Graduate Students' Research Interests and Activities
Current Research Locations
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.
Kessie Alexandre’s work engages with medical anthropology, science and technology studies, political and economic anthropology, and political ecology. Her current research examines water, sanitation, and infrastructure in Haiti. Framed around the cholera epidemic in Haiti, she explores the hybrid ways in which institutions and social actors are implicated in emerging infrastructures and water, sanitation, and hygiene projects in non-urban settings.
Quincy 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.
Grace Carey is interested in the convergences of space, corporeality, and spirituality. While her interests sometimes appear divergent - from emphases on politics of space and racial dynamics in post-industrial Rust Belt cities to the emergence of charismatic Catholicism as a political movement - she in entrenched in the multitudinous connections between these points of experience and is interested in pursuing questions of internal-colonization and religious community building in the United States.
Jessica's research focuses on the distribution of public health care through the criminal justice system. Specifically, Jessica's research examines the processes of specialized mental health courts in Northern California. These are specialized criminal courtrooms that seek to take mentally ill defendants out of jail and transfer them to community services for ongoing care out of custody. In other words, the mission of the court is to release those whom they have convicted of crimes and create other types of oversight. The defendants, though in the community, are required to come to court regularly; the criminal justice system oversees and implements the defendant's treatment plan rather than outsourcing it to other medical providers. Jessica's research attends to how the courts balance control and care in these new contexts in novel combinations of criminal law and public health care. How do these new formations reorganize the relationship (affective, legal, psychological) between citizen and state? How do psychiatry and law influence and direct one another in these spaces? Jessica is further interested in the types of subject produced through adjudication. How do these courtrooms perpetuate a particular model of the ideal liberal subject and what do defendants make of being asked to comply? What does it do to our understandings of public health care and criminality when the criminal justice system is a primary vector for the distribution of such care? Jessica is currently in the field and looks forward to exploring these questions, amongst others.
Elizabeth is broadly interested in intersections of medical, material, and Africanist anthropologies, and plans to research the apparent increasing pathologization and pharmaceuticalization of "anxiety" in Cameroon, West Africa. She was a 2012-2013 Fulbright Research Grantee to Cameroon, and obtained her MPhil in material anthropology at the University of Oxford, where she was awarded a Clarendon Scholarship.
Benjamin Fogarty (Also known as Benjamin Fogarty-Valenzuela)
Benjamin’s dissertation research focuses on drug consumption and identity-making practices of urban youths who recently ascended to the new middle class in Rio de Janeiro. My project examines the social and political effects of drugs (and their perceived risk), and asks how middle class identity and consumption patterns are being remade through educational interventions and discourses on risk. I aim to explore how new middle class “future of Brazil” youth, articulate their understandings of drugs, “middle classness” and citizenship in relation to drug prevention and discourses on risk, against the backdrop of the ascent of 40 million citizens into Brazil’s new middle class, intergenerational change and the prohibitionist policies of the “War on Drugs.” He has continued to be interested in photographic visual work from earlier research on Christian drug rehabilitation in Guatemala and crack harm reduction in Brazil.
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's work is in the anthropology of science. She is particularly interested in ethics, governance and language in relation to biomedicine and biotechnology and in conceptual and cultural issues in the life sciences. She is currently writing her dissertation on the regulation of stem cell research in Canada, focusing on the intersection of institutional research services and scientists' professional practices.
Sarah-Jane holds an LL.M. in Human Rights from SOAS, University of London. She is interested in the development of an international rule of law, and in particular the 2002 establishment of an international criminal court with jurisdiction over "the worst crimes of concern to the international community" (Rome Statute). Her work will be geographically situated in The Hague, but will attend to the ways in which the practice of international criminal law extends beyond as well as connects institutional and national boundaries. By engaging with and seeking to understand better the transnational community of experts who work in the field of international criminal justice, she hopes to contribute to an understanding of how the field works and how central commitments to understandings of violence, criminality, justice and accountability travel and gain traction.
Karolina is broadly interested in the borderlands of Northern Asia, especially the Sino-Russian border. Her research interests include rural-migration and narratives of “progress” and “development” in the post-socialist space from Eastern Germany to China. Karolina was a visiting student at the Peking University in China.
Brandon Hunter is interested in the use of ethnography to explore issues of labor and law in a number of contexts. In the United States, Brandon’s research looks at the development of laws designed to protect individuals from discrimination based on their criminal record and how such laws are situated within larger political movements aimed at reforming prisoner reintegration policy. In Latin America, Brandon’s research examines the role played by organized labor in tourism zones, and explores the way worker organizations shape the lives of the workers they represent. Brandon is broadly focused on the role of work in economic development schemes both in the United States and abroad, paying close attention to the complex ways such schemes use law to create and regulate market conditions.
Kelly is currently conducting fieldwork in Oslo, Norway. His research explores critical economic, demographic, and administrative transformations in the social democratic welfare regime, primarily through the experiences of unemployed users of the Norwegian Labor and Welfare Administration. Through his research, Kelly aims to not only capture the Norwegian model as a presence rooted in everyday life and shifting beliefs related to work, welfare, the state, dependency, and reciprocity, but also to contribute to the broader development of a distinctive role for anthropology in the interdisciplinary social science of social policy and welfare state studies.
Alexandra Middleton’s research interests are situated at the intersections of medical anthropology, mind-body medicine, STS, neuroscience, embodiment, proprioception, development and cyborg theory. She plans to study brain-machine interfaces, emerging neuroprosthetic technologies, and how the adoption of nonhuman devices into the human body influences notions of personhood. Geographically, she plans to situate her work in Latin America (Brazil), with possible comparative study in Scandinavia (Sweden).
Shinny is currently looking at, on the one hand, the revival of humanities scholarship outside the mainstream higher educational institutions in S. Korea and, on the other, its participants' relation to other social movements. She is also interested in the historical comparison of urban space and night-time wherein people in Korea have sought and developed alternative modes of socialization and political subjectivation. Her other interests include study of intellectuals in anthropology, social recognition of crisis or critical events and invention of sacrifice.
Anna Offit's research interests include lay participation in justice systems, prosecutorial strategy, and lawyers' trial preparation. She was awarded a 2015-2016 Fulbright Scholarship to study proposed jury reforms in Norway, and is currently a visiting research at the Department of Public and International Law at the University of Oslo Law Faculty. Anna will return to Princeton to complete her dissertation next fall, making periodic research visits in the interim. She is affiliated with the Law & Society Association's "Ethnography, Law, and Society" Collaborative Research Network (CRN), the AAA's Association for Political and Legal Anthropology (APLA), and is a graduate associate of Princeton's Program in Law and Public Affairs (LAPA): https://lapa.princeton.edu/people/anna-offit
Lindsay examines conflicts around oil and gas development, particularly in the United States and Ecuador. Over the last nine years she has conducted a number of ethnographic investigations focused on debates about toxicity, liability, and human rights in relation to major oil spills. Her investigative work draws from previous experience as a multi-media correspondent out of Ecuador and from various collaborative relationships with non-profit and community-led organizations concerned with peace and justice. She has published with TeleSUR English, RealitySandwich.com, the United Nations Association, and New York University’s Journal of Global Affairs and has provided documentary post-production translation and editing support for Mangusta Productions. Prior to coming to Princeton, she worked on solar energy policy analysis for the City of Boulder and on a multi-disciplinary initiative to research the effects of hydraulic fracturing on Colorado communities at CU-Boulder’s Center to Advance Research and Teaching in the Social Sciences. She received a MA in anthropology with a certificate in environment, policy & society at CU-Boulder. She is currently a Lassen Fellow in Latin American Studies.
Emma Patten is interested in the individual’s experience of history. Her work focuses on power dynamics concerning ownership of the past, investigating both what people choose to inherit and what they inherit through the knowledge and collective memory propagated by institutions. Her research is centered on people in York, England who actively cultivate relationships with the past through the venues of historical societies, museums, and cathedrals, and attempts to trace the narratives surrounding their work, rituals, and engagement with material culture.
Heath Pearson is a PhD candidate in the Anthropology Department and a graduate student affiliate of the Center for African American Studies and the American Studies Program. He is currently undertaking ethnographic fieldwork in a county on the East Coast with four prisons, exploring what happens over time to local institutions and organizations after prisons become the main employer for residents. His most recent article, “The Prickly Skin of White Supremacy,” explores the co-constitution of race and place in Huntington, Indiana, and the many ways racialized violence lingers in the land throughout multiple generations. He was a Lassen Fellow in the Program for Latin American Studies in 2013-14, the recipient of an AMS summer research prize in 2014, and a recipient of a Center for Health & Wellbeing summer research prize in 2015. Currently, in addition to fieldwork, he is co-organizing the American Studies Graduate Student Conference, “Life & Law in Rural America: Cows, Cars and Criminals.” He also spends a great deal of time listening to music.
Sofia Pinedo-Padoch is interested in the ethnographic spaces that open up through legal and bureaucratic processes. Before coming to Princeton, she worked for several years in investigations and government auditing in New York City. She most recently conducted fieldwork in New York exploring the mechanisms that become activated when individuals pass away intestate.
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’s research engages environmental anthropology, development studies, migration and silviculture. During 15 months of fieldwork in Tajikistan, he explored how pilot efforts to promote climate change adaptation influenced international development and resource governance. This inquiry led him to investigate the relationship between state and non-state actors and the arts of living that residents employed in the face of institutional shortcomings and widespread transnational migration. This research was funded by the NSF, IREX, SSRC, and the Princeton Environmental Institute. Igor has also conducted research in Kyrgyzstan on the social ramifications of remittances for an MA in International Development and Social Change at Clark University.
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.
Megan Steffen studies unpredictability, accountability, and trust in the People’s Republic of China. She did her fieldwork in a large city in Henan Province and on trains throughout the PRC. In addition to harboring an obsession with infrastructure in general and mass transportation in particular, she’s also interested in how the material symptoms of the PRC’s rapid economic development—such as commercial apartment complexes, increased traffic, and private dining rooms—are linked to changes in social norms and interpersonal relationships. She’s currently writing up and preparing to return to the PRC to do more research on the precariousness of personal wealth in the wake of President Xi’s anti-corruption campaign.
Serena Stein’s scholarly interests include technologies of care in contexts of global health and humanitarian aid; epistemic communities that shape international development; and politics of commensuration across the ‘Global South.’ Her current research explores the future of food systems, health, and agriculture, drawing particularly from medical anthropology, political ecology, science and technology studies, and critical theory. Serena is conducting field research in Brazil, Mozambique, and the United States on edible oil seeds. Her dissertation traces globalizing food commodities and large-scale infrastructure projects in Northern Mozambique, where international donors and private-public partnerships seek to create an agro-development corridor.
Serena holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.Phil in Development Studies from the University of Oxford. At Princeton, she has been a fellow in the Systemic Risk and Global Brazil research programs. She also received an advanced certificate in Health and Health Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School.
Shreya works at the intersection of visual anthropology, political anthropology and STS. She is interested in the transformation of society mediated by high-tech interventions within the spheres of healthcare.
Shreya’s research explores the development and testing of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by engineers and the impact of these objects on the legal, cultural, political, ethical, and sensory phenomena that emerge within communities that are both directly and indirectly connected to their use. This multi-sited work seeks to engage with the politics of borders, the visualizations of bodies, as well as the relationships between technoscientific and state imaginaries.
Mazdak Tamjidi received his BA in Anthropology from University of Tehran. His research interests include temporality, social movements, political and economic anthropology, critical theory, political economy, social theory and historical anthropology.
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 (post-fieldwork) works on law, kinship, and ritual in Israel. He examines the confluence of neoliberal lifestyles and romantic ideals with legal and religious regimes upon the lived experiences of individuals and families. He is interested in how people navigate their personal trajectories through these institutions throughout their lifetimes, and how these choices affect the nation-state, governance, Judaism as a religion and as a culture, gender, ritual meaning, and the assemblage of the social.