Underhill Fellowship Recipients


  • Makoto Fukumoto

    • Political Science

    The fellowship has been extremely helpful for my Ph. D. research, and I am sincerely grateful to those who support the program for the wonderful help I received during a tough time. Due to the ongoing COVID crisis, I could not work on the restricted-access American National Election Studies survey data that I needed to analyze in a specified computer lab insulated from the internet. Consequently, I had to rely primarily on the British Election Study data while maintaining my dissertation’s relevance to American politics. The Kirk Underhill fellowship was vital for me to concentrate on my research and change the approach amid difficult circumstances. Without the stability and support I received, I would have scaled back my research’s broader goal and could have focused on narrower topics such as local infrastructure spending to produce many short papers. Instead, I was able to allocate time and resources to time-consuming geocoding of relevant UK data for my long-term research. I am delighted that I have been given this opportunity to pursue my research agenda.

    My dissertation is about how economic geography, place-based policies, and workers’ geographical movements impact geographically-based polities such as those of the United States and the United Kingdom. In both countries, I found that geographically mobile voters are often moderate and have a high level of social engagement but far less likely to participate in political activities, suggesting the link between the geographical “stickiness” and amplified political polarization. Moreover, I found in the UK that banning fracking sites or closing down coal-powered plants did not aggravate or ameliorate the local attitude vis-à-vis the environmentalism and regulations in the affected areas. This confirms the “stickiness” of political attitude but also casts doubt on the potential backlash that many policymakers are fearing. In another paper, I found that pork-barrel spending in the area can lower the support for the federal government who paid the bill, as opposed to the local representative who got the funding. While I used British data, these findings have resonance with the “love my congressperson but hate the congress” attitude observed in the US and how net-beneficiary states of federal spending such as Alaska are often hostile to the federal governments. Fundamentally, the tenet of my dissertation is that geography-based policy may strengthen those who do not want to change their location or those who do not want their location to change. The opinion of those people tends to be sticky as well, even if the local situations change or the governments try to compensate for the disturbance. This “stickiness bias” could pose a significant challenge in the fast-changing society today. While I relied heavily on the findings from the UK, I believe this research can speak to US politics as well.


  • Sarah Stoller

    Sarah Stoller is a PhD student in History. Her dissertation is entitled Inventing the Working Parent: Work, Gender, and Feminism in Neoliberal Britain. Since the 1970s, it has become commonplace to suggest that families across the developed West have lived through a revolution on a scale unprecedented since industrialization. The rapid rise in maternal employment and the emerging middle class norm of the dual-income household coincided with declarations of a new era of the ‘working parent.’ This project charts the politics that shaped the invention of the working parent as it arose out of a new institutional culture of work. It takes as its starting points the shifting political-economic terrain of the 1970s and feminist campaigns for childcare, flexible work, and a more equitable division of affective labor. It tells the story of efforts to embed new forms of support for workers with caring responsibilities in institutions across the charitable, public, and private sectors, and explores the advent of the ‘family friendly’ workplace. It also highlights the ways in which individuals sought to make sense of their day-to-day lives as ‘working parents,’ and to reckon with the associated imperative of ‘work-life balance.’ In the process, the project engages the classed and racialized notion of a new working parent and touches on the experiences of single parents, childcare workers, and men and women of a variety of backgrounds. It argues that working parenthood has consolidated the gains of second wave feminism at the same time as it has masked the realities of ongoing social inequality in the distribution of caring work, and facilitated an intensification of contemporary work culture.


  • allison

    Allison Neal

    Allison Neal is a PhD candidate in English whose research focuses on Anglo-American speech-based poetry composed between 1900 and 1975 alongside various methods of controlling and disseminating the “American voice” in the lead up to and height of the American era. By examining how various British and American cultural and governmental institutions sought to consolidate and spread a representative English-speaking voice both domestically and abroad, this project suggests a new approach to the story of twentieth-century English language poetry.


  • zeitlin

    Samuel Garrett Zeitlin

    Major: Political Science

    Dissertation Title: War and Peace in the Political Thought of Francis Bacon (1561-1626).

    Dissertation Synopsis: The scientist, lawyer, politician, and literary author Francis Bacon was deeply involved in various trans-Atlantic colonial projects, sitting as a member of the Virginia Company of London from 1609, an incorporator of the Newfoundland Company in 1610 and of the Northwest Passage Company in 1612.[1] Bacon’s colonial and imperial involvement was reflected and meditated upon in his theoretical and political writings. The dissertation will examine Bacon’s 1606 white papers addressed to King James I, “Certain Considerations Touching the Plantation in Ireland” in conjunction with Bacon’s later 1625 essays “Of Empire” and “Of Plantations”, as well as discussions of colonies, plantations, and empire in Bacon’s explicit writings on war.

    My dissertation examines the ideological and theoretical frameworks with which Bacon contested Spanish imperial claims and asserted British claims to Atlantic empire, while advocating “just” conquest, colonies, and overseas plantations. In the writings of Bacon and his contemporaries the arguments over just war and the religious and prudential justifications of empire were at the core of the early modern articulation of the relation between the Britain and the American colonies as well as the relation between Britain and the uncolonized Americas.


  • wetherell

    Sam Wetherell

    Major: History

    The working title of my dissertation is ‘Freedom Planned: Neoliberalism and the Late Twentieth Century British City.’ My project will chart the end of Britain’s social democratic welfare state in the late 1970s and Britain’s transition to a more globalized, flexible and service orientated economy through Britain’s changing built environment. I am interested particularly in how the changing fabric of British cities reflected, normalized and helped generate new understandings of economic and social life.

    By taking the built environment as an object of historical study I want to establish a new vantage point from which to view the history of late twentieth century political and economic change, one that avoids giving causal autonomy to either high politics or structural economic change. My research revolves around four key case studies: the emergence and proliferation of the ‘enterprise zone’ and other similar utopian deregulatory planning strategies, the planning of ‘National Garden Festivals’, a highly visible government sponsored strategy for reclaiming former industrial land, the growth of private enclosed shopping environments (and the privatization of state built shopping precincts) and the privatization of Britain’s public housing stock following new criminological ideas about the relationship between space and crime. Finally I want to investigate the new social and political formations that emerged in British cities to contest these processes. Was it the case that these urban changes produced their own brand of discontents?


  • sasson

    Tehila Sasson

    Major: History

    Tehila Sasson, a UC Berkeley History Ph.D. student, is the inaugural recipient of the R. Kirk Underhill Graduate Fellowship.

    Tehila’s dissertation examines the emergence of humanitarian ethics for famine relief in Anglo-American history from 1880 to 1985. She argues that while this ethics was a product of global technologies for famine relief, these technologies were rooted in colonial knowledge.