Hire a Ph.D.

These doctoral candidates and recent Ph.D.s are on the job market now.



  • James Beneda

    James Beneda

    Dissertation:  An Institutional Approach to Traumatic Experience and Moral Injury: Tracing the Incoherent Narratives of the American Soldier's Service in Iraq (Ph.D. expected June 2016)

    Interests: War and political violence, modern political theory, narrative theory and cognitive sociology, American political development, political campaigns and media, automated content analysis and 'big data', writing pedagogy

    Broadly, my research addresses societal, institutional, and micro level contestation of ideas and political belief. I use both automated content analysis and more traditional discursive methods to explore the politicization of morality. I have been drawn to sociological approaches to cognition, memory, and emotion to understand the link between moral belief, moral action, and moral consequence - particularly the 'moral injuries' of traumatic experience. Beginning from Jonathan Shay's conception of Post-Traumatic Stress as moral injury, I argue that the epidemics of mental illness among war veterans are a result of the moral incoherence of wartime propaganda, 'traditional' values of the military institution, and narratives of patriotism and heroism in American popular culture. In other words, PTSD is not so much a product of violence, but of the politics of violence. In addition to the political and sociological study of war, my teaching interests include American political development, campaigns and new media, and modern political and social theory. I approach all of these subjects with an emphasis on the improvement of students' writing and rhetorical skills.

    Committee: Ronnie Lipschutz (Chair), Dan Wirls, Karen Bassi (Literature)


  • Steven Araujo

    Steven Araujo

    Dissertation: Bodies of Popular Power: Territorial Activism and Grassroots Control in Argentina (Ph.D. expected June 2017)

    Interests: Social movements and contentious politics, social and political theory, Latin American studies, Latino studies, Argentina.

    My research interests are at the intersection of political theory and social movements with an empirical focus on Latin America. In my dissertation, I analyze how two place-based social movements actively produce spaces of resistance as a means to challenge neoliberal fragmentation in Argentina. The first is a worker-recuperated enterprise and the second is an unemployed workers’ movement, both of which can trace their origins to the Latin American neoliberal hegemony of the late 1990s. Based on eighteen months of intensive ethnographic fieldwork, I analyze the production of space and the role of autogestión (self-management or grassroots control) in each of these sites, theorizing them as “territorial social movements.” I have taught in the Politics and the Latin American and Latino Studies departments at UCSC.  

    Committee: Megan Thomas (Chair), Kent Eaton, Deborah Gould (Sociology), Miriam Greenberg (Sociology)

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  • Anaïs Bowring

    Anaïs Miodek Bowring

    Dissertation: Why Is There No Right To Employment In America?: Liberal Limits On American Employment Policy, 1933-2000 (Ph.D. expected December 2015)

    Interests: public policy, social welfare and employment politics, American Political Development, liberal ideology and democratic theory, political inequality

    My research examines the intersection of political ideology and public policy within American political development. Public policy development provides a window into how ideology and democratic theory are translated into political practice, and their transformation over time. My dissertation looks at the course of employment policy development in America between the 1930s and 1990s and asks why government policies did not do more to ensure that there were enough jobs. Using case studies of executive branch employment policy planning from three key periods (the New Deal, the Great Society, and the Reagan Revolution), I show that America's liberal tradition created a boundary condition for employment policy that constrained employment policy development in the twentieth century. Since securing employment in America remains an individual rather than a government responsibility, labor market inadequacies often go unaddressed by national employment policies, and existing employment policies provide uneven levels of political and social inclusion. 

    Committee: Michael K. Brown (Chair), Eva Bertram, Daniel Wirls


  • Sandra Harvey

    Sandra Harvey

    Dissertation: Passing for Free, Passing for Sovereign: Blackness and the Formation of the Nation (Ph.D expected June 2017)

    Interests: Black and Native Feminisms, Histories of Diaspora, Enlightenment Thought, Abolitionism, Queer/Feminist of Color Methodologies

    Sandra’s scholarship investigates the production of race and gender through surveillance technologies originating in colonialism and chattel slavery. Her dissertation traces narratives of race/gender passing within science, settler colonial law, conceptual art, and Enlightenment philosophy.  It contextualizes accusations of race/gender passing in the U.S. as rooted in 19th century surveillance of fugitive slaves and entangled in the above institutions which manage the state’s biopolitical concerns.  In this way, she asks after the assumptions about blackness that emerge in the passing regime and how these might influence contemporary notions of freedom, sovereignty, the nation, and the citizen.

    Publication: Harvey, S. (2016). “The HeLa Bomb and the Science of Unveiling.” In: Nothing/more: Black studies and feminist technoscience [Special issue]. Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, and Technoscience, 2(2), 1-30

    Committee: Vanita Seth (Dissertation Advisor, Politics), Eric Porter (History of Consciousness & History), Marcia Ochoa (Chair of Feminist Studies), Herman Gray (Sociology), and Dean Mathiowetz (Politics)

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  • Don Kingsbury

    Donald V. Kingsbury

    Dissertation: State and Power after Neoliberalism in Bolivarian Venezuela (Ph.D. 2012)

    Interests: Political theory, Latin American politics, social movements, cultural studies, Marxism

    I am currently a Lecturer at the University of Toronto, teaching for both the Department of Political Science and the Latin American Studies Program. My work combines contemporary Political Theory, Social Movement Studies, and Political Economy with an emphasis on Latin America. My dissertation and current book project examine Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution as a complex, grassroots response to neoliberal structural adjustment in the 1980s and 1990s and socio-cultural and racial inequality. Drawing from ethnographic research, it intervenes in debates in political theory on the nature of citizenship, the nation-state, and the social contract while interrogating more recent conceptual innovations such as multitude, hegemony, governability, and populism in the light of ongoing social mobilization and transformation. I have taught extensively in the Department of Politics at UCSC, designing courses on Contemporary Political and Critical Thought, Liberalism and the War on Terror, Social Movement Studies, and Latin American Politics. My work has been published in Theory & Event, Historical Materialism, and New Political Science.

    Committee: Megan Thomas (Chair), Gopal Balakrishnan (History of Consciousness), Juan Poblete (Literature), Michael Urban


  • Jan Kotowski

    Jan Michael Kotowski

    Dissertation: The Discursive Construction of National Identities Through Narratives of Immigration in German and American Social Studies Textbooks (Ph.D. 2011)

    Interests: Comparative politics, nationalism, immigration, Germany, discourse analysis

    I am currently a Lecturer at the University of New Hampshire (Political Science). My research interests fall into the fields of comparative nationalism and migration studies, with a focus on European, German, and American politics. I am particularly interested in examining how national identities are connected to specific political questions and policy fields such as immigration policy and multiculturalism. In my research designs, I mainly follow the tradition of (critical) discourse analysis, which is concerned with examinations of language, knowledge, and narratives used by social actors in order to make sense of themselves and others in political and everyday contexts. I consider myself fortunate in my current position at UNH to be able to integrate my teaching with my research interests: my substantive areas of specialization—ethnicity, nationalism, immigration, and multiculturalism—articulate well with my pedagogical approach, in which inclusion and diversity are crucial elements, both in practical and theoretical terms.

    Committee: Michael Urban (Chair), Paul Frymer (Princeton), Donna Gabaccia (University of Minnesota), Ronnie Lipschutz


  • Claire Lyness

    Claire Lyness

    Dissertation: Terror, gender and the body: reading women's participation in political violence (Ph.D. 2015)

    Interests: Gender in international politics, postcolonial and feminist theory, politics of terrorism and counterterrorism, liberal governmentalities

    My research examines women's participation in three practices of political violence: suicide bombing, dirty protest and hunger striking. I consider how and why such practices are spectacularized in the Western political imaginary, entailing as they do the weaponization of feminine bodies more typically associated with care and nurture rather than destruction. In our contemporary moment, this weaponization is at odds with technological modes of warfare, such as the use of drones, which seek to exempt the body from the field of war. Following the interventions of feminist theorists in international relations, I examine how practices of terrorism and political violence, as well as the response of liberal states to such practices, are already entrenched in, and are productive of, gender relations. Looking at these different practices, I trace historical resonances between two geopolitical conflicts: the contemporary post-9/11 Global War on Terror and the period of conflict generally known as "the Troubles" in Northern Ireland. 

    Committee: Ronnie Lipschutz (Chair), Vanita Seth, Anjali Arondekar (Feminist Studies)


  • Omid Mohamadi

    Omid Mohamadi

    Dissertation:  Modernity, Secularism, and the Political in Iran (Ph.D. expected June 2016)

    Interests:  Iran, postcolonial and feminist theory, the geopolitics of Islam, social movements

    My research focuses on the complex relationship between secularism and religion in Iran following the revolution in 1979.  More specifically, I explore various social movements and political moments in contemporary Iran that confound equally the categories of religiosity and secularism.  The sites I focus on include the Iranian women’s movement and the One Million Signatures Campaign, the politics of time informing the 2009 post-election uprising, and the role of art in constituting the public sphere.  Rooted in recent theoretical critiques of secularism by postcolonial scholars, my dissertation uses these sites to explore socio-political imaginaries that offer alternative, and sometimes conflicting, futures for Iran and the entanglement of secularism and religion more broadly.

    Committee: Vanita Seth (Chair), Megan Thomas, Anjali Arondekar (Feminist Studies), Minoo Moallem (University of California, Berkeley)


  • Shawn Nichols

    Shawn Nichols

    Dissertation: Trading Accountability: An Analysis of the Origin and Consequences of the Investor-State Regime (Ph.D. 2013)

    Interests: Global politics, international relations, international political economy, international development, comparative politics

    My research interests are rooted in international political economy. Focusing on the political economy of free trade and investment treaties, my dissertation provides a two-part analysis. It begins with an investigation of the factors leading to the inclusion of investor-state provisions in the North American Free Trade Agreement and subsequent agreements. It then analyzes the consequences of the development of this regime on the evolving boundaries of regulatory takings and property rights. Drawing on extensive interviews and case documents detailing tribunal rulings, I integrate an analysis of the structural features of global capitalism with that of the ideological and institutional features that enabled the transnationally-oriented business community to secure its demands over those of opposition groups, and argue that the regime represents the commodification of the regulatory environment. I have a broad range of teaching experience, including Global Politics, International Relations, Comparative Politics, Legal Studies, and American Politics.

    Committee: Kent Eaton (Chair), Jan Knippers-Black (Monterey Institute of International Studies), Ronnie Lipschutz, Daniel Wirls


  • Licia Peck

    Licia Peck

    Dissertation: Carbon Chains: An Elemental Ethnography (Ph.D. expected fall 2016)

    Interests: Climate Change, Environmental Political Theory, Global Environmental Politics, Discourse Analysis, Science and Technology Studies, Politics of the Anthropocene, Interdisciplinary Inquiry

    My research seeks to explain the frustrating and seemingly intractable status quo of climate change politics. My dissertation proposes an explanation for the political quagmire of climate change that is rooted in the cooptation of “carbon” and its enrollment into the “depoliticization” of climate change. Through a mixed-methodology of discourse analysis and multi-sited ethnography, the dissertation examines climate change discourse/s, focusing on the implications of “carbon’s” centrality. I find that efforts to control “carbon” assume and reinforce reductive approaches to what is to be done regarding the climate problem, resulting in a dominant discourse that emphasizes “rational” attribution of responsibility, frames the climate problem as a technical engineering project more so than a social-political project, and assumes that progressive “mastery” of knowledge will lead to a solution. I argue that the effect of this carbon-based discourse is to perpetuate a climate “anti-politics” in which technocratic and market-based “carbon management” approaches dominate, regardless of their (in)effectiveness, which reduces climate “politics” largely to statements of support for more and better technocratic and market-based carbon projects.

    Committee: Ronnie Lipschutz (chair), Ben Read, Andrew Mathews (Anthropology)


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    H. Lavar Pope

    Dissertation: Internal Colonization and Revolt: Rap as an Underground Political Discourse in Oakland, CA from 1965-2010 (Ph.D. 2012)

    Interests: American political development, race, class, media, methods in political ethnography

    My research specialization is in race within late 20th and early 21st century American Political Development, with particular expertise on how subjugated populations within inner-cities use emerging technologies to develop, communicate, and apply localized forms of political power. My research focuses on the politics of the Oakland, CA underground rap music scene in the aftermath of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense’s COINTELPRO-led demise. Meanwhile, my current teaching includes American Government, Introduction to Political Science, and two specially designed courses based on my research. One course, “Political Insurrection and American Government,” provides a rich political history of the formation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and its range of targets throughout the 20th century. A second course, “Power, Rap Music, and Urban America” explores the local development(s) of underground rap music following the destruction of Black Power Organizations.

    Committee: Michael K. Brown (Chair), Eric Porter (History), Dan Wirls


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    Jasmine Syedullah

    Dissertation: Impositions of a slave girl abolitionism: a political theory of Harriet Jacobs's praxis of emancipation (Ph.D. 2014)

    Interests: Marxian critical theory, queer/feminist of color methodologies, critical race and ethnic studies, abolitionist aesthetics, afrofuturism

    My dissertation theorizes a "slave girl" politics of abolitionist emancipation inspired by Harriet Jacobs and her Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself. Speculatively read, I argue that there is something akin to freedom in her authoring a story of escape with no guarantees. In Incidents Jacobs enacts a radical and precarious practice of escape, friendship, and freedom that marks the largely disembodied enlightenment discourses of emancipatory desire central to the Western liberal tradition with the polemics of her own struggle. My return to Jacobs theorizes her work before, during and after the Civil War as an embodied fugitive analytic of abolitionism that refuses the domestic order of the plantation and in so doing advances not only the end of slavery but a politics of national liberation all its own.

    Committee: Robert Meister (Chair), Bettina Aptheker (Feminist Studies), Gina Dent (Feminist Studies), and Mayanthi Fernando (Anthropology)