Mike Gadomski is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Philosophy. He works in the areas of political philosophy, metaethics, and ethics, with particular interests in global distributive justice and immigration. His dissertation examines the relationship between metanormative issues such as objectivity and truth and first-order normative questions in global justice. Mike was a Graduate Associate at the Perry World House during the 2020-21 academic year and has recently co-published on the topic of nationalism during times of crisis. He received a B.A. in philosophy from Middlebury College in 2014.
Anthropology / South Asia Studies
Indivar Jonnalagadda is a joint PhD Candidate in Anthropology and South Asia Studies. Indivar's research has spanned multiple projects engaging questions of urbanization, livelihood, energy, sanitation, housing, and education, and it has consistently been organized around core questions of the relationship between development and democracy. His ongoing dissertation project looks at what governments have called the “challenge of slums” from the perspective of slum-dwellers in Hyderabad, India to examine the political and democratic institutions that enable marginalized urban residents to secure claims on land and livelihoods despite barriers to access. The dissertation engages debates on property relations, informal markets, bureaucracy and urban planning.
Sociology of Science
Zachary Loeb is a PhD candidate in the History and Sociology of Science. He works at the intersection of the history of technology and disaster studies, and his research explores the ways in which technologies produce and exacerbate risk. His dissertation focuses on the year 2000 computing crisis (Y2K) in order to consider the ways in which technical experts and decision makers worked together to ensure this significant challenge was overcome, while also examining the ways in which the larger society attempted to make sense of this startling reminder of how reliant on computerized systems their lives had become. In addition to several book chapters, his research has appeared in Boundary 2-Digital Studies and in Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, as well as in popular outlets such as The Washington Post and CNN. Prior to coming to the University of Pennsylvania, he earned an MA from NYU’s Media, Culture, and Communication department, and an MSIS from the University of Texas at Austin’s Information School.
Anthropology / South Asia Studies
Ishani Dasgupta is a Joint Degree PhD Candidate in the Departments of Anthropology and South Asia Studies. Her research questions are concerned with emergent and alternate forms of citizenship and community amongst the politically precarious. Her dissertation examines the practices and repertoires of resistance and belonging of the Tibetan exile community, which contribute to the creation of a deterritorialized Tibetan nation under conditions of statelessness. Ishani was a recipient of the 2017 Dissertation Fieldwork Grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation and was awarded the Joseph W. Elder Junior Fellowship from the American Institute of Indian Studies in 2018. She is the recipient of the Association of Political and Legal Anthropology’s Best Graduate Student Paper Prize 2019 for “The Burning Body and the Withering Body: Embodied Resistance Practices in the Tibetan Community.”
Katie Rader is a Ph.D. candidate in political science specializing in American political development, political economy, race, and labor politics. In her teaching and research, she focuses on historical struggles for equality pursued by racial advocacy organizations and labor advocates. Her dissertation asks how coalitions that formed to fight for both racial and economic justice in the early twentieth century shifted their focus away from programs for economic redistribution and instead pursued a version of anti-discrimination politics that failed to challenge legislation in the 1940s-1960s that chipped away at labor and welfare programs.
Drew Starling is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History. His research broadly considers the histories of media, reading, and interpretive practices, with a particular interest in how early modern readers read and made use of news. His dissertation examines the ways in which a controversy surrounding the condemnation of a heterodox Catholic Bible commentary led to a transformation in popular reading practices in early eighteenth-century France. This research has been supported by a Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR)-Mellon Fellowship for Dissertation Research in Original Sources, a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct research in France, and a number of internal grants. Before starting his Ph.D. at Penn, he received a B.A. from Penn in 2013 and an M.Phil. from the University of Cambridge in 2014.
Nimrod Ben Zeev
Nimrod Ben Zeev is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on the intersections between labor, sensory history and political economy in construction work, the construction industry and the built environment in twentieth-century Palestine / Israel. He is particularly interested in the ways in which inequalities, racial hierarchies and masculinity are produced and sustained through labor practices and divisions of risk. His research has been supported by the Social Sciences Research Council's International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF) and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation's Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship. In addition to his studies, he is a member of the editorial board of the Social History Workshop, a Hebrew language public history platform making cutting-edge research on the history of the Middle East and beyond accessible to a broad audience.
Katherine Culver is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology, specializing in linguistic anthropology. Her dissertation explores transnational rule-of-law discourse and contemporary efforts to build legal infrastructure in Cambodia through the training of a new generation of legal professionals. During 2018-19, she conducted 18 months of research in Cambodia, first as a Fulbright-Hays DDRA fellow, and then as a senior fellow of the Center for Khmer Studies. Katherine has an additional research interest in American criminal jury trials, and she has published on juror decision-making in the journal Signs and Society. She received an A.B. in Philosophy from Princeton in 2010 and a J.D. from Yale Law School in 2017.
Anthropology / GSE
Jacquie Greiff is a PhD Candidate in the Departments of Anthropology and Education, specializing in questions of citizenship and belonging among youth in post-socialist societies. Her dissertation examines the use of citizenship declarations as alternative forms of activism through voluntary marginalization among university students in post-Dayton Bosnia-Herzegovina. Jacquie was a 2017-2018 Fulbright Study/Research fellow in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and was also awarded an American Councils Title VIII grant for her research in Bosnia. Jacquie was recently awarded the Society for the Anthropology of Europe 2019 Graduate Student Paper Prize for her research considering precarious citizenship among ‘Ostali’ in post-Dayton Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Leslie Jones is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Sociology, specializing in race and gender, critical race theory, online social media, and collective mobilization. In her dissertation, she argues that Black women are forming intellectual “salons” through online social media, in which they are making groundbreaking theoretical contributions toward the public understanding of race and gender. She was a 2017-2018 Mellon doctoral fellow in the Price Lab for Digital Humanities at Penn as well as a coordinator of the annual Digital Sociology Mini-Conference at the Eastern Sociological Society. Beyond her research, Leslie is deeply committed to the university community. She has served as the President of the Black Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (BGAPSA), the Deputy of the IDEAL Council, and a graduate fellow for the Africana Summer Institute.
Gregory Koutnik is a doctoral candidate in political science specializing in political theory. His research explores environmental political thought, political economy, populism, and questions of value and belonging in environmental politics. He is especially interested in the idea of home and its rich resonances in environmental thought and politics. His undergraduate teaching has earned the Rubenstein Award in Political Science, and he was a finalist for the Penn Prize for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student. He served as a Graduate Fellow at the Penn Program in the Environmental Humanities (2016-17), and his dissertation research will be featured in the Fels Policy Research Initiative’s Doctoral Student Seminar Series in Spring 2018.
Kristian Taketomo is a PhD candidate in History. His dissertation, “Megalopolis, U.S.A.,” traces the emergence and intellectual life of the concept of the urban mega-region in city and regional planning after 1945, concentrating on the advent of the Northeast Corridor—the 600-mile strip of densely-settled, heavily-developed land between southern New Hampshire and northern Virginia—as a geographic region and a cultural construction. He has earned numerous fellowships and awards, including a Mellon Humanities, Urbanism and Design (H+U+D) Research Grant and the Teaching Assistant of the Year Award (2015) from the UPenn History Undergraduate Advisory Board.
Ashley Gorham is a doctoral student in political theory at the University of Pennsylvania, with interests in new media, information technology, democratic theory, the history of political thought, and the relationship between aesthetics and politics. Her dissertation examines the political action of WikiLeaks, the Electronic Disturbance Theater, and Anonymous through the lens of three strands of democratic theory, labeled the “epistemic,” “aesthetic,” and “audacious,” respectively. Her work has been published in The Journal of International Relations, Peace Studies and Development and Limn, and she has a forthcoming article in PS: Political Science and Politics. In 2016, she received the University of Pennsylvania’s Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Graduate Student. She is the captain of the Political Science Department’s softball team.
Javier Revelo-Rebolledo is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science. He studies the political dynamics of deforestation in the Colombian Amazon since the mid-20th century. His dissertation explores the ways in which the territorial reach of the Colombian state is related to profound land-use changes. His research and teaching interests include comparative politics, political ecology, political economy, constitutional theory, and subnational comparative analysis. Javier received a B.A. in Political Science from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (Colombia) in 2010, and a J.D. degree from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in 2007.
Sara Sligar is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English who works on 20th-century American fiction, film, and television. Her dissertation, entitled Forms of Justice: The Rise of the Legal Procedural in the Age of Due Process, 1930-1980, describes the development of the genre of the legal procedural in the context of criminal rights law. Her debut novel, The Image of Her, is forthcoming.
Justin Bernstein is a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Philosophy. His dissertation, “In Defense of an Instrumentalist Conception of Legitimacy,” argues that political institutions and political actions are legitimate in virtue of producing the social conditions necessary for the personal autonomy of citizens. While Justin primarily works in social/political and legal philosophy, he also has research interests in ethics, metaethics, practical reason, and the history of ethics and social/political philosophy. He received a B.A. in Philosophy from Vassar College, and an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Prakirti Nangia is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science. Her fields of study include comparative politics, international relations, political economy, social policy, gender and politics, and development. Her dissertation, entitled "Development, Maternalism, and Women's Social Citizenship: A Case Study of India, 1985-2015," examines the universe of social programs for women in India and seeks to uncover the political dynamics that have shaped it. Prakirti received a B.A. in Political Science and Economics from Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College, City University of New York, in 2011.
Emma Teitelman is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History. She studies the nineteenth-century United States with an emphasis on labor, political, and social history. Her dissertation considers the shifting relationship between state formation and capitalism in the U.S. South and West after the Civil War. By tracing the development of mining and lumber industries in the wake of the war, this project shows how an ensemble of state and private institutions operated to transform the organization of land, labor, and social power in regions where U.S. political authority was particularly tenuous. Emma received her B.A. in history from Wesleyan University.
Comparative Literature and Literary Theory
Laura Finch is a Ph.D. candidate in the Program in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory. She focuses on post-1945 American fiction. Her dissertation, "Personal Finance: Economic Citizens in the Contemporary Anglophone Novel," explores the ways in which contemporary novels interested in the economy represent and confront the new narratives of financial citizenship that permeate the present moment. Her research and teaching interests include American literature of the long 20th-Century, 21st-Century global anglophone novels, the politics of genre and style, affect studies, gender studies, critical theory, Frankfurt School philosophy, and literature and economics.
Hope McGrath is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History. She studies the nineteenth-century United States with an emphasis on labor, political, and social history. Her dissertation, "An Army of Working-Men: Military Labor and the Construction of American Empire, 1865-1915," focuses on how the U.S. military harnessed the labor of enlisted men to realize extraordinary building and infrastructural projects. She argues that this labor was central to the expansion of both American capitalism and state power in the decades after the Civil War. Hope received her B.A. in history and English from Columbia University.
Daniel S. Moak is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science. His fields of study in include American Political Development, American Political Thought, and Education Politics. His research focuses on the historical development of the federal education state. His dissertation entitled, “Educational Equity: Ideology, Inequality, and the Rise of the Punitive Education State,” traces the ideological and institutional developments that paved the way for the rise in punitive education policies aimed at schools, teachers and students. He received a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy from Willamette University in 2008.
Ian M. Hartshorn
Ian M. Hartshorn is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science. His fields of study include Comparative Politics and International Relations. His research focuses on political economy and contentious politics in North Africa and the Middle East. His dissertation is titled Corporatism, Labor Mobilization, and the Seeds of Revolution in Egypt and Tunisia and addresses the role of trade unions before, during, and after the recent uprisings. The project challenges the popular narratives of the “Arab Spring” and re-situates these revolutions in workers’ experiences. He received his B.A. in Religion from Bucknell University in 2007.
Sarah K. Rodriguez
Sarah K. Rodriguez is a Ph.D. candidate in History at the University of Pennsylvania. Her fields of study include United States History, Southern History, Early Mexican History, Comparative/Transnational History, Chicano History, History of Gender and Sexuality, Labor History, Rural History, and American Empire. She is currently working on a dissertation entitled “Children of the Great Mexican Family”: Anglo-American Immigration to Mexico and the Making of the American Empire, 1810-1861, which examines the thousands of Anglo-Americans who immigrated to northern Mexico in the early part of the nineteenth century. It challenges traditional interpretations of them as forebears of American Manifest Destiny, arguing instead that their decision to become Mexican citizens and testaments of loyalty to that country were sincere.
Basak Taraktas is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science. Her fields of study include Comparative Politics, Comparative State Formation, Social Movements, Comparative Political Economy, European Politics, and Turkish Politics. Her dissertation, entitled Uneven Transitions to Limited Government: The Challenge of Diversity and the Role of Collective Action in the Emergence of Modern States, compares the speed and durability of constitutional reforms in the Ottoman Empire, Imperial Russia, and 19th century France. Basak received her BA from Galatasaray University, an MA from the College of Europe, and an MA from Sabanci University.
Emma Hayward is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science and her fields of study include Comparative Politics, Comparative Public Law, Middle Eastern Politics, and African Politics. Her research focuses on the varying ways in which states engage with minority group legal institutions such as religious and tribal courts. Her dissertation is titled "Legal Pluralism and Group Rights: States and the Devolution of Judicial Power," a study of judicial decentralization in six countries, including Egypt, Lebanon, Tanzania, Malawi, the United Kingdom, and France. She received her BA from Princeton University (2006).
Maryan Soliman is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History. Her fields of study include American history, African American history, American legal history, history of the American South, and American labor history. Her dissertation is titled "Inciting Free Speech and Racial Equality: The Communist Party and Georgia’s Insurrection Statute in the 1930s." She received her B.A. in History from UC Berkeley in 2002 and her M.A. in History from San Francisco State University in 2005. Maryan is the Boies Family DCC Fellow.
Piotr M. Szpunar
Communication (Annenberg) / Political Science
Piotr M. Szpunar is a Ph.D. candidate at the Annenberg School and in the Department of Political Science. His research and work focuses on how collectives structure and use past events and figures to buttress their political aims (collective memory), the politics of exclusion, the philosophy of communication, as well as journalism and political/cultural theory. Piotr's dissertation interrogates "Homegrown Terrorism" as an assemblage which facilitates the transformation of a broad array of citizens into "terrorists." He received his BA in Political Science from the University of Waterloo (2007) and an MA in Communication from the Annenberg School (2009).
Clemmie L. Harris
Clem Harris, is Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History. His research interests include American history, Africana Studies, African Studies, and Urban Studies. His dissertation entitled: “Race, Leadership, and the Local Machine: the Origins of the African American Struggle for Political Recognition and the Politics of Community Control in Philadelphia, 1915 to 1968”, traces the ongoing role of political recognition and for local control as organizing concepts against unresolved barriers of social, economic, and political integration. The study uncovers forgotten efforts of a pre-World War II generation of black Republican leaders as well as their subsequent counterparts within the Democratic Party, to overcome structural obstacles to interracial democracy and full citizenship.
Thea Riofrancos is a Ph.D. candidate in the political science department and is currently writing a dissertation entitled "Contesting Extraction: State-formation, Democracy and Large-scale Mining in Ecuador," based on one year of ethnographic and archival fieldwork. Her research interests include natural resource policy, environmental and indigenous movements, contemporary Latin American politics and the study of discourse. She received her B.A in political science from Reed College in 2006.
Elspeth Wilson is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is writing a dissertation titled, “The Reproduction of Citizenship.” Her dissertation examines government regulations targeting the intimate lives of Americans, and how these laws and judicial decisions shaped the landscape of U.S. citizenship throughout the twentieth century. Elspeth’s research interests include citizenship, American political development, public health and social welfare, democratic theory, ethics and public policy, civil rights, and constitutional law. She received her BA from Columbia University in Political Science, and her MA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Elspeth is the Boies Family DCC Fellow.
History / Public Health
Merlin Chowkwanyun is a joint-degree MPH-Ph.D. candidate in Public Health and History at the University of Pennsylvania and is working on a dissertation on the political economy of medical care and environmental health in the postwar United States. His research interests are in the history of public health and medicine, social movements, the environment, and race. He received a B.A. in History and Sociology from Columbia University in 2005.
Mara Cecilia Ostfeld is a Ph.D candidate in the political science department, where she is writing a dissertation titled "Spanish-Language Media and Latino Political Identities." Her research interests include media effects, political psychology, identity politics, and, in particular, Spanish-language media. Mara received her Masters in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School and is currently working on a paper relating to the role of media in shaping attitudes on immigration.
Philosophy / Law
Doug Weck is a Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy and is writing a dissertation titled "Democratic Authority and Political Obligation." His research interests include political authority, political obligation, democratic theory, social contract theory, egalitarianism, theories of responsibility, jurisprudence, tort law, and criminal law. Doug received a J.D. from Penn Law in 2010 and was a Senior Editor on the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. For more information, please visit his Philosophy department website: http://www.phil.upenn.edu/students/+weck. Douglas is the Boies Family DCC Fellow..
Katrin Schreiter is a Ph.D. candidate in Modern European History at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is writing her dissertation titled “Displaying Germany’s Cold War: The Political Aesthetics of East and West German Interior Design, 1949-1989” in Modern German History. She received her B.A. equivalent in History (Political Science and North American Studies from the Free University Berlin in 2003 and her M.A. in American Diplomatic History from The Ohio State University in 2005. Her research interests include German-German relations during the Cold War, material culture, aesthetics, international history, and cultural economic history. A forthcoming essay publication on European cultural convergence combines these interests in the context of West European economic integration after the Second World War.
Ksenia Gorbenko is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology. Her research interests include mass communication, social movements, and social change. Her dissertation, "From Print to Pixel: Mass Media and Nonviolent Activism," examines the interplay between technological innovation and non-violent protest through a semiotic analysis of news images and video footage of protest.
David Bateman is a fifth year doctoral candidate in Political Science. He received his BA from Concordia University, Montreal. His research focuses on the political processes that create and sustain democratic exclusion, the subordination of categories of people under otherwise democratic regimes. David is the Boies Family DCC Fellow..
Jeehyun Lim is a Ph.D candidate in English. She is currently working on her dissertation that examines the representation of bilingual subjects in Asian American and Latino literature. The dissertation organizes the debates on bilingualism in post-World War II U.S. around three social types of bilinguals--the bilingual child, the dormant bilingual, and the bilingual writer--and explores the social dynamics of inclusion and exclusion around these figures.
Michael Christian Jurlando
Christian Jurlando is a Ph.D candidate in Political Science. His dissertation is entitled, "A Magnificent Power": Perceptions of the Ottoman Empire and Reason of State in Early Modern Italy." Committee: Ellen Kennedy (chair), Anne Norton.
Vanessa Mongey is a Ph.D candidate in History. Before coming to Penn, she received M.A.s in English and History at Université de la Sorbonne, Paris. The topic of her dissertation is: "The Cosmopolitan Republic: The Gulf Coast between 1803 and 1836."
Dan Berger is a Ph.D candidate at the Annenberg School for Communication. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Florida in 2003 with a double major in Interdisciplinary Studies and Journalism. He is the author of Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity (AK Press, 2006) and co-editor of Letters From Young Activists (Nation Books, 2005). His dissertation studies how black and Puerto Rican prisoners and their allies in the 1970s targeted American inequality by dramatizing their confinement as proof of democracy’s exclusions. Through examining the intellectual productions and political mobilizations of these dissidents, this dissertation contends that diverse forms of media provide a necessary space to communicate and create political meaning where physical mobility and established channels of dissent are unavailable.
Education, Culture, and Society (GSE)
Phillip Buckley is a doctoral candidate in the Education, Culture, and Society Program at Penn's Graduate School of Education. A graduate of George Washington University's Law Center, he teaches School law at GSE and summer courses to international LLM students at Penn's Law School. He previously served for three years in the U.S. Department of State English Language Fellowship Program, teaching at law schools in Ukraine and Serbia. His dissertation explores the extent to which the law of student speechrights both constitutes children as citizens now and influences what kind of citizens they become.
Jo Cohen graduated from Queens' College, Cambridge with a double first in 2001. After completing an MA in History at Northwestern she entered the doctoral program at Penn in 2003. Her dissertation, "'Millions of Luxurious Citizens:' Consumption and Citizenship in New York and Philadelphia, 1806-1876," explores the connections Americans made between their rights and obligations as citizens and their experiences and expectatoins as consumers in the rapidly changing commercial landscape of 19th century New York and Philadelphia. By examining auction houses, mechanics' institutes, ad agencies, the centennial fair and more, Cohen shows how the demands of producers and consumers reconfigured Americans' ideas of patriotism and consumption.
Willie Gin is a Ph.D. candidate in political science. He is primarily interested in diversity, inequality, and politics, and his dissertation compares the incorporation of religious minorities in Australia, Canada, and the United States.
"The Tutelary Empire: State- and Nation-Building in the 19th Century United States."
"Democracy and the 1968 Student Movements in France, Italy, and Germany."
"Toward a Just Global Economy: International Institutional Justice"