Alyse Berthenthal, Criminology, Law & Society, “Municipal power and the rural “non-place”: Los Angeles and the Owens Valley, California, 1900-1940

Alyse Bertenthal is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at UC Irvine. Her dissertation examines the emergent forms and techniques of environmental governance in the rural Owens Valley, California. Drawing from ethnographic and historical research, her project analyzes the symbolic and spatial intersections between regulation and society, and considers how rural culture both challenges and mediates those connections. She holds a B.A. in Literature from Yale University and a J.D. from The University of Chicago Law School.


Mia Brett, History, “Montana Vigilantes and the Legacy of Vigilantism”

Mia Brett graduated from Barnard College in 2009 with a degree in American Studies. After working in the legal field and attending law school she decided to pursue a PhD in History at Stony Brook University with a specialization in American legal history. She has recently advanced to candidacy and is currently working on her dissertation on an 1876 criminal court case involving Jewish immigrants. Her dissertation concerns criminal procedure rights and citizenship in 19th century America.


Jessica Cooper, Anthropology, “The Prius and the Percocet: Regulating Homelessness through the Santa Clara County Mental Health Court”

Jessica Cooper is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Princeton University. Her dissertation ethnographically explores the operations of two mental health courts in Northern California. Mental health courts aspire to take individuals convicted of crimes who carry psychiatric diagnoses out of jail and place them in community psychiatric care. Through this research, she examines how relationships of care between mental health court clinicians, attorneys, and judges and their clients impact the political and legal trajectories of the court.


Tyler Davis, Religion, “Life Beyond Lynch Law: Imagining the Human and Utopia in Rural Texas”

Tyler Davis is a PhD candidate in Religion at Baylor University with a MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary. His intellectual interests include theories of violence, futurism, and accounts of vulnerability and resilience. His research centers on the 1916 lynching of Jesse Washington—or what W. E. B. Du Bois called “the Waco Horror.” He also arguably spends too much time watching Allen Iverson highlights.


Brooke Depenbusch, History, “Working on Welfare: The Art of Survival in Mid-Twentieth Century Rural America”

Brooke Depenbusch is a PhD candidate at the University of Minnesota. Through the history of general relief, her dissertation broadly explores the privation experienced by the working poor in the years between 1935-1962. Ultimately this research compels a scholarly reckoning with the embeddedness of extreme privation alongside great economic growth over the course of twentieth-century American history.


Sean Fraga, History, “Enclosing the Water: Houseboats, Law, and Property in Puget Sound”

Sean Fraga studies the cultural history of the late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century United States, particularly the U.S. West. He is interested in the cultural, technological, social, and environmental changes that occurred during the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era, and the ways these changes structure the world we inhabit today. His academic interests include human geography, bodies of water, movement and transportation networks, race, indigeneity, and settler colonialism. Recent research topics include the Pacific Railroad Surveys, the unrealized Tehuantepec Interoceanic Ship-Railway, and Chinese-American involvement in U.S. aviation before World War I.


Jillian Jacklin, History, “A Family Affair: Working-Class Cultures, Politics, and Criminality in the 1930s, Fox River Valley”

Jillian Jacklin is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Her research interests include U.S. labor and social movement history, with a minor in comparative and transnational history.  Her dissertation, “Paper Dreams: Working-Class Cultures and Political Drift in the Fox River Valley, 1880s-1950s,” traces the shifting meanings of freedom and survival for workers in the Fox Cities, Wisconsin.  Examining the relationship between labor politics and forms of cultural expression, her research questions why the area transitioned from a hotbed of working-class radicalism to a bastion of social and political conservatism.  Outside of academia, Jillian’s activism brings her passion for teaching and labor history together.  Also a certified yoga teacher and therapist, Jillian seeks to bring the intersection between storytelling and bodily movement to a wider audience.


Smita Ghosh, JD/History, “Rural Aspects of Immigration Detention in the 1980s

Smita is a student in Penn’s JD/PhD program in American Legal History. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2014, and passed qualifying exams in April 2015. She plans to write her dissertation about the rise of immigration detention during the refugee crises of the 1970s and ’80s.  She is interested in the experience of migrants in detention, the privatization of immigration detention facilities, and inter-branch struggles about immigration and refugee policy. Before starting law school, she worked at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in New York.  While in law school, she was on the board of the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), the Civil Rights Law Project and the student chapter of the American Constitution Society.


Tyler Gray Greene, History, “The Most Wholesome Development Possible: North Carolina’s Rural Industries Movement and the Transformation of the Countryside”

Tyler Greene is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at Temple University. His research focuses on the industrialization of the rural South after World War II, and how the region’s transformation has reshaped the American political economy.


Vanessa Guzman, American Studies, “El Centro Campesino: Organizing in Migrant Camps and Latino Communities in South Central Rural Minnesota”

I received my B.A in History and Chicana/o Studies from UCLA and an M.A in Cultural Studies from Claremont Graduate University.  I am currently enrolled as a first-year PhD student in American Studies at the University of Minnesota.  Before returning to graduate school I spent four years as a union organizer in California and the U.S. Southwest.


John Moran, Anthropology, “Defeating the Marsh Marxists: Rural Gentrification, Environmental Regulation, and Gender in the Florida Panhandle”

John Moran is a PhD candidate in anthropology at Stanford University. His dissertation, a study of ecological nativism in the U.S. South, is based on ethnographic research among naturalists, green guides, and seafood workers in Apalachicola and Panacea, Florida.


Ryan Parsons, Sociology, “When I Was Sick You Insured Me: Rural Black Churches and the Affordable Care Act”

Ryan is a graduate student in the Department of Sociology at Princeton. Prior to coming to Princeton he received degrees in International Studies and Chinese at the University of Mississippi and development studies at Cambridge University. His research interests include urbanization and rural outmigration; rural poverty and stratification; religion; and race and ethnicity.


Heath Pearson, Anthropology, “Untitled”

Heath Pearson is a PhD candidate in the Anthropology Department and a graduate student affiliate of the Dept. of African American Studies and the American Studies Program. He is currently undertaking ethnographic fieldwork in a rural county on the East Coast with four prisons, exploring what happens over time to local institutions and organizations when prisons become central to the local economy. His most recent article, “The Prickly Skin of White Supremacy,” explores the co-constitution of race and place in Huntington, Indiana, and the many ways racialized violence lingers in the land throughout multiple generations. He was a Lassen Fellow in the Program for Latin American Studies in 2013-14, the recipient of an AMS summer research prize in 2014, and a recipient of a Center for Health & Wellbeing summer research prize in 2015. Currently, in addition to fieldwork, he is co-organizing the American Studies Graduate Student Conference, “Life & Law in Rural America: Cows, Cars and Criminals.” He also spends a great deal of time listening to music.


Daniel Platt, American Studies, “Debtors’ Rights in the Age of Jim Crow, 1900-1920”

Daniel Platt is a PhD candidate in the Department of American Studies. His dissertation examines how changing ideas about freedom, selfhood, and citizenship influenced financial regulation in the early twentieth century.


Emily Prifogle, History, “Rural Zoning and Community in Wisconsin: 1930-1952”

Emily studies twentieth century American legal history. Her dissertation prospectus, “Views from the Midwest: Rural Communities, Law, and Nation in the Twentieth Century,” examines local government structures in rural communities in an effort to make “the rural” legible in new ways to historians as well as legal scholars. She asks, what was the experience of living in and maintaining a rural community in an urbanizing and urbanized America? Emily is also interested in public history, narrative, and micro-history projects. Her previous work has focused on recovering marginalized voices within twentieth-century social movements, including the civil rights and women’s rights movements.


William Voinot-Baron, Anthropology, “Contested Cartographies: Colonizing Space and Adjudicating Practice in ‘Rural’ Alaska”

I am a doctoral student in Cultural Anthropology at University of Wisconsin-Madison. My ethnographic research in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta of southwest Alaska focuses on the effects of state and federal fishing regulations on Alaska Native lives and livelihoods. I am interested in how settler law governs Indigenous attachments to place and in how Alaska Natives unsettle these colonial impositions. My research acknowledges expressions of sovereignty and ways of life that are not encompassed by the state, revealing also how mourning, more than merely the expression of grief, is also productive of political possibility. I am currently grappling with theories of sovereignty, memory, and absence.