Five of the six University of California, Irvine graduate students to receive Fulbright grants this spring are from UCI’s School of Humanities.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides funding for American citizens to conduct research or teach English abroad. The school’s five Fulbright grantees will conduct dissertation research at universities, academic centers and archives in India, Japan and Taiwan.

Meet four of the five humanities graduate students who received Fulbright grants below.

New Delhi: Christopher Chacon, Ph.D. candidate in history

Christopher Chacon will travel to New Delhi to work on his dissertation on 20th-century Hindu anticolonialism. He will be affiliated with the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies and will conduct research at the National Archives of India and the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. His dissertation looks at the lives and works of several anticolonial intellectuals deeply invested in the political and societal future of India. These individuals, Chacon explains, conceived their vision for an independent India through their lived experiences both at home and abroad – including places such as South Africa, the Caribbean, the United States and England.

“It is the culmination of many years of hard work, dedication to my craft, and applying for everything I possibly could in order to have the pedigree necessary for such an award,” Chacon said. “As a Mexican American and first-generation college student who grew up in the poorer parts of Orange County, I never imagined receiving such a prestigious award. However, now that I have the award, I feel more confident in myself and my project. With the Fulbright, opportunities will continue to make themselves available to me. It is both a tremendous award and a steppingstone for the future.”

In addition to conducting research, he hopes this experience will help shape him into a better mentor for students who aspire to apply for a Fulbright.

Tokyo: Sara Newsome, Ph.D. candidate in East Asian studies

Sara Newsome will travel to Tokyo’s Aoyama Gakuin University to conduct research for her dissertation, “Buddhism, Environment, & Noh: The Activist Literature of Setouchi Jakuchō and Ishimure Michiko,” which uses eco-critical theory to understand Japanese environmental activism through literature. Newsome, an expert on modern Japanese literature, is interested in studying the intersection of literature with environmental and feminist activism in modern Japan, particularly the post-Fukushima anti-nuclear energy movement.

“I am extremely honored to receive a Fulbright, which will enable me to develop a better understanding of literary environmental activism and eco-criticism in Japan,” Newsome said.

While conducting research in Tokyo, she looks forward to strengthening the cultural ties between environmental activists in Japan and the United States.

Taipei: Brian Spivey, Ph.D. candidate in history

For his project, "Breaking the Ground: China’s National Resource Commission and its Legacies," Brian Spivey will travel to Taipei, Taiwan to look at the Academia Sinica archives, the KMT archives and the National Archives. He will conduct research on how the Republic of China's National Resources Commission – the bureaucracy tasked with building the industrial capacity needed to sustain resistance against Japan in the Second Sino-Japanese War – laid many of the foundations for resource extraction across China throughout the 20th century. He is also interested in comparing the various long-term impacts of resource extraction on local communities in Taiwan and China.

“I am extremely grateful for the funding of my project and the research time it will provide me,” Spivey said. “Of course, I am passionate about my project, but it is nice to know that others find the project promising as well. That kind of confirmation is always comforting before leaving for an extended period of research. I should say that I have also been very fortunate to receive the kind of mentorship, education and guidance that I have from the Department of History’s faculty, my fellow Ph.D. students and the School of Humanities.”

While in Taiwan, Spivey hopes to finish all the research needed to write his dissertation. As a Fulbright scholar, he is excited to have the opportunity to be an ambassador to the local academic and broader non-academic communities in Taiwan. As an ambassador, he hopes to build bridges between the U.S. and Taiwanese scholarly communities and to immerse himself in Taiwanese society through daily activities and hobbies.

Tokyo: Alexandra Yan, Ph.D. candidate in comparative literature

Alexandra Yan will head to Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS) in Tokyo to conduct research for her dissertation, "Critiquing Critique: Colonial Literary Reformulations of Imperial Japanese Modernity." She investigates Japanophone literature by colonized Koreans and Taiwanese writers between 1850 and 1945 under the Japanese empire. Her work, Yan explains, centers on how literature both reflects and shapes possibilities for reality – a topic she hopes to think more deeply about with the scholars at TUFS.

“I'm very excited to receive a Fulbright. First, because it will allow me to do research in Japan that would be impossible to accomplish in the U.S.,” Yan said. “And second, because it will give me the opportunity to strengthen my relationship with Japanese scholars and Japanese people generally.”

Conducting research at TUFS will, Yan hopes, allow her to discover new primary sources and connect with diverse Japanese perspectives.

In addition, graduate student Adam Reynolds was awarded a Fulbright to Japan in support of his dissertation research.

Comparative Literature
East Asian Studies
Graduate Students