Graduate Students Featured in AtLAS

By Chris Boyer | July 30, 2013

The current edition of AtLAS, the e-magazine produced by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, highlights the accomplishments of two doctoral students in the Department of History. Both Jochen Arndt and Michal Witczewski are students in the Encounters graduate concentration who have received some of the discipline’s most competitive research fellowships to help them complete their dissertation research.

Arndt contributed his own article to AtLAS, in which he describes his doctoral research into the Xhosa people, whose current population of 8 million makes them the South Africa’s second-largest indigenous group. His dissertation seeks to understand the historical processes that transformed the people known as Xhosa from distinct groups tied together mainly by the shared linguistic origins of their multiple dialects, into a self-conscious nation capable who recognize a common heritage. Today, the Xhosa exercise considerable political authority in modern South Africa. Both Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu belong to Xocha ethnic groups.

Arndt’s research was funded by grants from the Social Science Research Council and other major awards from UIC’s Department of History and other organizations. His travels took him from the archives and libraries of Oxford, Cambridge, and Edinburgh to research sites in South Africa, including Grahamstown, Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg. He had previously won a Title VI Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship to study the isiXocha language. He is now back in Chicago to write his dissertation.

Witczewski is a historian of modern Polish history and student of Professor Keely Stauter-Halsted, the Lucy and Stefan Hejna Family Chair in the History of Poland. He will use his Fulbright fellowship to visit archives in Warsaw, Krakow, Poznan and Bialystok. As his profile in AtLAS mentions, dissertation focuses on the everyday life of Polish farmers in the interwar period, with a particular emphasis on family life, gender relations, and migration patterns. He left for Poland early this Summer.

Doctoral students in History Department have a strong record of winning prestigious national and intramural awards to fund their research. In addition to Fulbright and SSRC awards, recent students have received funding to visit the Ford Foundation archives in New York, to travel to the National Archives in Maryland and Washington, D.C., and to present their work at national and international conferences.