The Donia Human Rights Center is delighted to announce the winners of this year’s Robert J. Donia Graduate Student Fellowship. The Fellowship offers graduate student summer grants of $6,000 to support research on human rights. Student grantees conduct research or writing to contribute to the completion of their doctoral dissertation. This year’s winners represent the Center’s fifth cohort. The winners are: Miriam Gleckman-Krut, Ariana Peruzzi, and Jen Triplett. We congratulate all the recipients!
Department of Sociology
Miriam Gleckman-Krut is a doctoral candidate in sociology. Broadly, her work analyzes institutions’ erasure of evidence of gender-based and sexual violence. This analysis stems from the contention that efforts to erase this evidence maintains institutional integrity and power. Her cases are accordingly widespread. She has published on U.S. Sociology’s neglect of sexual violence in the Annual Review of Sociology (2018) and Social Stratification 5th ed. (forthcoming); on U.S. higher education’s obfuscation of sexual violence in Contexts (2022), Council on Contemporary Families (2019), and the New York Times (2017); and on German efforts to evade responsibility for the Namibian genocide in the New York Times (2021).
Project Description: "The Rainbow Nation and the Gays it Excludes" explores how and to what end South Africa erases evidence of violence against people fleeing persecution related to sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI). South Africa leads the world in its legal promise of refugee protections to SOGI refugees. Section 3 of the South African Refugees Act (No. 30 of 1998) states that a person qualifies for refugee status if they have a well-founded fear of persecution by reason of their particular social group, including based on gender and sexual orientation. This explicit protection for people fleeing SOGI-related persecution is unique among major refugee-recipient countries globally. At the same time, South Africa denies refugee status to almost everyone who applies – including SOGI applicants. This project examines how the state produces this paradoxical arrangement. Drawing on work in political sociology, the sociology of migration, and queer theory, it furthermore considers the symbolic and material effects of these arrangements for post-Apartheid South Africa.
Ariana Carolina Peruzzi
Department of Philosophy
Grad Certificate Latin American Studies
Ariana Peruzzi is a PhD Candidate in the department of philosophy. She is currently writing a dissertation on migration justice, territorial rights, and rights of non-displacement. Some of the questions she is investigating include: (1) When is migration involuntary? (2) Who ought to be eligible for refugeehood/asylee status? And, (3) do individuals have substantive occupancy rights? Ariana is also pursuing a graduate certificate in Latin American studies at the University of Michigan and is interested in issues of movement and displacement from a Latin American lens. Ariana holds a BA from the University of Houston, completing majors in philosophy and liberal studies, and minors in Literature, music history, and politics. She almost pursued graduate study in music history instead of philosophy, and previously worked in multiple positions in the field of ethnomusicology, studying Latin American music and social change. She still spends much of her free time listening to music and reading fiction. She also likes to play ping pong and hike with her chihuahua Roo.
Project description: In the project, “Reconstructing Refugeehood: Beyond Persecution,” Peruzzi argues that persecution is best understood as violence or other serious harm that a person, group or institution inflicts on an individual because of specific properties imputed to that individual. What is most novel about this definition is that it allows that persecution may be inflicted without state sanction, by private actors. This feature of Peruzzi’s account cuts against a widely held assumption in the recent literature on refugeehood: that persecution is, in every instance, a harm that is inflicted by a state government or with the sanction of a state government, such that persecution expresses the repudiation of the victim’s very membership in the state. Her essay demonstrates that persecution does not necessarily express the state’s repudiation of the membership of the victim, and therefore does not have the special political significance attributed to it by proponents of the received view. This suggests that other kinds of involuntary migrants, besides the persecuted, may deserve protection as refugees/asylees. Peruzzi argues that all involuntary migrants who have lost access to the protections and entitlements entailed by membership in a state, and who have subsequently faced immediate and severe threats to well-being, ought to receive refugee/asylee status.
Department of Sociology
Jen Triplett is a qualitative comparative-historical sociologist working in the subfields of political sociology, sociology of culture, gender, and collective behavior and social movements. Her dissertation project, “Shaping Subjectivities and Articulating Solidarity in Revolutionary Cuba,” contributes to a sociological understanding of immediate post-revolutionary periods by focusing on how new regime leaders shape political subjects and promote cohesion across diverse groups. Through a qualitative analysis of textual data from Cuba in the 1960s, she argues that political elites pursue these goals, in part, through a process of ideological consolidation grounded in political articulation, that is, the linking together of disparate social groups to form a unifying political identity. Jen also holds an MA in Latin American Studies from Tulane University. Her written work has appeared most recently in the American Sociological Review.
Project Description: This project examines the fraught process by which leaders of the Cuban revolutionary regime sought to extend political and economic rights to historically marginalized sectors of the national populace, especially women, during the 1960s. Existing literature suggests that socialism’s approach to women’s liberation faced many challenges, including pre-existing social norms related to appropriate femininity and scant resources. Little effort has been made, however, to understand how such cultural and material constraints on emancipatory projects in revolutionary contexts may vary over time and in response to key events. Do events of national importance—like the 1961 U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis—compel leaders to double down on their ideological mandate of social inclusion? Or do they lead to the subordination of protecting individual rights for the sake of surviving existential threats? Through close qualitative analysis of regime-produced texts, including Fidel Castro speeches, daily newspapers, and weekly magazines, Triplett aims to uncover how leaders react to events in ways that expand or contract women’s rights at different times.