June 12, 2003 – Vol. 22 No. 18

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    University students again lead nation in Fulbright fellowships

    By Josh Schonwald
    News Office

    Madeline Hamblin, Director of the Office of Graduate Affairs, leads an informational meeting with 12 of the University's newest Fulbright fellows.
    For the 17th year in a row, University graduate students have won more Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad fellowships than students at any other U.S. educational institution.

    This year, at least 18 Chicago students have won the fellowship, which funds dissertation research in a non-Western country; four students are currently on the alternate list.

    Nearly 60 percent of Chicago's applicants (18 out of 31) received the award. This continues the high acceptance rate of recent years, said Madeline Hamblin, Director of the University's Office of Graduate Affairs. Last year, nearly 80 percent of Chicago's applicants won the fellowships for which they applied.

    Hamblin believes a combination of factors drives Chicago's success with the Fulbright-Hays selection committee. Not only does Chicago have a strong interdisciplinary focus, area studies centers and language programs in such languages as Arabic, Chinese and Japanese, but Chicago faculty also often play an important role, writing strong letters of recommendation for their students.

    The Office of Graduate Affairs, Hamblin said, also aids students in each step of the Fulbright-Hays application process.

    A group of the student recipients will use their Fulbright fellowships to study and conduct research in Latin America. Aaron Ansell is planning an ethnographic study of nationalism within Brazil's pre-eminent socialist party, the Partido dos Trabalhadores, and the social movement with which it is affiliated. Linguist Christopher Ball will examine the problem of language shift in the Northwest Brazilian Amazon. Christopher Brazeal will be investigating how practitioners of Afro-Brazilian religions in the Brazilian region of Bahia establish their legitimacy in the spiritual services they provide. Studying in both Brazil and Cuba, Elizabeth Cooper will analyze the development and transformation of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian popular expression, and its relationship to the development of popular politics in Havana and Salvador between 1890 and 1940.

    Focusing on Colonial Mexico, Patrick Hajovsky will explore colonial literacy and cross-cultural translation through figurations of the Aztec king Montezuma between 1150 and 1700. Alison Kohn will study the spatial and social organization of a neighborhood in La Paz, Bolivia. Katherine McGurn will examine how a research laboratory conducting investigations into the health and genetics of Bolivian populations is related to broader trends in the country. Chad Redwing will research how Chilean literature, cinema and public space represent a remembrance of the Pinochet regime. Paul Ross will examine practices and symbols developed by Mexico City's Superior Board of Health between 1841 until 1917.

    Some of the Fulbright recipients will travel to Asia to conduct their studies, including Divinity School student Erik William Davis, who will explore the ritualization of the dead in Cambodian Buddhism. Shana Lee Fruehan will use ethnographic methods to examine Japanese attitudes toward the birth control pill, which was only made legal there in June 1999. Rajiv Kindra will seek to better understand the Islamic ethos of Persians in South Asia by examining the writings of Chandar Bhan, a 17th-century Indian intellectual. Omar Kutty will examine the effects of the recent proliferation of nongovernmental social service providers on the ideologies of the poor in Delhi, India. Samuel Perry will examine the work of four Japanese and Korean writers of proletarian fiction during the 1920s and 1930s. Christopher Walker will work with computer science faculty at Tibet University to study the effectiveness and challenges to public-domain software in Tibet.

    Two student recipients will travel to Eastern Europe on their Fulbright fellowships. Jessica Greenberg will analyze student organizing at the University of Nis in Serbia, and its impact on the country's national political practices. Elizabeth Nazarian will examine the political dimensions of film in Poland, following the Polish film industry's decentralization in the 1950s.

    Erik Skjon will examine the Mwani, a Swahili Muslim group, in an effort to develop a model of ethnolinguistic identity in Africa.