Student Research Blog


Fieldwork at a Funeral Convention

Thanks to the generous support from the Orin Williams Fund, I attended the annual meeting of the National Association of Funeral Directors and Morticians (NFDMA) in Alabama in August 2019. My dissertation research investigates contemporary Black funeral practices through an ethnographic study of funeral directors and morticians in primarily based in funeral homes in Chicago. On a regular basis, I attend services and sit in on meetings between funeral directors and loved ones planning services.


Transformative Architectures: An archaeology of building practices in the Atacama Desert

My dissertation examines the process of village formation through an archaeological investigation of building practices in the hyper-arid core of the Atacama Desert (northern Chile). Centering on the construction of architectural spaces, my research tracks long-term networks of human and technological entanglements to provide insights into everyday lives, ordinary practices, and the material histories of pre-Hispanic communities living in this arid region between 800 BCE and 500 AD--what is known regionally as the Formative Period.


Research Travels in Scotland

Thanks to the generous support of the Orin Williams Fund, I was able to conduct two months of dissertation research in Scotland this autumn quarter. The first four weeks of my trip allowed me to investigate the Istvan Hont archive at the St Andrews Institute for Intellectual History. I initially became interested in Hont because my dissertation aims to answer why David Hume engages with Niccolò Machiavelli as much as he does.


The Genealogy of Public Space and its Politics

Archival research, which, somewhat inadvertently, has become the methodological foundation of my dissertation has proven to be a fantastically rewarding experience for me. The inherent thrill of historical discovery, and even the process of (gingerly!) engaging material that is hundreds of years old, undeniably contributes to the excitement one might derive from archival research. But this is not the whole story.


Chavos de la Calle: The Social Worlds of Homeless Youth in Mexico City

This grant supported my dissertation research examining the social worlds of homeless youth in Mexico City. Though difficult to enumerate, it is estimated that there are millions of youth living and or working on the street worldwide, the majority being found in large cities of the global south. These youth are the city’s most vulnerable residents.


Towards Economic Democracy: Market Domination and Popular Sovereignty in Colonial India

My dissertation examines the rise of group-based legislative representation as a response to structural economic inequality in colonial India. Tracing demands for participation in law-making bodies between 1880 and 1950, I reconstruct how representative government was seen as a response to the particular problems of colonial capitalism. I underline how critiques of free markets and liberal political economy informed a discourse of representative government that was shared by a number of Indian political thinkers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.



Toxic Legacies of Mill Creek Ravine: Contested Landscapes of Industrialization and Colonialism in Western Canada

My dissertation examines the relationship between industrialization (the development of infrastructure, the standardization of commodities, and the development of a labouring class) and settler colonialism in the context of early twentieth-century meat-packing plants in Edmonton, Alberta. Turning beyond the florescence of meat-packing as a dominant industry in Edmonton (1900-1940s), my research tracks how different legacies from that period endure into the present both materially and as contested objects of discourse.


What is "hygge?" A Study in Scandinavia: Q&A with PhD Candidate Janet Connor

Oxford Dictionaries shortlisted the wildly popular and difficult to translate Danish word “hygge” for the 2016 word of the year. According to OD, it refers to “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).”



Public Health and Infectious Diseases in the Pacific Basin’s “Sanitary Sieve,” 1860-1914

The Division of the Social Sciences Research Grant — made possible by the Orin Williams Fund — supported my archival research trip to Honolulu, Hawaii during the summer months of 2016. The majority of my time was split between the Hawaii State Archives, the Bishop Museum, and the Hawaiian Mission Houses. Indeed, Honolulu was a thought-provoking location for delving into Hawaii's historic past, including the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when the U.S. government aided in the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and later annexed the Hawaiian Islands.