Spring 2021 IHC Award Winners

Spring 2021 IHC Award Winners

May 11, 2021

The IHC is pleased to announce the winners of the annual IHC Dissertation Fellowship competition. Fellows are awarded $7,000 to support interdisciplinary research in the 2021-2022 year and will participate in a Fall 2021 convening of the multicampus UC Humanities Graduate Fellows Collaborative. Congratulations to these graduate students!

Nicole de Silva, History: “From Homemaking to Peacemaking: Women’s International Organizing and the Practice of Consumer Diplomacy, 1918-1945”

Contemporary movements urging globally conscious consumerism appear ubiquitous, but they are not new. Drawing from insights of sociologists, feminist scholars, and other historians, my dissertation project explores similar campaigns between the World Wars. It traces networks of American and European women who believed that political consumption played a role in making a more peaceful world, either through boycotting violators of international law or by helping to foster ethical global trade. The proposed portion of my project examines one prominent institutional example, the International Co-Operative Women’s Guild, which hoped to work through co-operative retailers to foster fairer trade, food security, and peace.

Jonathan Dickstein, Religious Studies: “Animals in Hindu South Asia: From Cosmos to Slaughterhouse”

My dissertation project explores the diverse and precarious positions of domesticated animals in the conceptual and material worlds of Hindu South Asia. The inquiry begins with pre-Hindu cosmological sources and continues through legal, medical, and classical yoga texts dealing with the practices and ethics of manipulating, killing, and consuming animals. The project proceeds to discuss how India’s distant past both survives and falters in the present, whether in debates around the politicized sacralization of the “mother cow” or nonviolence-motivated opposition to the brutalities of a rapidly industrializing animal sector

Julie Johnson, History: “Commodifying Contraception: A Political Economy of Interwar Britain”

My dissertation examines the social life of the cervical cap contraceptive as a commodity, tracing its movement and meanings throughout Britain and its empire between 1918 and 1939. Overshadowed in histories of sexuality and medicine by the “revolutionary” impact of the pill in the 1960s, the cervical cap became increasingly visible as the most popular barrier method in Britain between the world wars. I argue that, through its commercialization in the medical marketplace of the 1920s and 30s, the cervical cap absorbed competing visions of race and belonging.

Somak Mukherjee, English: “Elemental City: Ecology, Media, and Narratives of Crisis in Postcolonial Calcutta”

My dissertation explores how the cultural politics of elemental media influence crisis narratives produced in relation to urban change. I argue that when material forms generated by ecological condition transport into cultural imagination through constantly turning representative literary tropes, it also reconfigures the logic of what crisis constitutes for a city in many forms: ecological, social, and political. Taking Calcutta as a case study, I argue that the crisis of postcolonial cities has a distinct ecological imaginary, borne of tension between the mediated pairing of elements and more typical civic imaginaries such as civility, citizenship, community, development, or progress.

Mesadet Sözmen, Global Studies: “Gender, State and Women in Turkey: The Making of and the Challenge against Conservative Consensus, 1935-1960”

This research analyzes the making of and the challenge against “conservative consensus” regarding gender and sexuality politics in Turkey in 1935-1960. Drawing from scholars of state feminism and gendered modernization in the Middle East and bringing together methodologies of history, feminist studies, and literary analysis, I claim that Turkey’s state feminism project was ultimately a field of contestation, rather than a coherent elite project. The effort to create the “modern yet modest” Turkish woman through the construction of normative gender visions was an incomplete process with competing claims to nation-making, development, and modernization, by multiple actors including women.

Nora Kassner, History: “Hard to Place: Queer Foster Families and the Remaking of U.S. Family Policy, 1975-1996” (declined)

Visit here to learn more about IHC Dissertation Fellowships.