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 in Europe or Eurasia. Click here for more information about the fellowships and Emerging Democracies Graduate Workshop.
WCED Emerging Democracies Graduate Workshop students with
U.S. Ambassador to Russia, John Beyrle
WCED Graduate Fellows, 2013-14
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 and was the recipient of a doctoral scholarship from the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes in 2013. Cristian’s research focuses on the cultural, political, and socio-economical effects of transnational human rights regimes from the 1970s to the early 1990s with a emphasis on Romania. His work studies the prevalence of human rights ideas in exile, dissent, global mass media, humanitarian aid, and international NGOs; and explores how the transnational framework of human rights participated in the post-communist transformation in Romania.
Colleen Fitzharris is a dual-degree student in REES and Law. She is interested in issues involving free speech, police misconduct, and juries in Russia and countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States. She intends to examine the impact of juries in these countries, and explore how countries that do not have jury trials can implement the right to jury trial within their legal system. Before beginning her degree, Colleen lived and worked in Moscow.
Eoin Power is a first-year M.A. student in REES. He is interest in the role of national and supranational institutions in democratization, the ethics of humanitarian intervention, and international finance in South East Europe and the Balkans. He interned in the public affairs section of the U.S. Embassy in Ljubljana as an undergraduate. Eoin graduated with a B.A. in political science and philosophy from Middlebury.
Pietro Shakarian is a first-year M.A. student in REES. He is interested in expanding knowledge on Armenia in the Soviet and post-Soviet eras in the English language. Specifically, he is interested in examining dissident and civil society movements in Armenia during this period, including the Soviet-era dissident movement, the environmental movement, the Mkhitar Sebastatsi Educational Complex in Yerevan, and anti-Soviet protest in the Syunik region. He is also interested in the culture of Russia and the former USSR, especially literature and film. Pietro received his BA in history at John Caroll University and an MLIS in special collections and preservation from Kent State University.
Adrian Deoanca is a first-year doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology. His research interests focus on the transformations of postsocialist societies in Central and Eastern Europe with an emphasis on Romania and Russia. In particular, he studies how the postsocialist developments of rail infrastructure and rail industry express the transformations of state, mobility, and workers' culture. Adrian holds an M.A.in Anthropology from the Bucharest-based National School of Governance and an M.A. in Nationalism Studies from Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. He is also trained in journalism (B.A., Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj, Romania), and has worked for several years as a professional journalist for various Romanian newspapers and magazines.
Rebecca Dulemba is a first-year M.A. student in REES. Her research focuses on the formation of and mainstreaming of extremist social formations, particularly political parties, in Central and Southeast Europe and the role of cultural memory and religion in these groups. She is interested in the ways that visual culture and youth culture intersect with politics and extremism. Rebecca has studied and researched in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland. She received a B.A. in Slavic and East European Studies from Ohio State University.
Evan Fralin is a first-year M.A. student in REES. He plans to research the transition to capitalism in Russia and the role of the state and society in making capitalism work in Russia. Evan taught himself Russian from old textbooks and internet resources. He holds a B.A. in music and French from Virginia Commonwealth University and an M.A. in public and international affairs from Virginia Tech.
Reina Saco is a first-year M.A. student in REES. Her areas of interest are history, geography, linguistics, and ethnic studies. While an undergraduate, she was president of the Russian Club and organized cultural and educational events. Reina’s undergraduate honors thesis focused on religious influences on the Stars Wars films and religions that have developed as a result of the series. She graduated with a B.A. in English literature and Russian from the University of South Florida in Tampa.
Benjamin Sweeney is a REES M.A. student. He is interested in social aid distribution and the interplay of this aid with political and social development in former Soviet states, specifically in the Caucasus and Central Asia. During the 2011-12 academic year, he studied Georgian language in Georgia on a Boren Fellowship. Before coming to U-M, Ben was a Fulbright fellow to Georgia in the field of political science. His research focused on pensions, targeted social assistance, and aid especially to those displaced in the conflicts in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Eugene Bondarenko is a first-year REES MA student. He is interested in the evolution of interethnic relations in the former Soviet Union, with a focus on Ukraine, Western Russia, Belarus, Moldova, and the Baltic States. He has conducted an oral history project in Ukraine on interethnic relations in post-Stalinist political prison camps. He holds a BA in history and Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies from the University of Michigan.
Dustin Gamza is a first year doctoral student in the Department of Political Science. His research interests include the influence of religion and nationalism in post-communist states, particularly how each has affected intra-state conflict. He is also interested in how electoral systems may be used to moderate ethnic and religious conflict in new democracies, and how religious resurgence and religious politics influence elections and policy outcomes in Eastern European and Central Asian nation-states. Dustin holds a BA from Duke University, where he studied Political Science. He also attended the London School of Economics, where he studied Government and Russian while working on the 2010 British General Election as a parliamentary candidate’s campaign aide.
Frank Hennick is a first-year REES MA student. Before beginning his graduate work in Ann Arbor, Frank worked for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Macedonia, where he studied the Macedonian language and developed an academic curiosity about the Balkans. His interests are anchored in nationalism, nostalgia, and attitudes toward Ottoman history in the ex-Yugoslav countries and Turkey. Frank received a BA in history from the University of Wisconsin.
Matthew Parelman is a dual-degree student in REES and Law. He studied for two years in St. Petersburg, first on study abroad and most recently as a Fulbright research fellow. Matthew is interested in the role of law in the development of democratic institutions, and is currently researching the influence of Russian Constitutional Court decisions on the separation of powers. Matthew graduated from the George Washington University with a BA in Russian Language and Literature and International Affairs.
Brendan Reardon is a dual-degree student in REES and public policy. Before his arrival at the University of Michigan, Brendan served for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kazakhstan. During those two years, Brendan learned about Russian and Central Asian political, social, and economic issues following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He also learned Russian and Kazakh. Now that he is back in the United States, Brendan intends to explore ongoing democratization throughout the former Soviet Union, with particular focus on the role of opposition parties in this process. Prior to his Peace Corps service, Brendan received his BA in history from Northwestern University.
Anna Whittington is a first-year doctoral student in the Department of History, focusing on Soviet identity in the post-Stalin period, particularly in Central Asia. Prior to coming to Michigan, she received her AB in History from Harvard University and an MA in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies from Stanford (2011). She has held internships at human rights organizations in Moscow and St. Petersburg and in the Political-Economic section at US Embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan, where she focused on human rights and child labor policy.
Mary (Kathleen) Wroblewski is a first-year doctoral student in history. Her research looks at liberalism, migration, and citizenship in Eastern Europe and the United States. In particular, she is interested in the global intellectual networks that influenced ideas about nationalism, law, and educational policy in Poland and the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She holds graduate degrees in education (MA, University of Michigan); law (JD, Indiana University); and history (MA, Indiana University). She has a BA in history is from the University of Michigan.
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.
Adriana Chira is a doctoral student in the joint PhD program in anthropology and history. Her research will focus on the redefinition of political representation and mobilization through the use of new visual media and social networking technologies, as used by activist networks and citizen-journalists in Cuba and former socialist countries of Eastern Europe. She plans to explore how new forms of political mobilization are connected to the decentralization of journalistic expertise. Adriana will address this question both ethnographically and through the lens of historical material by exploring amateur and professional documentary film-making traditions that were developed across the transnational space of socialism before 1989. Born and raised in Romania, Adriana graduated from the University of Cambridge (U.K.) with a BA in archaeology and anthropology, and then obtained an MA in anthropology from Cornell University.
Jessica Fisher is a dual-degree student in REES and public policy. As a result of spending over three years volunteering for the Peace Corps and then working in Ukraine, Jessica is eager to improve her understanding of the Ukrainian nation, its people, language, and current policy challenges. She is particularly interested in researching the creation and implementation of international and domestic policy throughout the former Soviet Union aimed at spurring economic growth, and the effect it has on strengthening democratic society and governance. Jessica received her BA in history from Northwestern University and served in the Peace Corps before beginning graduate study.
Lavrentia Karamaniola is a doctoral student in sociocultural anthropology, who previously studied the Balkans while in an interdisciplinary program in Greece. In her MA thesis, she researched the Internet and the way the condition of post-socialism interacts with technology and free expression through the practice of blogging. In her doctoral research, Lavrentia plans to continue her research on Romania by extending her current research on blogging. Alternately, she may conduct research on other ‘sites’, such as the business world, the flow of capital, various types of tourism, visual technologies like advertising, or various patterns of consumption. The basic inspiration to her work has been the theoretical scheme of ‘multi-sited’ anthropological research. Lavrentia’s broader interests include the way that post-socialism interacts with notions like globalization, democracy, and civil society; or the ways of remembering and forgetting, and she is also interested in the flexibility of modernity and post-modernity as conceptual categories.
Maria Smith is a dual degree student in REES and public policy. Before coming to the University of Michigan, Maria spent two years with the Peace Corps in Azerbaijan, where she learned about regional issues and studied Russian and Azeri. She is now interested in studying the history and politics of the former Soviet Union, particularly in the Caucasus and Central Asia, and plans to return to the region to work. Maria earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame in the Program of Liberal Studies.
Milena Tercheva is an MA student in REES. She is interested in the parallel post-communist development of Bulgaria and the Russian Federation, and the impact of this on the subsequent integration of Bulgaria into the EU. She plans to study the lessons of transition in Bulgaria and other countries of the former Eastern Bloc. Milena graduated from the College of New Rochelle with a BA in international relations.
Ryan Voogt is an MA student in REES and is interested in the history, culture, current events, and geopolitical issues of Russia and Eastern Europe as a whole. More narrowly, his focus is on Hungary and Romania, having volunteered in those countries. He plans to study the history of socialism in the entire region, conflicts between peoples, and current trends. Ryan has a BS in civil engineering from Calvin College, and has done coursework in Russian history, literature, and culture at Michigan State University.
Ryan Aiken is an M.A. student in Russian and East European Studies at the University of Michigan. His main research interests are Russia/U.S. and Russia/EU bilateral relationships, with special emphasis on questions of Russian democratization efforts and energy security and the manner in which Russia employs its hydrocarbon resources as instruments of foreign policy. Prior to enrolling at U-M, Ryan served for five years in the United States Marine Corps and worked for three years as a Legislative Assistant to the late U.S. Representative Tom Lantos.
Aleksandar Boskovic is a Ph.D. student in Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan. Before coming to U-M, he received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Belgrade in Serbia, where he studied at the Department of Serbian and South Slavic Literatures and Department of Comparative Literature and Literary Theory. His research interests include South Slavic and Russian literature of the 20th century, Yugoslav and East European cinema, poststructuralist theories of literature and art, and interdisciplinary studies.
Jessica Fisher is a dual-degree M.P.P./M.A. student in the Ford School of Public Policy and CREES at the University of Michigan. Having spent over three years volunteering and then working in Ukraine, she is committed to doing research on strengthening democracy and promoting development within this nation. She is also interested in studying the creation and implementation of international and domestic policy throughout the former Soviet Union aimed at spurring economic growth and the effect this has on strengthening democratic society and governance. Her particular focus is to understand how active membership in nongovernmental organizations can positively influence the establishment of strong democratic principles within society. As part of her research, she plans to study initiatives involving the younger generations of Ukraine and Russia in the process of democratization, including social, economic, and political development.
Kirill Kalinin is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on different aspects of Russian politics: electoral behavior, Russian party system, political cleavages, electoral falsifications, and Russian nationalism in elites and masses. Before enrolling in this doctoral program, he was a Fulbright and Carnegie visiting scholar at the Center for Political Studies at U-M’s Institute for Social Research. He received his M.A. in Political Science from European University at St. Petersburg (2005) and M.A. in Public Management from Volgograd Academy of Public Administration (2003).
Nevila Pahumi is a first-year doctoral student in the Department of History at the University of Michigan. Born in Albania, she moved to the United States over ten years ago and completed undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan, majoring in history and German. Coming out of the nationalist milieu of the Balkans, she is interested in researching identity politics and formation, particularly among the various minorities in Albania, Macedonia, and Kosovo. Other interests include 19th-century Ottoman Empire and the Mediterranean.
Milena Tercheva is an M.A. student in Russian and East European Studies at the University of Michigan. Her work thus far includes research on emerging democracies in Eastern Europe after the fall of communism with a focus on Bulgaria, international legal integration in Europe, and the consequences of previous authoritarian rule on EU enlargement. She is interested in Eastern European democratic governance and European integration and is currently doing research on EU efforts to develop common defense structures in the context of EU-NATO relations.