Graduate Students Receive Social Sciences Research Institute Awards

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The following Rice Anthropology PhD students have received awards from the Social Sciences Research Institute. The recipients receive up to $5,000 to support or partially support dissertation research projects.

Samhita Das - Pre-Dissertation Research Grant (PDR) 
Das’ research is a multi-sited ethnographic investigation situated in the villages of Beed and selected medical institutions in Mumbai and Delhi. Through this research, Das seeks to identify and examine the possible nexus between the two sites in India—the wombless villages of Beed and the uterine transplantation program in Mumbai and Delhi—depicting contrasting landscapes.

Quinn Georgic - Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (DRIG)
Georgic uses multispecies ethnography to study scientific research on lemurs in "captive" and "wild" settings. They are interested in how social and infrastructural differences of each context discretely impact scientific fieldwork and knowledge production, and interspecies affect. Furthermore, they explore how these scientific processes produce sociopolitical relations between the human actors involved in lemur care and research.

Monika Jankowska - Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (DRIG)
Jankowska’s research posits legal AI as a novel tool of algorithmic governance that can transform the nature of legal expertise and reconfigure the positions of technical experts, legal professionals, and laypeople within the larger legal system. Jankowska’s fieldwork takes place in Beijing and explores (1) what kinds of knowledge and expertise inform legal AI development and how the developers conceptualize a successful legal chatbot; (2) what qualifies as legal work and who can perform it; (3) how interactions with legal AI tools may shape people’ expectation and strategies for engagement with the legal system.

Alejandra Osejo Varona - Pre-Dissertation Research Grant (PDR) 
Osejo Varona’s grant was used to fund a four-week field trip to Colombia. The objective of her field trip was to detail the research methodology design and explore the possibility of including the participation of artists in the project. Collaborations between ethnographers and artists have explored how diverse organisms are intertwined in political, economic, and cultural systems.This project builds on these experiences by including the interlocutors in the research through the co-elaboration of narratives and reflections on the presence of hippos in Colombia. In this project, collaboration with an artist will offer three crucial outcomes for the project: (1) promote communities that live with hippos to participate in creating narratives about the risks and promises of living with these animals, (2) motivate reflections with the scientists in charge of modeling the distribution of species and will allow alternatives imaginations to emerge, and (3) contribute to new modes of scholarly communication and dissertation design.

Zhou Zhou - Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (DRIG)
Zhou’s project will investigate how Chinese-run cyber scams in Cambodia shape Chinese foreign direct investments (FDI) in the country. Chinese-run cyber scams, what some scholars call the “underbelly of Global China”, have developed into an industry in Cambodia and offer lucrative investment opportunities for Chinese entrepreneurs. The industrial scale these cyber scams take in Cambodia creates large needs for office space, food, and entertainment, which are all legitimate fields of foreign investment in the eyes of both the Cambodian and Chinese governments. As China, Cambodia, and other Southeast Asian countries have mobilized to control the spread of cyber scams, Zhou’s project will also investigate what methods Cambodian and Chinese governments develop to control cyber scams, and how these methods of control could translate into control of foreign investment.