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2011-2012 FELLOWSHIP

Solomon Adler, Wesleyan
Redubbing the World: Cassette Culture and the Power of DIY Production
Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Finland
While the internet increasingly dematerializes music media, an array of musicians hold fast to the analog tactility of the cassette. For these artists, cassettes offer a do-it-yourself alternative to commercial music and a means of restoring engagement in their music communities. Zully collaborated on new tape projects with musicians, collectives, and printers from around the world.

Alissa Aron, Haverford College
Reading Between the Vines: The Interface of Science and Art in Winemaking
Spain, France, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Austria
Though science and art are often seen as oppositional, the borders between them are poorly delineated because neither category is precisely defined. During the Watson year Alissa explored the world of winemaking, where science and art are particularly interwoven, as a case study to gain a more nuanced understanding of the interface between them. She has worked with winemakers in both the Old and New Worlds, in varied climactic zones, and in commercial as well as academic contexts to highlight the intricacies of the relationship between science, art, and wine.

Nell Bang-Jensen, Swarthmore College
Names Across Nations: How the Naming Process Reflects Cultural Identity
Zambia, Germany, Morocco, India, Indonesia, Ireland, United Kingdom, Iceland
Everyone has a name and every name has a story. The process of naming a child varies around the world and often represents diverse cultural, political, and historical contexts. Nell met with new parents, astrologists, immigrants, teachers, religious scholars, onomasticians, sociologists, governmental committees, and storytellers to better understand how names shape identity and how people, in turn, shape names.

Sara Bates, Davidson College
Delivering Hope: A Comparative Study of Midwifery Programs and Practices
New Zealand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Italy, Ethiopia, Tanzania
Today, midwives remain the primary providers of health care for childbearing women around the world. Working alongside midwives and learning from leading maternal and newborn health organizations, Sara explored the cross-cultural elements of birth and midwifery and furthered her knowledge of the techniques midwives use and struggles they face on a daily basis.

Michele Bornstein, Wellesley College
Twisted Strands: Unraveling the History of Cane Work in Glass Art
Greece, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal, Turkey, Germany
Michele traveled primarily through Europe hunting for the forgotten origins of a 16th C. glassblowing technique called filigrana. As part of this research she studied the roles of Renascence Jews in trade to discern if they were involved in the dissemination of Venetian cane. Although she found little data to substantiate this hypothesis, she has begun to piece together the puzzle of the invention of filigrana. Michele’s research taught her a great deal regarding European Jewish and Glass communities, past and present, and brought her to dozens of archives, museums and glass studios. Her historical studies and hands-on experience allowed her to reflect on her own identity as a glassblower, a historian, and a Jew in our postmodern world.

Jeremy Carter-Gordon, Bard College
The Star of Swords: Sword Dancing and Culture
France, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, Croatia, Germany, Austria
Found only in Europe, Hilt-and-Point sword dances involve circles and lines of swords and vary radically in form, choreography, and presentation. Jeremy studied, observed, or performed with around 25 groups from eight countries and learned how to craft swords for dance. As one of the first outsiders to dance in some of these groups, he gained unique perspective into the culture, history, and choreography of these dances.

Debbie Chen, Wellesley College
Cultural Exchange through the Martial Arts
South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Canary Islands, South Africa, Brazil
Debbie circled the globe studying martial arts in their countries of origin. She not only examined combat techniques but also the extent to which culture informs movements. Debbie’s identity as an American and as a Chinese martial art practitioner fascinated and baffled martial artists around the world. Debbie strived to impart as much knowledge and understanding as she herself gained.

Austin Davis, Middlebury College
"Dawa" But Not Out: Investigating Arab Perceptions of Disability
Morocco, Jordan, Qatar, United Kingdom, Spain
Austin traveled to Morocco, Jordan, Qatar, the United Kingdom, and Spain to observe and interact with a variety of Arab people with disabilities as well as the people who help them manage their disability. He aimed to gain a better individual understanding of the lived experience of disability in different Arab contexts. As someone who underwent an emergency bilateral above-knee amputation in Egypt as well as a long-time Arabic student, this project was rewarding on a number of levels.

Blake Davis, College of the Atlantic
The Culture and Evolution of Fly Fishing Techniques
Australia, Thailand, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, India
For many, fly fishing is a simple pastime. However beneath its uncomplicated image is a complex, profitable industry that promotes tourism, impacts sensitive ecosystems, and influences waterfront regulations. To illuminate these unadvertised impacts, Blake lived with fishing guides and conservationists, lunched with waterfront drug smugglers, and investigated a sex work industry kept afloat by the dollars of destination fishers.

Jessica Emory, Wheaton College
A Dy(e)ing Breed? Traditional Fiber Artists in the 21st Century
Iceland, Romania, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, New Zealand, China, Mongolia, Finland
Jessica investigated different fiber communities to see if traditional crafts are being forgotten. By talking with people who are brought together by fiber, whether it be a farm that raises sheep, a network of weavers, a cooperative of silk artists, social spinners or NGOs, she was able to look at this issue from a kaleidoscope of perspectives.

Ross Eustis, Whitman College
Speaking Transnational Dialects of Jazz
Brazil, India, Japan, South Africa, Sweden
Improvisation, whether articulated as bebopear, kalpana sangeetham, or hundreds of other descriptors, is the essence of jazz. Musicians everywhere are creating new dialects of jazz, influenced by their own indigenous music and cultural identity. Ross explored this cross-pollination between jazz, indigenous music and culture firsthand by integrating into jazz communities worldwide and speaking in the local jazz vernacular.

Matthew Fink, Carleton College
Disability, Technology, and Pro-gaming in Europe and Asia
South Korea, Japan, Sweden, Germany, France, Spain, United Kingdom
Matthew experienced gaming and E-sports culture in Europe and Asia by attending events, practicing as a professional Starcraft 2 player, and seeking out other people with disabilities who game in different cultures in order to find out how technology and gaming have changed their lives and, first hand, what it means to competitive as a person with a disability.

Samuel Gold, Pomona College
Performing "Model" Humans -- What Puppets Can Teach Us About Empathy
Czech Republic, United Kingdom, Spain, Puerto Rico, Japan, Indonesia, Australia
Sam sought to better understand what is at stake when people connect with one another by turning to the puppet, that performance object which always manages to be more and less than what it seems to its human counterparts. Focusing on questions of empathy and projection, he explored the imagined, actual, and culturally influenced differences found within the animate/inanimate divide.

Isobel Grad, Haverford College
The Social Value of Local Food Systems
Iceland, Madagascar, India, Greece, Albania, Germany
Isobel investigated the social, political, economic, and environmental implications of using local foods. She visited farms, restaurant kitchens, agricultural research organizations, eco-tourism locations, farmer’s markets, and family tables to learn what people think and feel about what they eat. The major trends she saw were community ties and local ingredients, indigenous cuisine and national/regional identity, and ideals versus necessity.

Sophia Herscu, Colorado College
Social Circus: Trust Building and Empowerment Though Circus Technique
Canada, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, England, Guatemala, Costa Rica
Contemporary circus pedagogy is used in a new movement called Social Circus, using circus education as a tool to build confidence, trust, communication & community. In her travels, Sophia taught, observed, trained, and participated in both old and new Social Circus programs and gained a deep understanding of where Social Circus has come from as well as its possible trajectory.

Joanna Johnson, Oberlin College
Running Against the Odds: Female Distance Running in Different Cultures
Ethiopia, France, Norway, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Sweden, Singapore
Joanna trained and competed alongside female distance runners, from recreational to elite, and documented the personal stories of women and their reasons for running, how the sport contributes to their lives and their communities. Training with these women allowed her to explore their challenges and investigate their motivations as they purposefully push their physical and cultural limits.

Adam Karas, Carleton College
Camels and Caravans: Traveling with Nomads in Jordan, Syria, and Tibet
Jordan, Tibet, Cambodia, Mongolia
Adam traveled by camel, horse, and motorcycle throughout Southwest and Southeast Asia in order to better understand how the forces which are shaping the 21st century in turn impact the ways in which the identities of nomadic and warrior peoples are preserved and understood.

Afshin Khan, Pomona College
In Search of Heroes in Girls' Education
Bangladesh, Indonesia, Turkey, South Africa
The pursuit of education for some individuals means overcoming obstacles that include abject poverty, domestic violence, physical disability, and racial discrimination amongst many others. By observing and volunteering with different NGOs and government organizations, Afshin sought to understand some of these multi-factorial elements hindering access to education while simultaneously searching for ‘heroes’ who beat these odds.

Davis Knittle, Wesleyan University
Cities in Transition: Identity, Narrative and the Changing Urban Landscape
Canada, Ecuador, Spain, France, Australia
Davy spent his Watson year focused on the relationship between how cities plan for their long-term revitalization and how those efforts respond to, enable or conflict with existing and future resident engagement. Davy investigated public and private initiatives for urban change and considered specifically how civic identity is developed, maintained and shifted in each of his project cities.

Kai Knutson, Carleton College
Things Not Seen: Hunting Microbes in Dairy Cultures Around the World
Bulgaria, China, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, India, Mongolia, Nepal, Turkey
Kai explored the diverse traditions and wisdom related to fermented milks. Through a microscope, Kai surveyed the bacteria that create foods such as yogurt, dahi, and tarag. He compared the bacteria in industrial products to those sustained within traditional varieties and shared this perspective with people who, in turn, described the history of their ancestral dairy cultures.

Drake LeBrun, Rice University
Surgical Disparities in the Developing World: The Human Experience
Peru, Bolivia, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Switzerland, Tanzania
Drake traversed the healthcare landscapes of resource-poor nations on a quest to better understand the causalities and consequences of global surgical inequities. From volunteering in rural clinics to performing international surgical policy work, Drake participated in a diverse multinational dialogue with patients and providers that allowed him to examine the powerful ways in which surgery saves lives.

Joshua Magno, Bowdoin College
5, 6, 7, 8, Instep, Outreach: An Exploration of Dance as Community Service
India, Uganda, Australia, Argentina, France
As a passionate volunteer and performer, Joshua worked and studied with dance groups aiming to mend separations in the community induced by war, sexuality, and disabilities. Learning from traditional Indian, Acholi folk, break, contemporary, tango, ballroom, and parade dance organizations, he gained firsthand experience in social confrontation, healing, and acceptance through performance.

Sarah Midzik, Middlebury College
Darwin in the Desert: Explorations of Evolution Across the Middle East
Turkey, Jordan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Cyprus, Morocco
Traveling across the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey in an attempt to better understand how individuals of different religious traditions grapple with evolution, Sarafina explored the intersection between faith and science. Through conversation, prayer, and pipetting, she spent her year searching for the places of common ground and a language of mutual respect between the rational and the spiritual.

Mary Phillips, Hamilton College
Safe Spaces: All-girl Environments and Their Role in Community Development
Guatemala, Ethiopia, South Africa, Swaziland, India
As girls grow into women, they often face restricted freedom and threats to their physical and emotional safety. Mary explored how gender discrimination affected girls in different cultural contexts and how organizations that provide girls with a “safe space” – a place to make friends and learn new skills - can empower young women and, in turn, their communities.

Alexander Reich, Grinnell College
We Are What We Eat: The Far North And Its People In a Changing World
Greenland, Russia, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland
By hunting, fishing and reindeer herding on their ancestral lands, northern peoples maintain their traditions, knowledge, and health. By importing “southern” foods, they link to a broader network, sharing cultures and calories with distant places. Through the lens of food and harvesting, Alex focused on the impacts of social, environmental, and climatic change on indigenous Arctic communities.

Deivid Rojas, Swarthmore College
Voices of Ejection: Exploring the stories of the internally displaced
Peru, Turkey, India, Vietnam, Spain
From the jungles in Peru to urban Barcelona, millions of people have and are being internally displaced because of violent conflicts, "development" projects, natural disasters, climate change, and the global recession. Deivid engaged with communities that have, are in the process of, or are resisting forced displacement, to explore and learn about their respective stories and experiences.

Nathan Schneck, Hamilton College
Voluntary Poverty: A Means for Individual and Community Transformation
Thailand, India, Turkey, Cyprus, Argentina
Religious communities that embrace voluntary poverty and lives of service provide an intriguing response to material and spiritual needs of the marginalized. Nathan shared in the life and service of communities of faith and simplicity to experience how providential living and acts of service and solidarity with the marginalized can be a means and model for individual and community transformation.

Jesse Schupack, University of the South
Across the Board: Exploring International Board Game Culture
Armenia, Germany, Turkey, Bulgaria, Malta, Italy, Hungary, Russia
Board games are more than mere amusements. They are a means of finding community, and for some they are a way of life. Jesse explored how games shape and sustain communities and the roles they have in the lives of those who play them, learning how games can bridge social divides and unite people who play them.

Courtney Sheehan, Grinnell College
The Politics of Film Festivals
Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia, Netherlands, Spain, Brazil
Courtney explored the broad question of why movies matter by studying the politics of how film festivals work. This entailed volunteering at festivals, covering them as press, interviewing organizers, investigating funding structures and program content, running her own migration-themed festival and interacting with local film communities.

Margaret Shelton, University of Puget Sound
More than a Halo, Wings, and Strings: The Diversity of Harps and Harpists
China, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, France, Czech Republic, Poland, Ireland, United Kingdom, Spain, Paraguay
In a journey of musical and personal discovery, Margaret followed the harp around the world, exploring the role it has played in both historical and contemporary cultures. Through interviewing harpists, attending harp festivals, visiting museums, taking lessons, performing, and building her own harp, Margaret experienced the rich variety of this unique instrument around the globe.

Morgan Sleeper, Macalester College
Ceol agus Comhra: Music & Language Revitalization in the Celtic Fringe
United Kingdom, Isle of Man, Argentina, France, Ireland, Canada
Taking the Celtic languages as a case study, Morgan spent his year discovering how people use music to revitalize endangered languages. Attending music festivals and language classes, speaking with musicians and language activists, and writing original Irish-language songs, he explored how music fits into the Celtic language revival, and how it can help other endangered languages around the globe.

Hannah Sohl, Colorado College
Against the Current: Exploring Migratory Fish Runs and Cultures
Canada, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, United Kingdom, Russia, Bangladesh, Thailand, Laos
Riverine communities throughout the world depend on migratory fish runs not only for their economic and nutritional livelihoods, but also for cultural identity and a sense of place. Hannah explored the traditional and contemporary relationships between humans (and other mammals) and migratory fish runs, the threats facing rivers and fish, and the various conservation efforts emerging to protect them.

Allison Swaim, Oberlin College
Gathering Stories Along the Trade Routes
Canada, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Norway, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, France, Egypt, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China
Allison circumnavigated the world by cargo ship to investigate how trade routes shape narratives of people and places. She built a network of industry contacts and worked to get one ride at a time, slowly making her way east and stopping at port cities en route. She documented her journey and stories she encountered by recording sound, photo and video.

Anne Temmink, Davidson College
Women, Sewing, and the Globalization of Fashion
Ghana, India, Indonesia, Japan, Morocco
Clothing has evolved dramatically from bark cloth and hand-spun cotton sarongs to the machine-woven polyester suit pants now being shipped across the globe. By weaving, printing, and sewing with local textile artists and seamstresses, Annie sought to understand the culture of and connection between these ancestral styles and modern, globalized fashion.

Natalie Truong, Grinnell College
Creative Discontent: Speechwriting in Open and Closed Societies
India, Singapore, Vietnam, Australia
A great speech is often the catalyst for political change or government crackdown. Natalie sought to understand how speeches have captivated citizens seeking for reform as well as how government officials have used speeches as a symbolic tool of oppression. She journeyed to Asian countries which differ in political freedoms and explored what it means to be "discontented" with government and media rhetoric.

Toni Tsvetanova, Colby College
Redefining Homelessness: A Promise for Change through Social Enterprise
France, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, India, Uganda
Social entrepreneurship has finally recognized the poor as powerful consumers and has provided them with essential services and goods at affordable prices. Toni studied a variety of social enterprises that have attempted to serve the lowest strata of the bottom of the pyramid: homeless people and slum residents. She identified how various social venture models can best help alleviate homelessness.

Jacqueline Ward, University of Puget Sound
Stretching Humanity: Contortion in a Cross-Cultural Context
Mongolia, China, India, France, Canada
Jacki spent her year exploring old and new traditions of contortion and acrobatics as she examined the performing body in conversations of identity, community and the construction of what it means to be human. She observed and participated in acrobatics in a variety of manifestations: as a sport, a cultural artifact, a spiritual pursuit, entertainment or individual artistic expression.

Julia Wilber, Hamilton College
A Single Thread: Producers and Consumers of Fair Trade Clothing
India, United Kingdom, Cambodia, Argentina, Bolivia
Julia explored the fair trade fashion industry, examining what compels business and producers to invest in small-scale ethical production. She investigated the complex factors that inform this movement and trade by collaborating with industry pioneers in production, certification and research. Living in artisan communities, she experienced the process of garment production from carefully sourced materials, to thoughtful design, to final construction.

Emanuel Yekutiel, Williams College
On the Cusp: Gay Rights Activism Across the Globe, a Worldwide Struggle
United Kingdom, India, Australia, China, Brazil
There is a battle raging to secure equal rights and equal treatment for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people worldwide. For his Watson year Emanuel catapulted himself into the LGBT rights movements under way in five countries to study the who, the what, the when, and the why of this fight.

Keren Yohannes, Macalester College
To Build a Ramp: Disability Rights in Post-Crisis Contexts
Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Uganda, Jordan, Slovakia, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Nepal
Keren spent her Watson year examining the intersection of displacement and disability. She interviewed refugees and returnees with disabilities, social service organizations, and advocacy groups to understand the obstacles to ensuring access to services for people with disabilities in the contexts of conflict, migration, and post-conflict reconstruction.

*Travel to this country is permitted only if the U. S. State Department lifts its travel warning.

© Copyright 2014 The Thomas J. Watson Foundation