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. 

Nisa Ari
Nisa Ari  |  Abstract
This dissertation investigates the rise of an interrelated system of art practices and exhibition spaces in early twentieth-century Palestine. This development occurred within a political landscape that included the dissolution of the Ottoman empire, the rise of Zionism, WWI, British military and colonial occupation, and the growth of Arab nationalism prior to the declaration of the state of Israel in 1948. By tracing the emerging frameworks that encouraged the production and display of the visual arts within this milieu, the project demonstrates how local organizations, foreign colonizers, and international relief agencies sought to support Palestine and affect its politics through the ostensibly benign fields of art and culture. While Palestinian art describes a concept largely unspoken prior to 1948, the dissertation studies how early twentieth-century art production in Palestine formulated the distinctive practices and modes of circulation that would mark this later artistic field.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture and Art, Massachusetts Institute of Technology  -  Parity and Disparity: Cultural Politics and the Formation of Palestinian Art

Julia Mavis Lewandoski
Julia Mavis Lewandoski  |  Abstract
The 1763 Treaty of Paris, the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, and the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo excluded Native Americans from negotiations over North American land and sovereignty. Yet, because they upheld property rights from prior empires, they created unique legal conditions for Native Americans to claim and defend territory. Three case studies of indigenous groups—Abenakis in Quebec after 1763, Louisiana’s petites nations after 1803, and Tongva and Tataviam peoples in California after 1848—reveal that these peoples seized imperial transitions as key moments to repurpose settler property as a tool of survival. Native Americans transformed property processes, often designed to exclude them, into political channels to assert sovereignty and defend land. Accounting for this history reveals the resourcefulness and creativity of indigenous actors, probes the flexibility of the legal institution of property, and reframes the trajectory of settler colonialism in North America as temporally irregular rather than linear.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of California, Berkeley  -  Indigenous Proprietors Across Empires in North America, 1763-1891

David Atenasio
David Atenasio  |  Abstract
It is often challenging to distribute responsibility fairly for harms that result from collective wrongdoing. Few object to blaming an agent for making a contribution to collective wrongdoing, but it is far more controversial to attribute fault to one agent for the contributions made by other participants. This dissertation argues that co-responsibility for collective wrongdoing ought to be distributed only to those who authorize the offending actions, whether expressly or tacitly. By authorizing another to carry out wrongdoing on one’s behalf, one becomes to blame for the unjustified harm caused by one’s agent or agents. This project articulates an authorization theory of distributive collective, or shared, responsibility, and defends it against competing alternatives. It further argues that authorization serves as a fairer standard for distributing individual liability for collective crimes than existing norms in international law employed by the ad hoc tribunals or International Criminal Court.

Doctoral Candidate, Philosophy, Loyola University Chicago  -  Collective Responsibility by Agreement

Kerry Manzo
Kerry Manzo  |  Abstract
This project examines the impact of counterpublics, or social imaginaries constituted by shared attention to texts and discourses, on the production of African literature, with a specific focus on Nigerian modernist and sexual counterpublics. It considers the material influence of the Mbari movement—a 1960s transnational countercultural movement that promoted and connected artists and writers of the black Atlantic—on trends in African publishing. The project also considers discourses of Nigerian queer counterpublics and argues that such discourses must be understood in relation to both indigenous sexual traditions and the implanted heterosexual public. While seemingly disparate topics, at their points and times of emergence both modernist and sexual counterpublics represent significant literary trends that have impacted the larger field of production. Thus, a central task of this dissertation will be to theorize emergence and the emergent as they apply to twentieth- and twenty-first-century West African literary spaces and discourses.

Doctoral Candidate, English, Texas Tech University  -  When We See It, We Shall Be Happy: The Mbari Movement, Queer Emergence, and Counterpublics in the Production of African Literature

Amiri Ayanna
Amiri Ayanna  |  Abstract
By historicizing fifteenth-century women’s literature, this project uncovers what women hoped to change, maintain, or gain in their spiritual and personal lives, during an era often overlooked in favor of sixteenth-century foment. Up to eighty percent of all fifteenth-century manuscripts are in the vernacular, and most of these were written by women for women’s daily use and remain unread. These women often saw themselves as agents of scriptural authority, and they also used devotional literatures for their own ends. This project argues that both nuns and laywomen used devotional narratives for self-fashioning, memorialization, and cultural critique. Whether bound to god by monastic vows or by familial responsibilities, these women placed “mundane” concerns within gendered textual frames of Christian salvation.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Brown University  -  The Ethics of Everyday Life: Vernacular Devotional Literature by Women in Germany's Long Fifteenth Century

Andrea Marston
Andrea Marston  |  Abstract
In 2009, Bolivia was transformed from a republic into a plurinational state with constitutionally enshrined rights for indigenous peoples and mother earth. Yet, conservative groups of small-scale miners, known as mining cooperatives, exercise significant power within this new state. Through ethnographic and archival work, this research explores the history and politics of Bolivian mining cooperatives. It argues that the tension between plurinationalism and cooperative mining is evidence of an older division between Bolivia’s surface land and its subsoil resources. The latter was produced as a national space and imbued with masculinist and mestizo dreams of progress that continue to motivate resource extraction, even in an era of putatively indigenous nation-building.

Doctoral Candidate, Geography, University of California, Berkeley  -  Thieves of Patria: Vertical Politics in Plurinational Bolivia

Fabio Battista
Fabio Battista  |  Abstract
From the love suicide of Elizabeth Tudor to the monstrous birth of Oliver Cromwell, this dissertation looks at the creation and dissemination of alternative versions of English history through the means of dramatic fiction, and contextualizes them in the panorama of the intellectual debates of seventeenth-century Italy. “Cultural Translation in Early Modern Italy” studies the ways in which the reinvention of Tudor and Stuart affairs in literature mirrored the ambitions, fears, and fantasies of a century in disquieting transformation. This research documents how English affairs entered the Italian states, how they were perceived, and what their repurposing can reveal about the potentialities of intercultural exchange. Anglo-inspired drama became a privileged channel to expose and challenge issues as crucial as the legitimacy of female power, the ethics of rulership, the crisis of divine right, and the constraints of identities within the state.

Doctoral Candidate, Comparative Literature, City University of New York, The Graduate Center  -  Cultural Translation in Early Modern Italy: Fiction and English Affairs, 1590-1690

Hiroaki Matsusaka
Hiroaki Matsusaka  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines how Korean and Japanese migrant activists in urban cities like New York, Chicago, Seoul, and Tokyo developed connections between East Asian and American anti-imperialist movements from the 1920s through the 1940s. Using multi-sited archival research in the United States, Korea, and Japan, it argues that the interracial encounters of the activists, such as their relationships with other Asians, African Americans, and migrant whites, were central to the development of their political ideas and cultural expressions. These radicals drew on their experiences as racialized migrant workers and on the increasing global circuit of critical theory, namely socialism and feminism, to challenge racism as well as Japanese and US imperialism. Thus, this research illuminates how migration and intercultural exchanges allowed the activists to imagine broader coalitions, even as racism and colonialism, both against and among minority groups, limited the scope of solidarity movements.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  Transpacific Anti-Imperialism: Social Movements and Race-Making in Migrant and Minority Cultures in the United States and East Asia, 1919-1951

Burcu Baykurt
Burcu Baykurt  |  Abstract
This project is an ethnographic study of an experimental smart city—a city in which urban environments are augmented with sensors, wireless connectivity, and software for better city management. Beginning with a brief history of how technology companies have made a foray into urban environments since the 1990s, it then draws on three years of fieldwork in a large Midwestern smart city to demonstrate the ways the smart city stratifies civic ties and changes how social problems are identified in local governance. By following multiple communities’ encounters with digital infrastructures, it also shows how entrepreneurial residents, public officials, and low-income communities interpret, enact, and resist data-centric local governance. In doing so, it addresses larger issues about the intersections among urban inequality, the ideology of connectivity, and surveillance capitalism.

Doctoral Candidate, Communications, Columbia University  -  The City as Data Machine: Local Governance in the Age of Big Data

James McNally
James McNally  |  Abstract
This project investigates the interrelated dynamics of cultural politics, creative practice, and cultural production in the context of an independent experimental music scene in São Paulo, Brazil. Drawing from over a year of ethnographic research, it proposes a novel theoretical framework for understanding musical experimentalism in terms of hybrid, collaborative social practice. The dissertation first examines how independent actors organize alternative networks of cultural production in order to develop performance environments free from conventional institutional restrictions and foster collaborations between musicians from diverse stylistic backgrounds. It further addresses how the resulting circuit of cultural production affects the dynamics of experimental musical creativity. Finally, the project discusses the social ramifications of this phenomenon, focusing on the ways in which participants seek to develop more inclusive and egalitarian forms of discourse, performance, and community in the face of increasing stratification and authoritarianism in the contemporary Brazilian public sphere.

Doctoral Candidate, Music, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  São Paulo Underground: Creativity, Collaboration, and Cultural Production in a Multi-Stylistic Experimental Music Scene

Tania Bhattacharyya
Tania Bhattacharyya  |  Abstract
“Ocean Bombay” is a social history of a port city, lying at the intersection of modern South Asian history, Indian Ocean studies, and urban studies. It argues that the formation of communities as orders of belonging in colonial Bombay was shaped by the itinerant and maritime lives of many of its residents. Between 1839 and 1945, Sidi shipworkers, Bombay-Aden merchants, Irani cafe owners, nomadic groups, publishers, filmmakers, and actresses all staked their belonging in Bombay city by tracing their transoceanic genealogies of travel, instead of birth. As the colonial state sought increasingly to define borders—of both nations and communities—these itinerant people responded with strategies of accommodation and retaliation. This dissertation locates Bombay society at the intersection of these oceanic geographies, through an archive built from fragments and interviews collected across India, the United Kingdom, and Iran.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Columbia University  -  Ocean Bombay: Space, Itinerancy, and Community in an Imperial Port City, 1839-1945

Adeana McNicholl
Adeana McNicholl  |  Abstract
How do stories about the dead reveal the concerns of the living? This dissertation examines stories about the departed (preta in Sanskrit) in ancient South Asian Buddhist literature. Contrary to assumptions that the preta always looked like the Chinese hungry ghost, the South Asian preta developed slowly over time. While early texts include descriptions of semidivine pretas, the repulsive preta became representative for the entire category of pretas. Whether semidivine or repulsive, preta bodies are governed by a logic of physiomorality, which connects virtue and embodiment in a co-constitutional relationship. For this reason, Buddhist authors used the didactic nature of preta narratives to illustrate karma and impermanence, to project idealized visions of society, and to promote the monastic community as the body of experts in controlling the dead. Buddhist stories about the afterlife thus reveal concerns about the religious and social order of the world.

Doctoral Candidate, Religious Studies, Stanford University  -  Hungry Ghosts and Celestial Seductresses: Preta Narratives in Early South Asian Buddhism

Kathryn A. Catlin
Kathryn A. Catlin  |  Abstract
This research examines connections among the environment, inequality, and sustainability at medieval Icelandic settlements. Iceland's environment changed dramatically after its settlement by Norse peoples in the late ninth century, from dense woodlands to a propertied, agricultural, and heavily eroded landscape. Results of archaeological investigation show that numerous marginal settlements on Hegranes, in northern Iceland, were inhabited in the late ninth century, then deserted prior to the twelfth century, concurrent with both human-caused environmental degradation and increasing control of the landscape by elites. After abandonment, infrastructure at the sites was reused to support livestock within a pastoral, tenancy-based economic system. By foregrounding marginal households and long-term landscape change in a political-ecological analysis, this project demonstrates that medieval Icelandic society became environmentally sustainable within a degraded landscape, at the cost of increasing social inequality.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, Northwestern University  -  Archaeology of Marginal Settlements and Environmental Change in Hegranes, North Iceland

Lucas M. Mueller
Lucas M. Mueller  |  Abstract
In the mid-twentieth century, international organizations and national governments began to recognize toxic substances as an important area of international politics. This study examines how the global history of toxic substances has shaped international politics since 1960. In this period, the governance of international and global affairs increasingly depended on experts from different countries and scientific disciplines reaching agreement on policy decisions. Based on multi-sited archival research in Europe, India, Kenya, and the United States, this project argues that expert-based politics of toxicity control did not merely reproduce existing power relations of the Cold War and colonialism; they also opened a space for their subversion by scientists from less powerful countries. At the same time, the global control regime failed to address the full range of toxic exposures, especially in non-industrialized countries. This history has left a lasting imprint on the institutional structures of global governance of health, trade, and development.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology  -  Toxic Relationships: Poisons, Health, and the Politics of Science and Trade in the Postcolonial World

Amanda R. Cheong
Amanda R. Cheong  |  Abstract
Functional, inclusive civil registration systems are instrumental to governments in delivering basic rights and services, as well as informing public policy. Yet, millions worldwide remain uncounted. This dissertation explicates both the causes of being uncounted, and its micro- and macro-level consequences for individuals’ life chances and countries’ development aspirations. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in Malaysia and Myanmar, it argues that uncounted populations are not always the product of a lack of state capacity or economic development, as has been largely assumed by social scientists and development actors. Rather, who counts and how they are counted are inherently political choices that are sometimes part of larger strategies of exclusion—particularly with regard to regulating national membership.

Doctoral Candidate, Sociology and Social Policy, Princeton University  -  Access to Civil Registration as a Mode of Stratification

Elizabeth Newton
Elizabeth Newton  |  Abstract
In the early 1990s, developments in digital audio reproduction transformed the tastes and expectations of musicians and listeners. It was newly believed that musical performances could be perfectly replicated and preserved. In resistance, enthusiasts of low-fidelity, or lo-fi, sound valorized the noise, sincerity, and amateurism of poor recordings. However, the codification of lo-fi as a genre did not undermine the idea of fidelity altogether, but rather marked a shift of concern toward affective fidelity, a listener’s adherence to their own preferences and principles. This dissertation historicizes this shift by examining the processes by which recordings capture and transform affective states, whereby artists and critics use lo-fi audio to communicate and critique cynicism, ambivalence, and outrage. Four chapters address the “raw” and “slick” as aesthetic categories, gendered constructions of audio quality, symbolic registers of lo-fi mediation, and the commodification of lo-fi materials.

Doctoral Candidate, Music, City University of New York, The Graduate Center  -  Lo-fi Recordings and the Reproduction of Affect, 1988-1996

Eunsung Cho
Eunsung Cho  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines how the successful industrial production of vinalon contributed to formulating the idea of Juche (self-reliance) in North Korea in the 1950s and 1960s. Vinalon is a synthetic fiber developed by a Korean scientist during the colonial era that uses hard coal and limestone, which are abundant in North Korea, as its main raw materials. Significantly, the construction of the vinalon factory was completed by North Korea’s own efforts in 1961. For these reasons, vinalon came to be known as “Juche fiber.” Focusing on the agency of the vinalon products in people’s everyday lives, this project explores the interaction between science and society by looking at vinalon as a thread that played a pivotal role in weaving the Juche discourse into North Korean society.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Columbia University  -  The Thread of Juche: Vinalon, a Figuration between Science and Society in North Korea, 1948-1970

Elsa A. Noterman
Elsa A. Noterman  |  Abstract
Abandoned lots and buildings are a ubiquitous feature of postindustrial US cities, markers of the recent housing crisis, and perennial sources of concern for policymakers, researchers, and residents alike. In Philadelphia, where some neighborhoods are currently experiencing a development boom, properties deemed to be vacant are increasingly contested as residents challenge prevailing understandings of “highest and best use.” Using archival, legal, and participatory research, this dissertation examines emerging conflicts over the use, value, and ownership of these spaces. In doing so, it puts forward a politically productive framework for considering geographies of vacancy, which recognizes that vacant properties are not empty or stable, and also that they do critical work. These properties reflect the violent processes that produce them, but also reveal the limits to these processes—limits that offer analytical openings for destabilizing normative notions of law, private property, and urban commons.

Doctoral Candidate, Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison  -  Vacant Geographies: Dispossession, Resistance, and Speculative Futures in Philadelphia’s Abandoned Properties

Margaret K. Clark
Margaret K. Clark  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores descriptions of soil in ancient Roman agricultural treatises and assesses their implications for the Roman agricultural imaginary. This shared conceptualization of farming and farmland informed agricultural practices and cultural understandings of agriculture. Farming was integral to Roman self-presentation, and texts about agriculture illuminate perspectives on Roman identity in general. This study focuses on descriptions of soil at three levels—the individual farmstead; the region, often centered on a city, geographical feature, or tribal identity; and the province. At each level of abstraction, soil may act as a raw material, manufactured thing, or place. In particular, the connection between soil and place is a recurring theme that makes farmland a useful medium for considering the expansion of the imperial project. Describing soil qualities in writing mirrors Romans’ manipulation and exploitation in the field and links the Roman agricultural imaginary with the foundations of Roman imperial expansion.

Doctoral Candidate, Classics, University of Texas at Austin  -  Laying the Groundwork: Agricultural Land in the Roman Agricultural Imaginary

Elizabeth O'Brien
Elizabeth O'Brien  |  Abstract
“Intimate Interventions” offers a longue durée analysis of reproductive surgery in Mexico, from the late eighteenth to mid-twentieth centuries. Using archival as well as published theological and scientific sources, the study examines how philosophical changes concerning fetal ensoulment, racial heredity, and medical ethics played out under religious, republican, and revolutionary governments, thereby contributing to the formation of the Mexican state. The project also draws on hundreds of patient records in order to illuminate the experiential aspects of reproductive surgery, as well as to explore how religious and political efforts to influence reproduction impacted women’s lives. Contributing to three historiographies—those of the Catholic enlightenment, science and medicine, and women and gender—the research uncovers the surgical origins of religious, political, and cultural claims on unborn fetuses, and historicizes the contemporary crisis of obstetrical violence in Latin America.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Texas at Austin  -  Intimate Interventions: The Cultural Politics of Reproductive Surgery in Mexico, 1790-1940

Jonathan D. Cohen
Jonathan D. Cohen  |  Abstract
Every week, 85 million Americans purchase lottery tickets hoping to defy the odds and secure a life of luxury. “For a Dollar and a Dream” illustrates the parallels between these lottery players and the taxpayers and public officials who facilitated the spread of legalized gambling in the United States. Through an examination of gamblers as well as three different waves of lottery legalization, this project demonstrates that states enacted lotteries because voters refused to confront the conflict between their demands for tax breaks and their desire for government services. It argues that the irrational thinking frequently condemned among poor lottery players in fact represents a fundamental feature of many citizens’ relationship with government in the late twentieth century.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Virginia  -  For a Dollar and a Dream: State Lotteries and American Inequality

Benjamin Ogrodnik
Benjamin Ogrodnik  |  Abstract
In the 1970s and 1980s, many independent filmmakers based in US Rust Belt cities such as Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Buffalo developed new practices of making and exhibiting film. A short-lived movement of “ruin cinema” rose up, with a boom of films and videos that interrogated the widespread sense of loss, temporal stasis, and spatial decay affecting the country’s former industrial centers. Through a case study of the regional cinema of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this project recovers the range of poetic practices and social impacts that emerged from working-class films responding to global deindustrialization. The investigation highlights an overlooked generation of blue-collar filmmakers, many of whom were women, minorities, and former steelworkers. It also clarifies the role played by independent cinema in defining deindustrialization as an economic phenomenon, an epoch of time, and a cultural dimension of American identity.

Doctoral Candidate, History of Art, University of Pittsburgh  -  The Rise of Ruin Cinema: Working-Class Filmmaking in the US Rust Belt

Emilie Connolly
Emilie Connolly  |  Abstract
This dissertation reconstructs the financial architecture of indigenous dispossession in the nineteenth-century United States. From the early national period onward, federal treaty commissioners offered trust funds to compensate Native polities for ceded lands. Trust funds retained the bulk of Native wealth in federal hands, thus skewing longstanding economic reciprocities and bilateral diplomacies in the United States’ favor. Federal officials invested the bulk of Indian trust fund wealth in securities that state governments issued to finance infrastructure, such as roads, canals, and railways. By converting indigenous wealth into capital for states, from Alabama and Illinois to Florida and New York, trust funds created vectors of investment that spread Native wealth throughout the country that dispossessed them. Charting these pathways of finance and compelled migration, this dissertation traces the development of a federal policy known as fiduciary colonialism: a form of territorial acquisition carried out by gaining administrative control over indigenous wealth.

Doctoral Candidate, History, New York University  -  Indian Trust Funds and the Routes of American Capitalism, 1795-1865

Jesse J. Olsavsky
Jesse J. Olsavsky  |  Abstract
Vigilance committees were urban, interracial organizations committed to protecting northern black neighborhoods from police and slave catchers, and to helping fugitive slaves along the Underground Railroad. They provided the setting in which activists, most of whom were black, female, or working-class, came into contact with thousands of fugitive slaves and learned from their experiences within the slaveholding southern United States. This dissertation examines the networks and organizational methods of the committees and shows how they helped provoke the US civil war. It further illustrates how the dialogue between fugitives and activists nurtured transcendentalist philosophy, black feminism, slave narrative writing, anti-imperialist thought, and prison abolition, among other things. In short, this project unearths the crucial role of slave resistance in Atlantic abolition, and shows the constitutive place of the Underground Railroad in crafting the black radical tradition.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Pittsburgh  -  “Fire and Sword Will Do More Good”: Fugitives, Vigilance Committees, and the Making of Revolutionary Abolitionism, 1835-1859

Sarah Louise Cowan
Sarah Louise Cowan  |  Abstract
This project considers the multimedia artworks that US artist Howardena Pindell produced between 1967 and 1986, arguing that in these years she developed black feminist approaches to abstraction. The analysis focuses on the ways in which her works bring together disparate art world conversations and thematize the artist’s bodily labor. With these artistic strategies, Pindell’s art defied the expectation endemic to modernist criticism and discourses of the black arts and feminist art movements that her social identity as a black woman predetermined her aesthetic potential. Moreover, this study shows how Pindell’s abstract artworks complicate supposed antinomies of late twentieth-century art, such as those posited between modernist painting and craft-based textiles. By attending especially to important interactions between black feminist cultural traditions and modernist abstraction, it animates a site of inquiry that has been obscured by enduring disciplinary silos.

Doctoral Candidate, History of Art, University of California, Berkeley  -  Mending Abstraction: Howardena Pindell’s Nonrepresentational Black Feminisms, 1967-1986

Sean O'Neil
Sean O'Neil  |  Abstract
Across the arts and sciences, symbolic notation is essential for transcribing and disseminating technical information. Many symbolic notations that are still used today were first devised in western Europe during the early modern period. Algebra, music, chemistry, dance—whole fields of knowledge were quite literally being rewritten. This dissertation argues that the broad appeal of notations derived from the fact that they enabled powerful techniques of visual thinking. Early modern people routinely described notations as allowing them to “see” things that they had not previously recognized. However, because established methods of reasoning were predominantly verbal, symbolic notations and the visual thinking that they entailed necessarily challenged received ideas about how knowledge ought to be represented and discovered. In demonstrating how symbolic notations’ credibility was established, this project also argues that their increased use brought on an epistemological rupture that remains an underappreciated legacy of the scientific revolution.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Columbia University  -  The Art of Signs: Symbolic Notation and Visual Thinking in Early Modern Europe, 1550-1750

Natalie Deam
Natalie Deam  |  Abstract
This dissertation argues that naturalism was not literature’s only response to evolutionary theory. Instead, it proposes that the fantastic natural, a subversive evolutionary imaginary, challenged cohesive representations of evolutionary nature across diverse literary genres by paradoxically using scientific discourse to evoke supernatural figures. The fantastic natural thereby both naturalizes the supernatural and supernaturalizes representations of the natural world. This project shows how the fantastic natural’s blurring of traditional distinctions between human and animal, male and female, and organism and environment reveals anxieties about modern humans’ decentered place in the natural world. This blurring also identifies powerful implications for the evolutionary understanding of gender, sexuality, and race. These concerns expose a new environmental consciousness in both canonical and experimental texts that destabilizes traditional generic distinctions among naturalist, decadent, fantastic, and scientific fiction.

Doctoral Candidate, French and Italian, Stanford University  -  The Fantastic Natural and the Evolutionary Imagination in Nineteenth-Century France

Helen Panagiotopoulos
Helen Panagiotopoulos  |  Abstract
Since the 2008 debt crisis, Greeks have relied on the circulation of multiple informal currencies, using exchange schemes such as barter, time banks, and mutual credit clearing to trade goods and services without euros. These solidarity economies help people reclaim community resources in response to the staggering inequalities precipitated by Greece’s government debt, privatization of public assets, structural reforms, and the devaluation of currency in the drachma-euro conversion. This dissertation explains how the circulation of currencies not recognized by the state shapes social and political life and understandings of money and value, and, in turn, redefines the boundaries of the nation in the context of a single European currency. As a case study of the Local Alternative Unit "TEM," this project analyzes the relationships between local governance and European unity, money and nation building, and the consequences of creating currency during crisis at local-informal and European levels.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, City University of New York, The Graduate Center  -  The Question of Money: State, Protest, and Informal Currencies in the Wake of Greece’s Economic Crisis

Bakary Diaby
Bakary Diaby  |  Abstract
This project examines the intersection of aesthetic theory and vulnerability in the art of the romantic period, from 1780 to 1840. Romanticism has often been accused of excessive aestheticizing at the expense of more material concerns. However, rather than being an apolitical act the romantic aestheticization of vulnerability attempted to revalue—and to bring better social perceptibility to—the less fortunate, the dependent, and those in precarious social positions. In so doing, aesthetics can become a means of refiguring the human subject as socially embedded and vulnerable. This project focuses on gendered vulnerability throughout, but also devotes time to environmentalism, poverty, trauma, displacement, and race, while touching on the contemporary resonance of these issues.

Doctoral Candidate, English, Rutgers University-New Brunswick  -  Sensing Meaning: Aesthetics and Vulnerability in the Romantic Age

Amanda Perry
Amanda Perry  |  Abstract
What does it mean to view the Cuban revolution as a Caribbean event? Using published and archival materials, this project examines the resonance of the revolution in the Anglophone and Francophone Caribbean in 1960s and 1970s, showing how an iconic generation of leftwing thinkers reimagined the futures of their societies in dialogue with Cuban intellectuals and the Cuban state. Adopting this perspective challenges the narrative that the revolution’s international influence declined in the 1970s, when political ties and cultural exchanges with the Caribbean increased dramatically. The resulting cross-Caribbean networks sought to overcome language barriers, but they remained marked by the tension between Marxist and black radicalist agendas. Bridging the concerns of postcolonial and Cold War studies, this project furthermore accounts for the tendency of Caribbean thinkers to disavow state repression in Cuba, including literary censorship, in order to uphold the revolution as a model for anti-imperialist struggle and sovereignty.

Doctoral Candidate, Comparative Literature, New York University  -  The Cuban Revolution, Race, and Pan-Caribbean Futures

Myisha S. Eatmon
Myisha S. Eatmon  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores black litigation strategies, black legal culture, and the effect of black litigation on civil law. Not only did African Americans sue white southerners and white-owned companies for white-on-black violence under Jim Crow, they shared their collective legal knowledge through a network of black newspapers and contributed to case law. Guided by specific areas of civil law, they devised strategies to convince all-white juries that their experiences warranted damages, forcing white southerners to reckon with the fact that black lives and black experiences had value. Gendered stories of unprovoked violence, claims of respectability, and appeals to common law proved beneficial in civil cases involving racial violence. The dissertation argues that black newspapers shaped and transported black legal culture, and that black newspapers and the NAACP connected black people to local lawyers and advised victims on which areas of law might be helpful in gaining recourse in civil courts.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Northwestern University  -  Public Wrongs, Private Rights: African Americans, Private Law, and White Violence during Jim Crow

John Phillips
John Phillips  |  Abstract
Some types of mental states, such as beliefs and intentions, can be rational or irrational. Others, such as itches and visual perceptions, are not properly assessed in these terms; they are simply nonrational. Where is the boundary between the rationally evaluable and the nonrational to be found, and how is it determined? What makes it the case that some parts of people’s mental lives are be subject to this special sort of evaluation? This dissertation offers an account of rationality and of rational evaluation designed to answer these questions. This project argues that rational evaluation is a special case of the skill evaluation applicable to human endeavors generally. It develops that claim by considering how a mental state, as opposed to an action, can constitute an endeavor, and seeks to account for differences between rationality and forms of skill displayed in other domains.

Doctoral Candidate, Philosophy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  -  Cognitive Agency and the Possibility of Rational Evaluation

Matthew J. Elia
Matthew J. Elia  |  Abstract
This project rereads the political thought of Augustine of Hippo in the Black Lives Matter era. In the last two decades, scholars of religion and politics have returned to the resources of the Augustinian tradition to theorize citizenship, virtue, and the place of religion in public life. However, these scholars have not sufficiently attended to Augustine’s embrace of the position of the Christian slaveholder in light of the fact that the contemporary situation to which they apply his thought is itself the afterlife of slavery. The ghosts of slaves and masters live on, haunting the ongoing social meanings of blackness and whiteness in American life. To confront a racialized world, the Augustinian tradition must reckon with its own entanglements with the afterlife of the white Christian master. This reckoning demands a constructive encounter, at once timely and long overdue, between Augustine’s politics and the resources of modern black thought.

Doctoral Candidate, Religious Studies, Duke University  -  Ethics in the Afterlife of Slavery: Race, Augustinian Politics, and the Problem of the Christian Master

Danya Pilgrim
Danya Pilgrim  |  Abstract
This project traces the development of the black catering industry in Philadelphia from its beginnings in the early republic through its mid-nineteenth-century heyday, and into a transitional period at the turn of the twentieth century. The men and women who entered the catering trade transformed a line of domestic service into a thriving domestic business. They devised strategies to create multiple forms of capital as they shaped the contours of eating culture. Studying the lives of these entrepreneurs through sources such as recipes, bank records, photographs, and censuses, as well as material and print culture, reveals a legacy that extends beyond foodways. This project, by informing discourses around everyday life and resistance, race, gender, class, and community formation, ultimately examines how African American people have fought for self-determination in every area of their lives.

Doctoral Candidate, American Studies and African American Studies, Yale University  -  Gastronomic Alchemy: How Black Philadelphia Caterers Transformed Taste into Capital, 1790-1925

Georgia C. Ennis
Georgia C. Ennis  |  Abstract
Mass media, though often seen as a homogenizing force, can also encourage cultural diversity and linguistic vitality in endangered languages. Grounded in long-term ethnographic research with producers and consumers of lowland Quichua radio media in the Ecuadorian Amazon, this dissertation investigates both intended and unforeseen effects of the use of local radio media for indigenous language revitalization projects. Quichua radio media production demonstrates that participatory media are key sites for the transmission, transformation, and, sometimes, the loss of local verbal artistry, linguistic forms, and interactional practices. Through a fine-grained analysis of linguistic practice and verbal art on-air and in face-to-face interaction, this project shows how media production strengthens some aspects of linguistic and cultural practice, while rendering others invisible. Indigenous radio media amplifies and extends spaces to encourage the transmission of endangered languages, within which producers and listeners continue to debate and define contemporary linguistic and cultural practice.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  Mediating Endangerment: Local Radio and Language Vitality in the Ecuadorian Amazon

Elizabeth Polcha
Elizabeth Polcha  |  Abstract
“Redacting Desire” offers an alternate reading of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century naturalist print culture by demonstrating how sexual desire, intimacy, and domination were entwined with observational science in the Caribbean natural world. This project foregrounds the centrality of women of color to the writings of colonial scientists, analyzing the ways in which interracial sexual encounters, while important to the experiences of men of science, were redacted from the production of transatlantic travel narratives and natural histories. Each chapter considers modes of literary redaction, such as coded diaries and edited manuscripts, as systems of knowledge creation within enlightenment-era observational science. Interdisciplinary in scope, this research places gender and sexuality at the forefront of the history of New World science.

Doctoral Candidate, English, Northeastern University  -  Redacting Desire: The Sexual Politics of Colonial Science in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World

Susanna Ferguson
Susanna Ferguson  |  Abstract
This dissertation is a feminist history of the concept of tarbiya, an old Arabic word for cultivation that, in the nineteenth century, came to refer to new structures of formal schooling and new pedagogies, as well as the female labor of childrearing, ethical cultivation, and subject formation in the home. The project focuses on women intellectuals in Beirut and Cairo who became preeminent producers of Arabic pedagogical thought between 1850 and 1939, showing how early Arab feminists and Islamists alike came to share the view that childrearing was key to women’s political labor and the future of representative governance. Ultimately, tarbiya promised to discipline both mothers and children; to link gendered individuals to an emerging notion of society; and to produce an Arab or Islamic world capable of facing European colonialism, the onset of mass politics, and the exigencies of modernizing reforms.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Columbia University  -  Tracing Tarbiya: Women, Childrearing, and Education in Egypt and Lebanon, 1850-1939

Jawan Shir Rasikh
Jawan Shir Rasikh  |  Abstract
This dissertation uses medieval Muslim sources to examine the Islamization of Ghur in central Afghanistan during the tenth through twelfth centuries. The project shows that processes of Islamization in rural regions in Afghanistan were made up of complex sets of temporal and spatial contingencies; these included prolonged political and cultural bargainings, exchanges, and military encounters between diverse social groups in rural and urban regions to gain access to, and control of, political and social resources. Reading the 1260 Tabaqāt-i Nasirī, in which the author Juzjani devotes three chapters to pre- and post-Islamic histories of Ghur and Ghuris, brings new attention to these often-overlooked regions. The project reveals that acculturation of Islam in medieval Afghanistan was as dynamic in its remote regions like Ghur as it was in imperial cities like Balkh and Ghazni, which have traditionally received the most attention.

Doctoral Candidate, South Asia Studies, University of Pennsylvania  -  The Rural in Medieval Afghanistan: Islamization of the Region of Ghur in Tenth through Twelfth Centuries

Javier Fernandez Galeano
Javier Fernandez Galeano  |  Abstract
This project explores how state authorities, scientific experts, and sexual nonconformists battled over the meanings of male homosexuality in Argentina and Spain between the 1950s and 1980s. The predominant historical narrative traces an arc from the nineteenth-century medical view on homosexuality as a distinct ontology to the liberation movements of the 1960s. However, this project shows that medical taxonomies in Argentina and Spain replicated commonly held categories based on sexual role and social behavior, instead of establishing a view of homosexuals as a distinct group. Sexual nonconformists resisted the state’s codification of homosexuality as a social danger through their appropriation of traditional values such as romantic love, religiosity, and family life, or through hypersexualized performances of femininity or masculinity. These strategies of resistance circulated between both countries through exiles’ intellectual works and artistic performances, while the discreet, homophile politics of respectability gave way to the liberationist politics of visibility.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Brown University  -  Contested Sexualities: Male Homosexuality and the State in Twentieth-Century Argentina and Spain

Melissa Reynolds
Melissa Reynolds  |  Abstract
This project traces the rise of vernacular practical books in England as evidence for the growth of a reading public newly appreciative of the utility of the written word. Around 1400, English people began to record practical knowledge—how to fish, when to pick herbs, or how to cure a fever—in personal manuscripts. After 1476, this practical knowledge was transferred into printed books that remained popular until the mid-sixteenth century. As a comparison of over 300 of these practical books in manuscript and print, this project reveals the continuity of everyday concerns that structured English life over a period of seismic cultural upheaval, even as it confirms the printing press as an agent of change. It explores how even minor changes to the presentation, transmission, and circulation of knowledge rippled outward, transforming how English people conceived of their roles as readers, writers, and consumers of knowledge.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Rutgers University-New Brunswick  -  “Gentyll Reader Ye Shall Understande”: Practical Books and the Making of an English Reading Public, 1400-1560

Robby Finley
Robby Finley  |  Abstract
This dissertation presents a new defense of logical pluralism, the view that there are many equally good accounts of logical consequence. The defense is composed of two parts: (i) an account of choice between alternative theories of logic, where each theory is judged based on its ability to satisfy several theoretical virtues, much like in scientific theory choice; and (ii) a historical component that connects debates over acceptable uses and formulations of the infinite to views of logic through these virtues, covering ancient, medieval, early modern, and modern positions in philosophy, science, and mathematics. It then argues that charitable interpretations of the historical positions on the infinite should lead one to endorse a logical pluralism.

Doctoral Candidate, Philosophy, Columbia University  -  Logic in Accounts of the Potential and Actual Infinite

Rachel N. Schine
Rachel N. Schine  |  Abstract
This dissertation offers the first in-depth study of racial difference, and specifically blackness, in premodern Arabic popular literature. Based primarily on the historically orally performed chivalric legend (sīra) Sīrat Dhāt al-Himma, with comparative reference to Sīrat Banī Hilāl, Sīrat ‘Antar, and other near-contemporary sources, the project assesses the portrayal of black heroes in these texts from the time of their often-miraculous conceptions. To encapsulate these figures’ experiences, this dissertation isolates three main sites of literal and figurative racial construction through which the movement and status of black figures in the sīra’s imagined world are elaborated. These sites include the black heroes’ births, their coming of age as leaders and concurrent establishment of a community of military confrères, and the glossing of their stories by the text’s narrator. These varied extracts incorporate several subgenres, permitting a view of how "race talk" manifests across literary forms such as narrative prose, poetry, and extradiegetic dialogue.

Doctoral Candidate, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago  -  On Blackness in Arabic Popular Literature: The Black Heroes of the Siyar Sha‘biyya, Their Conception, Contests, and Contexts

Beverly Fok
Beverly Fok  |  Abstract
In 50 years, the island state of Singapore has used reclamation—the creation of artificial new land from sea—to expand its landmass by an astonishing 25 percent. Framing this as straightforward territorial expansionism belies reclaimed land’s fraught process of engineering, for the process depends on unpredictable transnational flows of sand and migrant labor. In its interim stages, moreover, artificial land is legally and materially indeterminate: being neither land nor sea, its contours are hard to regulate, while rising seas threaten its integrity. What claims can nation states make to such shifting sands? What exactly is being reclaimed in reclamation? By investigating foreign sand and labor’s joint transformation into artificial domestic land, this project examines how a new, adaptive form of political power is being forged in relation to this unstable object, complicating the affinity between state and territory.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities  -  Land Reclamation from the Ground Up

John B. Seitz
John B. Seitz  |  Abstract
At the end of the nineteenth century, Russian imperial officials hoped to transform the Kazakh steppe from a region dominated by nomads into an agricultural zone of settled peasant farmers. While they did not achieve this outcome, they did succeed in transforming the steppe’s environment, economy, and society. The catalyst for these changes was primarily agricultural, and agronomy and agricultural scientists were central to the region’s transformation. This project examines the ideas and actions of agricultural scientists to illustrate how science was fundamental to remaking the steppe and an inherent part of the colonial project. While it was not until the Soviet period that sedentary agriculture achieved supremacy, this dissertation uncovers the colonial roots of this development. The project also shows how Kazakhstan’s present status as one of the world’s top wheat producers is a direct legacy of the strategies, research, and infrastructures developed by imperial administrators and scientists.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Iowa State University  -  Science and the Steppe: Agronomists, Nomads, and the Settler Colony on the Kazakh Steppe, 1881-1917

Macario Mateo Garcia
Macario Mateo Garcia  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores how incarcerated people and correctional staff utilize mobility to construct what it means to be alive and human. Beginning in 2001, carceral administrators at what is pseudonymously referred to as the Desert Echo Facility, a medium/maximum-security prison in the US Southwest, have instituted polices that further restricted incarcerated peoples’ physical movements. These new regulations place captives inside single-person eight-by-twelve-foot cells for most hours of the day and violently limit access to material and social relations. Informed by twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork, this research analyses how restricted movement disrupts incarcerated peoples’ animacy hierarchies and their material methods for feeling mobile and human. It simultaneously examines how and why correctional staff utilize mobility both to elevate themselves to human status and position prisons as both natural and inevitable. Ultimately, this dissertation centers participants’ daily lives to demonstrate the necessity for prison abolition.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University of Virginia  -  In Here for a Reason: Mobility, Animacy, and Becoming Human in the Correctional United States

Matthew B. Shutzer
Matthew B. Shutzer  |  Abstract
This project traces the lineage of contemporary conflicts over land acquisition and mineral extraction in India, and resituates ongoing debates about uneven development, state violence, and the marginalization of adibasi, or first-nations communities, in India’s mining regions. The research focuses on the formation of India’s coal and petroleum economies in the late colonial period and their resignification under the aegis of national development in the first decades of the postcolonial state. Tracking the intersections of fossil fuel infrastructures, legal regimes, new corporate forms, geological knowledge, ideologies of development, and adibasi autonomy movements, the project demonstrates how these economies of extraction frame long-term political crises of Indian democracy and development in the twentieth century.

Doctoral Candidate, History, New York University  -  Extractive Ecologies: Fossil Fuels, Global Capital, and Postcolonial Development in India, 1870-1975

Zoltán Glück
Zoltán Glück  |  Abstract
This project is a study of the war on terror in Kenya, examining how security practices and counterterrorism are transforming urban space, state power, and political identity. Since the bombing of the US embassy in 1998, Kenya has experienced a number of terrorist attacks that have had a profound impact on the country. Issues around security have assumed a place at the center of national politics, transforming the institutions of state security. The dissertation’s historical and ethnographic chapters examine the colonial origins of counterterrorism and trace how police, activists, elites and NGOs navigate the social and spatial processes of the war on terror. Using archival research, participant observation, and in-depth interviews, this project studies the broader security-led transformation of Kenyan society over the past two decades.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, City University of New York, The Graduate Center  -  Security and Social Transformation: An Anthropology of Kenya’s War on Terror, 1998-2018

Haeden E. Stewart
Haeden E. Stewart  |  Abstract
This dissertation studies the history of Mill Creek Ravine, one of the first industrial areas in Alberta, Canada. Formerly a site of industrial activity and home to a large working-class community, the ravine is now a city park; however, industrial remains still mark the ravine and pollute the soil. This investigation of the history of Mill Creek Ravine provides insight into the specific ways in which the lure of industrial jobs produced and polluted working-class life in early twentieth-century Edmonton, as well as how industrial detritus defines how the local environment was lived, conceived, and designed. The combination of archaeological investigation with environmental science and ethnography produces a map of the ongoing social and environmental impacts of industrial remains over the past hundred years.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University of Chicago  -  In the Shadow of Industry: Toxic Legacies of Mill Creek Ravine

Tamara Golan
Tamara Golan  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores the intersections between artisanal and juridical epistemologies in the work of two early modern Swiss artists, Hans Fries and Niklaus Manuel. With the growing impetus to verify miracles and visions through judicial examination, artists in this region developed innovative strategies of representation that embraced, navigated, and adapted to new concepts of the sacred redefined by the judicial inquisitio (inquiry). They thus imparted a new kind of epistemic value to their work, one that was generated by the material presence of the image and guaranteed by a novel valuation of the manual labor and skill of the artist. Moreover, Fries’ and Manuel’s involvement in a local inquisitional trial suggests that their professional knowledge carried its own evidentiary value. This dissertation therefore examines the juridical potential of images, that is, their capacity to furnish certain kinds of evidence to test—or prove—the sacred.

Doctoral Candidate, History of Art, Johns Hopkins University  -  Hans Fries and Niklaus Manuel: Evidence, Inquiry, and Knowledge in Swiss Painting, 1430-1530

Tomonori Sugimoto
Tomonori Sugimoto  |  Abstract
As more and more indigenous subjects settle in urban areas, how do their political claims change? Based on ethnographic research in urban Taiwan since 2014, this dissertation suggests that new forms of indigenous politics and indigenous-state relations are emerging in the wake of the massive urbanization of indigenous Austronesian people in Taiwan. The project examines why and how urbanized indigenous Pangcah/Amis people from eastern Taiwan continue to make claims for indigenous sovereignty in urban settings with which they have no indigenous ties; how their claims take shape through interactions with urban spaces, nature, and infrastructure; and how such claims are negotiated between indigenous subjects and the Han Chinese-dominated settler state. It argues that urban indigenous claim-making has implications for how indigenous belonging, rights, and entitlements can be conceived today and in the future, creatively rearticulating indigenous sovereignty in the settler colonial city.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, Stanford University  -  Rearticulated Sovereignty: Indigenous Claim-Making in Urban Taiwan

Luke Gramith
Luke Gramith  |  Abstract
In the years after World War II, several thousand Italians from the Italo-Yugoslav borderlands emigrated eastward across the emerging Iron Curtain, hoping to start new and better lives in communist Yugoslavia. This dissertation explores what these migrants hoped communism would be and how the experiences of everyday life under the preceding fascist dictatorship shaped these hopes. It suggests that these Italians envisioned communist society as one purged of certain social categories—shopkeepers, foremen, and piecework clerks—who had become known as quintessential fascists due to the way fascism interwove itself with local power. Marxist doctrine played a relatively minor role in shaping their expectations. Despite being rather mundane in its motivations, this migration was misconstrued as subversive, catalyzing Cold War divisions. Ultimately, the project offers a new, bottom-up approach to early Cold War history, exploring how ordinary people understood, navigated, and shaped this critical period.

Doctoral Candidate, History, West Virginia University  -  Liberation by Emigration: Italian Communists, the Cold War, and West-East Migration from Venezia Giulia, 1945-1949

Peter Tan
Peter Tan  |  Abstract
This project examines philosophical issues raised by a certain kind of counterfactual claim prevalent in science: counternomics. These counterfactuals describe what would have happened if certain laws of nature had been different. For example, if there were no hydrogen bonding, water would be gaseous at room temperature. If Gauss's equation for magnetism had not been a law, Ampere's circuital law still would have been a law. The project shows that careful attention to counternomics in science raises special problems for existing philosophical theories of modality. Among other things, the project concludes that meaningful counterfactuals cannot be accounted for entirely in terms of which things are possible or necessary. The second part of the project examines philosophical aspects of some ways that counternomics appear within science, specifically, how experimentation can provide evidence for counternomic hypotheses, how counternomics (and counterfactuals generally) can contribute to scientific explanation, and the nature of scientific modal epistemology.

Doctoral Candidate, Philosophy, University of Virginia  -  Counternomics

Caroline Grego
Caroline Grego  |  Abstract
In August 1893, the Great Sea Island Storm struck South Carolina with winds of 125 miles per hour, killing between 1,500 and 5,000 people, almost all African American, and leaving 30,000 sea islanders homeless and destitute. The 1893 hurricane, which wreaked havoc on lives, economies, and island environments, was a crisis that spurred the transformation of the sea islands from a place with a robust black political community after the US civil war to a sanitized space of white leisure by the mid-twentieth century. In the wake of the hurricane, black sea islanders and white South Carolinians hotly contested the recovery process. Ultimately, the consolidation of white supremacy under Jim Crow relied on black dispossession rather than the exploitation of black labor. This dissertation investigates how the hurricane’s disruption of economic, political, and demographic patterns catalyzed that change in the late nineteenth century.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Colorado Boulder  -  Hurricane of the New South: Disruption, Dispossession, and the Great Sea Island Storm of 1893

Joseph M. Thompson
Joseph M. Thompson  |  Abstract
This project traces the economic and symbolic connections between popular music and the US Cold War military. In the 1950s, the Pentagon began investing in Nashville’s country music industry to produce radio and television programs aimed at recruiting the genre’s predominantly white fanbase. Nashville’s recruitment programs continued into the 1980s and helped to market country music as the sound of white allegiance to US militarism. This musical-military relationship taught country music fans, generally considered to be small government conservatives, to accept an unprecedented level of government growth as the military-industrial complex expanded across the Sunbelt. Through archival research and musical analysis, this project compares country music’s military alliance with the ways R&B, soul, and punk musicians articulated messages about Cold War defense strategies. Examining this intersection of popular culture and militarism reveals defense spending’s disproportionate influence on the formation of sonic and political color lines in the late twentieth century.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Virginia  -  Sounding Southern: Music, Militarism, and the Making of the Sunbelt

Julia Jong Haines
Julia Jong Haines  |  Abstract
This dissertation investigates the archaeology of Asian indentured laborers in Bras d’Eau National Park, a sugar estate on Mauritius, from 1786 to 1868. The social landscape of this small island in the southwestern Indian Ocean was transformed during the first quarter of the nineteenth century as colonists capitalized on the sugar boom and, post abolition, indentured people migrated from India to replace enslaved people as workers on expanding sugarcane fields. This project investigates the plantation ruins, material culture excavated from the laborers’ village on the plantation, and colonial archival records to show that the organization of the village and objects used in everyday life reflect indentured men, women, and children’s choices in housemates, communality, and practices as expressions of immigrant identities. This work draws comparisons to other archaeologies of plantations and coerced labor to contextualize the uniqueness of the period of indenture and colonial diaspora in the Indian Ocean world.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University of Virginia  -  Archaeology at Nineteenth-Century Bras d’Eau, Mauritius: Intimate Spaces and Industrial Landscapes of Indentured Laborers

Sonia Tycko
Sonia Tycko  |  Abstract
Masters, commanders, and planters in seventeenth-century England and the English American colonies required impoverished or captured peoples’ consent to serve them, even while deprivation, ideology, and law denied these people the chance to choose or refuse. This dissertation studies the rise of consent as a determinant of legitimate master-servant relationships. Topics examined include parish apprenticeship, colonial indentured servitude, military impressment, and prisoner of war conscription and transportation. The project shows that compulsory service relationships included a component of consent that grew in importance over the course of the seventeenth century, driven by migration, warfare, and colonization. The practices by which masters obtained and documented their servants’ consent came to create a dominant concept of consent, one that changed over time and that poor commoners themselves increasingly had to use to contest their treatment. These changes affected the terms of morality and legality in social relations, not always for the better.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Harvard University  -  Captured Consent: Bound Service and Freedom of Contract in Early Modern England and English America

Ashlee Hart
Ashlee Hart  |  Abstract
The differences in local ceramics production throughout the Iron Age, 1200-200 BCE, from three archaeological sites in Thrace, Bulgaria—Emporion Pistiros, Zavoy, and the region of Philippopolis—reflect changes in manufacturing techniques and consumption through time, which correlate temporally with the Greek colonization of Thrace. The indigenous ceramics of this period have not been systematically analyzed, but traditional interpretations attribute these changes to Greek interaction. The project utilizes macroscopic analysis of over 15,000 ceramic fragments to create comparative typologies and chronologies, and also incorporates chemical testing to draw conclusions about microscopic changes in the clay fabric. This project contributes to understandings of nonelite Thracian culture during the Iron Age and reinterprets Greek interaction beyond traditional colonial analyses.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University at Buffalo, State University of New York  -  Convening Cultures in Thrace: Evaluating Interaction through Ceramic Technological Choices

Emily Vasquez
Emily Vasquez  |  Abstract
The strict boundaries and ideal measurement of prediabetes remain contested internationally. Health officials and private donors to the health sector in Mexico, however, are urging its diagnosis and treatment as a key strategy in the nation’s fight against diabetes, and as a component of the health system’s transition toward preventive rather than curative medicine. This dissertation examines the circumstances under which officials have come to view prediabetes as worthy of diagnosis and the implications of treating individuals who are not yet sick, but are deemed at risk of developing disease. Set against a context of metabolic crisis in Mexico, where diabetes was declared a national sanitary emergency in 2016 and where experts suggest 40 percent of adults likely have prediabetes, this dissertation engages this emergent diagnosis as a lens through which to illuminate social forces, values, and assumptions currently at work in Mexican health politics and global health in the region.

Doctoral Candidate, Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University  -  (Pre)diabetic Nation: Diagnosing Risk and Remaking Medicine in Mexico

Stephen Chase Evans Hopkins
Stephen Chase Evans Hopkins  |  Abstract
This dissertation investigates early medieval vernacular treatments of hell in North Sea texts. While canonical Christian scriptures contain brief passages on the infernal, apocryphal accounts exhibit the most robust treatments from the era. These early medieval depictions of hell show how apocrypha can vary by time, place, and purpose. Via careful study of the “Vision of St. Paul” and the “Gospel of Nicodemus” in Old English, Old Norse, Middle Welsh, and Old Irish, the research demonstrates that fusion and creativity in vernacular apocrypha are often the result of these texts’ liminal status. Apocrypha are sometimes considered authoritative since they treat biblical themes, but they are often held revisable since they are unofficial. This liminality generates discursive space for experimental, speculative theologies that play with contemporary orthodox standards. The research thus finds that apocrypha empowered medieval Christians to assert local identities while still identifying as members of a universalizing faith.

Doctoral Candidate, English, Indiana University Bloomington  -  The Infernal Laboratory: Hell and Apocryphal Hermeneutics in the Medieval North Sea

Alex-Thai Dinh Vo
Alex-Thai Dinh Vo  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the Democratic Republic of Vietnam’s (DRV) mass mobilization and land reform policies to explore the rise of communist revolution in Vietnam and the violent transformation of that country from colonialism to communism between 1945 and 1960. Using archival sources along with newspapers, journals, memoirs, and interviews, the project demonstrates that land reform was the DRV’s most important domestic policy to transform North Vietnam’s society and political structure during the 15-year period following the end of World War II. It was orchestrated to mobilize popular support against French colonial rule, to gain control over the population, and to prepare conditions to unify Vietnam under communist rule. The project departs from Western-centric understanding of the wars in Vietnam to emphasize the centrality of Vietnamese actors and to illuminate the significance of domestic politics in shaping the trajectories of national and international affairs, including the First and Second Indochina Wars.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Cornell University  -  From Anticolonialism to Mobilizing Socialist Transformation in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, 1945-1960

April Hovav
April Hovav  |  Abstract
Over the past decade, a multibillion dollar global surrogacy industry has emerged in which intended parents contract women to gestate and birth children. Despite the growing demand for surrogates, only a few sites have become global hubs for surrogacy tourism, including the state of Tabasco, Mexico. Drawing on multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork in Mexico, Spain, and the United States and in-depth interviews with 120 participants, this dissertation analyzes the technical, legal, and social processes that enable the creation of a new site in the global market for baby making as well as the experiences of actors involved in this industry. This project pays close attention to the particularities of the Mexican context while also treating the Mexican surrogacy industry as a case study of a growing phenomenon of women’s reproductive capacities being marketed and sold on a global scale.

Doctoral Candidate, Sociology, University of Southern California  -  The Global Market for Wombs: A Study of the Transnational Surrogacy Industry in Mexico

Jennifer Walker
Jennifer Walker  |  Abstract
This project reevaluates music’s role in the relationship between the French state and the Catholic church at the end of the nineteenth century by offering an alternative to the prevailing epistemological emphasis on divisions between the church and the secular Third Republic. Case studies ranging from opera and puppet theater to Parisian parish churches and Montmartre’s famed cabarets demonstrate how composers and critics from opposing ideological factions dismantled this binary. They instead used musical composition and performance to craft a brand of Frenchness that was founded on secular Republican ideology alongside the heritage of the Catholic church. Such constructions of French identity reveal a newly configured middle ground, with the state apparatus absorbing seemingly opposing subject positions into reconciliatory visions of an inclusive French republic.

Doctoral Candidate, Music, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  -  Sounding the Ralliement: Republican Reconfigurations of Catholicism in the Music of Third Republic Paris, 1880–1905

Caitlin Keliiaa
Caitlin Keliiaa  |  Abstract
From 1918 to about 1942, the Bay Area Outing Program (BAOP) coercively recruited thousands of Native women from US Indian boarding schools to work as live-in housemaids. Though largely unknown, these labor programs were integral to the Indian assimilation project. This historical project situates the BAOP within a long history of Indian servitude in California and unpacks a thriving exploitative labor market. Significantly, this project places Native women’s experiences, agency, and resistance at the center of its analysis. It traces gendered Indian labor and the history of this unique, city-based program, and examines Native women’s forms of resistance, such as running away and fighting for wages. This project addresses how this outing program compares to other colonial labor practices, the ways in which Native women overtly and covertly subvert domestic service assimilation and labor exploitation, and the modern implications of the BAOP. “Unsettling Domesticity” deepens the outing story.

Doctoral Candidate, Ethnic Studies, University of California, Berkeley  -  Unsettling Domesticity: Native Women and US Indian Policy in the San Francisco Bay Area

Alex Werth
Alex Werth  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the routine regulation of music, dance, and nightlife in Oakland, California as arenas for the making of racialized dispositions and dispossessions. The city is one of the most rapidly growing and contentious sites of urban redevelopment in the United States. These struggles have centered on the use of nuisance control and policing to silence spaces of joy, such as nightclubs and festivals, in the city’s communities of color. In so doing, they have been read as the spillover of gentrification from San Francisco. Using two years of archival and ethnographic fieldwork, however, this research argues that the governance of nuisance and joy is not simply an effect of neoliberal economics, but rather a means of enacting raced, classed, and gendered norms of citizenship and forms of dispossession long central to liberal urban governance in racial capitalism.

Doctoral Candidate, Geography, University of California, Berkeley  -  Disturbing the Gentrified City: The Racial/Spatial Politics of Nuisance and Joy in Oakland

Ian Kretzler
Ian Kretzler  |  Abstract
In the 1850s, the US government forcibly removed two thousand Native people to the Grand Ronde Reservation in northwestern Oregon. Over the next century, the reservation emerged as an arena of cultural contestation in which government efforts to exterminate Native lifeways were continually frustrated by the persistence and creativity of the Grand Ronde community. This dissertation combines archival, cartographic, and archaeological investigation to recover Grand Ronde stories of survivance: how Native families created spaces of cultural familiarity and belonging, preserved connections to pre-reservation landscapes and practices, and laid the foundation of the contemporary tribal nation. Conducted as part of two community-based research initiatives, this dissertation enhances the capacity of Grand Ronde historic preservation staff to care for tribal heritage and demonstrates the utility of survivance-based interpretive frameworks in archaeologies of Native-lived colonialism.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University of Washington  -  Landscapes of Survivance: Archaeology of Reservation Lifeways at Grand Ronde

Tyler Zoanni
Tyler Zoanni  |  Abstract
Based on 22 months of ethnographic research, this dissertation examines Christian engagements with disability in Uganda. According to national data, roughly 20 percent of Uganda’s population is disabled due to five decades of political violence, limited medical care, and widespread poverty. While Uganda has ratified some of the world’s most progressive disability laws, the material circumstances of most disabled Ugandans have not changed. In this setting, a range of Catholic and Protestant groups—often led by disabled Ugandans—have become major providers of care, advocacy, and other forms of support for people with disabilities. Across their differences, these Christian groups share the notion that people with disabilities are created in the “image of God,” a notion that animates a variety of nonliberal, nonsecular engagements with disability. This project explores the forms of disability politics, sociality, and personhood that arise in Ugandan Christian contexts.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, New York University  -  In the Image of God: Disability and Christianity in Uganda

Emily Laskin
Emily Laskin  |  Abstract
This project examines the literature of the “Great Game,” the nineteenth-century rivalry between the British and Russian empires for influence in Central Asia. While the period typically has been studied in terms of its lasting political impacts, this dissertation argues that the imaginative literature which emerged in multiple local and imperial languages is also fundamental to contemporary conceptions of Central Asia and this imperial rivalry. In a series of focused readings ranging from Afghan epic poetry to Russian realist fiction about the Central Asian steppe and Rudyard Kipling’s “Kim,” the project compares Central Asia’s politically symbolic role as a buffer between empires to its function in imaginative and aesthetic realms. It also takes up current discourses on world literature, ultimately suggesting that the archive of Great Game literature produces a space that is autonomous from the instrumental role that global politics assigned to the region.

Doctoral Candidate, Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley  -  Geopoetics and Geopolitics: Landscape, Empire, and the Literary Imagination in the Great Game