Social Sciences Blog
The Social Sciences Division summer grant allowed me to spend significant time in the Joseph Regenstein Library using non-circulating items, notably Eduard Schwartz’s Acta Conciliorum Oecumenicorum. The plentiful hours that became available to me as a result of the grant were used to work with texts in the original Greek, which many of the documents were written in, if not Latin. As a result, I was able to make significant progress on my dissertation proposal. Currently, I am working with my adviser on making revisions to my proposal in order to prepare it for defense.
Why is rape, in particular, used during armed conflict? What presumptions about gender and sexuality are necessary for rape to be efficacious during war? Focusing on the widespread use of rape, as was the case during the Sierra Leone civil war (1991-2002), my dissertation utilizes an urban-rural within case comparison that combines original archival research, life-history interviews, and conflict analysis to locate what it is about rape that makes it a useful form of violence during armed conflict.
From the middle of the eleventh century through the end of the twelfth, religious thinkers across Europe poured nearly all of their intellectual energy into letters, writing thousands that embodied any and every way to understand or explain the divine. Despite this massive body of evidence, however, scholars tend to downplay the significance of letters in the historical development of high medieval religious thought and intellectual culture. My dissertation examines how letters reflected and determined the practice of religious thought during the eleventh and twelfth centuries.
My dissertation, tentatively titled “Goroka: The Shared Account in Assam’s Kingdom of Magic,” investigates how, why, and in what ways emergent political and economic relationships and the forces mobilized in coincidence with them have become new sources of (and perspectives on) both prosperity and intersubjective memory in Assam—a state in India’s northeastern periphery beleaguered by so-called “ethnonationalist” violence.
Existing research on bilingual populations has focused primarily on the differences and/or similarities in the performance of monolingual and bilingual children and adults in cognitive and linguistic tasks; less research has focused on their social communication abilities. Language though, is inherently social. We use it as a tool to communicate with others. Through my doctoral thesis, entitled: Perspective taking: the exposure effect, I demonstrate that early exposure to multiple languages may increase children’s social communicative abilities.
I returned to the United States this June after having spent well over a year in archival repositories throughout the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa with a digital mountain of unprocessed documents. I always new that my dissertation project, “All Flesh Is Grass: Cultivation as Conservation in the Sown Grasslands of the British Empire, 1780-1850,” was an ambitious one. It is a transnational project that relies almost exclusively upon manuscript materials, with an occasional printed text or map. I visited sixteen different repositories, from the industrial-scale
In 1992, Lawrence Summers, then the chief economist of the World Bank, declared that educating girls “yields a higher rate of return than any other investment available in the developing world.” Summers’ argument converged with a growing consensus in the international development industry, which over the past two decades has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into transnational campaigns designed to “empower” girls – psychologically (via self-esteem), personally (via leadership training), and economically (via microloans).
The establishment of federal Indian reservations was a critical, yet often neglected, turning point in the history of U.S. westward expansion during the second half of the nineteenth century. In the thirty-seven year period between the organization of territorial governments in New Mexico (1850) and Arizona (1863) and the passage of the Dawes Severalty Act (1887), the U.S. federal government approved patents for many of the 42 Indian reservations that today comprise more than 23.5 million acres of land in the two southwestern states.
Consider the following vignettes from my research: a clique of middle school students at a boarding school for at-risk youth leveraging adult advice networks to change a controversial dress code policy; mental hospital patients collectively advocating for an increase in food quality on their ward through an institutionally recognized Patients' Administrative Group; a group of inmates forming a labor union to negotiate with the Massachusetts Department of Corrections to improve prison conditions.
I use economics to investigate marriage patterns. We can imagine a marriage market in which people are "shopping" for their partners and bargain for the prices. This approach is quite useful to understand a set of observed marriage patterns. This approach offers explanations to why educated people tend to marry each other, for example.