Dissertation Fellows Tell Us: "Why Dartmouth?"

Dartmouth is fortunate to be able to offer three dissertation fellowships. The purpose of these fellowships is to support graduate scholars for a yearlong residency at Dartmouth, which usually runs from September through August. They offer an opportunity for scholars who plan careers in higher education and have completed all other PhD requirements to finish their dissertations. Fellows may pursue the PhD degree in any discipline or area taught in the Dartmouth undergraduate Arts and Sciences curriculum. Additionally, each fellow is affiliated with a department or program at Dartmouth.


Katherine Beane – Eastman Dissertation Fellow (University of Minnesota PhD Candidate)

Katherine Beane
, Charles A. Eastman Fellow; PhD candidate in American studies; University of Minnesota
. Her dissertation is titled "Woyakapi Kin Ahdipi 'Bringing the Story Home': A History of the Flandreau Isanti Dakota." Beane's research focus is Dakota history, indigenous language revitalization, the relationship between indigenous language and land, and the modern-day repercussions of ancestral memory and historical trauma. She has also worked on issues of American Indian self-representation in literature and film.

Jessica De La Ossa – César Chávez Fellow (University of Arizona PhD Candidate)

Jessica De La Ossa, César Chávez Fellow; PhD candidate in the School of Geography and Development; University of Arizona. A social geographer, she studies the emotional and affective dimensions of citizenship along the U.S.-Mexico border. Her dissertation, "The Politics of Proximity and Distance: Identity and Intimacy in U.S. Border Cities," draws from nonrepresentational and feminist theory to investigate an ethics of care for distant others. Her work is relevant to a number of debates within cultural, social, and urban geography, and advances our knowledge of the relationship between landscapes, objects, and emotions that better accounts for the spatial imaginaries of border citizens and the new orientations taken toward so-called "illegal" migrants and securitized landscapes.

Jaira Harrington – Thurgood Marshall Fellow (University of Chicago PhD Candidate)

[Jaira Harrington] Jaira Harrington, Thurgood Marshall Fellow; PhD candidate in political science; University of Chicago. Her dissertation is titled, "Re-conceptualizing Rights and Union Politics at the Intersection of Race, Class, Gender through Domestic Workers in Brazil." Harrington, a Chicago native, earned her bachelor's degree in Political Science from Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga. Her general research interests include Brazilian politics and legal theory, race and ethnicity, gender, and marginalized groups. Her dissertation project focuses on law, labor, and identity politics in Brazil with respect to paid household domestic work.


Danielle Terrazas Williams – Thurgood Marshall Fellow (Duke University PhD Candidate)

This year's Thurgood Marshall Fellow, Danielle Terrazas Williams, is a PhD candidate at Duke University. Her dissertation focuses on the lives and entrepreneurial activities of free women of African descent in Veracruz, Mexico in the seventeenth century. She will be moving in the fall to a post-doctoral position at Princeton University. 

Terrazas Williams holds a BA in Afro-Mexican studies from Cornell University and an MA in history from Duke University. She first became interested in the history of the colonial period and in particular the experiences of those of African descent in Mexico as an undergraduate. Terrazas Williams' decision to come to Dartmouth stemmed from hearing about the positive experience of a fellow graduate of Duke University, Dr. Reena Goldthree, who is now an assistant professor of African and African-American Studies at Dartmouth. Dr. Goldthree told Terrazas Williams that the faculty in the African and African-American Studies Program at Dartmouth were very helpful and supportive during her time as a Thurgood Marshall fellow. "I have found that to be very true," observes Terrazas Williams, noting in particular that Professor Antonio Tillis, chair of African and African-American Studies, has been especially encouraging of her work. She adds, "I knew that the faculty at Dartmouth would not only make sure that I finished my dissertation work, but also that I was well-placed in an academic position after my fellowship."

Maile Arvin – Eastman Dissertation Fellow (University of California, San Diego PhD Candidate)

Maile Arvin, a PhD Candidate in Ethnic Studies at the University of California in San Diego (UCSD), is this year's Charles Eastman Fellow. Maile is living at the Native American house, and hopes that her proximity to undergraduate students will present unofficial mentoring opportunities. She's available to help students with graduate school applications, as well as to discuss research, and be generally supportive.

The fellowship will also allow Maile to dedicate the majority of her time to her dissertation, "It's really a wonderful gift of time," said Maile, "I'm looking forward to focusing all my efforts on writing and research." Not only does she have more time to work, but she also has more time to dedicate to professional development–since moving here, Maile has had the opportunity to take advantage of some of Dartmouth's graduate resources, such as the DCAL workshops, which she credits with helping her brush up on her presenting skills, by offering tips on public speaking and how to cope with nervousness.

Ariana Ochoa Camacho – César Chávez Fellow (New York University PhD Candidate)

Ariana Ochoa Camacho, a PhD candidate from New York University's American Studies Program, is this year's César Chávez Fellow. She's recently moved into the Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies (LALACS) house, where the fellowship affords her the time and space to write dedicatedly, without the usual demands of teaching and grading that most PhD programs require. 

Ariana completed a bachelor's degree in Anthropology, at Kenyon College, and has a master's in Communication from San Francisco State University. This education, along with her extensive experiences working with communities of color in San Francisco, has prepared her for her PhD research with the Colombian community in Queens. Her dissertation, "Racial Longings, Migrant Belongings" focuses on transnational migration to examine the ways in which Colombian migrants to New York use culture to cope with issues of belonging in a place rife with racial tensions. "You have to understand cultural identity, and the reasons for discontent, to understand how and why things are adapted here," Ariana explains.


Mattie Harper – Eastman Dissertation Fellow (University of California, Berkeley PhD Candidate)

Mattie Harper, Doctoral Candidate in Ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley, is Dartmouth's 2011 Eastman Dissertation Fellow. Mattie came across the Eastman award while searching online for dissertation fellowships supporting work in Native American Studies, "I knew of Dartmouth's reputation as an Ivy League school, but what really stood out is that it has one of the top Native American studies programs—I knew that in coming here I'd have access to all the best resources and there would be other experts who could provide support throughout my research," she says.

Her dissertation, titled "French Africans in Ojibwe Country," is a historical project that focuses on a family descended from French African Slaves who intermarry with Ojibwe people in the Western Great Lakes Region. Asked for her dissertation in a nutshell, Mattie explains, "I examine how identities change across four generations, —examining the racial terms 'black,' 'white,' 'Indian,' and 'mixed blood'— and I'm looking at the ways in which racial and cultural identities fluctuate. It's a research project, but there's also a personal element, since it's reflective of my own background."

Christopher Loperena – César Chávez Fellow (University of Texas, Austin PhD Candidate)

The César Chávez Fellowship for 2011-2012 was awarded to Christopher Loperena, a PhD candidate in the African Diaspora

Program in social anthropology at the University of Texas, Austin. His dissertation, titled “A Fragmented Paradise: The politics of development and land use on the Garifuna Coast of Honduras” examines struggles over land and cultural resources against the backdrop of neoliberal tourism development. Tourism, he explained, is a robust and rapidly expanding industry, which is linked to shifting notions of belonging and land use among Garifuna living on the Caribbean coast.

Chris was searching online for dissertation fellowships when he discovered the César Chávez Dissertation Fellowship in Latin American, Latino and Caribbean Studies. He was familiar with Dartmouth’s reputation as an Ivy League, but wanted to learn more. “I was attracted by the work of faculty affiliated with the LALACS Program, especially in the anthropology and geography departments,” Chris says, adding, “I was excited about engaging scholars in different fields and exploring new perspectives on topics relevant to my own research.”


Obianuju C. Anya – Thurgood Marshall Fellow (UCLA PhD Candidate)

Cutter- Shabazz Affinity House Resident Advisor

Dissertation Title: "Investments in Communities of Learners and Speakers: How African American Portuguese Students Negotiate Ethno-Racialized, Gendered, and Social Classed Identities in Second Language Learning" 

When Uju Anya first happened upon a bulletin at UCLA advertising the Thurgood-Marshall Fellowship, she knew instantly that she had to apply. Having completed her undergraduate degree at Dartmouth, she felt it was fortuitous to come across the opportunity. 

“I felt it would be a poetic to end my academic career at the same place where it began,” says Anya.

Uju views her fellowship at Dartmouth as a chance to give back to a community that has supported her in the past and continues to support her today. As a fellow associated with the Program in African and African American Studies (AAAS), one of her goals is to counsel and encourage students of color, not only as an advisor but also as a friend who understands their struggles.

In particular, Uju loves that the Thurgood-Marshall Fellowship affords her the opportunity to serve as Resident Advisor of the Cutter-Shabazz Affinity House and organize academic programming for students who live there, as well as the entire campus. Planning these events, she enjoys complete creative freedom, and Dartmouth offers substantial resources and support (including mentorship from Antonio Tillis of AAAS and Rodolfo Franconi of Spanish and Portuguese and AAAS) that allow her to put her ideas into motion.

“This experience is unique to Dartmouth… Other fellowships don’t include the same undergraduate mentoring opportunities,” notes Anya. “It’s great preparation for future academic positions,” Anya noted.

Anya also stresses the support that she’s received from the Graduate Studies Office, and in particular Kerry Landers, Assistant Dean of Graduate Student Affairs.

“Kerry’s a rockstar – she’s been so helpful!” says Anya. “She reviewed my CV, and always sends out bulletins on dissertation workshops and panels – great stuff for academic and professional enrichment.”

As a married student with family responsibilities, she appreciates Dartmouth’s close-knit community. When asked how she’s balancing her workload and family life, Uju laughed. 

“I feel spoiled by the amount of free time I have to focus on my dissertation, especially because my childcare responsibilities are shared with my husband, the phenomenal Hanover preschool La Petite Creche, and generous Dartmouth students who occasionally volunteer to babysit,” says Anya. “When people comment on my accomplishments, I want them to know that I do this with the support of my family and community.”

Robb Hernandez – César Chávez Fellow (University of Maryland, College Park PhD Candidate)

Dissertation Title: "Archival Body/Archival Space: Queer Remains of the Chicano Art Movement" 

The César Chávez Dissertation Fellowship supports one graduate student each year for a residency at Dartmouth. This year, the fellowship went to Robb Hernandez, a PhD candidate in American Studies at The University of Maryland, College Park.

Hernandez is now affiliated with the department of Latin American, Latino & Caribbean Studies (LALACS) at Dartmouth and is in residence at the LALACS house. When asked what inspired him to apply for the fellowship, Hernandez explains, “I was drawn to this fellowship because of its emphasis on writing, but also because there’s a long lineage of Latin American Art associated with this campus. Its been a great intellectual space to nourish my ideas.”

The decor of Hernandez's office speaks to the scholar's passion regarding both his work and the Dartmouth community. His shelves are lined with a series of altars, or nichos, which are remnants from last fall's piece El Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a project curated by Hernandez which was displayed in the Baker-Berry Library. “There was a lot of student involvement for this project, which was great since my goal is to bridge my research and curatorial background in Latino Art with the public,” says Hernandez.

He describes his dissertation as “foundationally about loss and recovery, the critical role of homosexuality in the Chicano Art Movement, and the cultural arm of the Civil Rights struggle in east Los Angeles in the 1960’s.”

Hernandez’s dissertation work involves a series of excavations recovering archives of the works of gay Chicano artists, which until now have been missing or purposefully omitted. “It’s my intention,” he explains, “to finally make visible a body of work that has, for so long, been lost or concealed.”