Dissertation Fellowships Connect New Scholars to Dartmouth

This year, Dartmouth is home to three scholars fresh from the graduate programs where they have prepared their doctoral work. They are here to wrap up the final stages of their apprenticeships in academia.

The pre-doctoral fellowships support graduate scholars who have completed all other PhD requirements for a year-long residency at Dartmouth to finish their dissertations with access to the libraries, computing facilities, and faculty.

Kate Beane, from the University of Minnesota, is the Charles A. Eastman Fellow; Jessica De La Ossa, from the University of Arizona, is the César Chávez Fellow; and Jaira Harrington, from the University of Chicago, is the Thurgood Marshall Fellow.

In bringing dissertation fellows to Hanover, says N. Bruce Duthu ’80, the Samson Occom Professor of Native American Studies (NAS) and chair of the NAS Program, Dartmouth accomplishes a number of things. “The primary purpose of the fellowship is to provide the time and support needed for a fellow to complete his or her dissertation. In the process, however, the faculty, along with our students and other colleagues, benefit from the exchange of knowledge and research that the fellows bring to campus.”

Part of that interaction is formal and planned, he says, including “a sponsored colloquium where the fellow presents his or her work.” It also includes informal occasions.  “In a more general sense, the fellowship gives us the opportunity to help support the intellectual development of the next generation of scholars in our field.”

Faculty mentoring is proving central to Harrington’s experience at Dartmouth. Based in the African and African American Studies (AAAS) Program, she interacts with faculty every day: “From my vantage point as a fellow, not only am I able to request assistance with my dissertation and advice on thinking through the next stages in my academic career, I have an insider’s perspective on the operations of an academic department before becoming a faculty member myself.”

Harrington continues: “My acquaintances with faculty members are invaluable. Antonio Tillis is a wealth of wisdom and institutional experience as chair of AAAS. Reena Goldthree has the unique viewpoint of a former Thurgood Marshall fellow and a young faculty member. With the support of department members, affiliates and staff, AAAS has served as a fabulous academic home for me.”

The interdisciplinary nature of Harrington’s work makes a connection with Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies (LALACS) a natural fit as well, and there she joins Chavez fellow Jessica De La Ossa.

Department Chair Lisa Baldez, an associate professor of government and LALACS, says the two fellows bring “an infusion of intellectual energy: De La Ossa’s work on the affective dimensions of citizenship along the US-Mexico border is relevant to political science, anthropology, geography and Latino studies; Harrington’s research on domestic workers in Brazil speaks to those of us who work on gender, race, labor and globalization.”

Interaction with undergraduates is also built into the fellows program. De La Ossa serves as the graduate resident in the Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean affinity house. “We have fruitful cross-discipline discussions about pressing issues while having fun at the same time,” she says.

Academic encounters have been productive as well. “For example,” she says, “I attended a class in the geography department that covered topics I explore in my dissertation. Afterwards, several students contacted me as a resource to aid them in the navigation of the research design and analysis of emotional geographies. These conversations led to more general discussions about graduate school applications and life in Hanover.”

Beane, who is affiliated with NAS, shares her colleagues’ appreciation for life in the Dartmouth community at this point in her academic career. “I have enjoyed engaging with and advising Native American students here on campus, as well as meeting faculty members in the Native American studies department.”

Her presence in the department has introduced her to the “contributions both faculty and students are making here at Dartmouth that will help to promote cultural preservation as well as create positive change in Indigenous communities.”

Beane’s personal connections to Dartmouth resonate deeply as well: Her fellowship’s namesake, “Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa), my paternal grandmother’s uncle,” is, she says, “my grandfather according to customs of Dakota kinship.” Eastman was “an advocate and role model for our people, and someone whom I have always greatly admired, she says. In him, Beane says, she finds a model of someone with “projects and dreams bigger than ourselves,” and the inspiration to “help our communities to thrive.”

A Closer Look at the Three Scholars’ Dissertation Projects

Katherine Beane
, Charles A. Eastman Fellow; PhD candidate in American studies; University of Minnesota
. Her dissertation is titled “Woyakapi Kin Ahdipi ‘Bringing the Story Home’: A History of the Flandreau Isanti Dakota.” Beane’s research focus is Dakota history, indigenous language revitalization, the relationship between indigenous language and land, and the modern-day repercussions of ancestral memory and historical trauma. She has also worked on issues of American Indian self-representation in literature and film.

Jessica De La Ossa, César Chávez Fellow; PhD candidate in the School of Geography and Development; University of Arizona. A social geographer, she studies the emotional and affective dimensions of citizenship along the U.S.-Mexico border. Her dissertation, “The Politics of Proximity and Distance: Identity and Intimacy in U.S. Border Cities,” draws from nonrepresentational and feminist theory to investigate an ethics of care for distant others. Her work is relevant to a number of debates within cultural, social, and urban geography, and advances our knowledge of the relationship between landscapes, objects, and emotions that better accounts for the spatial imaginaries of border citizens and the new orientations taken toward so-called “illegal” migrants and securitized landscapes.

Jaira Harrington, Thurgood Marshall Fellow; PhD candidate in political science; University of Chicago. Her dissertation is titled, “Re-conceptualizing Rights and Union Politics at the Intersection of Race, Class, Gender through Domestic Workers in Brazil.” Harrington, a Chicago native, earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga. Her general research interests include Brazilian politics and legal theory, race and ethnicity, gender, and marginalized groups. Her dissertation project focuses on law, labor, and identity politics in Brazil with respect to paid household domestic work.