Africanist Graduate Students
New 2019 Grad Students
Sasha Artamonova (Art History)
- Sasha is a doctoral student studying modern and contemporary African-American and African Diaspora art at the Department of Art History at Northwestern University. She is particularly interested in the artistic exchange between African-American & African socialist artists and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. She graduated in 2012 with a Specialist Diploma from the Sociology Department at the Russian State University for the Humanities. In August 2019, Sasha received her MA in North American Studies from the John F. Kennedy Institute at Freie Universität in Berlin. Her thesis, The Representation of Black Romance in the Painting Series “Vignettes” by Kerry James Marshall, examined the history of visual representation of Black romance in European and North American visual culture. Specifically, Sasha’s research focused on the way Kerry James Marshall created a new canonical representation of Black heterosexual love in his on-going painting series “Vignettes.” Prior to her current studies, Sasha spent two years working in advertising and at the Educational Department of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow. Currently, she is a freelance contributor to the research project Art Market Dictionary for the German academic publishing house De Gruyter.
Melina Gooray (Art History)
- Melina Gooray is an arts educator and youth advocate who is invested in working in Afrocentric feminist spaces with her own community of womxn and girls of the African Diaspora. She has over seven years experience working in various capacities at the interface of museum and community for a number of cultural institutions across the country including the Owens-Thomas House and Slave Quarters in Savannah, GA, The Art, Design, and Architecture Museum UCSB, and the J. Paul Getty Museum. She is currently a Special Projects Fellow at the Colored Girls Museum in Philadelphia where she authors curriculum for youth programs and co-leads the development of a VR museum. In addition, she is a PhD student in Art History at Northwestern, where she researches liberatory pedagogical strategies of contemporary black female artists and art educators. As a researcher, Melina is committed to the vital importance of uncovering and (co)authoring the history of the communities she inhabits. She endeavors to make her scholarship relevant to her communities. In this light, she wrote her master's thesis, "Concrete Under the Guyanese Sun", on shifts in material practices in domestic vernacular architecture in her parents' hometown, Essequibo, Guyana.
Emily Kamm (History)
- Emily Kamm is a first-year doctoral student in the History Department, studying the Atlantic World during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Her research interests focus on transatlantic connections between West Central Africa and Latin America, with particular emphasis on environmental history and epistemologies of the natural world. Prior to coming to Northwestern University, Emily lived for ten years in Portland, Oregon. While there she earned a B.A. with Honors in History from Portland State University. Her undergraduate research was supported by the History Department's Lauren Banasky Memorial Grant, typically awarded only to graduate students. Most recently, she served as the program developer for an Oregon Department of Justice grant to integrate domestic violence services into an Oregon Health Sciences University primary care clinic.
Ewurama Okai (Sociology)
- Areas of interest: Sociology of Culture, Collective Memory, Race and Ethnicity, Education, Knowledge Production, Postcolonial Theory, Sociology of Law, Qualitative Methods
Sreddy Yen (English)
- Field: 20th/21st-century Anglophone literature
Areas of Interest: contemporary African and Caribbean literatures, global modernisms, queer studies
Ashley Agbasoga (Anthropology)
- Ashley Agbasoga’s research interest is in the African diaspora, specifically the connection of race and health in Afro-Mexico in the Costa Chica Region, where rural states were greatly affected by 1990s neoliberal policies, such as NAFTA. She is the 2016 recipient of the Tepoztlán-Northwestern Graduate Fellowship, which is awarded to one PhD student every two years.
Omoyemi Ajisebutu (Comparative Literary Studies)
- Omoyemi received her Bachelors in English\Literature with minor in Social Studies from the Tai Solarin University of Education in Nigeria. She recently earned her M.A in English with a concentration in Literature (2017) from New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas, New Mexico. Omoyemi's thesis was titled “Removing the Sixth Mountain: Friendship and Inclusion in West African Women’s Fiction.” Omoyemi's interests seem sort of all over the place after completing her thesis, but she is interested in postcolonial feminist theory, West African literature, orality in pre-colonial gender narratives especially in Southwestern Nigeria.
Brandon Alston (Sociology)
- Brandon Alston’s major areas of interest are: masculinities, race and ethnicity, identity formation, African American and Africana studies, and religion.
Chernoh Bah (History)
- Chernoh Alpha M. Bah is a doctoral student in the Department of History. Educated at Sierra Leone's Fourah Bay College, he holds a B.A. in history and sociology, and a diploma in African Studies. Before coming to Northwestern, he worked extensively in West Africa as a journalist, political activist, and writer. He is the author of The Ebola Outbreak in West Africa: Corporate Gangsters, Multinationals, and Rogue Politicians, and Neocolonialism in West Africa: A Collections of Articles and Essays. His writings engage the themes of colonialism and post-colonialism, Pan-Africanism, the African anti-colonial movements of the 1960s and 1970s, and contemporary multinational corporate exploitation in the Mano River region of West Africa specifically the countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. His current research focuses on the history of medicine and medical experimentation in West Africa during the colonial period.
Fullamusu Kadija Bangura (English)
- Fullamusu Bangura’s research interests include queerness and healing practices in the literature of the African Diaspora as well as the intersections of race, gender, class, and African politics. Her 2015 senior thesis investigated feminine water spirits of the African Diaspora. She has served as a City Year AmeriCorps member, working in an English/Language Arts classroom with 6-8th graders in North Lawndale. She is passionate about blogging and writes essays about black mermaids and Beyoncé Knowles, among other topics, at fullamusings.wordpress.com. In addition, she participates in Assata’s Daughters, an intergenerational organization that promotes social action in the African American community.
Tarek Adam Benchouia (Performance Studies)
- Tarek Benchouia's research interests focus on the culture and politics of Mahraganat, a contemporary and emergent genre of music in Egypt.
Jessica Biddlestone (History)
- Jessica Biddlestone’s focus is on modern French History with a particular interest in colonialism, education, literature, and ethnography.
Colin Bos (History)
- Colin Bos is interested in the sociocultural history of West Africa before independence. In his BA thesis, he examined the political uses of disease and settler mortality in the liberated African settlements of Sierra Leone and Liberia from 1825 to 1850, particularly how the use of the language of disease control intersected with deep anxieties about race, nationalism, and the idea of “coming home.”
Eddine Nabil Bouyahi (Political Science)
- Eddine Nabil Bouyahi’s research is about the effects of land reforms on social structure in the countryside in Southern Africa, how these policies transform the relationship between the state and the elites in these areas, and the specific politic demands of the populations living there.
Alison Ann Boyd (Art History)
- Alison Boyd studies the arts of the African diaspora and feminist art history. She is a Mellon Fellow in Northwestern’s gender and sexuality studies cluster. Her dissertation is titled “Modernism for America: Africanism and other Primitivisms at the Barnes Foundation 1919-1951.” She argues that Philadelphia art collector Albert Barnes used primitivism—first in relation to African sculpture and African American music and, later, Native American and Pennsylvania German art—to recontextualize his collection of modern art into displays that were uniquely relevant to his vision of the United States.
Matthew Brauer (French and Italian)
- Matthew Brauer’s interests emphasize the literary and museographical presentation of encounters with the material traces of history, particularly regarding Roman archaeology in French colonial North Africa.
Rashayla Marie Brown (Performance Studies)
- Rashayla Marie Brown (RMB) is an interdisciplinary artist working across an extensive list of cultural production modes, including photography, performance, writing, drawing, installation, and video art. Her research interests are decolonization of the art historical canon, religious studies, postcolonial theory, queer studies, cultural studies, the intersections of avant-garde performance art and popular culture, and modernism in visual art. As an artist, RMB's work has been commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; and Yale University, New Haven, CT; and has shown at the Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, IL; Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago, IL; INVISIBLE-EXPORTS, New York, NY; University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA; Centro Cultural Costaricense Norteamericano, San Jose, Costa Rica; and other venues. She has received the Artadia Award, the City of Chicago's Artist Residency, and the Yale Mellon Research Grant. Her work and words have been featured and published in Art Forum, Blouin Modern Painters, Chicago Magazine, Hyperallergic, and Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art. Her viral essay "Open Letter to My Fellow Young Artists and Scholars on the Margins" was shared over 9K times online as of 2017.
Austin Bryan (Anthropology)
- Austin Bryan is a Cultural Anthropology PhD student at Northwestern University and a Research Fellow at Sexual Minorities Uganda in Kampala, Uganda. In Kampala he is completing an ethnographic study on the daily lives of kuchus (LGBT) persons.
Antawan Byrd (Art History)
- Antawan Byrd’s dissertation is titled “Interferences: Sound, Technology, and the Politics of Listening in Afro-Atlantic Art.” He examines the representation and uses of sound technologies by artists in locales ranging from Bamako and Port of Spain to Kingston and New York, beginning in the second half of the 20th Century. From 2009–2011, he was a curatorial assistant at the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos, and most recently an associate curator for the 10th Bamako Encounters, Biennale of African Photography, 2015. His research has been supported by an Andrew Mellon CLIR fellowship, a Block Museum curatorial fellowship, grants from Northwestern’s Buﬀett Institute and Barbara Shanley Fund, and a Fulbright award.
Will Caldwell (Religious Studies)
- Will Caldwell specializes in the history of early twentieth-century African American Muslims, with a focus on issues of race, empire, and internationalism.
Emma Chubb (Art History)
- Emma Chubb’s research examines the relationship between national identity, visual representation, minority communities, and postcolonial migration in North Africa and the Middle East where she has been involved in exhibitions, publications, and artist residencies since 2007. Her dissertation analyzes how contemporary artworks represent diversity in response to the specific social, historical, and political contexts of 20th and 21st-century Morocco, and it explains the emergence of a generation of artists in Morocco who came of age during the postcolonial period.
Corrine Collins (English)
- Corrine Collins’s research interest is Anglophone literature in the African diaspora in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Grace Deveney (Art History)
- Grace Deveney’s main fields are global modern and contemporary art. She has been awarded the Eliza Dangler Curatorial Fellowship at the Art Institute of Chicago (2013) and the Marjorie Susman Curatorial Fellowship, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2014-15).
Raja Ben Hammed Dorval (French)
- Raja Ben Hammed Dorval received her BA from the University of Tunis and her Master’s from Manouba University in linguistics and language policy. She is interested in pursuing comparative work on Maghrebian and African francophone literatures regarding questions of the liminal space occupied by immigrant identities and imaginaries. In the context of North African literature, she is also interested in exploring the relations/tensions between the francophone postcolonial tradition and Arabic literary production in the region.
Mitchell Edwards (History)
- Mitch Edwards is a doctoral student focusing on social histories of refugee mobility within twentieth-century East Africa. His research interests revolve around historical displacement in a way that privileges the everyday influence of transnational networks, state-specific governance, and distinct cultures on people living outside their presumed homelands. He is a fellow of the interdisciplinary African Studies Cluster.
Mohwanah Fetus (English)
- Mohwanah Fetus’s research interests concentrate on twentieth and twenty-first century Anglophone literature in the black Atlantic diaspora.
William FitzSimons (History)
- William FitzSimons’s research centers on decentralized societies in precolonial political and military history in eastern Africa. His interests include methods for historical research without documents, including historical linguistics.
Claudia Garcia-Rojas (African American Studies)
- Claudia Garcia-Rojas lived in Tunisia before the uprising; she has also lived in France, Germany, and Mexico. Besides her doctoral studies at Northwestern, she is Amnesty International’s “Stop the Violence Against Women” campaign coordinator for the Midwest, a contributing writer at Truthout and Bitch Media, and a commentator on race and gender issues on Chicago Public Radio’s Vocalo. See Truthout’s interview with her, “The Surveillance of Blackness: From the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade to Contemporary Surveillance Technologies,” http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/35086-the-surveillance-of-blackness-from-the-slave-trade-to-the-police.
Esther Ginestet (History)
- Esther Ginestet is a doctoral student in the Department of History. Prior to attending Northwestern University, she undertook her graduate and undergraduate studies at SciencesPo University in Paris as well as the University of Nairobi (as an exchange student). She completed a M.A. in History from SciencesPo and defended a master's thesis about the history of race, ethnicity and nation-building in postcolonial Uganda. Her broader research interests include African history (with a focus on East African history), colonial and postcolonial history, ethnicity, identity-making dynamics, migrations, migration control, nationalism and state-building processes.
Bright Gyamfi (History)
- Bright Gyamfi is a doctoral student in the Department of History. Prior to attending Northwestern University, he received his B.A. from the University of Notre Dame where he majored in history and political science. While at Notre Dame, he received several research grants including the Balfour Hesburgh Undergraduate Research Fellowship, the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and Experiencing the World Fellowship that enabled him to conduct archival research in Ghana, the United Kingdom, Trinidad & Tobago, and the United States. He was a recipient of the U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. After his undergraduate studies, he was awarded the Thomas J. McMahon IV Endowment for Excellence for the Pursuit of Scholarship at the University of Oxford where he earned an MSc in African Studies. His research focuses on West African intellectual history, nationalism, Pan-Africanism, and institutes of African studies.
Bethany Hill (Art History)
- Bethany is a PhD student studying contemporary art with a particular emphasis on black feminist and queer approaches to visual culture. She is especially interested in scholarship and artists that put pressure on the structures by which we determine subjecthood, agency, and self-representation. She received her BA in the History of Art at Elon University, where she wrote her senior thesis on how the sculpture Contact, by artist Nandipha Mntambo, performed race and gender during its display at the National Museum of African Art. While at Elon she also received the prestigious Lumen Prize research award which supported two years of investigating the role of gender and performative gesture in medieval German sculpture. Bethany presented this work at the 50th International Congress of Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo.
Chad Infante (English)
- Chad Infante’s main areas of interest are twentieth and twenty-first century Anglophone literature in the African diaspora, particularly with reference to theories of vengeance, violence, and critical race theory. He is also interested in Native American literature.
Lamin Keita (Political Science)
- Lamin Keita worked as a journalist for Citizen FM Radio in the Gambia until then President Yahya Jammeh shut it down, along with other independent media outlets, in the early 2000s. After receiving political asylum in the United States, Keita completed his associate’s degree at the Borough of Manhattan Community College and then joined the University of Wisconsin–Madison political science department. His research interests include the history of Islamic institutions and the differential entrenchment of Islamic radical jihadism in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Mali.
Emma Kennedy (Art History)
- Emma M. Kennedy researches the intersection of photography and the African diaspora with a focus on the complications and questions that surround “the archive” and the presence/absence of black subjects within it. First introduced to photography through an undergraduate seminar on Walker Evans and Henri Cartier-Bresson, Emma has pursued photography through various academic and professional projects. While working as a curatorial intern at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum in 2016, she curated a selection of vernacular photographs from the 19th and 20th century. Emma has also worked in a variety of different positions at The Phillips Collection, The National Museum of African American History and Culture, Aperture magazine, and most recently the art publisher Prestel Publishing. Emma has a B.A. in Art History from Mount Holyoke College.
Rana B. Khoury (Political Science)
- Rana B. Khoury’s research interests include comparative politics, refugees, civil war, and political economy. She has published an article, “Western Sahara and Palestine: A Comparative Study of Colonialisms, Occupations, and Nationalisms,” in New Middle Eastern Studies 1 (2011).
Andrew Kim (Anthropology)
- Andrew Kim is a biological anthropology student interested in studying the intergenerational effects of apartheid-era racialized violence on physical and mental health in Johannesburg, South Africa. Using a two-generation longitudinal cohort study beginning in 1990, he plans to identify the biocultural mechanisms of generational trauma and the socio-ecological factors that enhance resilience among the children of trauma survivors.
Sasha Klyachkina (Political Science)
- Klyachkina studies political violence, state-building, and the microfoundations of order in the North Caucasus and Central Africa.
Rita Dela Kuma (Archaeology/Anthropology)
- Rita Kuma’s research examines how people navigated their daily lives and local economies around changing global economies during the Atlantic trade era in Ghana, West Africa. It will explore these issues by looking at changes in foodways.
F. Delali Yawa Kumavie (English)
- Delali Kumavie is a doctoral student in the English Department. Her research is centered on issues of transnational mobility and migration, space and time, and the African female in contemporary African and African diasporic literatures, particularly how these literatures extend the analytic of the slave ship into transitory spaces such as the airport re-articulate and re-imagine violent histories and ongoing neoliberal impositions of capitalist accumulation. Central to her work is how the black female in these spaces emerges as both subject to transformation and metamorphosis but bound to a past that constantly haunts her new form.
Christa Kuntzelman (Political Science)
- Christa Kuntzelman’s interests lie in how refugees act as agents during displacement to contribute to original and settlement communities. She has previously worked in Haiti where she was doing trauma and resiliency work with local NGOs and participated in a study abroad program in Tanzania. She spent the summer of 2016 in Uganda, where she was associated with the Centre for Basic Research.
Sean Lee (Political Science)
- Sean Lee’s research centers on the strategies of minority groups in civil conflicts: why some groups ally with stronger ones while others go it alone and others simply exit. His field research focuses on Lebanon and Rwanda and includes consideration of other recent cases in the Middle East. He has received several grants including a Keyman Modern Turkish Studies Research Grant, a US Department of State Critical Language Scholarship, a US Department of Education Title VI – Foreign Language & Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship, and a Fulbright-Hays Dissertation Research award.
Marcos Leitao de Almeida (History)
- Marcos Leitao de Almeida’s first year paper, “The Language of Slavery among Kongo Yaka Speakers: Vulnerability, Exclusion and Enslavement in the Lower Congo Region (Early Times to c.1665),” won the George Romani Prize. He has been awarded an International Dissertation Research Fellowship from the Social Science Research Council to conduct research in Angola, Congo, and Belgium to continue research on this topic in 2016-17.
Geraud Letang (Political Science; visiting scholar from Sciences-Po, Paris)
- Geraud Letang’s dissertation topic is “War experiences, imperial practices and state rebuilding. Free France and Chad (1940-1944).”
Arturo Marquez, Jr. (Anthropology)
- Arturo Maraquez, Jr. received a Wenner-Gren grant in 2013 for his dissertation fieldwork on “A Senegalese Odyssey: Migration and Mental Health in Catalonia, Spain,” an ethnographic study of the production, circulation, and recontextualization of humanitarian discourse in local institutions working with undocumented and tenuously documented West African residents in the province of Barcelona.
Michell Miller (Performance Studies)
- Michell Nicole Miller holds an A.M. in Theater and Performance Studies from Washington University in St. Louis. She received a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a concentration in Poetry Writing from the University of Virginia. Michell’s research interests include: the black female body, birth justice, traditional birthing practices, black midwifery, Afro-Diasporic ritual and performances of the feminine divine.
Noran Mohamed (French and Italian)
- Noran Mohamed is interested in the connections between French and Arabic. Her academic interests include postcolonialism, orientalism, exoticism, and neuro/sociolinguistics.
Caitlin Monroe (History)
- Caitlin Monroe is a Mellon Cluster Fellow in PAS. She focuses on East African history in the 19th and 20th centuries, especially intellectual histories and ideas about belonging, nativism, race, and ethnicity in the Great Lakes region. Before coming to Northwestern, she served as a program assistant for a development NGO in Burundi.
Sarah Moore (Political Science)
- Sarah Moore holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico and is interested in comparative politics.
Mbongeri Mtshali (Performance Studies)
- A contemporary dance and physical theatre performer and choreographer, Mbongeni Mtshali is also an actor, director, designer, and puppeteer and is particularly interested in site-specific multimedia performance art works. His research interests are postcolonial black modernities, the politics of intimacy, affect and belonging, and the spatial modalities of race, ethnicity, gender, and class in postapartheid South Africa.
Christopher Muhoozi (Performance Studies)
- Christopher Muhoozi’s project examines ethnicity and race in southwestern Uganda before independence. Before coming to Northwestern he taught for nine years at Uganda's oldest and leading university, Makerere University.
Moritz Nagel (History)
- Moritz Nagel is a Mellon Cluster Fellow with PAS. His research focus is Duala-German trade and colonial conquest in the Cameroons, emphasizing the political functions of West African institutions such as initiation associations, public debates and assemblies, and talking drums. Besides data mining in archives, he enjoys working with various kinds of sources including orally transmitted histories, objects in museum collections, and early audio recordings. His paper, “Precolonial Segmentation Revisited: Initiation Societies, Talking Drums and the Ngondo Festival in the Cameroons,” won the Graduate Student Paper Prize of the African Studies Association in 2016.
Teddy Nakate (Religious Studies)
- Teddy Nekate’s research focuses on theological reflection on human suffering and sense making among marginalized HIV women in Uganda.
Jessica Neushwander (French and Italian)
- Jessica Neushwander’s primary area of academic interest is Francophone literature from the Maghreb. In addition, she is also interested in feminist studies.
Scott Peter Newman (English/Comparative Literary Studies)
- Scott Newman is broadly interested in postcolonial theory, globalization and the novel, Anglophone and Francophone African literature, magical realism, “dictator novels,” and narratives of development in fiction and politics.
Salih Nur (Political Science)
- Salih Nur’s research interests include comparative African politics, especially democratization, political regimes and regime transitions, and authoritarian legacies. His dissertation project, "The Legacies of Liberation," seeks to understand path-dependence and regime development in postcolonial Africa. He argues that violent liberation struggles represent a critical juncture that shaped postindependence politics and society in countries under former liberation movements.
Patrick Mbullo Owuor (Anthropology)
- Patrick Mbullo Owuor is interested in information systems (business informatics) and computing in the social sciences, arts, and humanities. He was coauthor of a chapter on “Potentials of Digital Assistive Technology and Special Education in Kenya” in Sustainable ICT Adoption and Integration for Socioeconomic Development (IGI GLobal, 2017).
Tyrone S. Palmer (African American Studies)
- Tyrone Palmer’s research interests are blackness and affect, black feminist thought, black ontology, black critical theory, and race as/and technology. He is currently writing an essay on affect theory, antiblackness, and the coloniality of feeling.
Ayodeji Kamau Perrin (Political Science)
- Ayodeji Kamau Perrin is an attorney who specialized in international law and human and civil rights. At Northwestern his main area of interest is international relations. He has made many research papers available on academia.edu, including one of ECOWAS and another on gay marriage in South Africa.
David Peyton (Political Science)
- David Peyton’s dissertation title is “Warfare, Municipal Development, and the Congolese State Building Project: Explaining Institutional Variation in North Kivu’s Conflict-Affected Cities.” It investigates relationships between business groups and municipal authorities in eastern Congo, focusing on why varied social orders develop across municipalities in this region of persistent instability and very weak formal state authority. He received a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship for the period 2015–16.
Kritish Rajbhandari (Comparative Literary Studies)
- Kritish Rajbhandari’s interests include postcolonial literature and theory, critical theory, deconstructive approaches, translation, and the intersection of cultural studies and literature. His research explores the intersection of fiction and the archive in the context of the Indian Ocean, focusing on the archival work within contemporary novels from East Africa and South Asia. His interdisciplinary approach integrates insights from history and anthropology into the study of literature.
William Richardson (Sociology)
- William Richardson’s main interests focus on postcolonial and Africana sociology and Eurocentricism within sociology.
Andrea (Andy) Rosengarten (History)
- Andrea Rosengarten is a Mellon Cluster Fellow in PAS. She is interested in histories of racial and ethnic identification, segregation, and constructions of indigeneity in nineteenth and twentieth-century Namibia and South Africa.
Dilpreet Singh (Dil Singh Basanti) (Archaeology/Anthropology)
- Dil Singh is an archaeologist working on the Aksumite kingdom (50-800 AD) of northern Ethiopia. His research examines how local-level mythologies of the "family" reconfigure larger scale social processes, particularly global connections/cosmopolitanism, ontologies of death and body, sustainability/water management, emotion and biology, political organization, and the rise of monsters.
Moussa Seck (French and Italian)
- Moussa’s academic interests include the interrelation of Religion and Literature in West Africa, Post colonialism, Orientalism and Cinema in Africa.
Kimberly Seibel (Anthropology)
- Kimberly Seibel’s areas of interest are refugee and migrant identities, the state and citizenship, and border studies. She is studying the Chad/Cameroon borderland, specifically the area of Kousseri, Cameroon and N'Djamena, Chad.
Susanna Sacks (English)
- Susanna Sachs studies poetry, performance, and language policy in southeastern Africa broadly. Her dissertation project addresses the intimate connections between poetry performance, social media, and community formation in Malawi, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, imagining poetry as a key link between physical and virtual spaces of connection
Amy Swanson (Theatre and Drama)
- Amy Swanson’s dissertation research explores the intersection of twenty-first-century cultural production in postcolonies and continued Western material and intellectual dominance through the lens of contemporary dance in Senegal. She is a recipient of a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship.
Rory Sykes (Art History)
- Rory Sykes’s main interest is Palestinian visual culture during the second half of the 20th Century; however, she is also interested in contemporary art from the Middle East and North Africa and the relationship between lens-based media and documentary claims under conditions of catastrophe.
Mariam Taher (Anthropology)
- Mariam Taher is interested in the everyday experience of representations of the state in public space, specifically how people articulate these experiences in terms of language use, power dynamics, and gender.
Gorgui Ibrahima Tall (French and Italian)
- Ibou's research interests include Francophone African orature and literature and African cinema generally.
Vanessa Watters (Anthropology)
- Vanessa Watter’s dissertation project, “Prosperity on the Periphery: Christian Social Welfare in Coastal West Africa,” examines coastal West Africa—especially the cities of Accra, Lomé, and Cotonou—as an important historical corridor for Catholic and Pentecostal institutions, as well as for contemporary exchanges and transformations in Christian communities. She was the recipient of the Buffet Center’s 2016 Global Politics and Religion Summer Graduate Research Fellowship.
Maximilian Weylandt (Political Science)
- Max Weylandt's research interests include democratization, public opinion, and political parties. He published a paper in Electoral Studies in 2015 titled "The 2014 National Assembly and presidential elections in Namibia."
Mlonolozi (Mlondi) Zondi (Performance Studies)
- Mlonolozi Zondi’s research interests include contemporary African dance, black queer studies, performance activism, critical race and postcolonial theory, and Afropessimism. His long term goal is to establish a collaborative and experimental performance laboratory that will explore performance as a critical discursive tool for topics such as gender identity, body politics, race, and disability. He has published an article, “Memories of Blood. To Brother(hood) Dance and All Black Movers,” in Propter Nos 1 (2016): 45–52.
Priscilla Adipa (Sociology)
- Priscilla Adipa's dissertation examined how visual art exhibition spaces in Accra and Johannesburg attract audiences and facilitate their engagement with artworks. She is particularly interested in how people's experiences of art are shaped through discourse and the physical and spatial characteristics of exhibition spaces. Drawing on ethnographic work and interviews with gallery visitors and art administrators, she shows how the art encounter unfolds when exhibition spaces become interactive arenas where people engage with people, people engage with things and geographic space, and the exhibition space itself interacts with its environs.
Abdeta Beyene (Political Science)
- Abdeta Beyene’s dissertation title is “Strong States and Bad Neighborhoods: Rule Infringement in the Pursuit of Stronger Rules.” His study examined the growing disjuncture between the political logics of states like Ethiopia and Rwanda and their neighbors. He currently serves as associate director of the Institute for Advanced Research in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Prior to this, he served as chief of staff of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission pursuant to the Agreement to Resolve the Conflict in South Sudan.
Marco Bocchese (Political Science)
- Marco Bocchese’s research analyzes to what extent context shapes whether targets of international prosecutorial bodies like the ICC will see prosecution as a threat. While in some instances threats of prosecution convince leaders that there is nothing to lose in defiance, others are deterred. Thus their main concerns center on survivability and the likelihood of real punishment for proscribed behavior.
Buddhika Jayamaha (Political Science)
- Buddhika Jayamaha’s dissertation topic is “Rebels Inside and Out: Ruling Coalitions, Coercion and Rebel Choices.” His research investigates causes for variation in rebel, militia, and state organization and tactics in urban warfare.
Raevin Jimenez (History)
- Raevin Jimenez researches the social uses of cattle in southern Africa from the first to the seventeenth centuries, using the methodology of comparative historical linguistics in conjunction with the archaeological record to reconstruct behaviors, conceptualizations, and material realities pertaining to cattle keeping and exchange.
Jahara (Franky) Matisek (Political Science)
- Jahara (Franky) Matisek is a US Air Force officer whose research interests include consideration of the impacts of new war fighting tactics on insurgent organizational and operational behavior. During the summer of 2016, he participated in the University of Texas at Austin Clements Center for National Security’s Summer Seminar in History and Statecraft in Beaver Creek, Colorado. His dissertation title is “Differences in African Military Capacity and State Efficacy: State-Building and Foreign Aid Working in Tandem?” In 2016 he was awarded the General Larry D. Welch Deterrence Writing Award, presented by Admiral Cecil D. Haney, Commander United States Strategic Command at The Deterrence Symposium.
Sakhile Matlhare (Sociology)
- Sakhile Matlhare’s main research interests are the sociology of work, the sociology of art, emotional labor, citizenship, and applied sociology. Her research methods combine interview-based data, content analysis as well as participant-observation. Sakhile's dissertation research explores how contemporary artists working under the rubric of “Contemporary African art” in large cities like Addis Ababa, Johannesburg, Berlin, and New York City employ strategies of professional development and knowledge facilitation as part of their work. The research focuses on how these artists manage their work in relation to curators, critics, and other art consumers. This study investigates artists’ use of their teaching, writing and exhibition curation to expand their locus of control in their art practice and identifies the concept of "Africanness" as a productively ambiguous misnomer. Sakhile was the 2012 recipient of the Gwendolen M. Carter and Kofi Annan Fellowship through the Program of African Studies, Northwestern University, Evanston, USA.
Jessica Pouchet (Anthropology)
- Before coming to Northwestern, Jessica Pouchet worked with a nongovernmental organization in Tanzania where she became interested in the inequities in the national park system, which employed “fortress conservation,” an intimidating method whereby locals were evicted to create national parks. Her dissertation study examines forest conservation in the Amani Nature Reserve, one of the world’s 25 global biodiversity hotspots. Her work has been featured in a CNN documentary.
Leila Tayeb (Performance Studies)
- Leila Tayel’s research centers on the constitution of gendered identities and structures via music in 2011-2012 revolutionary Libya. Her research interests include phenomenology, dance studies, feminist and queer theory, diaspora, and "return."
Rachel Taylor (History)
- Rachel Taylor studies precolonial and colonial East Africa. Her current research explores how men from Unyamwezi (in present-day Tanzania) sought to develop and attain new forms of honorable male adulthood in the context of the dramatic economic and political changes of nineteenth and early-twentieth century East Africa. She was awarded a 2011–2012 International Dissertation Research Fellowship from the Social Science Research Council.
Marlous van Waijenburg (History)
- Marlous van Waijenburg is a comparative economic historian interested in the historical roots of relative African poverty, specifically in the economic legacies of colonialism. Her dissertation project is "Financing the African State. The Development and Transformation of African Fiscal Systems in the Long Twentieth Century,” and it explores the intersection of global history, development economics, and political economy. During 2014–2016, she was a Presidential Fellow at Northwestern University. She has published "Financing the African Colonial State: The Revenue Imperative and Forced Labor," African Economic History Working Paper 20 (2015) and coauthored with Fwout Frankema, "Metropolitan Blueprints of Colonial Taxation? Comparative Fiscal Development in British and French Africa, 1880-1940," Journal of African History 55 (2014): 371-400.
Rachel Sweet (Political Science)
- Before coming to Northwestern, Rachel Sweet taught for a year in Beni in eastern Congo. In addition, she spent time in Kenya, where she observed the politics of urban gangs and vigilante groups. Her dissertation research, “Institutional Choice in Civil War: Rebel Strategies for Managing Political Disorder,” examines the politics of rebel governance in failed and weak state contexts in eastern Congo and a wider set of recent and contemporary conflict cases. She was awarded a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship in 2014–15 and a Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation Dissertation Fellowship in 2015–16.