The Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies (WCED) at the University of Michigan is pleased to announce that it will welcome three Emerging Democracies Postdoctoral fellows to campus in 2016-17. The newly established fellowship competition was announced in September 2015 and received over 150 applications. The inaugural cohort of fellows includes Elizabeth Kaknes (University of Virginia), Pellumb Kelmendi (Brown University), and Jennifer Schaefer (Emory University). Emerging Democracies Postdoctoral Fellows are expected to focus on their own research, participate in WCED workshops and events, and present one public lecture during the year, while in residence in Ann Arbor. WCED Director Anna Grzymala-Busse says, “The Emerging Democracies Postdoctoral Fellowships support vital research pertaining to emerging democracies. We are delighted to welcome these very talented and accomplished scholars to Michigan.” Read on for details about the fellows and their research.

Elizabeth Kaknes researches the political and social effects of development policy in middle-income countries. She is interested in democratic consolidation and development, social policy, Latin American politics, and survey methodology. As a Weiser Emerging Democracies Postdoctoral Fellow, Kaknes will focus on a related set of projects that advance her ongoing inquiry into the political ramifications of development policies. Specifically, these papers assess the role of various anti-poverty, health, and education programs in conditioning voter behavior, public goods usage, and attitudes of social mobility in Brazil, Ecuador, and Mexico. She is completing her Ph.D. in foreign affairs at the University of Virginia.

Pellumb Kelmendi is presently completing his Ph.D. in political science at Brown University. His research interests focus on civil conflict, post-conflict institution building, and party politics. During his affiliation with the Weiser Center, Kelmendi will be working on a book manuscript that explains why some rebel organizations transform into successful political parties whereas others do not. Prior to beginning his Ph.D. at Brown University, he received an M.Phil. in development studies from the University of Cambridge and a B.A. in political science from the University of Chicago.

Jennifer L. Schaefer received her Ph.D. in history from Emory University in 2015. Her current research focuses on cultural articulations of political change in modern Argentina. Her in-progress book manuscript, “Critical Commemorations: Memorializing Rebels, Martyrs, and Heroes in Argentina, 1966-1983,” analyzes how commemorative practices during and after periods of military repression invoked values of rebellion, martyrdom, and heroism. As a Weiser Emerging Democracies Postdoctoral Fellow, Schaefer will work on a project that examines how modernization campaigns around the 1978 World Cup shifted the social and economic geographies of Buenos Aires and redefined expectations towards public space. This study, “The Reorganized City: Urbanization, Modernization, and the 1978 World Cup in Argentina,” considers how ideas of the future and generational inheritance drove urban planning, construction, and use.

For more information about the Emerging Democracies Postdoctoral Fellowship and the 2016-17 Fellows, please visit

The Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies (WCED) combines academics with practical applications, promoting scholarship to better understand the conditions and policies that foster the transition from autocratic rule to democratic governance, past and present. It also educates new generations of practitioners who can apply their learning and experience to help extend democratic freedoms. Named in honor of Ronald and Eileen Weiser and inspired by their time in Slovakia during Ambassador Weiser’s service as U.S. ambassador from 2001-04, WCED began operations in September 2008. For more information, visit


Contact: Zana Kwaiser
Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies
Phone: 734.764.0351