Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Affiliated Graduate Students

Africana Studies

Wilton Schereka

Wilton Schereka is a graduate of the University of the Western Cape, the alma mater of his parents who were both the first in their families to attend university. He obtained a Master of Arts in History, an Honors degree in English literature, a certificate in English and History education, and a Bachelor of Arts in English and History. A Cape Town native, he has been involved in music in various roles, from spending 5 years as a drummer of a local band, Fingers In The Sky, as a DJ with the moniker Big Gay Rainbow, and as music scout for a local label, capeclub. His academic interests include black radical philosophy, the movement of philosophies between Africa's diasporas and the continent, aurality, sound, music, and visions of the postcolonial moment. He is currently interested in dub music and Caribbean philosophy and the possibilities made available by reading the two in relation.

Melaine Ferdinand-King

Melaine Ferdinand-King is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Africana Studies and 2019-2020 Mellon Graduate Fellow in the Collaborative Humanities. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Spelman College, where she concentrated in Women’s Studies and African Diaspora & the World. Her research interests include Black radical thought, Black feminist theory, and visual and performance art. She is currently exploring the role the arts play in creating new political visions and histories for people of African descent in Latin America and the impact race, gender, and sexual identity have on the operation of power and resistance.

Nasir Marumo

Nasir Marumo is a “rap-ademic” from New Orleans, Louisiana and a second-year doctoral student in the Africana Studies Department at Brown. He received his B.A. in Afro-American Studies from Smith College and his M.A. in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a graduate certificate in African Diaspora Studies. Nasir interested broadly in the fields of black popular culture, black political thought, and Caribbean Studies, especially in thinking about how culture becomes revolt. His research maps migrations of performances of "badness" in post-slave societies and employs a cultural studies approach to investigate the ways these “bad” personas have been reconstituted in the neoliberal context. Nasir also produces The Rap Scholars Podcast, which explores contemporary black youth culture through curated dialogue. 

Alexandria Miller-CLACS

Alexandria Miller is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Africana Studies. She earned a B.A. with distinction in African & African American Studies and History from Duke University. Before graduate school, Alexandria served as a College Advisor with the Duke College Advising Corps. and as a Research Associate at the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity. Her research interests include social movements, Black Feminism, Caribbean performance art and music, and Afro-Jamaican women’s protest. Her current research explores the history of Jamaican reggae and contemporary music culture and activism.


Daiana Rivas-Tello

Daiana Rivas-Tello is a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology. She received her B.A. in Archaeology and Latin American Studies from the University of Toronto in 2013. In 2016, she completed her M.A. in Anthropology from McMaster University. Her work focuses on the Early Colonial period in the Andes and examines the relationship between memory, identity and crafting practices. By combining archaeological, archival and ethnographic methods, she aims to trace the transformation and continuities of Andean social landscapes and pottery production, highlighting the persistence of Indigenous knowledge.

Ben Salinas

Ben Salinas is a graduate student in the Anthropology department at Brown University. His interests lie in representations of Indigenous identity through hip hop. Specifically, he is interested in the use of indigenous or native languages in rap, as well as representations of environment/human relationships in video and sound. Ben graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Cornell University in 2018 where he studied with ethnomusicologist Catherine Appert as a Mellon-Mays Fellow. At Brown, he hopes to expand his research to look at the politics of indigenous language rap movements and its effects across Latin America.

Lauren E. Deal is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology specializing in linguistic and sociocultural anthropology. She is also a graduate fellow for the 2018-2019 Mellon-Sawyer Seminar on Race and Indigeneity in the Americas. She received her BA in anthropology from George Washington University. Her dissertation research examines ideas of race, indigeneity, and identity in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Specifically, it examines how Argentines of European descent engage in projects of indigenous linguistic and cultural revival to consider the politics of appropriation and the meanings of whiteness in Latin America. She has previously conducted research in Buenos Aires on language and music in protest, and the language of Opera pedagogy.


Joshua T. Schnell is a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology. His research outlines a culture of oral care among the Classic period Maya and seeks to broaden traditional understandings of Maya dentistry primarily by engaging with osteological evidence for therapeutic and hygienic practices. This work is part of his broader interest in ancient Maya healthcare and healing practices. As an archaeologist and biological anthropologist, he is particularly concerned with the biocultural aspects of health in the past, including the spatiality of healing, the patient-practitioner relationship, the biosocial nature of medicinal practices, as well as the biological indicators of disease and trauma. He has conducted field work in Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico. 

Harper Dine is a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology. She earned her BA in Anthropology and Spanish from the University of Miami in 2017. Her research focuses on social aspects of food, human-plant relationships, and agriculture in the Maya lowlands as well as overarching questions about food security and diet change over time. She has also participated in archaeological fieldwork in Puerto Rico and Florida.

Picture of Morgan Clark, CLACS graduate student affiliate

Morgan Clark is a doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology. She is particularly interested in the designations of animation expressed in ancient Maya art, architecture, grammar, and hieroglyphic variation. She completed her BA in Anthropology, Linguistics, and English at The University of Texas at Austin, during which time she conducted archaeological fieldwork in Texas and Belize. While studying at Brown, she will begin archaeological fieldwork in Guatemala.

Adelaida Tamayo is a doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology. She is researching military murders of civilians in Colombia, and how mothers of victims are advocating for justice. She is especially interested in using collaborative visual methods in her research.

Archaeology and the Ancient World

Miriam Rothenberg is a doctoral student at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World. She holds a B.A. in anthropology and archaeological studies from Oberlin College (2012) and an M.A. in archaeology from Durham University (2014). Miriam’s current research focuses on the archaeology of volcanic disasters, with her primary case study being the current eruptive episode of the Soufrière Hills Volcano on the island of Montserrat. Her dissertation will look at the effects of this traumatic event by studying the abandoned settlements on the edge of the now unhabitable ‘Exclusion Zone’, how these sites persist in Montserratians’ cultural memory, and how the Exclusion Zone’s landscapes have been used – often illicitly – since the beginning of the eruption in 1995.

Comparative Literature

Andrés Emil González

Andrés Emil González is a Ph.D. student in Comparative Literature from New Haven, Connecticut via Puerto Rico. He holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature and Politics from Oberlin College, as well as an M.A. in Spanish from Middlebury College. His interests include Narratology, the study of convention and common sense in horror literature and film, and politics in digital storytelling. He has previously researched the home as a site of horror in Latin America and the United States, film and literary links between Latin America and East Asia, and conventions regarding race in modern horror media from and depicting the Caribbean. 

Brendan Lambert is a Ph.D. student in Comparative Literature. He holds an A.B. in Classics from Kenyon College, where he also completed an interdisciplinary program in Humanities. His current interests include 20th Century Latin American narrative, aesthetics and politics, critical theory, and literary translation. His research has been enriched by travel throughout Mexico and the Southern Cone, including an immersive program completed during the summer of 2016 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Mariajosé Rodríguez Pliego is a Ph.D. student in Comparative Literature from Monterrey, México. She holds a B.A. in Economics and English from Wellesley College. Her interests include 20th and 21st-century Latin American fiction with a focus on digital humanities, computational linguistics and indigenous studies. She is also interested in translation theory and the relationship between globalization and the translation and distribution of Western literature in Latin America. 



Graduate Affiliated with CLACS

Santiago Hermo is a Ph.D. student in Economics at Brown University. He is interested in applied microeconomics in general, with a focus on issues relating to human capital and labor markets. He has studied the determinants of relative wages and inequality in Argentina, work for which he was awarded the Young Researcher Award 2017 of the Argentinian Association of Economic Policy (AAEP). He has worked as a consultant for the National Institute of Agricultural Technology in Argentina (INTA), in a project analyzing the determinants of innovation in agriculture. He obtained his BA at Universidad de Buenos Aires and his MA at Universidad del CEMA (both in Argentina).

Graduate Affiliated with CLACS

Emilia Brito is a Ph.D. student in the Economics Department. She specializes in public economics and labor economics. Her research uses applied microeconomics methods to study gender inequalities in education, labor markets, and health. Her current projects include gender differences in educational expectations, role-model effects in male-dominated fields in academia, and sexual harassment in universities and in work environments. She holds a Master's and Bachelor's degree in Economics from Universidad de Chile.

 Juan Pedro Ronconi

Juan Pedro Ronconi is a Ph.D. student in Economics at Brown University. His research interests include topics in comparative development and applied microeconomics. He is currently studying regional differences in disease burden as a determinant of the long-term orientation of individuals around the world. He is also working on a project about contraceptive access and religiosity during the second half of the 20th century. In the past, he has studied the role played by labor unions on the evolution of income inequality in Argentina in the aftermath of the 2001 economic crisis. He obtained his BA at Universidad de San Andres (Argentina) and his MA at CEMFI (Spain).

Diego Passaro grad student

Diego Gentile Passaro is a Ph.D. student in the Economics Department specializing in Applied Microeconomics, Policy Evaluation, and Data Sciences. My interests include Labor, Health, and Urban Economics. My current work explores the effects of improved access to safe abortion on the labor market and health outcomes both in Uruguay and the United States; the labor market effects of internal migration due to Hurricane Katrina, and the rise and fall of railroad infrastructure in South America. Before arriving at Brown, I was an undergraduate student at Universidad de la República (Uruguay), a Master student in Urban Economics at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella (Argentina), and a Master student in Economics of Public Policy at Barcelona Graduate School of Economics (Spain).

Hispanic Studies

Ethel Barja is a Ph. D. student from Peru. She holds a BA in Hispanic Literature from Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru (2011) and received her M.A. in Hispanic Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago (2015). Her areas of interest include comparative and philosophical approaches to literature, literary translation, literary theory, and the construction of Hispano-American modern poetics in both 20th centuries Latin American fiction and poetry in regard to the appropriation of avant-garde ideas and the Iberian literary tradition.

Maria Florencia Chiaramonte is a Ph.D. student from Mar del Plata, Argentina. She holds a professorship in literature from Mar del Plata National University. Her broad interests include 19th and 20th Centuries Latin American narrative and film, as well as the role of fictional means toward understanding the history and politics of the region. Recently, she has been researching the representation of subalternity in 19th Century Latin American texts, with a focus on the representation of the indigenous people from the southern "frontier" in Argentina. Her main interests in the 19th Century look into matters of race, gender, and sexuality.

Mateo Díaz Choza is a Ph.D. student from Lima, Peru. He holds a B.A. in Peruvian and Latin American Literature from Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos. His current interests include 20th and 21th Century Latin American Narrative, as well as the relationship between religious discourse, utopia, fundamentalism, and fiction.

Mai Hunt s originally from Boston. She received her B.A. in Romance Languages and Literatures from Harvard University. After graduating, she spent two years in Madrid working with the Fulbright Program. Her interests include intergenerational narratives of trauma, memory, and inheritance in Spain and Latin America. Her dissertation studies contemporary family narratives of the internal armed conflict in Colombian literature and film. 

Regina Pieck Pressly is a graduate student in Hispanic Studies at Brown University. She has an M.A. in Hispanic Studies from Boston College and an LL.M. from Harvard. She studied Law in Mexico and worked there in several institutions. Her academic work on the writing by women of Latin America, with a focus on Mexico and Latinx writers in the U.S., is at the intersection between ecocriticism, new materialisms, and feminism. She is currently working on a project focused on the “textures” of the subterranean as written by women authors of Mexico and the Latinx world. 

Tess Renker

Tess Renker is a PhD student in Hispanic Studies originally from the seacoast of New Hampshire. She holds B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of New Hampshire, where she studied Latin American literature. After completing her M.A., Tess spent a year in Quito, Ecuador working as a Princeton in Latin America Fellow at an organization that combats urban child labor. Her research centers on the analysis of literature and film from the Andes, with a particular focus on questions of political violence, migration and indigeneity. 


Thamyris Almeida

Thamyris Almeida is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of history. Her dissertation focuses on the history of Brazilian television from its inauguration in 1950 through the Brazilian military dictatorship. She is particularly interested in popular and intellectual discourses regarding television’s place in Brazilian society during a moment of political transition. Though originally from Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, her family immigrated to Massachusetts in 1998.

Marina Adams

Marina Dias Lucena Adams is a doctoral student in the History Department. She holds a B.A in History and Gender Studies from The College of Wooster and an A.M. in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies from Brown University. Her research focuses on expanding the political history of women in Brazil with a particular interest in the 1964-1985 Brazilian military dictatorship and the intersections of gender and authoritarianism. She is a founding member and National Organizer of the U.S. Network for Democracy in Brazil and currently manages Opening the Archives: Documenting U.S.-Brazil Relations.

Fernando Norat is an upcoming third-year Ph.D. student in Caribbean History at Brown. The focus of his work revolves around the cultural relations between Cuba and the Soviet Union and the unforeseen consequences of their interactions. He is from Puerto Rico, where he did my undergraduate degree at the University of Puerto Rico in History and studied Russian. He's also an illustrator and is currently working on two projects regarding visual representations of pan-Caribbean scenes, and other illustrating local stories of all municipalities in Puerto Rico. 

Augusta (Guta) da Silveira de Oliveira is a doctoral student in the History Department. She holds both a M.A. and B.A. in History from Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) in Brazil, where she studied women's representation in politics and transgender social movements. In 2013, she spent a semester at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), in Argentina, on a Asociación de Universidades Grupo Montevideo (AUGM) fellowship. She is a Fulbright-CAPES PhD fellow and is currently studying lesbian sociabilities with a focus on twentieth-century Brazil.

Luiz Paulo

Luiz Paulo Ferraz is a doctoral student and teaching assistant in the History Department. He holds both a B.A. and M.A. in History from the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (Brazil), with a period of study at the Universidad de Sevilla (Spain). His research focuses on Indigenous struggles for rights, land, and the state recognition of indigenous identity in the Brazilian northeast during the military dictatorship (1964 - 1985). His interests also include Indigenous history in Colonial and Modern Latin America and international activism in favor of indigenous peoples in Brazil in the twentieth century. He also co-founded the public history project "História ao Ar Livre" and the NGO SomosProfessores.org.

Stephanie Wong

Stephanie Wong is an educator, writer, and PhD student of Latin American history. After studying Classics, Spanish, and East Asian Studies as an undergraduate at Loyola University Chicago, she now studies material connections between Asia and the Americas in the early modern period. Other research interests include global empire, classical reception, and engaged scholarship.


Luis Achondo is a Ph.D. candidate and Fulbright scholar from Chile. He holds a B.A. and an M.A. in Music from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and an M.A. in Ethnomusicology from Brown. His doctoral project examines Latin American soccer fandom from a transnational perspective. A multi-sited ethnography, Luis’s dissertation explores the intersection of sound, violence, and media among Chilean, Argentine, and Latinx supporters.

Affiliated grad student - Alexander Hardan

Alexander F. Hardan is a Ph.D candidate in Musicology and Ethnomusicology at Brown University. Broadly, Hardan works on Russian musical pedagogy in Cuba during the Cold War. He focuses on the transnational dissemination of "national sounds" produced by Soviet-Cuban cultural and pedagogical exchange and the subsequent effects of this exchange on ideas of post-revolutionary Cuban identity and nationhood. Outside of the Cold War, he is also interested in performance and queer studies, namely the intersections of gendered performative choreographies and displays of instrumental virtuosity. Originally from Miami, FL and of Lebanese descent, he holds a Bachelor of Music and a Master of Music in Violin Performance, as well as a Master of music in Musicology from the Peabody Conservatory of John Hopkins University.

Political Science


Hannah Baron is a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate in Political Science. Her research examines policing, vigilantism, and justice attitudes in contexts of high crime and weak rule of law, with a focus on Latin America. Her collaborative work on these topics includes in-depth qualitative interviews, a lab-in-the-field experiment, and an original dataset, in progress, on contemporary lynchings in Mexico. She co-coordinates the Democratic Erosion consortium with Professor Rob Blair, which spans over 50 universities on multiple continents and combines research, teaching and civic engagement related to democratic backsliding and resilience. She earned a BA in Romance Languages & Literatures and Studies of Women, Gender, & Sexuality from Harvard College, magna cum laude.   

Cyril Bennouna is a Ph.D. student in comparative politics and international relations. His research focuses on the causes of political and interpersonal violence in low- and middle-income countries and on the management of forced migration. He has previously held senior research positions at the Program on Forced Migration and Health at Columbia University, the CPC Learning Network, the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, and the Center on Child Protection and Wellbeing at the University of Indonesia. He has a Master’s in Public Health from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s in Brain, Behavior, and Cognitive Science from the University of Michigan.

Portuguese and Brazilian Studies

Photo of Pedro Almeida

Pedro Almeida is a doctoral student and teaching assistant in the Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies and holds a Mellon Graduate Fellowship in Collaborative Humanities (2018–2019) with the Cogut Institute at Brown. His research focuses on issues of representation, identity, transnationalism, and coloniality in Brazil, Portugal, and Angola through travel writing and photography from the late nineteenth to early twentieth century. The development and appropriation of the ideas of speed, temporalities, and connectedness are paramount to his work. Almeida’s interests also include environmental studies, literary theory, and intellectual history, as well as Portuguese and Brazilian cinema.

Photo of Alexsandro Menez

Alexsandro Menez is a Ph.D. student at the Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies. He received his B.A. in History from the Faculdade Porto-alegrense, both Postbaccalaureate in Brazilian Literature and M.A. in History from the Pontíficia Universidade Católica do the Rio Grande do Sul. He also holds an M.A. in Literary Studies from the Universidade Federal de Santa Maria. His interests are la Historia Intelectual Latinoamericana, Brazilian regionalisms, Latin American urbanism in the late 19th century, and cultura gauchesca. Currently, his research focuses on the nation and nationalism, with emphasis on historiography, criticism, and fiction from Brazil and Portugal during the 19th and 20th centuries.

headshot of jordan jones

Jordan Jones is a PhD student in Portuguese & Brazilian Studies and an MA student in Hispanic Studies. Originally from Texas, he received a BA in English and Portuguese from Brigham Young University in 2014. He also completed an MA in Luso-Brazilian Literatures at  BYU (2015) and an MEd in secondary English education at Johns Hopkins University (2017). His research interests include contemporary literature and human rights, translation and comparative studies, and reader-response theory.

Karyn de Paula Mota is a Brazilian journalist, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies at Brown University, and is also pursuing a Master's degree in the Department of Africana Studies through the Open Graduate Education Program. She completed the Certificate in Afro-Latin American Studies offered by the Afro-Latin American Research Institute at the Hutchins Center, Harvard University. Mota holds a Master’s degree in Communications from the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro - PUC-Rio (Brazil) with the dissertation Clarice Lispector in the Digital Era: the Appropriation of the Writer on the Web (2018). She was a Visiting Research Fellow at Brown University, at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and at Université Paris 8 Vincennes - Saint Denis. Her research interests include Contemporary Brazilian Literature, Afro-Latin American Studies, the Life and Works of Clarice Lispector, and Digital Humanities. She has forthcoming articles in the volume After Clarice: Reading Lispector’s Legacy in the Twenty-First Century (Legenda, 2021) and in the volume El Arte de Pensar Sin Riesgos: 100 años de Clarice Lispector (Corregidor, 2021).


Photo of Kristen Oneill

Kristen McNeill received a BA in International Development Studies from McGill University and a Master's of Public Administration from the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. She is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology with an interest in economic sociology, gender, and international development. Her dissertation, with a microfinance provider in Colombia, examines the gendered effects of microcredit on clients and their households, as well as the gendered evaluation of creditworthiness by loan officers.

Jonathon Acosta is a Ph.D. student in sociology. He earned his BA in Political Science (Theory track) and Ethnic Studies at Brown University. As an undergraduate, he was a research assistant for Kay Warren, an anthropologist, studying human trafficking, prostitution, and labor migration in Latin America and East Asia. He was a public school math teacher in Miami-Dade County and Central Falls, RI before becoming a Dean of Culture. During this time, he earned an MA in Urban Education Policy at Brown. Broadly speaking, his research interests are in political sociology, social stratification, segregation, race, class, and ethnicity. He's particularly interested in the representation of historically marginalized groups in Latin American politics. In his spare time, he's a youth wrestling coach, a member of the Juvenile Hearing Board, and a City Councilman representing Ward 1 in Central Falls, RI. 

Alejandra Irene Cueto Piazza was born and raised in Lima, Perú, where she earned her BA degree in Sociology at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Peru. Her research broadly addresses the interface between political sociology and labor relations. She has conducted research on the strengthening of labor inspections in Lima, Perú and the role of public unions. Before arriving at Brown, she earned an MA in Sociology from Columbia University where she studied Latin American immigrants' participation in the informal economy in New York.

Katie Duarte is a Ph.D. student in Sociology. After completing her bachelor's degree in Economics at Vassar College, she worked as a research assistant at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute (DSI) under the tutelage of Dr. Ramona Hernández. As a research assistant, she focused on Dominicans who migrated to the U.S. through Ellis Island in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. More recently, she worked as a legal administrative assistant for the Reproductive Freedom Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). One of the cases she worked on, which received national attention, was the Garza v. Hargan case about an undocumented immigrant minor that was being blocked her constitutional right to seek an abortion by the federal government. Her research interests include first-generation and second-generation immigrant integration into U.S. society by way of higher education attainment and reproductive health practices, specifically focusing on Dominicans.

Photo of Maria Lopez-Portillo.

María López-Portillo is a Ph.D. student in the Sociology Department. She holds a BA in political science from El Colegio de México and an MA in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. She focuses on organizational change, political processes and subject-making in Latin America. She is currently researching the indigenista profession in Mexico since the 1980s using interviews and archival work. 

Theatre Arts and Performance Studies 

Marlon Jiménez Oviedo is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies. He is from Costa Rica, and received his BA in Theatre and Environmental Studies at Lewis and Clark College, in Portland, OR. As an artist/scholar, Marlon seeks to situate his academic and artistic practice where he is personally rooted, Costa Rica and Latin America at large, always trying to learn and theorize with people who are not published authors. He is interested in movement traditions that live outside systems of authorship and stage or museum spaces, with special attention to embodied knowledge, social discourse, and bodily theorizing. Thus, he engages popular and folkloric dance, queer performance, and indigenous performance traditions to understand negotiations around identity creation, formations of sociality and nation-building in the context of post and neo-colonialism.

affiliated grad student - amanda macedo macedo

Amanda Macedo Macedo is a Ph.D. student in Theatre Arts and Performance Studies. She holds an MA in Communication from the Graduate Program in Political and Social Sciences at UNAM in Mexico. Her areas of interest include performance studies, feminisms, affect theory, decoloniality, postcolonial thought, and visual culture. Currently, her research focuses on the body and public space, practices of resistance and refusal, and disruptive pasts and alternative presents in contexts of violence.