top of page

CAORC Announces the 2024 Multi-Country Research Fellows

CAORC is pleased to announce the 2024 award recipients for the Multi-Country Research Fellowship and the Mary Ellen Lane Multi-Country Travel Award. Now in its 31st year, the Multi-Country Research Fellowship supports advanced regional and trans-regional research in the humanities, social sciences and allied natural sciences for U.S. doctoral candidates and scholars who hold a PhD or terminal degree. For this competition cycle, twelve fellowships have been awarded for grants of $12,600 each. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The 2024 Mary Ellen Lane Multi-Country Travel Award has been granted to Jessica Hogbin of Syracuse University toward her project, 'Innumerable Melancholies: Medicine and Mental Health in Renaissance Europe.' This award is granted to the highest-ranking Multi-Country Research fellow and provides an additional $1,000 towards travel expenses. The award is named after CAORC’s founding director, Dr. Mary Ellen Lane, who led CAORC for 28 years.

View the full list of the fellows, project titles, and abstracts below.


Lydia Barrett

Doctoral Candidate, Department of Music, University of California, Santa Cruz


Songs of the Sacred Kitchen: Women’s Participatory Performance and Kitchen Drums in Senegal and Morocco


Overseas Research Center Affiliation(s): TALIM (Morocco), WARC (Senegal)


Music and cooking are intimately linked in women’s music across the Sahara. In Morocco, women sing and dance on their knees to guedra, named for the cooking pot which players cover in goat skin to create a drum. In Niger, women cover a mortar in moistened goatskin, making a tende, part of the healing ceremony featuring an antiphonal song of the same name. In Senegal, Fulani girls and women hit a calabash floating in water to articulate the downbeat of participatory songs. The instrumental and musical similarities in form, texture, and rhythm indicate centuries of women’s trans-Saharan musical exchange. This project investigates the musical value of these participatory traditions, music that is rarely put on stage, and devalued in ethnomusicological scholarship due to disciplinary bias based on gender, class, and perceived professionalism. If my hypothesis is true, and kitchen drums are conscious instrumental choices, rather than resourceful improvisation, this could provide a new frame for musical study of participatory traditions and multi-purpose musical instruments.


I propose a six-month ethnography of women’s participatory music in Guelmim, Morocco and Saint-Louis, Senegal, using methods of participant observation and oral history interviews, as well as hermeneutic musical transcription and analysis. Each research period will culminate in a free lecture concert at the CAORC centers TALIM in Tangier and WARC in Dakar. I will use my training in ethnomusicology, area studies, and language to examine kitchen drums as legitimate musical instruments whose connection to the kitchen intensifies the energetic power of their associated song traditions.

Richard Bownas

Professor, Department of Political Science and International Affairs, University of Northern Colorado


Political Brokers and Caste based Quotas in Local Government: A Cross-Border Comparison of Nepal and India


Overseas Research Center Affiliation(s): AIIS (India), ANHS (Nepal)


This project makes use of a near ‘natural experiment’ in electoral system design on either side of the Nepal-India border to explore the impact of caste-based quotas for Dalit women on local village councils. It investigates whether these quotas have allowed those marginalized by caste status to develop competency in providing political services (‘political brokerage’) to similarly marginalized constituents. Quotas for marginalized persons were introduced 25 years later in Nepal than in India. By comparing the repertoire of political brokerage skills that have developed on either side of the India-Nepal border the project will be able to assess the impact of quotas on a crucial political dynamic.

Matthew Canepa

Professor and Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Presidential Chair in Art History and Archaeology of Ancient Iran, Department of Art History, University of California, Irvine


Between Rupture and Renovation: Iran and the Creation of a Global Sensorium of Power


Overseas Research Center Affiliation(s): ARISC (Georgia), ASCSA (Greece), AAR (Italy), AISLS (Sri Lanka), ARIT (Turkey)

With the rise of the Achaemenid Persian Empire in the sixth century BCE, Persian visual, material, and political cultures took their place for the first time as idioms of legitimacy, power, and prestige across three continents, overshadowing and subsuming the traditions of earlier ancient kingdoms and empires, such as Egypt and Babylon, and beguiling those on the periphery, from Athens to Scythian Central Asia. Thus began a process (albeit discontinuous) that would culminate only in the nineteenth century whereby Perso-Iranian visual and political cultures connected an ever-wider swath of the Afro-Eurasian world despite (and in some instances, aided by) the enormous upheavals following the Macedonian, Arab, and Mongol invasions. While the literary “Persianate Millennium” has received a great deal of scholarly attention over the last decade, this project will be the first monographic study that focuses on the ancient world focusing on art, architecture and archaeology, from the rise of the Achaemenid Empire in the sixth century BCE to the coming of Islam in the seventh century CE. It brings together a range of temporal, geographical, and disciplinary perspectives to investigate the global impact of Perso-Iranian visual and political cultures both within and beyond the Iranian Plateau. When speaking of the broader transmillennial tradition spanning antiquity with resonances even to the early modern period, I use the term “Perso-Iranian.” This neologism signals that the overarching connections and continuities it implies are not simply the result of natural cultural continuities but arise equally from the panoptic scholarly gaze and premodern ideological efforts.

Owen Doonan

Professor, Department of Art, California State University, Northridge


Black Sea Iron Age: Towards an Archaeology of Trans-Cultural Community.


Overseas Research Center Affiliation(s): ARISC (Georgia), ARIT (Turkey)


"Black Sea Iron Age: towards an archaeology of trans-cultural community" is a scholarly monograph solicited by Cambridge University Press on the Iron Age of the Black Sea. The Iron Age in Eurasia (ca. 1000 – 300 BCE) is the time when many of the most remarkable civilizations of antiquity emerged: the Assyrian and Persian Empires, the Greeks, Scythian, Thracian and Pontic kingdoms, and the vast multicultural network of Hellenistic Kingdoms. The proposed volume is the first major synthesis of the archaeology of the Black Sea Iron Age as a whole and is intended to serve as the basis for future studies that consider Greek colonization and Iron Age indigenous culture change as parts of a linked, integrated process.

Black Sea Iron Age applies Pierre Bourdieu’s model of social reproduction based on fields of social competition to develop an integrated analysis of trans-cultural community formation. This framework for analyzing the role of material and cultural forms in the constitution of trans-cultural communities focuses on community formation in colonial antiquity but has broader applicability to ancient through contemporary case studies involving intensive trade, refugeeism and colonialism.

Deren Ertas

Doctoral Candidate, Department of History & Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University


Imperial Geologies: The Political Ecology and Economy of Mining in the Ottoman Empire, 1720-1920


Overseas Research Center Affiliation(s): ARISC (Armenia), ARIT (Turkey)


This project examines the late Ottoman pursuit of precious and base metals in the Southeastern Taurus Mountains (in present-day Turkey). Combining interdisciplinary approaches with archival research in multiple languages, it investigates large-scale transformations that took place in the empire’s eastern provinces through two critical mining sites, Keban and Ergani, which contained large deposits of silver, copper, gold, and chrome. How did mining transform the region economically, socially, and environmentally? How did local Armenian, Greek, and Kurdish groups respond to these transformations? Addressing these questions, it re-evaluates Ottoman modernization as an environmental and spatial process.

Lisa Gilman

Professor, Department of English and Folklore, George Mason University


My Culture, My Survival: Arts Initiatives by Refugees for Refugees


Overseas Research Center Affiliation(s): AIBS (Bangladesh), ARIT (Turkey)


My Culture, My Survival: Arts Initiatives by Refugees for Refugees is a global multi-site project focused on the arts and cultural dimensions of refugee “crises’ in five countries to understand better the cultural impacts of migration, the creativity and entrepreneurial initiatives of “refugees,” and what structural systems and policies are needed to better address refugees’ cultural sustainability along with acceptance and integration into their new environments.


Richard Harrod

Doctoral Candidate, Department of History, Washington University, St. Louis


Developing the Nahda: Imperial Legacies and the Forging of a Nation in Oman


Overseas Research Center Affiliation: ACOR (Jordan)

My project is a transnational history development in Oman the 1950s through the 1980s. I focus on the region’s transformation from a locus of Pan-Arab anti-colonial aspirations among its residents and its diaspora community in the wider Persian Gulf into the contemporary nation state. My work is divided into two parts. The first section concentrates on the defeat of the rebel movements in Jabal Akhdar and Dhofar. The second section charts the history of development after 1970 focused on security development, education, infrastructure among other programs. To carry out these plans, the new regime relied on foreign expertise, largely – although not totally – from the former British Empire. Even though the empire officially left the Persian Gulf in 1971, their vast imperial network, which stretched across the Indian Ocean world from Tanganyika to Hong Kong, continued to exist and served as a valuable reservoir of talent for the new nation. In short, the former employees of the British Empire helped construct a new empire in Oman in the form of the Sultanate.


Jessica Hogbin

Doctoral Candidate, Department of History, Syracuse University


Innumerable Melancholies: Medicine and Mental Health in Renaissance Europe


Overseas Research Center Affiliation: AAR (Italy)


Throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, medical communities across Europe debated and recharacterized the term “melancholy,” opening the previously negative term to positive connotations of pensiveness and intelligence while simultaneously degrading intensely melancholic, mentally ill patients. Through an analysis of the connection between physical and mental health, this project redefines how historians have traditionally studied this now-debunked medical category, repositioning melancholy as a category which can provide sharp insight into the lived experience of unwell individuals, the people who treated them, and the culture which glorified aspects of their sickness. This resulted in the stereotyping of certain people as more likely to be victims of melancholy, such as women and people with certain bodily features, including dark skin. Through the dissemination of these ideas by the printing press, the beliefs held by these scholars and physicians would impact medical thinkers across Europe throughout the Scientific Revolution. The legacy of these ideas around mental health, particularly that of patient responsibility, continues to impact medicine and the cultural perception of mentally ill people to this day.

Marina Madrikova

Doctoral Candidate, Department of Art and Art History, Case Western Reserve University


Crime and Punishment: Images of Sinners and the Power of the Visual in Byzantine and Slavic Monumental Painting


Overseas Research Center Affiliation(s): CAARI (Cyprus), ASCSA (Greece)

My Ph.D. thesis investigates images of sinners in Byzantine, Post-Byzantine, and Slavic monumental paintings between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries, with a special emphasis on representations of damned women. By exploring the surviving visual and literary evidence, primarily from modern-day Greece, Cyprus, and the Slavic-speaking countries of Bulgaria, Serbia, Kosovo, and North Macedonia, my study will consider the apparent perception of these marginal members of society by their governments, local communities, church authorities, patrons, and artists.

I contextualize these dramatic pictures and explore their complex and surprising relationships to written sources that describe the punishment of women on earth and at the end of time. Through my research, I establish connections between social history and visual representations of the damned, and as a pendant, contemporary legal culture. I also analyze gender-based stereotypes that medieval Orthodox societies constructed for male and female sinful behavior both in texts and images and argue that these constructs were not necessarily driven by a relevant population's existing state laws and criminal records; provocative disparities exist.

Nathaniel Moses

Doctoral Candidate, Department of History, Harvard University


Rivers Undone: State, Subject, and Ecology in Late Ottoman Iraq


Overseas Research Center Affiliation: ARIT (Turkey)


My dissertation charts the social and environmental history of the middle Tigris and Euphrates

river basin in the long nineteenth century. I take up the attempts of the late Ottoman state,

European engineers, and local reformers to transform central Iraq into a nexus of commercial

agricultural production through the construction of hydraulic and transportation infrastructure,

tribal sedentarization, and other connected reforms. Through research in Istanbul’s Ottoman

archives and research libraries, the Deutsche Bank Orientbüro archives, and the British imperial

archives and research libraries of London, I will examine these capitalist reforms as processes

mediated and interrupted by floods, drought, and social contestation. The project conceptualizes

both the intensity of Ottoman state formation and capital accumulation and the persistent

unruliness of social and ecological life in the making of modern Iraq.

Kristen Rudisill

Professor, Department of Popular Culture, Bowling Green State University


The Rise of Gaana Dance: Cinema, Competitions, and Global Tamil Identity


Overseas Research Center Affiliation(s): AIIS (India), AISLS (Sri Lanka)


The Tamil-majority cities of Chennai, India and Jaffna, Sri Lanka are only a ninety-minute flight apart, but the experience of life is vastly different in each. While Chennai is a well-connected global city, Jaffna is slowly emerging from the devastation wreaked by twenty-six years of brutal civil war. The Tamil film industry in Chennai creates important popular culture exports, including the Dalit folk dance-inspired gaana style that represents drunkenness, irreverence, and connection to common people. Today, dancers regularly cross the border in both directions between India and Sri Lanka to collaborate and perform with one another. During this fellowship period, I will interview dancers from both countries about the benefits, drawbacks, inspirations, and results of these interactions.

This project represents the final piece of research for my book project on conceptions of Tamil identity as formulated through gaana style dance performances and competitions. I engage with the dance and the global community of dancers, choreographers, and organizers who constitute the stakeholders as they look to gaana dance to construct a global idea of “Tamilness.” My primary aim is to expand scholarly discussions concerning expressions of ethnic identity through dance to include Tamils. Using a combination of dance ethnography and dance history to study a dance practice associated with Tamil ethnic identity, I investigate not only the historical development of gaana as a popular dance form, but also what it means to those who perform it.


Peter Soland

Assistant Professor, Department of History, Humanities, and Language, University of Houston, Downtown


The Radiance of Tlatelolco: Politics, Culture, and Nuclear Technology in Mexico and Argentina


Overseas Research Center Affiliation: ARENET (Mexico)


Following World War II, numerous Latin American countries invested in nuclear programs as part of modernization campaigns rooted in technocratic conceptions of progress. National officials across the region believed that nuclear development could alleviate so-called dependency on more powerful nations, but the geopolitics of the Cold War, especially the Cuban Missile Crises, complicated the diplomatic landscape. Between 1964 and 1967, Latin American governments sent delegates to meet at Tlatelolco Plaza in Mexico City to grapple with the so-called nuclear question. The talks culminated in the 1967 Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America, popularly known as the Tlatelolco Treaty. The agreement established Latin America as the world’s first and, to date, only nuclear weapons-free zone. Although ultimately successful, negotiations proved divisive, lead to the formation of two blocs. One, led by Mexico, championed a cautious approach to nuclear development. The other, led by Argentina, resisted limitations and refused to sign the treaty until 1994.

This study examines the political, social, and diplomatic dimensions of nuclear programs in Mexico and Argentina from 1938, when nuclear science first arrived to Latin America, to 1994, when Argentinian officials ratified the Tlatelolco Treaty. It reevaluates Langdon Winner’s argument that technologies are inherently political–and nuclear technology authoritarian–within two vastly different Latin American societies. It argues that both Mexico and Argentina’s nuclear programs benefited from and encouraged entrenched governmental authoritarianism.

The next call for applications for the Multi-Country Research Fellowship will launch in August, 2024. Learn more about CAORC Fellowships.


bottom of page