Call for Proposals
The Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs (RCGA) Summer International Research Grants fund overseas research for Middlebury College juniors and seniors preparing to write senior theses. Students from any discipline or program whose proposed project is international in its orientation are eligible to apply. Qualified applicants include students who plan to conduct summer research when they have one, two, or three semesters remaining in their undergraduate career. The maximum award is $4500. The deadline for receipt of applications is March 31.
Criteria for Selection: Applications will be judged on the strength of the research design, the degree of preparation for the proposed work, the candidate’s academic record to date, the feasibility of the research project, and the need for overseas research to bring it to successful completion. Research in a foreign language, while desirable, is not a necessity.
Expectations of Grant Recipients: All grant recipients will be required to do the following: (1) in the current spring semester, attend the RCGA overseas research workshop (special arrangements will be made for students studying abroad); (2) in September following the research, submit a report of no more than 750 words outlining the work accomplished to date; (3) in the fall following the research, participate in a meeting to discuss the status of the project; (4) complete the thesis; and (5) in the final semester, present the results of the research in a public forum.
If you have any questions about what projects might be eligible for funding under this grant, please contact:
Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs
Robert A. Jones '59 House 114
2015 Grant Recipients
Capoeira: The Effect of an Afro-Brazilian Movement Art on State Anxiety, State Self-Efficacy, and Prosocial Behavior Tendencies
Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian movement art that incorporates elements of dance, martial arts, instrument playing, singing, acrobatics, and physical improvisation between partners to comprise a multifaceted and conversational “game.” The sport has moved out of Brazil and expanded globally over the last several decades. Despite its rising demand and growing international popularity, however, the psychological benefits of capoeira to participants had not previously been investigated within a scientific framework. Inspired by recent neuroscientific research as to the benefits of exercise, meditation, yoga, and mindfulness practices, the present study sought to investigate whether engagement in a capoeira session was associated with altered state anxiety, self-efficacy feelings, and prosocial behavior tendencies as compared to engagement in cooperative movement, combative movement, and non-movement control activities (acro-yoga, savate, and graduate-level mathematics class, respectively). One hundred nineteen capoeiristas in the greater Rio de Janeiro, Brazil area completed surveys before and after a session of capoeira. Surveys were subsequently analyzed for pre- and post-session variations and were compared to the various control groups. Background research and literature review were conducted February to May, 2015; data collection took place in Rio during July and August of 2015; and data analysis occurred from September to December of 2015.
Restarting the Sendai Reactor: Ecology of Japanese Civic Activism Post-Fukushima
Between 2011 and 2014, over 70% of Japanese favored phasing out nuclear power after cover-up of the 2011 Fukushima disaster destroyed public trust in pro-nuclear bureaucrats and the nuclear power industry. Given widespread public opposition, how could and did Kyushu Electric manage to restart the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant Reactor No. 1 on August 11, 2015? Prior to and following the restart in August 2015, I conducted semi-structured interviews and participant observation in Kagoshima Prefecture with nearby residents, civil society campaigns, women’s associations, food coops, and local government officials supporting and opposing the Sendai restart. In my thesis, I argue that age, gender, and place-based social norms limited effective political activism and messaging in Satsumasendai. Because of these social norms, insular politics, media censorship of protest and nuclear power issues, and local economic incentives enabled local officials and Kyushu Electric Power Company to restart the reactor despite widespread public opposition.
Behind Bars: The Subjugation of Women and the Power of the Pen in Tu T'appelleras Tanga by Calixthe Beyala and Vaste est La Prison by Assia Djebar
I spent three weeks abroad in Yaoundé, Cameroon, doing research for my Comparative Literature senior thesis on contemporary West African female writers. The goal of my research was to unbury the voices of an important yet often overlooked group of francophone authors.
In traveling to Yaoundé, I hoped to contextualize the works of one post-colonial Cameroonian female author in particular: the prolific yet controversial Calixthe Beyala. Many Western critics accuse Calixthe of giving herself over to pornographic writing intended to attract a readership looking for cheap eroticism and exoticism. Considering the harsh criticisms coming from a relatively liberal readership, how would Calixthe’s writing be received in Cameroon, a conservative and homophobic country?I probed scholars for their perspective on Calixthe Beyala, such a controversial figure in the West, and also for their personal stories and wisdom. A handful of women gave me tattered copies of their texts and spoke and wrote with the same verve that Beyala exhibits. I also encountered a widespread acceptance of Beyala. One interviewee clarified that Calixthe employs a crude vocabulary in order to capture a certain reality, in order to prove that she is not afraid of writing in a male arena of authorship. My research on Beyala was essential to my thesis, since I argued against the popular notion that she is a fraud.
2014 Grant Recipients
2014 Grant Recipients
Linnea Burnham'14.5, French and History
“De la Main à la Machine: La Modernisation de l’Industrie Laitière Française, 1880-1900”
This thesis analyzes the French dairy industry at the end of the nineteenth century. Specifically, I examine the Franche-Comté, a rural, predominantly agricultural region located in Eastern France to demonstrate that cheesemakers and farmers resisted industrial and technological changes between 1880-1900 because they lacked financial resources, education, and the motivation to change their traditional ways. Comté, the Franche-Comté’s traditional cheese, is central to my narrative because current producers tend to resist any change to their cheese industry, claiming that Comté is too deeply connected to their heritage. By exploring the reasons why the Franche-Comté dairy industry resisted change in the nineteenth century, this thesis argues that Comté was not always so iconic or important to the French national identity as it is today. More broadly, I hope to provide a new lens for understanding of French history, cultural traditions and food as a form of national self-identity.
William Gevertz '14.5, Political Science
“Out of The Frying Pan: Reflections on International State Building in Bosnia-Herzegovina
I was able to utilize the RCGA research grant to aid in the completion of my senior honors thesis in political science. The RCGA grant allowed me to travel to Sarajevo during summer 2014 in order to collect qualitative data on the functioning on the international community in the deeply divided, post-conflict society of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The data I collected was crucial in my analysis of the efficacy of international organizations in the management of Bosnia’s protracted post-conflict recovery. I was able to collect expert opinion from over 20 sources ranging from European Union officials, to academics, to employees at nongovernmental organizations, all of whom had first-hand knowledge of the trials and tribulations that have afflicted Bosnian society since the end of their ethnically fueled civil war during the 1990s.
2013 Grant Recipients
2013 Grant Recipients
Rajsavi Anand '14, history and biochemistry
"Examining the creation of a Sikh identity in the era leading up to and including the partitioning of India"
In the period from 1940-1947, the Sikh community experienced a profound struggle to situate itself vis-à-vis the other major constituents in the country—the Indian National Congress, All Muslim League, and the British Government—as the idea of Pakistan came to fruition. The Sikhs presented an incoherent front in these years and ultimately saw their homeland vivisected. Little weight has been placed on the period from 1920–1940, during which the Sikhs mobilized as a whole community, as the cause for the divisive and incoherent Sikh responses in the wake of Partition. While the extremist Sikh leadership was successful in mobilizing the rural populace during the Gurdwara Reform Movement (1920-1925), it created issues for the Sikh community in the following decades when it attempted to increase its political representation. The incompatible communal and nationalist rhetoric that evolved out of the Gurdwara Reform Movement led the Sikh community to alienate the British government and the Indian National Congress, all the while causing internal rifts among themselves. This research project began at the British Library in the India Office of Records and would not have been possible without the generosity of the Rohatyn Center.
Vincent Mariano '14, sociology and anthropology
"The Body and Christ: The Intersection of Spiritual and Corporeal Care in Catholic Philippines"
In the De La Salle University Medical Center (DLSUMC) located in Cavite, Philippines, belief in the interconnectedness of body and soul, Catholicism, and medicine combine to create a unique environment that informs how Filipino patients, their families, and the medical personnel react to suffering and death. With my Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs International Research Grant, I conducted an ethnography within the hospital to explore how Christ’s Passion narrative is symbolized within DLSUMC and how it allows patients to create a “meaningful suffering” and “redemptive death”. During my research, I also examined how religion can help a patient’s family cope with grief, related to a patient’s suffering or death. Lastly, I investigated how religion augments the provision of care that DLSUMC doctors and nurses give to the sick and dying.
Bradley Osborne '13.5, environmental studies
"Nature, the Right's Bearer: A Study of Environmental Theory and Practice in Ecuador"
Samuel Peisch '13.5, political science
"The Livingstone NGO Study: The Effect of NGOs on Improving Health in Livingstone, Zambia"
Does foreign aid work? Moyo or Sachs? So often the discussion about Western development efforts revolves around whether foreign aid is helpful or hurtful for Sub-Saharan Africa. Yet often neglected in this discussion is the impact of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). To study their impact, the Livingstone NGO Study sought to measure the effectiveness of NGOs by conducting survey research interviewing 80 patients in the 10 districts of Livingstone about their perceptions of short vs. long-term health benefit, access to care, and health care preferences. This research formed a critical case study that was part of a larger thesis that concluded that NGO impact on health is mixed: they are effective in achieving some improvements in individual health outcomes, but they are also responsible for gaps in public health provision, thereby hindering improvements in health in Sub-Saharan Africa.
2011 Grant Recipients
2011 Grant Recipients
Arthur Choo '12, political science; sociology and anthropology
"Administering Integration: North Korean Refugee Resettlement in South Korea"
The number of North Korean refugees entering South Korea has increased exponentially in the past decade. Whereas only a couple hundred defectors migrated south annually until the 1990s, this figure now hovers at approximately 3,000 refugees each year. To accommodate this increase, the South Korean government continues to develop programs that manage refugee resettlement/integration. Currently, North Korean refugees who arrive in South Korea undergo a highly regulated resettlement process- one that begins with their application for political asylum and continues long after they begin their new lives in the South. This project focuses on how the South Korean government manages resettlement in ways that facilitate the transformation of refugees into functional individuals as defined by the state. In particular, it explores how power operates through the structural composition of various resettlement institutions while also investigating how refugees use their limited agency to resist these transformative processes.
David Tyler Gibson '12, international politics and economics
“The Effects of China’s 2008 Contract Law on Labor Organization”
Kyle McHenry Hunter '12, political science
"Present at the Creation: Norm Promotion and LGBT rights in International Politics"
In June 2011, the UN Human Rights Council passed the first ever resolution calling on states to protect rights based explicitly on an individual's sexual orientation and gender identity. How did this happen? My thesis research looks at what factors have caused LGBT rights to emerge as a contentious issue in global politics, and also at the domestic level in South Africa. Specifically, this study focuses on interactions between networks as an important variable in determining whether activists succeed in getting their issue noticed, and subsequently codified and/or institutionalized.Â With support from the Rohatyn Center for International Affairs, I spent this past summer interviewing UN officials, LGBT rights activists, those working in the HIV/AIDS as well as government officials in Geneva and Cape Town. This presentation will briefly describe the research experience and then highlight some of my findings from South Africa.
Pui Shen Yoong '12, international politics and economics
"Evaluating Brazil's Bolsa Familia: Do Local Governments Matter?"
Brazil’s Bolsa Familia program (BFP) is a conditional cash transfer scheme aimed at ending poverty and inequality. Qualifying families receive a monthly stipend on the condition that they fulfill certain requirements in health and education. Although the BFP is a federal program, each of Brazil’s 5, 564 municipalities play an important role in its local implementation. Using a combination of regression analysis and four case studies from the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, this study evaluates the impact of local government capacity on beneficiaries’ health and education. I find that the percentage of beneficiaries who comply with the program’s health and education requirements is likely to be higher in municipalities with higher administrative capacity – the ability of public agencies to track and monitor beneficiaries. The results suggest that municipalities are critical actors in the success of this program, and that more investment is needed to build local administrative capacity.
2012 Grant Recipients
2012 Grant Recipients
Samuel Koplinka-Loehr '13, independent scholar: environmental justice
"Until Justice Rolls Down Like Water: Environmental Justice in Yunnan, China"
The past decade - and those to come - brought unprecedented levels of dam building, development, and displacement to Yunnan Province, China. While dams represent an avenue for achieving energy independence and reaching national carbon dioxide targets, the local human and environmental impact is enormous. Moreover, those most affected often receive little to no benefits from dam construction, which primarily go to urban centers on the east coast of China. Environmental Justice has become an international movement: does it have weight in the movement against dams in Yunnan? How are community activists framing their resistance in a country with a history of top-down control and persecution of activists? This presentation will draw on my interviews in Yunnan over the summer of 2012 and my thesis research.
Anil Menon '13, economics and history
"The Silver Crisis in India"
Colonial India experienced the first tremors of the global silver crisis (1870 - 1900) in 1876. The effects of the falling gold value of silver impacted various groups within British India. The Government of India and its salaried officials faced increasing financial strains due to the depreciation of the rupee in sterling value. The Anglo-Indian mercantile community became increasingly agitated as volatile business conditions persisted. Despite such difficulties, a policy measure to counter the vagaries of the silver crisis was not implemented until the 26th of June 1893. Attempts at currency reform in 1878, 1881, and 1886 were unsuccessful, having failed to overcome laissez faire arguments for non-intervention and/or because these proposals conflicted with British interests. My talk will examine how the simultaneous fulfillment of certain criteria was necessary for the successful legislation of Act VIII of 1893.
Savant Man Shrestha '13, economics and Spanish
"Effects of the Global Financial Crisis on Migrant and Non-migrant Households in Huehuetenango, Guatemala"
The paper examines the relationship between an exogenous economic shock "the global financial crisis of 2008" and migrational remittances in the rural highlands of Guatemala, a region with substantial international migration outflows and significant remittance inflows. Using a panel data set, a difference-in-difference approach that controls for the selectivity of migration is used to assess the impact of the global financial crisis on migrant and non-migrant households in Guatemala. Literature on the post-financial crisis' effects is rather thin. What are the differences in remittance levels sent to households before and after the crisis? How do households respond to overseas members' economic shocks and how is it reflected in total per-capita expenditure? What connection, if any, is there between the pervasiveness of risk in developing countries and international remittance flows? These are burning questions that beg further investigation and upon which this paper attempts to shed light.
2003-2010 Grant Recipients
Shabana Basij-Rasikh '11, international studies major, “Suicide in the Form of Self-immolation as an Increasing Response to Domestic Violence in Afghanistan
Maxwell Benjamin '11, economics and mathematics double major, “Testing Worker Output Evaluation Differences between American and Japanese Citizens.”
Molly Brister '11, international studies major
Proposed research topic: “Legal ramifications of the Ottoman millet system on sectarian relations in Lebanon.”
Research presented at 2011 RCFIA International Research Travel Grant Presentations: "The Women's Movement in Modern Lebanon (1920-1990): A Critical Reassessment."
Alhaji Jalloh '11, political science major, “The Influence of Economic Development in Religious Extremism in Mali and Senegal.
Xiaoxue Weng '11, international politics and economics major
Proposed research topic: “Political Factors that Shape Japanese Emergency Assistance Abroad.”
Research presented at 2011 RCFIA International Research Travel Grant Presentations: "The Politicization of Japanese Humanitarian Aid: What Political and Economic Factors Shape the Process?"
Elissa Bullion '10, sociology and anthropology major, “Moche Social Structures Evidenced in Archaeological Sites of San Jose de Moro, Peru.”
Forrest Orme '10, history major, “Personal, Religious, and Intellectual Motivations of Cyrus Hamlin for the Development of a Westernized Education System in the Middle East.”
Elizabeth Sutcliffe '10, sociology and anthropology major, African studies minor, “The Impact HIV/AIDS Denialism on the South African people.”
Abigail Blum '09, a political science major, African studies minor, "Overcoming the 'Hollow Ring:' The Implementation of Socioeconomic Rights Rulings in South Africa"
Nicole Conti '09, an art history major, "Illness and Devotion on Hieronymus Bosch's Triptych of the Temptation of St. Anthony in Lisbon"
Ria Shroff '09, a Spanish major, "Cuerpo femenino, arte y memoria: Eva Perón y sus representaciones artísticas y Literarias" (Feminine body, art and memory: Eva Perón and her artistic literary representations)
Sage Bierster '07, an international studies major with a focus on Latin America, sociology/anthropology and Portuguese, "Os Meninos da Casa Dom Bosco: Coming of Age in a Shelter"
Amanda Goodwin '07, a political science major, "Ethnic Minority Voting Behavior Explained: Resources, Mobilization and Motivation in Context of the 2005 British Election"
Talia Lincoln '08, a sociology/anthropology major, "Non-governmental Organizations in Northern Thailand"
Aglaya Glebova '07, history of art and architecture major, "Representations of Women in Natalia Goncharova's Early Work."
Mateal Lovaas '07, international studies major, "Africa on Stage: Understanding the West's Collective Representation of Sub-Saharan Africa through a Comparative Analysis of Children's Literature and International Development."
Courtney Matson '07, international studies major, "The Politics of Epidemic: How Government and Civil Society Address HIV/AIDS Crisis in the People's Republic of China."
Rachel Rosenfeld '07, international studies major, "Jewberia: The Struggle to Define Russian Jewish Identity in the Postmodern Period."
Devin Wardell '07, international studies major, "Beautiful Craft, Beautiful Life: The Manufacturing Philosophy of William Morris."
Grace Armstrong '06, independent scholar, "North-South Copyfights: Ideology and Copyright in the United States and Brazil."
Rachel Dunlap '06, English and theater joint major, "Brave, Sexy, and Tired: The Collected Experiences of Senegalese Women."
Helen Price Massey '06, international studies major, "An Analysis of Leadership in the Fight against HIV/AIDS: The Cases of South Africa, Malawi, and Uganda."
Danielle Naugle '06, sociology/anthropology and Spanish double major, "The Afro-Uruguayans of Montevideo: Blackness, Discrimination, and Identity."
Pauley Tedoff '06, sociology/anthropology major, "Marriage by Correspondence: A Sociocultural Exploration of Matrimony between Swiss Men and Mauritian Women."
Nathalie Wolfram '06, English major, "'Scenes Not Inferior to Any in England': Creating the Stage in Eighteenth-Century Exeter and York."
Naomi Cookson '05, history major, "Greening a Red China: The Development of Environmental Civil Society in the People's Republic of China."
Amichai Kilchevsky '05, international politics and economics major, "Peace and Economic Interdependence in the Middle East."
Yohanne Kidolezi '05, economics major, "Household Surveys and Street Child Labor: Evidence for Selection and Reporting Bias."
Leslie Lartey '05, political science major, "Examining the Link Between Democracy and Decentralization in West Africa: A Case Study of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.”
Lila Buckley '04, Chinese and sociology/anthropology double major, "The Newborn Kingdom: Voices of Urban Chinese Women and the Politics of Reproduction."
Brian Hoyer '03.5, international studies major, "Nipke Kikupe: Dependency, Reciprocity, and Paradoxes of Food Aid in Lugufu Refugee Camp, Kigoma, Tanzania."
Rituraj Mathur '04, international politics and economics major, "Insurgency and Development: The Case of Assam."
Kristina Rudd '04, independent scholar in international development studies, "Death is Following Us: The Impoverishment of the Ugandan Batwa Associated with Bwindi Impenetrable National Park."
Andrei Takhteyev '03, international politics and economcs and German joint major, "Deutsche unter Deutschen? Die Einwanderungspolitik der BRD und die Eingliederung von Russlanddeutschen" (Germans among/under Germans? The FRB's Immigration Policy and the Integration of "russia"-Germans).