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Completion Award Winners

Themal Ellawala (2024) Heading link

GWS End of Year Celebration Program Booklet and mums

Themal Ellawala is a PhD candidate in Anthropology under the mentorship of Professor Gayatri Reddy, and they have also completed three graduate concentrations: Gender and Women’s Studies, Black Studies, and Museum Studies. Their dissertation is an ethnography of queerness in Sri Lanka that investigates how western Liberal modernity structures relationality and explores queer forms of relations, and how modernity structures them by privileging certain ways of being in the world and effacing others. The essay they submitted to the prize committee, “Sensing Bodies, Sensual Assemblages: Masculinity and Queerness Under an Umbrella,” explores what queerness and the sensory can tell us about masculinity. Their work in masculinity studies makes them particularly well suited to this award that was endowed by GWS’s emerita faculty member Dr. Judith Gardiner, whose work on masculinity was and continues to be field setting. We are excited to see Themal continue to imagine how and where that field should go.

About Josephine Chaet (2023) Heading link

GWS End of Year Celebration Program Booklet and mums

Josephine Chaet is a PhD candidate in Anthropology, with a concentration in Gender and Women’s Studies, whose “research and teaching bring together approaches from socio-cultural anthropology and critical feminist studies to bear on the study of politics, gender, and relationality, with a focus on contemporary Jordan.” Based on 18 months of fieldwork in Amman, her dissertation, “Critical Liaisons: The Politics of Women’s Organizing in Jordan,” analyzes “the (in)visible and intimate ways the women of non-governmental organizations make use of their relationships to further political goals, and how those actors carve out semi-independent domains of practice by negotiating existing structures of governmental management and through legislative transformation.” Josephine uniquely contributes “a feminist political analysis at multiple relational scales to push a recognition of women’s sociality as a distinct category structuring contemporary political reality.” This award will support Josephine in concluding her dissertation writing and subsequent dissertation defense in the 2023-2024 academic year.


About Benjamin Schaefer (2022) Heading link

A person with red hair and a blue shirt sits in front of an arrangement of dark purple flowers.

I am incredibly grateful to be the recipient of this award to support and finish my dissertation research. The wealth of support that I received from the GWS department is unlike any other department since matriculating to UIC. I am honoured to receive this recognition and hope that one day I will be just as inspirational as the UIC GWS department has been for me.

About Lydia Hou (2021) Heading link

In this selfie, a person with long, blond hair wears a cheetah-print shirt while sitting in front of a blue and white wall.

I am so grateful for this award supporting my dissertation research, I will always feel like GWS is my true home at UIC as I have made such lasting connections with this incredible feminist, anti-racist, social justice oriented community. Thank you GWS for everything you do to support and encourage all your students!

Earlier Awardees Heading link

2020 Alisa Swindell
2019 Sara Rezvi
2018 Aliza Arican