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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.
Brandon Bridge, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Economics, was awarded a LAII Ph.D. Fellowship for the 2016-2017 academic year. Brandon’s dissertation examines energy poverty, defined as “the absence of sufficient choice in accessing adequate, affordable, reliable, high-quality, safe, and environmentally benign energy services to support economic and human development,” and the toll it takes on rural populations in Latin America. His work focuses on three main aspects of the effects of energy poverty – income, education, and health. Using household survey data, Brandon inspects household energy use and its relation to quality-of-life in Nicaragua.
José Bucheli, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Economics, was awarded a LAII Ph.D. Fellowship for the 2016-2017 academic year. José's dissertation examines financial and social inclusion in Latin America. The main issue he addresses is the mechanism through which economic inclusion contributes to lifting individuals out of poverty. Using household data, he explores the barriers that prolong people's exclusion from the formal financial system; and using individual data, he estimates the effect of social programs on children affected by natural disasters. His work will contribute to the debate on economic inclusion in order to promote more equal growth.
Ana Hernández Gonzalez, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, was awarded a LAII Ph.D. Fellowship for the 2016-2017 academic year. In her dissertation, Ana studies three historical novels written in Mexico since 2000, all of which revisit the colonial 16th and 17th centuries: Celia del Palacio’s Mujeres de la tormenta (2012); Enrique Serna's Ángeles del abismo (2004); and Mónica Lavín's Yo la peor (2009). She explores the ways in which these novels construct a new feminine memory by rewriting three magical and/or religious feminine icons - Sor Juana, La condesa de Malibrán and La falsa Teresa de Jesús - and employing them as a site of memory. To do so, Ana focuses on cultural memory as a principal theory and traces icons' memory in different narrative discourses from colonization to the present. Her research contributes to the dialogue about how fiction in the 21st century functions to construct new memories and historical interpretations of minority groups. Ana's project is a multidisciplinary study that employs historical, social and literary approaches to contribute to the dialogue about the importance of recognizing and comprehending Latin America's colonial past both in interpreting the present and shaping a portrayal of the future.
Rebeca Martínez Gómez, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Linguistics, was awarded a LAII Ph.D. Fellowship for the 2016-2017 academic year. Rebeca's dissertation examines how we socially categorize someone who looks like one social category but sounds like another by focusing on the stereotypes of fresas and nacos in Mexican society. Fresas, perceived as the privileged youth of the Mexican upper class, are predominately European-descended, assimilated into the American lifestyle, and speak differently than the rest of the Mexican population. Nacos are perceived as their counterpart; they are seen as indigenous, ignorant, lacking education, and as having bad taste. It would be assumed, then, that someone who resembled a naco would not sound like a fresa and vice versa. However, research in sociolinguistics shows that people use the language style of the group with which they wish to be associated. Thus, Rebeca questions how these speakers would be socially categorized in the absence of consistency between how they look and how they sound.
Andrés Sabogal, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Linguistics, was awarded a LAII Ph.D. Fellowship for the 2016-2017 academic year. Andrés' dissertation examines Wayuunaiki, or Guajiro, an indigenous language spoken by about 350,000 people in the northern border between Colombia and Venezuela, and seeks to fill a major gap in its description. His main argument encompasses the importance of understanding the nuances of the meanings of the multiple ways to construct a Wayuunaiki sentence. By utilizing examples from Wayuunaiki narratives and elicitations, Andrés illustrates valency alternations that seek to complement the overall description of the language. His goal is to contribute suitable materials for use in Intercultural Bilingual Education.
Keiko Beers, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Linguistics, was awarded a LAII Ph.D. Fellowship for the 2016-2017 academic year. Her research investigates how endangered languages change over time. In language contact settings where bilingualism is pervasive, one possibility is that one language will gradually be replaced by another, more socially dominant language. In this context, Keiko’s research explores the following question: Do endangered languages change in ways that differ from vibrant languages in situations of stable bilingualism? She believes that her analyses of the historical and modern language patterns in two languages, O'odham and Assiniboine, will provide crucial new data for the discussion of what differentiates the changes seen in these situations of language contact.
María del Pilar File-Muriel, a Ph.D. candidate studying Ethnology in the Department of Anthropology, was awarded a LAII Ph.D. Fellowship for the 2016-2017 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 peace making, 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.
María Lopez, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of American Studies, was awarded a LAII Ph.D. Fellowship for the 2016-2017 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.
Marina Todeschini, a Ph.D. candidate studying Latin American Literature in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, was awarded a LAII Ph.D. Fellowship for the 2016-2017 academic year. Her dissertation proposes that in the past decade, Brazil has experienced political democratization, increased economic development, and a significant decrease in social inequality, and that these factors have influenced social interactions, cultural production, and urban geography. In comparison, Argentina had a slower economic growth not concentrated in lower social classes. Marina looks into how cultural production engages these socio-spatial dynamics in both countries. She believes that the value of this study lies in the importance of understanding how the current social mobility of lower classes is also being reflected in their cultural production, and how these productions in turn contribute to this class’ socio-cultural mobility; she also believes that the discussion of marginal cultural productions helps legitimize the voice and narratives of marginalized citizens in both countries.
Anastasia Theodoropoulos, a Ph.D. candidate studying Ethnology in the Department of Anthropology, was awarded a LAII Ph.D. Fellowship for the 2016-2017 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.