Recent Projects – Fellowships

Raven Fellows – Updates

2013

The Age of Lead in Baltimore, 1900-2000
By Leif Fredrickson, GSAS

This project will analyze the history of lead pollution and poisoning in Baltimore in the twentieth century. Using archival sources, statistical analysis, and GIS mapping, Leif seeks to understand the material conditions that exposed people to lead hazards, the socio-political dynamics that created and responded to those conditions, and the reverberating effects of lead poisoning for individuals, communities, governance, and the economy.

 

New Femininity in Taiwan under “Korean Wave”
By Xinyan Peng, CLAS

Through ethnographic participant observation and interviews, Xinyan, as a junior visiting scholar invited by Taiwan Tsing Hua University, will explore how “Korean Wave,” the influence of South Korean popular culture, produces new female fashion trends and therefore femininity among young Taiwanese women.

 

Hydrodynamics of Turbulence within Coral Reef Systems
By Jonathan Stocking, GSAS

Turbulence plays a major role in the hydrodynamic mixing necessary for coral health. To understand these physical processes, Jonathan will measure the hydrodynamics within a transparent coral model created using CT scans of coral skeletons and 3D printing.

 

Shifting Landscapes: Æthelwulf’s De abbatibus and the Afterlife of an Environmental Community, c. 800-1200
By John T.R. Terry, GSAS

For this project, John will travel to the UK and examine the twelfth century and later manuscripts of a ninth century Anglo-Latin poem, along with their marginalia, glosses, and texts with which they are paired. These contexts will answer crucial questions about how monastic reformers after the Norman Conquest of 1066 (re)imagined Anglo-Saxon monastic foundations and landscapes.

2012

Evolving Women’s Rights in Light of Constitutional Revisions
By Megan O’Donnell, CLAS 

Through conducting interviews and analyzing judicial opinions, I will explore whether the recent inclusion of the protection for the “civic and social equality” of women in the new Moroccan constitution has had an effect in improving the position of women in Moroccan society.

 

Political Implications of Conceptions of Indigeneity
By Claire Timperley, GSAS 

My project seeks to provide a nuanced understanding of the ways various conceptions of indigeneity have been used in New Zealand to create and justify public policy towards indigenous people. I intend to use this work, in conjunction with case studies from the United States, Australia and Canada, to provide the basis for a theory about the ways we understand and address concerns about historical injustice against indigenous populations.

 

Bias in Polygraphy: Australian Extension
By Katelyn Sack, GSAS 

Polygraphy seems objective, but lacks scientific basis. Extending my dissertation research, I test for bias in polygraphy in Australia. I also film documentary interviews in Australia, showing U.S. polygraph exports’ global significance. My research combines politics, psychology, and ethics. Through art and writing, I translate my findings for broad audiences.

2009

James Allison: Native American sovereignty and energy resources in Montana

My work examines how global economic forces and state policy affect the development of energy resources in semi-sovereign nations. Specifically, this project explores how changing definitions of Native American sovereignty during the 1970s influenced coal mining on the Crow and Northern Cheyenne reservations in southeastern Montana. During this period, shrinking international energy supplies and federal environmental legislation created high demand for these tribes’ energy resources at the same time that federal Indian policies increased tribal control over these resources. Increased sovereignty heavily influenced Indian energy development, but did so differently on these reservations as the Crow sought to use their expanded sovereignty to exploit their resources while the Northern Cheyenne resisted development. Despite this result, both groups experienced intense internal debates that produced fractured tribes with contentious factions divided over the issue of energy development. Physical violence and political instability marked this era of tribal politics, and energy companies extracted very little coal from either tribe’s reserves. I seek to understand why and believe an examination into these violent political contests can reveal much about the impacts of international energy development on the internal cohesion of local populations, which in turn promises insights into how best to pursue the efficient extraction of valued energy resources in areas beyond America’s sovereign control.

Suzanne Bessenger: Monastic Rituals in India

The purpose of this project is to travel to the Tibetan exile community of Dharamsala, India, to record the songs and rituals of a small group of refugee Tibetan nuns from the eastern Tibetan nunnery Ya Nga Chamda (Tib: ya nga bya mda’ dgon) associated with the unusual 14th century female saint Sonam Peldren (Tib: bsod nams dpal ‘dren, 1328-1372.) In the spring of 2006 I met three nuns from Ya Nga Chamda nunnery in Dharamsala and discovered that the nunnery regularly performs rituals in honor of Sonam Peldren. While many monasteries perform offering rituals and death-day ceremonies in honor of their male founders, similar rituals honoring historical Tibetan women are exceedingly rare. Although I interviewed these three women about the rituals, they repeatedly urged me to interview a fourth member of their group who was the ritual master for Ya Nga Chamda, but who was out of town at the time. With the support of a Raven fellowship, I will return to Dharamsala, India, to interview all four nuns together and record these rare songs and rituals. It is unclear how much longer the nunnery in Ya Nga Chamda will be able to perform these rituals; the nunnery is experiencing heightened religious restrictions, and travel to the Tibetan Autonomous Region where Ya Nga Chamda nunnery is located is currently restricted. Thus, interviewing the four Ya Nga Chamda nuns who fled Tibet may be one of the few remaining opportunities to record the remarkable heritage of this nunnery.

Krista Gulbransen: Rajasthani Painting in India

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, numerous Rajasthani painting workshops were established in western India. These schools of painting specialized in the production of miniature illustrations for manuscripts and albums. Typically, these artisan communities were associated with the patronage of Rajasthan’s local Rajput rulers, members of the clans of warriors who governed the region’s kingdoms. Despite the geographical proximity and contemporaneity of these communities, the paintings created in each workshop varied greatly in style, reflecting the specific circumstances of their production as well as the individual artists’ and patrons’ artistic preferences. The goal of my research will be to analyze paintings associated with a number of these Rajasthani workshops.

In addition to examining the stylistic impact of the imperial Mughal court in Delhi on Rajput painting workshops, my study will consider the possibility that other significant cultural exchanges may have shaped these emerging artisan communities and the paintings they produced. Political affiliations, military encounters, and marriages between various Rajasthani courts are a few of the types of interactions that require further examination and documentation. An assessment of the collecting practices in the courts of Rajasthan will also be integral to my project. There is evidence that Rajput rulers collected pictures from all over India and the Middle East. Some even had European prints in their possession. These pictures document economic and social interactions between Rajasthani courts and other centers of artistic production. These art collections, made available to members of painting workshops for educational purposes, undoubtedly impacted the evolution of Rajasthani styles of painting. Through the documentation of specific figures and their roles in the production, patronage, and collecting of art in sixteenth and seventeenth century India, my research will draw direct correlations between specific historical interactions and the evolution of Rajasthani painting styles.

Chloe Hawkins: Children’s Perspectives in Design in Denmark

In “Multigenerational Landscapes of Participation in Denmark,” Chloe Hawkins will investigate how adult designers can enrich public spaces and communities by incorporating the perspectives of children in design, making possible their participation in public life. She will travel to Denmark for lessons on this subject because of the unique opportunity to learn from the work of designers who have an explicit goal of incorporating children’s points of view, and from the communities of Lilleskolen, or Little Schools. These alternative schools, established in the early 1950s, are collaboratively run by parents, teachers and students, and founded on a belief that children are independent thinkers.

For each site, she will document the materials, processes, forms and spatial relationships that facilitate interaction and map patterns of use, noting how each place is shared by and adapted differently by children and adults. This design research connects to many pressing contemporary concerns such as: the lack of places for active childhood play and impact on children’s health and the relationship between a community’s hands-on engagement with nature and their social and ecological values. This research will be translated into interpretive and measured drawings to be shared with the UVA community and go towards possible publication and her final design thesis. By studying how children’s perspectives may inform design for public space Chloe will explore how designing spaces that are open to invention by their users may be a practice of strengthening communities.

Ajdin Muratovic: Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in Bosnia

The final stage of genocide is denial by the perpetrators and their supporters. Experts see the failure to establish the truth regarding genocide as the most reliable predictor of future genocidal activity. The success of historical revisionism in the Balkans has historically served as a foundation for repeated genocidal activity. Genocide deniers are aided by the fact that many objective international researchers lack the language skills and access to accurately assess the crimes perpetrated by all sides. I will contribute to the resolution of this problem by translating documents in the possession of the Bosnian government concerning the most recent campaign of genocide and ethnic cleansing (1992-1995) into English and digitizing them in an online database. My actions will make valuable information accessible to a significantly larger body of international researchers, and will hopefully contribute to a new wave of published research regarding the ethnic conflicts of ex-Yugoslavia. Letting the facts see the light of day will obstruct the unceasing efforts of the genocide deniers and will establish a better foundation for reconciliation and peace. Since this work will be conducted in the name of the Genocide Awareness and Research Organization (GARO), an organization I founded at the University of Virginia, it will contribute to one of my goals of transforming UVA into a leader for genocide research. Furthermore, I will take advantage of the opportunity of being in Bosnia to conduct several other projects on behalf of GARO that will address the legacy of genocide.

 

2008

 

Nina Barzachka (GSAS): Two Systems of Electoral System Choice

My dissertation project focuses on electoral system change and actors’ preference formation. The project is driven by the empirical observation that when choosing an electoral system, political parties are not always motivated by the desire to maximize their share of seats in the parliament. My dissertation aims at modifying conventional theories of electoral system change to account for cases that defy the logic of seat-maximization. The project investigates the relationship between electoral system choice and democratic transition in late 19th – early 20th century Western Europe and post-communist Easter Europe. Its focus on causal mechanisms and processes aims at building a bridge between the literature on electoral system change and the literature on institutional change.

The Raven Fellowship will allow me to travel to Bulgaria in the fall of 2008 in order to observe closely the current debates for reform of the electoral law and interview members of parliament, government officials and electoral law experts. These developments present a unique opportunity to observe closely the process of electoral system change and provide another case that will increase variation on the dependent variable. Including this new case (Bulgaria 2008) in my dissertation will allow me to compare electoral system choice in Bulgaria immediately after the collapse of communism (in 1990 and 1991) to electoral system choice under a consolidated democracy (2008).

 

Hedieh Fakhriyazdi (ARCH): Education for sustainable development, religious and indigenous community initiatives at the Faizi Primary School in rural Chile

The Faizi School is a small elementary school located in the indigenous Mapuche community outside of Temuco, Chile. The local Bahá’i community created this school with the intent to contribute to the betterment of Mapuche community life, by educating students and the greater community about sustainable development.

The school provides secular and religious education, and it also has an organic community garden that is used for the instructional and practical purposes. Students learn how to plant and harvest crops, and fertilize their plants using compost that is created by the school. The school garden also welcomes a community food-exchange, which has over the years, helped raise awareness about the criticality of sustainable agricultural practices in Chile’s rural sector.

The implementation of a hands-on community-learning garden, or “Proyecto Huerto”, has helped further Faizi’s vision of education for sustainable development, though it falls short of providing a holistic curriculum for sustainability. In order for the Faizi School to best address its educational goals, sustainability education must be extended from hands-on applications in the garden to practical classroom applications.

With the support of the Raven Society Fellowship, Hedieh will compose a thesis-report in both Spanish and English, which will outline the Faizi School as a case study for education for sustainable development. This report will in turn assist the Faizi School in assessing its current sustainability curriculum and how it can best implement a simultaneous classroom program.

 

Laura Harris (CLAS) and Winta Mehtsun (MED): An Alternative Cervical Cancer Diagnostic Technique

In Senegal, cervical cancer is the leading cancer killer of women. Patients often do not receive screening until the disease is invasive and can be incurable. Because cervical cancer develops slowly, an effective screening program can drastically reduce related mortality. Winta Mehtsun and Laura Harris will conduct multidisciplinary research on what constitutes effective cervical cancer screening for patients in Dakar. Both will work closely with Dr. Kasse, a Senegalese cancer surgeon and screening expert, and one of his students.

Winta will focus on diagnostic effectiveness of a visual screening (VIA) as compared to the standard of care, the Pap smear. VIA is less expensive and requires less clinic visits than the Pap smear, so showing diagnostic equivalence would potentially reduce these barriers to care, and contribute to a growing body of data that is establishing VIA as medically sound in a variety of environments. Laura will interview patients to determine the importance of several barriers to screening: logistical and economic, as well as knowledge based and cultural. Cultural barriers include reproductive issues, preventative medicine, and traditional healers. Survey responses will be compared with screening results to see which responses correspond with delayed screening.

Together, Winta and Laura’s data will determine an effective screening protocol and provide a concrete basis for advocacy programs that will increase screening rates. Winta and Laura will use their data to develop these programs with Dr. Kasse’s medical student, for Laura’s PST thesis, and to publish in the US and Senegal.

 

Amanda Schwantes (CLAS): The Phenology of the Pentaclethra macroloba in the Primary Rainforests of Costa Rica

This project will examine the effect of a phosphorus fertility gradient on the phenology (flowering, leaf flushing, and seed fall) of 90 Pentaclethra macroloba trees in the primary tropical rain forests of Costa Rica. Phenology is the study of the annual cycles of flower, leaf, and seed formation, based on seasonal changes. Changes in phenology could be driven by irradiance, photoperiod, temperature, or water gradients; however there have been few studies analyzing the role that nutrients could play on the phenology of a tropical tree. One species, P. macroloba, is an important pioneer species of secondary forests. As deforestation rates increase it will be important to understand why pioneer species can thrive in these disturbed areas. A better understanding of P. macroloba will help us understand its potential role in reforestation efforts.

In order to better understand the mechanisms driving phenological changes and how they relate to nutrient availability, I will collect live leaves, forest floor litter, and soil, at La Selva Costa Rica. By determining the nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon content in these samples, I will better understand the role that soil fertility plays in driving phenological changes in P. macroloba. For example, during flowering, nutrients may be allocated away from live leaves (nutrient retranslocation), taken up from the soil, or removed from senescing (dying) leaves (nutrient resorption). By performing a nutrient budget analysis on these Pentaclethra macroloba trees I will better understand the role that soil fertility may play in regulating phenology.

 

Scott Spencer (GSAS): The Liberty of Empire: The Colonial Office, the South African Constabulary, and Greater Britain, 1895-1918

At the turn of the twentieth century, British Colonial Office policymakers attempted to integrate the often haphazard conquests and annexations of the preceding decades into a coherent British Empire. They had just fought the South African War (1899-1902) in order to incorporate the two Boer republics into the Empire and appreciated that incorporation by military defeat would not generate loyalty to the Crown. They envisioned that the South African Constabulary (1900-1908), a new para-military white police force, would construct this loylty by delivering the civilizing, benevolent liberty and law-and-order which they believed accompanied any British presence. Policymakers provided the Constabulary with three missions: first and foremost, to police rural Transvaal and Orange River Colony; second, to serve as examples of British civility to the defeated Afrikaners; and third, to instill a stronger British connection within the individual constables, recruited from throughout the British Isles and white settler colonies or “Greater Britain”. The Constabulary would unite British South Africa, the first step in invigorating the Empire. Or so policymakers fantasized.

In fact, imperial agents such as the constables had to convert metropolitan policies to the local environments through persuasion, coercion, or force. The constables became the local, human faces of the Empire in southern Africa, negotiating with the resident Afrikaners over the shape of the post-war rural society, often at the expense of the African communities. The constables believed they had the liberty to decide the means deployed in the Empire, not their unseen supervisors 6,000 miles away.

 

2007

 

Will Jungman & Neil Paine, CLAS 2009

Will Jungman and Neil Paine will study male participation in micro-finance programs in Ecuador. Micro-finance lending tends to be dominated by female borrowers, so they will ask what leads male entrepreneurs to use micro-finance in developing their businesses.

 

Lauren Shirley, SARC 2007

Lauren Shirley will work on designing and building a prototype of a structurally sound, weatherproof, transitional shelter that may be deployed in a post-disaster or humanitarian aid situation. It will be specific to the conditions of the slums that sprawl up into the steep hills around Bogota, Colombia, where prefabricated components may be unpacked, assembled, and occupied in a just few days by a small group of internally displaced women.

 

Abbie Klinghoffer, CLAS 2008

Abbie Klinghoffer will evaluate the impact of the service performed by U.Va. students on Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trips on the children with whom they work, the community members with which they interact, and the structural problems they strive to address. By engaging with various members of each of three international communities as part of this individual research project, as opposed to as part of a group, she hopes to forge more personal connections and to learn about how the projects performed by Alternative Spring Break volunteers can be most productive from the perspective of the communities they serve.

 

Andrew Torget, GSAS, 6th Year History PhD Student

Andrew Torget will examine the historical role of slavery in the development of the borderlands between the United States and Mexico, and specifically he will be using his fellowship to conduct research in the archives of Mexico. This research will be incorporated into a website which will offer scholars and teachers a wide array of online materials concerning the role slavery played in nineteenth-century Mexican-American relations.

 

Pooya Jahanshahi, CLAS 2008

Pooya Jahanshahi will study the role of Thailand’s Buddhist community in combating the national HIV/AIDS crisis from both a philosophical and public health perspective.

 

Katie Tully, GSAS

Katie Tully will measure the concentration and quantity of nutrient loss (through leaching) in order to better understand the fate of fertilizers added to shade-tree coffee farms in Costa Rica’s Central Valley. This research will be incorporated into her dissertation on nutrient cycling in organic and conventional shade-tree coffee farms.