The University of Chicago was one of the top producers in the country for the 2019-20 Fulbright U.S. Student Program, which provides grants for international scholarship and teaching in over 160 countries. The program typically lasts 8 to 12 months, but was, unfortunately, cut short this year by the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the 2019-20 Fulbright cohort are two history PhD candidates: Carl Kubler and Tristan Sharp. They traveled to China and Germany, respectively.
Kubler is a fifth-year graduate student who has been abroad for fieldwork since June 2019. His research during the Fulbright program focused on the transnational history of daily life, commercial culture, and problem-solving practices on the South China Coast before the First Opium War. One of his most memorable experiences involved staying in the Sanyuanli neighborhood of Guangzhou, which attracts international traders and businesspeople reminiscent of the historical actors he studies. "Although I was no novice to street market culture beforehand," he writes, "this was also the first time I’d ever seen someone haggle at a McDonald’s." After the suspension of the Fulbright program in China, Kubler relocated to Singapore to conduct supplementary research and hopes to eventually return to Guangzhou.
Sharp, who is also in his fifth year, specializes in conflict environments in late medieval Germany. His research during the Fulbright examined feuding behavior among different social orders in Saxony, Thuringia, and Saxony-Anhalt. Sharp's program was based in Leipzig, though he visited a range of archives across Central Germany. In addition to his extensive travel, Sharp especially enjoyed having dinner in a medieval castle during the Fulbright orientation. He returned to Chicago in March when the U.S. Fulbright program was suspended.
While the 2019-20 U.S. Student Program was significantly shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic, the State Department is still proceeding with Fulbright awards for the 2020-21 cohort. The notification process is ongoing through June, but at least 18 UChicago students have been offered grants for next year's program.