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 a music scout for a local label, cape club. 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. candidate in the Department of Africana Studies. She earned her B.A. in Sociology from Spelman College, with concentrations in comparative women's studies and African Diaspora & the World. Her research interests include Black aesthetics and culture, Black internationalism, and Afrodiasporic consciousness movements. Her current work is a cultural history and exploration of Afro-Surrealism throughout the Black Radical Tradition, emphasizing 20th-century U.S. and Francophone Caribbean art and activism. In addition to her graduate work, Melaine is a poet and curator committed to bridging gaps between academia and the Providence community. Her writing has been featured in Jamaica's 76 King Street Journal of Liberty Hall: The Legacy of Marcus Garvey.

Nasir Marumo

Nasir Marumo is a “rap-academic” 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 is 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.

American Studies

Headshot of Karla Mendez

Karla Méndez is a writer, creative, and researcher. She recently earned her B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a double minor in Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of Central Florida. Her research interests include Black American and Latina feminist histories and movements, Black American and Latin American literature, Black and Latina cultural productions, and social structures. Her current research examines the history of feminist art, with a focus on Black American and Latina work, to gain an understanding of the exclusion of marginalized groups within feminist spaces. 

Headshot of Katharina Weygold

Katharina Weygold is a PhD student in the Department of American Studies. Her research interests include the African diaspora, Black internationalism, U.S. empire, and women’s and gender studies. In her dissertation, Katharina explores African American women’s ideas about Haiti and activism in Haiti during the U.S. occupation of the Caribbean nation from 1915 to 1934. Katharina holds an MA in Public Humanities from Brown and an MA in American Studies from Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. Before coming to Brown, she worked in civic education and journalism. 


Gonzalo Aguirre

Gonzalo Aguirre is a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology at Brown University. He is interested in multi-species ethnography, environmental anthropology, and science and technology studies. Gonzalo's research focuses on knowledge production and conviviality between humans and nonhuman animals in Patagonia. Before coming to Brown, Gonzalo received a BA in Anthropology from the Catholic University of Chile and a Master's in Sociology from Alberto Hurtado University. For his master's thesis, Gonzalo conducted a laboratory ethnography on the production of climate change in Chile. This research led to publications on the circulation of knowledge between the global South and North and on interdisciplinary work in climate science. In recent years, Gonzalo has worked on research focused on private conservation in southern Chile and on the conservation of alerce trees in a national park in southern Chile.

Headshot of Alyssa Bolster

Alyssa Bolster is a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology at Brown. She obtained her BA in Anthropology and Law, History, and Society from Vanderbilt University in 2022. Her doctoral work will focus on the role of individual diet and community foodways in creating local and state identities, and how groups in the distant past utilized food to resist, mitigate, or reimagine encroachment from imperial entities. As an anthropologist, she aims to combine archaeological chemistry with traditional bioarchaeological methods to answer pertinent social questions about life in the prehistoric Peruvian Andes. Alyssa has also conducted bioarchaeological and forensic fieldwork in the continental United States and France and conducted bioarchaeological and forensic research projects for sites in Belize, Guatemala, and the UAE.

Headshot of Licelot Caraballo

Licelot Caraballo is a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology at Brown. Caraballo's primary academic research interest is in transnational mobility, particularly on the Dominico-Haitian border. Caraballo studies sites called border markets where the predominant working force are Haitian and Dominican women. Caraballo examines how these border markets allow for a suspension of the otherwise strict citizenship regulations in the Dominican state (where these markets are located). They maintain that through border crossing, Haitian women create spaces of solidarity and protection in a way that establishes agency as well as a sense of belonging. At Brown, they hope to build on this research through the extensive research opportunities that allow for one's intellectual and professional growth. Caraballo envisions working collaboratively with faculty and students on themes of migration, gender, and transnational labor, especially within the Center for Latin America and Caribbean Studies and the Cogut Institute for the Humanities. Their aim is to contribute through their dissertation to larger, more inclusive conversations regarding transborder mobility. 

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 their effects across Latin America.

Moises Herrera-Parra

Moises Herrera-Parra graduated from Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (2018) with a Bachelors in Archaeology (2018), and from McMaster University with a M.A in Anthropology (2023). His research focuses on diet, foodways, and agricultural practices of the pre-Hispanic Classic Maya (300-900 AD) in the Middle Usumacinta region in Mexico. Using a paleoethnobotanical approach that involves identifying starch grains, phytoliths, and macrobotanical remains, his research aims to comprehend the combinations, cooking techniques, and ancient culinary preferences, along their social connotations. Lately, his research focus has delved into exploring how past ingredients and cooking activities may have stimulated sensory experiences, thereby influencing the daily lives of the Maya people. More broadly, he is interested by the intricate interplay between the senses, food, and agricultural production practices within ancient Maya society.

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.

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 Matthew Ballance

Matthew Ballance is a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology. He received a B.A. in Archaeology and History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019, and an MA in Anthropology from Colorado State University in 2021. His research focuses on the intersection of infrastructure and empire in the colonial Andes, to understand how local communities use imperial infrastructure to advance their interests. Additionally, his research examines ways in which an individual's relationship to a system of infrastructure is driven by their identity. 

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.

Ashley J May

Ashley J. May is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Anthropology at Brown University.  Prior to coming to Brown, she earned a B.A. in Women’s Studies, Feminist Theory and Policy Studies concentration, from UCLA and an M.S. in Education, focusing on the psychocultural contexts of education, from the University of Southern California. Ashley’s research interests include: histories of empire, slavery and colonialism; childhood and temporality; memory and longing; Caribbean and African anti-colonial thought; folk belief and ritual; Horn of Africa; Deep South; landscape and the oceanic; film and literature. Her current project traces Oromo cultural and political imaginaries across time and place, with a particular interest in what she views as an Oromo relatedness with the sacred, medicinal forests and shrines of Dire Sheikh Hussein in the Bale region of South Eastern Ethiopia. Engaging themes of memory, longing, desire and the temporalities of struggle against colonialism and empire, Ashley pays close attention to new forms of life that disperse alongside regimes of catastrophe, dispossession and displacement.

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

Alex Algaze González is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature and affiliated faculty at Emerson College. Her dissertation research addresses aesthetics and vulgarity in Latinx pop culture; more specifically, she analyzes the function of sexuality, gender, Latinidad, race, and class about the politics of good taste. She is especially interested in the aesthetic strategies that femme Latinxs use to circumvent the assimilatory impulse of respectability politics insofar as they express aesthetic tendencies frequently classified as “vulgar” or “excessive.” Alex holds a B.A. in Foreign Languages from Universidad de Puerto Rico, an M.S. in International Relations from Università di Bologna, and an M.A. in Hispanic Literature, Cultures, and Linguistics from the University of Minnesota. Alex has a forthcoming book chapter titled: “A Motherless World: Temporality, Motherhood, and Afro-Caribbean Writing” in Hemispheric Blackness and the Exigencies of Accountability, University of Pittsburgh Press (20 December 2022).

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. 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. 

Center for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics 

Kaitlyn Chriswell

Kaitlyn Chriswell is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Center for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Brown. Her book project examines how the presence of criminal groups affects whether and how citizens interact with the state. Through a mixed-methods analysis of municipalities across Mexico, she demonstrates that under certain conditions, the presence of criminal organizations can push groups of citizens to organize and even to partner with the state, with important downstream effects. More broadly, Kaitlyn is interested in the intersection of political violence and democracy, and the role of civil society in contexts of protracted insecurity. She has a regional interest in Latin America. Kaitlyn earned her PhD in Political Science from Harvard and her B.A. in Political Science and Spanish from Northwestern University.



Graduate Affiliated with CLACS

Santiago Hermo is a Ph.D. student in Economics and is interested in labor and urban economics. He is currently studying the effects of collective bargaining between unions and workers on workers' wages and firm productivity in Argentina. Other recent work includes the effect of labor market returns on skill acquisition in Sweden and the effect of minimum wage policies on local housing markets in the US. Before pursuing his Ph.D., Santiago studied the determinants of relative wages and inequality in Argentina and the effects of R&D on agricultural output. Santiago obtained his BA at the Universidad de Buenos Aires and his MA at the 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 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 in 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's student in Urban Economics at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella (Argentina), and a Master's student in Economics of Public Policy at Barcelona Graduate School of Economics (Spain).

Hispanic Studies

Photo of Mateo Diaz Choza

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 21st-Century Latin American Narrative, as well as the relationship between religious discourse, utopia, fundamentalism, and fiction.

Giovanna Gobbi Alves Araújo is a Ph.D. student in Hispanic Studies at Brown University. She holds a B.A. and a B.Ed. in Languages and Literatures from the Universidade de São Paulo, where she also got her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Brazilian Literature. She was a Fulbright scholar at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 2018-2019, and a scholar-in-residence at the Biblioteca Brasiliana Guita and José Mindlin between 2019 and 2022. Her current research interests include 19th- and 20th-century Hispanic American literature and iconography, (counter)hegemonic aesthetic paradigms, the representation of nature and the observation of environmental change, and the impact of extractive capitalism and imperialism in Latin America.

Yaz Murray

Yaz Murray is a Ph.D. student in Hispanic Studies from England, UK. She holds an M.A. in Spanish and History from the University of Edinburgh and an M.Phil. in Latin American Studies from the University of Cambridge. She is currently interested in representations of mental illness, psychoanalytic theory, disability studies, ecocriticism, and conceptualizations of the non-human in contemporary Latin American cultural production. 

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. 


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. An 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 an M.A. and B.A. in History from the 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 Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. 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.

Master of Public Affairs

David Benoit

David Benoit is an MPA student and most recently served as the deputy director of legislative affairs and community engagement for the city of Providence.  David has also held previous roles within electoral and municipal affairs. He received his bachelor’s degree in political science and international affairs from Western Carolina University.  He hopes to continue his research on effective governance throughout the Caribbean region. David additionally aspires to pursue an international career focused on issues of peace and immigration policy as result of ethnic conflict throughout the global south. 



Jay Loomis

Jay Loomis is a Ph.D. candidate in Ethno/musicology at Brown University. His doctoral research focuses on exploring the African and Indigenous aspects of son jarocho music in and around Veracruz, Mexico. He is especially interested in an Afro-Latin American instrument known as the marimba, which is used in traditional music ensembles throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, including Mexico. Jay is also collaborating with Native American scholars and musicians in the United States to 3D print functioning replicas of Indigenous American wind instruments in museum collections, including a flute at the Haffenreffer Museum at Brown University. As a musician and instrument maker, Jay plays and constructs a variety of wind instruments out of wood, ceramics, and 3D printed materials. He often makes music in parks and outdoor areas to combine the sound of flutes with the sonic environment of his surroundings, from cityscapes to mountain streams.

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.


Manuel Moscoso-Rojas is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science. He received his BSc in Economics with an emphasis on economic theory and his MSc from Javeriana University, Colombia. He is currently working on the origins and consequences of the uneven distribution of security in Colombia. His recent work has focused on how states can consolidate peace after civil war and how states can mitigate the negative impacts of armed violence. Manuel is a Fulbright scholar and was awarded by the Colombian government with the Colciencias–Fulbright scholarship.

Portuguese and Brazilian Studies

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 cultural 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.

Photo of Joao Pedro Coleta

João Pedro Coleta is a doctoral student in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies. He holds a B.A. in Portuguese Language and Literatures from Universidade de Brasília (Brazil), and an M.A. in Brazilian Literature from the same institution. He is particularly interested in contemporary Latin American fiction, especially the relation between literature and authoritarianism, literature and postmemory, and literature and dictatorship in the Southern Cone.  

headshot of jordan jones

Jordan Jones is a Ph.D. 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 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 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 researched 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 by 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 

M. Cecilia Azar headshot

M. Cecilia Azar (she/Ella) is a student in the Theater and Performance Studies Program at Brown University, where she studies and writes about queer and trans diaspora in the Americas. Drawing from theories of diaspora and decolonization, critical race theory, and black feminism, her work thinks about how queer and trans-displaced individuals and communities engage with space, negotiate hostile cultural environments, and produce knowledge through them. Her interest in queer diaspora survival practices is animated by her experience as a queer immigrant in the U.S. After moving to Southern California from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Cecilia studied at Riverside Community College and received her B.A. in English and Literature from the University of California, Riverside. She holds a master’s degree in English from California State University, Los Angeles, and a master’s degree in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park. 

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.

 Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Guarocuya Frank Batista-Kunhardt has more than ten years of experience in development economics, most recently with the Dominican General Customs Directorate and United Nations Volunteer Associations. He previously worked in commercial banking, financial Inclusion, and credit access. Upon completing his Master of Public Affairs degree, he aspires to work with social and government organizations at the intersection of economic development, business, and policy. He also serves as Watson Director Fellow embedded at the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) with research interests in first-generation immigrant integration. Frank is originally from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He received his bachelor’s degrees in economics from Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra and Western Michigan University. He speaks native Spanish, and intermediate French, and is learning Italian.

Daniel de Roche most recently worked as a legal and political advisor in the Panamanian National Assembly drafting legislative proposals and designing public policies on critical issues related to education, the environment, and anti-corruption. Daniel became a lawyer after earning his bachelor's degree from the Universidad Católica Santa María La Antigua with dual concentrations in law and political science. He has also worked in both the public and private sectors in his hometown in Panama. He aspires to work in public policy related to tackling inequality and poverty in developing countries. Daniel is a native Spanish speaker.