Current Graduate Fellows
the clough center for the study of constitutional democracy
The Graduate Fellows Program at the Clough Center will be entering its third year with a roster of 22 graduate students from the departments of Sociology, Political Science, Economics, English, Philosophy, History, and Theology.
The 2015-2016 Graduate Fellows are:
Whitney Abernathy is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the History Department at Boston College focusing on 19th century French empire. She received her B.A. in history from the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia and her M.A. in history from Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia. Her research concentrates on the relationship between liberal democracy, colonialism, and religion within the works of Alexis de Tocqueville, spotlighting Christianity’s paradoxical role in the construction of contemporary French political and social institutions. The recent debates regarding the position of Muslim women wearing headscarves in France’s emphatically secular society have demonstrated the enduring and perhaps surprising centrality of religion to critical questions concerning universal republicanism, the politics of democracy, and post-colonial relations with racial “others” in contemporary France. As such, while France’s most historically celebrated cultural fixtures such as universal republicanism and its colonial manifestation, the mission civilisatrice, have been characterized as distinctly secular entities with their ideological and political roots in the First and Third French Republics, her research suggests that these cultural institutions were also fundamentally shaped by beliefs about Christianity held and espoused by public figures, particularly Tocqueville, during the French conquest and colonization of Algeria in the mid-nineteenth century.
Tocqueville, a secular liberal and resolute supporter of the separation of Church and state, explicitly utilized universal Christian principles to underpin France’s claims to moral preeminence within Europe while justifying colonial and geopolitical aims even as he simultaneously invoked France’s close ties to Christianity to contribute to the racialization of cultural difference in French Algeria. Reevaluating the ideological foundations of French universalism and republican imperialism changes how we comprehend the function of religion in France as well as Christianity’s role in the construction of a French colonial (and even post-colonial) identity. As one of the leading commentators on France’s mid-nineteenth century imperial undertakings and central figures of modern political thought, Tocqueville’s observations prove an effective lens by which to accomplish this objective. By examining Tocqueville’s views on religion in conjunction with the language used by the French government and Armée d’Afrique during the invasion and occupation of Algeria, this project demonstrates that Christianity, far from becoming less central to French identity and political life over the course of the 19th century, was—and is—a critical element to understanding the development of French democratic universalism, the mission civilisatrice, and the republican imperial project as they were conceptualized at the zenith of France’s empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Martín Bernales Odino
Martín Bernales Odino is a Chilean doctoral student in philosophy at Boston College. He has a law degree and a master degree in philosophy from the University of Chile and a D.E.A. in criminal law from University Pablo de Olavide, Seville, Spain. He is working in a project entitled “A Genealogy of Poverty: a Latin American history,” that is summarized below.
“A Genealogy of Poverty: a Latin American history.” The two main perspectives to think philosophically upon poverty are, on the one hand, the notion of charity and, on the other, the idea of a duty derived from social justice. Despite their importance, these perspectives lack a thorough account on the experience of being poor. Our philosophical debates do not consider either that the problematization of poverty has its history. These absences are meaningful for any philosophical effort that, situated in the permanent movement of heterogeneous historical events, attempts to understand how and why poverty has become a problem for us, and to open up ways of acting before it.
Martín plans to overcome the aforementioned difficulties by identifying what Michel Foucault called an experience, namely, the distinct historical configurations of a problem from the intertwinement between power relations, forms of truth and ways of subjectivization. Writing a “genealogy of poverty” is thus writing a history of the experience of being poor, and supposes a historical philosophizing that tries to define the conditions under which such experience becomes possible and to grasp how it shapes what we think, what we do, and what we are.
Martín write this genealogy from a Latin American perspective, which means, from the perspective of a place that has been labeled as poor. The history will begin in the 16th century when Europe, and Spain in particular, experienced a huge dispute on the Catholic thoughts on charity and the institutional practices of alms giving. Such a dispute shaped a new European experience on poverty that was implanted slowly, but steadily in the Kingdom of Indies. A huge political arrangement took place at that time in what we call today Latin America so as to create a way to live together, and poverty was one of the experiences that yielded it by stabilizing and integrating the new political associations. Such an initial experience of poverty was called into question during the 18th century when ironically the monarchical pastoral techniques came to feature the new measures to face poverty, while at the same time political economy replaced theology as the most relevant political truth. At the end of the 19th century, eventually, the independent Latin American States faced the “social question.” This term designated a new stage in the history of poverty, which was mainly understood as the dispossession of the majority of the population. Poverty became an international and urban experience, which was for the first time based mostly on the impossibility of having enough for the individual livelihood. It was born our contemporary problematization of poverty and the related disciplined anonymity of the poor.
Timothy Brennan is a Ph.D. student in political science. He grew up in Sydney, Australia, and received a bachelor’s degree in politics and philosophy from the University of Melbourne. His main area of interest is the moral and political thought of the Enlightenment. At the moment he is working on the debate between Montesquieu and Rousseau over the popularization of the arts and sciences, particularly in Montesquieu’s Persian Letters and Rousseau’s Discourse on the Arts and Sciences. He is also interested in American political thought, and has written on Thomas Jefferson.
Pete Cajka is a historian of religion in America with interests in social, political, and intellectual history. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Dayton (2008) and a master’s from Marquette University (2010). Both degrees are in history. He arrived at Boston College in the fall of 2010 and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the History Department. His research has been supported by the American Catholic Historical Association, a Boston College History Department Manning/Gelfand Summer Research Fellowship, the Catholic University of America Archives, the Boston College Center for Christian-Jewish Learning, and the Boston College Center for Human Rights and International Justice.
Pete’s dissertation is a history of the moral theories and lived experiences of “conscience” in America after 1945. It attempts to explain why Americans embraced the “primacy of conscience” during and after the 1960s. Beginning in 1963 and exploding after 1968, a cross-section of religious and secular Americans (Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and Human Rights Activists) assigned conscience a new pride-of-place in moral theory and they made conscience paramount to their lived experiences of Sixties-style protest, human rights advocacy, declarations of human dignity, spiritual discernment, and ethical reflection. Intellectuals moved conscience to the center of legal and theological analyses; activists used conscience claims to energize politics; and everyday Americans turned to conscience as a new moral compass. Pete’s research carries this analysis through the 1970s and 1980s, up to the end of the Cold War in 1991.
His dissertation also sheds light on contemporary debates about conscientious objection, claims of conscience in contemporary health care, the politics of religious freedom, and human rights. This project draws on primary sources from over a dozen archives from across the United States, including the University of Notre Dame, the Library of Congress, the Center for Jewish History, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the Swarthmore College Peace Collection.
Tim Carey is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Theology at Boston College where he studies Muslim-Christian relations in sub-Saharan Africa. His approach to Theology is deeply rooted in a commitment to inter-religious dialogue, human rights, and social justice as reflected in his professional domestic and foreign experience in the non-profit educational sector.
Having graduated from Yale University in 2003 with a degree in Political Science, Tim began teaching in the Theology and History Departments at the Kent School in Kent, Connecticut. During this time and concurrent with his teaching commitment, he pursued a Master’s degree in Muslim-Christian Relations and Islamic Studies from Hartford Theological Seminary, which he was awarded in 2007. His thesis at Hartford Seminary focused on the development of Islamic law in Nigeria during colonialism.
After leaving the Kent School and Hartford Seminary, Tim lived in Arusha, Tanzania where he worked for a fledgling non-governmental organization which aimed to provide quality education for orphaned and abandoned children throughout northern Tanzania. As Program Director with this organization, he was primarily responsible for planning curricula and scheduling instructional periods, establishing a teacher training program for instructors in Arusha, and overseeing the construction of several major construction facilities at the organization’s affiliate orphanages.
Having spent the majority of the past decade studying the interaction between Muslim and Christian communities both here in the United States and abroad, Tim’s academic interests include the dynamic between religion and culture, which is a central theme in his studies as well as his own personal experience. Specifically, his research at Boston College examines how Muslim and Christian leaders in Kenya and Tanzania are responding to the HIV/AIDS pandemic from a religious standpoint, and how these religious leaders can affirm the inherent dignity of the individual suffering from the disease while also trying to make sense of the negative impact of HIV/AIDS on the broader society. Key figures in his work include David B. Burrell, Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Hans Küng, Abdullaziz Sachedina, and Abdullahi an-Na’im.
Tim’s dissertation considers how the inter-religious Muslim and Christian response to HIV/AIDS in East Africa can be seen as a model for a contemporary inter-religious engagement. It also examines the respective Sunni Muslim and African Catholic responses to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Nairobi, Kenya as a case study for practical inter-religious dialogue. Situated in the Muslim and Catholic discourse of compassion, mercy, and justice, the project explores how religious communities attempt to make sense of the disease in terms that synthesize indigenous and foundational Abrahamic religious understandings of HIV/AIDS.
Tim has additionally been represented on the Jesuit Advisory Board for Inter-Religious Dialogue, as well as serving as Director of the annual Engaging Particularities Conference at Boston College which brings young scholars in the field of Comparative Theology together in a collegial atmosphere to present their work.
Hessam Dehghani was born in Tehran, Iran. He has always been fascinated by the variety of ethnic groups and languages that exist in Iran and its neighboring countries. Under the influence of a very traditional family, he is very much acquainted and interested in Persian literature and its relation to Islam.
Hessam completed his masters and Ph.D. in Linguistics, in Iran at Tehran University and Allameh Tabatabai University consecutively. For his dissertation, he worked on Hermeneutic vs. Structural Interpretation of a Persian Short Story, which will be published in Iran. The work that led Hessam to the world of philosophy is a meditation on Paul Ricoeur engagement with Structuralism on the question of method.
Yet, to further his studies, Hassam went for a Sabbatical to University College Dublin, Ireland. He studied Phenomenology and Hermeneutics with UCD Professors. While there, he started his political studies and activities more academically and seriously under the influence of Professor Maeve Cooke and her course on Socio-Cultural Criticism and Professor Maria Baghramian who is an Iranian political dissident and a major analytic philosopher at UCD. Working with Prof. Baghramian and other Iranians in Dublin, Hessam held sessions discussing the relation between Iranian Identity and Islam. Further, he hosted a one day workshop introducing his hermeneutical interpretation of Islam through an Interpretation of Pilgrimage in Islam. After much work and a lot of modifications, that work provides the basis and point of departure for his second dissertation on Islamic identity and community.
Hessam received a scholarship to attend Boston College in 2012 and ventured to earn his second Ph.D. in Philosophy. During the last 3 years he has been working on the notion of community and biopolitics in continental philosophy on the one hand and Hermeneutic Interpretation of Islam on the other. He has been seeking interpretations of Islam which are faithful to its message and at the same time more open to its universal claims in guiding humanity in general and for all times. This opens new horizons between Islam and the West without ignoring the specificities of each historically and philosophically.
The title of Hessam’s dissertation proposal is, “The Way of Community, the Discourse of Topology in Islamic Mystic Thought”. By delving into original Arabic and Persian resources of Islamic Mystic Thought, he is trying to shed more light on places (topos) where different modalities of Community can come to pass in Islam. This is an attempt to illustrate the modes of community which are more open to democracy while securing the genuine experience of the otherness of Islam and not turning it to the same.
Lauren Diamond Brown
Lauren Diamond-Brown is a Ph.D. candidate in the Sociology Department, where she studies medical sociology, sociology of reproduction, gender and feminist studies, and qualitative methodology. Her research analyzes the social construction and politics of childbirth, working with the perspective of women and practitioners she hopes to generate understandings that will help improve maternity care and restore women’s birth justice. Her master’s paper, titled “Beyond the Nature/Medical Binary: The Unassisted Childbirth Experience,” adds complexity to previous understandings of natural birth through an in-depth study of unassisted birth, which is planned homebirth without the presence of a doctor, midwife or professional birth attendant. Her findings show that even the most extreme alternative to the medical model of birth is a hybrid practice where women are able to transcend oppressive aspects of medicine but not completely reject it; instead, they adopt a narrative that provides them agency to draw from medical and natural birth practices to create their desired experience. This paper was presented at the Eastern Sociological Society and American Sociological Association conferences, and won the BC Sociology Department’s 2013 Severyn T. Bruyn Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Social Economy and Social Justice.
For her dissertation Lauren examines obstetricians’ clinical narratives about decision-making in labor and delivery and analyzes how the structure of work, local professional culture, and obstetricians’ clinical ethics shape decision-making and practice. Her first paper from this project is titled, “The Rationalization of Care Delivery: The Effects of Shift Work on Obstetricians’ Decision-Making in Childbirth.” This paper engages with theory about the rationalization of medical work, and focuses on the reorganization of obstetricians’ work from the traditional on call model to the hospital shift work model. Lauren contrasted the decision-making process of those who work in shift work to those who are on call for their patients’ births. Her key findings are that in shift work doctors use interactive patient knowledge, but they rely on superficial impressions that include stereotypes; this increases the chance of misunderstandings and the reproduction of social inequality. Secondly, shift work models structurally remove choice in the doctor-patient relationship and the opportunity to build trust; this increases the chance of conflict during birth, which can lead to bad outcomes for the doctor and/or patient. This paper was presented at the Eastern Sociological Society and American Sociological Association conferences. In 2014, Lauren was awarded the Benedict S. Alper Fellowship in recognition of her dedication to social justice.
This year Lauren is expanding her dissertation research to two other states chosen to maximize variation in local birth context: Louisiana and Vermont. Through a multi-methodological qualitative analysis of 65 total interviews, Lauren’s dissertation will deepen our understanding of how structure, culture and agency affect physicians’ practices and shape American birth. Her study has implications for public health and reproductive justice, and it provides a rich case for developing theory about the construction of medical practice in the context of major changes to the social organization of medicine. This will be Lauren’s second year as a Clough Graduate Fellow.
Erica Foss is a Ph.D. candidate in the History Department at Boston College. Her dissertation, “Displacing Criminality: Penal Transportation in Britain and France, 1788-1945” explores the juxtaposition between the legal and cultural definitions of crime and citizenship over the course of the long 19th century. She argues that convict transportation provided a unique challenge to these empires in how they defined the limitations of citizenship rights. During the transportation experiment, criminality was “outsourced” to the colonies in a dual-phase attempt to both rid the metropole of problem populations but also to strengthen each nation’s imperial power on the global stage. She emphasizes that the systems of punishment and citizenship were not only intertwined with each other, but that Britain and France engaged in mutually constitutive discourse about the bounds of the nation, and who belonged within its borders. Her project suggests that transportation provides the ideal lens through which to understand the delicate and fraught relationship between metropole and colony, and convict and citizen. Her legal-cultural methodology also serves to highlight the sharp dichotomies between public perceptions of crime and punishment and the realities of life in the penal colonies. As debates about detention abroad, extra-legal justice, and untenable prison structures continue to dominate debates about crime and punishment—particularly in America—her research offers insight into pressing issues about the state’s role in correcting those that fall under its control.
Erica received her bachelor of arts in history and international studies from the University of Denver in 2007 and a master’s in history from Boston College in 2012. She is the recipient of Boston College’s Irish Studies Fellowship as well as the Adele Dalsimer Dissertation Fellowship. She has conducted archival research in France, Ireland, England, and Australia, which has been generously funded by the Clough Center for Constitutional Democracy and the History Department at Boston College. She is also the author of several publications touching on themes of colonialism, the Other, and crime in Europe in the 19th century.
Michael Franczak is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History, where he studies U.S. foreign policy, international history, and economic history. His main area of interest is the intersection of U.S. foreign policy and international economics, especially within international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. 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 “The United States and the New International Economic Order, 1974-1982.” He argues that in U.S. policy toward the NIEO—a challenge by developing countries to the postwar consensus on global trade and finance— there is a robust debate about the role of the state that both precedes and prepares the way for neoliberalism’s international agenda, which has received little attention in literature on the rise of neoliberalism and U.S. foreign policy in the 1970s.
He received his B.A. with high distinction and highest honors in History from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 2011. He is a Presidential Fellow at Boston College. This is his third year with the Clough Center.
Elise Franklin is a doctoral candidate in the History department. Her dissertation, “A Slow End to Empire: Social Aid Associations, Migration, and Decolonization in France and Algeria, 1954-1979,” focuses on the process of decolonization through para-state associations. She argues that France’s one hundred and thirty year colonial relationship with Algeria did not appear evenly or immediately. Rather, she calls attention to social service associations in order to understand France’s continued colonial posturing even as it shifted to a politics of aid over the course of the Algerian War of Independence (1954–1962) and in the context of the so-called “thirty glorious years” of economic expansion (1945–1975). Her research draws on gender analysis and social and intellectual historical methods to analyze the trajectory of French and Algerian state and para-state officials as well as their clients during the collapse of French colonialism, and later, the collapse of the immigration between the two nations. The often ignored yet protracted social ties between the two countries shaped their policies on economic development, welfare, and immigration during this period and led to the endangerment of all three by the time Francois Mitterand became the first Socialist president of the Fifth Republic in 1981.
Elise received her bachelor of arts in French language and literature from Barnard College, Columbia University in 2009 and a master’s in history from Boston College in 2013. She was a Boston College Presidential Scholar (2010–2015) as well as an international fellow at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France (2013–2014), where she conducted archival and oral historical research for her dissertation. For the 2015–2016 academic year, she holds a dissertation writing fellowship from Boston College. Her research has also been funded by the Clough Center for Constitutional Democracy, the Society for French Historical Studies, the American Historical Association, and the Social Science Research Council’s Dissertation Proposal Development Fellow program.
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 connection between national identity and political discourse in modern Turkey. She is interested in how neo-Ottomanism as an ideology is being used by the ruling party, the AKP, in the domestic realm; more specifically in how this political discourse is being used to shape national identity and reconstruct the national narrative. When and how does the AKP leadership use elements of the Ottoman narrative to legitimate its rule, whether the goal is securing power or facing down internal and external challenges? States have at their disposal many possible tools or instruments for inculcating particular elements of national identity, or simply patriotism more broadly; Perin’s project will address these questions by using official texts, speeches or statements promulgated directly by governmental bodies, leaders and recognized spokes people. Her research also speaks to the broader question of how leaders make use of national stories and identities to construct or reinforce regime legitimacy, national unity and political stability. It aims to contribute to the understanding of the role of political discourse in maintaining political power.
Rosalia Greco is a Ph.D. candidate in the Economics department and her research focuses on Political Economy and Applied Economics. She received a B.A. in economics and public policy evaluation from the University of Palermo (Italy), a M.S. in economics and social sciences from Bocconi University (Italy), and a M.A. in economics from Boston College.
Rosalia is interested in the economic consequences of the interaction between politicians and voters, and in the effects of institutions and culture on economic outcomes. People’s preferences, and their expression, are the prime engines of any democratic society, and the manner in which politicians incorporate these preferences in their decisions determines both social outcomes and the economic prosperity of a nation. In turn, preferences, and their expression, are themselves affected by economic conditions, such as recessions, and by social events and movements. The relationship runs in both directions.
Motivated by the observation that in the U.S. the level of redistribution from rich to poor has remained fairly constant in the last 30 years, despite significant changes in society and politics, such as increased income inequality and ever-diverging politicians’ stance in Congress, she explores how voters’ ideology about social issues like abortion, gun control, or environmental protection, interacts with inequality and party polarization in affecting redistributive policy. She finds that the salience that voters attach to social ideology is crucial for rationalizing the observed path of redistribution, because it determines the responsiveness of the electorate to changes in inequality and polarization. Increased income inequality affects gains and losses from redistribution, while party polarization changes the closeness between individual and party positions on social issues. These phenomena change the voter base of each party, and therefore the political equilibrium in the redistributive game. Using data from the American National Election Study, Rosalia finds that high income voters attach higher salience to social ideology than low income ones. Poor voters are therefore more responsive to changes in income inequality, while rich voters are more responsive to changes in party polarization. As a result of parties’ reactions to these changes in the voter base, income inequality moves the equilibrium policy towards higher redistribution, whereas party polarization on social issues results in decreased redistribution from rich to poor. The effects of inequality and polarization, therefore, move in opposite directions, and potentially neutralize each other, consistently with the U.S. evidence.
Rosalia is currently working on the determinants of immigration policy in the United States. Immigration policy is extremely polarizing, and Congress has failed to reform the immigration system for over a decade. Rosalia and her co-author find that the share of foreign-born population and of naturalized citizens in a Congressional District are correlated with its Representative’s stance on immigration, suggesting that voters’ preferences about the composition of the labor force might be a factor in explaining Congress’s approval of an immigration reform. They are currently working on identifying possible mechanisms that underlie these preferences and their expression through voting.
William Hickman is a Ph.D. candidate in the Economics Department at Boston College. He received a B.A. from Brigham Young University, majoring in both economics and mathematics, and an M.A. in economics from Boston College, where he has specialized in the fields of econometrics and industrial organization. His research examines dispute resolution through arbitration, an increasingly common alternative to the public court system, particularly between businesses and individuals as employees, consumers, and patients.
Binding, pre-dispute arbitration clauses, which require disputes to be addressed through the private arbitration system rather than the public court system, are now common in contracts that govern employment, retail banking and credit, health insurance, long-term care facilities (e.g., nursing homes), cell phone service, and automobile service, among other areas. The growth of binding consumer arbitration has engendered a long and vigorous debate about its merits among industry representatives, legal experts, consumer advocates, and legislators. Indeed, in recent years members of congress have proposed legislation that would prohibit binding arbitration agreements in consumer contracts. Proponents of binding arbitration clauses often claim that arbitration is faster, less costly (and hence more accessible), and just as fair as the court system. Some claim that the decreased costs of dispute resolution will be passed on to individuals through lower prices, thereby benefiting society broadly. Opponents dispute such claims with examples of prohibitively costly fees, egregious conflicts of interest, biased arbitrator selection, and correlations between repeat players (large firms) and favorable outcomes. They argue that consumers would voluntarily choose arbitration, without a binding pre-dispute agreement, if it were truly in their best interest. Furthermore, some are concerned that as arbitration clauses weaken class action possibilities, firms will no longer have as strong an incentive to ensure the safety of their products and the quality of their services.
The duration and strength of the debate is due in part to the dearth of empirical answers to the questions generated by the disagreements and the (largely informal) theoretical models. To address this deficiency, William has collected case information, the disclosure of which is required by California law, for tens of thousands of disputes filed with arbitration administrators. He is now developing econometric models to tease out as much as can be learned about the arbitration system from the available case information.
Fidèle Ingiyimbere is a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy at Boston College. He has a B.A. in philosophy from Centre Sèvres-Paris, a M.S. in philosophy from Université Catholique d’Afrique Centrale-Institut Catholique de Yaoundé. His earlier interest in philosophy was in phenomenology, especially on Maurice Merleau-Ponty, on whom he has published a book, Etre et expression. Esquisse d’une ontologie et son rapport avec l’expression chez Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Fidèle also holds a B.A. in theology from Hekima College-Nairobi, a S.T.L. from Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, and a M.A. in Philosophy from Boston College Philosophy Department. His publications and research cover the topics of social justice and political questions, with particular interest for human rights. One of his several publications in the area is his book Human Rights as Means for Peace: The Catholic Understanding of Human Rights and the Catholic Church in Burundi. His doctoral project aims at responding to cultural critiques of human rights, which view them as purely Western, embedded in a particular liberal tradition which, therefore, should not be imposed on other cultures. At the same time, the same project seeks to rescue human rights from their imperialistic use by Western powers through the so-called humanitarian intervention. To achieve its goal, such a project has to maintain and affirm the historicity of human rights as Western, yet show that they are open to the possibility of being practiced in other cultures and other contexts. That is the heart of Fidèle’s dissertation research whose thesis is that, by domesticating human rights, we retrieve their purpose of protecting and enhancing human dignity and it becomes possible to satisfactorily address the cultural and imperialistic challenges.
Kiara is a 7th year doctoral student in the English Department in the final stages of her dissertation. She’s been a member of the Clough Center since its inception and credits much of her academic growth to the influence of the Center and those who work there. Kiara’s focus is American literature, specifically literature of the American Wes. She is also interested in popular literature and culture, spatial and geographic theory, and the medical humanities. She is curious about the ways in which different populations define their identities via literature and what that literature can tell us about how these populations navigate different political, personal, and public contexts. In addition to writing her dissertation, lately Kiara has been writing on the experience of young women with breast cancer and the personal politics cancer diagnoses carry with them. Outside of her academic work, Kiara enjoys horseback riding, rock climbing, cooking, and spending time with her cats who, in addition to her husband, make for a very nice family.
Kiara’s dissertation, “We Who Work the West: Labor, Class, and Space in Western American Literature,” navigates the space of the American West in times of massive political and historical change by way of the literary patterns and habits that accompany labor and class. If the West has historically been a not quite empty stage for experiments in embodied nationalism that reflect its spatial feedback loop between what William Cronon calls “flux [and] fixity,” then Western stories must be read against, rather than in favor of, historicized myths that unify Western American social history and lived experience. Literature that attends to labor — one of these practices — and the classes created by that labor in particular spaces resists the reductive narrative nostalgia that often accompanies one-dimensional stories of Manifest Destiny, industrial expansion, and land ownership. Such literature magnifies the work behind the scenes of these major political maneuvers as a physically challenging, organizing force that shaped Western space. Moreover, depictions of those doing that work and its personal costs accentuate ambivalences and anxieties in these popular stories. Kiara thus interrogates fictional representations of class as a function of labor in space to unearth what constitutes Western identity. By focusing on spaces depicted in Western literature and how these demand certain forms of labor, she can uncover the crucial roles nationalism, class, work, and space itself play in shaping individual identities. Her project fits in with Western critical regionalism; however, while most Western regionalists argue that spatially rooted culture or ethnicity defines identity in the West, Kiara argues that labor, class, and space, and their intersections, exert a subtle yet profound force on the self.
Liam Martin is a Ph.D. candidate in the Sociology Department at Boston College. His work draws on a range of approaches for engaging with the people and communities most affected by the prison system. Liam’s doctoral research has involved nine months living in a halfway house for men leaving prison and jail—spread over three separate stays—and life history and follow-up interviews with a network of former prisoners established while living at the house. Using this ethnographic approach, he examines how the prison experience follows people after they leave, the forces and processes that push people back toward prison, and the strategies of former prisoners rebuilding their lives while facing often extreme forms of social exclusion.
Liam also teaches college courses inside Framingham and Norfolk state prisons through the Boston University prison education program.
John Morton is a Ph.D. candidate in the History Department at Boston College. From Maine originally, he received his B.A. from the University of Vermont, and an M.A. in American History from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He also received a certificate in public history from the UMass, with a concentration in museums and historic sites.
John’s primary field is early North America, though he also studies Latin American history and global history. His dissertation explores the New England/Maritime Canada borderlands in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The 1783 Treaty of Paris, which ended the American Revolution, divided New England from Quebec and Maritime Canada. One side became the United States, while the other remained part of the British Empire. At the time of the treaty, the population across what would become Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia was relatively homogeneous; English-speaking Protestant settlers from the thirteen colonies were creating new settlements in a territory already occupied by groups of Algonquian Indians. The political border was created overnight, but how did a relatively uniform population divide in two over time? How did state building work on the ground, in both Indian and European communities? How did nationalist sentiments develop? Analysis of the late 18th century northeastern borderlands provides a new angle on several fields—the growth of nationalism, the early development of the United States and the future Canada, and the study of Atlantic world borderlands. Examining the region as a whole shows us that the Maritimes and New England were not completely separated in 1783, but continued to impact each other over time. The developing relationship between state and federal power on one side of the border, and the transition from the first to second British Empire on the other, were mutually influential processes. Religious networks turn out to have played a key role in state building and the development of nationalism for both Canadians and Americans. This study also introduces analysis of the Maritimes/New England region to the developing borderlands historiography. There have been many valuable studies of American borderlands, but these studies have focused primarily on the southwest, a region with competing religious and linguistic communities. The northeast offers a different and valuable case study, because of its more homogenous population.
Görkem Özizmirli is a second year Ph.D. student in the History Department at Boston College, where he was awarded a Presidential Scholarship. He received his bachelor degrees in international relations and radio, television and cinema from Ankara University in Ankara, Turkey. During his undergraduate years, he worked for a publishing house and newspaper part-time. He received his master’s degree in Comparative Studies in History and Society from Koç University in Istanbul, Turkey. His master’s thesis, “Fear in Evliya Çelebi’s Seyahatnâme: Politics and Historiography in a Seventeenth-Century Ottoman Travelogue,” explored the narratives of fear in the travelogue of the 17th century Ottoman traveler Evliya Çelebi. His one article about Evliya Çelebi’s understanding of supernatural beings was published in an edited book in Turkish. Additionally, he has published an article about the relation between politics and theology in an edited book in Turkish, as well as numerous non-peer reviewed articles in different journals and websites in Turkey.
Görkem’s research mainly concerns the early modern Ottoman lower social strata, generally urban “working class” people. He is interested in exploring both archival and literary sources. While the archival material, including demographical data, court registers, and imperial orders, reveal the general social and demographic context of cities, state’s decisions, specific cases about the Ottoman working class, and textual sources such as first-person narratives, dream letters, literary texts, and chronicles allow for the integration of social history and cultural history. In order to challenge the traditional state-centered understanding of the Ottoman historiography, he mainly explores the transformation of state and politics through the agents within and outside the state in the early modern Ottoman Empire by studying both interaction and tension between individual and social structure in various sources.
At that moment, he is studying the historicity of legislation on prostitution and illicit sex by focusing on the first reported instances of it in 16th century Istanbul. Rather than instituting standardized policies for prostitution like those of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, the sixteenth-century state was in the process of legislating prostitution while concurrently in the process of establishing new social and moral values. In order to understand this process and how the Ottoman state decided that these women were prostitutes, over the summer, he will conduct research at archives in Turkey to draw out the legal definition and to understand the nature of the social and moral violation brought about by acts of unlicensed but compensated sex by women. Moreover, he will compare these sources with the representations of prostitutes in Ottoman poetry. The first records of the imprisonment of prostitutes in the sixteenth century show that the Ottoman state had started to codify laws regulating prostitutes’ activities. While this macro level allows us to trace the historicity of political and legal regulations about a specific social group, literary expressions in poems present social values, gendered power, and the implications of those regulations on the individual and aesthetic level.
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 19th century with a particular emphasis on the intersection between literature and political thought.
His research interests include American romanticism, transcendentalism, literary realism, political oratory, and political philosophy. He recently completed a doctoral exam entitled “Slavery and American Literature” that explored how writers, poets, orators, and politicians confronted the problem of slavery by examining, and often reinterpreting, the nature of the relationship between the individual and the democratic community. He is currently at work on a second doctoral exam entitled “American Literature of the Long Nineteenth Century and the Political Imagination” which examines the way in which American writers and thinkers have confronted the ever-elusive nature of American democracy and the way in which their examinations have influenced literary form.
By focusing on the intersection between literature, history, and moral and political philosophy, he aims for a new understanding of the “politics” of American literature and the ways that literature can enable a deeper understanding of American politics.
David Sessions is a Ph.D. student in the History Department at Boston College, where he was awarded the Presidential Fellowship. He received his M.A. in humanities and social thought from New York University in 2014, and his B.A. in journalism from Patrick Henry College in 2008. He previously served as the religion editor of The Daily Beast, and his writing and journalism have appeared in The New Republic, Newsweek, Slate, Jacobin, and others.
David’s interests are centered on modern European intellectual history, particularly the history of philosophy and scientific knowledge in France and Germany. This includes ideas and concepts themselves, as well as the institutionalization of academic disciplines, the relationship between universities and states, the politics of teaching and education, and the broad cultural and historical understandings of “Enlightenment” and secularism in Western Europe.
Much of David’s recent research has focused on the institution of philosophy in France during the 19th and 20th centuries, ranging from the conflicts between the post-Napoleonic university and the Catholic church in the mid-1800s to the opposition of French academic philosophers to the aims of the social sciences in the 1970s. These projects examine conflicts over knowledge and its forms as a means of pursuing questions about how modern Europeans have understood the ultimate ends and meaning of society.
Kate Ward is a doctoral candidate and Flatley Fellow in theological ethics at Boston College. Her articles have appeared in Heythrop Journal, New Theology Review, Journal of Religious Ethics and Theological Studies, and she is the coeditor of Hungering and Thirsting for Justice: Real-Life Stories by Young Adult Catholics (ACTA Publications, 2012). She has presented research at the annual meetings of the American Academy of Religion (regional and national) and the College Theology Society, and at the Theologian in Residence Program in Fort Collins, CO. Kate will use her time as a Clough fellow to complete her dissertation, “Wealth, Poverty and Inequality: A Christian Virtue Response.” This project engages a range of sources from across the Christian tradition to describe the effects of both wealth and poverty on virtue formation, arguing that growing societal inequality has a previously neglected moral impact.
Gary Winslett is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Political Science Department, specializing in international relations. His doctoral dissertation research focuses on an increasingly significant issue in international political economy: regulatory trade barriers.
Whereas tariffs once constituted the most significant impediment to international trade, today the differences in states’ domestic regulations now constitute the central barrier to that trade. Indeed, they are the centerpiece issue of the current negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and many bilateral and regional free trade agreements. Regulations affect a huge array of aspects pertaining to how states operate and trade in the 21st century inescapably influences the generation and distribution of wealth in and across states. Thus research on regulatory trade barriers can generate insights into how societies govern them and how they generate prosperity. Moreover, regulatory trade barriers are a window into how states grapple with the tensions between global economic imperatives and non-economic public policy objectives. In essence, the study of regulatory trade barriers is a microcosm of how governments manage globalization.
These regulatory trade barriers affect nearly everyone nearly everyday. Everyone eats; a large portion of the food a person eats has been traded internationally before it is consumed. The differences in national regulations affect how safe that food is and how much it costs. People wear clothes; the connection between the international trade in textiles and labor standards affects the conditions under which millions of people are employed and what it costs a consumer to be properly clothed. Many people take medications; including intellectual property regulations in international trade agreements influences how quickly innovative new pharmaceutical products come on to the market as well as whether poor people in developing countries have access to needed medicines. Many people drive automobiles; the safety and environmental regulations on automobiles affect the chances of a person surviving an accident as well as the speed with which global warming progresses. In virtually all industries, by inhibiting or promoting firms’ ability to sell their goods in multiple markets, regulatory trade barriers impact businesses’ profit margins and in turn workers’ pay packets. Regulatory trade barriers have real world consequences for just about everyone.
Sometimes states choose to reduce these regulatory trade barriers, whereas at other times they choose to increase them and in other instances they remain static, neither increasing nor decreasing. Gary’s dissertation begins by tracing the political history of how regulations became central to international trade negotiations and exploring the implications that has for both trade and domestic policymaking. He explains the politics that surround the negotiation of regulatory trade by examining variation in negotiations across three cases, all involving democratic polities: consumer safety and environmental regulations and the trade in automobiles between the United States and the European Union from 1986 to 1999, mad-cow safety regulations and the trade in beef between the United States and Japan from 2003 to 2013, and compulsory licensing regulations and the trade in pharmaceuticals between the United States and India from 2011 to 2015. Throughout these chapters, Gary analyzes the role that civil society actors and multinational corporations play in shaping governments’ trade policy positions and how government actors choose which societal interests to promote.