Feminist studies Ph.D. student receives Institute for Citizens & Scholars fellowship

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Claire Urbanski

Claire Urbanski, a Ph.D. candidate in feminist studies, has been named a Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellow by the Institute for Citizens & Scholars (formerly the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation).

The Newcombe Fellowship is the largest and most prestigious award for Ph.D. candidates in the humanities and social sciences addressing questions of ethical and religious values. 

It is designed to encourage original and significant study and also help Ph.D. candidates complete their dissertation work in a timely manner. Each fellow receives a 12-month award of $27,500 to support their final year of writing.

Urbanski’s dissertation, On Sacred and Stolen Lands: Desecration and Spiritual Violence as United States Settler Colonialism, examines “the consolidation and reproduction of United States empire through the desecration of Indigenous sacred sites and attendant modes of colonial spiritual violence.”

As a public fellow of The Humanities Institute at UCSC in 2016, she spent her summer working at The Arizona State Museum, one of the nation’s largest state-operated archaeological repositories for excavated objects, artifacts, and human remains.The repository handles Native American Graves and Repatriation Act claims and protocol.

“Many archeological digs conducted in Arizona entailed the excavation of Indigenous burial sites,” Urbanski noted after completing her THI fellowship. “The ASM spends a great deal of time going through past dig project materials. I spent most of my time cataloguing and screening archeological and archival materials for funerary objects and human remains so that they could be repatriated to their descendants or affiliated communities.”

The THI Public Fellows program provides an opportunity for humanities doctoral students to participate in research, programming, communications, and fundraising at a wide variety of non-profit organizations, cultural institutions, and companies. The aim of the fellowships is to enable students to apply and expand their skills in a non-academic setting while engaged in graduate study.

The Newcombe Dissertation Fellowship is an integral part of the Institute for Citizens & Scholars portfolio in higher education. Over 1,200 Newcombe Fellows have been named since the first round of competition in 1981.

Fellows from early years of the program are now senior faculty members at major research universities and selective liberal arts colleges, curators and directors at significant scholarly archives, and leaders and policymakers at nonprofit organizations and in cabinet-level government agencies. 

In the past decade, national honors such as the MacArthur Fellowship, Pulitzer Prize in History, the Guggenheim Fellowship, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences have been awarded to more than a dozen Newcombe Fellows.