MMI Grant Awardees



Anna Babel, Spanish & Portuguese

Project Title: Linguistic Awareness Among Bolivian Migrants to Barcelona

 Bolivian migrants to Barcelona, Spain encounter a cultural and linguistic environment that is radically different than that of their home country.  Despite the fact that Bolivia and Spain are both Spanish-speaking countries, the dialects of Spanish that are spoken in the two countries diverge at every level of linguistic structure. This project seeks to understand how Bolivian migrants see themselves as members of European society, and in particular how they accommodate or differentiate themselves linguistically from the Catalán-influenced Spanish dialect of Barcelona.

Roger Beebe, Art

Project Title:  "Amazonia"

 “Amazonia” is a "desktop cinema" essay on one of the key sites where the virtual world of e-commerce transforms physical space--and physical labor: the fulfillment centers where the millions of items available for purchase with the click of a mouse await our orders. The film visits the four cities—New Castle, Delaware; Fernley, Nevada; Coffeyville, Kansas; and Campbellsville, Kentucky—where Amazon’s four original fulfillment centers were located to meditate on the impacts of our online purchases on the people and places “at the other end of the internet.”

Vera Brunner-Sung, Theatre

Project Title: BITTERROOT

 BITTERROOT is a fiction feature film following the experiences of a divorced Hmong man whose quest for independence is complicated by the loss of his job and his mother's sudden illness. Set in a Hmong community in Montana, the film poetically explores the complex existence for refugees once physical barriers have been overcome and home is created anew.

Hannah Kosstrin, Dance

Project Title: Kinesthetic Peoplehood: Choreographing Jewish Diaspora

This book project examines multiple ways Jewishness manifests in theatrical dance in the United States between the mid-twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. It covers companies based outside the US touring through it, artists born outside the US working in it, and choreographers with connections in and outside the US due to their own bi- national or multi-national investments. It addresses how Jewish choreographers’ work from a multiplicity of backgrounds engenders what I am calling kinesthetic peoplehood, a transnational phenomenon wherein people feel connected to a diasporic community through bodily practices like dance.

Margaret Ellen Newell, History

Project Title: "Escaping Into the Cause of Freedom: The Epic Journeys of William and Ellen Craft"

"Escaping Into the Cause of Freedom: The Epic Journeys of William and Ellen Craft," is a book-length project on William and Ellen Craft.  After escaping slavery in Georgia in 1848, the Crafts spent a lifetime advocating for black freedom and civil rights across three continents.  In the antebellum and Reconstruction-Era U.S., in the United Kingdom, and in Africa, the Crafts embraced activism in the cause of freedom and human rights.  Their story shows the role of former slaves in civil rights activism, but also the challenges and struggles of slavery's fugitives in freedom."

Danielle Schoon, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures

Project Title: “Making Space for Migrants: Regimes of Mobility and Immobility in Turkey”

Issues of mobility and immobility around the current ‘migrant crisis’ in Europe gain specificity through a study of Turkey, where the cultural and political terrain into which Syrians are arriving en masse is shaped by the interplay of particular global and local processes. While considerable attention has been paid to the international agreements and geopolitics that have shaped Turkey’s role in the migrant situation, this study turns the focus to Turkey’s enactment of that role as it has been shaped by local politics of urban space and citizenship. Schoon will undertake a 2.5-week ethnographic research trip to Istanbul, Turkey, that will contribute to her ongoing research on interconnected regimes of mobility and immobility in Turkey. Building upon her previous work on the systematic displacement of Roma ("Gypsies") in Istanbul, she will investigate how these regimes govern both Roma and migrants at the intersection of urban geographies and ‘Islamic multiculturalism’.

Inés Valdez - Political Science and International Studies

Project Title: Empire, Popular Sovereignty, and (In)Mobility

In this project I trace the genealogy of imperial popular sovereignty in the West, i.e., moments of political and social enfranchisement that took place at the turn of the century in the West while these countries were empires. I trace how imperial mobility and immobility during the nineteenth and twentieth century shaped progressive movements demanding political and social enfranchisement in the US and Canada. In particular, I show that imperial narratives of racial labor control were adopted by white labor emancipatory movements and the imperial regulation of (in)mobility  was gradually enshrined in state forms of mobility regulation that we consider natural today.

Ying Zhang, History

Project Title: Confucians and Confinement: Imprisoned Officials in Ming China (1368-1644)

 This project is the first book-length study of imprisoned officials and prison culture in Ming China (1368-1644). It investigates the diverse causes of imprisonment, the reactions of their families and friends, and the space of confinement as a site of moral



Julian Marcel Baldemira, Spanish and Portuguese

Project Title: Escaping censorship: Alternative relocations and temporalities in new Cuban narratives.

How does censorship affect the movement of the people who create literature in Cuba? Does leaving Cuba mean visibility? How does censorship affect literature itself? What are the limits of these censorship policies and political filters? With this research, I argue that Cuban writers from the 21st century use in their narratives alternative relocations and temporalities to bypass the censorship policies of the Cuban State.


Shawntel Barreiro, Linguistics

Project Title: Linguistic navigation by Salvadorans in U.S.-Mexican Communities: Balancing lexical accommodation and diasporic identity

This project is concerned with Salvadoran lexical accommodation towards Mexican Spanish and its effects on the construction of Salvadoran-diasporic identity. Previous sociolinguistic research on Salvadoran Spanish has predominantly focused on the accommodation of pronominal address forms, consequentially overlooking the sociolinguistic implications of lexical accommodation. Through an online picture-naming task, my current research project intends to analyze what words are likely to be accommodated and what social factors motivate this behavior.

Darcy Benson, History

Project Title: “Fighting in the Shadows: Communist Immigrant Communities and Resistance in France, 1930-1944”

My dissertation “Fighting in the Shadows: Communist Immigrant Communities and Resistance in France, 1930-1944” is a social and cultural history of a group of foreigners serving in the communist resistance. Members of these resistance networks mobilized pre-existing community connections to conceal and move illegal goods, to hide individuals, and to communicate information through word-of-mouth, pamphlets and newspapers, to sabotage railway and communication lines, and to plan assassinations. Arriving in France in the midst of a lingering Depression and escalating international tensions, many refugees, militants, Jews, immigrants, foreigners and “others” developed a variety of particular yet overlapping identities before the war to help them survive. Broader French society perceived these men and women as outsiders and often as threats; this perception pushed these new arrivals to find support in insular communities such as local political parties, churches and synagogues, neighborhood organizations, labor unions, and sports clubs. These neighborhood, organizational, religious, political and familial links were fundamental to efforts to protect themselves and their families from police detection and reprisals during World War II.

Sarah Bishop, Musicology

Project Title: Music and Identity among Urban Migrants and Refugees from the Ethio-South Sudanese Border

This is a multi-sited ethnographic project in East and Northeast Africa that explores how music reflects and constructs identities and group affiliations among urban migrants and refugees from western Ethiopia and South Sudan. I particularly focus on ethnic identity among the Anywaa and Nuer, the majority ethnic groups in this area, since ethnicity is highly politicized among these populations and many have been displaced specifically due to ethnic violence. I am interested in how experiences of violence and displacement interacts with music-making and practices of listening to shape and produce ethnic communities and sentiments. I also will explore how movement to major urban centers may facilitate the emergence of alternative musical identities that transcend or elide ethnic affiliation.

Daniela Edmeier, History

Project Title: Spanish Migration and Movement in French Algeria: From Incorporation to Hybrid Identity, 1870-1940.

This project will explore the idea of the 'Spaniard' and Spanish political and cultural activity in Oran as a potential source of instability for French sovereignty in Algeria. It will examine the ways in which the French sought to monitor and control the migration and social roles of the Spanish in Algeria and consequent Spanish responses.

Sophia Enriquez, Ethnomusicology

Project Title: "From Chiapas to Charlottesville: Migration Experiences and Cultural Mobilities in Mexilachian Music"

Despite dominant cultural narratives that suggest homogeneity, Latinxs are the largest and fastest growing population in the Appalachian region of the United States. As a result, musicians in the greater Charlottesville, Virginia area claim a hybrid Latinx-Appalachian identity. This project investigates and documents "Mexilachian" music and asks how the trans-national spread of Mexican folk music Son Jarocho expresses Latinx migration experiences in the Appalachian region. This research suggests the mobility and of Appalachian and Latinx musics and contributes to the under-studied histories of Latinxs across Appalachia and the Southeastern United States.

Clara Fachini-Zanirato, Spanish and Portuguese

Project Title: "The Difference of the Eye Amongst Japanese Communities in Latin America"

 My project aims to understand how the Japanese migrant identity suffered transformations and took different paths in Brazil and Peru within 20th and 21st century. I look at this identity development through the analysis of Brazilian and Peruvian literary texts and movies written by Japanese descendants, and ethnologic data drawn from interviews I conducted with Japanese descendant subjects. I claim that the interaction of different migrant identities with the current national identity fabric resulted in a double-layer identity in Brazil while, in Peru, it became a more integrated single-layer identity.

Kristen A. Kolenz, Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies

Project Title: Toward an Archive of Resistant Movement: Comparative (Im)Mobilities Across Mesoamerican Borderlands

 As a comparative (im)mobilities study, my project analyzes the regulation of young women’s and girls’ bodies and the activisms that resist this regulation in borderlands between the US and Mexico. By comparing the detention and resistance strategies at the border with those I have studied after the tragic Virgin of the Assumption Safe Home fire in Guatemala City, my project builds a transnational performance-focused archive of resistant mobilities that threaten the totality of the colonially-rooted regulation of bodies. Through participatory research and interviews conducted near the US-Mexico border, I center the knowledge produced through subversive, embodied movements because their very existence beyond the reach of the colonial state simultaneously theorizes and enacts transformational alternatives to containment and violence.

Luana Lamberti, Spanish and Portuguese

Project Title: Afro-Brazilian Portuguese: How Helvécia Portuguese represents the African Diaspora in Brazil.

My research is about Afro-Brazilian Portuguese (A-BP) spoken in Helvécia, Bahia, which is an understudied variety of Portuguese. It has unique linguistic features due to language contact between African languages and Portuguese. My research questions are: 1) What are the linguistic features of A-BP? 2) How has the sociohistorical development of the community affected the linguistic features of A-BP? and, 3) How can the unique linguistic features of A-BP inform our understanding of language change in contexts of multilingualism?

Paloma Pinillos Chavez, Spanish and Portuguese

Migration and cross-dialectal changes: analyzing the urban and rural speech in the Iquitos Amazonian Spanish

Paloma Pinillos Chavez’s research addresses language contact between Spanish and Amazonian languages. Her primary research focuses on the influence of the phonetic and the phonological patterns of the Amazonian languages on the Spanish spoken by indigenous communities in the urban area. Moreover, she studies the complex sociolinguistic interaction among urban and rural speakers of Iquitos Spanish and the role of bilingualism. Her research objective is to provide evidence of linguistic realities and the socio-cultural situation, which demonstrate how language and culture interact. Additionally, she analyzes how leaving the home region affects the use and maintenance of the indigenous language and the Spanish dialects spoken by these linguistic communities. On the other hand, she studies which sociolinguistic and cultural variables play a role in the acceptance and the coexistence between the rural and urban communities.

Laura Rodriguez, Dance

Project Title: Borderland Performance: Film Project

The Migration, Mobility, and Immobility Grant makes possible the production of two-short films capturing movement, ecology, and technology to be made in the cities stretching along the US-MX border: El Paso, Del Rio, and Eagle Pass. Having grown up in these border cities, I am informing the production of this project with autobiographical information as well as dance and performance studies, and artistic investigation of the landscapes of these places I call home. The importance of this project is to make visible Chicana perspectives of the borderland including intersecting visions of futurism, surrealism, embodiment, and Latinx scholarship as a site for emergent strategy. This project connects Latinx studies, dance, performance art, and technology in the Division of Arts and Humanities at The Ohio State University and seeks to demonstrate the significance of marginalized perspectives and interdisciplinary work in the Global Arts and Humanities Discovery Theme.

Randall Rowe, Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures

Project Title: Migrant Experience in Moscow: Xenophobia and Opportunity.

 The objective of this study, which focuses on Central Asian migration in the Russian Federation, is threefold: 1) to analyze how media frames this migration and constructs migrants’ contribution to the Russian economy; 2) to study the reception of news media about migrants by Russian citizens, and the extent to which the media discourse is accepted or rejected; and 3) to study the effects of media discourse on the everyday experience of migrants. This project will reveal the complexity of the Central Asian labor migrant community’s cultural understanding of self or their place in Moscow and the role of media in affecting this understanding by emphasizing cultural difference or disseminating mis- or disinformation.

Tatsiana Shchurko, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Project Title: Transnational Mobility as a Practice of Resistance: Learning from African-American Women’s Travels to State Socialist Countries, 1920 – 1980.

 In my work, I focus on how transnational travels may play a fundamental role in establishing cross-cultural connections and a sense of agency within conditions of restraint. Specifically, I explore how African-American women’s travels to state socialist countries (1920 – 1980) produced a sense of agency and resistance to global dynamics of power. Through their travels to the state socialist countries, African American women influenced socialist practices, created spaces for transnational interconnectedness and informed visions of feminist internationalism. In analyzing various primary sources, I aim to reevaluate internationalist activist travels of the past in order to both consider why they are largely forgotten and for how they can help us imagine contemporary forms of protest and activism for social justice today both in the United States and in former state socialist countries.

Nandi Sims, Linguistics

Project Title: The development of ethnic group identities among children at a majority Black, ethnically diverse middle school

Nandi’s dissertation explores the social constructs of race and ethnicity in ethnically diverse, racially homogenous contexts. Historically African American neighborhoods in Miami, Florida have experienced high levels of migration from Black Caribbean countries like Haiti. The poverty of these African American communities, however, has forced the original inhabitants to live alongside immigrants rather than flee to new neighborhoods, which has caused tensions between African Americans and the more newly established Haitian Americans. Nandi explores how pre-teens in their first year at a majority Black middle school change their ways of speaking and social group affiliations as they become enmeshed into the social expectation of ethnic segregation.

Hannah Vidmar, African American & African Studies

Project Title: Hip-Hop and the Politics of Language and Public Space in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

My research addresses the intersection of youth performance, language practices, and resistance politics in postcolonial Tanzania, examining the hybrid use of English and Swahili— what I refer to as Swanglish—in contemporary hip-hop and spoken word art in the country’s largest city, Dar es Salaam. I posit that youth artists in Dar es Salaam use Swanglish in both live and mediated spaces of performance to construct and mobilize a sociocultural identity that is both distinct to postcolonial Tanzanian nationhood and inseparable from an urban, transnational and global imaginary. Through an empirical study of language use, this research examines the ways in which residents of Dar es Salaam deploy language and genre to define both culture and political community.

Malia Lee Womack, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Project Title: Puerto Rico in Crisis: Restructuring Globalized Human Rights from the Grassroots to Account for Colonialism and Diaspora

 While there is a body of research that examines US disregard for human rights in Puerto Rico scholarship does not adequately explore how Puerto Ricans’ needs for human rights differ on the Island versus in diaspora.  I will address this gap.  The Migration, Mobility, and Immobility Project grant will support my dissertation research that will explore how the global human rights system should be restructured to be more inclusive of Puerto Ricans both on the Island and in diaspora in order to make the system’s global reach stronger and more robust.

Marcus Ziemann, Classics

Project Title: Assyrian Imperialism and the Rise of an Ancient Global Imaginaire

 My project examines the new-found recognition of a global and interconnected world in the first millennium BCE. Previous scholars have already shown that the 8th century BCE was already a time of unprecedented connectivity between different peoples around the Mediterranean. Building on this work, I show how different people around the Mediterranean reacted to their newly connected world, starting with Assyrian imperial ideology and tracking its ripple effects into the Hebrew Bible and Greek epic poetry.


Jamie Wise: "Depicting Forced Displacement and Atrocity: Images of Cambodian Genocide Memorials"

Mentor: Hollie Nyseth Brehm (Sociology)

This photo essay project considers the design, political significance and social functions of memorials commemorating the Cambodian Genocide (1975-1979), particularly the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the killing fields at Choeung Ek. Alongside the 14th Conference of the International Association of Genocide Scholars in Phnom Penh, this project reflects on the memorialization of atrocity in Cambodia, combining original images and field observations with scholarly literature. As such, this project seeks to better understand the dialectic between past and present in genocide prevention and response, using photography as a medium.

Jordan Booker : "Coral Bleaching's Truthful Reach"

Mentor: Jennifer Schlueter (Theatre)

This project will explore the influence that coral bleaching has on the migration, mobility, and immobility of humans. A play will be created based on the research about coral reefs impact and significance in people's day to day lives. The performance will be done in the fall of 2019 and hopefully bring to light an issue that we're all contributing to and that most are unaware of, which is the fact that coral reefs might go extinct in the not so distant future.

Kelsey Butz: “The Effects of Mobility on Therapy Performance”

Mentor: Sona Hill (English/Disability Studies)

Throughout my time working on this project, I expect to gain a better understanding of the benefits of mobility, specifically dance, for those with disabilities both during therapy and outside of therapy to increase overall performance and learning in therapy sessions. I hope to build substantial evidence that participation in dance benefits therapy performance for those with special needs, and present these findings to families of children with disabilities and various therapists. I also hope to learn what may be holding parents back from enrolling their children in dance classes, and learn how I can educate dance studios to be more inclusive and accommodating to those with special needs.