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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, 2023-24

Jalal Fetrati is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Political Science. His research interests center on the politics of authoritarian regimes, democratization, contentious politics, and government repression. He investigates power-sharing dynamics and regime survival strategies across regime types through cross-national analysis. This includes examining how different power-sharing arrangements and structural factors (e.g., state capacity and opposition characteristics) impact prospects for leader survival and regime stability under dictatorships. He also studies variations in women's rights advancement and the politicization and indoctrination of education systems across political regimes. Jalal holds a B.A. and M.A. in sociology from the University of Tehran and the University of New Mexico, respectively.

Steve Kraft is a dual master’s student of social work and public policy. He brings diverse social work experiences from non-profits and government agencies in rural Appalachia. His research centers on the connection between economic and social inequalities and their impact on democratic engagement in this region. He seeks to understand how these disparities contribute to political disenchantment and a possible shift toward authoritarian leadership. With a focus on a person-centered research approach, Steve hopes to provide insights into Appalachian voters' unique experiences and challenges, enhancing the understanding of their political dynamics.

John Mirsky is a Ph.D. student in sociology. His research uses cultural approaches to study various areas of political life. Recent examples include an ethnography of Latinx mushroom farmers in rural Pennsylvania, a comparative study of the speech of conspiracy theorists and authoritarian populist candidates, and a discourse analysis of the techniques pursued by former EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to deregulate the fossil-fuel industry. His current project takes an ethnographic approach to the study of the QAnon and anti-vaccine conspiracy movements. John also has an interest in applying insights from classical sociological theory to contemporary cases—most centrally the writings of the Frankfurt School, structuralist semioticians, and Friedrich Nietzsche. In his spare time, John is an avid composer and cellist. His violin miniatures were recorded by Grammy-nominated violinists Emma Frucht and Miho Saegusa, and he loves nothing more than performing chamber music.

Inhae Yap is a first-year doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology. Her research looks at East Asian engagement with Africa through questions of transnational sovereignty, strongman/authoritarian legacy, critical development studies, and postcolonial modernization projects. She holds a B.A. in anthropology and an M.A. in art history from Stanford University, where she worked on the politics of authenticity in southern African textile supply chains and francophone African print culture.

Renji Zhou is a first-year student in the Masters in International and Regional Studies (MIRS) program with a specialization in Chinese studies. His research interests lie in the political legacies of an authoritarian past, with particular attention to infrastructure investment and information provision. He holds a LL.B. in political science from Fudan University in China. His previous research delved into the long-term impact of television broadcasts abroad on the political attitudes of citizens in mainland China.