Posted in Graduate Student Funding

2023-24 Dissertation Research Funding Recipients

2023-24 Dissertation Research Funding Recipients Posted on June 23, 2024


Congratulations Dissertation Research Funding Recipients

The American Academy for Jewish Research is pleased to announce the winners of its grants for dissertation research funding.  

AAJR provides stipends for up to $4,000 to promising graduate students, and those up to four years following their graduation, in any field of Jewish Studies at a North American university who have submitted their Ph.D. Dissertation prospectus and have a demonstrated need for materials from archival, library, or manuscript collections or for ethnographic research.

Alison B. Curry, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
In the Space of the Dead: Tradition, Identity, and Everyday Life in the Jewish Cemeteries of Poland, 1918-1945
This dissertation examines the ritual, spatial, and functional uses of Jewish cemeteries in Poland during the interwar period and the Second World War. Using archival sources, oral testimonies, memoirs, yizkor books, etc., this dissertation argues that the Jewish cemetery was a central space through which Jews articulated and contested identity, and, during the Holocaust, resisted and survived Nazi occupation. By analyzing cemetery use across two time periods classically kept separate in historical scholarship, this project shows the continuities and discontinuities between the interwar period and the Holocaust. This dissertation demonstrates that although the Jewish cemetery was a space for the dead it was also a space for the living.

Rachel Kaufman, University of California, Los Angeles
Quería Enseñar: Conversa Transmission, Memory, and Adaptation in Mexico and New Mexico
In late seventeenth-century Mexico City, two matriarchs—conversa Blanca Enríquez and mulata-conversa Esperanza Rodríguez—transmitted crypto-Jewish customs to their children and grandchildren. Amidst a cross-community and intergenerational kinship network, these women preserved and adapted religious rituals in their kitchens and salas, defending their practices in Inquisition trials. Kaufman’s dissertation joins Latin American and Jewish Studies to examine the transmission of trauma, ritual, and knowledge among conversas in colonial Mexico through contemporary New Mexico.

Alexandra Kramen, Clark University 
Justice Pursued: Jewish Survivors’ Struggle for Holocaust Justice in Displaced Persons Camp Föhrenwald, 1945-1957
This dissertation explores how the displaced persons (or DPs) living in the longest-running Jewish DP camp in postwar Germany conceived of and acted to effect justice for the harm they and their loved ones suffered during the Holocaust. Through thick description and analysis of Jews’ quests in American-occupied Munich, the project serves as a case study of the complex negotiation of justice mechanisms in the aftermath of genocide. Kramen’s research offers a new perspective on how Jews coped with the trauma they experienced under the Nazi regime, speaking to issues of Jewish agency during the Holocaust and in its aftermath and to matters of refugee relief and transitional justice following mass violence more broadly which remain relevant to this day.

Alex Scheepens, University of Wisconsin-Madison
The Jewish Experience in Hiding in Nazi-Occupied Netherlands, 1940-1945
This dissertation addresses an understudied aspect of Dutch Holocaust history, that is, the varied and multifaceted experiences of Jews hiding in the Netherlands during the Nazi occupation. Based on a wide range of sources, such as diaries, letters, memoirs, family papers, and oral testimonies in Dutch, English, Hebrew, and German, and grounded in an integrated analytical framework of both a geographical lens and a history of emotions—defined as a spatial analysis of emotions—this dissertation seeks to reconstruct the experience of Jews living under the German occupation, as they actively navigated between the various challenges, took advantage of the presented opportunities, and tried to cope with countless feelings and conditions.

Joseph Kaplan Weinger, University of California, Los Angeles
Fluctuations in Injurious Alliance: Colonial Settlement, Splintered Sovereignty, and the Delegation of the Monopoly on Legitimate Violence
This dissertation project integrates sociology and historical analysis of archival records and ethnography of present conditions in the Occupied West Bank to investigate how the monopoly of state violence is challenged, delegated, or maintained amid the process of coerced territorial redistribution. It asks more broadly, how and why relations between settlers and colonial states fluctuate between alliance, reinforcement, and discordance. The project, based on four case studies of “authorized” and “unauthorized” Israeli settlements, empirically assesses the repercussions of the hypothetical splintering or delegation on the employment of frontier violence against pastoral Palestinian communities. It sheds light on the dynamic contingencies and dialectical processes animating interactions between settlers, state actors, and autochthons, offering novel insights into the mechanisms of colonial settlement. In so doing, the project examines how various avowedly Jewish movements and institutions have approached the “Jewish Question.”

Alexandra (Sasha) Zborovsky, University of Pennsylvania
Should I Stay or Should I Go? Jewish Repatriation, Family Reunification, and Emigration from the USSR 1955-1995
During the second half of the twentieth century, Offices of Visas and Registration across the USSR (and later former USSR) received almost 1.5 million applications from Soviet Jews requesting an exit visa. Dissatisfied with their country’s de-facto antisemitism, government- sponsored anti-Zionism, and a stagnating economy, Soviet Jews maneuvered the USSR’s autocratic restrictions on emigration. Upon their departure, they came to comprise the largest immigration of Jews to the United States, Israel, and Germany in the mid-to-late twentieth century. Throughout this period, arguments over Soviet Jewish mobility served as a testing ground for states’ and extra-statal organizations’ divergent visions of twentieth-century mobility, characterized as “repatriation,” “family reunification,” and even the ever-vague “freedom of movement.”  Emphasizing the agency of everyday migrants, this dissertation demonstrates how Soviet Jews engaged with these contrasting approaches to population movement and the entities espousing them to secure their passage across borders and continents.

The American Academy for Jewish Research ( is the oldest professional organization of Judaica scholars in North America. Composed of the field’s most eminent and senior scholars, it is committed to professional service through this initiative and others, including the Salo Baron Prize for the best first book in Jewish Studies and workshops for graduate students and early career scholars.