Graduate Students' Research Interests and Activities
Celeste Alexander works at the intersection of political anthropology, the anthropology of development, and environmental anthropology. Her fieldwork concerns political possibilities and limitations presented by community conservation and related development projects in north-western Tanzania. Working with institutional actors who mediate engagements between, on the one hand, peoples living outside of protected areas, and on the other, a diverse set of regulatory actors, development practitioners, and private investors, her research explores competing notions of community and democratic governance in a context of increasing calls for decentralization. In particular, she is interested in processes by which claims to authority, to land, to livelihoods, and to development in various capacities are asserted, assumed, or subdued.
Quincy Amoah received a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies at the New School where he is also completing an MA in Anthropology. He is concerned with questions of cosmology and ontology and with interpretative approaches in medical anthropology and political ecology. Quincy plans to study the anthropology of gastrointestinal infections, excreta and dirt. He is interested in notions of dirt and their corresponding relations to order, space and politics, particularly in pastoral Nilotic communities in Kenya.
Nicole Berger is interested in human rights discourse, nationalism(s), and international migration. She plans to explore these issues in fieldwork with the Sri Lankan Tamil community in Paris, France. She holds a graduate certificate in International Cultural Studies and an MA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
Diana Budur is interested in the anthropologies of diaspora, transnationalism, kinship, gender and ethos with a focus on the Romany (Gypsy) people of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Budur is currently examining the making of Romany people into ethnically identifiable citizens of Brazil and the daily negotiations and constructions of a distinctive sub-national heritage through culture-specific honor and shame values. Budur's interest in feminist theories reflects in her analysis of women's negotiating the registers of two patriarchal cultures: the national Brazilian one, still reflected in the continued ban on abortion, and the Romany emphasis on male predominance as heads of families and political representation at the national level, despite the fact that women tend to be the family bread-winners through their card-reading practices.
Jessica Cooper received a BA in Anthropology from Washington University of St. Louis and an MA in Anthropology from the University of Chicago. She is interested in evidence-making practices at the intersection of law and psychiatry and their consequences for governmentality and citizenship. Jessica plans to carry out an ethnographic study of Mental Health Courts in the US.
Benjamin Fogarty (Also known as Benjamin Fogarty-Valenzuela)
My research takes the “active citizen” as envisioned by corporate education consultants hired in Latin America (stressing Guatemala) as a point of departure to study how today’s so called “education revolution” sits at the intersection of transnational capital and citizenship movements. I am particularly interested in how multinational educational consulting firms concern themselves with a student’s interiority – self-image, values, aspirations – and how this interiority gets mobilized towards self-governance, individualism, and ahistoricity.
I plan on conducting preliminary research in New York, Sao Paulo and Guatemala City to find out how the high-end world of education consultants produce and distribute pedagogies across the Americas.
Other interests include the narratives proliferated by the war on drugs and their impact on security, addiction, rehabilitation, and “at risk” youth education interventions in Guatemala. Central to all this is a commitment to visual work.
Onur Gunay is interested in political and economic anthropology, documentary filmmaking, critical theory, state and violence, immigration and labor, subjectivity and memory. For his PhD research, he is interested in exploring the ways ethnic difference allows certain populations to become the target of state violence. This difference is remade in its encounters with urban job markets and is re-structured through labor and class relations that order cosmopolitan urban spaces. Specifically, his work focuses on the ways Kurdish workers in Turkey deal, or fail to deal, with the unmaking of their lives by losses resulting from state violence. He also explores how a new Kurdish self-definition emerges in response. On the one hand, he seeks to locate Kurdish migrant workers in the political and cultural contexts of forced migration, structural and symbolic violence, memory and post-memory. On the other, he interrogates neoliberal flexible employment, the urban sphere and growing inequalities. Furthermore, he examines the complex ways in which these regimes of subjection are produced, leading to different reproductions of the self, culture and community.
My dissertation is a study of generations, schooling, and desire for education in post-war Liberia. The project is based on sixteen months of fieldwork I conducted in Liberia, with a grant from the Wenner Gren Foundation. In the field, I moved between households and schools, younger and older generations, road-side market stands and kickball games, palm orchards and movie clubs, birthday parties and story-exchanging sessions, and rural and urban areas. I am writing my dissertation with support from the Fellowship of Woodrow Wilson Scholars. I have research interests in the following areas: education; kinship and gender; the anthropology of politics and markets; colonialism and post-coloniality; media; peace and conflict studies; and West Africa.
Janet Hine is interested in the anthropology of science, particularly in the intersection of science, culture and language. She plans to study representations of scientific knowledge.
Peter Kurie is interested in theatrical practices of American community. He is currently doing fieldwork in the "model town" Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Pablo Landa studies personal and group histories as narrated in relation to objects, buildings and landscapes. His work in Mexico and Brazil is located at the intersection of modern architecture, nation-building and social security policies, museums, utopian imaginings, religion, colonial chronicles, and the historiography of anthropology.
George Laufenberg works at the intersection of medical anthropology, political anthropology, and the anthropology of religion; he is interested in relationships between embodied practices of spirituality, healing, and community formation in contemporary North American life. His fieldwork explores modes of knowledge production and representations of experience in the teaching and learning of metaphysically-oriented practices of ‘Complementary and Alternative Medicine’, as well as the connections practitioners make to healing traditions in native North America and European esoteric traditions.
Kelly McKowen received a BA in Literary Arts and International Relations from Brown University and was a Fulbright Scholar in Norway. He is interested in political anthropology, European globalization, the ethnography of welfare states, and interpretative theories. Kelly plans to do a comparative study of identity and belonging in the social democratic welfare regimes of Scandinavia.
Maria McMath examines how French citizens of immigrant descent engage what has been consistently referred to — on both sides of the Atlantic — as “the culture of hip hop.” Maria also produces and studies television, feature, and non-fiction film. She was the associate producer of Emmy-award nominated "Justice for my People: The Dr. Hector P. Garcia Story," and was commissioned in 2004 by the SHARE program at McCosh Health Center to produce a documentary on sexual assault and alcohol misuse at Princeton. Maria is a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow (Swarthmore College), an ancienne élève of l’École Normale Supérieure in Paris, and a Fellowship of Woodrow Wilson Scholars recipient. Maria has had various academic and administrative appointments at Haverford College, University of Pennsylvania, and Starr King School for the Ministry. Please visit drhiphop.wordpress.com for more details on Maria.
Nikos Michailidis is interested in the process of the transformation of sounds into meaningful acoustic symbols defined as music by individuals in particular sociocultural contexts. He currently works on an ethnography of music-making and belonging in contemporary Turkey. Based on extensive fieldwork and archival research conducted in Trabzon, Istanbul and Ankara, Nikos focuses on the rise of the "ethnic music" phenomenon in Turkey with special interest in a genre called Karadeniz/Pontian (Black Sea) music. His research creatively bridges anthropology with historiography, politics, ethnomusicology, Hellenic and Turkish studies in a project that deals with the complex, dynamic interconnections between practices of music-making, listening, remembering and the construction of belonging in one of the most "multi-cultural" Islamic countries of the Middle East. His broader research interests include political anthropology, social theory, history of ideas, historiography and the anthropology of memory, research methods, ethnomusicology, and European and Mediterranean Studies. His dissertation research has also been supported by the American Research Institute in Turkey (ARIT). Also an amateur musician himself, Nikos concurrently develops a music project named Argatia that comprises of musicians from Greece and Turkey aiming at targeting audiences in the two countries through concerts, public lectures and musical productions.
Nick Nuñez student works in southern Germany on questions pertaining to family owned businesses and the relation between enterprise and familial ties. His research explores the patterns of inheritance and intergenerational relationships in German society and how the family firm serves both as a model of and a model for the family. He also focuses on theories of kinship and exchange.
Anna Offit is a first-year doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology and a Law and Public Affairs (LAPA) Graduate Associate. She received a J.D. from Georgetown Law and an MPhil in Social Anthropological Analysis from the University of Cambridge. Her research interests include: lay participation in the legal system, jury selection, environmental policy documents, 20th century American poetry, legal language discourse, knowledge production, and social movements.
Daniel Polk is interested in the history and current practices of water management in the American Southwest. Informed from his past work on human rights conflicts on the U.S./Mexico border and natural resource management in Costa Rica, his research seeks to uncover the multiple regimes of power that affect fresh water's use within social, political and ecological relations.
Erin Raffety's research explores the significant growth of Chinese domestic adoption and foster care over the past two decades, and considers the intersection between traditional practices of Chinese kinship with the modern, global processes of international adoption. Her dissertation fieldwork takes place among Chinese foster families in the capital city of Nanning in the Guangxi Autonomous region of China. Ms. Raffety also holds an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a B.A. in Anthropology from Davidson College. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via her blog littlesacredspace.wordpress.com.
- Spring 2011. “Anthropology and Adoption: What Culture Can Teach Us.” The Adoption Constellation.
- 8 October 2010. “‘Out of the Mouths of Babes:’ Children, International Adoption, and Disaster Relief.” American Anthropological Association Blog: http://blog.aaanet.org/2010/10/08/international-adoption-and-disaster-relief/
- Spring 2010. “Cultural Contingencies: U.S.-China Adoptions Reconsidered.” Princeton Asia Review. Princeton University. Vol.2 (2):5-6.
Sebastian Ramirez is interested in the conflation of urban transformation, state intervention, displacement and citizenship. Specifically, I am interested in the ways in which internally displaced persons in Colombia come to occupy and transform spaces in the country's major cities and how their presence dovetails and/or distorts public discourses of violence and reconciliation. Furthermore, I want to explore the ways in which current displacements bring previous histories of forced movement to the fore and how the articulation of these histories can be wielded to produce new claims to citizenship and belonging.
Igor Rubinov studies the transformation of politics, policies and ecologies in the resource-poor states of post-Soviet Central Asia. His MA work focused on circulating Kyrgyz remittances as a means of reconstituting local spaces and promoting collective cohesion. His upcoming dissertation fieldwork will explore Tajik communities that navigate between international agencies and state actors to enhance ecological and cultural resources.
Migrant Assemblages: Building Postsocialist Households with Kyrgyz Remittances. Anthropological Quarterly (forthcoming).
Review of Under Solomon's Throne: Uzbek Visions of Renewal in Osh by Morgan Y. Liu. Central Asian Survey. 2013.
Joel Rozen is a former journalist whose forthcoming research considers entrepreneurship and matters of neoliberalism, hybridity, and development in post-revolutionary Tunisia. More peripherally, his interests include parallel economies, visual media, subalternity, historiography, and French colonialism. He is currently at work on an article on martyrdom and the informal telling of history following the Tunisian revolution.
Nadezhda Dimitrova Savova is interested in comparing the community cultural centers networks in Bulgaria (chitalishte) and Cuba (casas de cultura) as spaces for the intangible cultural heritage promotion in line with UNESCO’s universal safeguarding principles. Nadezhda also does research on the social function of samba heritage tourism in Salvador de Bahia and the arts-based social projects in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Her general academic interest explores the socially transformative role of the arts and the dynamic forms of symbolic capital that amateur creativity, understood as a wide-ranging aesthetic and imaginative everyday experience, generates within individuals and communities.
Saul Schwartz is beginning fieldwork on professional legitimacy in endangered language documentation, focusing on Siouan languages and linguistics. His research interests include professional cultures, disciplinarity, expertise, and language ideology. With his advisor, he recently co-authored a review essay, “Collaborative Methods: A Comparison of Subfield Styles,” which will appear in Reviews in Anthropology 40(1). He is also working on an article about trade and material culture at Iowaville, an 18th and 19th century Ioway Indian village site on the lower Des Moines River. Alongside anthropology, he enjoys fortune cookies and country music.
Marissa Smith is interested in the interweaving of rural and urban, agricultural and industrial in the lives of mining engineers. She is focusing particularly on Mongolia's Erdenet copper-molybdenum combine, established with the the Soviet Union in the mid-70s. Erdenet is situated not only around one of the world's major copper processing factories but also in the middle of the Baikal watershed, home to a large number of full and part-time nomadic pastoralists. The widely shared and enduring values of Soviet-Mongolian socialism and industrial as well as pastoral bureaucratic and charismatic institutions are the focus of a dissertation in progress on work and family life in contemporary Erdenet.
Megan Steffen studies the impact of population density on everyday urban life in the People's Republic of China. Her research interests include mass transportation, mass media, film, social mobility, crowds, and accidents. She does fieldwork in Beijing, Zhengzhou, Xi'an, and the trains that connect them.
Serena Stein received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MPhil from University of Oxford. Her research interests gather around the future of health, food, and technology, including diet-related non-communicable diseases, agribusiness, health measures, processed foods, nutraceutical markets, medical technologies, environmental change, and South-South development partnerships. She has also conducted projects around humanitarian intervention and disaster relief, food security, and market-based approaches to global health. Her field research currently takes place in Brazil, Mozambique, and the United States.
William Vega works on handicap accessibility and caretaking in France, where he explores the relationships that develop between the handicapped and their at-home caretakers. A central concern of the work is asking what happens when care and empathy are envisioned as a service and how these feed into larger debates in France and beyond about notions of autonomy, care, and advocacy. France’s commitment to social care has created the possibility for access to at-home care in ways unimaginable in the US, except among the especially wealthy; yet this very commitment leads to fraught and contradictory relationships when liberal individuality is brought into question by the necessity for dependence on another, whether that other is envisioned as a caretaker or the state itself. In light of the post-colonial context in which largely West and North African immigrants migrate in order to care for French nationals, notions of dependence and vulnerability also demand special attention. Other interests include phenomenology, ethics, and fieldwork methods.
Alexander Wamboldt works with kinship, rights, and gender in Palestine and Israel. He examines the confluence of neoliberal lifestyles and romantic ideals with legal, national, and religious regimes upon the lived experiences of individuals and families. He is interested in how people navigate their personal trajectories through these affects and institutions throughout their lifetimes.