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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, 2021-22

Arianna Afsari (she/her) is a doctoral student in the Department of Comparative Literature. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the College of William and Mary in 2019 with a BA in Russian & post-Soviet studies and Hispanic studies. Before arriving at the University of Michigan, she lived and conducted research abroad in Russia, Spain, and Latin America. Her studies span three regions and languages: Russia, Latin America, and Iran. She examines traditions of poetry and literature deployed as tools of anti-colonial and decolonial resistance in order to identify a distinctive world literature that is grounded in a post-imperialist culture, contraposing the Eurocentric and Anglophonic discourses surrounding global literary exchanges. Additional research interests include memory studies; conditions of extremity; and revolutionary, leftist imaginations.

Hood Ahmed is a first-year doctoral student in the Department of Political Science. His research focuses on the politics of authoritarianism, social movements, and public opinion. He holds a BA in economics and an MA in Middle East politics, both from the American University in Cairo. He also holds an MSc in comparative politics from the London School of Economics. Before coming to the University of Michigan, he worked as a research associate with the Robert Schuman Centre at the European University Institute.

Christian Castro Martinez is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology. He has a master’s degree in Latin American studies and a bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration, both from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. His research interests focus on social and political movements, right-wing politics, populism and political oppositions, elections, Latin America, and science and technology studies. He is interested in the formation and the internal operation of populist political movements and right-wing movements in Latin America and Europe, as well as politics surrounding ethno-state and autonomous movements.

Ayleen Paola Correa (she/her) received a BA in economics and international affairs from Lafayette College in 2019. In her honors thesis, she explored the memories and transformation of former torture sites utilized during the Trujillato regime in the Dominican Republic. She is now a doctoral student in the Anthropology and History program. She is interested in the politics of reconciliation in post-authoritarian regimes, re-democratization of spaces of violence, and national healing in Latin America—specifically the Dominican Republic—during the 20th century.

Kate Knapp is a first-year doctoral student in the Department of Political Science. Her research interests focus on the efficacy of intrastate peace processes, with particular attention to the bargaining process, as well as the participation of armed groups in politics, peace, and stabilization. Kate has more than seven years of experience working in sub-Saharan Africa on peace agreement implementation, political analysis, election observation, and conflict mapping with the Carter Center. She holds an MS in international educational development from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in early childhood education from Clemson University.

Irene Promodh is a PhD student in sociocultural anthropology. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international politics from Georgetown University in Qatar. Her research focuses on mobile forms of Christianity across the Indian Ocean, particularly among migrant communities circulating between their places of work in the Persian Gulf and their home societies in South India. She has also worked on the sonic cultures of the Indian Ocean and the migrant media practices of South Indians living in the Gulf.

Maya Sudarkasa is a PhD student in the Department of History. She received her BA from Vassar College in 2018 with a double major in history and French/Francophone studies, and a minor in Africana studies. She has worked with City Year (AmeriCorps), Washington DC, as an 8th grade English language arts partner teacher, seeking to witness firsthand and better understand the disparities in American K-12 education. She also worked in the nonfiction film industry as an administrative assistant for activist filmmaker Sabaah Folayan and as a project coordinator for impact producer Sonya Childress. Maya is interested in the integrity of storytelling, the work of radical education, and the dignity of people, centering the most marginalized and underrepresented. She plans to focus her scholarship on US Reconstruction history with hopes to connect her research to the contemporary Restorative Justice Movement, with an emphasis on questions of freedom and liberty, humanity, citizenship and democracy, in/justice, and racial capitalism.