Past Dissertation Fellows

In 2014, the Pozen Center began awarding our annual Pozen Dissertation Completion Fellowship to a doctoral student whose work makes an important contribution to human rights scholarship. See below for more information about past Fellows. 

2019: Ann Heffernan (Political Science)

“Disability: A Democratic Dilemma”

Ann Heffernan’s work is situated at the intersection of contemporary political theory, feminist theory, and disability studies. During her time at the University, she taught in the Social Sciences Core, the Political Science Department, and Gender and Sexuality Studies. 

Heffernan’s dissertation brings disability studies into conversation with political theory by drawing upon the resources of feminist political theory, science and technology studies, and economic history. She is interested in the ways in which disability studies scholars and activists articulate claims to membership, and why these claims so often serve to reinforce the very structures and assumptions they are meant to oppose. A greater understanding of these dynamics as they play out within disability studies and activism will, she argues, have broader implications for the ways we think about citizenship and equality while also illuminating alternative avenues by which marginalized and excluded groups might achieve full membership.

2017: Erika Tschinkel (History)

“The Just Enemy in a Time of Terror and Conflict”

Erika Tschinkel’s dissertation is a timely and original investigation of the concept of the “just enemy” in European intellectual history. The “just enemy” was a term coined by the German jurist Carl Schmitt in the 1930s. It refers to the idea that conferring enemies with legitimacy and humanity can prevent violence and hatred. Tschinkel argues that the idea of a “just enemy” has actually been discussed since at least the 18th century, in times of war and peace alike. Her dissertation explores iterations of the “just enemy” in the work of theorists including Emer de Vattel, Kant, Hegel, Rousseau, and Derrida, as well as liberal thinkers such as John Rawls and Martha Nussbaum. Grounded in both history and political theory, Tschinkel’s work has the potential to make an important contribution to the history of international law as well as the history of human rights domestically and internationally.

Tschinkel was awarded the Pozen Dissertation Completion Fellowship because of her project’s compelling relevance to historical and contemporary debates about human rights. Her work is directly inspired by the observation that violations of human rights stem in part from characterizations of political opponents with dehumanizing or criminalizing rhetoric. “When we no longer see our enemies as fellow human beings, it stands to reason that we become more likely to commit violent or humiliating acts against them,” she argues. Her dissertation has the potential to shed light on how thinkers past and present have confronted the relationship between dehumanizing rhetoric and dehumanizing violence. The notion of the “just enemy” offers a counterpoint to such language that may serve as a starting point in contemporary efforts to reduce violence and protect human rights.

2016: Meghan Morris (Anthropology)

“Property in the Shadow of the Post-Conflict”

Meghan Morris’s dissertation offers an analysis of moral and legal claims-making in a situation of transitional justice in post-conflict Colombia. She argues that property restitution is, in the view of participants, one of the central indices of a return to peace.

Building on 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Urabà and Medellín, Colombia—as well as her earlier work as a human rights lawyer in the country—Morris examines land dispossession and restitution in Colombia. She focuses on the violated rights of persons displaced over many years of terror, paramilitary and guerilla violence, and narcotrafficking. Questions about land in conflict are explored through legal claims and judicial decisions, soil science, and economic speculation.

Her study asks important questions about the relationship between law and property, the nature of property-based violence, and how property can be legitimated in volatile circumstances in which possession and dispossession have long and violent histories.

2015: Michal Ran-Rubin (Anthropology)

“Blueprints of the Nation: Spaces of Rights, Violence, and Belonging in Palestine-Israel”

Michal’s dissertation is a study of the role that urban planning and management of the built environment have played in the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and of the corresponding turn by Palestinian activists to the city rather than the nation as the location for human rights politics.

Her dissertation, which draws on extensive ethnographic research among Israeli and Palestinian officials and political actors, makes a distinctive and important contribution to human rights scholarship, particularly in its attention to the ways in which—under challenging conditions of statelessness, pervasive destruction of the evidence of dispossession, and the failure of nationalist politics—human rights can be mobilized in new and generative ways.

2014: Ingu Hwang (History)

“Democracy in South Korea and Korean-American Relations in the 1970s”

Ingu’s dissertation explores democratization movements in South Korea during the 1970s as one of the most tangible but understudied cases in the global politics of human rights. It analyzes how domestic conflicts in South Korea concerning democratization became internationalized in the 1970s within the framework of the global upsurge of interest in human rights. In doing so, it highlights how South Korean democratic movements mobilized the language of human rights for democracy, thereby linking the local causes and movements to the transnational human rights campaigns.