Miller Center

Miller Center National Fellowship

Beginning in the 2017-2018 academic year, the National Fellowship Program, a longstanding initiative of the Miller Center, will fall under the leadership of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation at U.Va.. The Jefferson Scholars Foundation, created in 1980, currently offers the premier graduate fellowship and undergraduate scholarship at the University. To learn more about the National Fellows Program, including how to apply, click here.

Meet The Fellows

Noel Anderson - Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Project: The Geopolitics of Civil War: External Military Aid, Competitive Intervention, and Duration of Intrastate Conflict

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While civil wars proliferated during the Cold War, their numbers have declined in the post-Cold War period. What is more, new conflicts breaking out since 1990 have much shorter average durations than their Cold War predecessors. What explains changing trends in the incidence and duration of civil war? To answer this question, Anderson’s dissertation explores how inter-state competition affects intra-state conflict. He argues that the varying prevalence of what he calls competitive interventions—two-sided, simultaneous military assistance from different third-party states to both government and rebel combatants—is central to the decline in war, and he develops a theory of competitive intervention that models and explains why this form of external military aid prolongs violent intrastate conflicts. The theory explores the micro-foundations of military aid and civil war; explains the unique strategic dilemmas competitive interventions entail for third-party interveners; and accounts for the decline in the incidence and duration of civil war by linking changes at the level of the international system to variation in the prevalence of competitive intervention over time. To test his theory, Anderson combines statistical analyses of a novel time-series dataset of military aid to civil war combatants (1975-2009) with detailed case studies, fieldwork, and archival research. His results shed new light on the international dimensions of civil war, address ongoing debates concerning the utility of military aid as a foreign policy instrument, identify which forms of intervention facilitate—and which impede—conflict management strategies, and inform policies prescriptions aimed at resolving today’s most violent conflicts.

Sarah Coleman - History, Princeton University

Project: Redefining American: The Shifting Politics of Immigration Policy at the End of the 20th Century

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Sarah Coleman’s dissertation “Redefining American: The Shifting Politics of Immigration Policy at the End of the 20th Century,” explores how politicians, activists, citizens and the courts competed to define the rights of immigrant persons in the U.S. who did not have American citizenship status in the last quarter of the twentieth-century. With the passage of the landmark Hart-Celler Act in 1965, the United States entered a new era of immigration.  This period of massive immigration led to a fierce struggle, which has been at the heart of contemporary American political history, between activists who fought to ensure rights and benefits for these newcomers and those who opposed open borders and sought to limit the rights of immigrants.

Battles over education, health, welfare, and civil liberties were deeply influenced by this influx of immigration.  This phase in the longer struggle over the rights of immigrants began in the mid-1970s when a network of liberal activists, who had roots in the civil rights movement, successfully fought in the courts to expand the rights of non-citizens to include protection from workplace discrimination, the benefits of the welfare state, and the right to education and other social services. Coleman’s dissertation then looks at the politics of immigration policy that followed these revolutionary court decisions through to the early twenty first century.  In doing so, she traces the development of a movement, within both political parties, to limit the expansion of these rights.  She focuses on some of their success but also on the challenges and obstacles that they have encountered in rolling back the changes that took place since 1965.  

Selected Recent Publications

"Sorry, Trump. Ike's shameful program failed." CNN, November 12, 2015.

Jonathon Free - History, Duke University

Project: Redistributing Risk: The Political Ecology of Coal in Late-Twentieth Century Appalachia

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Free has been selected as the Miller Center/Hagley Library Dissertation Fellow in Business and Politics.

Jonathon Free’s dissertation traces the U.S. coal industry’s increased reliance on surface mining in the late twentieth century. During the late 1960s and 1970s, Congress passed new mine safety regulations that significantly lowered the number of deaths from explosions, roof-falls, and other underground disasters. Coal companies responded to safety legislation by expanding surface mining operations, which were less accident-prone but more environmentally destructive than underground mines.

This redistribution of the risks of mining had profound implications for the political culture of coal mining communities. In Appalachian states like Kentucky and West Virginia, where coal companies traditionally played a major role in the local economy, the mining jobs that remained became more precious, as did the few mountains left untouched by surface mining operations. Meanwhile, the risks of surface mining became more acceptable to many coalfield residents as the industry depicted it as a way to provide the energy that the nation needed while also improving both the aesthetic quality and economic attractiveness of the land. As a result, the debate over surface mining became a point of fracture in increasingly divided communities.

While scholars of environmental policy, American business, or working-class communities have tended to analyze the history of each subfield separately, this project draws on the history of capitalism, critical geography, and interdisciplinary studies of regulation to argue that the shared history of policymakers, business people, and workers did not unfold in insolated silos. 

Boris Heersink - Politics, University of Virginia

Project: Beyond Service: National Party Organizations and Party Brands in American Politics

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Boris Heersink’s dissertation focuses on the historical development of the Democratic and Republican National committees (respectively the DNC and RNC) during the 19th and 20th century.The (limited) existing literature on these institutions has argued that party organizations have developed from powerful 19th century local institutions (dominated by party bosses) which controlled candidate selection, into national institutions which hold no such powers and function as mere 'service providers' to party members. Additionally, political scientists have noted that this historical development in national committee activities has not been linear and that, while majority parties in the 20th century frequently ignored their national party organizations, minority parties invested heavily in theirs. He argues that we can best explain both phenomena by viewing the national committees as tools political actors use to promote or define their party's brand. From this perspective, we can explain both why the national committees dramatically expanded their activities in the late 19th and early 20th century, as well as explain why, in subsequent decades, minority parties have had more active national committees than majority parties. Additionally, he argues that this perspective forces us to reconsider the image of the national committees as largely irrelevant ‘service providers’: he argues that the services the committees provide serve a specific (and important) role to members of the party, and that, in executing this task of brand-building, the national committees have played a crucial role in the creation of parties that share a truly national set of policy preferences.

Selected Recent Publications

"Measuring the Vice-Presidential Home State Advantage With Synthetic Controls." American Politics Research 44, no. 4 (July 2016)

"GOP voters picked Trump. Party leaders aren’t falling in line. Here’s why that’s surprising." (with Jeffery A. Jenkins) The Monkey Cage, The Washington Post, May 10, 2016.

"This research shows that vice presidential candidates actually do win votes in their home states." (with Brenton Peterson) The Monkey Cage, The Washington Post, April 26, 2016.

"The Republicans' Rules Dilemma." The New West, April 24, 2016.

"Bernie Sanders thinks the Democratic primary process ‘distorts reality.’ Does history back this up?" (with Jeffery A. Jenkins) The Monkey Cage, The Washington Post, April 17, 2016.

Benjamin Holtzman - History, Brown University

Project: Crisis and Confidence: Reimagining New York City in the Late Twentieth Century

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Fellowship year: 2016

Mentor: Suleiman Osman, The George Washington University

Crisis and Confidence: Reimagining New York City in the Late Twentieth Century uses the sweeping transformation of post-1960s New York City to understand the broader remaking of the United States in the latter twentieth century. The project begins in the crisis-plagued New York City of the 1960s, the inauguration of more than a decade of widespread economic and political turmoil, and ends with the city’s proclaimed resurgence in the 2000s. During this period, diverse groups of city-dwellers, including grassroots organizations, non-profit foundations, elites, and elected officials worked to reshape New York as overlapping crises disrupted long-standing logics of urban governance and economics. In chronicling these varied initiatives, Crisis and Confidence reveals a defining characteristic of the period: as different sectors simultaneously embraced the sentiment that city government no longer worked, many turned toward market-based governing logics to sustain key areas of city life. These turns illustrate the powerful connection between local conditions and the broader shift toward a marketized political economy.

Elizabeth Ingleson - History, University of Sydney

Project: The End of Isolation: Rapprochement, Globalisation, and American Trade with China, 1972-1979

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Fellowship year: 2016

Mentor: Thomas Borstelmann, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Elizabeth Ingleson is a history PhD student at both the University of Sydney and the United States Studies Centre. Elizabeth’s research examines the origins of the contemporary trade relationship between the United States and China. Beginning in 1972—when President Nixon and Chairman Mao ended over twenty years of economic and political isolation—she explores how the new trade relationship was re-established and became part of the politics of rapprochement.

She explores businesspeople as crucial agents of diplomacy, looking at the American trade culture that developed, and applying cultural and business history methodologies to the diplomatic history of rapprochement. Additionally, she explores the American political ideas about trade with China, which assumed burgeoning trade ties would assist the rapprochement process by creating mutual interests from which political negotiations could develop. This reflected the 1970s context in which the notion of interdependence became a key idea in American foreign policy: an idea that was in many ways a precursor to that of globalization.

Her research raises questions about the relationships between politics, economics, culture and business in America. She argues that even though America’s trade with China in the 1970s was important politically, by the end of the decade rather than shaping the politics of rapprochement the reverse became true. The trade between the two countries was instead substantially influenced by political considerations—none more so than the political desire for interdependence.

The historical experience of the 1970s shows the nuances in the contemporary correlation made between trade and peace in Sino-American relations. Rather than a linear dynamic, politics deeply influenced trade, highlighting the key role that deliberate cultivation and political willpower played in supporting and encouraging what is today the world’s most important trade relationship.

Selected Recent Publications

"History lessons from China for future relations with Cuba." The Conversation, February 11, 2015.

Nora Krinitsky - History, University of Michigan

Project: The Politics of Crime Control: Race, Policing, and State Power in Modern America

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Fellowship year: 2016

Mentor: Kelly Lytle Hernandez, University of California, Los Angeles

“The Politics of Crime Control: Race, Policing, and State Power in Modern America,” examines the building of the American coercive state from the end of World War I through the early post-World War II years, with particular attention to the entwined processes of criminalization and racialization in the urban North. Chicago serves as the site of analysis, and offers an ideal site through which to consider many of the pivotal transformations in modern American history and their relationship to crime control—including urban expansion, migrations and immigrations, tensions between labor and capital, Prohibition and the temperance movement, industrial boom and economic crisis. The dissertation augments the burgeoning historical literature on the American carceral state, and demonstrates that in order to understand the vast scope of modern coercive state power, scholars must consider the dense legal terrain of American cities, and account for the considerable power wielded by local policing institutions to define the boundaries of legality. The dissertation weaves together analyses of these state institutions, as well as their critics and members of policed communities, drawing on municipal, state, and federal government records, legal treatises and legislative debates, commission investigations, news reports, and the records of social reform and racial improvement organizations. Policing thus serves as a lens through which to understand the production of racial knowledge, the relationship between citizens and the coercive state, and the negotiation of rights in the modern United States. 

Shannon Nix - History, University of Virginia

Project: ‘The Soul of our Foreign Policy’: Human Rights Politics, U.S. Foreign Policy, and the Struggle for Central America, 1976-1984

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Shannon Nix’s dissertation examines a series of transnational political struggles waged on the terrain of human rights and their influence on U.S. policy toward overlapping Central American crises during the Carter and Reagan administrations.  While recognizing the importance of traditional U.S. policymakers, it draws attention to the contribution of non-governmental organizations in Washington and their transnational advocacy networks. Often staffed by former missionaries, as well as civil rights and antiwar activists, many had close ties to mainstream religious groups. Increasingly disillusioned with U.S. Cold War policy, they sought to change Washington’s policy toward nations tragically riven by intransigent inequality and civil war. Building on longstanding commitments to the Social Gospel, fused with emerging theological commitments to ecumenicism and social justice, they used human rights politics to shape both policy and the domestic political climate. More than a Cold War struggle for Central American hearts and minds, this was, quite literally, one for the “soul of American foreign policy.”

Sarah E. Robey - History, Temple University

Project: The Atomic American: Citizenship in a Nuclear State, 1945-1963

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Fellowship year: 2016

Mentor: Brian Balogh, University of Virginia

Robey has been selected as the Ambrose Monell Foundation Funded Fellow in Technology and Democracy .

Nuclear weapons altered the relationship between the American state and its citizens in the early Cold War. From the Trinity Test forward, Americans grappled with the consequences of the nuclear weapons revolution. Among other challenges facing the nation, it was clear that military defense against a nuclear strike was nearly impossible and civilian preparation programs could cost billions of dollars. Should deterrence peacekeeping fail, Americans would face an attack without military protection, making large-scale civilian casualties unavoidable. “And yet,” Senator Brien McMahon puzzled in 1950, “the first duty of a sovereignty is to protect its people.” Nuclear weapons unsettled Americans’ ideas about federal protection, individual responsibility, and public safety. Under the threat posed by nuclear weapons technology, these conflicting concerns shaped domestic and international policy and framed national identity in the Atomic Age.

“The Atomic American: Citizenship in a Nuclear State, 1945-1963” explores the ways American policymakers, civilians, and scientists understood nuclear survival to be a product of the democratic relationship between the citizen and the state. Many new voices of authority emerged at the intersection of nuclear science and American civic culture: scientists became policy experts, science fiction marshaled moral critique, politicians assumed unpopular platforms for disarmament, and housewives became environmental advocates. By examining how nuclear survival was both a grassroots phenomenon and a top-down federal project, this dissertation demonstrates that the state, its citizenry, and science were interconnected agents of change in American Cold War society.

Sarah Seo - History, Princeton University

Project: The Fourth Amendment, Cars, and Freedom in Twentieth-Century America

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Fellowship year: 2016

Mentor: David Sklansky, Stanford Law School

Seo has been selected as the Charles W. McCurdy Fellow in Legal History.

Most scholars have explained the development of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence in the twentieth century as an enduring struggle to limit the police’s discretionary authority to protect individual rights. But by beginning her inquiry with the automobile in American society—one of the most contested sites of the Fourth Amendment, yet the least studied—Seo’s show that the evolution in the law of searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment reflected the more difficult challenge of accommodating the police within the meaning of freedom itself. The mass production of the automobile created the greatest urban disorder at the turn of the century, and the state’s power to regulate the social chaos of the automotive society increasingly encompassed a proactive, discretionary form of policing. Seo’s project traces the implications of this shift in governance from nineteenth-century self-regulation to twentieth-century policing through Fourth Amendment car search-and-seizure cases. By prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizures, the Fourth Amendment governed the first point of encounters between individuals and the police. And in the twentieth century, most of those encounters happened in the context of a traffic stop. Car stops and searches thus offer an important perspective not only on how the citizen-police relationship has evolved, but also on how Americans have wrestled with the paradox of discretionary policing in a society committed to the rule of law. Ultimately, the resolution entailed a change in what it meant to live in a free society. 

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