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Grad Students Win Thomas Fellowships

We are happy to report that two graduate students from the History Department have won Thomas Fellowships in support of their dissertation research for 2020-2021. Congratulations to Minami Nishioka and Jeff Saba!

Thanks to generous support from Newton W. and Wilma C. Thomas, the College of Arts and Sciences offers the Thomas Fellowship to provide a graduate student with support to pursue a research project or creative endeavor of exceptional promise.

Minami’s dissertation explores US-Japanese inter-imperial relations before WWII by examining how the religious landscape transformed in Okinawa, which was used to be an independent kingdom but forcefully annexed to Japan in 1879. She is particularly interested in quotidian exchanges among American and Japanese Protestant missionaries and the local Okinawans. Since June 2019, she has been conducting archival research in Japan while on the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) Mellon International Dissertation Research Fellowship. Unfortunately, however, her research was disrupted due to the outbreak of coronavirus in March. The Thomas Fellowship will help her to complete the archival research in Okinawa, Kyoto, Osaka, Okayama, and Fukuoka, which will be essential for her dissertation project. These archives hold documents regarding American and Japanese Episcopal missionaries who established a sanatorium for leprosy in Okinawa. The documents will provide insight into how American and Japanese missionaries collaborated and contributed to Okinawa’s medical development.

Jeff is going to use the Thomas Fellowship funds to go on a pre-dissertation research trip during summer 2021. In and around Berlin and Moscow, he is planning to research everyday life interactions between Soviet soldiers and East German civilians from approximately 1960 to 1994. In Berlin, he will visit the German Federal Archives, the STASI archive, and the photo collection at the German-Russian museum in Karlshorst. He will also visit the municipal archives in Oranienburg and Luckenwalde in the state of Brandenburg which are close to where the largest Soviet bases in East Germany were once located. In Moscow, he is planning on visiting the Russian State Library and the Russian State Archives.