History Students Win Humanities Undergraduate Research Fellowships

December 01, 2020

Jonah Gertz
Maya Gonzalez
Sage Michaels

The Department of History is delighted to announce that three History majors have received Humanities Undergraduate Research Fellowships for the 2020-2021 academic year. Congratulations to Jonah Gertz, Maya Gonzalez, and Sage Michaels!

The fellowships, sponsored by The Humanities Institute at UC Santa Cruz, support undergraduate research projects across the humanities. Up to 10 awards in the amount of $500 each are given each year to any project involving research within or including any of the humanities disciplines. There are no constraints on the expenditure of the stipend. The top proposal receives the Bertha N. Melkonian prize, an additional $500.

Jonah Gertz has been awarded a THI fellowship and the Melkonian prize for his project titled The Relationship Between SCAP, the Development of Narcotics Control Laws in Postwar Japan and the ‘Hiropon Age’. In this project, Jonah hopes to “provide readers with an understanding of how occupation-era legislation related to narcotics control and U.S. occupational forces’ [(or SCAP's)] direct involvement in distributing methamphetamine in the midst of a burgeoning crisis contributed to the modern cultural landscape surrounding drugs in Japan.”

“Jonah's intellectual curiosity is infectious,” says History Professor Noriko Aso, “and his original research will be filling in an important gap in our knowledge of drugs in postwar Japan.”

Maya Gonzalez was awarded a THI fellowship for her project titled Remember Us: Holocaust Representation in European-Jewish Émigré Film, 1942-1945. As Maya describes it, “I was drawn to the earliest stages of Holocaust memory: wartime films produced by Jewish and European émigrés hoping to bring American attention to Hitler's systematic annihilation of European Jews. This project is significant in 2020 because I discuss how the U.S. previously intervened in international human rights violations, while simultaneously looking critically at domestic discrimination against persecuted groups.”

History Professor Bruce Thompson, Maya’s faculty mentor for her project, comments that “[Maya’s] work reminds us how difficult it was to depict or even to allude to the horrors of the Holocaust in a film industry that was constrained by censorship and driven by the requirements of mass entertainment and corporate profit.”

Sage Michaels was awarded a THI fellowship for her project titled Okinawa Memories Initiative Project History Timeline.

“As a History major who took Japanese in high school, [the Okinawa Memories Initiative] was a perfect fit for my interests,” states Sage. Her project involves “building a timeline to highlight the work OMI has accomplished, and in doing so . . . to articulate why this project matters to so many people. The timeline will become part of OMI’s website where the public can learn more about OMI and Okinawan history and culture.”

As History Professor Alan Christy explains, “we are at a major turning point in the OMI project, seeking major foundation support and formalizing our project structure and the project that Sage is leading is a crucial element of our current transition. Through at least twenty interviews and working through project-generated documents and images, Sage and her team will develop a compelling and comprehendible story of the project to date, representing the experiences of both project leadership and participating students. I have a lot of confidence in Sage's ability to lead this project, both as a researcher and as a team leader.”

Once again, congratulations to Jonah, Maya and Sage on all of their accomplishments this year!