April 25, 2005
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—Joseph Rachiele, who graduated from Amherst College in January, has been awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship and will travel around the world to study cultural imperialism in a uniquely "hands-on" fashion, playing pick-up basketball and reporting on his experience. Rachiele, a graduate of Shorewood High School, is the son of Julia Rachiele of Seattle, Wash.

Rachiele will be looking for a game in New Zealand, Argentina and Puerto Rico "and also for answers to some questions about cultural diffusion, American imperialism and macho masculinity. 'Does the recent growth in popularity of basketball throughout the world indicate the existence of an American Empire?'" he asked in his Watson application. And "how has the diffusion of basketball affected gender roles?"

A founder of the Progressive Students Alliance at Amherst, Rachiele has been active in Amnesty International, Union Summer (AFL-CIO), the Campaign for Labor Rights and Books for Boys in New York City. He worked at the college media center, as a teaching assistant in physics, a student physics researcher at the University of Colorado and as a landscaper in the summers. A physics and political philosophy major, Rachiele also performed in seven dramatic productions at Amherst.

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowships provide 50 exceptional college graduates, from 49 of America 's leading liberal arts colleges, with the freedom to engage in a year of independent study and travel abroad. The program was begun in 1968 by the family of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., the founder of IBM, to honor their parents' interest in education and world affairs. More than 2,200 Watson Fellows have studied all over the world with the support of Watson Fellowships.