Announcing 2022 Graduate Student Research Awards
The Institute for Research on Women and Gender has awarded 10 graduate students funding to support wide-ranging projects related to women, gender, and sexuality.
Eight IRWG/Rackham Community of Scholars summer fellowships were granted to students in the humanities and social sciences, whose dissertations focus on women, gender or sexuality. The students were selected from a highly competitive pool. Their diverse set of projects demonstrates the scope of gender studies at U-M.
Two Boyd/Williams Dissertation Grants were awarded for projects related to women and work. Through this award, IRWG supports projects that promote knowledge about and enhance understanding of the complexities of women’s roles in relation to their paid and unpaid labor (e.g., philanthropy, volunteerism, community involvement, domestic work, and political activity). This prestigious dissertation fellowship is named for two sisters: Ruth Rodman Boyd (1892-1981), a longtime community activist, and Shirley Rodman Williams (1894-1999), who had a long career in the Detroit business community.
IRWG / Rackham Community of Scholars Fellowship recipients and their projects are:
Haley Bowen, PhD Candidate, History, College of LSA
Breaching the Cloister: Laywomen, Convents, and the State in the Early Modern French Empire
This dissertation explores how and why French convents adopted new roles as women’s shelters, reformatories, and prisons during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Bowen argues that convents must be taken seriously as political actors who collaborated with the French state to imprison Protestant women and girls, reform prostitutes and adulterers, and proselytize to indigenous communities. Harnessing the voices of state officials, nuns, and imprisoned laywomen, this dissertation explores how the rise of convent incarceration transformed convents into deeply politicized spaces in which the meanings of state power and feminine subjecthood were contested by police, nuns, and laywomen alike.
Hayley Bowman-McCurry, PhD Candidate, History, College of LSA
Ineffable Knowing: Sor María de Jesús de Ágreda in the Early Modern Spanish World
This project examines early modern Spanish understandings of the world and colonial imagination through a singular figure, Sor María de Ágreda (1602-1665). Bowman-McCurry positions Sor María as an integral presence in a trans-oceanic composite monarquía and Catholic thought-world to challenge several powerful, gendered categories of the time, including “theologian,” “royal advisor,” and “missionary.” Sor María’s life and legacy reveals women’s participation in religion, politics, and knowledge production about the world through her adherence to, and transcendence of, both the physical boundaries of the convent and Atlantic, and the ideological boundaries of gender and early modern theology.
Paloma Soledad Contreras Zúñiga, PhD Candidate, Anthropology, College of LSA
“Sometimes I feel desperate, but then I get used to it’' A bioethnographic account of water scarcity and the embodiment of distress in Mexico City
Scholarship has demonstrated that women tend to carry the responsibility of securing and managing water for all household members. Therefore, women are likely to experience higher stress levels related to water insecurity. This study explores whether the perception of water scarcity is a socio-environmental exposure that impacts women’s health. Using qualitative data from 60 working-class households across Mexico City, this study reflects on women’s lived experiences of water uncertainty and argues that water-related stress has a greater association with fear of water scarcity rather than with absolute water availability.
Janice Feng, PhD Candidate, Political Science, College of LSA
The Cultivation of Desire and Indigenous Women’s Self-Making and Resistance in French North America, 1633-1840
This project examines how the cultivation of desire was instrumental to the founding and consolidation of settler-colonial rule in Nouvelle-France (Québec and the Great Lakes area), and to Indigenous women’s self-making and resistance in that area. Feng explores the articulation of imperial fantasy of consent, and the pacification of Indigenous women’s bodies in concrete settler colonial practices. Turning to Indigenous women’s material culture and literary practices, Feng shows how they cultivated desire through these practices and resisted settler colonial encroachment. In elaborating these oppositional practices, this project aims to develop a decolonial feminist reading of desire.
Luis Flores, PhD Candidate, Sociology, College of LSA
The Informal Oeconomy: Home-Based Moneymaking After the Family Wage
In the 1980s, garment labor organizers concerned with immigrant sweatshops, Reagan administration labor regulators, and middle-class women, clashed over the significance and desirability of resurgent “home-based” work. This chapter traces the clashes and inversions of gender ideology and conceptions of racialized economic informality as the federal administration sought to lift a New Deal-era ban on industrial homework while promoting women-led home enterprises in the 1980 and 1990s. Flores argues that the social contradictions embedded in the protective legislation of “breadwinner liberalism” shaped conservative market ideology and labor strategy as federal labor restructuring re-drew the boundaries between home and market.
Pau Nava, PhD Candidate, American Culture, College of LSA
The Artist as Community Archivist: A Latina/o Chicago Case Study
From abandoned boxes in an elder’s basement to faded murals, the circulation of art in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood tells a story of Latina/o spatial justice during the Chicano movement. This study of art as archival practice illuminates the art history of social justice movements, and interrogates hierarchies of historiography and the archive by exploring community archiving as an organic and integral part of art as a social practice. The relationship between memory and art creates a community based toolkit for documenting social justice movements that actively resist symbolic annihilation within the city’s archival record.
Leanna Papp, PhD Candidate, Psychology and Women's and Gender Studies, College of LSA
Sexualized Aggression in College Drinking Settings: A Four-Year Prospective Cohort Study of Undergraduate Women
Campus sexual assault is a highly researched topic, but relatively little attention has been paid to subtle behaviors that test, disregard, or manipulate someone’s bodily boundaries. Papp terms this behavior “sexualized aggression,” and designed a mixed-methods longitudinal study to document sexualized aggression in undergraduate women’s social lives. Papp uses Kelly’s (1987, 1988) continuum of sexual violence and McClelland’s (2010, 2014) intimate justice theory to frame and understand the implications of sexualized aggression for young women’s evaluations and expectations for intimacy. This dissertation redefines what “counts” and is worth measuring in sexual assault research.
DeAnna Smith, PhD Candidate, Sociology, College of LSA
Defending Home: The Contours and Consequences of Home Visits in the Lives of Low-Income Women
Scholars argue that across social service settings, digital data tracking, predictive analytics, and linked databases are replacing personal observations of domestic life. Yet, each year state agencies gain access to the intimate lives of millions of low-income families through home visits, which have been finding their way into new settings rather than surrendering to digital social service delivery and surveillance strategies. This study traces the use of home visits as a prevalent yet overlooked tool of social service delivery and surveillance across institutional contexts, asking how low-income women strategize around home visits to protect their privacy and meet their needs.
Boyd/Williams Dissertation Grant recipients and their projects are:
Eshe Sherley, PhD Candidate, History, College of LSA
Care in Crisis: Black Women and the Politics of Labor in Atlanta, 1965-1985
This dissertation employs diverse archival sources to demonstrate how working-class Black women organized themselves in domestic worker unions, welfare rights organizations, and as prisoners and mothers to challenge the politics of austerity and to advocate for policies that would value their caring labor. Sherley employs feminist scholarship on care work, the history of Black politics, Black women’s history, and capitalism studies to reveal how the everyday experiences and political action of these women impacted the emergence of the care work economy, rather than simply be shaped by it.
Lai Wo, PhD Candidate, Sociological Anthropology, College of LSA
Agrarian Aspirations of Intimate Labor Migrants: From Indonesia to Hong Kong and Back
Wo’s research examines how Indonesian female migrant domestic workers navigate intimate labor economies in Hong Kong and agrarian livelihoods in Java through their remittances. Some Indonesian migrant domestic workers enter transactional sexual relations with western expatriate men or same-sex intimacies during their time abroad. As such, while remittances are indispensable for rural Javanese villages, the moral valances attached to the migrants’ intimate labor abroad could also render the money as morally-suspect. By following how migrant remittances are used, this research examines how migrants negotiate their ‘flexible non-citizenship’ (Constable 2009) in Hong Kong and moral ambivalence at home.
IRWG graduate fellowships are offered once per year.