Undergraduate Research Reflections

Below are excerpts from research reflection reports written by recipients of undergraduate research travel grants. These grants are made possible, in part, by gifts to the Annual History Fund. To read graduate student research highlights, click here

Image of a person in front of a mural that reads "Musée Huron-Wendat"

Fallon Burner 

Wyandotte, Oklahoma; Toronto and Québec City, Canada

I am a senior history student writing my honors thesis on language revitalization in the Wendat Confederacy, which is an Indigenous group that spans North America and crosses the US-Canada border. This project shows the vital role that language plays in the Indigenous community and how its history is tied to issues of erasure and survival, as well as the role that language revitalization projects have in addressing transgenerational and historical trauma. My methodology centers on oral histories and language acquisition as a way to present a Wendat perspective, and therefore more accurate, historical narrative. I've traveled to Wyandotte Oklahoma, Toronto, and Québec City, Canada this past summer to conduct oral history interviews, community-engaged research, and archival research in the Wendake archives. I've also had one-on-one language lessons from leaders in the revitalization efforts for the Wendat and Waⁿdat languages, in service of a more ethical, nuanced, and accurate historical narrative. I studied abroad in France in summer 2018 to prepare for my visit to Québec in 2019.

Photo of a smiling person. A sunny landscape is behind them.

Alexander Reed

The UK, France, Italy, Spain

While developing my research on non-elite economic motivations for cultural change in the Roman West, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel to the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Spain to conduct on-site research during the Summer of 2019. Being able to actually walk through and experience ancient cities like Pompeii, Nemausus, and Tarraco in the same way that a Roman visitor would have enabled me to develop a much deeper understanding of the form and function of Roman architecture and urban space, and provided me with invaluable insight into the factors which may have prompted non-Roman individuals to take an interest in adopting such unfamiliar structures and spaces. For the support which afforded me the incredible experience of engaging firsthand with the places and artifacts to which I have devoted so much study, I am incredibly grateful to the Department of History and its faculty.

Image of two people. One person has a camera over their neck.

Nicholas Pingitore

Havana, Cuba and Monterey, CA

My time studying history at Cal has both literally and figuratively taken my across the world. Last year, I received a grant to complete an independent research project in Havana, Cuba where I lived for a month. There, I studied changes in the island’s political system since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Following this interest in the Cold War, this past summer, I received a fellowship to study Russian at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. There, I also began work on my senior thesis, investigating the evolving importance of the Peace of Westphalia which ended the Thirty Years’ War in 1648. This nearly 400 year old treaty is hailed by political theorists and social scientists (especially those writing in the 20th century) as the birthplace of the modern sovereign state. But this idea, that 1648 constituted something singularly remarkable, that it still lives and governs us today, is a later fabrication constructed by early enlightenment thinkers in order to add historical substance and context to their own complex international predicaments.