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Graduate Fellows

Since 2008, Weiser Emerging Democracy Fellowships have been awarded annually to U-M graduate students whose work focuses on the theme of emerging democracies past or present. Click here for more information about the fellowships and Emerging Democracies Graduate Workshop.

WCED Graduate Fellows, 2019-20

Syamsul Bahri is pursuing an M.A. in Southeast Asian studies. He graduated from the University of Indonesia in 2017 with a B.A. in political science; his undergraduate thesis explored Southeast Asian macroeconomic policy during the Asian financial crisis of 1997. At U-M, he seeks to bring Southeast Asia into the conversation of social and political science theory with primary research interest in the origins, breakdown, and future of political and economic institutions. Syamsul will draw on comparisons of Southeast Asian countries to advance understanding of politics and society.

Katherine Downs is a Master’s student pursuing a dual degree in social work and Middle Eastern and North African studies. Her research interests include the societal and individual trauma inflicted by colonialist policies, attitudes, and doctrines in the Middle East, particularly the trauma and resilience of Palestinian women. Before coming to the University of Michigan, Katherine volunteered as a facilitator of psychosocial support activities for adolescents in Amman, Jordan, and worked as an editor at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. She received her undergraduate degree in Middle Eastern studies from the College of William and Mary.

Cem Emrence is a first-year doctoral student in the Department of Political Science. He holds degrees in sociology and history from Bogazici and Binghamton Universities. He aims to build a research program on political violence, and is particularly interested in understanding civilian political preferences in conflict settings by connecting violence/repression to institutional politics and protest. Currently, Cem is working on two projects on Turkey that deal with the political consequences of emergency rule and the determinants of informing during wartime.

Hilary Izatt is a doctoral student in the Department of Political Science. She holds a B.A. in political science from Brigham Young University, an M.A. from the School of Oriental and African Studies, and an M.A. from Georgetown University. She has published work on democratic transitions and historical memory in East Asia. Hilary’s current interests focus on elections in authoritarian regimes and political systems transitioning to democracy. She is particularly interested in the ways that electoral geography conditions the behavior of voters and other stakeholders.

Ethan Johnston is a doctoral student in sociology. Before coming to Michigan, he received his B.A. in political science and sociology from the University of Notre Dame. His research interests lie at the intersection of culture and politics. In particular, he is interested in how cultural categories and culturally-conditioned cognition/cognitive processes underlie solidarity and division in the public sphere. He is especially eager to understand the way these processes influence democratic health and stability. In pursuing these interests, he studies both explicit and implicit cultural cognition, with a particular interest in leveraging insights from the fields of computational social science and cognitive science in order to measure these cultural elements.

Christian Pfengler is an LL.M. student at the Law School. Before coming to Michigan, he studied law in Greifswald, Germany and graduated 2nd best of class. After that, Christian was a Ph.D. student and research assistant at the University of Greifswald, as well as chief editor of the law review, GreifRecht. His dissertation thesis tries to answer the question if and under what circumstances committees can make decisions instead of the whole parliament. To answer this question, it is essential to define the functions of parliament and what representation of the people means. As a research assistant, Christian’s work was mainly focused on questions concerning comparative constitutional law. He received his Ph.D. degree, summa cum laude, on June 20, 2019.

Berkay Uluc is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Comparative Literature. He obtained his B.A in political science and international relations at Bogazici University and his M.A. in cultural studies at Sabanci University. Before beginning at U-M in the fall of 2019, he was enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Turkish language and literature at Bogazici University. During his undergraduate studies, he spent one semester as a visiting student at Sciences Po Paris. In his M.A. thesis, Berkay focused on the works of Turkish author Vus’at O. Bener to unfold new ways of understanding the politics of autonomous art in peripheral modernisms. Among his research interests are the relationship between aesthetics and politics, Middle Eastern literatures, and critical theory.