Charles Cacciola is a JD student in the Law School. He is interested in researching attitudes and approaches of private persons and commercial entities toward law and legal institutions in the former Soviet Union. A returned Peace Corps volunteer who served in Georgia, he has also worked in Ukraine and Russia. He holds a BA in philosophy and literature from Marlboro College.
Haydar Darici is a doctoral student in the joint PhD program in anthropology and history. His research focuses on how the category of childhood has been restructured within the Kurdish community in Turkey in the context of the 30 years of armed conflict between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Turkish security forces. Born and raised in Turkey, Haydar graduated from Bogazici University with a BA in Turkish language and literature and also has an MA degree in cultural studies from Sabanci University.
Diana Greenwald is a first-year doctoral student in the Department of Political Science. Her research focuses on political and economic development in the Middle East and emerging economies. Specifically, she plans to study the influence of domestic businesses and business elites, multinational enterprises, and labor groups on policymaking and rule setting. More generally, she is interested in processes of top-down, or state-directed, economic development. Prior to coming to Michigan, Diana was a Research Assistant at the Wolfensohn Center for Development at the Brookings Institution and previously assisted in managing a civil society training program for young activists from Syria and the broader Middle East.
William Strobel is a first-year doctoral student in comparative literature. After completing his undergraduate studies in English and classics at Grinnell College, he spent five years in Greece, learning Modern Greek and studying comparative literature at Aristotelian University in Thessaloniki. Through his travels in Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey, he gained an interest in the shared linguistic, cultural and historical patterns of the broader region, and the role of the nation-state in redefining those patterns as “ours” or “theirs.” At U-M, he hopes to study the formation of a national narrative and a national identity in the Balkans during the 19th and 20th Centuries, and the ways in which literature replicates, repudiates, or complicates this narrative. He is currently learning Turkish.
Benjamin Sweeney is first-year REES MA student. He is interested in aid distribution and the interplay of international and domestic aid with political and social development in former Soviet states, especially those in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Before coming to U-M, Ben was a Fulbright Fellow in the Republic of Georgia, where his research focused on pensions, targeted social assistance and aid, and those displaced in the conflicts in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. He graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor’s degree in European studies.
Maria Taylor is a first-year doctoral student in architectural history and theory. Following graduation from Bryn Mawr College with a double-major in the Growth and Structure of Cities and Mathematics and a minor in Russian, she completed a Master of Landscape Architecture (University of Washington, 2009) and an MA in Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies (Stanford University, 2006). Her MLA thesis focused on contemporary discourse among urban design professionals on landscape, nature, and climate change in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, where she studied for a semester at Siberian Federal University. Other experience in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe includes study in St. Petersburg and Budapest, as well as travel in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. In her doctoral studies Maria hopes to explore the resilience/adaptation of cities and design professionals to changing contexts, as in post-Soviet Russia or post-industrial Detroit.
Naira Tumanyan is a first-year REES MA student. Originally from Armenia, she is interested in social and political developments in the South Caucasus with a particular focus on comparative study of democracy and political legitimacy issues in the region. While at U-M she plans to study new theories of political legitimacy and to find ways for applying these theories in the South Caucasus by exploring the processes of democracy building from without and the capacities to build democracy from within. She received her BA and MA in sociology from Yerevan State University.