Decolonize Anthro: Support Post Maria Research

Melinda Gonzalez (aka La Poeta Guerrera) is Writing her dissertation entitled “Rhyming Thru Disaster: Arts-based Community Organizing in the Puerto Rican Diaspora after Hurricane Maria.” Her research examines how multiple forms of everyday disasters and climate emergencies impact the lives of ordinary citizens. This research is situated in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, and traces how Puerto Rican diaspora communities mobilized community-based hurricane recovery through arts movements. Melinda lives and works in NY with her daughter. She is a single mother who teaches to support her family, but finishing this dissertation will take funds that free her to work part time, dissertate part time, all while mothering solo full time. Her work is inspired,  relevant and so necessary. Please consider donating what you can to help make this project possible.

Added 7/11/2019

Crowd-sourcing for my dissertation writing year.

One of the major barriers to academic success as a first generation college graduate, let alone PhD student is the lack of networking and wealth that I possess. Because I came from an extremely financially impoverished family, I heavily rely on scholarships and grants (and student loans, which I already owe $100,000) to fund my research. I’ve been successful at getting small grants from a few organizations like the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Foundation through their Woodrow Wilson Foundation and Social Science Research Council affiliations as well as a MAXQDA #ResearchforChange Grant and travel grants from the Society for Applied Anthropology and the Society for the Anthropology of North America. Other funds came from the LSU West Field Research Grant. All of these smaller grants have been super helpful in getting part of my research done, but they only cover the cost of research. Not living expenses. Not healthcare. Not childcare. That has pushed me to adjunct A LOT. I’ve been teaching 160 students for 2 semesters while doing my fieldwork in New York. And I’ve applied for numerous grants hoping to catch just one.

I applied and was rejected from:
The Wenner Gren Dissertation Research Grant, twice
MMUF Dissertation Writing
Ford Foundation Dissertation Writing
LSU Dissertation Writing 
PEO Scholars Award 
SWS Esther Ngan-ling Chow and Maryjoyce Green Dissertation Scholarship
Lewis & Clark Research Grant, twice
Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy, twice
The AAA Minority Dissertation Writing Fellowship
and others I cannot recall at the moment…

This is daunting and exhausting. Receiving these grants isn’t just about receiving the money, although the money is a major help. It’s also about receiving access to a network of well-established scholars. But also, it is about the money, because I have to work multiple part-time jobs while writing my dissertation. And that takes time away from the dissertation. 

So, I have moved to crowd-sourcing after numerous friends suggested it. 

What these fellowships usually give is about $25,000 to help offset the cost for a PhD Candidate to finish their dissertation. So I am hoping and asking folx to donate/share if you’re able to help me raise $25,000 to fund my dissertation writing year during the 2019-2020 school year.

For more ways to donate visit my blog:

Read below for more information about me and my project and what a dissertation is.

About Melinda:

Melinda González is a first-generation high school graduate, college graduate, and PhD Candidate in the field of Anthropology at Louisiana State University. Her family is from Moca, Puerto Rico, but she was born/raised in Newark, New Jersey by a single mom of three kids. Melinda always aspired to get her doctorate degree from a young age, beginning to study archaeology and anthropology at just 10 years old. But her deep interest in history and the social sciences began when she was a student at Science High School in Newark. Upon graduating, Melinda attended Franklin & Marshall College her freshman year, where she began taking courses in Archaeology & Anthropology. Upon taking a course with ex-hockey star Dr. Christopher Tarnowski, Melinda fell in love with environmental anthropology and decided to pursue this as her main interest within the field. After completing her first year at F&M, Melinda moved to New York to complete her Bachelor’s degree as a transfer student at Barnard College/Columbia University and graduated with a 3.3 GPA. In 2012, she completed a terminal Master’s degree at Rutgers University in the field of Anthropology and gave birth to her daughter. After focusing on being a mom and running her own business for a few years, Melinda felt the pull back into academia. She continued to do independent research on environmental anthropology issues like food sovereignty and climate change and presented at conferences. In 2016, she decided to go back to graduate school to complete her PhD and began courses at LSU under the guidance of Dr. Micha Rahder, who has provided great advising and support. In May 2018, Melinda completed her exams and defended her proposal to make PhD Candidacy. She hopes to complete writing her dissertation and completing her degree at the end of 2019-2020 school year. She is also a performance and published poet under the pen name La Poeta Guerrera and a capoeira instructor, known as Andorinha, under Grupo Senzala de Capoeira.

About My Project:

My work examines how multiple forms of everyday disasters and climate emergencies impact the lives of ordinary citizens. This research is situated in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, and traces how Puerto Rican diaspora communities mobilized community-based hurricane recovery through arts movements. I am currently concluding research and have begun the writing phase of my dissertation, entitled “Rhyming Thru Disaster: Arts-based Community Organizing in the Puerto Rican Diaspora after Hurricane Maria.”

Brief Project Abstract:

Since Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, roughly 200,000 people have moved to the continental U.S.  Roughly 12,000 evacuees reside in New York. Many of them remain in homeless shelters. Immediately after the storm and into the present moment, arts movements were essential to bringing supplies to Puerto Rico and helping families recover from the long-term impacts of Hurricane Maria. My dissertation research uses multi-sited and multi-method ethnography to document the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and how New York-based Puerto Ricans mobilized via artistic movements to address growing poverty in Puerto Rico and the impact of the disaster on evacuee families. Through my research, I answer the following questions: (1) What strategies and tactics are Puerto Rican diaspora communities using to respond to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria? (2) What is the role of art and poetic movements in diasporic disaster response? (3) How have Puerto Rican evacuee families adjusted to living conditions in the aftermath of the hurricane? (4) How are Hurricane Maria evacuees reshaping Puerto Rican identity through their participation in community organizing and arts movements in the continental U.S.?

What is a dissertation?

A dissertation is an essay/book that is about 250-300 pages long. Basically, it’s the bare bones of a book that you write at the end of your research. It details all of the research you’ve done, analyzes it, and provides theoretical and methodological contributions to your field. It is a mandatory part of completing the PhD. It takes about 1-3 years to write depending on your field of study. It’s full-time work to write it. You must complete a dissertation and defend it to your committee in order to complete your PhD.

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Anna-Claire Simpson 
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