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2020 PhD Ceremony








History PhD Ceremony 2020: A Virtual Celebration

On May 1, 2020, this year's U-M History PhD graduates were supposed to convene with their family, friends, and advisors to commemorate a momentous occasion: the completion of their doctorate degree. A virtual celebration is less than ideal, but it does not diminish the accomplishments of this year’s PhD class.


James W. Cook

History Department Chair
Professor of History and American Studies

Opening Remarks

Brian Porter-Szücs

Director of Graduate Studies
Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of History

2020 Arthur Fondiler Dissertation Prize 

The Arthur Fondiler Dissertation Prize, endowed through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Craig and Lori Gurian, commemorates Arthur Fondiler, who was killed in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie Scotland in December 1988. Art Fondiler was a University of Michigan alumnus who earned an honors degree in history. Michigan was where he developed his passion for reading and thinking about the past, a love that enriched the rest of his life. The prize embodies his spirit by celebrating others who share and keep alive his passion for understanding the past.

The winner of this year's prize is Emma Thomas for the dissertation "Contested Labors: New Guinean Women and the German Colonial Indenture, 1884-1914."


Participation in the PhD ceremony is optional. In lieu of the traditional speeches at the in-person event, students and their advisors were given the choice to present a video. Videos are password protected.


Cristian Capotescu (History)

Giving in the Time of Socialism: Economic Life, Humanitarianism, and Mobility in the Global Postwar

Committee: Pamela Ballinger (co-chair), Brian Porter-Szücs (co-chair), Kathleen Canning, Douglas Northrop, Krisztina Fehervary


Haydar Darici (Anthropology and History)

Living in the Play State: Insurrectionary Youth Politics in the Kurdish Borderlands

Committee: Andrew Shryock (chair), Rosalind Morris, Ronald Suny, Alaina Lemon, Fatma Gocek


Jan Dewitt (Interdepartmental Program in Greek and Roman History)

Money, Games, and Power: Rome's Lower Magistrates and the Development of a City

Committee: David Potter (chair), Celia Schultz, Nicola Terranato, Bruce Frier, Valerie Kivelson


Sara Katz (History)

Mobilizing the Hajj in Southwest Nigeria: Pilgrims, Technologies, and State Regulation 1914-1980

Committee: Derek Peterson (co-chair), Nancy Hunt (co-chair), Rudolph Ware, Juan Cole, Brian Larkin, Elisha Renne


Doreen Kembabazi (History)

Debating Property Rights: Land, Law, and Economic Development in Shanghai and Guangzhou, 1840-1940

Committee: Derek Peterson (chair), Rudolph Ware, Jean Allman, LaKisha Simmons, Martin Murray


Alyssa Penick (History)

Established by Law: Parishes, Power, and Property in the Chesapeake, 1720-1820

Committee: Susan Juster (chair), David Hancock, Mary Kelley, William Novak


Alessio Ponzio (Women's Studies and History)

Scandalous Practices: Homosexuality, Male Prostitution, and Sexual Citizenship in Post-Fascist Italy

Committee: Scott Spector (co-chair), Dario Gaggio (co-chair), Helmut Puff, Dean Hubbs, Kathleen Canning


Emily Price (History)

Place, Proof, and the Holy House in England, Scotland, and Italy, 1450-1620

Committee: Katherine French (chair), Paolo Squatriti, Megan Holmes, Achim Timmermann


David Spreen (History)

Dear Comrade Mugabe: Decolonization and Radical Protest in Divided Germany, 1960-1980

Committee: Geoff Eley (chair), Howard Brick, Kathleen Canning, Geoff Eley, Rita Chin, Adam Ashforth


Charley Sullivan (History)

Years of Dressing Dangerously: Modern Women, National Identity and Moral Crisis in Sukarno's Indonesia, 1945-1966

Committee: Nancy Florida (chair), Victor Lieberman, Perrin Selcer, Allen Hicken


Emma Thomas (History)

Contested Labors: New Guinean Women and the German Colonial Indenture, 1884-1914

Committee: Kathleen Canning (chair), Nancy Hunt, Geoff Eley, George Steinmetz


Daniel Williford (History)

Concrete Futures: Technologies of Urban Crisis in Colonial and Post-colonial Morocco

Committee: Joshua Cole (co-chair), Gabrielle Hecht (co-chair), Ellen Amster, Perrin Selcer, Juan Cole, Krisztina Fehervary


Parrish Wright (Interdepartmental Program in Greek and Roman History)

Competing Narratives of Identity in Central and Southern Italy, 750 BCE -300 BCE

Committee: David Potter (chair), Richard Janko, Nicola Terrenato, Celia Schultz, Anna Bonnell Freidin