Student Research Blog
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).”
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.
Just before entering Kykotsmovi (Kiqötsmovi in Hopi), visitors are greeted by a colourful sign with words of welcome and warning. Here, as in every other village on the Hopi reservation in Northeastern Arizona, visitors are forbidden from taking photographs, making audio recordings, producing sketches, hiking foot trails or removing objects. In other words, no inscriptions should be made of the village, you are not welcome to walk on land that isn’t paved, and nothing should be taken from the village.
Legal scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw coined the term “intersectionality” to explain, “...the various ways in which race and gender interact to shape the multiple dimensions of Black women’s...experiences.”  As such intersectionality is the central organizing theory for my dissertation in which I ask how black women activists contended with their multiple identities while working toward racial empowerment during the long struggle for civil rights.