2009 Graduate Research Fund Winners

Sofya Aptekar, Department of Sociology

Sofya Aptekar’s dissertation, “Immigrant Naturalization and Nation-Building in North America,” is an empirical examination of tensions in the social construction of nationhood at the critical juncture of citizenship acquisition by foreigners. Sofya’s study of nation-building in the United States and Canada uses a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches that overlap with other disciplinary traditions. Sofya’s work explores both the perspectives of the state actors and the immigrants themselves and the meanings they attached to becoming members of the polity.

Matthew Axtell, Department of History

Matthew Axtell’s project, “The Policing of the Ohio River, 1830-61,” will explore the regulatory life of the Ohio River during the mid-19th century. As a legal historian of the American environment, Matthew's study of how U.S. geography has shaped American law, and how law has in turn reshaped urban and rural U.S. geography will include the analysis of court records, police records, public health records, and navigation records in civic, state, and federal archives in Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

J. Michelle Coghlan, Department of English

Michelle Coghlan’s dissertation, “Revolution’s Afterlife: the Paris Commune in American Cultural Memory,” traces the Commune’s uncanny persistence in the U.S. literary and cultural imaginary into the Modernist period, unearthing the ways Americans represented and consumed the spectacle — and the specter — of the Commune and its fiery aftermath across a variety of literary forms and mass-cultural mediums. With the support of a Summer Research Prize, she conducted research on her fourth chapter in the S.Guy Endore papers and the Socialist and Labor Movement Pamphlets collection at UCLA's Special Collections.

Justene Hill, Department of History

Justene Hill’s research project will focus on the ways in which enslaved women participated in informal economic activities in Charleston, South Carolina and Bridgetown, Barbados where slavery thrived during the 18th and early 19th centuries. Justene will conduct research at various archival locations, including the Barbados Archives, the Barbados Historical Society, the National Library Service in Bridgetown and the South Carolina Historical Society.

Saul Schwartz, Department of Anthropology

Saul Schwartz will spend two months this summer living in White Cloud, Kansas, near the reservation of the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, where he will be an assistant to Jimm Goodtracks at the Ioway, Otoe-Missouria Language Project. He will study the Ioway language with Mr. Goodtracks and assist in a number of tasks related to cultural preservation and language revitalization. This experience will allow Saul to collaborate with Ioways on the direction of future research possibilities.

Jamie Sherman, Department of Anthropology

Jamie Sherman’s dissertation, “The Color of Muscle: Play, Performance, and Everyday Realities in a Brooklyn Body Building Gym,” looks at the way everyday practices of self-improvement and self-transformation articulate, address, and engage dominant ideological tensions in contemporary American society. Looking narrowly at social relations and bodily practices at a Brooklyn bodybuilding gym, this project asks what kinds of moral worlds are constructed through the disciplining of self and body and how these serve to address the particular challenges of social inequality in America’s urban centers.