Spring 2015 CG Recipients


ADG / Svalbard Studio

Leena Cho and Matthew Jull (Architecture)

The CGII grant will fund a traveling design studio, “ADG / Svalbard Studio,” organized by the Arctic Design Group at UVA School of Architecture in Fall 2015. The studio will take a group of 12 students to Longyearbyen, Ny-Ålesund, and Pyramiden in the Svalbard archipelago of Norwegian Arctic to carry out a pilot study on the architectural and urban conditions of these towns, and to explore possible modes of sustainable future urban development, given the changing environmental and economic conditions in the arctic region. This studio is co-funded by Rotch Travelling Studio Award and will provide opportunity to initiate design research exchange with colleagues in Norway. 

Conference: Recomposing the Humanities with Bruno Latour

Rita Felski (English)

This conference brings six distinguished scholars from France, Australia, the UK, and the US to grounds on September 18, 2015.  While based in history, anthropology, literary studies, and geography, these scholars are all actively engaged in interdisciplinary conversations. The goal of the conference is to explore the relevance of the work of Bruno Latour for the humanities. Latour is one of the most widely cited scholars in the world, winner of the prestigious Holberg prize, Frankfurt Prize, and many other awards. The premise of this conference is that Latour’s work offers a fruitful framework from which to evaluate the state of the humanities as well as to explore new possibilities.

Visiting Artist: Abderrahmane Sissako

Alison J. Murray Levine (French)

Mauritanian filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako will be at UVA for an artist residency from April 9-13, 2015.  The program’s centerpiece is a free public screening and discussion with the filmmaker around his most recent film, “Timbuktu”. This event will be held at the Paramount. “Timbuktu” was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and was one of the five 2015 Academy Award nominees for Best Foreign Language Film. It also raked in seven of France’s coveted César awards, including Best Film, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. Sissako will also teach an open public master class on April 10 and lead a small group of film students on a “film walk” around the UVA Lawn. Learn more about his visit in UVA Today.

UVA Research Team on Religion, Conflict, and Foreign Affairs

Peter Ochs (Religious Studies)

A UVA research committee will work Summer and Fall 2015 to initiate the organization and planning of a new UVA family of research teams on religion, conflict, and foreign affairs. They will also analyze the results of prior religion and conflict research in South Asia, in order to generate an initial, UVA-based approach to research on inter-religious conflict; the focus will be on diagnostic methods and mitigation techniques. The UVA research teams will include scholars from around the globe, in part serving the Global Covenant of Religions and in part pursuing a broader agenda of academic research. Read more about the broader project in UVA Today.

Resilient Cities: Winneba, Ghana

Nancy Takahashi (Architecture)

Focusing on the complex interwoven forces of sea level rise and rapid urbanization impacting coastal African cities, this multi-disciplinary project looks at Winneba, Ghana a historic fishing community west of the capital Accra.  Winneba sits adjacent to a significant lagoon, which is the sacred heritage grounds of the founding Effutu tribe and is now threatened by vegetation loss, contaminated water, encroaching development, and sea level rise.  Through ecologically, culturally, educationally, and econonically based perspectives, our team is asking 'How can Winneba develop an informed plan for growth, one that will re-signify the town's sacred cultural sites in their powerful bio-physical setting?'  

Graduate Students

Nora Benedict (Spanish/Italian/Portuguese) "The Fashioning of Jorge Luis Borges: Print Culture in Argentina, 1935-55"

My dissertation explores the writings of Jorge Luis Borges, an Argentinean poet, essayist, and short story writer, from the vantage point of analytical bibliography. Within one of my chapters, I hope to look to ledgers and other financial documents in publishers’ archives to help determine some of the more economic factors in play with Borges’s books, such as the cost of paper or the number of copies produced in a specific year. That being said, the financial support from the Center for Global Inquiry and Innovation will allow me to attend Michael Winship's Rare Book School course on "Reading Publishers' Archives for the Study of the American Book," which will help me analyze and work through raw data I plan to collect in Argentinean archives during the summer of 2015.

Swati Chawla (History) "Between Homelessness and Homecoming: Three Generations of Tibetan Exile in India" 

How have five decades of exile shaped the ideas of belonging, (up)rootedness, and religious tradition in the Tibetan diaspora? The proposed research aims to answer this question by studying recent innovations within the Buddhist female monastic tradition through the Tibetan Nuns Project (TNP), and by analyzing relationships to space and time in agricultural, craft-based, monastic, and “scattered” refugee settlements in India and Nepal. The TNP considers exile in India as an opportunity for nuns to reconfigure their position in Tibetan society; India is also imagined both as a place of refuge, and as the first home (of Buddhism). By using wall graffiti, protest songs, online signature campaigns, and “Free Tibet” merchandise as sources, my work redresses the scholarly neglect of these ephemeral and mostly non-textual materials that characterize the everydayness of Tibetan life in exile.

Dannah Dennis (Anthropology) "Re-imagining the Nation: Citizens in the New Nepal"

I’m currently conducting ethnographic research in Kathmandu for my dissertation in Anthropology. My topics of interest revolve around Nepal’s ongoing efforts to re-define itself as a nation in the process of re-writing its constitution. Specifically, I investigate how Nepali people envision, debate, and enact national unity in the midst of a tumultuous transition from Hindu monarchy to secular federal democracy. My research analyzes the ways in which Nepali people who oppose the division of the country along ethnic and religious lines are attempting to re-imagine Nepal as a united, secular, democratic state while being confronted with historical legacies of religious hierarchy and ethnic inequality.

Bremen Donovan (Anthropology) "Sensory Ethnography, Filmmaking, the Archive, and West Africa: Mapping the Field"

I am a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology (socio-cultural subfield) with a formal and practiced background in film. My dissertation research focuses on youth experience in West Africa and deals methodologically with sensory ethnography in relation to contemporary practices of filmmaking and archive. With the CGII graduate student research grant, I will spend the summer of 2015 in France, conducting archival research in Paris at collections including the Cinémathèque Afrique at the Institut Français, the Archives de la Planète at the Fondation Albert-Kahn, and the Cinémathèque Française. I will also meet personally with scholars and practitioners to explore theoretical and methodological questions related to my dissertation project. 

Susan Palazzo (Anthropology) "What's for Dinner? Understanding Bronze Age Sardinian Identity through Foodways"

My dissertation research seeks to understand the process of changing identities in the interior of Sardinia during the Middle and Late Bronze Age (c. 1600-850 BCE) by examining changes in foodways over time.  I will examine ceramics and faunal remains from the site of Bingia ‘e Monti in west-central Sardinia in order to evaluate the level of indigenous-foreign (Nuragic-Phoenician) interaction and understand cultural transistions in the region.  This project uses a postcolonial approach that emphasizes how new cultural practices are produced through mutual entanglement of native groups and colonizers and seeks to construct a new framework for colonial encounters in the Mediterranean.

Samuel Plapinger (Politics) "The Dynamics of Dominance in Multiparty Civil Wars"

My dissertation investigates the dynamics of armed group rivalries in multiparty civil wars. Motivated by the rapid rise of ISIS over its rivals in the Syrian Civil War, I ask how particular armed groups fighting on the same side of a conflict’s macro-level cleavage (e.g. ethnic, political, ideological) obtain dominance over their peer competitors. I argue that the organizational features of armed groups shape their warfighting capacities and subsequent ability to outcompete rivals, and substantiate this theory through case studies and statistical analysis. The Center’s generous support will fund the initial research stage of this project in Summer 2015.  

Giancarlo Rolando (Anthropology) "Living with the Other: Amerindian Identity and the Experience of Contact":

This research project will contribute to a better understanding of political identity and belonging among indigenous peoples of Amazonia. Given their current socio-political context as a transnational indigenous people, I ask how do Mastanahua understand and experience their “ethnic” belonging and, consequently, their relations with the multiple “others” surrounding them, including the two national states (Peru and Brazil) of which they form a part? To provide an account and an explanation of Mastanahua understandings of experience regarding their increasingly complex contemporary social web, I propose to investigate the narratives of their recent history, their quotidian exchanges with their multiple neighbors, and their understanding of these exchanges.

Matthew Shi (Economics) "Media Control and Market Segmentation in China"

China has one of the largest media markets in the world. But most media providers in China - including all television stations and cable companies - are stated-owned. This raises questions about efficiency of such systems. We take a novel approach to the subject by combining economics theory and a unique data-set on China's media. We address a set of non-traditional questions in the field of China's media: do state-owned media allow too many TV ads? Do they subsidize cable access from their ad revenue? Are there too many channels with duplication of media contents?

Brittany Sutherland (Biology) "Gene Flow in Campanula rotundifolia at European and North American Contact Zones": Biologists often find studying widespread species challenging for many reasons, not least of which is the necessity to navigate different governments, languages, and cultures when species cross international borders. This project will establish cooperation between universities and botanical laboratories in Canada, the Czech Republic, England, and Germany. These international collaborations will help us understand the genetics and evolution of a widespread and ecologically important wildflower species, the Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia). This species forms genetically unique populations throughout Europe and North America, and these collaborations will allow us to study the plants in their native habitats with help from local experts. 

Chenyu Wang (Education) "An Ethnographic Account of Chinese 'Global Citizens' Doing Development at Home"

In this project, I aim to provide a sustained ethnographic account of how students from China attending US universities approach a global citizenship initiative in rural Henan, China. I ask: how do Chinese students in America come to understand their engagement in development projects in China using both their Chinese cultural concepts and values and those they have learned in the US? What are the converging and competing logics of their development practices, and how are these logics negotiated, practiced, and contested on the ground? Through this project, I hope to construct a critical global citizenship sensitive to cultural differences of its audiences. Moreover, I aim at moving beyond critiques on development and offer an alternative understanding on development from a Chinese rationale. 

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