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3 Duke Students Receive Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships

2019 Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellows
Three Duke Ph.D. candidates have received the Mellon/American Council of Learned Societies Dissertation Completion Fellowship for 2019.

A total of 67 fellowships were awarded out of more than 1,000 applicants. The fellowship provides a $30,000 stipend and up to $8,000 in research funds and university fees to advanced graduate students in their final year of dissertation writing.

The program also includes a faculty-led academic job market seminar, hosted by the ACLS, to further prepare fellows for their postgraduate careers.

This year’s Duke awardees are:

Anita N. Bateman

Art, Art History & Visual Studies

Dissertation: “Ethiopia in Focus: Photography, Nationalism, Diaspora, and Modernization”

Bateman’s dissertation examines photographic representations of Ethiopian identity. It focuses on Emperor Haile Selassie I as a recuperative figure in Pan-African contexts, images by court photographer and later London studio portraitist Shemelis Desta, and contemporary works created by Ethiopian artists in the diaspora one generation after the Derg’s collapse. Exploring visual processes that concern, inform, and confront the practices of photographers working at the intersection of ethnic identity and nationalism, this dissertation scrutinizes Ethiopian artists’ views of the importance of their work to their country and to the African diaspora in conjunction with opposing historical narratives adopted by black nationalists, and alternatively, white imperialists in the early twentieth century.


Nicolás Sánchez

Romance Studies

Dissertation: “The Minted-City: Money, Value, and Crises of Representation in Nineteenth-Century Colombia, 1825-1903”

Sánchez is studying the problem of representing value in an economy based on credit and accumulation through a historical analysis of four financial instruments: stocks, bonds, bills of exchange, and paper money. Considering the discursive, aesthetic, and affective dimensions of financial crises, his project analyzes the way 19th-century Colombian criollos, white men of letters, understood and managed the ambiguous relation between these financial instruments and the value they were supposed to represent. His dissertation thus unravels how this problem of representation defined the efforts of criollos to join the capitalist world economy and profoundly determined the shape that class, gender, and racial hierarchies would take in Latin America. The project argues that capitalist development was made possible during the period through new linguistic and accounting modes of representation that secured the trust required by financial instruments, while simultaneously making the economy vulnerable to cyclical crises of credibility.


Farren Yero


Dissertation: "Laboratories of Consent: Vaccine Science in the Spanish Atlantic World, 1779-1840"

The 1804 introduction of the smallpox vaccine raised unprecedented questions in the Spanish empire about patient rights and medical consent. By royal order, vaccination was voluntary—a problem for doctors in need of young bodies to reproduce, test, and circulate the vaccine. “Laboratories of Consent” considers how patients and doctors negotiated this question of consent and explains how and why voluntary vaccination developed in the nineteenth-century Spanish Atlantic world. At times, medical consent was pronounced a natural right of fathers, a demonstration of scientific expertise, and/or an act of loyalty to the crown. Yero’s dissertation analyzes the gendered and racialized assumptions that informed these visions of consent—and the ways women, children, and the enslaved challenged them. In doing so, it argues that the idea of medical consent, and its promise of ethical care, worked to uphold rather than contest structures of colonial power, as immunization became embedded in struggles over slavery, parental rights, individual freedoms, and hierarchies challenged by the unrest of revolution.