Department of Anthropology
“Vulnerable Agents: The Social Role of Children Living With HIV”
Lang’s dissertation explores the experiences of children living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda and the ways in which concepts of responsibility and reintegration shape their daily lives and long-term outcomes. She pays special attention to the ways in which children themselves come to understand and respond to their situation and exercise their agency as they attempt to mobilize others to meet their needs with alternately productive and detrimental consequences. Her research focuses on children enrolled in an HIV/AIDS rehabilitation program in east central Uganda. Children admitted to the rehabilitation center live at the center for 3–18 months until they are "medically stabilized," at which point they are reintegrated into their local community. The center continues to follow up with reintegrated children, paying for school fees and monitoring treatment adherence. Without anti-retroviral treatments, which have become increasingly available in Uganda, most children infected with HIV died before their fifth birthday, and none lived into adulthood.
Department of Philosophy (Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology)
“A New (and Psychologically Improved) Model of Gender Research and Contribution”
Over the past several decades, feminists have pointed to limitations of past and current scientific practice. Feminists have criticized anthropologists, biologists, psychologists and, most recently, neuroscientists. This tradition is part of what Merritt calls feminism’s “negative project.” At the same time, many feminist philosophers have also engaged in a positive project, making recommendations intended to remove or correct for bias. For example, Longino argues that scientists should engage in research from a variety of perspectives, while Harding defends a program of “strong objectivity” on which scientists should privilege the perspectives of the relatively powerless.
Golda Kosi Onyeneho
Department of Anthropology
“Corrupted Modernity: Corruption as National Identity in a Nigerian Petrostate”
Widespread petty corruption committed by ordinary citizens, including low-level bribery, has become a pressing issue in recent decades. Development organizations such as Transparency International argue that the practice “corrodes the fabric of society.” The question of whether petty corruption harms societies, however, has been contested. Some scholars of political anthropology have argued petty corruption and corruption discourse provide mechanisms through which ordinary citizens understand their governments and make citizenship claims, particularly in postcolonial and neoliberal environments. Yet, scholarship on the anthropology of corruption has noted the need for less static models of petty corruption better able to explain why citizens choose to engage in corruption in some contexts of exchange but not others and why, in seeming contradiction, citizens who enact corruption also frequently lament its existence. To date, little work has thoroughly examined widespread petty corruption, and corruption lament, by ordinary citizens as the performance of national identities evoked by post-colonial symbols of the nation.
Department of History
“The Basque Seroras: Local Religion, Gender and Power in Northern Iberia, 1550–1800”
Scott’s dissertation is the first systematic study of the Basque seroras, a category of devout laywomen active throughout the early modern period in northern Spain and southern France. Hired competitively at the parish level and licensed by the diocese, seroras were church employees, enjoying social prestige and pay comparable to the male clergy. They took no vows and were free to leave the religious life if they chose, meaning that the vocation afforded them considerably more autonomy than traditional nuns or married wives had. Entrusted as they were with looking after the parish church and its furnishings, and with setting a moral example for the good women of the parish, seroras were at the very center of local religion. During their heyday, they numbered in the thousands, with every Basque parish church employing one, and many employing several. However, despite their fundamental importance within religious practice in early modern Iberia, the seroras have attracted almost no historical study.
Department of English
“Writing the Household of God: Institutional Religion in 19th-Century American Literature”
Wakefield’s project argues that institutional religion profoundly shaped 19th-century American literature. From the hyper-canonical works of Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne to the less studied post–Civil War religious poems by African-American women writers, churches — including their spaces, hierarchies, economies and print networks — affected the fofl11, content and publishing of American literature in significant ways. Despite the relative lack of scholarly attention paid to institutional religion, it appears throughout 19th-century American literature as an organizer of social relations, a site of nostalgia, an agent of cultural change and an object of political critique. Church audiences and denominational practices helped to determine novelistic plots, the texture of dialogue, portrayals of characters' interiority and the issues under debate for much of the 19th century.
Department of English
"Dying Worlds: Environment, Ecology and Empire in British Literature, 1875–1915"
Williams’ dissertation is animated by the question, Why do so many texts produced by British authors during the height of British imperialism meditate on environmental catastrophe? By reading the representation of fragile island ecologies in novels, short stories, travelogues and diaries from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, she examines how British writers think about climate change, invasive species, land use, coal production and trash disposal in ways that, suspiciously, seem thoroughly contemporary. When we know that imperialism is an unthinking, destructive presence within colonized spaces, why does this seemingly prescient environmental consciousness emerge? She asks, perhaps counterintuitively, whether imperialism in some way engenders an environmental consciousness. If so, what does this tell us about environmental conservation? About empire?