Campus & Community

Twelve students in GSAS receive Fulbrights

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Twelve students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) are recipients of Fulbright Grants that will allow them to conduct dissertation or other advanced research abroad next year. Four of these students have received the Fulbright-Hays award, administered by the U.S. Department of Education, while the other eight have received the Cultural Exchange Fulbright, administered by the Institute of International Education. An additional five graduate students have been named alternates. “This is an outstanding yield in a competition in which GSAS students usually do well,” said Cynthia Verba, director of fellowships for GSAS.

“If we add to this the 16 GSAS winners in the competition sponsored by Harvard’s Committee on General Scholarships for the Kennedy, Knox, and Sheldon traveling fellowships, or those offered by the Social Science Research Council, or by Harvard’s research centers specializing in various areas of the world, we can say that GSAS students have had phenomenal success receiving funding to do research abroad.”

The topics and destinations of Fulbright winners reflect the range of scholarly opportunities for students in GSAS:

Anadelia Romo, history

A study of the relationship between educational history and larger social and historical trends in Brazil, with emphasis on the relationship between literacy and citizenship. Romo will focus on the trajectory of primary education in the state of Bahia from 1888-1988, using it as a lens for understanding how and why Brazilians become literate or remain illiterate, which in turn illuminates such broad issues as race relations, religion, citizenship, and inequality.

Czech Republic
Laura Lisy, history

An examination of issues of European identity during the late medieval period, shifting attention to Central Europe and specifically focusing on Czech identity during the period running from 1350-1650 – a time of political autonomy and cultural awakening for Bohemia. Lisy’s principal hypothesis is that the regions of Central Europe were not passive recipients of European culture, and that influences did not come solely from the West; but extended into the Islamic East as well.

Kambiz Ghaneabassiri, religion

Ghaneabassiri’s project seeks to highlight the substantial role played by religion in early Islamic history, focusing on the development of sectarian forms of Islam. More specifically, he will examine the religious discourse of six influential Muslim thinkers who wrote about justice. The theme of justice is of particular relevance for a study of the role of religion in society, because justice is also a prevalent theme in the Koran and a strong religious ideal. This theme will give Ghaneabassiri the opportunity to consider the social, political, and intellectual issues surrounding the respective religious discourses on justice.

Sarah Bowen Savant, religion

A study that focuses on medieval Muslims’ understanding of their community, its space, and its relations to other communities. Savant will use the rich and unexplored materials surrounding Adam’s Peak, which is a case of particular interest because Muslims considered it a holy place – the Eden of Islamic tradition – although it is situated outside the land of Islam, in Sri Lanka. Adam’s Peak thus demonstrates a more flexible attitude in Islamic legal thought between the Muslim and the non-Muslim realms than is traditionally assumed. Adam’s Peak was also claimed by Buddhism to be a holy site as well.

Susan Maruko, history

A history of gangsters who participated in Japanese political life in the late 19th century and first half of the 20th. More specifically, Maruko is examining continuities and discontinuities in gansters’ political involvement from the beginning of the Meiji period (1868) to the end of the American occupation (1952). Prior to the Meiji period, gangsters showed little concern with politics, but after 1868 they participated in domestic policies as well as in more purely “gangster” activities. Maruko is particularly concerned with how political power was negotiated between organized crime and elite politics; she also seeks to identify social factors involved in the expansion of organized crime.

Karen Thornber, modern East Asian literature

An examination and redefinition of the impact of early modern Japanese literature on the development of the modern novel in China and Korea. Thornber argues that Japan’s dual role in the early 1900s as social and political oppressor and gateway to coveted Western science and literature, made the reception of its literature by Chinese and Korean writers extremely problematic. Thornber’s study challenges the general view that Chinese and Korean writers were interested only in Japanese translations of Western works. She shows that they were avid and critical readers of Japanese literature and that their ambivalence towards this literature in turn had a profound impact on their own writings.

Scott Swaner, Korean literature

A study of Korean cultural production from 1960-1987, focusing on “political” poetry – how it was produced and disseminated, and how it affected the larger social field. Swaner is particularly concerned with how the culture of the period facilitated the creation of popular poetry and also advanced both progressive aesthetics and politics. He argues that censorship actually helped to produce “political” poetry and this in turn fed into a culture of resistance. An equally important part of his argument is that this dynamic reveals a false divide in many academic debates between so-called “pure” aesthetics versus political literature.

Elizabeth Daniel, economic development

An investigation of small commercial enterprises in Fez over the past 10 years, focusing on traditional crafts in a non-tourist area and how the owners have adapted to macro-level changes in order to survive. Daniel will study day-to-day commercial practices and how planning is done for long-term changes. To date, little attention has been given to small-business owners in Morocco and their sustainability.

Dominika Baran, social linguistics

A study of code switching (mixing two or more languages together in the course of a conversation) and its social implications in multilingual communities. More specifically, in Taiwan, Baran will study code switching between Mandarin and Taiwanese among high school students who have both mainland and local backgrounds. She sees code switching as serving as a means for the speaker to project ethnic or group identity.

Jack Chen, Chinese literature

An investigation of the theory and practice of sovereignty in traditional China, focusing on the second Tang emperor, Taizong (reigned 626-649 A.D.). Chen will analyze Taizong’s conception of sovereignty as reflected in his poetry, essays, and other writings because they reveal his concern for his image in later judgments, and thus reveal his own ideals of sovereignty. Of particular interest is Taizong’s use of poetry to depict and control the reception of his image, which contributed to the perception of his success as emperor.


Justin McDaniel, religion

A study of the relationship between traditional medieval Buddhist educational texts and their role in the preservation of Northern Thai language and culture. More specifically, McDaniel is concerned with the heritage in Northern Thailand, stemming from the medieval period, of producing unique anthologies of Buddhist texts used to instruct nuns, monks, and the laity. The texts are also of interest because they offer early evidence of the use of the vernacular, rather than the more prevalent use of the classical international language of Pali. McDaniel’s main goal is to see how these texts are being employed today, as part of the larger question of how texts can be adapted and made to fit a particular time and place, while also maintaining a position in the larger Buddhist world.

Vietnam and Singapore

Edward Miller, history

Miller’s project seeks to reinterpret U.S. relations with South Vietnam in the period from 1954-1960. Miller argues that the tensions in the American-South Vietnam alliance can be better understood by paying greater attention to the differences between U.S. views on nation-building, on the one hand, and South Vietnamese post-colonial nationalism, on the other. This marks a shift from an almost exclusive scholarly focus on Cold War mentality and a corresponding emphasis on the policy deliberations that took place in Washington. Miller’s plan is to study the exchanges between Americans and Vietnamese that took place in South Vietnam.

Fellowships for later stages of the dissertation:

Graduate Society Dissertation Completion Fellowships

These merit-based fellowships are part of a Fellowship Program established by the Dean of GSAS in 1994, made possible through the generous gifts to the Graduate School Fund by GSAS alumnae and alumni. Each of the categories of Graduate Society Fellowships relates to a key stage in graduate students’ progress toward the Ph.D. degree. The Completion Fellowships support the final stage, while the Graduate Society Term Time Research Fellowships and Summer Fellowships support the earlier stages of dissertation research. In recent years, GSAS has succeeded in increasing the number of fellowships available to graduate students to provide time to devote to the dissertation. The following fellowship programs are major sources of funding for the completion stage, over and above the Graduate Society Fellowships Program:

The Packard Fellowships

A program, funded by a generous donation from The Packard Humanities Institute, offers 20 fellowships for outstanding students in the humanities who are at the dissertation completion stage. The dissertations of eligible candidates must involve, to a significant extent, research on original historic materials, with a preference for materials prior to 1900. In addition to a stipend for full-time dissertation completion work for an academic year, the fellowship has a grant-in-aid provision for travel and research materials, up to $5,000.

The Eliot Fellowships

Funded by a $l million gift from an anonymous GSAS alumnus, the Eliot Fellowships will help advanced outstanding students in the humanities and social sciences to shorten the time needed to complete their dissertations. The fellowships offer a stipend plus tuition for full-time dissertation completion work for an academic year. They also include an innovative bonus for those who complete the degree within a specified time period.

The Whiting Fellowships

The Whiting Fellowships go to outstanding students in the humanities. Thirteen students have been selected as winners for the coming year. Funded by the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, it is one of the older and more established fellowship programs. These Fellowships offer similar financial benefits to the Eliots, as well as a completion incentive bonus.

For a complete list of all the fellowship winners cited above, visit the GSAS Web site at