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The Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy

Current Graduate Fellows

the clough center for the study of constitutional democracy

The Graduate Fellows Program at the Clough Center will be entering this year with a roster of 20 graduate students from the departments of English, History, Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology, Theology, and the School of Education.

The 2016-2017 Graduate Fellows are:

Juan Martín Bernales Odino

Juan Martín Bernales Odino
Philosophy

Martín Bernales-Odino is a Chilean doctoral student in philosophy at Boston College. He has a law degree,a masters degree in philosophy from the University of Chile, and a D.E.A. in criminal law from the University Pablo de Olavide, Seville, Spain. He is currently working on a project entitled “A Genealogy of Poverty: a Latin American history.” The analytical angle of this project is based on the still largely unexplored notion of “problematization,” as coined by the French philosopher Michel Foucault. The aim of problematization is the practice of a critique able to detect the places where new practices of freedom might be born. It does so by unveiling the complex and contingent conditions for the emergence and stability of practices in which appear forms of truth, power relations, and types of subjectivization.

This year Bernales-Odino will present, in the Clough Center’s workshop, an initial account of the Latin American problematization of poverty during the 20th century — a moment when a dramatic shift took place. At the turn of the century, it was clear that the Enlightenment reciprocity between the poor and the rich had broken down, that public charity, its fundamental political truth, had been ruled out, and that the confinement en masse of the poor was neither a legitimate nor a viable solution any longer. The “social question,” the new name for an old pressing problem, began to be posed. On it were built up from scratch concepts such as social justice and philanthropy, new figures, such as the poor worker and his family,new types of political membership, such as the citizenship that was partially extended to some of the poor, and a new set of economic, sanitary and educational measures that would reach the poor and their families in their own homes, neighborhoods and factories so as to improve the material conditions of their individual lives and the general welfare of the population. The teasing out of these elements and their transformations over the course of the past century aims at identifying the contemporary problematization of poverty. Namely, the interconnected elements of power and truth that make up the contemporary art of governing the poor along with their distinctive types of subjectivities.


 

Pete Cajka

Andrew Bowen
Political Science

Andrew S. Bowen is a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science specializing in International Relations. He has a M.S. in Global Affairs from New York University and a B.A. from UC Davis in Political Science and International Relations. He is also an associate of the Initiative for the Study of Emerging Threats (ISET) at New York University. His research focuses on illicit and covert issues such as money laundering, transnational organized crime, covert action and proxy forces with a particular emphasis on Russia and the states of the Former Soviet Union. His writing has been featured in Jane’s Intelligence Review, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, The National Interest, The Moscow Times and the Daily Beast among others.

His research focuses on the forces of globalization and its impact on the state. As the speed and volume of interconnection continues to increase, along with the rise in prominence of various non-state actors, many see a decline in the role, or power, of the state in the face of a changing international environment. Indeed, many see authority and governance structures shifting away from state control and dominance, especially in the post-Cold War era. In particular, the speed and flexibility of illicit finance (such as money laundering), transnational organized crime, terrorist groups, failed states and the presence of modern day warlords and militias are cited as some of the more prominent examples of challenges to the modern state’s ability to control and determine events. However, the relationship is often inappropriately assumed to be zero sum, where the rise of these transnational forces and actors represent a loss in the utility and power of states. Instead, states have demonstrated a remarkable ability to adapt and manipulate these very same forces for their own ends. The creation and manipulation of proxy forces and militias, the use of covert finance to support various foreign policy objectives—proxy forces—or even by authoritarian governments to sustain patronage and elite relations domestically are just a few of the examples how states remain the dominant actors over transnational networks.

Andrew’s research seeks to examine these clandestine and covert relationships to better understand how and through what means states are adapting to changing international conditions and managing these transnational forces. By focusing on illicit globalization his research is able to study the interplay of issues between IPE and security studies, blending insights from both research areas that are primarily studies in isolation from one another. In addition, his dissertation seeks to examine differences in regime types between democratic and authoritarian governments in their willingness to engage with and utilize illicit actors/forces to pursue policy objectives.


 

Timothy Brennan

Timothy Brennan
Political Science

Timothy Brennan is a doctoral candidate in political science. He is originally from Sydney, Australia, and received a bachelor’s degree in politics and philosophy from the University of Melbourne. His areas of interest include the moral and political thought of the Enlightenment, the relation between religion and politics, contemporary political philosophy, and constitutional law. At the moment he is studying early modern political theorists’ evaluations of democracy. Previously he has written on the debate sparked by Jean-Jacques Rousseau over the popularization of the arts and sciences, the constitutional thought of Thomas Jefferson, and the competing views of the emerging liberal-commercial society in the eighteenth century.


 

David "Clint" Burnett

David “Clint” Burnett
Theology

Clint Burnett is a fourth year doctoral candidate in Biblical Studies in the Theology Department at Boston College. He received his Bachelors of Arts in Bible from Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, TN, his Master of Divinity from Harding School of Theology in Memphis, TN, and his Master of Sacred Theology from Boston University. Clint is interested in the social context of early Christianity and interpreting our earliest sources for it, Paul’s letters, through material culture—inscriptions, papyri, coinage, iconography, and archaeological remains—as well as literary sources. He has been a part of onsite archaeological excavations on a fifth century CE synagogue in Huqoq, Israel and domestic structures that date to the Roman and Byzantine city in Kourion, Cyprus. He also serves as an administrative assistant on The Maccabees Project, which is a collaborative project between Boston College and Boston University that seeks to discover the relationship between 1 and 2 Maccabees and the archaeological record from Palestine.

Clint’s dissertation is entitled: “Psalm 110 in the Hymnic and Confessional Material in the Corpus Paulinum: Cultural and Religious Context.” It is directed by Pheme Perkins and examines how the early Christian use of Psalm 110 was a cross-cultural expectation for a beneficent monarch in antiquity. During the Hellenistic and Roman periods, cities with limited democracy expressed their democratic freedom to vote certain honors to rulers who materially benefited their cities. One of the awards was the ability of rulers to share in the sacred spaces of the civic patron gods. Clint examines the possible connections between this phenomenon and the early Christian use of Psalm 110.

Clint's recent publications include: “Going Through Hell: Tartarus in Graeco-Roman Culture, Second Temple Judaism, and Philo of Alexandria,” Journal of Ancient Judaism 4 (2013): 352-78; and “The Eschatological Prophet of Restoration: Luke’s Theological Portrait of John the Baptist in Luke 3:1-6,” Neotestamentica 47 (2013): 1-24. His most recent presentations are: “Are the Julio-Claudian Emperors ‘Gods on Earth?’” at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the New England and Eastern Canada Region of SBL (April 24, 2015); “Misappropriation and Manipulation: The Abuse of Archaeological Materials in The Reconstruction of The Worship of Roman Emperors in Anatolia and Its Significance for Interpreting The Letters of Paul,” at the 2015 Annual American School of Oriental Research Meeting (November 18-21, 2015); and “Paul and Imperial Cults: A Proposal for a Better Model for the Interpretation of Emperor Worship and Its Relationship to Pauline Christianity,” at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the New England and Eastern Canada Region of SBL (April 10, 2016).


 

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Rowena Clarke
English

Rowena is a Ph.D. candidate in the English Department, where she specializes in twentieth-century American and British literature and film, and American Studies. She is from the United Kingdom, and received her M.A. and B.A. there at the universities of Essex and Oxford. She is writing a dissertation about the ways that popular fictional genres animated the discourses of urbanism that circulated during the decades after World War Two. Her research looks at the development of freeways, suburbia, programs of urban renewal and the redevelopment of industrial land for new forms of commerce, and then explores the discourse that surrounded these spaces in the popular press and urban planning circles. She then considers how the forms, structures and content of popular literature and film, such as detective novels or horror film, engaged with and, often, critiqued the arguments proposed by urban planners, chroniclers and architects.

Rowena is interested in the ways that social and economic inequality is manifested geographically, and the ways that postwar development monumentalized social divisions physically. Many of the texts she studies are sensitive to the spatial organization of social and economic difference and part of her task in her dissertation is to show how this capacity makes texts like urban detective fiction, or haunted house tales, ideal testing grounds for the often deterministic urban theories of the immediate post-war period.

During her time at Boston College, Rowena has presented her research at conferences such as those of the American Literature Association, the Popular Culture Association and the American Comparative Literature Association. She has also taught undergraduate classes on the literature and culture of the Atomic Age, as well as Studies in Narrative, Literature Core, and Freshman Writing.


 

Caliesha Comley

Caliesha Comley
Sociology

Caliesha is a Ph.D. student in the Sociology Department at Boston College where she studies the sociology of law, global and transnational sociology, postcoloniality, race and gender based violence, and qualitative methodology.

Her most recent work explores the impact of modern-day abolitionism on United States anti-trafficking law. Social movement leaders and lawmakers agree that the history of slavery in the U.S. gives the U.S. government  a particular awareness of the crime of slavery and uniquely positioned the U.S. to take the lead on international anti-trafficking efforts.  In an on-going project entitled, “Meeting Minimums or Maintaining Margins: The TVPA and the ‘Soft’ Imperialism of the United States,” Caliesha uses a postcolonial feminist legal lens to critique the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the U.S. federal anti-trafficking statute, as a tool of power over foreign nations as it policies human trafficking in the global community, and ranks and sanctions foreign governments based on compliance to U.S. domestic standards of anti-trafficking efforts. Not only is the framing of trafficking as “modern-day slavery” problematic in that it mischaracterizing the nature of trafficking, but also in how it influences the approach and the power the U.S. exercises to maintain global power.     

“Reclaiming Images of Black Motherhood: How Marissa Alexander Stood Her Ground” is a concurrent project Caliesha engages to investigate the case of Marissa Alexander, a black mother who was denied Stand Your Ground immunity by the State of Florida, and sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in prison for defending herself against her abusive husband. Alexander’s case continues to be a site for contesting claims about the credibility of black female victimhood which draw directly on Alexander’s status as a mother. Images of bad black motherhood, such as the “matriarch” and the “welfare queen,” are situated in a long tradition of pathologizing black mothers as the cause of social and economic decline. The employment of “controlling images,” the stereotypical representations of black womanhood used to naturalize systems of oppression against black women, have material and political consequences for black mothers as they come to characterize the overarching narrative the legal process writes and shapes the punitive measures with which law responds to black families. Central to this project is how Marissa Alexander and her family engage in her sentencing hearing as a form of resistance to exclusionary politics of legal protection. In this project, Caliesha theoretically maps “reclaimed images,” or the re-representations of controlling images made by black women to strategically navigate a legal system structured for their disadvantage.

Caliesha received a B.A. in sociology with honors from Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky in 2014. She was also a visiting student in sociology and politics at Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford in 2013. This is Caliesha’s first year as a Clough Graduate Fellow.


 

Hessam Dehghani

Hessam Dehghani
Philosophy

Hessam Dehghani is a fourth year Ph.D. student in the Philosophy Department at Boston College, where he was rewarded the doctoral fellowship in 2012. He received his M.A. and first Ph.D. in Linguistics from Tehran and Allameh Tabatabai University, Iran. 

Hessam's first dissertation, which will be published in 2017 in Iran, was titled, “From functional Linguistics to Hermeneutics: Interpretation of a short Story.” Since then, he has focused more on Hermeneutic Interpretation of texts of religious significance, particularly Islamic mystic texts in Persian, and Arabic. In 2010, Hessam did a post-doctorate at University College Dublin, where he worked on Phenomenological Hermeneutic interpretation of Islam. The result of this work built the foundation for his second Ph.D.

During his studies at Boston College, Hessam has been working more specifically on Hermeneutic interpretation of Islam particularly on the notion of Community in Islam. The dissertation that he is currently working on is titled, “The Topology of Community in Islamic Mystic Thought”, in which he is looking at the kind of being-togetherness that is suggested in the mystic texts associated with Islam. 


 

Michael Franczak

Michael Franczak
History

Michael Franczak is a Ph.D. candidate and Presidential Fellow in the Department of History, where he studies U.S. foreign relations, international history, and economic history. His main area of interest is the intersection of U.S. foreign policy and international economics during the Cold War, especially during moments of crisis and confrontation between the developed countries of the global “North” and underdeveloped or developing countries of the global “South.” He is also interested in the relationship between economic ideas and global governance, or how conceptions of economic growth, development, and justice are contested by individuals, states, and institutions.

Michael’s dissertation is titled “U.S. Foreign Policy in the North-South Dialogue, 1971-1982.” Using newly declassified materials from two presidential libraries, the papers of U.S. cabinet members and one ambassador, and interviews with former National Security Council officials, he presents a reinterpretation of several critical turning points for U.S. foreign policy in the 1970s from the perspective of North-South relations. Michael focuses in particular on debates within the American foreign policy establishment concerning the nature of “interdependent” forces in global political and economic relations, which connected North-South confrontations over trade, food, and debt with U.S.-European concerns about worldwide inflation, oil prices, and human rights.

Michael received his B.A. with high distinction and highest honors in History from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 2011. His research has been supported by the Clough Center, the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, the Cushwa Center at the University of Notre Dame, and the Karnes Center at Purdue University. This is his fourth year with the Clough Center.


 

Perin Gokce

Perin Gokce
Political Science

After attending college at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey, Perin completed her master’s degree in International Relations at Boston University focusing on political economy and the Middle East. Her master’s thesis explored the rise of political Islam in Turkey, with a particular focus on economic factors and demographic changes, and analyzed the policies pursued by the Islamist Justice and Development Party with respect to political and social reform since it assumed power in November 2002. Before coming to Boston College for a Ph.D. in comparative politics in the Political Science Department, Perin worked for the Turkish Consulate General in Boston, and part-time for a research project on social movements in the Middle East based at the Harvard Kennedy School. Her research interests include democratization and the role of religion in Middle Eastern politics, immigration, ethnic politics and identity with a regional focus on the Middle East but also including Muslims in Western Europe.

Perin’s current research focuses on the rule of law and constitutional politics in Turkey. She is especially interested in the development of the constitutional court since its founding in 1961. Since 2010, after being enlarged by a series of constitutional amendments put forward by the ruling AKP government, the Court has issued a number of decisions openly challenging the reforms of the ruling AKP. Perin's dissertation asks how can we explain these rulings given that a majority of the justices on the Court have only recently been nominated by the AKP. How does this square with the argument made by scholars that the sociopolitical or ideological alliances in which high courts and judiciaries participate explain the nature of their activism? What can these legal disputes tell us about political institutions in Turkey or the nature of the political system as a whole? To what extent do courts in democratizing countries provide avenues for political activists to challenge the state and further civil rights and liberties? Her research speaks to the broader question of how political battles shape judicial institutions and how these institutions both serve the needs and limit the power of other political actors.


 

Eric Grube

Eric Grube
History

Eric is currently a second-year Ph.D. candidate at Boston College, where he studies Modern German history. He has conducted research projects about German prisoners in England during the First World War, Nazi-driven constructions of German history in the Third Reich, and the role of racial ideology in shaping the Nazi occupation of Denmark.

His current research seeks to situate war at the intersection of German monarchism and federalism. In the German Empire (1871-1918), plutocratic authoritarianism and federalism were meant to be mutually reinforcing, all because the hegemonic state of Prussia had a more restrictive franchise than the national government. But some German states had their own monarchs, and thus, there existed a system of federated monarchies. Eric’s project asks: to what extent did this system of federated monarchies actually lessen the plutocratic, authoritarian components of the Empire? Did federal monarchies and their own executive structures act as brakes on imperial German authority by pitting state monarchs against the German Emperor? Perhaps loyalties in such a decentralized monarchical system were in tension with each other, restraining any centripetal power normally associated with this imperial system.  Perhaps these loyalties built upon each other, further bolstering the empire’s centralizing tendencies. Or, perhaps centralization and decentralization were concurrent phenomena, helping to explain both the stability and fragility of the Kaiserreich.

Eric is looking at three instances of public displays of loyalty to the state-level monarchs. These three instances occurred around the First World War, and thus, he hopes to complicate simple notions of German authoritarianism run amuck with stories of federal and monarchial variance. In the first component, he examines the centennial commemorations of the Napoleonic Wars that occurred just one year before World War I. During the Napoleonic Wars, Bavaria, Saxony, Prussia, and Württemberg had shifting alliances with and against France. Thus, public commemoration of a historically divisive issue for the purposes of national unity could have manifested itself in a myriad of loyalties to state monarchs, whose ancestors had distinct diplomatic relationships with Napoleon.

In the second component of this project, Eric examines the war mobilization in 1914. What did it mean for a Württemberg peasant to fight for God, Fatherland, and Emperor while also maintaining federated loyalties to the King of Württemberg? This study will focus attention away from local and national mobilization in order to focus on state-based loyalties.The third component of this project is about the continuities and ruptures in monarchial loyalties throughout the war itself, including the service of state-level royals in the German military, the perpetuation of federal fealties, and the ultimate collapse of federated monarchies with the continuation of federalism overall in the Weimar Republic.


 

Maheen Haider

Maheen Haider
Sociology

Maheen Haider is currently a third year Ph.D. student in the Sociology department where she studies the processes of immigration and acculturation, and issues of race and ethnicity. Her dissertation focuses on integration experiences of high skilled non-white Muslim immigrants specifically Pakistani migrants in the US and looks at the contemporary changes in the immigrant experience that has increasingly become more diverse and complex around the issues of race, religion, and skill levels.

Maheen’s current research looks at the role of mass media in particular films that portray racialized identities of Muslims and Arabs grounded in the War on Terror. Using both content and visual analysis of eleven high grossing Hollywood films post 9/11 on terrorism and the Middle East, she argues that these representations embody a racialization process that demonizes the religious and physical identity of Muslims and Arabs as jihadists within the realm of War on Terror. These racial portrayals perpetuate the stereotype of Muslims and Arabs as terrorists, while stripping away the diversity and complexity of the group. She demonstrates how visual illustrations of Muslims and Arabs in Hollywood films are not limited to ethnic othering and racial stereotyping, but are part of a racialization process that criminalize their identity, dehumanize their body and devalue their territorial/physical space in the light of the War on Terror. These portrayals present the Muslims and Arab identity as terrorists and encapsulate the territorial representation of the Middle East as a ruined conflicted space, thus reinforcing the Western political hegemony on the War on Terror.

Prior to coming to Boston College, she received a Master’s in Social Development from the University of Sussex and holds Bachelors in Software Engineering from Pakistan. She has experience of working within the corporate and non-profit sector in Pakistan and the UK.


 

Felix Jiménez Botta

Felix Jiménez Botta
History

Felix Jiménez Botta is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in the History Department. He has received a bachelor's degree in international affairs and history from Florida State University (2011), and began the PhD program at Boston College in the autumn of the same year with a diversity fellowship. Born in Cuba and raised in Germany, Felix has a particular interest in transnational histories linking the German-speaking world and Latin America. His dissertation West Germany and the Human Rights Revolution: Human rights activism and foreign policy in the Age of Latin America's military Juntas, 1973-1989 analyzes the significant role that the campaigns against human rights violations in Chile and Argentina played in the development of a human rights consciousness in West Germany. At the same time, by investigating the particularities of West German human rights activism, it fills a historiographical gap in the field of human rights histories dominated by studies focusing on the Anglo–American situation.

The dissertation investigates the response of West German civil society, comprising the left, the churches, trade unions, and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, to the repression that Argentinean and Chilean military governments unleashed on their populations in the 1970s-80s.  Their spirited campaigns for the acceptance of political refugees from these countries, and to lobby the West German government to translate its affirmative semantic stance towards human rights into action, found numerous supporters and also detractors. Conservative Christian Democrats initially opposed their efforts, arguing that 'human rights' were best reserved for attacking the Communist Block. For the length of the two decades under review, a major struggle over the meaning of "human rights" and their proper use ensued.

The dissertation also investigates the special place of the German churches in the development of domestic West German human rights activism. The German churches had the most direct influence upon organizations such as Amnesty International. Helmut Frenz, a West German pastor in the Chilean Lutheran Church, became West German Amnesty's first general secretary after being evicted from the country in 1975. The aid agencies Brot für die Welt and Misereor worked with the World Council of Churches and numerous other human rights organizations in Chile and Argentina in the finance of projects to maintain the civil societies in these countries alive, in spite of heavy military repression.


 

Isak Ladegaard

Isak Ladegaard
Sociology

Isak Ladegaard is a Ph.D. student in the sociology department at Boston College, where he also received his Master’s Degree. He is a member of Juliet Schor’s Connected Consumption and Connected Economy research project, which is supported by the MacArthur foundation.

His doctoral research explores how information technology is transforming economic markets for illicit products and services. In particular, he is writing about the phenomenon of digital drug trade, where customers and vendors connect in the internet’s backspace, the “deep web”.

One part of the project examines the more-than-instrumental motives of market actors. Some use their technological aptitudes to transgress laws they find unjust, to the applause of their “community”, in which they feel at “home”, to use the words of one interviewee. In a time when academic evidence of the harm-reducing inefficiency of crackdowns is consolidating and public opinion tilts towards drug policy reform, these market actors add words, transactions and lines of computer code to the same broader narrative. In a period characterized by economic and ontological insecurity, these men and women embrace novel ways of making money and meaning.

A second part of his research project is about the consequences of law enforcement crackdowns on the markets. He asks the following questions: what happens after a market is shut down? Where do customers and vendors go, and how do they know where to go? In what ways are the markets and their organizational forms affected? Are there any unintended consequences?

His research employs both qualitative and quantitative methods. He has conducted interviews, and mined data from both markets and discussion forums to estimate market outcomes and important trading patterns.


 

Peter Li

Zhuoyao “Peter” Li
Philosophy

Zhuoyao Li is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Philosophy, where he studies social and political philosophy, ethics, philosophy of law, and philosophy of economics. His main interests are the contemporary debates between political liberalism and liberal perfectionism, the implications of political liberalism in non-liberal societies, as well as global justice theories. His dissertation focuses on bridging these issues together to present a more coherent understanding of political liberalism, and its limits in non-liberal societies with an emphasis on Asian countries. He is currently working on a theory of global justice that tries to overcome the dichotomy between statist and globalist perspectives by presenting and working with a multi-layered international moral reality.

In addition to working on his academic dissertation, Zhuoyao Li serves as the managing editor of Philosophy & Social Criticism and the editorial assistant of the Journal of American Philosophical Association. He also taught Philosophy of the Person, a year-long introductory philosophy course for undergraduate students, for two years at Boston College. He was awarded a Donald J. White Teaching Excellence Award. He also participated in numerous conferences. With the generous help of the Clough Center, he was able to present a paper at the 2nd International Conference on Economic Philosophy in Strasbourg, France. His most recent publication, “The Public Conception of Morality in John Rawls’ Political Liberalism,” appears in Ethics & Global Politics, a peer-reviewed journal.


 

Megan McCabe

Megan McCabe
Theology

Megan K. McCabe is a Flatley Fellow of Theological Ethics. She has a B.A. from Fordham University in theology and an M.T.S. from the University of Notre Dame in moral theology. Working in the area of theological ethics, her research includes work in Catholic moral theology, family ethics, sexual ethics, and social ethics. She has presented her work at the Society of Christian Ethics, the Catholic Theological Society of America, and the College Theology Society.

Her dissertation is entitled, “Sex, Power, and Violence on the College Campus: Rape Culture and Complicity in Evil.” It examines the problem of campus sexual violence, arguing that policy initiatives alone are inadequate for addressing the problem of sexual assault plaguing college campuses in the United States.

Twenty to twenty-five percent of college women identify at least one experience of attempted or completed rape. Only about half of the women who are victimized by completed rape name their experiences as such and a mere twelve percent of these rapes are reported to campus or legal authorities. This problem has received increased attention from journalists, activists, and politicians who seek to make campuses safer for students, especially women.

Campus policies to address sexual violence are shaped by two key pieces of federal legislation: the Clery Act and Title IX. These efforts prove inadequate without careful analysis of the broader cultural context of the hetero-relations of campus sexuality. By paying attention the ways in which young women narrate and identify their experiences, it becomes evident that there are limits to an approach to sexual violence and power that too closely aligns what is morally permissible sexual activity with the criteria that demarcate what is lawful or unlawful. Sexual encounters that does not meet the criteria of rape and assault, are not necessarily good, moral, or just. There is a broader sexual culture found on college campuses shaped and infused with violence and power that veils and normalizes the explicitly violent manifestations of sexual assault. While policy and legal approaches are critical for addressing “clear cut” instances of rape and assault, they are unable to deal with the fact that the on the ground reality is blurred and messy, with no clear line between moral, pleasurable, or even fully consensual sex from that which is violent and abusive. Recognition of this blurriness does not excuse the actions of rapists or trivialize rape as merely a “mistake.” Rather, violence and abuse have come to be normalized as a typical part of hetero-relationality.  This dissertation seeks to address these inadequacies by proposing a moral framework that examines and seeks to resist complicity in the social structures that undergird sexual violence.

It offers two strategies to work to transform culture in addition to upholding clear standards of consent. First, “interruption” exposes the violent reality of rape culture, including norms of sexuality that appear common sense. Second, individuals must practice solidarity in their sexual and gendered lives, which are not neutral, but can be complicit in or resist violently constituted sexual norms.


 

Scott Reznick

Kathleen Mroz
Theology

Kate Mroz is a Ph.D. candidate in Systematic Theology with a minor in Comparative Theology at Boston College, where she was awarded the Presidential Fellowship. She received her Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School in 2013, and her B.A. in theology and political science from Fordham University in 2011. Her work has been published in the Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, and the Journal of Comparative Theology. She also regularly blogs for God In All Things. Kate has presented at numerous conferences, including the Edward Schillbeeeckx Centenary Conference at Radboud Univeristy in the Netherlands, the American Council for the Study of Islamic Societies Conference at Villanova University and the Engaging Particularities Conference here at Boston College. She also serves on the executive board of the American Council for the Study of Islamic Societies.

Kate’s main research interests include theological anthropology, feminist theology, soteriology (study of the meaning of salvation), and Muslim-Christian dialogue. In particular, her research has focused on the need for dialogue between Muslim and Catholic women, as patriarchy is manifest in both traditions, albeit in different forms. The false notion that Muslim women need to be saved by Western Christianity does not allow for recognition of the exclusion and oppression that occurs in churches and in Western society. True liberation, in a world where Islam and Christianity are often portrayed as being inherently opposed to one another, requires appreciation of and learning from the wisdom of both traditions.

Currently, Kate is working on her doctoral dissertation, “No Salvation Apart from Religious Others: Edward Schillebeeckx’s Soteriology as a Resource for Understanding Christian Identity and Discipleship in a Religiously Pluralist World.”

Kate argues that the Flemish Dominican theologian Edward Schillebeeckx’s (1914-2009) understanding of salvation provides a resource for understanding how one can maintain one’s unique Catholic identity, while also realizing not only the benefit, but the necessity of working with and learning from other religious traditions. This must be done without reducing all religions to a least common denominator, or striving to remove all doctrinal differences and disagreements between religious traditions.


 

Scott Reznick

Scott Reznick
English

Scott Reznick is a doctoral candidate in English. He holds a B.A. in mathematics from Dickinson College and an M.A. in English from Trinity College. At Boston College, he specializes in American literature of the long nineteenth century. His research interests include American romanticism, transcendentalism, literary realism, the literature of slavery and the U.S. Civil War, political oratory, and political and moral philosophy.

Scott’s dissertation examines the way in which literary narrative across the nineteenth century registered the ongoing contestations about the nature of U.S. democracy. By drawing out the important connections between political speeches and writings (such as the Federalist, the Webster-Hayne debates, and the Lincoln-Douglas debates) and the narrative works of Charles Brockden Brown, Robert Montgomery Bird, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, Scott aims both to open up new conceptions of the “politics” of American literature and to demonstrate the way in which literature can enable a deeper understanding of American politics.

Central to this effort is a more deliberate engagement with political liberalism, which has long been either attacked or dismissed by literary scholars. Rather than viewing political liberalism as the rigid adherence to moral neutrality, Scott aims to recapture the moral commitments that are inherent to the liberal tradition and the way in which those commitments are often at odds either with each other or with competing visions of moral life. Literature, by registering the myriad ways in which abstract ideas influence and inform the daily lives of individuals and by representing the struggles that are an inherent part of any life, offers a lens through which we can witness and understand the moral and political struggles that are always operative in a liberal democracy. 


 

Hayyim Rothman

Hayyim “Kevin” Rothman
Philosophy

Hayyim Rothman is a doctoral candidate in philosophy at Boston College. He holds a masters of science in education from Florida International University, a masters of arts in Jewish philosophy from Yeshiva University, and holds rabbinic ordination from Tomchei Temimim, Lubavitch. Hayyim is presently working to complete a dissertation on Spinoza’s political philosophy. In it, he aims to demonstrate that, for Spinoza, there are not one, but two foundations for political organization which roughly correspond to his account of the two covenants contracted at Sinai and, likewise to the opposition between Moses and Jesus as articulated in the Theological Political Treatise. The intent of this study is to show that while Spinoza offers a contractual theory for legitimate concentration of power in the person or institution of the sovereign, he believes that the development of rational culture slowly erodes the need to do so and gives way to a more libertarian model of political organization.

In the Clough Center’s workshop this year, however, Hayyim will be conducting an archeology of modern Jewish political philosophy. To be more exact, he will examine ideologies which competed for influence within the Jewish community as legitimate and substantial modes of Jewish political self-expression from the end of the 19th century through the beginning decades of the 20th. He is especially interested in considering political expression among traditionalists that challenge the hegemony of Zionist thought and the supposed apoliticism of that community.

The project will begin with a detailed examination of the life and thought of a long forgotten Orthodox Jewish writer and activist, Rabbi Jacob Meir Salkind (1875­-1937). Many of the more important ideological trends of Salkind’s day intersect in the arc of his development and it is, for this reason, that he represents a particularly interesting window not only into how things may have turned out differently, but how we might reconceive political engagement from a Jewish perspective.


 

Gabriela Tavara

Gabriela Tavara
Applied Psychology, Lynch School of Education

Gabriela Tavara is a community psychologist from Lima, Peru currently enrolled in the Applied Psychology Ph.D. program in the Lynch School where she is working with Dr. M. Brinton Lykes. She earned her bachelor degree in clinical psychology and her masters in community psychology in the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru. Most of her work has been focused on working with indigenous communities affected by armed conflicts in Peru and Guatemala with a particular focus work with women. Gabriela is interested in understanding how dynamics of racialized gender violence affect the lives of indigenous women and how women respond and resist to these forms of oppression. Additionally, She is completing the certificate program at the Center for Human Rights and International Justice (CHRIJ) at Boston College. In 2014, Gabriela was awarded the Kelsey A. Rennebohm Memorial Fellowship that supported travel to Zacualpa, Guatemala, where she collaborated with the CHRIJ’s affiliate project on Migration and Human Rights. There she worked with Mayan women affected by the out-migration of their family members, many of whom live in the greater Boston area. Gabriela's dissertation will engage participatory research methodologies to accompany indigenous women in Peru towards documenting their needs, strengths, “healing” and/or peacebuilding processes in post-conflict rural communities struggling for a more just and democratic society.

Peru’s armed conflict lasted 20 years (1980-2000) and affected many including primarily Andean indigenous communities. Since the armed conflict ended several transitional justice processes have sought to address the consequences of the war, and, more recently, there has been a growing interest around the topic of historical memory. However, transitional justice processes have usually been guided by the interests of scholars, human rights activists or non-profit organizations and have not necessarily responded to the interests and priorities of those Andean communities most affected by the conflict. The needs of Andean women are even less explored given dynamics of racial gendered oppression. Therefore, Gabriela's dissertation will document the lived experiences of a small group of women from an Andean town as they engage post-conflict challenges. She is particularly interested in if and, if so, in what ways they choose to re-member the armed conflict, and how they re-thread and reconstruct their lives in the post-conflict period in ways that ensure that these processes can respond adequately to their needs. To this end, she will conduct Feminist Participatory Action Research (FPAR) with a group of Andean women. Through this FPAR process we will engage in iterative action-reflection processes through which these women can potentially take on concrete actions towards improving their lives in a post-conflict society.


 

Jacob Wolf

Jacob Wolf
Applied Psychology, Lynch School of Education

Jacob Wolf is a third-year Ph.D. student in the department of Political Science, working toward a double-major in Political Philosophy and American Politics. His primary research interest lies at the nexus of political philosophy and U.S. immigration and citizenship, although he is also interested in late modern political philosophy and its relationship to religion—specifically in French political thought and the history of the French Revolution.

His current dissertation proposal seeks to understand U.S. immigration and citizenship by looking at Alexis de Tocqueville’s post-1840 letters, where he discusses U.S. immigration throughout the subsequent two decades (1840s and 1850s).  As of now, no one has yet mined these letters for insights into American immigration and citizenship.  Jacob’s research seeks to understand how Tocqueville’s peculiar commentary on immigration relates to the political philosophy he develops in his more substantive treatises, such as Democracy in America and Recollections. Tocqueville reserves his strongest words to describe and critique U.S. immigration policy, and it is Jacob’s hypothesis that Tocqueville’s comments have some truth today.

Upon fleshing out Tocqueville’s thoughts on immigration, Jacob’s research would then shift gears from a philosophical perspective to a public policy perspective, comparing Tocqueville’s analysis to contemporary immigration scholars such as Robert Putnam, Samuel P. Huntington, Peter Shuck, and our own Peter Skerry. While most immigration research is done from a purely ethical or economic perspective, this research would seek to bridge political philosophy and public policy, delving into considerations of democratic character and democratic citizenship. The necessity of such an approach has become obvious as immigration has recently come to the forefront of public consciousness.

Prior to Boston College, Jacob worked as a Case Manager and Policy Research at a boutique immigration law firm in Minneapolis, MN, where he specialized in the legal framework for obtaining visas and green cards for high-skilled immigrants. While at this firm, he served as author and editor of www.immpolicy.com, a website devoted to understanding immigration law and public policy from a historical and theoretical perspective.

Jacob received his B.A. from University of Northwestern-St. Paul, where he double-majored in history and theology, minoring in political science.