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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, 2020-21

Syamsul Bahri received his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Indonesia in 2017. His research thesis explored the role of economic paradigm during the 1998 financial crises in Indonesia and Malaysia. He is currently a Masters in International and Regional Studies (MIRS) student with a primary research interest in origins, breakdown, and the future of social and political institutions in Southeast Asia. He is particularly interested in these topics through the lenses of elite theory and political science’s new institutionalism paradigm. 

Sujin Cha is a first-year doctoral student in the Department of Political Science. She holds a BA in politics, economics, and law (interdisciplinary); and an MA in political science from Korea University. Her research interests lie at the intersection of politics and economics, in particular focusing on the interaction of domestic politics and international economic dynamics such as trade, investment, and foreign aid. She aims to understand the political preferences and behaviors of firms and individuals under emerging markets and non-liberal regimes. Sujin is currently working on two projects on China’s development finance and its influence in African countries.

Omar Masood is a student in the Masters in International and Regional Studies (MIRS) program with a specialization in Islamic studies. He graduated from the University of Rochester where he earned his BA in history and political science. As an undergraduate, he volunteered as an ESL tutor for refugees living in the greater Rochester area. His research interests include women and gender in Islam and the education of Syrian refugee children. Having lived in Germany and Saudi Arabia, he speaks German and reads Arabic, and plans on continuing his study of Arabic language at the University of Michigan.

Swagat Pani is a student in the doctoral program in Anthropology and History. He received an MPhil in anthropology from the University of Oxford and an MA in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African studies from Columbia University. Apart from his prior work as a photographer, he has also worked at the Middle East and West Asia Division, Department of Political Affairs at the United Nations, New York. His research interests include both the anthropology and history of navigation, smuggling, and questions of sovereignty, international law, infrastructures, and technopolitics in and around the Indian Ocean rim. Swagat is proficient in multiple languages including Tamil, Hindi, Arabic, and Urdu and uses these to do ethnographic fieldwork and archival research.

Henrique Pedrazza Kopittke is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology. He has a master’s degree in political sociology and a bachelor’s degree in social sciences, both from the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil. In his master’s dissertation, he studied the Spanish political party Podemos, relating its strategy to mass protest, social movements, and populism. Currently he is interested in the relationship between populism, democracy, and social movements, and more specifically the role that protest actors played in shaping a new populist radical right-wing coalition in the country.

I-Lun Shih is a doctoral student studying sociology at the University of Michigan. He holds a Master's degree in sociology from National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan. His research interests lie broadly in political sociology, political economy of development, economic sociology, and historical sociology. His previous work analyzes the transformation of political movement and social protests in a society that underwent colonialism and authoritarian rule. In particular, he looks at how and why protestors’ perceptions of political situations evolved and changed at critical moments, and transformed political repertoires in Hong Kong. A current focus is the political origins of financial institutions in Hong Kong.

Max Shpilband is a first-year graduate student pursuing a dual degree in Public Policy and International and Regional Studies (MIRS) with a specialization in Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies. Max’s interests include data-driven social research that promotes legislation, which ultimately targets poverty and fosters equitable economic development. Max is also interested in promoting democratic institutions both domestically and abroad. Prior to his graduate studies, Max worked as a research assistant at the University of Michigan International Institute on a study of religious regulation and political mobilization in Central Asia. Max received his undergraduate degree in philosophy, political science, and economics from the University of Michigan.