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History Ph.D. Student Named Newcombe Fellow

Nathaniel Berdnt

Nathaniel Berndt, a Ph.D. candidate in history, was recently named a Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellow by the Institute for Citizens & Scholars (formerly the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation).

The Newcombe Fellowship is the nation’s largest and most prestigious award for Ph.D. candidates in the humanities and social sciences addressing questions of ethical and religious values. Each Fellow will receive a 12-month award of $27,500 to support their final year of dissertation work.

Berndt is Duke’s first Newcombe Fellow since 2018. Nine Duke Ph.D. students received the fellowship between 2015 and 2018.

Berndt’s dissertation—titled “Descendants of Zabarkan, Citizens of the World: A History of Cosmopolitan Imagination in Decolonizing Niger, 1958-1974”—focuses on a history of cosmopolitanism in the francophone, musical, and Islamic intellectual traditions of western Niger. It addresses how Nigeriens confronted a series of fundamental ethical questions related to their global citizenship emanating from the transformative conditions of African decolonization. The dissertation ultimately paints a dynamic and diverse portrait of cosmopolitan imagination in modern Niger.