2020 Dissertation Research Fellowship Recipients

The Dissertation Research Fellowships were established in an effort to support graduate student dissertation research with a human rights focus at the University of Connecticut. The purpose of the Fellowship is to support primary research, including library research, fieldwork, interviewing, historical archival research, data collection and data set construction, etc.  Two Research Fellowships were awarded for 2020.
David Evans, PhD Candidate, Department of History, “Hunger for Rights: The Human Right to Food in the Post-War Era”

David was born and raised in Louisiana. Prior to his graduate work at UConn, he served eight years in the United States Marine Corps, deploying to Iraq, Afghanistan, Philippines, and Japan. He served in multiple leadership roles within the marine reconnaissance and special operations community. After leaving the Marines, he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. It was through his initial research at this institution and his own personal experiences of military that led to his interest in the idea that humans have a right to food, and understanding who has obstructed this concept from being fully applied and who has fought hardest for its proliferation.

Project Description:

This project examines the emergence of the idea of the human right to food in the decades following the Second World War and its impact on U.S. foreign relations, domestic affairs, and human rights activism. Global assertions of a “right to food” clashed sharply with the economic imperatives of a profit driven food system. U.S. leaders tacitly recognized the right to food through the domestic food stamp program but resisted state, non-state, and intergovernmental actors who sought to realize a more equitable solution to global hunger as part of a wider mission for economic justice. Exploring the history of the right to food and the challenge this idea posed to unequal regimes of economic and cultural power illuminates the tensions between capitalism and a more radical and redistributive human rights framework.

Mayte Restrepo-Ruiz, PhD Candidate in Public Health, “Intimate Partner Violence in Armed Conflict Contexts: The Case of Colombia”

Mayte Restrepo-Ruiz, is a PhD Candidate in Public Health at the University of Connecticut. Her research interests include human rights, women’s health, health inequities, and Latin America.





Project Description:

In “Intimate Partner Violence in Armed Conflict Contexts: The Case of Colombia,” I examine the associations between socio-political violence and intimate partner violence and the associated mental health effects for women. To this end, I am implementing an explanatory mixed methods research design (QUAN – qual), in which I use the findings from the Quantitative analysis to guide the qualitative in-depth interviews with Colombian women who are victims of the armed conflict. I focus in Colombia, given its long history of internal armed conflict history and high rates of intimate partner violence women experience. Given that the dynamics of this armed conflict have changed through time and place, affecting some regions more or less, I hypothesize that intimate partner violence increases or decreases depending on the level of armed conflict violence. With my research, I attempt to provide answers to whether there is a positive relationship between the levels of armed conflict-related violence and the prevalence of intimate partner violence. I do this by statistically analyzing data on the Colombian armed conflict events registered from 1990 to 2015 and the prevalence of intimate partner violence registered in the Colombian Demographic Health Surveys in the same period. I also explore the statistical relationship between cultural beliefs about gender roles, women’s self-efficacy, and social support with the prevalence of intimate partner violence using the two datasets mentioned above. I hypothesize that the higher the armed conflict-related violence, the higher the prevalence of intimate partner violence risk factors (traditional notions of gender roles) and the lower the prevalence of protective factors (sense of self-efficacy and social support). Additionally, I examine the combined mental health effects of experiencing both armed conflict and intimate partner violence. I use the 2015 Colombian Mental Health survey to statistically analyze the relationship between women’s emotional wellbeing and mental health with their exposure to both armed conflict and intimate partner violence. In-depth interviews with Colombian women victims of the armed conflict will contribute to explaining and providing narrative meaning to the quantitative findings. I use the socio-ecological model and an intersectionality theoretical approach to understand the differential experiences and mental health effects of the armed conflict and intimate partner violence in distinct groups of Colombian women. This study is significant, as it is the first study that takes a historical data analysis approach to better understand this association between intimate partner violence in armed conflict contexts. The importance of this study also lies in the potential use of its findings by the Colombian government during the transition from violence to post-conflict in creating an accurate account of the multiple ways socio-political violence has affected directly and indirectly the lives of half of its citizens.