The University of Iowa

Stanley Graduate Awards: 2011 winners

In 2011, 27 graduate students received Stanley Awards of $2,000 each for a total of $54,000 awarded. A list of the recipients and their own summaries of their research projects follows:

Adigweme, Alea

M.F.A., Nonfiction Writing, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Title: “Vincentian Identity: Its Construction and Inheritance”

Purpose: In order to complete ethnographic research for my M.F.A. thesis in Nonfiction Writing, I intend to travel to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. My academic and creative interests lie in issues relating to the formation, inheritance, (mis)recognition, mutability, and rejection of identities with a focus on race, gender, sexuality, and ingroup/outgroup dynamics within familial structures. I propose to investigate the historical, ethnic/racial, socio-cultural nature of Vincentian identity and its transmission to the American-born offspring of Vincentian émigrés. Over the course of four weeks, I intend to conduct ethnographic and genealogical research via the country's vital records offices, videotaped interviews, and multimedia documentation.

Borilot, Vanessa

Ph.D., French, France
Title: “When the Male is Lacking Words: Representation of the Father Figure in the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean”

Purpose: I would like to go to Aix-en-Provence, France, to conduct research at the Colonial Archives, where all government documents of the French colonies are. The advantage of going to Aix-en-Provence is that the documentation is centralized there so I will not have to travel to the three different islands. Also, I am presenting a paper at the annual meeting of the ConseiI International d’Etudies Francophones, a well-known association in Francophone Studies. Presenting a paper and doing research in Aix-en-Provence are excellent opportunities to develop my academic growth and work in general, my comprehensive exams, and my dissertation proposal that I will both take during the next academic year.

Butcher, Amy

M.F.A., Nonfiction Writing, France
Title: “A Nation Redefined: The Shifting Cultural Dynamic of France”

Purpose: The purpose of this research grant is to investigate shifting cultural tolerance and the preservation of national identity in France.  In particular, I am interested in the impact ongoing immigration (both legal and illegal) from northern African countries may have on the country and the identity of its citizens.  I'm also interested in how contemporary political events—including the recent ban on burqas in French schools, the escalating threats of terrorism in and around France, and the ongoing political unrest in Egypt and in much of northern Africa—may be effecting or emphasizing this issue in France.  During the fall of 2007, I had the opportunity to live and study just outside of Marseille, France, one of Europe’s largest and most influential port cities and the largest site of legal and illegal immigration from northern African countries to France.  While in France, I witnessed firsthand the effects of immigration reform on the people who lived there.  Since my return to the United States, I have continued researching French policy on immigration and immigration reform.  I have also become captivated with the revolution of the Egyptian people, and deeply believe their future will impact cultural tolerance and understanding in all Western countries.  With this grant, I aim to investigate the influence of shifting cultural tolerance—not only in practice, but in its effect on human beings, families and cultural norms.  I plan to conduct the majority of my research in Marseille, primarily through personal interviews and meetings with members of the Conseil Français du Culte Musulman, or French Council of Muslim Worship.  With this grant, I will examine the ways in which the ambition of individuals inherently reconstructs the identity of a place. The material gathered in Marseille will be used in essays in my book-length collection.

Callahan, Noaquia

Ph.D., History, Germany and Switzerland
Title: “Entangled in My Gender and Race: Mary Church Terrell, African American Women’s International Activism, and the Rhineland Campaign, 1919-1923”

Purpose: I am initiating archival research for my future dissertation project “Entangled in My Gender and Race: Mary Church Terrell, African American Women’s International Activism, and the Rhineland Campaign, 1919-1923.” My master’s essay, which I am currently completing, investigates the involvement of Mary Church Terrell, a prominent African American activist, in the controversy surrounding Germany’s racist propaganda campaign to remove French black colonial troops from the Rhineland territory shortly after World War I. For the dissertation, I will explore Mary Church Terrell’s extensive career as the framework for discussing an even larger issue, African American women activists in the international sphere. This project crucially restores international activism to the history of African American women and an African American presence to the history of transatlantic feminist organizing. I propose to use the Stanley Graduate Award to travel to Berlin, Geneva, and Washington D.C. to examine primary documents necessary to carry out my research objectives.

Cho, Jacee

Ph.D., Second Language Acquisition/FLARE, Russia
Title: “Remapping of Nominal Features in the Second Language”

Purpose: Generative second language (L2) research so far has been largely concerned with the role of Universal Grammar (UG) and parameters in L2 acquisition: to what extent L2 learners’ grammars are constrained by universal principles and whether L2 learners can reset parameters. A vast number of L2 studies have shown that adult L2 learners have access to UG and parameters can be reset. Nevertheless, unlike first language (L1) acquisition, which is guaranteed to converge on the target adult grammar, the majority of adult L2 learners exhibit non-target-like grammars, which raises a logical question: if adult learners have access to UG and can reset parameters, what makes it so difficult for them to achieve native-like proficiency in the L2? Taking this question as its point of departure, this study investigates degrees of difficulty in L2 acquisition and possible barriers to successful acquisition by examining the L2 acquisition of definiteness and referentiality in an article-less language, Russian. In this study, learners of Russian from two different L1 backgrounds will be compared: L1 with overt articles (English) and L1 without overt articles (Korean). Therefore, this study requires a large number of participants (both native speaker controls and learners). To recruit participants, a round-trip travel to Russia will be necessary. Findings of the study will provide new insight into the effect of the native language on L2 learnability, which can expand our understanding of the nature of L2.

Corush, Joel

M.A., Anthropology, Equatorial Guinea
Title: “An Investigation into the Molecular Diversity, Ecology, and Evolution of the Bioko Monkeys”

Purpose: Bioko (Equatorial Guinea, West Central Africa) is an island off the coast of Cameroon. As part of a biodiversity hotspot it harbors one of the most species rich insular primate communities in the world. Five of the seven members of this community are listed as Endangered or Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as they suffer from illegal hunting, extremely restricted habitat ranges, and habitat destruction. The purpose of this study is to complete the first population based genetic research of the Bioko primate. This research will greatly enhance our understanding of how insular populations evolve over time, react to human disturbance, and how speciation takes effect. It will also add in the protection of these species with the goal of preserving biodiversity.

Eerkens, Mieke

M.F.A., Nonfiction Writing, The Netherlands
Title: “Japan’s WWII Internment Camps in Indonesia: Conditions and Effects on Dutch Civilian Prisoners of War”

Purpose: In 1941, the Japanese entered World War II with a wide-scale invasion of the Pacific. This included an invasion of Indonesia, then known as the Dutch East Indies, a colony of the Netherlands. The Japanese interned nearly 200,000 Allied-nation civilians there, including my father, a Dutch citizen, who was a ten year-old boy when the invasion occurred. He was put into a men’s labor camp, where he survived near starvation and periodic beatings and whippings by Japanese guards before being reunited with his family at the end of the war. As part of my research for my M.F.A. thesis in Creative Nonfiction, which will explore this period through my father's personal accounts, I intend to spend two weeks in Semarang, Indonesia, to conduct fieldwork before traveling to the Netherlands to spend an additional five weeks doing research at the Dutch National Archives and Dutch Institute for War Documentation, in The Hague and Amsterdam, respectively. This research will provide much needed verification and historical context for the interviews I have done with my father about his experiences in the camps and the circumstances surrounding this part of history. Despite extensive investigation and the Japanese camp guards being found guilty by a war crimes tribunal after WWII, very little is known by the average person in the United States about the Japanese-run concentration camps. This work aims to change that, and will culminate in a nonfiction thesis which will recount my father’s story and detail the experiences of civilian prisoners of war inside Japan’s concentration camps.

Fox, Mark

M.D., Medicine, Brazil
Title: “Evaluation of Initial Results from the Brazilian National Ponseti Program”

Purpose: Congenital clubfoot is considered to be the most common congenital birth defect of the musculoskeletal system. Neglected clubfoot is one of the most common physical disabilities in the world. In Brazil—where the prevalence of clubfoot is estimated to be 1/1000 births—affected individuals face diminished prospects for education and employment, leading to a dependency on family or external aid (e.g., begging) for survival. Though abundant evidence already supports the effectiveness of the Ponseti method as the ‘gold standard’ for clubfoot treatment in developed countries, less is known on under-resourced regions where 80% of children with clubfoot are born. Therefore, it is imperative to evaluate programs in these regions to optimize the effectiveness and define the limits of the treatment in under-resourced areas. Due to the noninvasive nature of the procedure and the relatively short course of treatment, generally lasting from five to eight weeks, the results of this study could have a profound effect in under-resourced countries where inexpensive, effective treatments such as the Ponseti method are essential.

Fragoso, Ligia

Ph.D., Anthropology, Japan
Title: “The Reconfiguration of Religious Space in Contemporary Japan”

Purpose: Modern Buddhist temples and Shintō shrines in contemporary Japan are currently in a difficult position. Traditionally temples and shrines in Japanese society were not perceived merely as spaces in which a set of religious observances were carried out. Temple and shrines in communities served as the hub for a host of over activities such as markets, seasonal festivals, family outings, dance or music recitals and presentations, among others, so that their importance to the community was predicated on more than just a religious basis. But today's highly mobile contemporary society had left behind the concept of the temple/shrine as community center, leaving its priests, families and staff in financially precarious situations and in search for other means to supplement their small incomes and insure the compound's survival. What means, then, are available to these shrines and temples to secure themselves financially and ensure their survival? From offering yoga classes to opening cafés, shrines and temples are engaging in a fascinating transformation that fuses the concept of the shrine/temple as traditional community center with modern marketing techniques that successfully disseminates a positive image of this religious space as a space in which friends, families and colleagues can visit in order to relax and enjoy themselves in a warm, friendly setting… and hopefully these visits will encourage them to become more interested in religion at the same time. My aim then is to explore the means by which these religious spaces seek to bring into modernity the traditional role of the shrine/temple as a community space by employing marketing, mass media and spatial transformation as a means to bring back into popular consciousness the conception of these religious spaces as community centers and an integral part of social life in contemporary Japan.

Garza, Oscar

Ph.D., Pharmaceutical Socioeconomics, Mexico
Title: “An Action Research Approach to Examining Perceptions and Needs in Diabetes Care in a Community in Mexico”

Purpose: The purpose of this research is to examine the provision of health care for diabetes and the inherent relationships that exist among patients and families, health care teams, and community partners related to diabetes care in Xicotepec, Mexico. I am interested in assessing patient and health care provider experiences, problems with the health care organization's ability to provide the necessary care for diabetic patients, and its links to the community; as well as the health-related beliefs associated with diabetes and treatment of various stakeholders within the community. This research is needed to better understand how the dynamic components inherent in patient care provision in the health care organization and the community are affected by the challenges that arise in shifting the focus from acute care to care for chronic conditions, especially in terms of accessibility to care and treatment for diabetes in rural resource-poor communities. This study is intended to inform us about these issues in a community in Mexico.

Greene, Kendra

M.F.A., Nonfiction Writing, Iceland
Title: “Collection History of the Icelandic Phallological Museum”

Purpose: The Icelandic Phallological Museum declares itself "probably the only museum in the world to contain a collection of phallic specimens belonging to all the various types of mammal found in a single country," and I don't doubt it. But what fascinates me is what a universal story this niche museum actually represents. The collection is the work of one man, a former headmaster who stumbled into collecting phallus specimens after receiving a gag gift, and yet proceeded to amass a collection that 23 years later became a museum. Despite the institutional authority we tend to associate with museums, the Icelandic Phallological Museum strikes me as emblematic of how haphazardly many museums actually get started. That curious serendipity is an idea I'd like to add to the thesis work I'm doing writing a collection of essays about museums. Specifically, I would like to write about how this collection became a museum and what that museum is now. To that end, I intend to visit the museum, expand the interview I've thus far conducted by email with the curator/founder, review collection records stored at the museum, and visit sites important to the museum’s history (like its first home in Reykjavik or the secondary school in Akranes where the curator received the specimens that started the collection). My personal familiarity with these details will crucially inform both my understanding and my power to describe the place in writing.

Gundlach, Cory

M.A., Art History, Burkina Faso
Title: “Carving Wood and Casting Lots: Lobi Sculptors and Diviners in Burkina Faso”

Purpose: The Lobi of Burkina Faso are well-known for their carved wooden figure sculptures (bateba) that are placed on shrines to maintain relationships with spirits (thila). The nature of this relationship is directed by a diviner. Bateba provide assistance to their owners in dealing with a variety of issues such as illness, grief, marital relations, moral indemnification, and protection against malevolent spirits. During my extended stay in Burkina Faso this summer, I will visit the local museum and surrounding villages to study the contemporary nature of relationships among sculptors, diviners, bateba, and thila.

Johnson, Lisa

M.F.A., Art – Sculpture, Czech Republic
Title: “Listen and Speak: Marginalized Stories and Our Cultural Points of Entry”

Purpose: My research examines how different communities tell their stories, and in particular, how certain stories become silenced in different cultures. In Iowa, I work extensively with incarcerated women, whose stories are often marginalized by the larger culture. I develop my creative work (sculpture, installation, and poetry-plays) and academic research in tandem, in an attempt to bridge a gap in our historical and artistic record. I work in public and private venues, such as the prison (private, closed) and Pubic Space One, Iowa City, (public, open) to create a community dialogue that discusses the value of the human voice and our collective story-making. This summer, I will travel of Prague, Czech Republic, to work with a team of international artists, creating a public art installation that examines displacement and abandoned architectural spaces within a large city. I will also interview Rolf Abderhalden Cortes, the director of this project, regarding his work with MapaTheatro (Paris and Bogota). Cortes' projects bring the stories of displaced communities into public life, connecting storytelling, sculpture, theatre, and installation art. Further, our work in Prague coincides with the Prague Quadrennial, a major international arts event, and so I will speak with artists from multiple countries who create new, compelling intersections of art and theatre. I will interview volunteers from the Pranrak Prison and the artists of Divaldlo Theatre, who make alternative work that aims to cross language barriers. As the stories of "lesser voiced" communities is the core of my thesis, and the intersection of theatre, sculpture, and installation is the aim in my creative work, this research is invaluable as I compile my MFA thesis.

Kishida, Yuka

Ph.D., History, Japan
Title: “Manchuria Kenkoku University, 1938-1945: Japan’s Pan-Asianist Ideals in Action”

Purpose: The purpose of my proposed research trip to Japan is to obtain written and oral records for my dissertation about Manchuria Kenkoku University, Japan’s colonial educational institution in northeast China in the 1930s and 1940s. To acquire written records, I will visit Tōyō Bunko (The Oriental Library) in Tokyo that houses the largest collection including several sources that appear to be the only extant materials. To obtain oral records, I will visit Osaka City and conduct interviews with six former students of Kenkoku University. I have established contacts with these alumni, who have agreed to share their stories about the school. When meeting with these former Japanese students, I plan to request that they will introduce me to some other alumni, possibly non-Japanese members. Both of these written and oral records will provide valuable data for my dissertation.  

Larsen, Lynne

Ph.D., Art History, Benin
Title: “The Palace of Dahomey, After Colonization”

Purpose: I propose to research Benin’s Royal Palace of Dahomey, and specifically its relationship to the national, cultural, and religious identity of colonial Dahomey and post-colonial Benin. In order to accomplish this, I will investigate the palace as a center for political struggle, as a museum and cultural center, as a tourist destination, and as a religious site. I will investigate what physical transformations the palace complex underwent in relation to its changing and multifaceted roles. While in Abomey, in addition to making a photographic record of the surviving portion of the palace, I will also make a detailed study of the city plan and local architecture to investigate if and how the royal history and palatial architecture have affected both. Having read pre-colonial and colonial accounts of the religious ceremonies that worship the deified posthumous kings, I will also, by attending the local present day religious ceremonies, determine the royal architecture’s religious importance. Archival research in the city or Porto-Novo will help me determine what African and European players contributed to the transformation of the palace into the National Museum and to present day restorations of portions of the palace complex. The material I will gather will provide necessary information for my dissertation and for later published works on the subject. I expect this research to contribute not only to the growing body of post-colonial research, but also to the sparse but important publications on African architecture.

Mann, Lucas

M.F.A., Nonfiction Writing, Venezuela
Title: “Baseball Culture in Latin America”

Purpose: I plan to travel to Valencia, Venezuela to study the fanatical baseball culture in Latin America, and gain knowledge about the leagues and schools put into place to help develop young men into players that can make it into American professional baseball. This research will contribute to a book length project about the world of minor league baseball that will be my thesis for the Nonfiction Writing Program. I spent the spring and summer of 2010 in Clinton, Iowa, following a minor league team, getting to know the players. Many of the young men that I met and focused on in Clinton were form Latin American countries and had been chasing their dream for years, toiling in smaller, local leagues. My research in Venezuela will show me the lives that my subjects led before making it to Clinton. In Valencia, I will observe games in the Venezuela Summer League, where many of my subjects played. I will also interview coaches and scouts about the player development process, as well as baseball historians to help me understand the changing, significant presence of baseball in Latin America. Over the course of this study, I want to experience firsthand how important baseball success is to Latin American players, as well as to the coaches and families around them, and their home countries. I want to understand the sacrifice, both emotional and economic, that it takes to produce future international baseball stars.

Matthews, Sarah

Ph.D., History, Germany
Title: “Matter Over Mind: Medicine, Magic, and Other Material Means of Manipulating Mood in the Later Middle Ages”

Purpose: This project will examine medieval concepts of different physical causes of mood and feeling, namely issues with the body which have an influence on the psyche.  It will then inquire into what sort of manipulation of physical circumstances could have an impact on the mood and to what extent physical causes could be solved by physical cures rather than pure acts of will.  Factors like diet, climate, the stars, and even music were believed to influence mood.  This project will investigate the mechanisms by which these physical factors were supposed to influence a person’s mood and feelings.  It will also examine how people attempted to control their own moods by manipulation of these physical causes, like health regimens, phlebotomy, astrology, travel, and herbal and alchemical medicines.  This project is informed by research in a variety of overlapping disciplines, including history of medicine, history of scholastic thought (focusing on scholastic approaches to psychology, especially in commentaries on Aristotle’s De Anima), and history of emotions.  In the broadest sense, it will investigate how medieval individuals understood the relationship between mind and body and between self and body.  To execute this research, I will examine relevant late medieval manuscripts held in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich.

McFadin, Christopher

M.A., History, France
Title: “Militant Monasticism: How Two Religious Orders Profited from the Second Crusade, 1145-1149”

Purpose: In order to raise money for the Second Crusade (1145-1149), Gerald and his brother William sold their family’s property to the Commanderie de Richerenchés, a Templar monastery located in southeastern France. Monks recorded this transaction in a land charter, which they then deposited in their official record book. When the Second Crusade failed, Gerald and William’s heirs were left without an inheritance. The Templar monks, on the other hand, now possessed a new piece of property. Historians have studied how kings and emperors financed their journeys, but men like Gerald and William have received comparably little attention. This leaves us with a one-sided picture – most crusaders, since they were not part of the royal army, had to pay their own way. I propose to partially fill this gap in our knowledge by comparing Templar and Hospitaller land charters from southern France with papal confirmations of their properties. In addition to providing the first systematic analysis of crusade charters, this comparison will shed light on the extent to which the Second Crusade contributed to the growth of monastic institutions.

Miller, Kathleen

M.D., Medicine, Brazil
Title: “Identification of Barriers to Bracing Compliance in the Ponseti Method Treatment of Clubfoot in Brazil”

Purpose: I am hoping to spend the summer of 2011 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, working on a research project that will address barriers to care for pediatric patients with orthopedic disabilities.  I will be working with a Brazilian collaborator, Monica Nogueira, to develop a survey that will ask patients, parents, and health care providers what they feel are the most significant barriers to care.  In particular, we will be asking about usage of the abduction brace, which is an orthopedic device that must be worn following surgery to correct club foot.  If the abduction brace isn’t used appropriately, relapse occurs.  By determining what prevents patients from seeking care or completing treatment, we hope to use our data to make recommendations about how to increase the percentage of patients who can access care and appropriately utilize the abduction brace.  We hope that these recommendations can improve the overall quality of treatment and prevent relapses following surgery.

Myers, Melinda

M.F.A., Dance, South Korea
Title: “Participatory Research in Traditional and Contemporary Korean Dance Forms”

Purpose: By participating in traditional and contemporary Korean dance classes, I plan to turn my artistic attention to viewing dancing bodies as repositories of social and cultural rituals and beliefs. It is essential for my ongoing research as a contemporary artist to be immersed in new cultural, social, political and demographical settings in order to inspire the evolution of my artistry and dance making. I have been given an exciting opportunity to teach and perform at Gwangalli Beach for the 24th Busan International Summer Dance Festival, located in Busan, South Korea. I would use the Stanley Graduate Award to expand this experience with participatory research in Korean contemporary and traditional dance forms.

Newton, Karly

M.A., Public Health – Epidemiology, Mongolia
Title: “Investigation of S. aureus and MRSA in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia”

Purpose: The purpose of this research is to investigate S. aureus in Mongolia.  S. aureus is the bacterial species responsible for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.  While there has been a high level of research focusing on this pathogen throughout the world, very little has been done investigating it in Mongolia.  This proposal will take me to Mongolia to aid in the isolation of S. aureus strains from hospital patients in Ulaanbaatar.  Isolated samples of S.aureus will then be sent back to Dr. Tara Smith's lab at the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the University of Iowa's Oakdale Campus.  Once they have reached Tara's lab, they will be tested for susceptibility to various drugs and undergo genetic analysis to determine which strains of S. aureus are prevalent in Mongolia.  Once these analyses have been done, this information will be communicated back to my colleagues (Dr. Bulgan and Dr. Altankhuu) in Mongolia.  This information will ensure that S. aureus is properly treated and managed within the country.  This information will also be useful for the study of S. aureus throughout the world, and will be presented to at the College of Public Health's poster session and an epidemiology seminar upon my return from Mongolia next fall semester.

Nguyen, Hong-Thao

M.F.A., English – Creative Writing, Vietnam
Title: “The Effect of Industrialization on Vietnamese Poetics”

Purpose: My research in geopolitical poetry will track how movements and shifts within environment become reflected in poetry. The purpose of my research is to investigate how Vietnamese poetics are altering in relation to the industrialization occurring within the country. Due to the pressures of industrialization that replace farms with factories and privatize existing farms, I will research how poetry that is traditionally focused on agrarian culture is experiencing a transition in aesthetics to cope with these social changes. My research will track how Vietnamese forms of poetry correlates with social and geographical alterations resulting from industrialization. In addition to gathering researched information on poetry and industrialization, I will conduct open-ended interviews with agrarian and factory workers, street poets, and folk singers; my research will investigate if poetics face formal pressures that reflect society’s economic pressures.

Peters, Erin

Ph.D., Art History, Italy and Egypt
Title: “Tradition in Transformation: The Egyptian Temples of Cleopatra VII and Augustus”

Purpose: In the summer of 2011 I will conduct preliminary dissertation research by spending nine weeks in Italy and Egypt photographing and studying the monuments that form the basis of my Ph.D. dissertation on the Egyptian temples built by Cleopatra VII and the Roman emperor Augustus.  My dissertation is an interdisciplinary study at the intersection of art history and archaeology and will consider Augustan additions to temples in Egypt within the context of Egyptian pharaonic and Ptolemaic temple building traditions as well as in comparison with the temples associated with Augustus in Rome.  Preliminary research leads me to believe that after defeating Cleopatra VII at the Battle of Actium in 31 BCE and annexing Egypt into the Roman Empire, Augustus changed the artistic nature of Egyptian temples.  Furthermore, my research suggests that Augustus applied similar principles to his building projects in Rome and in Egypt and that detailed study of his monuments in both countries will yield more information about this vibrant period in history.  I have three main goals for my summer research project.  My primary goal is to study and photograph the Egyptian temples that will form the core of my dissertation.  My secondary goal is to compare Augustan artistic projects in Egypt and Rome by studying and photographing surviving Augustan monuments in Rome.  My tertiary goal is to participate in the American Academy in Rome’s Summer Program in Archaeology in order to gain hands on archaeological experience and learn the archaeological skills essential to the successful completion of my dissertation research.

Prakash, Pranav

Ph.D., Religious Studies, India
Title: “Role of the Prakrit languages in the development of pre-modern vernacular literary cultures in east India”

Purpose: There are two reasons why I wish to undertake a study tour to India over the summer break. First, I intend to receive advanced level training in Prakrit languages from the regional scholars. The summer language training will be organized by the American Institute of Indian Studies, Chicago at the Deccan College, Pune in India. An advanced level competence in Prakrit is necessary for evaluating the state of literary cultures in pre-modern India. In recent times, India has witnessed an upsurge in the political movements that demand the re-organization of Indian states on the basis of linguistic identities. These political agitations weave their narratives on ‘identity’ around vernacular cultures. Most historians locate the roots of vernacular cultures in Prakrit languages that flourished in medieval times. However, the reasons for the decline of Prakrit languages and the rise of vernacular cultures are not yet clear. Therefore, I am interested in the exploring the early roots of vernacular literary cultures in east India.  Since I wish to study the relationship between Prakrit languages and pre-modern vernacular literatures, I must develop advanced language skills in Prakrit with the help of regional experts. Second, I wish to procure relevant primary texts from the archives of the Khuda Baksh Oriental Library, Patna and the Asiatic Society, Kolkata. Both libraries preserve rare manuscripts of pre-modern times. I want to search their reserves for those earliest extant records that can help me understand the development of pre-modern vernacular literary cultures in east India.

Radtke, Kristen

M.F.A., Nonfiction Writing, Japan
Title: “Uncommon Inhabitation: Displacement and Abandonment on Hashima Island”

Purpose: To complete research for my MFA thesis in Nonfiction Writing, I plan to travel to Nagasaki, Japan to study the abandoned island directly off its coast to investigate the ways in which we make sense of inhabitation and, in turn, isolation and vacancy. Once the most densely populated plot of land on earth, Hashima, a former coal mining facility occupied by displaced workers and forced laborers, sprung up on an almost uninhabitable island, earning its peek profits during times of war. It was vacated in 1974 after coal prices dropped, leaving thousands homeless and most without job prospects. I will spend three weeks in Nagasaki and surrounding towns interviewing former residents and conducting on-site and archival research, seeking to answer the following questions: 1) What does it mean to create communities when one has no choice? 2) What can we learn about migration and displacement from a city built atop once-unlivable rock? 3) What does it mean when one community's survival is contingent primarily upon the destruction of another? 4) How do we work to understand or associate with places that serve as beckons of abandonment and aftermath throughout history?

Hashima's proximity to Nagasaki will help me examine the contrast between resilience, rebuilding and continued desolation. This research will inform the title piece of a book-length collection of essays centering on the theme of aftermath.

Tranel, Kimberly

M.A., International Studies, Brazil
Title: “Advantages and Disadvantages to Sustainable Coffee Production in Brazil”

Purpose: The proposed research will be the basis for my master’s degree in International Studies. I plan to live and work with private landowners throughout three different states in Brazil, including Goias, Minas Gerais, and Parana. The focus for the proposed research is on Utz certified coffee, created in 2002 as an attempt to market specialty coffee in the mainstream market. Utz certified coffee is best described as a combination of Fair Trade and Organic coffees, targeting social and financial stability. In the effort to sell specialty coffee in the mainstream coffee market, Utz certified coffee exists on mostly medium to large-scale coffee plantations. Therefore, my interest in visiting these cooperatives in addition to family farms is to collect a broad data range of perspectives to determine the advantages and disadvantages to sustainable coffee production. The proposed research offers a unique opportunity to draw attention to the struggles and successes found in sustainable coffee production, leading to informed consuming habits in regards to coffee certifications.

Verzemnieks, Inara

M.F.A., Nonfiction Writing, Latvia
Title: “Special Exile: A Narrative of Latvia’s Siberian Deportees”

Purpose: In order to gather material for my M.F.A. thesis in Nonfiction Writing, I plan to spend one month in Latvia, researching how individual and collective identities are shaped by mass-exile. During the Soviet occupation of Latvia following World War II, over the course a single day in 1949, more than 42,000 Latvians were picked up by authorities and deported to Siberia. Referred to as "special exiles," they were not kept in prison camps. Instead, the land itself was used as a prison. Dropped off in remote regions, these exiles were expected to fend for themselves. The special exiles occupy a relatively unknown place in the history of Siberian deportations under Stalin. Through personal interviews with survivors and their descendants, as well as archival research at Riga's Museum of the Occupation, the repository for national scholarship on the experiences of Latvians exiled to Siberia; the National Oral History Project at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the University of Latvia; and the State Historical Archives, I plan to trace the after-shocks of these forced relocations, from both individual and historical standpoints.