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. 

Arash Abazari
Arash Abazari  |  Abstract
This dissertation addresses Hegel’s conception of power as a logical category. It has two interrelated goals. The first is to demonstrate that Hegel, in the second part of the “Science of Logic,” the “Logic of Essence,” develops an ontology that is based on power. The second goal is to show that Hegel’s “Logic of Essence” specifically captures the general structure of social domination in capitalism. Mobilizing Marx’s and Adorno’s social theories, this project argues that, for Hegel, the asymmetrical relation of domination obtains not despite the symmetrical relation of equality, but precisely through equality. The most basic form of this relation of domination is the relation of “opposition.” The project elaborates how, for Hegel, the context or the “totality” of relations is coercive upon individuals. Given the all-pervasive relations of power, the dissertation problematizes the possibility of substantive freedom, at both the ontological level and social level in capitalism.

Doctoral Candidate, Philosophy, Johns Hopkins University  -  Hegel’s Logic of Essence as the Ontology of Power in Capitalism

Emily Xi Lin
Emily Xi Lin  |  Abstract
Based on 18 months of ethnographic research in homes, clinics, autism rehabilitation centers, and philanthropic organizations, this dissertation examines the social meanings and practices of autism caregiving in China. While China’s biomedical institutions and humanitarian organizations seek to foster new autism parental practices that they deem to signify true parental love and scientific modernity, this thesis argues that these efforts decontextualize the work of caring from the experiential and everyday realities of families living with autism, while increasing the burden of care for rural families in China. In paying close attention to the social, educational, and healthcare disparities distinctive to contemporary China, this project shows how patterns of autism caregiving are produced and rationalized.

Doctoral Candidate, Science, Technology, and Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology  -  Caring for Star-Children: Autism, Modernizing Families, and Ethics in Contemporary China

Nadya Bair
Nadya Bair  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the daily operations of Magnum Photos, the global photographic cooperative founded in 1947. It demonstrates how Magnum’s editorial style and penchant for human-interest stories expanded the geographic scope of news photography when World War II ended. It then shows how Magnum brought photojournalism—as an aesthetic and as a mode of production—into new markets for photography, shaping how everything from the experience of tourism to the work of relief organizations and corporations came to be represented visually in the 1950s. The dissertation argues that in all of these ventures, Magnum’s successes resulted from the “decisive network” of agency staff, magazine editors, dark room developers, book publishers, and museum curators with whom photographers collaborated on a daily basis. Based in extensive archival research, this is the first project to situate Magnum’s early history within the postwar system of press photography as well the changing fields of sociology, geography, and public relations.

Doctoral Candidate, Art History, University of Southern California  -  The Decisive Network: Magnum Photos and the Art of Collaboration in Postwar Photojournalism

Weiwei Luo
Weiwei Luo  |  Abstract
This dissertation studies a native notion of citizenry and publicly accountable sovereignty developing in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century China. This shifting mutual conception between expanding social communities and the state is revealed by a set of previously unexamined practices: the publication and standardization of accounting reports for fundraising. Circulated widely among local residents and distant donors, these reports acknowledged the right of both parties to information and inclusion in public affairs. The making and contestation of accounts articulated ideas of accountability, which became a powerful tool for building solidarity across communities. It also increased the prestige of elites and officials, who brought these practices and their attendant assumptions into state-level discourse. In this bottom up process of communicating and enforcing accountability, accounting for funds transformed into accounting for power, and a social contract formed between “the people” and a sovereign state accountable to them.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Columbia University  -  Account Due: Making Citizenship and Sovereignty in Qing China, 1674-1894

Heather Berg
Heather Berg  |  Abstract
Situating the feminized labor of porn performance in the context of neoliberal political economy, this interdisciplinary dissertation investigates labor politics, working conditions, and worker resistance in the US adult film industry. It draws from fieldwork and interviews with industry workers and management to explore how porn work is organized, distributed, and remunerated. Like so many jobs in today’s economy, porn work is overwhelmingly independently contracted and unprotected by labor regulation. At the same time, it offers for some workers a more creative and better-paid alternative to the other jobs on offer. The project investigates the creative strategies workers develop—ranging from individual efforts to resist precarity to formal and informal collective action—as they seek to navigate labor under late capitalism.

Doctoral Candidate, Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara  -  Porn Work: Adult Film at the Point of Production

Manissa Maharawal
Manissa Maharawal  |  Abstract
What happens in the wake of mass mobilizations and popular social movements? And what becomes of the participants and their political projects? In 2011 Occupy Wall Street inspired people globally to protest against global economic inequality, demand more democratic structures of self-governance, and critique the current economic system. Less than a year later, the movement had no street presence and had mostly faded from public consciousness. Using detailed ethnography and oral history interviews with movement participants, this project follows the after-life of Occupy in New York City and the San Francisco Bay area, tracing the urban struggles and politics that its youth participants have engaged in over the past three years.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, City University of New York, The Graduate Center  -  Protest Cultures of the New “Lost Generation”: Urban Dissent, Direct Action, and Affective Politics Post-Occupy

Jeffrey Blevins
Jeffrey Blevins  |  Abstract
This dissertation investigates the relationship between modernist poetry and symbolic logic. Logicians and poets in America and England, in close contact during the early twentieth century, both understood semantics as intimately entwined with syntax and believed in formalist, abstract language as a valuable tool for describing the world. They converged particularly at a shared concept of coherence. For logicians, coherence became the endpoint of an Icarian quest to reinscribe discourses from physics to phenomenology in logic’s symbolism, a quest that collapsed into coherentist paradoxes. Poets received these paradoxes as imperatives to reconsider coherence’s value in formalist and symbolic projects, from logical doctrines to lyric poems. In turn, logic’s paradoxes galvanized modernist poets to imagine new forms of coherence between their poems and the worlds those poems describe.

Doctoral Candidate, English, University of California, Berkeley  -  The Poetry of Logic and the Logic of Poetry, 1895-1931

Sean Mallin
Sean Mallin  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores emergent forms of belonging in post-Katrina New Orleans through the lens of property and the concept of blight. There are more than 40,000 vacant properties in New Orleans. These properties have increasingly become a target for urban renewal through the city’s “fight against blight.” Through an ethnography of the shifting contours of ownership and indebtedness, this study sheds light on new forms of precarity that have come to characterize much of the US since the mortgage and foreclosure crisis. By bridging expert and everyday perspectives on vacant properties, it offers a lens through which to view contemporary transformations in urban landscapes and reveals how emergent—though conflicting—notions of belonging are intertwined with material indicators of development.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University of California, Irvine  -  Becoming Blight: Property and Belonging in Post-Katrina New Orleans

Elise L. Bonner
Elise L. Bonner  |  Abstract
This dissertation reconsiders the history of opera in Russia before Glinka, focusing on theatrical life in St. Petersburg during the reign of Catherine the Great. Relying on newly unearthed archival documents and musical manuscripts, this project shows how the Russian court theater found its place on an international operatic circuit at the same time the court came to define Russian opera as something distinct. Under Catherine, opera became an emblem of empire, a way for Russia to extend its reach into Europe while consolidating power at home. It even served an imperial program of domestic reform as the repertoire shifted away from self-representation toward social edification. The cosmopolitan framework of Russian opera was later hidden behind a nationalist façade; this dissertation exposes its foundation.

Doctoral Candidate, Music, Princeton University  -  Catherine the Great and the Origins of Russian Opera in Late Eighteenth-Century St. Petersburg

Hannah Marcus
Hannah Marcus  |  Abstract
In 1574, the Inquisitor of Asti wrote to cardinals in Rome reporting that the doctors in his city were “protesting that they are confused about how to medicate without Fuchs’s books.” The intellectual content of these writings had nothing to do with religion; however, Leonhart Fuchs was Protestant and all of his works were therefore banned. This dissertation tells the story of how many important medical books were prohibited from, and then subsequently reintegrated into, the realm of Catholic knowledge in the period between 1559 and 1664. While ecclesiastical authorities sought to control ideas, they also responded to the demands of scholars by licensing readers, recognizing the utility of medical knowledge, expurgating books, and integrating prohibited medical works into Catholic libraries.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Stanford University  -  Banned Books: Medicine, Readers, and Censors in Early Modern Italy, 1559-1664

Jay Borchert
Jay Borchert  |  Abstract
The vast damages of mass incarceration for prisoners and society are well documented across disciplines. Considering these damages, what are the narratives, scripts, and logics that shape workforce participation in corrections, defining prison work as a viable career path? How do organizational and social myths such as “prisoner rehabilitation” and “public safety” contextualize the ways that prison workers understand their work? Building on prior research by leveraging competing perspectives from organizational theory, the sociology of punishment, and qualitative methods, this dissertation develops thick-description of the nuanced understandings required by workers who direct, manage, and oversee prisons and prisoners. Through interviews with state correctional department directors nationwide, as well as prison wardens and prison guards in a southern state, each inhabiting varying degrees of social proximity to prisoners, the research shows the complex meaning-making required to participate in the punishment of fellow citizens.

Doctoral Candidate, Sociology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  Mass Incarceration, the Profession of Corrections, and the Way Prison Workers Construct Meanings about Their Participation in Our Punishment State

Martin Y. Marinos
Martin Y. Marinos  |  Abstract
After the collapse of socialism across Eastern Europe, media became the first markers of the changing public sphere. But, the liberalization of the media market along with the expansion of the European Union have not prevented the growth of strong far-right, populist movements both in the West and in the former Eastern bloc. This project investigates this paradox by analyzing the post-socialist transformation of media in the EU’s easternmost and poorest region—Bulgaria. Through a multi-method approach that engages with both primary sources in print and interviews with local journalists, politicians, and media experts, the study explains why and how the (neo)liberalization of media had contributed to the proliferation of racist and xenophobic discourse.

Doctoral Candidate, Communication, University of Pittsburgh  -  Post-Socialism, Right-Wing Populism, and the Construction of a (Neo)liberal Media Sphere: Political Discourse and Social Change in Bulgaria

Mattie Burkert
Mattie Burkert  |  Abstract
Following the 1688 Revolution Settlement, London’s financial system experienced a series of hotly debated changes, including the development of complex credit instruments, the growth of speculative investment, and the reminting of the silver coin. This dissertation exposes a previously unrecognized history of the London public theaters’ active participation in these debates. As a site of constant cultural recycling, the repertory theater adapted, revived, and reformed plays from previous generations, inviting audiences to connect past and present experiences of markets. In doing so, it complicated politicized narratives of rupture, from nostalgic visions of England’s past to uncritical celebrations of its fiscal modernity. Drawing on performance records, dramatic texts, and theatrical documents from moments of economic crisis, this project exposes the material and imaginative links Londoners of the period articulated between the playhouse and the stock exchange, and explores how those links enabled the theater to intervene in contemporary financial discourse.

Doctoral Candidate, English, University of Wisconsin-Madison  -  Speculative Enterprise: Public Finance and the London Theater, 1688-1763

Cecilia Márquez
Cecilia Márquez  |  Abstract
This dissertation traces the history of Latino/as in the US South during the demise of Jim Crow segregation. This project uses social history, oral history, and cultural and visual analysis to examine the lives of Latino/as in civil rights organizing, military service, and labor, and their representation in television, film, and food advertising. Overall, it shows that a black/not-black racial order characterized the US South in this period. Latino/as saw a shift in how they were treated as they grew in demographic size, while anti-black racism remained firmly entrenched. This project, therefore, emphasizes the permeable nature of whiteness and the centrality of blackness in anchoring racial hierarchies.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Virginia  -  The Strange Career of Juan Crow: Latino/as, African Americans, and the Making of the US South, 1940-2000

Chelsea R. Burns
Chelsea R. Burns  |  Abstract
Latin American concert music from the years 1920–1940 was part of a broad cultural and aesthetic project, one in which different voices vied to shape the artistic direction of the region. This dissertation discusses landmark compositions of the period from Mexico and Brazil, addressing how these musical works conveyed multiple meanings to different audiences in national and international settings. Through historical contextualization and close readings, it demonstrates how these composers’ musical responses to cultural shifts could be ambivalent or contradictory. In a region where cultural and political agents alike strove for international recognition in an increasingly global community, these works provide a telling lens into the stakes, limitations, and opportunities for such recognition.

Doctoral Candidate, Music, University of Chicago  -  Listening for Modern Latin America: Identity and Representation in Concert Music, 1920–1940

Jamie Martin
Jamie Martin  |  Abstract
This dissertation investigates the origins of the earliest international schemes to study and manage the world economy in the twentieth century. It focuses primarily on the economic work of the League of Nations and the International Labour Office, and on the network of American and European economists that shaped this work. It looks at how these experts, working in Europe and Asia, formulated strategies for studying and regulating the world economy in the face of the successive crises of the interwar period. Drawing on archival research from across Europe and the United States, it argues that these strategies, while unsuccessful in the short term, were influential in laying the intellectual and political foundations for post-1945 organizations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and for postwar global economic development schemes.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Harvard University  -  Governing the World Economy: Economic Expertise and the Reshaping of Global Order, 1916-1948

Lindsay A. Caplan
Lindsay A. Caplan  |  Abstract
Starting in the 1960s, a group of Italian artists known as Arte Programmata (Programmed Art) were among the first to use computers and cybernetics to make artworks, constructing op-art paintings, kinetic sculptures, light environments, and adaptable household designs. This dissertation situates Arte Programmata’s multi-media experiments within conditions unique to Cold War Italy. It argues that artists such as Bruno Munari, Enzo Mari, and the collectives Gruppo T and Gruppo N employed the generative and interactive technologies of early computers—namely, algorithms, feedback mechanisms, and information theory—not just as new media for making art but as conduits for investigating how human agency is produced by shared structures. This project offers new insights into early computer art by considering technology’s socio-political import, thus expanding an understanding of computers, cybernetics, and their bearing on the humanities.

Doctoral Candidate, Art History, City University of New York, The Graduate Center  -  Open Works: Between the Programmed and the Free, Art in Italy from 1962 to 1972

Nathaniel Miller
Nathaniel Miller  |  Abstract
The poetry of the Hudhayl tribe, dating to around 550-700 CE, is the only complete collection of tribal Arabic poetry from the period. Hudhayl lived near Mecca, and their increased poetic production in the mid-sixth century coincided with the rise of Quraysh, the Prophet Muhammad’s tribe. This full-length study of Hudhayl’s corpus examines their poetic imagery of trade, rain, and nomadic migration, arguing that they display a marked sense of western Arabian (Hijazi) regionalism, several features of which were shared with Quraysh. It further argues that in their poetic boasts, Hudhayl’s leaders deployed images of rule and prestigious stylistic devices adapted from older, more powerful tribes of the eastern peninsula, Najd, where Arab tribes had long interacted with Persian court culture. Ultimately, in carefully reconstructing Hudhayl’s world, it begins to map the bewilderingly plural models of tribal identity visible in pre- and early-Islamic poetry.

Doctoral Candidate, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago  -  Tribal Poetics in Early Arabic Poetry: The Case of Ashʿār Banī Hudhayl

Maura Capps
Maura Capps  |  Abstract
What can clover and cowpats tell us about the history of settler colonialism? This project examines the fate of grass-centric “Enlightened” mixed-husbandry in Britain’s new settler colonies from 1780 to 1850 as British agrarian improvers, colonial planners, and settlers turned from the well-watered, well-manured fields of the British Isles and encountered the marginal soils and climates of New South Wales and Cape Colony. The dissertation explores networks of agricultural science attempting to orchestrate agrarian development in these antipodean settlements at the end of the eighteenth century and stresses the importance of European grasses and legumes in colonial schemes to curb unsustainable, environmentally-destructive farming practices and settlement patterns. It contends that both environmental and political conditions in these colonies made ecological imperialism much more hard-won—if won at all—than has been previously supposed.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Chicago  -  All Flesh Is Grass: A Political Ecology of Agrarian Improvement in Britain’s Settler Empire, 1780-1850

Cameron Moore
Cameron Moore  |  Abstract
This dissertation studies the history and reception of Han dynasty (206 BC-220 CE) commentarial texts on the Confucian classics. It focuses on the reception of these texts through both ancient and modern contexts, and argues that such texts are largely a product of Qing (1644-1911 CE) and Republican era (1912-1949 CE) constructions of “classical scholarship” as a modern discipline. Through an analysis of reconstructed Han texts and excavated manuscripts, the project demonstrates that modern narratives that purport to deliver “original” readings of these texts are largely based on anachronistic definitions of the terms “classic” and “commentary” as they apply to early notions of reading, writing, and interpretation.

Doctoral Candidate, East Asian Studies, Princeton University  -  Text as Tradition: Han Commentary and the Rise of Classical Scholarship

Elizabeth Ann Cecil
Elizabeth Ann Cecil  |  Abstract
This nuanced regional study investigates a formative period in the history of the Pāśupatas, the earliest religious community devoted to the worship of the Hindu god Siva. Employing an interdisciplinary approach that integrates the study of new manuscript sources, epigraphic records in Sanskrit, and material evidence from three critical groups of early medieval temples, the dissertation illuminates the ways in which the Pāśupatas took part in the political upheaval and religious efflorescence that defined northwest India between the sixth and the ninth centuries CE. This effort to materialize the ties between the self-fashioning of the Pāśupatas and the dynamic landscape in which they were embedded succeeds in recovering the many, often marginalized, voices that animated this complex community. Using these voices, this study crafts an alternative history of early Hindu religiosity that challenges traditional scholarly binaries (popular/elite; lay/ascetic; orthodox/heterodox) to explore the polysemy of religious identity in pre-modern India.

Doctoral Candidate, Religious Studies, Brown University  -  Mapping a Contested Landscape: Religion, Politics, and Place in the Making of Pāśupata Identity, Sixth-Ninth Century CE

Erin Mosely
Erin Mosely  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines how the processes and politics of post-genocide reckoning have had a profound impact on historical research and production in Rwanda, and on the various public meanings of Rwandan history today. Through an analysis of three rich sites of history-making—the law, the academy, and the archive—the project traces the growing influence of human rights discourse on the construction and narration of Rwanda’s past and offers key insights into the ways in which “Never Again” has come to operate as a powerful ideological and epistemological framework. In so doing, the dissertation raises critical questions about the tensions, contestations, and erasures that are produced when human rights, archival practice, and historical production become increasingly aligned against a backdrop of post-genocide nation-building.

Doctoral Candidate, African and African American Studies, Harvard University  -  The Future of Rwanda’s Past: Transitional Justice, Archival Practice, and the Remaking of History after Genocide

Wesley Byron Chaney
Wesley Byron Chaney  |  Abstract
This dissertation traces eighteenth- and nineteenth-century social and demographic changes on the Sino-Tibetan frontier, specifically the crumpled landscape of mountains and ravines along the modern-day Gansu-Qinghai border. By drawing on a diverse array of sources—primarily central and local legal cases, but also contracts, genealogies, and Tibetan-language histories—the project chronicles how migration, changing material conditions, and the rebellion of the 1860s affected the lives of farmers and peddlers, herders and lumberjacks. In doing so, the dissertation brings the study of Qing frontiers into conversation with legal history, historical anthropology, and Annales-inspired social history, fields all too often ignored in top-down studies of empire. Ultimately, the project contributes to understanding why the Sino-Tibetan borderlands are part of the PRC today and why their inclusion continues to be so contentious.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Stanford University  -  Land, Trade, and the Law on the Sino-Tibetan Border, 1723-1911

Emily Ng
Emily Ng  |  Abstract
Explosive rates of rural-urban migration and privatization in post-reform China have spurred debates on new forms of reason, accompanied by a proliferation of “psy-disciplines.” Meanwhile, something else was on the rise: hauntings by spirits that purportedly vanished during Mao's reign. While possession is treated in psychiatric clinics through rubrics of mental disorder, it is woven into the moral fabric of everyday life in Chinese villages—villages said to be “spectralized” in another sense due to their emptying of symbolic value under the market regime. Drawing on ethnographic research in rural Henan province, this dissertation finds that across temple and clinic, betrayals and reconfigurations of reciprocation are transmitted through temporalities of socialist promise, cosmological anticipation, and intergenerational impasse. It approaches those “left behind,” including patients, spirit mediums, and psychiatrists, as figures caught in a shared dilemma, in a time when gods have lost their way.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley  -  A Time of Lost Gods: Madness, Possession, and the Return of Spirits in Contemporary China

A.T. Coates
A.T. Coates  |  Abstract
This dissertation recovers “aesthetics” as an analytical term for the study of religions. It does so to gain insight into the sensory life of a conservative religious tradition, American Protestant fundamentalism, that usually denies it has any sensory life. Covering the crucial period from 1890-1930, it tells a new story about the rise of an influential American religious movement. The project puts sensing bodies at the center of the fundamentalist tradition. Though usually remembered for its abstruse doctrines or conservative politics, the dissertation demonstrates that its configurations of the senses really made fundamentalism unique. Each chapter unpacks the operations of a particular sense to show how it shaped early fundamentalist history: sight, hearing, touch, and the “spiritual sense.”

Doctoral Candidate, Religious Studies, Duke University  -  Fundamentalist Aesthetics: Sensation and Scripture in Early Twentieth-Century American Fundamentalism

Samuel Ng
Samuel Ng  |  Abstract
Public expressions of mourning came to constitute a central means of generating mass black politics in the United States during the first half of the twentieth century. Black activists responded to the outbreak of racial violence that swept the country from 1917 to 1923 by performing and inhabiting on a large, public scale the very bodily trauma they protested. Politicized mourning offered them an effective means of expanding the reach and scope of the black freedom struggle in the Jim Crow United States, one that proved itself particularly available to black women, who were often left behind to mourn the deaths of their husbands, sons, and friends while at the same time being excluded from leadership positions in mainstream organizations.

Doctoral Candidate, American Studies, New York University  -  Embodying Pain: The Politics of Black Mourning in the United States, 1917-1955

Brian J. Cuddy
Brian J. Cuddy  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the relationship between international law and the American use of military force during the Vietnam War. It investigates both how law influenced American conduct of the Indochina conflict and how the application of force by the United States in Vietnam reshaped the legal architecture of war. The major historiographical debate concerning law and war in Vietnam focuses on whether or not the US generally adhered to its legal obligations during the conflict; this project moves beyond the question of compliance to focus on the contested and contingent meanings of the law itself. Interpretations and innovations of law developed during the war were crystallized into new, more diffuse parameters for the legitimate application of international violence in the years immediately after the war. Those new parameters matter for how war is imagined and waged today.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Cornell University  -  Wider War: American Force in Vietnam, International Law, and the Transformation of Armed Conflict, 1961-1977

Kaneesha Cherelle Parsard
Kaneesha Cherelle Parsard  |  Abstract
Between emancipation and the independence period in the British West Indies, surveyors and administrators attempted to prescribe acceptable forms of sexuality and reproduction for West Indians of African and Indian descent through the control of space and, in particular, of dwelling spaces. Through analysis of West Indian literary and visual works including landscape painting, short stories, novels, and documentary photography, this dissertation instead foregrounds the intimacies and collaborations between African and Indian working people in the landscape, the barrack yard, and the house. This project analyzes these spaces as anti-picturesque forms, spaces whose compositions refuse surveillance and social control, at disjunctive moments throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It reveals the spatial and social processes of citizen-making in the late colonial British West Indies, illuminates informal and unruly ways of living in that place and time, and theorizes an Atlantic-Indian Ocean modernity.

Doctoral Candidate, American Studies and African American Studies, Yale University  -  Improper Dwelling: Space, Sexuality, and Colonial Modernity in the British West Indies, 1838-1962

Megan Johanna Daniels
Megan Johanna Daniels  |  Abstract
This dissertation argues that the worship of the “Queen of Heaven” evolved from Bronze Age origins to structure novel socio-political forms in Iron Age Greece (1000-500 BCE), while cutting across local identities in a time of burgeoning cross-cultural trade. Drawing on models from cultural evolutionary sociology and psychology and economic theories of institutions, the study analyzes the cultural evolution of the worship of the “Queen of Heaven” in its many guises across the Bronze and Iron Ages. With this backdrop, the study takes six archaeological case studies from Iron Age Greece and analyzes the symbolism of religious finds within their socio-political contexts. Finally, the dissertation examines the worship of this deity in trading sites across the Mediterranean and its role in cross-cultural interaction. The results show religion as a vital medium through which societies articulate and enact ideas of sovereignty and build common identities with one another across cultural boundaries.

Doctoral Candidate, Classics, Stanford University  -  The Queen of Heaven and a Goddess for All the People: Religion, Cultural Evolution, and Social Development in Iron Age Greece

José Juan Pérez Meléndez
José Juan Pérez Meléndez  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines how government formation occurred in lockstep with the emergence of colonization companies in imperial Brazil. Taking after old-regime chartered companies but not yet fully modern joint-stocks, colonization companies were an innovation in the associational life of post-independence Brazil. Like similar firms in Australia, Canada, Mexico, or Texas, these private companies were in charge of turning migration flows into profitable opportunities for businessmen and statesmen alike. This dissertation advances that, while rife with corruption and speculation, these companies’ promotion and management of “free” migrations as a niche market buttressed the organization of long-lasting policy frameworks that prepared the Brazilian government for the era of mass migrations.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Chicago  -  The Business of Peopling: Colonization Companies and the Making of Imperial Brazil, 1815-1878

Arash Davari
Arash Davari  |  Abstract
“Revolutionary Reconstruction” engages the archive of the 1979 revolution in Iran to theorize the agency of a non-teleological collective subject. It argues that this revolutionary subject emerged through acts of narration. Popular culture produced in Iran and abroad between 1968 and 1981 attempted to craft an emerging collective subject by transforming the individuals that would comprise it. This dissertation presents the narratives of subjectivity found therein as open-ended sites of counter-discipline. In light of its findings, the project provides a new account of the late modern state as the effect of disciplined, yet self-determined, social practice.

Doctoral Candidate, Political Science, University of California, Los Angeles  -  Revolutionary Reconstruction: Narrative, Subjectivity, and State Consolidation in Iran

Connor M. Pitetti
Connor M. Pitetti  |  Abstract
This project reads the sometimes fantastic, sometimes terrifying future cities imagined in twentieth-century science fiction and architectural speculation as expressive of different understandings of the nature of history and the relationship of the future to the present. Examining the implications of these temporal discourses for environmentally conscious thought, it argues that the apocalyptic conception of history as a closed field discourages ecologically sensitive thinking, as a concentration on historical ends obscures the processual connections linking humanity to the non-human world in the evolving present. Post-apocalyptic critiques of apocalypse, in contrast, offer productive visions of a temporally open world in which humanity contributes as one actor among many collectively producing historical and material reality.

Doctoral Candidate, English, State University of New York, Stony Brook  -  The City at the End of the World: Eschatology and Ecology in Twentieth-Century Science Fiction and Architecture

Bathsheba R. Demuth
Bathsheba R. Demuth  |  Abstract
This dissertation is a history of human interactions with the Bering Straits’ marine and terrestrial environments from the 1840s through the Soviet Union’s last years. Like all polar ecologies, biological life in the region is limited by a severe climate and scarce solar energy. This project examines how capitalism’s and communism’s energy-intensive, industrial ideologies interacted with this environment and its indigenous people, the Inupiat, Chukchi, and Yupik. Based on archival research in the US and Russia, it explores how the ideological drive to increase production shared by both countries altered how local peoples used and understood resources, but also how ecological contingency reshaped the ways capitalism and communism were understood and practiced. The dissertation, more broadly, examines how environmental factors shape sovereignty, how energy—from the calories in caribou to crude oil—is critical to politics, and the ability of modern growth-oriented ideologies to contend with non-human actors.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of California, Berkeley  -  The Power of Place: Modern Ideology and Arctic Ecology in the Bering Straits, 1848-1988

Sarah M. Quesada
Sarah M. Quesada  |  Abstract
This dissertation studies post 1980s representations of transatlantic memory. In examining the development of the notion of “textual” memorials in the hemispheric Caribbean, it argues that cultural products respond to or complement straitened physical monuments of the slave trade. Drawing from a post-memory structure, the project expands this notion into Latin American story-telling to show how narratives share an Afro-historical reconstitution of memory over the “lieux de mémoire,” or where the plantation took root. In reassessing the ontological nature of the Caribbean narrative, the dissertation conveys the many ways in which African history is presented within the margins of texts, in the foundations of nation-building myths, but also at the intersection of contemporary conservation projects.

Doctoral Candidate, Iberian and Latin American Cultures, Stanford University  -  Textual Memorials of a Transatlantic America: Ruins and Monuments of the African Diaspora in Luso-Hispanic and Latino/a Narratives

Lee Elizabeth Douglas
Lee Elizabeth Douglas  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines how forensic experts, historians, image-makers, and the kin of those who fell victim to twentieth-century fascist violence unearth and mobilize diverse forms of scientific, documentary, and narrative evidence in order to challenge cultural forgetting in contemporary Spain. Since 2000, the local uptake of transnational forensics has allowed researchers and victims’ kin to position memory as an object that can and should be recuperated. However, in the context of legal amnesty, cultural amnesia, and economic austerity, attempts to produce new forms of historical knowledge have been thwarted. This dissertation tracks local efforts to reimagine Spaniards’ relationships to the past by analyzing the social processes that exhume and give meaning to evidence in post-Franco Spain. The project’s concern with how evidence is produced in forensic labs, state-run archives, and online image galleries also provides important insight into how digital and analog technologies mediate historical knowledge.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, New York University  -  Producing Historical Knowledge in a World of Absence: Forensic Science, Cultures of Documentation, and the Politics of Memory in Post-Franco Spain

Kelly Mee Rich
Kelly Mee Rich  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines how post-1945 British and Anglophone fiction engages with Britain’s transition from a warfare to a welfare state. The novels studied deploy welfare’s logic of managing domestic life, constructing experiments in collective living to explore how built space catalyzes new intimacies between inhabitants. Yet these works also critique a welfarist logic, collapsing architectures of connection and inventing untenable living spaces only sustainable in literature. Taken together, they reveal Britain to be haunted by its postwar fantasies of repair: a landscape littered with discarded blueprints, semi-habitable houses, and persistent markers of inequality that resist grand visions of social reconstruction.

Doctoral Candidate, English, University of Pennsylvania  -  States of Repair: Institutions of Private Life in the Postwar British Novel

Rebecca Elliott
Rebecca Elliott  |  Abstract
How are the risks that lie at the heart of climate change constructed through social and political processes? What factors shape how the financial costs of those risks are distributed across populations? This dissertation engages these questions by drawing on interview data, archival material, and ethnographic fieldwork conducted in communities currently navigating recent changes to the National Flood Insurance Program. Engaging theoretical questions at the intersection of risk and classification, the dissertation traces the development and deployment of two devices that work together to classify and price flood risk: flood risk maps and actuarial insurance pricing formulas. The project connects these devices to political contestation regarding how to manage the costs of rising sea levels.

Doctoral Candidate, Sociology, University of California, Berkeley  -  Underwater: Floods and the Social Classification, Pricing, and Distribution of the Risks of Climate Change in the United States

Alfonso Salgado
Alfonso Salgado  |  Abstract
This dissertation analyzes Chilean communism from 1930 to 1990, encapsulating the multiple layers that make up “The Party Family.” First and foremost, this study examines the family life of communist members. Its main purpose is to advance a holistic understanding of political activism, one that challenges approaches that reduce politics to its public expressions. Chilean communists forged a political subculture that merged active political engagement in the public realm with proper family life in the domestic sphere. Notions of respectability strengthened the connection between private life and public personae. Second, the project documents the kinship ties that undergirded the party’s organizational structure and studies its networks of solidarity and gendered hierarchies. Finally, the project contributes to a deeper understanding of the family of the political left in Latin America while engaging in broader discussions about the nature of political engagement and the functioning of political parties.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Columbia University  -  The Party Family: The Private Life of Communists in Twentieth-Century Chile

Rebecca M. Evans
Rebecca M. Evans  |  Abstract
Arguing that post-1945 American literature is preoccupied with an understanding of natural history as cyclical, deep, and slow, this project examines literary narrations of contact and conflict between natural and human history. The dissertation suggests that novels address both ecological and political issues through the use of formal and rhetorical strategies that commingle natural and human time. As such, these texts reclaim “natural” temporality as both motivation and method for social and environmental activism. The project revises the spatial emphasis within environmental literary studies, reveals latent environmental critiques in novels not previously understood as being concerned with nonhuman nature, and demonstrates literature’s utility in responding to anthropogenic climate change and the challenges—both material and ideological—that it poses to human history.

Doctoral Candidate, English, Duke University  -  Unnatural History: Ecological Temporality in Post-1945 American Literature

Stephanie Savell
Stephanie Savell  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the conjuncture of repressive policing and rights-based discourses and practices in a controversial public security program in Brazilian favelas called "police pacification.” Going beyond support or condemnation of this program, the dissertation investigates the meanings of security, policing, and power in the lived experiences of favela residents, police, military soldiers, and policymakers. Their varied understandings reveal much about the tension between coercion and social contract in state sovereignty; the contested construction of authority in a context where criminal groups compete with the state; and the fine line between public security as a right to protection from crime and militarized security as abuse of rights.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, Brown University  -  The Right to Security: Militarized Policing and Its Alternatives in Rio de Janeiro

Rebecca L. Fall
Rebecca L. Fall  |  Abstract
This dissertation advances a new field of study by constructing an archive of “nonsensicalism,” a range of semantically obscure expressions popular across English Renaissance writing between 1580 and 1680. Assembling a broad array of materials—from understudied pamphlets and manuscripts devoted to gibberish verse to well-known literary material like Hamlet—“Common Nonsense” identifies the crucial ways semantics shaped social hierarchies, and sheds new light on how different communities engaged “cheap print” and other emergent forms of popular media. In the process, it challenges prevailing methods of interpretation that dismiss nonsense as culturally as well as semantically meaningless. At a time when some disparage humanistic study as useless or trivial, this project gives a historical account of the significant ways in which ostensibly “frivolous” forms of expression help to shape social attitudes and identities.

Doctoral Candidate, English, Northwestern University  -  Common Nonsense: The Production of Popular Literature in Renaissance England

Akshya Saxena
Akshya Saxena  |  Abstract
This project examines the role of language in democratic politics in post-1990s India. It asks: does English—as a language and as a symbol—facilitate political claims by hitherto-marginalized castes, classes, and language groups? How does English itself get (re)constituted in this process? English, in addition to Hindi, was made the official language of India post-independence. Legislating its usage combined with the new economic order of the 1990s popularized English and made it a “local” challenge to elite Hindi dominance. Through critical analyses of post-1990s journalistic, cinematic, and literary texts, this project shows that informal access to English in vernacular media catalyzes sociopolitical changes that are increasingly altering the complexion of Indian democracy.

Doctoral Candidate, Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities  -  Vernacular Englishes: Language and Democratic Politics in Post-liberalization India

Sofia Fenner
Sofia Fenner  |  Abstract
Co-optation—the act of bringing potential opponents into a dominant system—is widely theorized to underpin durable authoritarian rule. Yet empirical evidence suggests that co-optation’s effects on opposition vary across cases. This dissertation engages in a historical and interpretive analysis of co-opted parties in Morocco, Egypt, and Indonesia to answer several interlocking questions: Why do different types of parties respond differently to co-optation? How does co-optation affect party behavior, ideology, and strength? What are the key sources of resilience for co-opted parties? When do co-optative processes break down? And how does the discourse surrounding co-optation affect ordinary citizens’ understandings of politics? Rather than focusing on measures of opposition “success” or “failure,” this project recognizes ambiguity and disagreement as the key products of co-optation and foregrounds the organizational and discursive tools that parties employ to manage internal conflict.

Doctoral Candidate, Political Science, University of Chicago  -  Life after Co-optation: Possibility and Change in Authoritarian Regimes

Timothy E. Shenk
Timothy E. Shenk  |  Abstract
The economy is perhaps the central topic of political debate in the world today, yet familiarity has obscured the concept’s novelty. Far from being a natural feature of social life, the economy has a history—in crucial respects, a surprisingly recent one. “Inventing the American Economy” explores the place of the United States in this story, beginning with the early appearances of the economy in political and academic discussions at the turn of the twentieth century, continuing through the enshrinement of the economy as the central object of domestic governance just a few decades later, and concluding in the early 1980s with the birth of a new style of governing the economy that has survived into the present.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Columbia University  -  Inventing the American Economy

Emi Foulk
Emi Foulk  |  Abstract
This dissertation rethinks eighteenth-century kokugaku (an intellectual movement frequently translated into English as “nativism”) through the lens of language and linguistics. Focusing on the hitherto overlooked grammatical and phonological studies of three kokugaku scholars—Motoori Norinaga, Fujitani Nariakira, and Suzuki Akira—it demonstrates that kokugaku spearheaded a highly sophisticated and empirically grounded inquiry into the technicalities of language, using this in turn to undergird ideological arguments pertaining to the nature of language both on the Japanese archipelago and in the cosmos. Furthermore, it challenges existing scholarly portrayals of kokugaku as ushering in new forms of community that were later appropriated in the building of the modern Japanese nation-state.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of California, Los Angeles  -  Signposts for the Way: Grammar, Phonology, and Ideology in Eighteenth-Century Japan

Robert Steel
Robert Steel  |  Abstract
Sometimes a person has not only some first-order evidence that bears directly on a proposition, but also some higher-order evidence that bears on how reliable they are at gauging this first-order evidence. This commonly happens in cases of peer disagreement; that a smart, informed interlocutor comes to an opposite conclusion is higher-order evidence that one’s judgment is unreliable. This dissertation examines how people in possession of both types of evidence ought to respond. It argues that they should adjust their level of confidence to that indicated by the higher-order evidence alone, regardless of the disposition of the first-order evidence. In defending this “calibrationist” treatment of higher-order evidence, this dissertation develops arguments on a broad range of fundamental topics in epistemology, including the relation between evidence and rational belief, the intelligibility of epistemic akrasia, and the extent to which rationality has an internal character.

Doctoral Candidate, Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh  -  Planning for Failure

Grant Gordon
Grant Gordon  |  Abstract
Does establishing evidence of atrocities through the systematic monitoring of war affect the strategic use of violence during conflict? Does monitoring conflict ultimately deter crimes against humanity before they take place? To answer these questions and fully examine the impact of monitoring, this dissertation weaves together three levels of analysis. At the macro-level, this project analyzes global trends in how monitoring shapes the behavior of those engaged in conflict. At the meso-level, this dissertation assesses whether the first-ever satellite intervention implemented by a human rights organization amidst a brutal genocide in Darfur reduced violence. At the micro-level, this work explores how monitoring affects individual decision making among members of the Congolese army. Together, this work illuminates whether and why monitoring conflict deters violence.

Doctoral Candidate, Political Science, Columbia University  -  Monitoring Conflict to Deter Violence

Mark A. Stoholski
Mark A. Stoholski  |  Abstract
This dissertation treats “sophistic” theories of language in relation to the aesthetic, based on the surviving texts of the ancient Greek orators. For them, language is always an aesthetic phenomenon, intimately tied to unconscious sentiment—to affect. It transmits sentiment first and foremost. The project then traces the reemergence of this form of thinking about language in the writings of three French authors: Pascal, Hello, and Quignard. Although divided by several centuries, each of these adopts rhetorical strategies that suppose that language cannot be separated from the aesthetic dimension. They vocally oppose any philosophical attempt to reduce language to a vehicle for the mere communication of sense. These “sophists” open a generalized literary approach to all language.

Doctoral Candidate, Comparative Literature, Emory University  -  Affecting the Logos

Linda R. Gosner
Linda R. Gosner  |  Abstract
This dissertation focuses on the social and economic impacts of Roman conquest and colonization on the mining industry in the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal). Drawing primarily from archaeological and epigraphic evidence, it investigates four Roman imperial mining centers scattered throughout the region in order to better understand changes and continuities in daily life, the technological and social aspects of production, and economic interactions at these locales. Illuminating the lives of oft forgotten people in mining districts helps to illustrate the nature of Roman imperialism and its localized effects on communities. Further, this project demonstrates the utility of examining processes of resource extraction and community formation in studies of colonial encounters.

Doctoral Candidate, Archaeology and the Ancient World, Brown University  -  Mining Matters: Rural Communities and Industrial Landscapes in Roman Iberia, Third Century BCE-Second Century CE

Anushree L. Subramaniam
Anushree L. Subramaniam  |  Abstract
There are more than 6,000 rare diseases without treatments available, many of which are severe or fatal without treatment. Due to small patient populations, private benefits to drug developers for rare disease drug development are small relative to social benefits. Thus, in the absence of external intervention, private manufacturers may neglect rare disease research. This dissertation examines incentives for medical innovation and the anticipated social benefits of rare disease research through the lens of the US Orphan Drug Act. It discusses the role of government in stimulating research in neglected disease areas and finds that benefits of new medical innovations are often underestimated. Insights from research are valuable not only for studying rare disease treatments in the US but also neglected tropical diseases such as Ebola, malaria, and tuberculosis.

Doctoral Candidate, Economics, University of Chicago  -  Incentives for Pharmaceutical Innovation and Associated Welfare Implications: Evidence from the Orphan Drug Act

Timothy W. Grinsell
Timothy W. Grinsell  |  Abstract
Linguistic vagueness is a consequence of aggregating many judgments into one. This project applies social choice theory, the branch of economics concerning collective decision making, to account for linguistic vagueness. Vagueness effects like the “sorites paradox” arise from the social choice problems associated with linguistic predicates that aggregate judgments along a number of different criteria. Among other advantages, the use of social choice theory reconciles the representation of vagueness effects with models of language meaning based on classical logic (in contrast to most philosophical accounts), and it provides the resources to explain a variety of linguistic puzzles (in contrast to most linguistic accounts).

Doctoral Candidate, Linguistics, University of Chicago  -  Semantic Indecision

Hillary A. Taylor
Hillary A. Taylor  |  Abstract
In early modern England, social and linguistic change proceeded in conjunction with one another. Among the principal developments of the period was a process of social differentiation involving an expansion of the gentry, the growth of commercial and professional occupational groups, and the emergence of a much larger class of landless permanent laborers. These social-structural changes were accompanied by changes in the language of social description, notably the development of a language of “sorts of people.” These complementary processes occasioned shifts in the tenor of social relations and new attitudes regarding language and its use. This dissertation offers a history of the class politics of language in early modern England. By attending to language at the levels of ideology and everyday social practice, it explores the ways in which language facilitated the reproduction of the social hierarchy and structured the experiences of the laboring population.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Yale University  -  “But if the poore man speak, they say, What fellow is this?”: Language and Social Relations in Early Modern England, 1550-1750

Serra Hakyemez
Serra Hakyemez  |  Abstract
Based on two years of ethnographic research in Diyarbakır, Turkey, this dissertation resituates the ongoing Kurdish political trials, which are generally conceived of as “extraordinary” for threatening state sovereignty, within the ordinary legal world. On the one hand, the project highlights the agentive power of surveillance and writing technologies through which certain forms of legal artifacts are produced and Kurdish political dissent is transfigured into an indictable terrorist subject. On the other hand, it explores the language games, corporeal performances, and courtroom protests that the defendants, both as a collective body and individual legal subjects, deploy to claim legitimacy for their political actions. By exploring both the technological and inter-discursive aspects of law, this dissertation establishes how terrorism trials are made a part of the ordinary legal world and, simultaneously, what forms of unmaking the defendants pursue.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University  -  Kurds Before the Court: Law, Terrorism, and Sovereignty

Kyla Thomas
Kyla Thomas  |  Abstract
When two workers with similar qualifications but observably different class backgrounds apply for a job, are they treated differently? To answer this question, this dissertation draws on data from three survey experiments and one multi-site field experiment. First, it analyzes how status-cultural traits—specifically, music and sports practices—with differing class associations are stereotyped in the US. Second, it examines the consequences these cultural signals of class have (when included in résumés) for the hiring decisions of employers and the hiring outcomes of male and female workers. Preliminary results reveal that status-cultural traits are fairly agreed-upon markers of social class and a significant basis for employment discrimination against lower-class women in customer-facing jobs. Together, these findings offer new insight into the cultural content of American class bias and its gendered labor market consequences.

Doctoral Candidate, Sociology, Princeton University  -  Hidden (Dis)Advantages of Class: How Cultural Signals of Class Shape Hiring Outcomes

Heidi Hart
Heidi Hart  |  Abstract
“Contrary Voices” examines composer Hanns Eisler’s settings of nineteenth-century poetry under changing political pressures from 1925 to 1962. The poets’ ideologically fraught reception histories, both under Nazism and in East Germany, led Eisler to intervene in this reception and voice dissent by radically fragmenting the texts. His musical settings both absorb and disturb the charisma of nineteenth-century sound materials, through formal parody, dissonance, and interruption, in order to expose the use of these materials in evoking collective, nationalistic trance states. Eisler’s critical stance works in dialectical tension with musical tropes for mourning. Examining these text-settings systematically over time, “Contrary Voices” draws on a dialogic approach to adaptation in its cross-readings of text and music. A secondary concern with voice, in gendered and polyphonic forms, also informs the project. Ultimately, Eisler’s settings of nineteenth-century poetry embody aesthetic inheritance in need of the very mourning it voices.

Doctoral Candidate, Carolina-Duke Program in German Studies, Duke University  -  Contrary Voices: Heine, Hölderlin, and Goethe in the Music of Hanns Eisler

Denise M. Vigani
Denise M. Vigani  |  Abstract
This dissertation develops an empirically plausible account of neo-Aristotelian virtue based on the psychological model of personality as a cognitive-affective processing system. The psychological model holds that an individual’s subjective construal of a situation is crucial to understanding that individual’s behavior. The account of virtue developed in this dissertation begins, therefore, with an elaboration of the distinctive way in which the virtuous person construes situations. Aristotle’s method of individuating the virtues is employed to outline a framework of “thin” and “thick” accounts of individual virtues, where the former specifies the field of concern of the virtue and grounds the account in an Aristotelian notion of excellence, while the latter elaborates the particular cognitive-affective elements that constitute the virtue. As an example, the account is applied to the virtue of courage in order to show how the action guidance and assessment capabilities of virtue ethics remain intact.

Doctoral Candidate, Philosophy, City University of New York, The Graduate Center  -  Construing Character: Virtue as a Cognitive-Affective Processing System

Heidi Hausse
Heidi Hausse  |  Abstract
This project examines one of the gravest injuries that a human being can survive: the loss of a limb. The explosion of gunpowder warfare in the early modern period (c.1500-1700) drastically increased the number of those who suffered this loss. This project gives the first detailed account of these bodies in pain and reconstruction. Through medical treatises, archives, and artifacts, the project explores surgical and artisanal practices surrounding the body from the first signs of gangrene in a living limb to the polishing of a mechanical one. Over six chapters, it recreates the experiences of patients, surgeons, and those around them. Rather than a technical narrative, this project presents a social anatomy that uses an unexplored medical phenomenon to cut deep into the fabric of early modern communities.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Princeton University  -  Life and Limb: Technology, Surgery, and Bodily Loss in Early Modern Germany, 1500-1700

Maria Vinogradova
Maria Vinogradova  |  Abstract
This dissertation writes a history of the amateur film movement in the Soviet Union, focusing on its most productive period from the late 1950s to the early 1990s. At this time, trade unions, factories, and worker clubs sponsored amateur film collectives, enabling them to create a broad scope of films that ranged from newsreels, industrial, and educational films, to fiction, animation, and experimental works. The Soviet state-sponsored system of amateur film workshops created a film culture that was alternative, diverse, and polyvocal. Its output presents a unique record of the Soviet everyday from the perspective of ordinary citizens. Analyzing rare films, archival documents, and interviews, the dissertation argues that this record is authentic; film amateurs were not “hired” by the state propaganda machine to create a favorable image of reality. The dissertation regards this organized approach to amateur filmmaking as consistent with the turn that socialism took in the Soviet Union in the post-Stalin period.

Doctoral Candidate, Cinema Studies, New York University  -  Amateur Cinema in the Soviet Union, 1957-1991: History, Ideology, and Culture

Jenna Healey
Jenna Healey  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines debates about the timing of pregnancy in the United States during the last quarter of the twentieth century. Beginning in the 1970s, the availability of effective contraception, coupled with the mass entry of women into the labor market, made age at first birth a central preoccupation for physicians, politicians, and women alike. By comparing the case of teenagers and women over 35, the project argues that untimely pregnancies—a teenager becoming pregnant too soon, or a woman over 35 attempting pregnancy too late—came to be defined as medically and culturally problematic. It demonstrates how both teenage and delayed pregnancy were constructed as social crises, and explores how reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization were used to extend the “biological clock.”

Doctoral Candidate, History of Science and Medicine, Yale University  -  Sooner or Later: Age, Pregnancy, and the Reproductive Revolution in Late Twentieth-Century America

Peter W. Walker
Peter W. Walker  |  Abstract
This dissertation studies the loyalist Anglican clergy who emigrated from the colonies during the American Revolution, and traces their influence in Britain. Most of the loyalist clergy were missionaries in colonies where Anglicans were in the minority. This unusual and politically marginal group had an outsized influence on the reconstruction of the Church of England. During the rebellion, they insisted that they were persecuted for their loyalty to “Church and King,” a claim that secured them tremendous moral authority in Britain. As writers, advisers to bishops, and missionaries to Britain’s remaining imperial possessions, the émigré clergy remembered the revolution as a rebellion against the Church of England, and lobbied for a closer alliance between church and state. Their activities laid the foundations for Britain’s conservative reaction to the French Revolution after 1789, a reaction that was present throughout the British empire.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Columbia University  -  The Church Militant: The American Émigré Clergy and the Making of the British Counterrevolution, 1763-1792

Alanna Hickey
Alanna Hickey  |  Abstract
This project reads a largely untouched archive of Native American poetry as it engages with US treaty discourse throughout the 1800s. Demonstrating the surprising popularity of Native poetry in nineteenth-century US literary culture, it argues that disenfranchised Native populations took advantage of this popularity, adopting Euro-American poetic genres to participate in important political conversations around land, race, and the rights of citizenship. “The Forms of National Belonging” constructs a genealogy of poetry written in English, Creek dialect, Anishinaabemowin, and Cherokee as it addresses the evolving terms of US political inclusion. It therefore challenges the literary field’s preoccupation with Native oral traditions by reorienting American literary history toward a rich record of American Indian print.

Doctoral Candidate, English, Northwestern University  -  The Forms of National Belonging: The Politics of Citizenship in Nineteenth-Century Native American Print Poetry

Sean F. Ward
Sean F. Ward  |  Abstract
“War Worlds” investigates deep correlations between the social practices of marginalized groups living during the world wars—various “enemies within” England and its colonies—and the sui generis literary forms that British and Anglophone writers have used to depict such ostensibly inimical life. As wartime governments restructured communities in England and abroad, persecuting illicit forms of social and political relations from pacifism and queer sex to anticolonial resistance, many writers turned the attention of their texts away from grand politics and toward the experiences of small groups on the fringes of British society. Reading works by writers as different as T.E. Lawrence, H.D., George Lamming, and Michael Ondaatje, “War Worlds” shows that the practices of such groups have served as a crucial incitement for dissident social and political thought, as well as aesthetic invention, in twentieth-century portrayals of total war.

Doctoral Candidate, English, Duke University  -  War Worlds: Violence, Sociality, and the Forms of Twentieth-Century Transatlantic Literature

Tamara Kneese
Tamara Kneese  |  Abstract
This dissertation asks how technologies of posterity and preservation are disrupted in a networked world. Given how intimately people are tied to the production of online profiles and accounts, digital interactions have increasingly come to feel like possessions, property, or even creative works. But, these communicative traces are not legally recognized as property nor passed down to kin members. Communicative traces were first valorized with Web 2.0’s social networking memorials, spawning the field of digital estate planning. They form predictive patterns of who and what people are, thus linking everyday interactions via social media to cybernetic theories of mind and transhumanist visions. The affective value of digital remains, however, is complicated by the labor needed to maintain them.

Doctoral Candidate, Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University  -  Digital Afterlives: Patterning Posterity through Networked Remains

Delia D. B. Wendel
Delia D. B. Wendel  |  Abstract
After conditions of mass violence, spatial rebuilding processes take on added significance as restorative projects with exceptional challenges. This dissertation explores how Rwandan state peacebuilding objectives are imagined, realized, and challenged in the rebuilding of houses and civic spaces after the genocide. A spatial perspective is especially critical in Rwanda, where conflicts build from extreme population density, land shortage, rural restructuring, and cohabitation. After the genocide, spaces have added significance not only in contrast to the aftermath landscape and its memory, but for their explicit roles in how villages are shared and communities rebuilt, and how the government has established order in the built environment and limited citizenship through spatial exclusion. Drawing from ethnographic and historical research, six chapters explore how post-conflict spaces contribute to building and dismantling peace, unity, and progress, and help to reveal the unethical, give form to values and subjectivity, and mark sites of inequality and aspiration.

Doctoral Candidate, Urban Planning and Design, Harvard University  -  Space and the Ethics of Transition: Rebuilding Rwanda after the 1994 Genocide

Whitney E. Laemmli
Whitney E. Laemmli  |  Abstract
This project examines an understudied—but powerful—recording technology that migrated from Germany to the United States in the 1930s and became a fixture in corporate boardrooms and doctors’ offices by the 1950s. In 1928, German choreographer and amateur physiologist Rudolf Laban embarked on a quest to inscribe dance on paper. This dissertation follows “Labanotation” from its entanglement with Nazi Germany through its improbable popularity in corporations, anthropological expeditions, and psychiatric hospitals in the US during the 1950s and 1960s. Ultimately, Labanotation succeeded so spectacularly because it suggested the possibility of universal communication at moments in which political, economic, and cultural upheavals threatened to create dangerous societal divisions. Moreover, in creating a notation system capable of turning any movement into easily analyzable data, Laban’s work not only served to preserve a fading past, but opened up new possibilities for the literal choreographing of modern life.

Doctoral Candidate, History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania  -  The Choreography of Everyday Life: Rudolf Laban and the Analysis of Modern Movement

Alper Yagci
Alper Yagci  |  Abstract
This political science dissertation studies the rules regulating agriculture with transgenic seeds. Why do some countries prohibit these seeds in their territory, while others encourage it? Among the latter, what leads to the different intellectual property (IP) protection systems? Most consumers view the products of transgenic seeds as inferior goods. Associations of big farmers tend to favor the adoption of the new seeds and view the IP claims by biotech companies as tolerable. And smaller farmers and domestic seed industries seek guarantees from the state that the technology adoption conditions will not be established to their disadvantage. The dissertation examines policy experiences from 1995 to 2013 in Argentina, Brazil, and Turkey (using elite interviews), as well as India (using secondary literature) to explain why state officials in each country prioritized one agenda over others in their policy decisions. At a more general level, the study contributes to inquiries of decision making under high uncertainty.

Doctoral Candidate, Political Science, University of Massachusetts Amherst  -  Managing the Agricultural Biotechnology Revolution: Responses to Transgenic Seeds in Developing Countries

Melinda Latour
Melinda Latour  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the role of printed music in projects of post-war moral repair in early modern France. Particularly in the years after the horrific St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of 1572, influential intellectuals, artists, and theologians sought theologically neutral means of moral reparation that could mend the rift between the Catholic and Protestant confessions. Collections of moral poetry and their musical settings emerged in the late sixteenth century as one such means of moral repair. With their focus on virtue, these collections occupied an unusually neutral space in the otherwise polemical landscape of Francophone print culture, offering Catholics and Protestants a shared poetic and musical language for rebuilding personal and collective morality in the midst of religious warfare.

Doctoral Candidate, Musicology, University of California, Los Angeles  -  Music and Moral Repair in Early Modern France

Corinna Zeltsman
Corinna Zeltsman  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines transformations in Mexico City’s printing industry across the long nineteenth century. It argues that urban printers—cosmopolitan figures caught between manual and intellectual worlds—shaped politics and broader social and cultural change not only through their printed products, but also through shifting connections to, and negotiations with, powerbrokers and the emerging national state. By exploring the “material politics” of print—industry practices, its main actors, their social position and aspirations, networks, and activities—it considers not only how printers contributed and responded to state formation, but also how they shaped the meanings of print as it transformed from a colonial technology of power to a more multivalent and ambiguous medium.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Duke University  -  Ink under the Fingernails: Printers and the Material Politics of Print in Nineteenth-Century Mexico City

Charles Lesch
Charles Lesch  |  Abstract
This dissertation aims to transform debates about the sources of political solidarity, exploring how aesthetic and religious thought can contribute to a new way of thinking about the decent society. In particular, it probes the relationship between ethical obligations and non-rational forms of cognition and moral epistemology. Departing from proponents of modern nationalism and constitutional patriotism, the study proposes a form of political solidarity that valorizes the non-rational for moral life but rejects its use for politics. Drawing from thinkers such as Kant, Rousseau, Weber, Levinas, Kojève, Habermas, Durkheim, George Eliot, and William James, it develops an original theory of “social citizenship,” understood as the practices by which people overcome moral indifference and take responsibility for one another.

Doctoral Candidate, Government, Harvard University  -  The Ethical Commonwealth: Social Citizenship and the Moral Life of Political Communities

Anna Zogas
Anna Zogas  |  Abstract
This research explores the production of knowledge about mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Mild TBI describes a closed head injury that alters consciousness. The injury’s lasting effects are debated among clinical disciplines because cellular-level damage is invisible in images of the brain, and mild TBI and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often occur together with overlapping symptoms. This research examines VA doctors’ uncertainty in diagnosing mild TBI, and the institutionally-specific clinical practices that shape scientific evidence about mild TBI and its symptoms. At the same time, this study expands understandings of veterans’ cognitive symptoms by placing them in the broader social context of their post-military lives.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University of Washington  -  Invisible Injury: Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Medical Uncertainty in the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System