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People: 2017 Ph.D. Fellowship Recipients

The LAII awards ten Ph.D. Fellowships annually to meritorious doctoral students across campus whose research focuses on Latin America or Iberia. Current recipients are listed below; past recipients may be viewed by clicking on the previous year's tab.

Diego Bustos


Middle Class Aspirations and Citizenship in Brazilian and Colombian Contemporary Fiction, 2000-2015

Diego Bustos, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese, was awarded an LAII Ph.D. Fellowship for the 2017-2018 academic year. Diego began his Ph.D. studies in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese in 2013, where he realized his previous academic training did not integrate the Portuguese language and culture into the discussion about Latin American literature. Having received approval for his research project in January, 2017, Diego is in the preliminary writing phase of his dissertation. His comparative project broaches the cultural politics of class in Brazilian and Colombian literature, through an analysis of contemporary literature from both countries and the dialectic relationship between the emergence of new middle classes and the formation of a national imaginary.

Maria Lopez Calleros


Female Disposability and the Intimate Economies of Precarious Work: Maquila Workers and Domestic Workers in Mexico and the U.S. Southwest

María Lopez, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of American Studies, was awarded an LAII Ph.D. Fellowship for the 2017-2018 academic year. Her project contributes to the literature on women’s studies and ethnic studies by theorizing the devaluation of domestic service and maquiladora work, combining comparative racialization and women of color feminist critique. She stages two significant interventions: First, the study of racialization processes from within particular labor sectors challenges the presumption of a unitary experience of racialization of Mexicans, and a homogenous experience in confronting relations of domination. Second, it conceptualizes the experiences of Mexican and immigrant domestic workers and Mexican and Mexican American maquiladora workers as complex female imaginary that not only speaks to the material reality of the multiple oppressions they face in their daily lives, but also how they conceive, contest, and analyze the embodied subjectivities that emerge from the devaluation of their lives and labor. She believes this project will make important contributions in postcolonial literature through the analysis of the epistemic violence of disposability as a hegemonic discourse that travels along circuits of transnational labor.

Carlos Carrion


Implementing a Monitoring Program to Catalog Zoonotic Pathogens Transmitted by Insectivorous Bats to Humans in Ecuador: Novel Infrastructure for Prevention and Prediction of Pandemics in Latin America

Carlos Carrion, A Ph.D. candidate in the Biology Department, was awarded an LAII Ph.D. Fellowship for the 2017-2018 academic year. His research focuses on insectivorous bats (genus Myotis) and associated paraside diversity in Ecuador to significantly improve the understanding of species limits, genetic relationships and distribution. His dissertation focuses on the evolutionary history and species limits of bats of the genus Myotis and associated pathogens using molecular genetic techniques, and also develop monitoring protocols with the aim of reinforcing national surveillance programs of infectious diseases in Ecuador. He particularly focuses on bats due to their potential to harbor zoonotic pathogens, high abundance of diversity, and their frequent contact with humans.

Yuliana Kenfield


Andean College Students Making Sense of Their Quechua-Spanish Bilingual Practices and Language Attitudes

Yuliana Kenfield, a Ph.D. candidate studying in the Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies Program, was awarded an LAII Ph.D. Fellowship for the 2017-2018 academic year. Her dissertation employs community-based participatory research to explore how Andean college students make sense of their Quechua-Spanish bilingual practices and attitutdes in higher education in Cusco, especially at a time when recent intercultural policies have been instituted to promote inclusion of indigenous knowledges and practices in higher education in Cusco, yet language practices have remained largely symbolic.

Maria del Pilar File-Muriel


Circulations and Control in the Construction of Peace: An Ethnography of the Dynamics of the "Peacescape" in Colombia

María del Pilar File-Muriel, a Ph.D. candidate studying Ethnology in the Department of Anthropology, was awarded an LAII Ph.D. Fellowship for the 2017-2018 academic year. Her dissertations centers on the assemblage of interdependently linked actors and cultural objects that constitute peace in the making in Colombia, and aims to answer the following question: How, in a context of protracted political violence, are alternative forms of power that contrast with state power assembled in order to build peace? She proposes to study peace building as a process that is simultaneously articulated at the local and global levels that necessitates a global circulation of a multiplicity of political and social actors and their relationships and that may produce multiple meanings of peace. By looking at the processes and relationships that feed peacemaking, she hopes that this project will expand the understanding of state-social movements relations beyond the dynamics of a repressive state and antagonistic practices of counter-hegemony social movements, and will elucidate the multiple ways in which complex actors mutually contribute to transforming society and therefore the state.

Geneva Smith


Governing GMO Soy: Policy-Making, Expertise, and Economic Justice in the Global South

Geneva Smith, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology, was awarded an LAII Ph.D. Fellowship for the 2017-2018 academic year. Focusing on Argentinian soy production, her dissertation asks how policies and policy-makers in the Global South engage in scientific and economic controversies through the promotion of GMO soy. Her project has three goals: First, to understand the transnational flow of ideas about soy by assessing how Argentine production is articulated domestically and transnationally. Second, to understand how policy promote or disables the use of scientific fact by analyzing its role in the emergence of soy as Argentina’s economic engine, and third, to understand how soy is put to political use.

José Castro-Sotomayor


Translating global Nature in Transboundary Sites: Environmental Discourses of Place and Space at the Border between Ecuador and Colombia

José Castro-Sotomayor, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Communication and Journalism, was awarded an LAII Ph.D. Fellowship for the 2017-2018 academic year. José’s dissertation looks at the politics of nature embedded in environmental globalization. He collaborates with the Inkal Awá (mountain people), indigenous people who have been declared in danger of extinction, especially on the Colombian side where the internal conflict between the State and guerrilla armed forces have disseminated Awá population leading to consider them in the path to disappear. In this context, the Awá's organizational process is a survival action. José’s research specifically looks at how La Gran Familia Awá Binacional (GFAB) translates the global environmental discourses of development, sustainability, and climate change at the level of the communities with which this organization works. His analysis seeks to demonstrate to what extent the GFAB reproduces, challenges or resist global environmental discourses. Understanding the Awá people’s environmental discourses could provide ideas to design strategies to strengthen their environmental and political identities, challenge visions of powerlessness, and form multiscale/transnational networks that fortify Awá’s binational process in search for social and environmental justice.

Anastasia Theodoropoulos


Wholly Middle and Holy Other: Constructing "Authentic Tradition" in Brazil's Rising Middle Class

Anastasia Theodoropoulos, a Ph.D. candidate studying Ethnology in the Department of Anthropology, was awarded an LAII Ph.D. Fellowship for the 2017-2018 academic year. Her dissertation explores the co-construction of religious identity and class through individual narratives and performances from members of the new Brazilian middle class who have, since the 1980s, developed a new Brazilian Orthodox Christian identity born out of attempts to connect with what they perceive as “authentic tradition.” Anastasia explores how and why converts to this ancient branch of Christianity explain their membership in terms of authenticity, and how authenticity itself takes on new social importance as economic transformations increasingly move people out of traditional social hierarchies and into the uncertain “murky plurality” of the broad, global middle classes. Anastasia hopes that her work will contribute to an Anthropology of Christianity by addressing the lacuna of research on modern forms and contours of Eastern Christian Orthodoxy, as well as explore how what it means to be authentically middle class shifts and is shifted by aspirants in the new context of global capital.