Pastoral scene

fellows 18-19

Program Fellows 2018-19

Tony Andersson (Latin American History, New York University)
Agrarian Studies Program Fellow

Tony Andersson received his PhD in Latin American history from New York University in 2018. His dissertation, “Environmentalists with Guns: Conservation, Revolution, and Counterinsurgency in the Petén, Guatemala, 1944-1996,” charts the co-development of tropical forestry and the military state in a lowland frontier. The Petén rainforests are a product of the decades long civil war that pitted Guatemala’s military against politicized peasants, both of whom claimed the frontier as their rightful patrimony. Today’s conservation landscapes were built on the forest reserves created by the military as part of its bloody counterinsurgent strategy to contain peasant movement and resource use. That history is shrouded by the myths of an ancient lost world marketed to tourists, but a counterinsurgent ethic continues to inform environmental law enforcement in the Petén. During his time with Agrarian Studies, Tony will be expanding his dissertation into a book examining the connections between Guatemalan forestry and political violence from World War I to the ongoing drug wars. He will also begin work on his next book project, exploring the transnational origins and political economy of ecotourism in the “Mundo Maya.”

John Buchanan (Political Science, University of Washington - Seattle)
Agrarian Studies Program Fellow

John Buchanan is a founding member and the Director of Research for the Institute for Strategy and Policy, Myanmar, which is a Yangon-based think tank. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Washington – Seattle in 2017. His dissertation, “The Rise of the Bo: Autonomous Strongmen, Opium Capital, and State Formation in Mainland Southeast Asia (1948-1996),” examines processes of local state formation in opium producing areas and the emergence of powerful autonomous strongmen. His study of the nexus of state formation, militarized violence and illicit capital accumulation draws attention to the persistence of non-state spaces. Drawing on archival research conducted in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, London and Washington, D.C., as well as extensive fieldwork in Burma and Thailand, he examines the conditions under which strongmen exercise social control autonomous of state agents. In doing so, he challenges conventional market-focused analyses of the commercialization of opium production in Mainland Southeast Asia and the fragmentation of political authority. His research shifts the focus, instead, to localized dynamics within agrarian societies that involve efforts to mitigate risks posed by predatory armed groups. During the year at Agrarian Studies, John will transform “The Rise of the Bo” into a book manuscript while continuing to contribute to policy and scholarly debates on a range of topics including drug crop production, state formation, and armed conflicts.

Caterina Scaramelli (History, Anthropology, Science, Technology, and Society, MIT)
Agrarian Studies Program Fellow

Caterina Scaramelli received her PhD in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2016. She is coming to Yale from Amherst College, where she was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Anthropology and the Center of Humanistic Inquiry from 2016-18. During the year at Agrarian Studies, she will complete revisions to her book manuscript Liminal Ecologies: Making Wetlands and Livable Nature in Turkey. This project – situated at the intersection of anthropology, science studies, and environmental history – examines the dynamic multivalence of wetlands throughout the twentieth century. She shows that wetlands in Turkey were produced through regulatory processes, scientific research programs, and civil society activism.  Yet, residents have transformed ‘received’ meanings of the wetland, reclaiming these spaces as sites for imagining democratic formations against authoritarian politics. Upon completing Liminal Ecologies, Caterina will commence work on her next project, Seeds of Change: Roots of Community in Turkey, in which she examines the cultural significance of “heirloom” seeds to explore the changing meanings of health, labor, nation, and belonging in contemporary Turkey.

Affiliate Fellows 2018-19

Sakura Christmas (History and Asian Studies, Bowdoin College)
Affiliate Fellow, SSRC Transregional Fellow at Yale Inter-Asia Connections Program

Sakura Christmas is an assistant professor of History and Asian Studies at Bowdoin College. Her research concerns the history of borderlands, environment, and imperialism in East Asia in the twentieth century. She received her PhD in History from Harvard University in 2016. During her sabbatical, she will be a postdoctoral scholar at the InterAsia Connections Program and an affiliate fellow at the Agrarian Studies Program. While at Yale, she will be completing her first monograph, Nomadic Borderlands: Imperial Japan and the Origins of Ethnic Autonomy in China. Her book project focuses on the Japanese-led demarcation of a nomadic borderland between Manchuria and Inner Mongolia in the 1930s. Drawing on archival research in both Japan and China, Nomadic Borderlands examines how Japanese occupiers pursued radical solutions in population transfers and environmental planning to separate out their subjects by ethnicity and livelihood. Instead of only seeing the origins of Communist rule as forged in the fires of war against imperialism, she argues for the significance of the Japanese occupation in shaping the ethnic and ecological bounds of modern China.

Kathryn de Luna (History, Georgetown University)
Affiliate Fellow, Mellon New Directions Fellow at Archaeological Studies

Kathryn de Luna is an Associate Professor of History at Georgetown University. Her first monograph, Collecting Food, Cultivating People: Subsistence and Society in Central Africa, won the Agricultural History Society’s Henry A. Wallace Award for best book on agricultural history outside the United States in 2016. The volume draws on environmental, linguistic, and archaeological data to reconstruct the relationship between food production and particular technologies of food collection within Central African farming communities over a period of nearly three thousand years. In the absence of written records, this evidence reveals the politicization of subsistence technologies and the reputations of their practitioners within the context of a sustained commitment to decentralized political organization. Under the auspices of a Mellon New Directions Fellowship, Kate de Luna is coming to Yale next year and will be primarily affiliated with the Council on Archaeological Studies in order to acquire archaeological methods training to support her two ongoing research projects in central African history. The first of these explores the cultural history of mobility over the last five millennia, and the second traces the relationship between pyro-technologies and new sensory practices from early periods through the 21st century. She will be secondarily affiliated with the Program in Agrarian Studies during the year. 

Visiting Fellow Spring 2019

Benjamin Siegel (History, Boston University)
Visiting Fellow

Benjamin Siegel is a historian of modern South Asia at Boston University, where, as an Assistant Professor of History, he teaches courses on the history of global food politics, poverty and democracy, development, and more. His first book, Hungry Nation: Food, Famine, and the Making of Modern India (Cambridge University Press, 2018) examines how citizens and politicians in India contested the meanings of nation-building and citizenship through debates over food and sustenance, as well as the ways in which the Green Revolution transformed these contestations. While visiting Agrarian Studies in Spring 2019, Ben will work on his second book manuscript, Markets of Pain: The Transnational Origins of the American Opioid Crisis, which, drawing on archival material from India, Turkey, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and connects the rise of working-class pain in the United States to the international political economy of opium production in the latter half of the twentieth century. He received his B.A. from Yale in 2007 and his PhD from Harvard in 2014.