Past Winners

Pre-Dissertation Research Grant

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Replaying the "tape of life": the Parallel Diversification of Spiders in the Bonin Islands
Term:
Spring 2016
Department:
Environmental Science, Policy, and Management
Since Darwin's time, there has been much debate about the predictability of evolution; what really will happen if we replay the so-called "tape of life"? From one perspective, evolution may be dictated by contingencies with unpredictable trajectories at the outset of any diversification event. Alternatively, evolution may be more deterministic with diversification of species filling similar ecological roles. Remote oceanic archipelagos, with their discrete and often replicated islands, provide model systems to study these replayed evolutionary trajectories. My work will study a lineage of...Read more
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A Discourse Analysis of Today’s Humanitarian Response to the Syrian ‘Refugee’
Term:
Spring 2017
Department:
Architecture
While the world has been witnessing the largest refugee crisis since World War II, or what the European Commission calls “the largest global humanitarian crisis”, one feels the necessity to question the very notion of humanity in one of the powerful discourses of our time. I probe the question: if ‘the refugee’ is situated in relation to emerging forms of humanitarianism, is the refugee caught in a humanitarian discourse? In this research, I will identify the refugee camp as a site of action that is operated by international and humanitarian organizations, and enabled by the millions invested...Read more
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Agricultural Landscapes and Societal Transformation in Pemba, Tanzania: AD 1000-1850
Term:
Spring 2016
Department:
Anthropology
My research focuses on the long-term development of rice producing landscapes and related societal transformations in Zanzibar and on the East African coast over the last millennium. Rice production is known from historical sources to have intensified dramatically in Zanzibar and on the coast sometime between the 11th and 17th centuries AD, in some relation to Islamic conversion, the development of large towns, and the advent of Portuguese colonialism. I am using geoarchaeological methods, satellite remote sensing, and archaeological landscape survey to assess the spatial, social and...Read more
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The colonial history of the Amazon Forest
Term:
Spring 2017
Department:
Spanish
The early modern period supposed the expansion of the European empires in a global scale. With this idea in mind, in my future dissertation, I plan to study the process of the conquest and colonization of the Amazon Forest during the period of the European expansion in America. Related to this conquest, one aspect that catches my attention is the formation of borders between the kingdoms of Spain and Portugal in the Amazonian area. These borders were established very late in the eighteen century through the “Treaty of San Ildefonso” in 1777. The reason for this treaty, among others, was that...Read more
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Term:
Summer 2015
Department:
Linguistics
This research project involves initial fieldwork on Laru, a severely endangered and undocumented language of western Nigeria. This research will document and describe the language with two main goals. The first is to develop a thorough sketch of the sound system and word structure of the language. The second is to create a transcribed audio-visual corpus of narrative and conversational discourse.Read more
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Term:
Summer 2015
Department:
Sociology
Despite epidemiological studies showing that both the United States and France have high and increasing levels of depression, data show that its distribution, categorization, and treatment differ in ways that cannot be explained through a medical lens. This dissertation examines this disparity, considering how uneven institutional developments across the Western world promote certain social constructions and distributions of mental illness. I am interested particularly in the role of political factors in explaining this difference, such as the decline of the asylum, rise of patients’...Read more
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Term:
Summer 2015
Department:
Anthropology
My research focuses on the artistic communities of Johannesburg in order to understand South Africa’s changing economic and political landscape and the relationship between artistic practices, labor, and national development. The project investigates how the production of cultural, artistic objects in the post-apartheid moment is bound up with questions of the nation’s economic and political past and future. I ask how the labor of contemporary artists, in what is recognized as fine art, craft or “ethnic” art, or simply work, shape personal and national futures in the country, and why these...Read more
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Skeletal Morphology of Early Modern Homo Sapiens from Middle Awash, Ethiopia
Term:
Spring 2016
Department:
Integrative Biology
The emergence of anatomically modern humans is of great interest and importance to the study of human evolution. However, informative fossil specimens are scattered geographically and temporally, obscuring the details of how early humans evolved, and what exactly they looked like. My research project describing an early modern human from the Middle Awash research area of Ethiopia will contribute to our understanding of human evolution at a critical and interesting time and locality. The majority of previous studies have been constrained to craniodental fossils, making this study of a nearly-...Read more
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“Controversy College”: Useful Knowledge, Polemic and Scholarly Institutions in Stuart England
Term:
Spring 2017
Department:
History
In the mid-seventeenth century, an eclectic group of theologians, pedagogues, amateur physicians and enterprising husbandmen set about to disseminate “Useful Knowledge” throughout England. They used this concept to advocate for education in innovative agricultural practices and knowledge of political economy, while also pressing for new forms of religious devotion. Through my dissertation project, I plan to study how useful knowledge emerged as a pedagogical principle in theological debates in the wake of the Reformation, but authorized plans for England’s material and social improvement by...Read more
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Augusto Boal: Staging Resistance against the Brazilian Military Dictatorship
Term:
Spring 2017
Department:
Spanish and Portuguese
My current research centers on the relationship between the Brazilian military dictatorship (1964-1985) and the performance practices (theatrical, musical, literary, and pedagogical) that constituted acts of resistance against the oppressive regime. Through archival research in Brazil, I hope to continue this research by engaging with the work of noted Brazilian playwright and political dissident Augusto Boal. Boal’s theoretical contributions to theater, along with his dramatic production, had an enormous impact in Latin America and other world areas during his lifetime as well as into the...Read more
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Cultivating an Antiochian Orthodox Tradition: Renewal and Political Life in Lebanon
Term:
Spring 2017
Department:
Anthropology, Critical Theory
A general feeling of quiet crisis dominates in contemporary Lebanon: gridlocked government, the breakdown of basic civil services, and increasing municipal protests are compounded by Hezbollah’s military imbrication in Syria and the increasing influx of Syrian refugees into a polity already laden with considerable youth unemployment. My research addresses the Antiochian Christian Church’s renewal efforts, which negotiate Lebanon’s fraught social and political landscape. I seek to better understand the relationship between religious practice and political belonging in a region that has...Read more
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Compensatory Behaviors in Locomotions Induced by Autotomy in Daddy Long-Legs
Term:
Spring 2016
Department:
Environmental Science, Policy, and Management
As a biologist I am interested in how animals use their behavior and their anatomy to cope with environmental pressure. Specifically, I am studying the consequences of a defense strategy used by many animals: the voluntary loss of legs. While being attacked by predators, arachnids can release their legs to escape. However, the long-term costs of this strategies have been rarely studied. My current research focuses on the changes in the biomechanics of locomotion, sexual behavior and chemical defenses in Neotropical daddy long-legs in Costa Rica and Panamá. Ultimately, my research bears...Read more
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The Making of a Transnational Labor Force: An Intergenerational View of the Philippines' Labor Export Regime, 1974-2014
Term:
Spring 2016
Department:
Sociology
My project takes stock of the emergence, evolution, and expansion of the Philippine transnational labor force from 1974 to 2014. The overall goal is to develop a long-term historical analysis of the process by which a labor force becomes increasingly integrated to global labor markets through patterned dynamics between the “labor-exporting” state, transnational workers, and their families. I will examine this four-decade period, beginning with the New Labor Code (1974), which launched a state-facilitated labor migration regime, following the narrative through up to contemporary expansion of...Read more
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The Causality, Limit-formations, and Duplicity of Sovereignty in Eastern Indonesia
Term:
Spring 2017
Department:
Anthropology
Dylan Fagan is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology. His research examines expressions of sovereignty in Indonesia. In dialogue with the literature suggesting that sovereignty binds a non-coincidental, double representation of itself in the appearance of a limit, his research addresses how the work of cinema, sculpture and poetry orients a bodied, vanishing point of political life . His summer fieldwork is based in Jakarta and Kupang, Indonesia.Read more
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Term:
Summer 2015
Department:
History
This summer I will travel to The National Archives in Kew to research British Colonial and Commonwealth Office archives relating to the regulation of fishing in Caribbean waters during the nineteenth century. I am interested in how maritime jurisdiction functioned across the interpenetrating spheres of imperial sovereignty in the West Indies, and in the relationship between natural resources, the environment, and the project of state-building. I am particularly interested in documents relating to the regulation of fishing in Cuban waters in the run-up to the Spanish-American War. My research...Read more

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