Student Fellows

Jean Monnet Fellows are among the best University of Michigan graduate students who focus on Europe in their research. Student grantees receive summer grants to work on contemporary or historical issues relating to Europe. The grant aims to foster projects that are, to a significant measure, about Europe, and that address trans-national or pan-European topics in a substantive way.

This fellowship is made possible by the Center for European Studies with funding from the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies and the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies. From 2004-11 additional funding for the fellowship came from the European Commission.


2015 Jean Monnet Graduate Fellows

RANDEEP HOTHI is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures. He earned his B.A. degree at the University of California, Berkeley where he studied the Western philosophical canon. His research focuses on religion, diaspora, and political recognition. Currently, he aims to understand how religious minorities attempt to garner recognition, and the discourses they deploy to do so. Paying specific attention to British Sikhs, Randeep’s research will be of relevance to scholars of religion, multiculturalism, and diaspora. As a Jean Monnet Fellow, his research will focus on on-going debates about multiculturalism in Europe and the historical conditions under which they have been articulated.

ALBANA SHEHAJ is a Ph.D. pre-candidate in the Department of Political Science. She holds a B.A. and M.A. in political science from the University of Michigan. Albana’s research examines the ways in which internal institutional structure affects not only policy outcomes and political party tactics, but also the prospects of democratic consolidation and EU accession throughout Eastern Europe’s developing democracies. Her research as a Jean Monnet Fellow investigates national adoption of a common European identity. She will look at EU policies that promote a shared identity, and compare the success of these strategies in member and candidate countries.

ADRIAN J. SHIN is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science studying comparative and international political economy with an emphasis on the link between trade and immigration policies. His Jean Monnet Fellowship project explores why EU-wide trade integration has led to divergent immigration policies across culturally, socially, and politically similar European countries. Motivated by distinct immigration policy developments in Scandinavia and the Netherlands, Adrian’s research seeks to understand the ways through which trade integration and the rise of resource industries in the region have shaped business support for immigration. He received a B.A. in economics and political science with a minor in mathematics from the University of Pennsylvania in May 2010.

ALICE ISABELLA SULLIVAN is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of the History of Art. She earned her B.A. from Bowdoin College and M.A. from the Williams College Graduate Program in Art History. Her research centers on a group of painted and fortified monastic churches built in Moldavia, in northeastern modern Romania, in the decades following the Turkish conquest of the Byzantine Empire in 1453. These buildings display architectural and iconographic features that integrate, and also reinterpret, aspects of western Gothic, Slavic, Byzantine, and Islamic building traditions. Having already established Moldavia’s contacts with parts of the Slavic-Byzantine world at this time, Alice’s research as a Jean Monnet Fellow will examine Moldavia’s political, military, cultural, and economic relations with Western Europe in the crucible of the post-1453 world.

ALON YAKTER is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science. His research focuses on the interrelations of ethnic heterogeneity and redistributive policies, primarily in advanced democracies. His research as a Jean Monnet Fellow aims to better our understanding of how European welfare policies change in response to the consistent growth in immigration inflows to the EU, and the accompanying rise of ethnic cleavages and tensions within member states. The project explores the various conditions, constraints, and tactics by which local policymakers limit immigrant access to social programs run by the state, particularly against the backdrop of European integration processes. Prior to attending the University of Michigan, Alon completed an M.A. (summa cum laude) in political science and a B.A. in politics, philosophy, and economics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

2014 Jean Monnet Graduate Fellows

CRISTIAN CAPOTESCU is a doctoral student in the Department of History. He earned his M.A. in Modern & East European History from the University of Freiburg in Germany with a study on post-communist political culture in Romania. Cristian joined U-M's history department as a Fulbright scholar in 2011-12. His current work explores the connected histories of East and West through the lens of humanitarian aid and human rights politics with an emphasis on communist and post-communist Romania. At the Center for European Studies, Cristian studies the emergence of trans-European grassroots groups that organized concentrated efforts to reconstruct material and mental spaces in Eastern Europe after the fall of communism.

BENJAMIN A. J. PEARSON is a doctoral student in communication studies. His research deals with intergovernmental organizations’ aid programs to media industries in the Global South, and the relationship between global cultural policy, national media industries, and minority subjectivity in media texts. His project funded by the Jean Monnet Fellowship focuses on the emergence of European Union aid to cultural industries in the Global South, particularly the post-WWII conditions and discourses that have set the stage for the integration of culture into EU development policy and programs. Before attending the University of Michigan, Benjamin completed an M.A. in comparative literature at Dartmouth College, and an M.A. in European integration studies from Universidad de Deusto and Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.

DIMITRIJE RUZIC is a Ph.D. candidate in economics. His research focuses on international economics. Currently, he aims to understand how the effectiveness of government spending depends on the way in which it is financed. As a Jean Monnet Fellow, he will examine the extent to which the variation in borrowing costs among European Union countries led to variation in the share of government spending financed by issuing new debt. Dimitrije hopes to understand if and how the effectiveness of fiscal stimulus might have varied among the different EU member countries.

WILLIAM STROEBEL is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature. His research examines twentieth-century modern Greek and Turkish literary production and reconstruction of a shared Eastern Mediterranean book culture. Straddling the fields of book history, new materialism, media studies, and Mediterranean studies, his dissertation treats books not simply as immaterial texts but as material objects—assembled, edited, circulated, revised, and reassembled. These material assemblages would in turn play a key role in larger conceptual and institutional “assemblages” —that of authorship, canon, literary history, national memory, and archival politics. Examining each of these assemblages in turn, he hopes to show the larger material and social forces struggling to shape the Eastern Mediterranean as it entered modernity, and the roles of books within this struggle. His research as a Jean Monnet Fellow focuses on key midcentury Greek texts and their revised editions, exploring their material role in the construction and preservation of collective memory.

2013 Jean Monnet Graduate Fellows

MARIA HADJIPOLYCARPOU is a Ph.D. candidate in comparative literature. Her dissertation, “Intersubjective Histories in the Mediterranean and Beyond: History and the Poetics of Self in Postcolonial Life Writing,” focuses on the intersection of life writing and history, by comparing autobiographical writings from countries such as Cyprus, Palestine, Algeria, and Saint Lucia with strong national memory of violence, uprootedness, slavery, and ethnoreligious and cultural conflict. These autobiographies approach painful narratives in a sense that does not preserve and embalm divided ethnicities, territories, and religions in a permanent opposition, but rather opens the dialogue between them. Thus, these narratives actively propose the possibility of cohabitation, reconciliation, and understanding, which is in opposition to the calcified narratives that keep communities in opposition to each other.

ANNEMARIE IDDINS is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Communication Studies. She studies the relationship between modernity, media activism, and cultural geography, primarily in the Maghreb and its diaspora. She is particularly interested in shifting dialectics of power between the nation-state and transnational networks, and between traditional news media and new media, from the perspective of cultural and postcolonial studies. Prior to coming to Michigan, she received a B.A. in journalism and Francophone studies from the University of St. Thomas, an M.A. in mass communication research from the University of Minnesota, and spent a year in Morocco as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar. Annemarie’s recent work looks at media activism as a manifestation of “the new political” through Maghrebi cinema, blogging collectives, and feminist social movements.

WENDY SEPPONEN is a Ph.D. candidate in history of art. Her dissertation investigates how objects and visual practices affected cultural cross-pollination and interchange within the Hapsburg Empire in the latter half of the sixteenth century. She focuses on two sculptors, Leone Leoni (c. 1509-1590) and his son Pompeo Leoni (c. 1533-1608), their multi-regional workshops in Milan and Madrid, and the circulation of objects between various imperial court sites. She aims to understand how the Leoni enacted, through their geographically and materially diverse sculptural practices, the processes of artistic adaptation and transformation that underpinned the mutually informative relationships between areas of imperial cultural integration.

2012 Jean Monnet Graduate Fellows

ALEKSANDAR BOŠKOVIĆ is a PhD candidate in Slavic Languages and Literatures. His research focuses on cross-cultural and interdisciplinary re-examination of the avant-garde photo-poetry artworks across Europe during the 1920s and 1930s. His dissertation addresses a set of important social, cultural, and political issues introduced by these mixed-media artworks at the time.  His current project examines the aspects of social action of the Belgrade Surrealist Circle reflected in the aesthetic production of the surrealist children’s book with photomontages: The Exploits of the “Five Cockerels” Gang (1933).  The research aims to demonstrate the role that Surrealists’ mix-media work had in advocating a social solution, as well as to illuminate the specific political context which framed the unwelcome response of repressive social powers to the surrealists’ provocations and publications in Yugoslavia in the 1930s.

SRINIVAS "CHINNU" PARINANDI is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science. Chinnu studies how centralization of political control affects how policy innovation and diffusion occur in different contexts. Chinnu’s dissertation explores the determinants of innovativeness and the relationship between centralization and innovativeness in American health care policy. The project funded by the Jean Monnet Fellowship complicates a theory designed to explain innovation in American federalism and investigates how competing pressures of centralization and decentralization in the European Union carbon emissions trading system affect policy innovation. The EU is not yet a mature federation and is structural challenges as it seeks to establish a new political equilibrium. His project explores how uncertainty and volatility in the EU federal structure affects policy innovation undertaken by EU member states, using the emissions trading system as a case study.

NATALIE SMOLENSKI is a Doctoral Pre-Candidate in the Program in Anthropology and History. Her dissertation research concerns the phenomenology of sacred power in contemporary Poland, specifically how people make determinations about the provenance of the theologico-political power of saints. Drawing on people's experiences of 20th century saints both during the saints' lives and after their deaths, she tracks the ways that saints embody both non-political "exceptions" to politics as usual and serve as highly politicized figures, in some cases underpinning the very foundations of Europe itself. These understandings of sanctity and sainthood therefore have strong implications for the project of Europeanization and the Others constituted by that process. Her Jean Monnet Fellowship research asks how Polish clergy responded to Poland's accession to the European Union and how that echoes larger debates about whether Poland and Europe are, in essence, "Christian" entities. 

MOLLY SAUNDERS-SCOTT is a PhD candidate in Economics. Her research is on public finance, with a focus on corporate taxation. The project funded by the Jean Monnet Fellowship focuses on the proposal for the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base in the European Union. The goal of the project is to better understand how tax cooperation under this proposal changes the tax enforcement incentives for the national governments that take part. Specifically, her research will consider the consequences of using formula apportionment to distribute taxable profits in the EU, recognizing that formula apportionment up to this point has only been used in federal systems. More broadly, her research is focused on recognizing the multiple tax instruments that are available to governments when setting corporate tax policy, and she wishes to obtain a better understanding of why we see different countries select different levels of enforcement or different ways of calculating taxable income.


2011 Jean Monnet Graduate Fellows

JANNA BRAY is a PhD candidate in the Political Science and Public Policy Joint PhD Program at the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on the relationship between Muslim immigrants and left political parties in Western Europe. In her dissertation, she examines why left parties support policies that concern the religious practice of Islam (such as veiling, halal slaughter, and mosque building) in some locations and not in others. Her current project uses city council records to build an original data set of left party policymaking behavior in German, Dutch, French, and Belgian cities, to analyze variation in the left’s behavior on Muslim policy issues within and among different Western European countries. For more information on Janna or her research, please visit:

DAVID KLINE JONES is a PhD student in the Departments of Political Science and Health Management & Policy at the University of Michigan. After working in the Idaho Legislature and Canadian Parliament, David received a Master of Science in Public Health degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research focuses on the politics of health policy-making, particularly the role of intergovernmental relations. His current project examines the recent consolidation of decision-making to new regional-level health agencies in France (les Agences Régionales de Santé) and explores the contradiction that increased regionalization is leading to increased centralization. Based on interviews and observations in select regions, his work assess the challenges and opportunities facing these agencies as they work to increase the efficiency, quality, and accessibility of health care in France.

DAVIDE ORSINI is currently a graduate student in the joint doctoral program in Anthropology and History at the University of Michigan. His research interests are the study of historical production, Italy and cold war in Western Europe, military institutions and culture, science and technology during the cold war. His project focuses on the study of the presence of a US Navy base for atomic submarines in the Archipelago of La Maddalena (Sardinia, Italy) between 1972 and 2008.

ELIZABETH YOUNG is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Michigan.  Her research focuses on nationalism, citizenship, and state-formation in Europe and the Middle East. Elizabeth's project examines the implementation and content of naturalization exams in several EU states with a focus on their relationship to Muslim immigration and EU integration. Elizabeth is also the recipient of the Graduate Workshop in European Studies best paper award for “Questioning Would-Be Citizens, Examining the Nation:  A Comparative Study of Naturalization Tests.”


2010 Jean Monnet Graduate Fellows

FRANK CASTIGLIONE is a PhD student in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on the political and social history of the late Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic. Frank's project, "Enforcement and Resistance: Turkish Political Debates on Integration into the European Union," studies the role of historical understandings of Turkish modernity in the debates between the Turkish nationalist parties and the AKP, showing that this has produced opposition between them regarding the process of Europeanization. This project also discusses how this issue relates to the reform fatigue that has affected Turkey's drive for EU membership since 2005.

CASSANDRA GRAFSTRÖM is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on the electoral implications of changes in economic institutions in developed democracies. Specifically, she is interested in how recent moves toward increased central bank independence have affected how politicians discuss the economy in electoral campaigns and the implications these changes in framing have on voting behavior. Cassandra's project considers the effects of the Maastricht Treaty and how changes in political and economic institutions affect democratic accountability and the relationships between voters and politicians.

SARAH HAMILTON is a PhD student in the Department of History and the Graduate Certificate Program in Science, Technology, and Society at the University of Michigan. Her dissertation will explore changes and continuities in ideas about nature in twentieth-century Spain and the ways these ideas have manifested in national and EU legislation, local implementation and resistance, and the physical landscape itself. Sarah's project looks at the ways in which EU law and policy affected five specific cases of Spanish environmental management. These case studies include the Tablas de Daimiel in Andalucia, the scenic recreation area of the Desfiladero de Peñaperras in Castilla La Mancha, the agricultural preserve of the Albufera in Valencia, wolf management in northern Castilla y León, and coastal tourism development in Murcia.

JOSEPH VISCOMI is a second-year PhD student in the Doctoral Program in Anthropology and History at the University of Michigan. His research is concerned with the use of personal histories and narrative; in particular the ways in which migrants’ experience is narrated and substantive of their everyday worlds. Currently, Joseph focuses on migrant workers from Egypt who have traveled to Italy and the United States. He seeks to understand the ways in which the past is construed in the present through movements across and within borders (material and metaphorical) and how this in turn contributes to one's experience of everyday phenomena. Furthermore, he hopes for his work to engage with ongoing conversations regarding belonging, citizenship, and the role of moving persons in contemporary political categories.

2009 Jean Monnet Graduate Fellows

ELA GEZEN is a PhD candidate in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures. In her dissertation she engages in a comparative analysis of Turkish-German literature and music focusing on the representations of Berlin. Working at the intersection of German studies, cultural studies, musicology, cultural geography, and minority studies, she examines how Berlin is experienced and remembered, sounded and read by Turkish-German writers and musicians-how they represent, imagine and narrate the spaces of Berlin. Central to her analysis are the interventions by Turkish-German artists, who have placed the migratory experience as integral to Germany's history and culture.

MONICA LOPEZ-LERMA is a PhD candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature and a graduate student in the Certificate of the Screen, Arts, and Cultures at the University of Michigan. Originally from Spain, she received a Law degree from the University of Valencia and a LL.M from the European Academy of Legal Theory of Brussels, Belgium. Her dissertation examines Spanish contemporary novels, films, and legal texts that reflect on the changing relation between ethics, politics, and law in the global age.

JENNIFER MILLER is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on European center-right party strategies toward visible minorities, and, more specifically, the effect of such strategies on national identity.

JESSICA ROBBINS is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Michigan.  Her research interests include aging, medical anthropology, kinship, memory, and postsocialism.  Her current ethnographic research in Wroclaw and Poznan, Poland, investigates connections between transformations in elderly personhood and changing national and state formations through the study of contemporary practices of memory.  Her research seeks to understand the social creation and unmaking of aging persons that can occur through changes in memory in personal, familial, and national contexts.

2008 Jean Monnet Graduate Fellows

KENICHI ARIGA  is a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on empirical analyses of mandate, accountability, and representation in the elections of national parliaments in advanced industrial democracies as well as the elections of the European Parliament in member countries.

AVRAHAM ASTOR is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Michigan.  His research focuses on relations between Muslims and non-Muslims in Spain, with a specific focus on the causes of regional variation in responses to mosque establishment.   Before attending Michigan, he received his BA in Philosophy from Brown University and was a pre-doctoral fellow in the Department of Clinical Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health.

CHARLES DORIEAN is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on how national-level political context affects the vote for Euroskeptic parties in European Parliament elections. More generally, Charles is interested in the role that political parties can play in facilitating representation and accountability in democratic societies, through structuring individual behavior and preference formation within elections and legislatures.

ALEXANDRA GERBER is a doctoral candidate in Sociology at the University of Michigan. Her interests include gender, European integration, and national sovereignty in post-socialist space. She is currently a Fulbright Fellow conducting fieldwork in Poland, where she is investigating how European integration and supranationalism impact discourses of gender and nation. Alexandra published "The Letter versus The Spirit: Barriers to Meaningful Implementation of Gender Equality Policy in Poland" in Women's Studies International Forum special issue dedicated to Eastern European women's encounter with the European Union (forthcoming).

EMANUELA GRAMA is a PhD candidate in the Doctoral Program in Anthropology and History. Her dissertation examines the political and social dimensions of "heritage" development in contemporary Romania by focusing on two major projects of built heritage rehabilitation: 1) the re-making of the historical center of Sibiu, a lieux-de-mémoire of Transylvania's German minority and 2) the Bánffy castle in Bontida (once known as the "Versailles of Transylvania"). The study she will undertake as a Jean Monnet fellow will help her set the ethnographic research in Romania in a larger context, by identifying the processes underlying the making of a cultural "new Europe" in a marginal location on the EU-map. Before engaging in her dissertation research, she had also published "Work, State, and the Linguistic Construction of 'Self' in Romania of the 1950s and 1960s. A Case Study." (2006) and "Networking Texts and Persons: Politics of Plagiarism in Postsocialist Romania" (2004), both in the Romanian Journal of Society and Politics.

RAQUEL VEGA-DURAN is a PhD candidate in Romance Languages and Literatures. Raquel received her B.A. in Anglo-American Studies from the University of Seville, Spain, and a Graduate Certificate in Film Studies from the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on the ways in which contemporary Spanish literary and visual narratives, understood as both artistic texts and social documents, are shaping discussions of immigration in Spain.  Drawing on theories of power, border, identity, and nation she examines the ways in which Spanish fiction, film, and documentary photography contribute to the construction of the social imaginary of "undocumented" North African and Caribbean immigrants in Spain, and analyzes conceptions of the Spanish nation and, by extension, Europe that emerge from the encounter with the immigrant.


2007 Jean Monnet Graduate Fellows

VANESSA ABBALLE-BOLORE a student at the University of Michigan Law School LL.M. program. Her research interests include research on the federal implications of the building of an area of justice within the European Union from a comparative point of view with American federalism.

GUNTRA AISTARS is a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment. Her dissertation research on the development of organic agriculture movements in Latvia and Costa Rica explores differences in the opportunities and challenges presented for organic agriculture under diverse cultural, historical and ecological conditions. She has worked closely with the Latvian Organic Agriculture Association and the Costa Rican Organic Agriculture Movement to understand how organic farmers in both countries are experiencing, and how each movement is responding to, very different types of regionalization and globalization brought about by EU accession (Latvia) and potential membership in the Central American Free Trade Agreement (Costa Rica).

HEIN BOGAARD is a PhD candidate in International Business and Business Economics at the Ross School of Business. His research focuses on the development of the banking industry in the transition economies of Eastern Europe, particularly the impact of entry of foreign, mostly Western European, banks. Before coming to the University of Michigan, he worked on private sector development in developing countries for the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, World Bank in Washington, DC, and Netherlands Ministry of Finance. He holds a Master's degree in Economics from Tilburg University in the Netherlands.

JENNIFER MILLER is a PhD candidate in political science at the University of Michigan and a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow. Her research focuses on the role of institutions on the formation of collective identity, Euroskepticism, and race and ethnicity. She has presented her work at the American Political Science Association annual meeting and the European Union Studies Association international meeting. Her work on the EU is inspired by her experiences living in Spain and France.

MINAYO NASIALI a PhD candidate in Modern European History at the University of Michigan, studies immigration, citizenship and the welfare state in France. She will move to France this fall to begin research on her dissertation, focusing on local democracy, public housing allocation, and immigrant political movements in the southern port city of Marseille. Originally from southern California, she moved to the Bay area to attend Stanford University before beginning her graduate work in Michigan.


Our Jean Monnet FellowsImpact

Past Jean Monnet Fellows have completed their U-M doctorates and gone on to pursue careers in academia and business: Guntra Aistars (Natural Resources and Environment), University for Peace in Ciudad Colon, Costa Rica; Ron Alquist (economics), senior economist at the Bank of Canada; Olivier Coibion (economics), College of William and Mary; Lisa Fein (sociology), Westminster College; Raquel Vega-Duran (Romance languages and literatures), Claremont McKenna College; Minayo Nasiali (history) University of Arizona; and Mónica López-Lerma, researcher at the Centre of Excellence in Foundations of European Law and Polity, and editor of the Journal of Extreme Legal Positivism, University of Helsinki; Mariely López-Santana (political science), George Mason University;   Justin May (economics), College of William and Mary. Some have received prestigious awards, including Sarah Hamilton (history), 2010-11 U-M Student Fulbright Fellow; and Kenichi Ariga (political science), fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University.

During 2010-11 several past Jean Monnet fellows have defended their dissertations: Avraham Astor (sociology) “Mobilizing against Mosques: The Origins of Opposition to Islamic Centers of Worship in Spain.” Astor is currently a post-doctoral researcher at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain. Alexandra Gerber (sociology) “Being Polish/Becoming European: Gender and The Limits of Diffusion in Polish Accession to the European Union.” Emanuela Grama (anthropology/history), “Searching for Heritage Building Politics: Architecture, Archeology, and Imageries of Social Order in Romania (1947-2007).” Grama is currently the GE-NEC Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies, New Europe College. Susanne Unger (anthropology/screen arts and culture) “Cultivating Audiences: Filmbildung, Moral Education, and the Public Sphere in Germany.” Unger is currently an adjunct assistant professor at the College of William and Mary.