advantages over their opponents, securing long-term electoral dominance. Fears of renewed instability, in turn, deter voters from supporting oppositions, allowing even poorly performing electoral autocracies to endure.

Doctoral Candidate, Government, Cornell University  -  Popular Dictators: The Attitudinal Roots of Electoral Authoritarianism

Andrew A. Cashner
Andrew A. Cashner  |  Abstract
In seventeenth-century Mexico and Spain, many villancicos (the predominant genre of vocal sacred music with vernacular words) used music to represent itself, with topics of singing, dancing, and music of the spheres. This study draws on such pieces as sources for understanding early modern Catholic beliefs about music. The central question concerns music’s role in the relationship between hearing and faith, particularly as used by the Spanish church and state. The project traces lineages of “metamusical” villancicos through networks of interrelated musicians, balancing a global perspective with a case study of the Cathedral of Puebla de los Ángeles in modern Mexico.

Doctoral Candidate, Music, University of Chicago  -  Faith, Hearing, and the Power of Music in Hispanic Villancicos, 1600-1700

Michael Patrick McCulloch
Michael Patrick McCulloch  |  Abstract
The modern worker’s home made Detroit’s Fordist industrialization possible. During the years 1914-1929, from Ford’s “Five Dollar Day” to the Great Depression, Detroit industrialists, real estate developers, and workers produced a building boom in housing, reshaping the urban culture, and creating what Antonio Gramsci has called “a new type of worker and of man.” Examining these agents’ city-building efforts—their Fordist Urbanism—this project reveals that the modern worker’s home shaped Detroit’s promise of prosperity but also elaborated conflicts of race and economic control, undermining the city’s prosperity from the beginning in ways that continue to echo today.

Doctoral Candidate, Architecture, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  Building the Working City: Designs on Home and Life in Boomtown Detroit, 1914-1929

Patrick R. Chappell
Patrick R. Chappell  |  Abstract
This project examines the relationship between secondary economies—salvage, barter, and black markets—and the narrative design of nineteenth-century British fiction. Writers including Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Wilkie Collins granted a heightened prominence to recirculating objects, dynamic materials such as recycled rags, pawned jewelry, and stolen goods. This dissertation argues that these literary economies functioned not merely as description but as key structural nexuses for innovations in plotting. Novelists modeled their own narrative organization—the coordinated actions of their famously complex and tightly planned plots—on objects’ circular mobility and potential for reappearance. This coevolution of things and plotting occurred specifically with those plot devices that, by their nature, expressed partly invisible or surprising relationships: the Gothic recurrence of repressed history, the improbable coincidences of melodrama, the multi-plot structure of the realist novel, and the narrative suspense of detective fiction.

Doctoral Candidate, English, Rutgers University-New Brunswick  -  Recirculations: Objects, Plotting, and the Second-Order Economies of Nineteenth-Century British Fiction

Amy Myrick
Amy Myrick  |  Abstract
What happens to its political agenda when a popular movement develops normative views of text itself? This dissertation analyzes patterns in US constitutional amendment activism to understand why beliefs about words come to collide with visions for sociopolitical change. It examines specific combinations of “textual norms” and substantive goals in each of four historical periods, showing how they emerge and their consequences going forward. It concludes that movements favoring “technical” text cannot sustain advocacy for collective social reform, while those favoring “literal” text can effectively promote personal liberties, and “ambiguous” text is politically problematic. By showing that institutions create these textual norms, it reconciles cultural theory and institutionalism.

Doctoral Candidate, Sociology, Northwestern University  -  The Politics of Text: How Textual Norms Shape Substantive Agendas in US Constitutional Amendment Advocacy, 1900-2010

Laurence Coderre
Laurence Coderre  |  Abstract
This study examines how the circulation and exchange of quotidian objects during the Cultural Revolution, 1966-76, prefigured postsocialist marketization. It argues that, despite the standard historical narrative to the contrary, the commodity consumption with which the Chinese postsocialist period is so closely associated did not emerge out of a vacuum. Rather, it was anticipated by the intense remediation of the yangbanxi, originally, a repertoire of eight model works. As the pinnacle of the socialist performing arts, the yangbanxi were promoted using objects spanning every media form. This dissertation focuses on the constellations of things brought together by yangbanxi ‘tie-ins’ pertaining to three media: ceramic knickknacks, amateur performance, and recorded sound. Each of these constellations invoked different modes of consumption, which are examined in relation to the Cultural Revolution’s constructions of time, the body, and space, on the one hand, and postsocialist commodity consumption, on the other.

Doctoral Candidate, East Asian Languages and Cultures, University of California, Berkeley  -  Consuming Revolution: Yangbanxi as Material Culture of the Chinese Cultural Revolution

Adam Joseph Nazaroff
Adam Joseph Nazaroff  |  Abstract
Although Neolithic communities in the Middle East have been the focus of much archaeological research, there has been little agreement concerning how these societies developed. This dissertation examines how Neolithic communities were shaped through acts of resource-dependency – the constraints and limitations which emerge from relying on particular resources. It examines how certain communities came to depend on the use of specific local resources by studying how such resources were acquired and consumed. An evaluation of the long-term effects of this dependency shows that using particular resources not only promoted certain behaviors, but restricted the development of others. Ultimately, it is argued that such intimate entanglements between people and resources produced a cohesive force capable of influencing how the Neolithic developed. Understanding the processes which create these entanglements, and the resulting effects, allows us to more thoroughly address the relationship between economic practices and community development.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, Stanford University  -  Entanglement: A Study in Neolithic Resource Exploitation in the Middle East

Alice M. Cotter
Alice M. Cotter  |  Abstract
This project examines the conceptual and musical development of John Adams’s operas “Nixon in China” (1987), “The Death of Klinghoffer” (1991), and “Doctor Atomic” (2005). Primary sources from Adams’s archive reveal that the composer’s creative processes were determined by the problems he and his collaborators aimed to solve. Among these challenges included finding a means to respond to subjects of devastating magnitude, including human rights abuses in Nixon, terrorism in Klinghoffer, and the events leading up to Hiroshima in Doctor Atomic. Fruitful undercurrents of meaning lie in what can be reconstructed of the dynamic processes leading up to the operas as we know them, offering insight into not only Adams’s compositional practice, but also into how art can—and cannot—respond to tragedy.

Doctoral Candidate, Music, Princeton University  -  Sketches of Grief: Genesis, Musical Development, and Revision in the Operas of John Adams, Peter Sellars, and Alice Goodman

James A. Palmer
James A. Palmer  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the relationship between the commune, or city-state, of fourteenth-century Rome and a novel form of community that emerged there. In this period, rival elites came to form a collaborative ruling group that favored a diffuse model of governance, not centered solely on the institutions of the commune. This preference led them to make innovative use of various common technologies of community, including pious gifts, family chapels, and extra-judicial peacemaking, in order to signal their association and bind themselves to one another. The community they made was distinct from the jurisdictional world of the commune and outlasted its fall by several generations. This project’s approach thus separates the study of community in this period from that of the city-states and has implications for our framing of the relationship between society and the modern state.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Washington University in St. Louis  -  Gold, Grain, and Grace: Piety and Community in Late Medieval Rome

Shannon C. Cram
Shannon C. Cram  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the social politics of waste management at Washington State's Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The most contaminated site in the nation, Hanford is currently engaged in the largest environmental remediation project in human history—legally required to implement protective measures that will remain effective for 10,000 years. Informed by eighteen months of fieldwork and more than 100 in-depth interviews with Hanford workers, managers, and area residents, this dissertation explores how nuclear remediation is made “possible” despite its inherent uncertainties. It argues that cleanup relies upon the dual modalities of environmental and social management—securing waste while at the same time creating the conditions in which long-term contamination is culturally acceptable.

Doctoral Candidate, Geography, University of California, Berkeley  -  Unmaking the Bomb: The Cultural Politics of Waste, Health, and Science at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation

James Robert Pickett
James Robert Pickett  |  Abstract
From 1747-1917, the territories of Central Asia were politically fragmented between various kingdoms and khanates, but the area was nevertheless unified through a zone of cultural, social, and religious exchange – namely the “Persianate sphere.” This study focuses on the Muslim scholars (ulama) who leveraged their learned status to secure positions of influence both north and south of the Oxus River. How did their Islamic education allow them the authority for such a diverse array of social roles throughout this vast space? This project enriches our understanding of Central Asian, Islamic, and colonial history and distinguishes itself by employing both Russian colonial sources and indigenous Persian-language sources located in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Russia.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Princeton University  -  The Persianate Sphere during the Age of Empires: Islamic Scholars and Networks of Exchange in Central Asia, 1747-1917

Britt Dahlberg
Britt Dahlberg  |  Abstract
When is environmental disaster complete? This dissertation tracks the efforts of residents, government agencies, and local developers to locate environmental health threats as existing in the past, present, or future. The project focuses on Ambler, Pennsylvania, a town built around asbestos manufacturing and dealing with a legacy of asbestos waste. Ethnographic methods were used to study collaborations between residents and health agencies from 2009 to 2013, while one waste site was listed as an EPA Superfund site. The project explores how different ways of seeing and measuring place alter ways of imagining neighborhoods and the people who live there. It highlights the ways that definitions of risks and their geographic and temporal boundaries get developed in practice, and deeply shape the kinds of futures people mark as possible to envision or hope for. The study holds implications for understanding what it means to move forward socially and materially from industrial pasts, with implications for a wide range of scholarship, practice, and policy.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania  -  Envisioning Post-Industrial Futures: Community Activism and Government Environmental Health Science

Kristina E. Poznan
Kristina E. Poznan  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores the relationship between transatlantic migration, migrant identities, and the dissolution of the Austro-Hungary Empire from the 1880s through the 1920s. It traces the extensive actions of Austro-Hungarian state and church officials to maintain the loyalty of subjects abroad and the processes among migrants of crafting new European identities in the United States. The project dissects the political role of American ethnic nationalists in lobbying for new European states during the First World War and examines the dual effects of new European borders and restrictive US immigration legislation in limiting transatlantic mobility in the war’s aftermath. The dissertation thus bridges migration history, foreign relations history, and critical nationalism theory to present a multiethnic transnational interpretation of migration from East Central Europe.

Doctoral Candidate, History, College of William & Mary  -  Becoming Immigrant Nation-Builders: The Development of Austria-Hungary’s National Projects in the United States, 1880s-1920s

Michael Jason Degani
Michael Jason Degani  |  Abstract
After twenty years of stalled neoliberal reform, electricity in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania has become ever more expensive and unreliable. This dissertation explores how residents close the service-delivery gap by devising channels of informal access, and charts their effects on the rhythms and textures of urban life. At the heart of these arrangements stands a population of unlicensed, part-time, or retrenched technicians of the state energy monopoly. In line with historical dynamics of commerce on the Swahili coast, their career trajectories— from small-time wage laborers to well-compensated fixers—build up a social infrastructure for the power supply. In turn, Tanzanians reckon with nationhood after a period of morally charged African socialism that promised, but often failed to deliver, basic services like electrification.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, Yale University  -  The City Electric: Infrastructure and Ingenuity in Postsocialist Tanzania

Cassidy Cody Puckett
Cassidy Cody Puckett  |  Abstract
This project investigates what it means to be a successful learner in the digital age. Youth are often assumed to be “digital natives” who master technology through simple immersion, yet research indicates there exist wide gaps in the ability to learn new technologies that can influence various forms of inequality. But little is known about how to explain why some are better equipped to learn than others. Using extensive field observations and interviews as well as a broader survey of Chicago public school eigthth graders from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, this dissertation describes what it means to be able to learn new technologies, how culture creates differences in adolescents’ approach to learning, and how these differences can be addressed.

Doctoral Candidate, Sociology, Northwestern University  -  The Geek Instinct: Technological Change, Digital Adaptability, and Social Inequality

Rowan W. Dorin
Rowan W. Dorin  |  Abstract
This dissertation studies the repeated expulsions of Christian moneylenders during the late Middle Ages. These moneylenders – generally northern Italians who had crossed the Alps in search of new markets – found themselves in the crosshairs of authorities grappling with evolving concepts of citizenship and territoriality as well as unprecedented patterns of economic migration. Furthermore, the moneylenders’ occupation placed them at the center of vigorous debates over the moral and religious implications of a rapidly expanding credit economy. Drawing on archival and manuscript evidence from across western Europe, the dissertation reconstructs the circumstances of these expulsions, the responses of their targets, the ideological and administrative connections with contemporary expulsions of other groups (the Jews in particular), and the legal and theological debates that resulted from these dramatic assertions of power, protectionism, and piety.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Harvard University  -  Expulsions of Foreign Moneylenders in Medieval Europe, 1200-1450

Alicia Puglionesi
Alicia Puglionesi  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores the practice of psychical research in America around the turn of the twentieth century, contextualizing it in relation to other observational sciences and the rise of laboratory psychology. Psychical researchers, many of them respected public intellectuals, organized around a project of probing human subjectivity using methods that they understood as strictly scientific. Thousands of ordinary Americans participated in this project as part of a network of psychical societies and publications that gathered evidence of telepathy, clairvoyance, and trance mediumship. This project examines the vigorous experimental culture of amateur psychical researchers in light of their growing marginalization in the 1920s and 30s, as psychology asserted its professional status.

Doctoral Candidate, History of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University  -  The Astonishment of Experience: Americans and Psychical Research, 1885-1935

Jeffrey Erbig
Jeffrey Erbig  |  Abstract
This dissertation assesses the impact of imperial mapping upon interethnic relations. It examines two Luso-Hispanic mapping expeditions sent to determine a border between the south of Brazil and Spanish South America during the second half of the eighteenth century. As mapmakers walked and drew a dividing line between the two imperial realms, they disrupted indigenous and early-modern ways of organizing space. The idea of a border drove Iberian administrators to abandon old practices of pact-making with mobile native peoples in favor of aggressive settlement and extermination campaigns. At the same time, Charrúas, Minuanes, and other native peoples began to move back and forth across the border to develop new trade networks and to gain harbor from imperial attacks.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  -  Where Nomads and Mapmakers Meet: Rethinking Borderlands from the Río de la Plata, 1700-1805

Gregory Rosenthal
Gregory Rosenthal  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the labor and environmental history of the nineteenth-century Pacific World. Focusing on indigenous Hawaiian labor, it argues that in the century prior to “coolies” and “blackbirding”—trans-Pacific labor regimes that only rose to prominence in the latter half of the nineteenth century—Hawaiian workers were a significant and highly sought-after labor force in the trans-Pacific economy. For nearly a century, from the 1780s to the 1870s, Hawaiian men labored in extractive industries all across the Pacific, from China to Hawai'i to California and on ships at sea. Through their experiences of wage work and migrant labor these men encountered foreign and diverse peoples and environments, and their stories and songs helped to integrate the Pacific World.

Doctoral Candidate, History, State University of New York, Stony Brook  -  Hawaiians Who Left Hawai'i: Work, Body, and Environment in the Pacific World, 1786-1876

Elisabeth S. Fink
Elisabeth S. Fink  |  Abstract
France tried to maintain French rule in West Africa after the Second World War by enacting far-reaching reforms, including expanding the right to vote. This project asks how African political leaders and French colonial officials tried to shape new African voters and democratic institutions in the period up to independence. The strategic stakes for the French to expand suffrage and for Africans to participate in elections emerged at the junction of African politics, global decolonization, and struggles to determine the terms by which Africans should be part of France. A divided colonial administration tried to make Africans into voters in order to prevent anticolonial violence and African leaders debated how to use elections to mobilize politically. This project argues that political contestation between African leaders, newly enfranchised African voters, and French administrators around elections forged a distinctly West African electoral culture with profound legacies for late colonial and independent Africa.

Doctoral Candidate, Institute of French Studies and History, New York University  -  Elections and the Politics of Mobilization: Voting in French West Africa, 1944-1960

Christopher S. Santiago
Christopher S. Santiago  |  Abstract
This project investigates the relationship between literature, sound, and displacement in the work of Asian diasporic writers. Combining sound studies practices with a phenomenological approach to literary texts, the study listens closely to the sonic irruptions within Jessica Hagedorn’s Filipino-American immigrant punk-rock novel “The Gangster of Love”; Sri Lankan/British rapper M.I.A.’s first and second albums “Arular” and “Kala”; Korean-American poet Cathy Park Hong’s patois-inventing, book-length sequence “Dance Dance Revolution”; and selected essays, poems, and stories of the Japanese-German author Yoko Tawada. In developing new readings of diasporic texts—readings that argue for the indispensability of diasporic literature within a larger literary and social discourse—the project also seeks to contribute toward a new critical framework for reading sound in literature, one that foregrounds sonic irruptions and the ways in which they can be heard as sites of rupture in hegemonies of language.

Doctoral Candidate, English, University of Southern California  -  Sonic Displacement, Sonic Placemaking: The Poetics of Diaspora in Yoko Tawada, Jessica Hagedorn, M.I.A., and Cathy Park Hong

Laura Lynn Garofalo
Laura Lynn Garofalo  |  Abstract
After the fall of Nero and civil wars of 68/69 CE, the newly-established Flavian dynasty needed a new strategy to legitimate their reign. To this end, the Flavians forged a hybrid public image, couched in the pre-imperial forms of the Republican past. This dissertation examines the cultural resonances of the re-creation of the Roman past through a series of case studies in multiple media, including epic poetry, portraiture, historiography, and architecture of the Flavian era. The project analyzes how Romans represented and negotiated their history during this period of transition, especially how the Flavian dynasts re-shaped the Republican past in their own image. Accordingly, this study engages with larger debates concerning memory culture, retrospective styles, and the inherent problems of recalling and recreating the past.

Doctoral Candidate, Classics, Johns Hopkins University  -  Reconstructed Pasts and Retrospective Styles in Flavian Rome

Jensen Sass
Jensen Sass  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines how large corporations transform non-economic goods into goods that can be bought and sold. Its focus is Monsanto, the technologically innovative but controversial firm that played a central role in the commodification of plant DNA. Despite Monsanto’s enormous significance to modern agriculture, it has not been the object of sustained historical or organizational analysis. This dissertation, responding to this surprising dearth of scholarship, is based on extensive research in the Monsanto archives and oral history interviews with the key managers, scientists, and executives of the company. Drawing from these resources, it details the organizational changes and strategic decisions which led Monsanto to pursue a commodification-based strategy, and thereby trigger a global protest movement.

Doctoral Candidate, Sociology, Yale University  -  Commodification as Corporate Strategy: Monsanto and the Remaking of American Farming

Rebecca Gaydos
Rebecca Gaydos  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the relationship between experimental poetry and techno-science in post-World War II America. It considers postwar poetry alongside developments in cybernetics—a mid-century science that radically de-emphasized the difference between mechanical and living entities. It argues that postwar poetic and scientific practices, far from representing two rival cultures, were similarly invested in questioning the traditional boundaries between culture and technology, humans and objects, and sentient agencies and inert matter. Although poets from this period are often associated with a spontaneous style of free verse (“open form”), this project claims that their poetry foregrounds the influence that objects, instruments, and tools have on artistic expression.

Doctoral Candidate, English, University of California, Berkeley  -  Technologies of Expression: Writing Poetry in Postwar America

Stuart Schrader
Stuart Schrader  |  Abstract
The 1960s saw the United States try and often fail to maintain order on an unruly globe, but these trials were successful in teaching US police new ways to maintain order at home. As African-American neighborhoods exploded in unrest, domestic law-enforcement leaders took cues from their colleagues who fought subversion overseas. Personnel, training, doctrine, and technologies circulated to-and-fro, transferred across borders, and knitted together foreign and domestic spheres. Advocated by local police and federal leaders, the Johnson administration’s anticrime program drew its architecture and expertise from the US counterinsurgency police-assistance effort. The origins, therefore, of law-and-order politics and mass incarceration, were global, outgrowths of the Cold War.

Doctoral Candidate, American Studies, New York University  -  American Streets, Foreign Territory: How Counterinsurgent Knowledge Militarized Policing and Criminalized Color

Jonathan Gebhardt
Jonathan Gebhardt  |  Abstract
This project explores the evolution of cross-cultural relations in Macau and Manila, which emerged as centers of global trade following the arrival of Portuguese and Spaniards in the sixteenth century. In each place, subjects of the Iberian empires came together with the seafaring people of southeastern China to engage in commercial exchange, while European missionaries worked to convert Chinese to Catholicism. Yet, whereas previous scholarship has presented Macau as a model of multicultural coexistence and Sino-Portuguese hybridity, it has emphasized the tense and often violent relationship between Spaniards and Chinese in Manila. Through a careful examination of the way Portuguese, Spaniards, and Chinese communicated with one another, this dissertation suggests that the strength or weakness of channels of inter-linguistic communication – shaped by relations between Iberian merchants and state officials, European missionaries, and Chinese traders and laborers – contributed to the divergent paths of cross-cultural interaction and community formation in Macau and Manila.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Yale University  -  Global Cities, Incoherent Communities: Communication, Coexistence, and Conflict in Macau and Manila, 1550-1700

Elizabeth Searcy
Elizabeth Searcy  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the role of the pre-Freudian unconscious in reconfiguring concepts of the individual and society in the turn-of-the-century United States. Using works of academic psychology, medico-legal texts, progressive journals, science fiction, and other sources both scholarly and popular, this project argues that Americans used concepts of the unconscious to construct ambivalent models of selfhood for a modernizing age. In particular, this dissertation explores the way new theories of a suggestible, social, and depersonalized unconscious undermined traditional concepts of the autonomous liberal subject and informed contemporary interpretations of burgeoning mass society. The unconscious mind revised human nature in ways both promising and perilous, explaining alarming behaviors like imitative crime and collective violence while also offering new mechanisms for human perfectibility and social reform. Throughout, the project analyzes the new psychology of the unconscious in light of race, class, and gender constructions.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Brown University  -  The Unconscious Mind in America, 1880-1917

Stefanie Graeter
Stefanie Graeter  |  Abstract
A lead contamination controversy emerged in Peru fifteen years ago when a series of scientific studies revealed alarmingly high levels in regions where minerals are extracted, refined, and transported. This project ethnographically examines the dynamics that brought “lead to the laboratory” and the ethical dimensions of the ensuing political controversy. Carried out during the height of Peru’s foreign-funded mining boom, research with affected citizens, religious and secular advocates, scientists, and industry and state representatives revealed the promise and precarity of scientific evidence to serve as a political tool for communities impacted by the mining industry. While this project highlights how lead exposure science became an emblematic means to “objectively” translate moral injustices into evidentiary legal claims, the significant challenges faced by citizens and their advocates to establish political legitimacy also points to the limits of scientific authority within the power differentials and ethical regimes of neoliberal forms of governance.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University of California, Davis  -  Lead to the Laboratory: The Ethics and Science of Lead Exposure Politics in Central Peru

Heeryoon Shin
Heeryoon Shin  |  Abstract
This project focuses on the architecture and patronage of Hindu temples in Banaras, and their roles in shaping the historiography of Indian art. The city of Banaras is often extolled as an ancient Hindu pilgrimage center. Contrary to its ancient reputation, however, most of these temples are the product of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Banaras was a recipient of widespread temple patronage in this period by patrons of diverse political interests and different levels of local, regional, and national power. This dissertation examines how the political structure of Banaras and the positions of the patrons play into the patterns of temple patronage, and how the exchange of artistic traditions and complex political and religious aspirations were expressed through the use of diverse temple styles.

Doctoral Candidate, History of Art, Yale University  -  Building a "Modern" Temple Town: Architecture and Patronage in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Banaras

Christopher Gratien
Christopher Gratien  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the interplay between the factors of disease, ecology, economics, and population movement in modern Anatolia over roughly a century beginning with the post-Crimean War era of the 1860s. Through a social environmental history of the Adana region, it examines the ways in which forced settlement impacted communities of nomads and immigrants and how the process and failures of settlement influenced state practice. By giving special attention to the ways in which diseases such as malaria presented challenges to settlement and undermined certain policies, the project links changes in the Anatolian countryside to the broader empire-wide and global trends of the late-Ottoman, World War I, French Occupation, and Republican periods.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Georgetown University  -  “The Mountains are Ours”: Settlement, Ecology, and the Late Ottoman Frontier, 1856-1956

Sarah Shortall
Sarah Shortall  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the impact of Catholic theology on French political life in the wake of the separation of Church and state in 1905. It focuses on the conflict between the two dominant schools of Catholic theology in the first half of the twentieth century—Neo-Scholasticism and the Nouvelle Théologie—with an eye to understanding the relationship between their respective theological and political commitments. By recovering the interaction between theological debates and the “secular” political and philosophical questions that consumed Europeans during the first half of the twentieth century, this dissertation demonstrates the continuing role and relevance of theology in a purportedly secular public sphere. It uncovers the productive relationship between theology and secularization, and uses this as a means to rethink the nature of the political more broadly.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Harvard University  -  Soldiers of God in a Secular World: The Politics of Catholic Theology, 1905-1950

Assaf Harel
Assaf Harel  |  Abstract
This is an ethnography of Jewish settlers in Israel/Palestine. Studies of religiously motivated settlers in the occupied territories indicate the intricate ties between settlement practices and a Jewish theology about the advent of redemption. This messianic theology binds future redemption with the maintenance of a physical union between Jews and the “Land of Israel.” However, among settlers themselves, the dominance of this messianic theology has been undermined by postmodernity and most notably by a series of Israeli territorial withdrawals that have contradicted the promise of redemption. This project examines how central theological conceptions of time among different groups of religious settlers relate to settlement practices in the occupied territories. Thus, this project reveals the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be as much about time as it is about space.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, Rutgers University-New Brunswick  -  “The Eternal Nation Does Not Fear a Long Road”: Theological Conceptions of Time among Jewish Settlers

Christy Spackman
Christy Spackman  |  Abstract
Taste has long been in the realm of the aesthetic. In recent years science has increasingly co-opted taste, seeking to quantify, measure, and give it language. Although scholars have examined the links between taste, eating habits, pleasure, and health, they have ignored the role of scientific advances and technological innovation in identifying and mapping consumer taste preferences. Using mineral water in twentieth century France as a case study, this historical food studies dissertation examines how innovations in chemical and sensorial analysis, along with changes in packaging, marketing, and regulation, influenced consumer taste for and conceptions of mineral water. It argues that the introduction and circulation of technologies of taste in public and private domains have literally and figuratively transformed scientists and consumers understanding of the taste(s) of water, and suggests that this remaking of the aesthetics of water offers new insights into the tensions between individual and expert health knowledge.

Doctoral Candidate, Food Studies, New York University  -  Transforming Taste: Aesthetics in Medicine and Food

Lauren Heintz
Lauren Heintz  |  Abstract
This dissertation situates the place of slavery in queer studies. This study maintains a concerted literary and historical focus on sexuality within the US slave economy and the hemispheric plantation system from 1791-1865. Drawing on histories of interracial desire in sensational fiction, visual satires, and legal cases, the project confronts the vivid paradox of unhinging interracial liaisons from its largely heterosexual domain. It argues that a focus on various interracial desires – including master-slave sexual acts, extralegal concubinage, same-sex desire, cross-dressing and gender-play – allows for a more inclusive study of the sexual landscape of the early nineteenth century before the advent of the culturally defining and legally limiting terms of miscegenation, heterosexual, and homosexual.

Doctoral Candidate, Literature, University of California, San Diego  -  Lawless Liaisons: Kinship, Interraciality, and Queer Desire in the US Hemispheric South, 1791-1865

Brian A. Stauffer
Brian A. Stauffer  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the origins, development, and trajectory of the “Religionero” rebellion, an important but poorly understood Catholic revolt that engulfed Mexico’s center-west between 1873 and 1877. Focusing on the state of Michoacán, which endured the most intense fighting of the conflict, the project demonstrates how mobilized rural Catholics helped to derail the liberal state’s ambitious secularization project, paving the way for a more conciliatory form of politics. Beyond reconstructing the events of the revolt, however, the project also breaks new ground in the study of Mexican Catholicism. Utilizing newly-accessible parish correspondence, this work illuminates the spiritual stakes of the conflict and analyzes the role of religious change in the development of the revolt.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Texas at Austin  -  Victory on Earth or in Heaven: Religion, Reform, and Rebellion in Michoacán, Mexico, 1869-1877

Ariane Helou
Ariane Helou  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores theories of vocality in modern and early modern sources and examines the status of voice as a nexus of lyrical expression, affect, and embodiment in Renaissance literature. This project traces a theoretically grounded relation between embodied and figurative voices by connecting ancient and early modern theories of voice and vocality to the perspectives of modern theorists. These theoretical explorations frame case studies of vocal archetypes from classical myth—the Sibyl, Philomela, Echo, and Orpheus—that are taken up as key figures in humanist culture and re-imagined in poetry, music, theater, and court entertainments (including early opera). These figures articulate the relation of voice to body, affect, gender, and subjectivity, not only in the Renaissance, but in our contemporary culture as well.

Doctoral Candidate, Literature, University of California, Santa Cruz  -  Figures of Voice in Early Modern Europe

Preston Stovall
Preston Stovall  |  Abstract
This dissertation provides a descriptive metaphysics for the kinds "chemical", "organism", and "person" as read off of our practices of reasoning and explanation. It begins by using a metalanguage of material inferential relations in order to interpret a range of object-language (world-representing) subjunctive and modal devices. These resources are then used to illuminate our reasoning about chemicals, organisms, and persons so as to show that 1) each kind is associated with a unique array of inferential patterns (expressed in the object-language with sets of subjunctive conditionals), and 2) the alethic, normative, teleological, and agentive modalities can be understood as object-language operators for marking off structural features among these patterns of inference. In the process this dissertation argues that organic purposiveness commits us to nothing more than a certain subjunctive complexity among ordinary causal relations, and that a person is a creature that makes its will into a law of nature.

Doctoral Candidate, Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh  -  Existence, Essence, and Excellence: Kind Terms, Modal Operators, and the Subjunctive Conditional

Leon J. Hilton
Leon J. Hilton  |  Abstract
This dissertation considers representations of autism and other forms of neurological disability in American performance from the postwar period through the present. Drawing upon archival sources and close performance analysis, the project proposes that attending to the social and sensory experience of neurological difference can offer new ways of understanding the history of performance (in all of the term’s social and aesthetic valences) in the second half of the twentieth century. Using the methodological resources of performance studies—with its interdisciplinary attention to questions of embodiment, repertoire, movement, and gesture—the dissertation explores how the “performative presence” of autism and adjacent conditions have challenged the aesthetic protocols of performance and other modes of cultural production. The study suggests that emerging discourses of “neurodiversity” and “neurodivergence” offer new ways of approaching some of the longstanding preoccupations of performance studies, disability studies, and cultural theory more broadly.

Doctoral Candidate, Performance Studies, New York University  -  Theaters of the Mind: Autism, Disability, and the Performance of Neurological Difference

Edgar Curtis Taylor
Edgar Curtis Taylor  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the intersection of racial thought, urban governance, and urban sociability in late colonial and postcolonial Uganda. Struggles over the gendered division of political and economic space nourished a transnational arena of racial thought, with which Ugandans constantly renegotiated rights to economic accumulation and urban citizenship. Idi Amin’s Asian expulsion decree of 1972 intervened in intellectual, legal, and social fields in which an array of actors had worked to recast the historical and spatial contexts that made racial categories legible. This work shifts focus away from teleological narratives of racialization and toward arenas of contestation in the production of race, space, and history.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  Making Spatial and Historical Contexts: Racial Thought and Urban Life in Uganda, 1959-1972

Sarah Thompson Hines
Sarah Thompson Hines  |  Abstract
This dissertation is a social and environmental history of urban water provision in Cochabamba, Bolivia that sets the 2000 “Water War” in the context of a century-long historical transformation of water and citizenship. Drawing on extensive research in Bolivia, the Netherlands, and the US, the study traces how efforts to provide city residents with drinking water remade the regional waterscape in three dimensions—the physical configuration of water sources and systems, the water tenure regime, and water access within the city. While recent scholarship blames water scarcity on unfair distribution within the city, this study argues that persistent water crisis in Cochabamba is rooted in an entrenched system of private water control within and especially outside the city. As the city grew, city dwellers’ efforts to gain water challenged private water ownership, but also produced new forms of inequality and exclusive control over water sources.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of California, Berkeley  -  Water Rules: Urbanization and the Transformation of Cochabamba’s Waterscape, 1879-2000

Christy Thornton
Christy Thornton  |  Abstract
This dissertation decenters the origins of postwar multilateral liberalism, arguing that it was the product of the United States’ long engagement with social and economic demands put forward by Latin Americans, especially representatives of the Mexican revolutionary state. Examining a series of distinct but interrelated episodes from the close of World War I to the beginning of the Cold War, this project details how Mexican politicians, diplomats, and intellectuals projected outward the principles contained in the revolutionary constitution of 1917, and attempted to create international institutions rooted in notions of absolute sovereignty, economic self-determination, and solidarity among weak states. These multilateral visions not only played an important role in Mexican state formation and legitimation as Mexico rebuilt following its decade of revolutionary war, but also had a profound impact on US visions for how international governance should be structured.

Doctoral Candidate, History, New York University  -  Sovereignty and Solidarity: The Mexican Revolution and the Origins of the Postwar Order, 1919-1948

Sylvia W. Houghteling
Sylvia W. Houghteling  |  Abstract
In 1700, figural patterns disappeared from South Asian cloth. Coinciding with the rise of European trade and the breakdown of the Mughal Empire, the loss of human imagery marked the end of an era of cultural contact through luxury textiles. This dissertation examines textiles from the preceding century, arguing that seventeenth-century cloths bearing images of people had once shaped cultural norms and connected distant courtly spaces. In studying the local and regional trade in seventeenth-century Indian textiles, this project reveals three broader facets of early modern South Asia: the existence of inter-regional networks of cultural exchange, the cosmopolitanism of the South Asian elite, and the active participation of cloth in the politics and pageantry of courtly life.

Doctoral Candidate, History of Art, Yale University  -  Politics, Poetry and the Figural Language of South Asian Textiles, 1600-1730

Whitney A. Trettien
Whitney A. Trettien  |  Abstract
“Cut/Copy/Paste” examines the Little Gidding Harmonies, a set of biblical concordances produced in the 1630s and 1640s. Women composed these books by cutting up printed bibles and engravings, then pasting them into elaborate collages. Drawing on neglected source texts and innovative digital methods, this project brings the Little Gidding Harmonies into the canon of early modern women’s writing and media production, both text and textile. For when the notion of writing expands to include a network of language-oriented practices, the long-standing question of where to locate female agency within masculine poetic traditions gives way to an affirmative validation of the many ways women participated in a highly material writing culture.

Doctoral Candidate, English, Duke University  -  Cut/Copy/Paste: Composing Devotion at Little Gidding

Isabel Huacuja Alonso
Isabel Huacuja Alonso  |  Abstract
This dissertation is a transnational historical study of radio broadcasting in Hindi and Urdu, from the late colonial period through the immediate post-independence era. Incorporating methods from social and political history and from media studies, it considers several radio stations, including: All India Radio, Radio Pakistan, Azad Hind Radio (a revolutionary pro-Axis station based in Germany and Southeast Asia during World War II), and Radio Ceylon's Hindi Service (a commercial station based in present-day Sri Lanka). It argues that despite politicians’ hopes to use radio to encourage citizens’ allegiances to governments or nation-states, radio in South Asia more effectively garnered audiences that transcended national boundaries by emphasizing linguistic ties and musical preferences and by fostering an intimate relationship with and among listeners. As such, “Radio for the Millions” challenges the existing literature that associates the rise of radio with the solidification of national identities throughout the world.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Texas at Austin  -  Radio for the Millions: Hindi-Urdu Broadcasting at the Crossroads of Empire

Christopher Michael Turner
Christopher Michael Turner  |  Abstract
The dissertation offers a new interpretation of Aristotle's account of happiness in his ethical and political works, tracing its trajectory from what is posited as its fundamental aporia in the tenth chapter of the Nicomachean Ethics’s first book through his discussion of the political and theoretical ways of life. It is argued that Aristotle's account is problematic for two basic reasons: his attempt to do justice to what Martha Nussbaum has called “the fragility of the good” is at odds with his criterion that happiness be durable and continuous, and his attempt to harmonize his ethical and political thought within his more encompassing natural philosophy is fraught with tensions. The project goes on to show that there are resources in Aristotle's own corpus to respond to these problems. In order to draw out these resources the ancient Cynics are discussed, initially for contrast but ultimately to show an unlikely harmony.

Doctoral Candidate, Philosophy, DePaul University  -  Aristotle and the Cynics on Happiness and Misfortune

Jessica Hurley
Jessica Hurley  |  Abstract
This dissertation reads apocalyptic fictions in post-1945 America as they engage with the millennial structures – discursive, ideological, and material – of the Cold War and its aftermaths. In a wide range of texts from 1945 to the present, apocalyptic narratives are not limited to voyeuristic representations of disaster or expressions of postmodern anomie but rather are used to negotiate the oppressive terms of American nationhood and citizenship. Through readings of Ayn Rand, James Baldwin, Samuel R. Delany, Tony Kushner, Tim LaHaye, and David Foster Wallace, this project shows how apocalypse in the nuclear age allows for sustained attachments to worlds that seem unsustainable, threatened, or foreclosed.

Doctoral Candidate, English, University of Pennsylvania  -  Ground Zero at the City on a Hill: Apocalypse and the Politics of Form in the Nuclear Age

Craig D. Warmke
Craig D. Warmke  |  Abstract
Humans seem to know about numbers and sets without laying eyes or fingers on them. We also seem to have modal knowledge about what is necessary or possible even though we don’t seem to experience anything necessary as necessary or anything possible as possible. So how might humans know mathematical and modal truths? This dissertation develops metaphysical accounts of both mathematical and modal reality which are sensitive to questions about how creatures like us might know about them. This work is part of an overarching project of justifying logic and mathematics within the view that modal and mathematical truths concern ideas in an infinite mind. Along the way, this dissertation develops a novel semantics for classical first-order logic, another for modal propositional logic, and another for quantified modal logic. The semantic approaches to modal logic do not use possible worlds, accessibility relations, or stand-ins for either one.

Doctoral Candidate, Philosophy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  -  Numbers and Necessity

Suzanne Kahn
Suzanne Kahn  |  Abstract
This dissertation asks how rising divorce rates shaped the politics and policies around the American social welfare regime between 1969, when California passed the nation’s first no-fault divorce law, and 2001. Scholars have shown that in the twentieth century the welfare regime developed to distribute economic resources, such as Social Security, to women through their husbands. Between 1967 and 1979, however, the United States’ divorce rate doubled. Historians have yet to address how this sudden challenge to the breadwinner-homemaker family structure at the heart of the gendered welfare regime affected it. This project seeks to answer this question by examining how women organized to gain access to lost economic resources after divorce and how policymakers responded to their demands.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Columbia University  -  Divorce and the Politics of the American Social Welfare Regime, 1969-2001

Jerry Chuanghwa Zee
Jerry Chuanghwa Zee  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores state demand to control dust storms in northern China since 2000. The control of dust storms made new objects politically consequential: the wind, the root systems of plants, grazing economies, and the respiratory systems of people exposed to suspended dust. Such an environmental politics challenges and transforms what can count as political. From the stabilization of dunes and the remaking of grazing economies in China’s frontier regions, to a pulmonary politics of breathing and exposure in Beijing and beyond, it traces out multiple moments in the windy geography of dust storms to re-stage political concepts in their exposure to environment. It argues that environmental issues demand a rethinking of the humanist assumptions of contemporary political thought.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley  -  The Windy State: Dust Storms and a Political Meteorology of Contemporary China

Matthew Kruer
Matthew Kruer  |  Abstract
This dissertation is the first scholarly work on the Susquehannock War, a multiethnic conflict arising out of regional instability in seventeenth century eastern North America. It begins in the 1660s, tracing the paths by which both Indian and English societies became increasingly volatile. After war broke out between Virginia and the Susquehannocks in 1675, it follows the escalation of hostilities and the movement toward colonial rebellion. It ends in 1682 with the Susquehannocks’ victory over their Native enemies and diplomatic success with English governments. The consequences of the Susquehannock War tie together three major developments: English imperial centralization, massive expansion of the Indian slave trade, and the forging of an enduring alliance between England and the Iroquois League.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Pennsylvania  -  The Susquehannock War: Native Americans, Bacon's Rebellion, and the Forging of the Covenant Chain

Iskandar Zulkarnain
Iskandar Zulkarnain  |  Abstract
This project examines the emergence of “digital nationalism” in post-authoritarian Indonesia, 1998-present, by analyzing three central case studies: Free Open Source Software (FOSS), video games, and social media. After the fall of Suharto’s regime, Indonesia became particularly passionate in its adoption of digital technologies, especially as an avenue for political and cultural participation. Examining key social actors in the three case studies and linking them to figures of modernity in Indonesia’s past, this dissertation explores the changing conceptions of nationalism in everyday public discourse propagated by the logic of computer programming. It further highlights the limitations of an optimistic belief about the power of “new” technology in upholding national identity.

Doctoral Candidate, Visual and Cultural Studies, University of Rochester  -  "Programming" the Archipelago: Digital Visual Cultures and Nationalism in Indonesia

Malgorzata Kurjanska
Malgorzata Kurjanska  |  Abstract
This project examines how states shape civil society. The end of the eighteenth century marked the division of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by Russia, Prussia, and the Habsburg Empire. These states pursued policies of political exclusion and forced assimilation, political marginalization and cultural repression, and political inclusion and cultural tolerance, respectively, in their “Polish” lands. This dissertation argues that these distinct approaches shaped civil society differently in each region. With Poland re-emerging as an autonomous state in 1918, this project compares the development of interwar associational life in these reunited regions to assess if pre-WWI legacies continued to shape civil society under a Polish regime, or if associational life succumbed to new policies and economic pressures, thus converging in associational character. It suggests that pre-WWI policies of political inclusion and cultural autonomy contributed to relatively higher resistance to deepening ethnic cleavage in, and elite domination of, civil society in interwar Krakow.

Doctoral Candidate, Sociology, University of California, Berkeley  -  Imperial States and Civic Legacies: Associational Life in Pre-WWI and Interwar Poland