Graduate Studies Hosts Dissertation Fellow Lunch

On July 9, 2013 by Grad Forum

diss_fellows_lunch_thumbnailOn a bright and brisk early spring afternoon, members of the Dartmouth graduate community gathered to hear the presentations of the Dartmouth César Chávez, Charles A. Eastman, and Thurgood Marshall Dissertation Fellows. These three dissertation fellowships, awarded annually as a yearlong residency in support of graduate scholars at Dartmouth, seek to promote student and faculty diversity at Dartmouth by supporting the completion of doctoral studies among underrepresented minority scholars. Each fellowship provides the awardee with a stipend of $25,000, office space, library privileges, and a $2,500 research assistance fund.

This year’s Dissertation Fellows include Ariana Ochoa Camacho (César Chávez Fellow), Maile Arvin (Charles Eastman Fellow), and Danielle Terrazas Williams (Thurgood Marshall Fellow). These three scholars have come to Dartmouth from a variety of prestigious PhD programs across the United States.

Danielle Terrazas Williams, who presented her research first, arrived at Dartmouth from Duke University where she is a PhD candidate in history. Her research focuses on the African diaspora throughout history, and her dissertation is titled “Capitalizing Subjects: Free African-Descended Women of means in Xalapa, Veracruz, 1580-1730.” Her research began 10 years ago while an undergraduate student at Cornell University, and it was there that her interests in questions of race, status, and gender mobilization crystalized into a path of scholarship and research. Her presentation and research material focused on the social mobility and agency prescribed to women of African descent in Xalapa, Mexico, in what historians call “the long 17th century,” or from 1580-1730. Terrazas Williams aims to turn her dissertation into a book that brings the narratives of men into the discussion frame as well.

Ariana Ochoa Camacho, the César Chávez Fellow, presented second. An American studies PhD Candidate at New York University, Ochoa Camacho’s dissertation is titled “Racial Longings, Migrant Belongings: Colombianidad and Racial Performance in New York City.” Examining Colombian migrants in New York City via ethnographic study (predominantly interviews and observations), Ochoa Camacho’s research seeks to explore what she termed as the “transnational archive” of Colombian belonging for migrants to the New York Metro Area, but chiefly in the Jackson Heights, Queens borough of New York City. Ochoa Camacho asserts that migrants articulate ideals of belonging in dynamic tension with US racial structures—that racial performances are deeply textured by Colombian cultural norms while simultaneously navigating US racial categories. Her research highlights the experience of transnational belonging, and in the case of Ochoa Camacho’s research, how to belong as Colombian in the United States.

Maile Arvin, a PhD candidate in ethnic studies at the University of California San Diego, gave the final presentation. Her dissertation is titled “The Science of Settler Colonialism: Native Hawaiian Indigeneity Amidst Hawai’i’s Racial Mix.” Arvin’s research and presentation spoke to her desire to explore and understand how theories of ethnicity and indigeneity are vital to the recognition of Hawaii and native Hawaiians today. Her presentation brought into play the historical use of genetic study, particularly in the context of American colonialism in Hawaii over the last hundred years. The questions that her research raised were ones of identity and adherence to the “native cultures” of the islands—“How Hawaiian are you?” being a popular question of anthropological and sociological study.

The variety of academic scholarship that these three dissertation fellows bring to our community afford us great benefits of perspective and insight into topics and issues that remain pertinent to the dialogue of any engaged student community. We wish the fellows well as they move on in their academic careers.

by Laurie Laker


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