Spring 2023 IHC Award Winners

Dissertation Fellowship Winners 2023-24

Spring 2023 IHC Award Winners

May 24, 2023

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 2023–24 year and will participate in a Fall 2023 convening of the multicampus UC Humanities Graduate Fellows Collaborative. Congratulations to these graduate students!

Jéssica Malinalli Coyotecatl Contreras, Anthropology: “‘Sovereign and Deadly Energy Transition: Communal Life against Extractivism in Mexico”

Morelos Integral Project (PIM) is a megaproject, part of Mexico’s “sovereign energy transition,” but detractors have called it a “Death Project” for endangering individual and collective lives in Central Mexico. Peasant and indigenous communities fighting the project have linked its construction to human rights violations such as harassment, incarcerations, and assassinations. Opponents have also embarked on legal processes against PIM, centering Mexico’s ratification of Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the International Labour Organization. Under the discursive and material proximity of this energy project to death, this research asks: how does a “sovereign energy transition” threaten communal survival?

Amy Fallas, History: “‘Their Own Poor’: Communal Identities, Charitable Societies, and the Making of Sectarianism in Modern Egypt, 1879-1939”
This project demonstrates how philanthropic associations in Egypt were essential spaces of cross-confessional cooperation when increasing inter-religious conflict threatened to undermine Egyptian nation-building. Charity mediated these tensions as they became crucial to how sects (ta’ifa) articulated their communal identities by claiming responsibility to care over “their own poor.” As these associations addressed deficits in social services, they also discursively and materially shaped the meaning of ta’ifa and ta’ifiyya (sectarianism). In this period (1879-1939), charity was the fulcrum of communal-based networks that socially, politically, and economically engineered sect-based relations and influenced the development of sectarianism in modern Egypt.

Anthony Greco, History: “Flows of History: Science, Colonialism, and the Cairo Nilometer, 1700-1920”

Before its decommissioning in the 1930s, Egypt’s Nilometer was the world’s oldest living tradition of river measurement. This project reveals the social and literary infrastructures which circulated and preserved the Nilometer’s 1,300-year-long record of the river’s flow. In the 1800s, the Nilometer adapted to modern techniques of river management, both facilitating and challenging modern hydraulic infrastructure central to imperial projects which expanded up the Nile River over the course of the nineteenth century. The social and scholarly networks undergirding the Nilometer and preserving its measurements over centuries demonstrate that material and social infrastructures can conquer time as well as space.

Christina Guirguis, Global Studies: “Potty Politics”
“Potty Politics” explores the biopolitical and bioeconomic implications of sanitation infrastructure projects in Cairo, Mumbai, and Shanghai. This dissertation illustrates how the threat of stigmatized populations is used by the state to pursue social cleansing, leading to justifications for new invasive measures embedded in sanitation projects, such as toilets that automate fecal analysis in the bowl and YouTube channels exposing public urinators. Through these projects, logics of modernization, morality, and risk are used to extend state control over bodies and spaces, while also capturing human feces as a source of biodata, facilitating wastewater surveillance within an expanding state security architecture.

Albert Ventayol-Boada, Linguistics: “Reconstructing an Indigenous past in Siberia: From assembling the archive to the digital humanities”
This dissertation explores the history of the Yukaghirs, an Indigenous group in Northeastern Siberia, using spoken language as the main source of information. Over 200 texts were collected to assemble a digital archive, which was then analyzed using digital humanities methods to identify linguistic patterns that shed light into their past. The study also examines the ideological and political dimensions of the Yukaghirs’ past, including their potential connection to the European continent, and how this hypothesis affects their positioning within a context of oppression and against the backdrop of urbanization and climate change in the Arctic.

Visit here to learn more about IHC Dissertation Fellowships.