Center for Ideas & Society affiliate, Daisy Vargas, is one of the six Ph.D. candidates in the Department of History who have won prestigious fellowships and grants totaling more than $200,000 this year. Daisy has worked on several projects at the Center including Religions in Diaspora and Global Affairs (RIDAGA) and Articul@s Autonm@s.
Daisy Vargas has been awarded $25,000 as one of 21 Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellows for 2017 at the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. The Newcombe Fellowship is the nation’s largest and most prestigious award for Ph.D. candidates in the humanities and social sciences addressing questions of ethical and religious values.
The grant will support completion of her dissertation, “Mexican Religion on Trial: Race, Religion and the Law in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands.” The dissertation traces the history of Mexican religion, race and the law from the 19th century into contemporary times, positioning current legal debates about Mexican religion within a larger history of anti-Mexican and anti-Catholic attitudes in the United States.
Her research has taken her from immigrant religious festivals in California and Utah to archives in Mexico, New Mexico, and Texas. She also is conducting ongoing research on botanicas in Southern California and curanderismo (traditional Mexican healing and practices) in the 20th century. The latter has taken her to archives in Chicago and oral histories in South Texas.
Vargas recently was chosen to participate in the Young Scholars’ Symposium at the Institute for Latino Studies at Notre Dame, where she was chosen from a nationally competitive pool of late-stage doctoral students and junior faculty to present a chapter of her dissertation.
“Ms. Vargas is one of the top young scholars in the academic study of Latino religions in the United States, an important emerging field within the discipline of religious studies,” said Jennifer Scheper Hughes, associate professor of history and Vargas’ dissertation advisor. “Her dissertation examines the ways in which the law has engaged, framed, contested, and constrained Latino religions since the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo through the present. Her work is profoundly interdisciplinary, both archival and ethnographic.”