Past Winners

Reinhard Bendix Memorial Fellowship

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Term:
Fall 2012
Department:
History
While the profound transformation and ensuing disintegration of the Ottoman empire from 1839-1923 has been conventionally summarized as an interim stage before the ultimate triumph of ethnic nationalism and secular modernity in the Middle East, this popular narrative elides the fiercely contested nature of institutional changes in the region. In particular, such accounts marginalize the acute struggles of scholars, statesmen, and everyday citizens to constitute alternative modernities not rooted in strictly secular-liberal or eurocentric cultural epistemes. The “ Nizamnama ” codes of King...Read more
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Term:
Fall 2014
Department:
History
My dissertation examines the Chukotka and Seward Peninsulas, half in Russia and half in Alaska - a space divided by national and ideological lines but united by a common ecological space. The project is framed around the human relationship to energy – to food, fuel, and the technologies that access both, in a landscape that is defined by its lack of energy, since most of the solar energy that underwrites biological life is reflected back into space at the poles. In the rough century between the 1880s and the 1980s, I look at how the energy-intensive, and constantly energy-acquisitive,...Read more
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Term:
AY 2016-17
Department:
Political Science
While social science research has illuminated cross-national differences in governance and their relationship to the outbreak of conflict, my dissertation focuses on a dynamic about which we know far less: What strategies do governments use at the subnational level to ensure peace and order in post-conflict settings? My dissertation examines the relationship between violent internal conflict and subsequent state-building over time. I specifically study how political incentives shape the strategies of post-conflict governance along three important dimensions of public goods provision:...Read more
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Term:
Fall 2010
Department:
Political Science
The conception of philosophy presented in John Rawls’s “A Theory of Justice” (1971) still influences many approaches to political inquiry today. Rawls thought that philosophy is a theory-building activity: it takes considered judgments of reasonable persons as its starting point and aims to explicate them in terms of one or several general principles. He thus assumed that all reasonable persons would agree in their judgments, and that they would make these judgments for the same several reasons. Yet – to the dismay of many – Rawls qualified his view by stating that principles are sometimes...Read more
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Term:
Fall 2013
Department:
Political Science
Kidnappings and hostage-taking have played central roles in conflicts and governance throughout human history and across a wide variety of different societies. The tactic remains prominent in a number of contemporary terrorist and insurgent conflicts, but wide variation exists in its adoption. This project seeks to explain why some states experience heightened periods of political abductions in certain time periods, while violent groups in similar states or in different time periods fail to adopt the practice of kidnapping. By tracing the causal mechanisms through which kidnapping tactics...Read more
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Term:
Fall 2010
Department:
History
The transportation of Indian indentured laborers to various British sugar colonies in the nineteenth century generated a peculiar legal problem: under what law would the marriages of Indian migrants be governed? My project investigates demands made by Indian indentured laborers and their descendants for the legal recognition of their marriages according to system of religious personal laws that prevailed in British India. Laborers invoked their status as imperial citizens to petition colonial governments in Fiji, British Guiana, Trinidad, and Mauritius for noninterference in the religious...Read more
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Term:
AY 2016-17
Department:
History
My dissertation project draws on an unusual source—land survey records—to demonstrate the centrality of Native American land to regime change and modern state formation in North America. I examine imperial transitions in three places: the St. Lawrence River Valley of Quebec surrounding the 1763 Treaty of Paris, the Lower Mississippi Valley before and after the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, and the Los Angeles Basin under Mexican and United States jurisdiction around the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. After these treaties were signed, government land surveyors were tasked with mapping these vast...Read more
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Term:
Fall 2014
Department:
Political Science
What are the origins of the rule of law? When do strong property protections emerge for vulnerable groups, like the rural poor? The standard answer is that democratic institutions will protect property rights and strengthen the rule of law. Once the vulnerable have a voice in a representative institution like an elected national assembly or a village council, governments are likely to be more accountable to them. However, in my dissertation project, I argue that participating in democratic power-sharing institutions can backfire for marginalized groups — and weaken the security of their...Read more
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Term:
Fall 2013
Department:
History
Despite appearances to the contrary, the three historical moments on which my dissertation centers—the Nazi-led exhumation of 4,500 Polish officers in the Katyn Forest in today’s Ukraine, a the formation of a team of Argentinian graduate students led by a forensic expert from Texas, and the trial of Radislav Krstic at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia—have much in common. My dissertation argues that they are not only important moments in the history of forensic investigation, but they are all, even the Nazi example, important moments in the history of human rights...Read more
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Term:
Fall 2012
Department:
Political Science
Why did Japan and Germany approach WWII legacies and war responsibilities differently? And, more generally, why do countries attempt to come to terms with their problematic past the way they do? These are the central questions in my dissertation. To answer these queries I focus on the analysis of political elites in Japan and Germany. By examining Japanese and German primary sources I explore how they interpreted their nation’s participation in WWII and what policies they supported in regards to reconciling with their former victim nations in East Asia and Europe. Most of the current...Read more
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Term:
Summer 2015
Department:
City and Regional Planning
I am interested in studying the transformations brought about by the 2011 Arab revolutions. I focus on Tunisia and ask how does decentralizing the management of “spaces of poverty” redefine class relations in the post-revolution city? What are the redistributive outcomes at stake and for whom? What are the resultant geographies of political alliances and fissures in the wake of a transition to an electoral democracy? I focus on a newly approved World Bank program which seeks to decentralize urban upgrading projects to the municipal level as a research site. I suggest that the decentralization...Read more
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Term:
AY 2015-16
Department:
Political Science
While rule of law is considered a hallmark of stable democratic governance, it is often lacking in the developing world. My dissertation uncovers the origins of undemocratic legal systems in Sub-Saharan Africa and why they are resistant to reform during democratic transitions by focusing on the institutional choices made by governments during key periods of authoritarian consolidation. During the early years of dictatorship, some dictators confer legal authority to the formal judiciary, while others choose to erect ad hoc legal forums. I show that these decisions have lasting legacies in...Read more
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Term:
AY 2015-16
Department:
City and Regional Planning
Lebanon has been without a president for more than one year. More than one-third of its population are impoverished Syrian refugees. Fighting rages between Lebanese forces and Syrian insurgents along the border. Yet Beirut’s skyline is dotted with construction cranes erecting avant-garde apartments, evocative of affluence, or as written on one’s gated walls: it’s about the new Beirut: metropolitan, cosmopolitan and expressive . Why is so much money being invested in such an insecure city? And how do these circulations of wealth navigate the insecurity immersing Beirut, where the logic of...Read more