2017 CES Fellows

Meet Our 2017-2018 CES Fellows

The Center for Engaged Scholarship, a project of Community Initiatives, is pleased to announce our 2017-2018 fellows.  These five winners will receive $25,000 to support the writing of their Ph.D. dissertations.

Michael D. Aguirre

PhD candidate, Department of History, University of Washington Seattle

Michael Aguirre explores the aftermath of the guest worker Bracero Program that brought Mexican farm workers to the U.S. between 1942 and 1964.  Focusing on the Eastern California borderlands of Imperial County, California, and Mexicali, Baja California Norte, he shows how policymakers and business people on both sides of the border strategized to create new agricultural and industrial regimes that continued to disempower working people.

Brian Callaci

PhD candidate, Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Brian Callaci uses a unique, original, hand-collected data set of five hundred and thirty franchise contracts in one state to understand the relationship between big restaurant chains and their franchisees.  This is important since the big restaurant chains have insisted that the franchise owner is the employer for the purposes of labor law, forcing any potential union drive to organize one fast food outlet at a time.

Daanika Gordon

PhD, Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Daanika Gordon analyzes policing in a large Midwestern city to show the relationship between residential segregation and policing practices.  Through extensive fieldwork that included ride-alongs with police officers, she shows how police react to and help create segregated spaces, producing racialized outcomes even in the absence of racial intent.

Yasmeen Mekawy

PhD candidate, Department of Political Science, University of Chicago

Yasmeen Mekawy examines how emotion works to either mobilize people to participate in high-risk protest, or conversely, keep people in their homes.  Through an in-depth examination of the use of social media in the 2011 uprising in Egypt, she shows how emotional responses to events can help explain why groups mobilize when they do or fail to mobilize at other times.

Adam Mertz

PhD candidate, Department of History, University of Illinois, Chicago

Adam Mertz’s research seeks to understand rural/urban political polarization by examining the rise of Wisconsin teacher unions during the 1970s. He argues that Wisconsin’s previous farmer-labor coalition was disrupted as rural voters felt that Democratic politicians were unresponsive to their concerns over taxation. By examining this history, Adam seeks to illuminate the possibilities for reconstituting a progressive farmer-labor alliance.

2017-2018 Honorable Mentions

Trish Kahle

Department of History, University of Chicago

As we contend with the dual threats of economic crisis and climate disruption, historians have begun to ask new questions of the past—in particular, how and why the United States became a high-energy society. By considering the related question—how is high-energy capitalism contested and renegotiated—this project offers a new perspective on the decline of working-class power and the transformation of the American energy regime in the mid-twentieth century. Miners suggested that an energy regime in crisis was in need of a stronger contract with the workers who produced the nation’s power. This contract, they believed, would not be forged in the voting booth or at the diplomatic table, but in the workplace.

This dissertation illuminates a new understanding of the energy crisis that so profoundly shaped miners’ workplace activism since the early 1960s, when the growing discrepancy between apparently peaking energy production and skyrocketing energy consumption became a central concern for both industry and government. By conceptualizing energy politics as extending beyond the realm of politics and into the sphere of work, this dissertation reframes both the problem of decline in the power of the American workers on the job, and the meaning of the energy crisis, which extended far beyond the problems of consumption, culture, and international politics. Indeed, the energy crisis cut to the heart of the American social contract. The crisis and transformation of the American energy regime is essential in explaining the emergence of a series of upheavals in mining workplaces across the Appalachian coalfields over health and safety, environmental degradation, and union democracy.

Energy regime transformation undermined traditional social relations between miners, operators, and the state, on which the UMW had built its power. Across the long 1970s, workers, the new energy companies, and the state renegotiated the bounds of workplace action, democratic politics, and environmental exploitation in the face of an uncertain energy future.

Katrina Quisumbing King

Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin, Madison

In 1901, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that its colonies would be classified as “foreign in a domestic sense,” institutionalizing a legal ambiguity.

Contrary to prevailing work that locates state control in legitimacy, I analyze how ambiguity shaped U.S. relations with the Philippines between 1901 and 1947. I focus on three key moments: (1) the simultaneous classification of Filipinos as citizens, nationals, and aliens under U.S. law; (2) the revocation of military benefits from Filipinos who served on behalf of the U.S. in WWII; and (3) the almost immediate cession of Philippine sovereignty to the U.S. after formal independence. In each of these moments, because of the polysemy of U.S.’s relationship to the Philippines and Filipinos, U.S. elites were able to secure a neocolonial relationship that continued to exploit Filipino labor and resources whilst erasing colonization and responsibilities to colonial subjects from national memory. In each case, the United States made and then revoked promises of juridical citizenship, social welfare benefits and sovereignty.

My study reveals the political consequences of ambiguity, namely that it allows states to skirt political obligations and preserve global supremacy in ever-shifting political climates. By making promises of incorporation, the U.S. could control the terms of inclusion and ultimate exclusion. While the Philippine case is a critical part of U.S. political history, it also demonstrates the broader significance of studying ambiguity as a function of statecraft.

Mary Elizabeth Schmid

Department of Anthropology, University of Kentucky

Over the last four decades, farming families throughout North America have suffered from volatile crop prices and increasing input costs. The number of family farms drastically decreased in the U.S. during this period. However, the number of latin@-owned farms in the U.S. significantly rose, in western and southern states.

This dissertation explores the context in which one Mexican-U.S. family group contributes to this unprecedented change. Members of this kin group contribute to multiple agri-food systems in North America as producers of basic grains in the Mexican Bajío and fresh-market produce in southern Appalachia. Through multi-sited ethnographic research, this dissertation brings together diverse voices and examples of strategic uses of time and collaborative agro-food enterprise practices used by structurally marginalized women and men in working families.

The findings lay at the intersections of political debates concerning im/migration, agri-food system policy, rural development, food security and perishable crop agriculture. The dissertation argues that with political economic support cooperative enterprises can strengthen rural economies and democratize globalized agro-food systems.

Click here to meet our inaugural fellows

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