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 23 graduate students from the departments of Sociology, Philosophy, Political Science, Law, English, Economics, History, and Theology.
The 2013-2014 Graduate Fellows are:
Rachel M. Ball is a doctoral candidate in the History Department, and is currently writing her dissertation titled “Marathi Films, Marathi Manoos: Understanding Regionalism in the Age of Indian Nationalism, 1932-1960.” Her dissertation explores the role films played in the rise of a popular regional identity in mid-twentieth century western India, particularly in the Marathi-speaking state of Maharashtra. This study of Marathi films demonstrates that there was a crucial cultural dimension to the emergence of political regionalism in Maharashtra. Her research has discovered that as early as the 1930s, Marathi films shaped the popular imagination and created cultural understandings necessary for the development of a Marathi political consciousness that became a powerful force in India’s nascent democracy.
Emilie Dubois is a doctoral student in the Sociology Department at Boston College. While at Boston College, Emilie has studied the imprint that collective American cultural identity leaves on everyday economic life. She has done so by focusing her graduate work in economic and consumer sociology. As part of this research, Emilie is a member of the MacArthur Foundation's Connected Learning Research Network (CLRN). Under the advisory of Juliet Schor, the Network’s Connected Consumption project analyzes the changes in consumer life brought on by widespread economic instability in the shadow of 2008’s financial crisis. As a researcher on this project, she has studied the place-based, technologically enabled initiatives of the “sharing revolution,” which adhere to an open sourced culture of access, use, and re-circulation as an alternative to the traditional American model of private ownership.
Michael Franczak is a second-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History, where he was awarded a Presidential Fellowship. Michael is studying international history with Professor James Cronin, economic history with Professor Prasannan Parthasarathi, and the history of American foreign policy with Professor Seth Jacobs. He is currently researching a set of recently released transcripts of the 1944 Bretton Woods conference, at which forty-four Allied nations negotiated their participation in the proposed International Monetary Fund and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (later World Bank). He is focusing in particular on the positions of less developed countries (LDCs), namely India, during the debates, in an attempt to challenge the idea that, to quote J. M. Keynes's official biographer and close friend, R. F. Harrod, “other nations did not contribute ideas of novelty or importance.” Contra Harrod and others, Michael is arguing that many of the ideas and objections proposed by LDCs at Bretton Woods are precisely those being proposed today by India, China, Brazil, and other emerging nations as the basis for reforms to make the IMF and global economic architecture more democratic and less anachronistic. He hopes to fill this gap in our historical and contemporary understanding through his participation in and support from the Clough Center.
Rosalia Greco is a Ph.D. student in the Economics department and her research focuses on Political Economy, Cultural Economics and Applied Economics. 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. Her current research studies the relationship between fiscal austerity and electoral turnover. As a consequence of the downturns in economic activity in the U.S. and European economies, that resulted in high levels of public debt and deficits, many government around the world have needed to implement credible fiscal adjustments, often referred to as “fiscal austerity.” Despite the conventional wisdom that fiscal austerity has a negative impact on the popularity of the government in office, and therefore on its probability of reelection, the empirical evidence shows no systematic negative relationship between the two phenomena. This result represents an empirical puzzle, and no convincing explanation has yet been given. Rosalia’s objective is to propose a simple model, which takes into account politicians’ incentives and constraints in implementing austerity fiscal policies, in order to explain the lack of correlation between fiscal adjustment and electoral results observed in the data.
Dave Harker is a doctoral candidate and teaching fellow in the Sociology Department at Boston College. His research explores the potential benefits and limitations offered by engagement in voluntary service activities, particularly service learning. This work recognizes the need to analyze “engagement” within a broader framework of politics, ideology, and participation. Dave’s research focuses specifically on service learning as a form of volunteering because it has emerged as one of the most popular mechanisms to promote and teach about civic responsibility in American universities. Colleges and universities in the U.S. have traditionally been charged with the responsibility of training students to take their place in a larger civic society, to teach them to be committed members of the community, and to promote positive social change. However, institutions of higher education have faced much criticism in recent years for not living up to this responsibility. Rather than serving as a public good that instills students with civic skills, many argue that postsecondary education, in line with trends in broader society, has increasingly become an individualized private good that is focused on career-building and promoting self-interest.
Jonathan is a Ph.D. candidate in the economics department at Boston College. His research interests are broadly in the fields of international macroeconomics and international finance, macroeconomics and trade. Jonathan’s dissertation focuses on policy challenges arising from the global financial crisis and the eurozone crisis, with a particular emphasis on international monetary and fiscal policy cooperation. In one of Jonathan’s dissertation papers, he and co-author Mikhail Dmitriev, a fellow Boston College student, evaluate the optimal design of a fiscal union for countries in a common currency area like the euro area. Attempts at cross-country fiscal cooperation within the euro area during the recent crisis exposed the weakness of current institutional arrangements and the need for reform.
John Hungerford recently concluded his second year as a Ph.D. student at Boston College in the Department of Political Science where he focuses in Political Theory. His main research interest is in ancient Greek political philosophy, an interest acquired as a freshman in college when he was first confronted by the Socratic question “what is justice?” A question he never thought to ask because he had always taken for granted that such questions – questions about virtue – were outside the scope of science, such that one could not hope to arrive at a definitive answer to them. The immediate and obvious importance of these questions in his life, however, made it clear that this assumption must be questioned. As he began to engage with these moral questions, it quickly became apparent that despite his professed scientific relativism, he had strong opinions about how a life ought to be lived, and what makes it good or bad. Despite his professed disinterest in politics, he began to realize that these opinions were both informed by and directed toward the political world.
Conor Kelly is a Ph.D. candidate and Flatley Fellow in theological ethics at Boston College. His doctoral coursework has ranged across bioethics, sociology of religion, systematic theology, and social ethics. Conor’s dissertation focuses on theological virtue ethics and moral discernment in ordinary life with a special attention to work and leisure. Broadly, though, his doctoral research interests concern the ways in which theologians and ethicists can provide resources for everyday ethical evaluations. In keeping with the tradition of Plato and Aristotle, which understood ethical training as a means of refining self-control, he envisions this work complementing the Clough Center’s commitment to the study of self-governance. Additionally, during his appointment as a Clough Graduate Fellow, Conor will be working on a research project that explores contemporary political gridlock in the United States through the lens of structural sin. This project is intended to push the theological development of social sin and structures of sin, two relatively recent terms, while also introducing more precision into the diagnosis of our current political moment.
Kiara Kharpertian studies American literature with an emphasis on contemporary American fiction and literature of and about the American West. Broadly, she is interested in the environmental, cultural, and geopolitical intricacies of place and how these issues register as literary habits and tensions. In December 2010, she completed a doctoral exam entitled “Roaming and Reimagining the American West, 1970-2010” that interrogated how migration and mobility can act as vehicles for an amplified environmental consciousness, which in turn shapes a Western ecopoetics. Currently, she is at work on her second doctoral exam, “Writing the West: Cultural Politics, Labor, and the Land, 1850-1970,” which reads literature that grapples with the politics surrounding land management, ownership, and cultivation as a series of texts that respond to and disrupt racialized class and labor patterns. In the upcoming school years, she will teach literature courses at BC on environmental literature, the American novel, and the wild West in American fiction.
May Khoury is a member of Boston College Law School’s class of 2015. She is particularly interested in legal history, philosophy and comparative and international law, and enjoys exploring the law through an interdisciplinary lens. At BC Law, May enjoys being part of the stimulating and diverse student body. As President of the International Law Society for the 2013-2014 academic year, she hopes to introduce additional opportunities for students to engage with the law on a broader scale and across borders. After law school, May plans on pursuing a career in international arbitration. Before that, however, she will be joining Medtronic’s legal team in Switzerland this summer, and is excited to check one more country off her list.
Matthew Kruger is a Ph.D. candidate in the History of Christian Life and Thought program in the Theology department at Boston College. His research is focused on questions of identity, ethics, reflexivity, and practices of formation and education, and his dissertation is a study of the theories and practices of human formation and development as found in Thomas Aquinas. The project employs methodological questions offered by Michel Foucault and Pierre Hadot in order to describe the development of an identity or self in Thomas, and the practices associated with that development. To that end, the dissertation describes the spiritual exercises, forms of self knowledge and self-control, and reflexive relationship to the self which Thomas considers components of moral growth. By providing an alternative account of formation, and by highlighting the subjectivity which accompanies any system, the project begins a dialogue with authors including Kwame Anthony Appiah and Martha Nussbaum on the issue of what Appiah calls “Soul Making,” and the government’s role therein.
Yael Levin is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Political Science Department at Boston College, with a focus on political theory. Yael’s specific area of focus is the extent and limits of religious freedom in a liberal society, and the foundations upon which our religious freedom rests. Her dissertation project concerns the philosophical foundations of Lockean religious freedom. Locke’s arrangement is founded on a modest skepticism, in that he recognized the limitations of human faculties—that certain knowledge about fundamental questions, like those concerning the essence of nature, was beyond our grasp. Locke’s skepticism was only modest, however, for he nonetheless maintained that there are goals that human reason can indeed accomplish in this world, such as that of ordering human society. Postmodern critics of the Lockean political order push this skepticism to the extreme, and claim the Lockean system ultimately unravels according to its own logic. Yael’s dissertation questions whether this criticism is valid, or whether a modest skepticism such as that which guided Locke’s political theory—and indeed, the liberal political order—is still defensible. To answer this question, she is examining the philosophy and political thought of Charles S. Peirce.
Amy Limoncelli is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the History Department at Boston College, studying the political and cultural history of postwar Great Britain. She is particularly interested in themes of internationalism, global consciousness, and Britain’s role in the world in the context of postwar changes and decolonization. Amy’s dissertation research concerns Great Britain’s changing role in the world after the Second World War, focusing on the implications of British decolonization and the postwar rise of international institutions on Britain’s role in the world and global consciousness in British society. To study this issue, she examines British contributions to the new multilateral world order. In particular, she studies the British individuals who worked in organizations including the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, as well as international nongovernmental organizations like Amnesty International and Oxfam. Through this process, she examines the networks through which British international civil servants operated and seeks to establish the impact that they made on Britain’s changing world role after the Second World War. She argues not only that the British had an active role in postwar international institutions, but also that this shaped a new role for Britain in the world. She links the rise of multilateral organizations in the postwar era to concurrent trends including decolonization and postwar reconstruction.
John Louis is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at Boston College. John researches primarily in the areas of American political development and comparative politics with a particular focus on 19th century state building and infrastructural development. His dissertation project studies the development of financial and transportation infrastructure in early America with a particular focus on the interaction between political institutions, legal regimes, and economic development. By placing state government institutions in a comparative framework John hopes to add greater understanding to the process of state building within the context of American political development, and in doing so shed lights on contemporary challenges of capital formation, economic development and state building in modern Constitutional democracies.
Liam Martin first came to as an undergraduate student where, in a sociology class, he learned that the United States had more than two million people in prison. His native New Zealand followed quickly behind with politicians passing ‘three strikes’ legislation. This law – couched in a sporting metaphor foreign to a country that doesn’t even play baseball – is a vivid symbol of deeper correspondence. In both countries, prison growth has been part of a broad political and economic transformation often described as neoliberalism. This historical-comparative perspective on the growing use of imprisonment drives Liam’s research and teaching. However, there is also concern about ‘big questions’ that leaves academic work distanced from the lived experience of incarceration. As a graduate student, Liam is engaging with the people most directly affected by the prison system. He teaches Introduction to Sociology at Norfolk State prison, and last year, spent three months living at a halfway house for men leaving prison and jail, doing participant-observation and life history interviews with former prisoners. He is currently planning a return to the house. This fieldwork begins dissertation research examining how the prison experience follows people upon release, and the social processes contributing to cycles of imprisonment, release and return.
Gráinne McEvoy is an advanced doctoral candidate in the Department of History at Boston College. Gráinne’s dissertation is entitled “American Catholic Social Thought and the Immigration Question in the Restriction Era, 1917-1965.” It examines how Catholic social thinkers developed a distinctive philosophy on immigration and engaged in a long campaign for reform of federal immigration policy. During this time, the national debate over that policy was characterized by a number of contentious issues: discrimination against prospective immigrants on the basis of race and national origins; the importation of migrant labor; the obligation to respond to an international refugee crisis; and the imperatives of Cold War national security. Catholic thinking on these issues involved a constant negotiation between a liberal policy position emphasizing the dignity of the individual and man’s natural right to migrate, and a restrictive outlook which acknowledged sovereign states’ right to control immigration and citizenship in the national interest. In this way, the Catholic philosophy both reflected and shaped a national debate that oscillated between exclusionary and inclusionary approaches. Gráinne’s dissertation considers the role that Catholic intellectuals and social critics and their religiously-grounded rationales played in the development of ideas on restriction, citizenship, and national belonging.
Seth Meehan is a Doctoral Candidate in History at Boston College. Seth’s dissertation, “Resisting Denominationalism: Congregational Laity and Church Disestablishment in Massachusetts, 1780-1850,” considers some of the theological consequences of the separation of church and state. Until 1833, Congregationalists were the primary beneficiaries of the nation’s last constitutional requirement that towns raise local taxes “for the support and maintenance of public protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality.” Seth examines how these Congregationalists responded on the local level to disestablishment. Much of the source material for Seth’s dissertation has not been reviewed by scholars. Seth has discerned how lay Congregationalists exerted more control over their churches by a) replacing the minister-for-life policy with a more temporary one, routinely adopting traditionally ministerial roles themselves when the pastor was absent; b) purging membership rolls of inadequate members and raising membership qualifications; c) refusing urban ministers’ suggestions to infuse their new churches with explicitly “Congregational” elements; and d) embracing moral reform efforts based on voluntary suasion and rejecting those rooted in involuntary coercion. Whether in the appearance of their church or in how they sought moral reformation outside of it, Congregationalists remained autonomous, and Seth unearths this action’s theological roots. Devotion to covenantal theology, in short, was a natural impediment to efforts to denominate Congregationalists from others religious institutions.
Shannon Monaghan is currently a member of the Ph.D. program in History at Boston College. Broadly, her research focuses on transnational and transcultural modern European history, with a particular interest in the First World War and interwar period. Shannon's doctoral research centers on the intersection of democratic politics and population engineering in Western Europe during the 1920s. In an era of rising popular politics, where the people were becoming increasingly involved in choosing their government, governments were likewise becoming increasingly involved in choosing their people. Her research challenges the perception of population engineering as a central or eastern European phenomenon created by the fallout of the late nineteenth-century Eastern Question, and looks instead to western Europe. Shannon's research contributes to the field by linking the concept of western, democratic population engineering to the role of self-determination and democracy promotion in the wake of the First World War and the Versailles treaty. By drawing together these two important literatures, her research examines the role of western Europe’s proud tradition of post-Enlightenment democracy alongside its much less proud but no less formative experience of twentieth century population engineering.
Jesse Tumblin is a Ph.D. candidate in the History Department at Boston College who is interested in the relationship between war, identity, and the evolution of the state. His dissertation examines the making of Empire-wide defense policy in the British Empire of the early twentieth century and how that process structured the national evolution of colonies and Dominions. Jesse’s work hopes to contribute to our understanding of the twentieth century’s extraordinary violence and powerful, centralized states. It explores new definitions of national sovereignty, observable within the British Empire, that came to typify international norms after World War I. These were predicated upon the projection of military force, an issue that remains salient in the present day.
Paul Van Rooy
Paul Van Rooy is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Philosophy department at Boston College working on his dissertation: “Social Cooperation and Egalitarianism: Must Public Reasons Liberalism Include an Egalitarian Principle of Distributive Justice?” Paul’s research interests are in moral and political philosophy, and particularly the relation between value pluralism, rational justification, and political legitimacy in the liberal political tradition. Clarifying these conceptual relations is an important step in defending the liberal tradition from opponents who argue that liberal theories of justice are hostile to both religion and equality. His approach to these issues is influenced by several contemporary debates among liberal political theorists about the content and rational structure of procedures of public deliberation. These debates largely turn on whether or not it is possible for liberal theories of justice to be ‘freestanding’, in the sense that they do not require all individuals to endorse the same conception of the moral good. While in broad agreement with non-perfectionist liberals who endorse this claim, he is skeptical whether many non-perfectionist positions contain the normative resources to develop a sufficient account of social justice. On the other hand, current debates among egalitarian liberals seem to either ignore or downplay the challenges to welfare egalitarianism posed by the existence of moral and religious pluralism.
Gary Winslett is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in the Boston College Political Science Department and is specializing in International Relations. His research interests are centered on how domestic factors shape a state’s foreign policies in ways that cannot be adequately explained by international systemic factors alone. Specifically, his doctoral research focuses on how domestic competition between political parties influences the foreign policymaking process. He is especially interested in this dynamic in the context of contemporary Turkish foreign relations but also examines it in other countries such as the United States and Israel. Within his research, he employs a mixed-methodology approach that utilizes both qualitative and quantitative methods.
Amelia Wirts is a Ph.D. candidate studying moral and political philosophy in Boston College’s Philosophy Department. Her work focuses on the moral and political justifications for coercive laws in pluralistic liberal democracies, with special attention to balancing the demands of gender, race, and class equality with the demands of liberty. As a part of this work, she is interested in the method of political theorizing called ‘non-ideal theory,’ which begins with instances of injustice and relies heavily on empirical data to build theories of justice. While this method is useful, she also has raised criticisms of some forms of non-ideal theory for failing to meet the demands for a coherent and well-theorized conception of justice. Amelia currently works as the managing editor of Philosophy and Social Criticism.
Sarah Woodside is s currently a doctoral student in Sociology at Boston College. Her dissertation research focuses on social entrepreneurship and how social ventures navigate the two inherent imperatives of revenue generation and social mission achievement. While theories of constitutional democracy assume that the state is the guarantor of citizens’ rights, in the current global economic context, both states and markets have failed to perform as their defenders suggested they should. Social ventures have, in some measure, been created to take up the slack. Sarah examines how the current economic context supports the rise of social ventures. Social ventures are not-for-profit, for-profit, or hybrid organizations that use business methods to achieve a social mission. The current economic context is one in which their operating strategy—to use business methods that capitalize on market exchange—aligns with the dominant economic paradigm. She looks at whether, in the face of high need and weakened government institutions, social ventures emerge not just out of altruism but also out of necessity.