Fulbright Spotlight: Roberta Meloni, PhD candidate at Kansas State University

Roberta Meloni is a Ph.D. candidate in History at Kansas State University (KSU). In 2019, she was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to conduct her Ph.D. program in the United States. Since then, Roberta has expanded her academic and research interests, specializing in American-East Asian relations as viewed from the lens of the history of technology, an innovative, interdisciplinary, and ever-evolving field of historical research.

Clockwise: Roberta celebrating Thanksgiving; with a fellow Fulbrighter from Bahrain and with prof. Dimino’s family (a Fulbrighter who spent his Fulbright period in Rome, Italy).

She has been awarded the Shirley A. Martin Scholarship in 2021 and 2022 and the Cora Stewart Wilcoxon Graduate Fellowship in 2021 to carry out her archival research in the United States. Her dissertation focuses on American radio projects in East Asia during the Cold War and how communications technology generated more hostility than mutual understanding in international relations.

She will present an early version of one of her dissertation chapters at the 71st Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs at the University of Kansas in September. Her paper, entitled “This is Radio of Free Asia”: When Sun Myung Moon and the ROK Government Played on America’s Cold War Ideology and Expectations in East Asia, tells the story of Radio of Free Asia, a South Korean shortwave radio station that supported U.S. anti-Communist ideology in China, North Korea, and North Vietnam and examines how radio propaganda, when attached to ideological tropes familiar to Americans, made the U.S. susceptible to foreign influence.

Clockwise: Roberta with her fellow Ph.D colleagues; in Florida; with Dr. Ralph Young, Fulbright Alumnus, and prof. of Dissent in American History at Temple University.

Roberta’s experience as a Fulbright grantee at KSU has been punctuated by a proactive academic life full of opportunities. She taught Italian (Basic Language Training) at KSU for the 2020 Spring semester, which helped strengthen her commitment as a cultural ambassador while fostering mutual understanding between Italian and American cultures. After receiving the College of Arts and Science Recognition in 2021, she has recently become a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Kansas State University Chapter. In the meantime, she continues to be engaged in academic life by serving as a member of the Honor & Integrity System to promote the Honor Code across campus, academic honesty and integrity.

Besides, Roberta is committed to furthering the dialogue between the United States and Italy as a member of the AISNA (Associazione Italiana di Studi Nord Americani) Graduates Forum. The Forum supports cultural exchange between the United States and Italy in the fields of history, literature, and culture through several activities. Among the most important, the Forum hosted the conference “Voting Divide: The Changing Boundaries of Citizenship in the United States” in May 2021 with Robyn L. Muncy (UMD) as a keynote speaker and will host “Queering America: Gender, Sex, and Recognition in U.S. History, Culture, and Literature” with keynote speaker Francisco Costa (University of East Anglia) in September.