Postdoctoral Fellows

Alice Baumgartner received her PhD in history from Yale University in 2018. Her book project, Abolition from the South: Mexico and the Road to the U.S. Civil War, 1800-1867, uses the story of American slaves who escaped to Mexico during the nineteenth century as a lens for understanding Mexico’s rise as an anti-slavery republic and its overlooked significance to the United States. Baumgartner received a BA in History from Yale University and an MPhil in Latin American Studies from the University of Oxford where she was a Rhodes Scholar. Her March 2015 article in the Journal of American History, “‘The Line of Positive Safety’: Borders and Boundaries in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, 1848-1880,” won the Louis Pelzer Award from the Organization of American Historians and the Bolton-Cutter Prize from the Western History Association.

Samuel Dolbee received his PhD in history and Middle Eastern and Islamic studies from New York University in 2017. His book project, Borders of Cultivation, illuminates the social and environmental history of motion in the borderland region of Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, known as the Jazira. The project explores how the paths of locusts and nomads, insecticides and Armenian refugees offer an alternative history of the transition from the Ottoman Empire to post-Ottoman nation-states. His broader research explores the intersection of human politics, the non-human world, space, and knowledge. He joins the Mahindra Center following a research fellowship at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University in 2017-18; his research has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies and the Social Science Research Council, among others.

Sonia Gomez is a historian of the modern United States whose research and teaching focus on the intersection of race, gender, and immigration. Her book project, Good Wives, Wise Mothers: Race, Gender, and Belonging in the Making of Japanese America, investigates the ways in which marriage, the nuclear family, and female domesticity facilitated Japanese immigration and settlement, and how such institutions constructed specific roles for Japanese women that circumscribed their lives once in the US. Sonia earned a PhD in history from the University of Chicago in 2018. She also holds an MA in history from the University of Chicago and earned her BA in history from the University of California, Berkeley. She was a predoctoral fellow in Global Studies and Languages and History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2017-18.

Jesse Howell received his PhD from the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and Department of History at Harvard University in 2017. His dissertation, “The Ragusa Road: Mobility and Encounter in the Ottoman Balkans (1430-1700),” examines the development of what became a major axis of movement across southeastern Europe during the early modern era. This thousand-mile caravan route connected the Ottoman capital of Istanbul to the Republic of Dubrovnik–also known as Ragusa–located on the Adriatic Sea. Extending far from the cosmopolitan ports of the Mediterranean, the Ragusa Road served as a conduit for the exchange of humans, goods, microbes, and information across the mountains and plains of the Balkan Peninsula. Jesse’s work continues to consider the dynamics of human mobility from multiple interlinked perspectives, from large-scale public works such as bridges and caravanserais, to the lived experience of overland travelers.

Zhou Hau Liew received his PhD in comparative literature and literary theory from the University of Pennsylvania in 2017. His current project rethinks the archives of the Malayan Emergency (1948-60), focusing on British resettlement policies imposed as part of counter-insurgency and anti-communist operations in Malaya. Drawing from fiction, oral history, archival accounts, and recent historical writing, it excavates underrepresented perspectives to resituate this resettlement alongside race-based detention and deportation policies, which shaped the incipient Malayan nation-state during a burgeoning Cold War atmosphere. It develops a land-based understanding of this forced migration through the abiding memories and lived experiences of the rural Chinese who were uprooted from their homes. He is also working on a public documentary project supported by the British Council, which utilizes film and sound collaborations with artists and filmmakers to mediate the archives of the Malayan Emergency. His writing and research have appeared in Asian American Writers’ Workshop, Postcolonial Studies Journal, Full Stop Quarterly, and Naratif Kisah.

Yim King (Kathy) Mak earned her PhD in art history from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2018. Her dissertation, “The New Look of Mountains and Rivers: Landscape and the Imagination of the Socialist China During the Seventeen Years (1949-1966),” investigates the political function of landscape depiction in the imagining of an idealized Chinese socialist nation-state from its establishment in 1949 to the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in 1966. At the Mahindra Humanities Center, she will examine the role of landscape imageries in shaping migrants’ conception of homeland in the context of China-Taiwan migration during the postwar period (1949-1971). Her project considers how modes of depicting traditional Chinese landscape functioned as a form of cultural memory, and how this memory was appropriated by the Nationalist government to portray sceneries that they observed in their surrogate home of Taiwan, as well as those that they remembered from their native home in China. She has held fellowships at the UCLA Asia Institute and the National Museum of Korea and has written catalogue essays for exhibitions at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

Marla Andrea Ramírez is a social historian who specializes in oral history, the Mexican repatriation program, social and legal histories of Mexican migrations, and gendered migration experiences. She is currently assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Sexuality Studies at San Francisco State University. She holds a PhD in Chicana and Chicano studies with an emphasis on feminist studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara and previously held a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the Department of Latina/Latino Studies. Her current book project, Contested Illegality: The Mexican Repatriation Program and Prolonged Consequences Across Three Generations, examines the immigration policies of the Great Depression era, focusing on the experiences of Mexican repatriation and banishment of US-citizen children of Mexican descent that tore apart thousands of families across the US-Mexico border. She is the author of “The Making of Mexican Illegality: Immigration Exclusions Based on Race, Class Status, and Gender,” which appeared in New Political Science: A Journal of Politics & Culture in 2018. Her forthcoming article, “The Legacy of Mexican Repatriation: Negotiating Gender, Intimacy, and Family Formation in the Borderlands,” will appear in a special issue on “Gender and Intimacy Across the US-Mexico Borderlands” in Pacific Historical Review.

Interdisciplinary Dissertation Completion Fellows

Rachael Duarte Riascos is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature, and Slavic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University. Her dissertation, “We Speak Violence: The Political Effects of Our Narrative Structure,” reevaluates the ethics that are implicit in the way that we narrate, or rather fail to narrate, everyday experiences of mass or systemic violence, and the effect this wields on contemporary political and social discourses, and actions. Her dissertation focuses on African American narratives of systemic racism, and surveys a wide range of literary, sociological, and anthropological narratives. Apart from her dissertation, she studies Soviet, Eastern European, and Latin American literature, working in Russian, Spanish, French, and Serbo-Croatian. She is a published translator of Russian author Linor Goralik’s “Something Like This (A War Story)” by Columbia University Press, and has also translated from Spanish to English for various art exhibitions.

Evander Price is a PhD candidate in American Studies at Harvard University. His dissertation research proposes a new category of monumentality, the “future monument.” Unlike most monuments, which ask audiences to remember the past, future monuments are built explicitly to manifest an imagination of the future. The dissertation explores three different monuments spanning the twentieth century, specifically the 1939 World’s Fair, the NASA Voyager Golden Record, and the 10,000 Year Clock of the Long Now Foundation. These temporally strange monuments offer perspective on changing American cultural values and anxieties across the century, as well as both eco- and chronocritical insight. They show how imagined futures, even if never realized, still pressure the present. He hopes to help shape the larger emerging field of time studies and show the many ways that assumptions and metaphors of time tremendously impact how people treat each other and the world around them. The future isn’t what it used to be.