Amna Batool is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan School of Information, specializing in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICTD). Her research focuses on enhancing women's privacy, health, and adaptation needs in low-resource settings. She employs feminist, cultural, and intersectionality theories, along with contextual inquiries and system design, to drive her work. Specifically, her dissertation research centers around understanding non-consensual disclosures (NCDs) of women's sensitive information on social media platforms within conservative, religious, and honor-driven communities in South Asia. Her goal is to design culturally sensitive technologies that address this issue effectively. 

How are you using your GISC 2023 Fellowship? 

With the help of the GISC Summer Fellowship, I will have the opportunity to travel to Pakistan and collaborate with local organizations actively working to address women's safety online.  During my time there, I will conduct semi-structured interviews and participatory observations at these organizations to gain deeper insights into the issue.

Benjamín Figueroa-Lackington is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan. Previously, he completed a bachelor’s in philosophy at the Universidad de Chile and organized a series of events dedicated to premodern Chinese thought, Arabic Aristotelianism, and Eurocentrism in contemporary philosophy. He is currently working on his dissertation project about the interplay between figurative language and self-cultivation practices in the work of Abū ʿAlī ibn Sīnā (d. 1037 AD / 428 AH) and Zhu Xi (1126–1271 AD).

How are you using your GISC 2023 Fellowship?

This upcoming semester I will enroll in the Intermediate Classical Arabic Program offered by Qasid Institute, Jordan, which I will fund via the GISC Summer Fellowship. Through Qasid's program, I expect to acquire strong foundations in Classical Arabic, which will allow me to examine some of the primary sources I will use in my dissertation (specifically, Ibn Sīnā’s Kitāb al-šifā’, Nafs IV) and to continue improving my fuṣḥā in the years to come.

Chao Ren is a Ph.D. candidate in History, with a focus on the environmental history and history of capitalism in colonial Southeast and South Asia. His dissertation examines the transformations in economic culture and social relations in the early oil industry of colonial Burma around the turn of the twentieth century.

How are you using your GISC 2023 Fellowship?

For this fellowship period, I will be conducting archival research on the history of an Ahmadiyya leader in an oilfield town in colonial Burma. The Ahmadiyya leader in question was N. Akbar Khan, a major Ahmadiyya leader in the Burmese oil town of Yenangyaung in the early to mid-twentieth century. I initially encountered this name and translated Urdu language sources on his life under the support of previous GISC fellowships. With this research, I hope to reconstruct a moral geography of colonial Burma situated between religious sentiments and economic cultures.

Ira Anjali Anwar, a Ph.D. student in the School of Information, and studies the varied dimensions of service labor in the context of postcolonial labor markets, with a focus on beauty gig work. She's interested in unpacking the confluence of algorithmic management practices, employment classifications, and the shifting boundaries of the corporate form under digital/ platform capitalism in global south geographies. Alongside a structural understanding of platform capitalism,  she explores how forces of caste and gender shape the everyday experiences of the laboring body.

Ira primarily adopts ethnographic approaches, alongside discourse and document analysis (legal and policy work) methods in my work.

How are you using your GISC 2023 Fellowship?

With the rise of right-wing Hindu nationalism in India, markers of religion and caste are gaining centrality in negotiations of work and labor.  I'm currently researching how women beauty gig workers in India navigate and make sense of experiences of casteism and Islamophobia in the country's burgeoning home service gig economy. The GISC fellowship has supported my travel to and within India for field research.

Israa Khalifa is a Ph.D. student in the Anthropology and History program at the University of Michigan. Her research interests include the history of science and medicine in Egypt from the twentieth century until today. Her research examines the dynamics of liver diseases and the politics of bodies and toxicity. She is also working on the history of early 20th-century intellectual, Ahmed Zaki Abu Shadi, seeking to elucidate the intersections of racial ideology, natural religion, and science in his writings and to highlight the translation of ideas during this period.

How are you using your GISC 2023 Fellowship?

I spent two weeks in Abu Dhabi, UAE working on the Abu Shadi collection housed at NYU AD Archives. I worked on materials related to Abu Shadi’s medical and scientific writings as well as other essays on natural religion and apiculture. The GISC Fellowship was used to cover part of the flight cost to Abu Dhabi.

Jeremy Boo is a doctoral candidate at the Department of Political Science. He is interested in religious communities and their role in state and nation-building. In his dissertation, he focuses on the legacies of historic forced migration among Thai Muslim communities to disentangle how different forms of trust are generated, transmitted, and why they persist.

How are you using your GISC 2023 Fellowship?

As part of my dissertation project, I study how the 18th-century relocation of Muslim communities from the southernmost provinces of Thailand to the capital city affects political behaviors and attitudes in the present day. The GISC fellowship will allow me to travel to Thailand to conduct surveys and interviews in these communities.

Loay Alarab is a Ph.D. student in Political Science. He is interested in Arab political thought, resistance, and gender. He focuses on Arab militant women to theorize gender and militancy through a decolonial lens.

How are you using your GISC 2023 Fellowship?

I used my GISC Summer Fellowship to familiarize myself with the breadth of archival sources available on women fighters in Lebanon. Additionally, as part of my research, I need to be familiar with anticolonial journals, magazines, and pamphlets that were being published and circulated in the Arab region. Many sources and archives relevant to these publications are located in Lebanon.

Nesrien Hamid is a Ph.D. student in sociocultural anthropology. Her doctoral research examines the interface between shifts in Saudi Arabia's political economy and conceptions of normative religious practice.

How are you using your GISC 2023 Summer Fellowship?

This summer, I will be taking advanced Arabic classes in Jeddah. I will focus on improving and enhancing my speaking, writing, and reading skills, specifically being able to carry on complex conversations without resorting to English terms, as well as working on mastering different genres of writing in Arabic. I will also take advantage of my presence in the country to continue my reconnaissance of possible research sites and interlocutors.

Omar Masood is a graduate of the MIRS Islamic Studies program, he currently works at the Department of Justice within their Office of the Inspector General in Washington, D.C. His thesis examined the presence of South Asian religious elements from Buddhism and Jainism within the early Islamic period. In particular, he examined how the Abbasid da'wa movement allowed for these practices and doctrines to flow into Islam.

How are you using your GISC 2023 Fellowship?

During the Winter semester, with the support of the GISC fellowship, I traveled to Palestine, visiting a number of cities, villages, and historical sites. The primary purpose of this trip was to gain a deeper understanding of the issues affecting Palestinians and to witness the past and present effects of the Israeli apartheid. In addition to this, I took it upon myself to interview and meet with local Palestinians who were civically engaged. I aimed to capture sentiments around how they perceived the country's political future as well as democracy more broadly. I used this data and, in tandem with publically available Arab Barometer data, performed a qualitative analysis. The final product was a policy memo that discussed the disillusionment with the PLO, negative sentiments towards Israel, and fading political engagement.

Zainab Hakim is a fourth-year undergraduate student pursuing degrees in History of Art and Women’s and Gender Studies with a minor in Islamic Studies. She is passionate about exploring the intersection between art and activism and focuses academically on anti-colonialism, feminism, and religion.

How are you using your GISC 2023 Fellowship?

This summer, I worked with a team to curate an exhibition centered around a collection of photographs and artist statements from the Shadow and Light project. This project seeks to memorialize the lives of Iraqi academics, teachers, and educators who were killed in targeted assassinations between 2003 and 2013. We selected materials to be displayed in Hatcher Graduate Library and developed an accompanying online exhibit that gives a broader context on higher education in Iraq. We researched and wrote about how visual art, which has always been an integral part of Iraqi culture, is now an act of resilience for Iraqis as they respond to their national history in the wake of fascism and American occupation.


Wondering how this can be you? All students currently enrolled at the University of Michigan in an undergraduate or graduate/professional degree program (master's or doctoral level) are eligible to apply for the GISC’s Fellowship Funding.

The GISC Fellowship Funding may be used for the following:

  • Language training - to offset the costs of program fees for language learning.
  • Research support - to offset costs for an original project supporting Senior, Master’s, or Doctoral thesis completion.
  • Travel expenses (graduate students only) - associated with conducting original research or language training

For more information, visit our undergraduate funding or graduate funding pages.