Geography Students Awarded Chester Fritz Fellowship 

Caitlin with domestic workers and legislators on the day the amendment extending labor rights to domestic workers was passed in April 2013.
domestic workers and legislators on the day the amendment extending labor rights to domestic workers was passed in April 2013.

Geography students Caitlin Alcorn and Ross Doll have each been awarded the Chester Fritz Fellowship for International Research and Study

The Fellowship will enable Caitlin to complete a large part of the fieldwork for her dissertation research. Her project aims to better understand the growing paid domestic service sector from the perspective of the Global South, specifically Brazil. In particular, she explores the domestic work employment relationship and the impacts of recent legislative attempts at formalization on the domestic service sector in Brazil. The fieldwork involves content analysis of recent federal legislation and congressional debate transcripts available in archives, along with key informant interviews with union leaders and in-depth interviews with domestic workers and employers.

Drawing on the expertise of those populations most impacted by the legislation, domestic workers and employers, rather than exclusively policymakers, this study privileges perspectives and epistemologies often ignored in traditional policy analysis literature. This project also centers the Global South and the internal migration patterns impacting the distribution of paid domestic work, rather than the transnational migration patterns that supply the Global North with domestic workers.

Meanwhile, Ross' project is an ethnographic study that will examine the influence of the central government’s efforts to initiate a reform of China’s grain production system on the livelihoods and land use practices of small-scale farming households in that country. The central question asks: having been marginalized by this reform – which seeks to replace small-scale farming households with large-scale, industrial agricultural enterprises – will those small-scale farm households who resist the state's efforts to displace them create the kind of counter discourses grounded in agroecologically resilient practices that may ensure their survival? Or will they co-produce those state discourses with the attending socioecological ramifications through their place and subjectivity-forming narratives and practices? That is, does their resistance constitute a defiance of displacement only? Given the scale and pace of this reform, the answers to these questions will have ramifications for China’ agroecology, including the perhaps 600 million people in that country who rely on agriculture for some part of their livelihood. The study will focus on a rice and grain-growing township that was one of the first areas targeted for this reform, and will draw on interviews, participant observation, and remote sensing.

For more information about the Chester Fritz Fellowship for International Research and Study, visit the fellowship's website here.