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Postdoctoral and New Faculty Fellows Enrich Research and Teaching

The School of Arts and Sciences is pleased to welcome to campus this fall twenty new postdoctoral fellows pursuing scholarly work and teaching through centers and departments in the Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Fall 2011


Ann-Marie Adams, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis, received her Ph.D. from Howard University in 20th Century U.S. History/African Diaspora. Her research and teaching interests include twentieth century U.S. history, civil rights movement, race, gender and ethnicity, and Caribbean and Latin American migration.

Aren Aizura, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Women's and Gender Studies, is also affiliated with the Institute for Research on Women. Dr. Aizura received his Ph.D. from Melbourne University, Australia in 2009. His research interests focus on the ways that biopolitical technologies of race, gender, transnationality, medicalization and political economy shape and are shaped by transgender and queer bodies. He will be teaching a course on transnational sexualities for the Women's and Gender Studies Department in fall 2011.

Yveline Alexis, Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow in Africana Studies, defended her dissertation “Nationalism & the Politics of Historical Memory: Charlemagne Peralte’s Rebellion against U.S. Occupation of Haiti, 1915-1986” and received her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in History in May 2011. She was a fellow at the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute at The Johns Hopkins University, working on “Slaves, Soldiers, and Rebels: Black Resistance in the Tropical Atlantic, 1760 –1888,” before coming to Rutgers.

Elaine Auyoung, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in English, is also a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Cultural Analysis. She received her Ph.D. in English from Harvard University in May 2011 Her book manuscript, Missing Fiction, shows how realist novels create fictional worlds that seem to extend beyond the text. The completed manuscript will feature chapters on Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Leo Tolstoy, and an epilogue on Ian McEwan. While at Rutgers, she is also teaching courses on Victorian literature.

Jennifer Bajorek, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Cultural Analysis, is Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies, Center for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College, University of London, and a Research Associate at Oxford, in the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology. She received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Irvine, and has also taught at UC Berkeley and Cornell University, as a fellow in the Society for the Humanities. The focus of her current research is on photography and photography theory

Kathleen Belew, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in History, is also a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis. She received her Ph.D from Yale University for “Theaters of War: Paramilitarism, Mercenaries, and the Racist Right from Vietnam to Oklahoma City." While at Rutgers she will be teaching history courses, including the “Aftermath of the Vietnam War” and “The American Vigilante.”

Jessica Vantine Birkenholtz, ACLS New Faculty Fellow in Geography, received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in South Asian Languages & Civilizations. For her dissertation, “The Svasthani Vrata Katha (SVK) Tradition: Translating Self, Place, and Identity in Hindu Nepal,” she studied texts in many languages, including Nepali, Classical and Modern Newar, Sanskrit, and Hindi.

Sheetal M. Chhabria, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis, received her Ph.D. from the Department of History, Columbia University, and will be an Assistant Professor of South Asian History at Connecticut College beginning fall 2012. Her research and teaching interests include South Asian History, Indian Ocean World, Area Studies, World History and Globalization, Urban Studies, Political Economy, Gender, and Post Colonialism.


Themis Chronopoulos, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis, is an Assistant Professor of History at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, and received his Ph.D. in American Civilization from Brown University, 2005. Areas of interest include: Urban History, Twentieth Century United States, Race and Ethnicity, Popular Culture, Public Policy, and World Cities. 

Brittney C. Cooper, Ford Foundation Fellow at the Center for Race and Ethnicity, is Assistant Professor of Gender and Race Studies at the University of Alabama and received her Ph.D. from Emory University in the Program in American Studies, May 2009. As core faculty in the Department of Women’s Studies, she teaches introductory and graduate level courses including Introduction to Women’s Studies, Black Feminist Thought, Feminist Research Methods, Hip Hop Feminism, and Black Intellectual Thought.

Dennis R. Childs, Postdoctoral Fellow in English, received his Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Berkeley, 2005, for “Formations of Neoslavery: The Cultures and Politics of the American Carceral State.” He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Literature, University of California, San Diego, and was a Scholar-in-Residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 2010-11.

Sam Lebovic, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Cultural Analysis, received his Ph.D. in June 2011 in American history at the University of Chicago for “Fighting for Free Information: The American News Media’s Struggle with Totalitarianism and the Remaking of the Liberal Public Sphere.” A cultural and political historian of modern America, he has a particular interest in the history of cultural freedom – as both a socio-economic practice and a political and intellectual ideal.

Amy Lerner, Postdoctoral Research Assistant in Geography, received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, 2011.  Her research interests include: food security, urbanization, human dimensions of environmental change, political/cultural ecology, sustainable livelihoods, mixed methods, and Latin America.

Patricia G. Lespinasse, Postdoctoral Fellow in English, received her Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University for “Wild Women, Improvisation, and Power: The Jazz Text in Twentieth Century Jazz Literature.” Her areas of interest include Twentieth century American and African American literature; Caribbean literary and cultural studies; popular music studies; and feminist theory. She will be teaching “Bad Men and Wild Women: (En)Gendering the Blues Novel in African American Literature” in the English Department, Spring 2012.

Scott Matter, Postdoctoral Fellow in Anthropology at the Centre for Society, Technology, and Development, received his Ph.D. from McGill University for “Expected Cultural politics, rural poverty and resource governance in Kenya's Rift Valley.” His research interests include political and legal anthropology, cultural politics, indigenous rights, environmental politics, and political ecology, and he is teaching “The Rights and Wrongs of Indigenous Peoples” at Rutgers, fall 2011.


Sara Milstein, ACLS New Faculty Fellow in Jewish Studies, received her Ph.D. from the Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, New York University, for “Reworking Ancient Texts: Revision through Introduction in Biblical and Mesopotamian Literature.” In the fall, she will teach “Women in the Bible,” and in the spring, “Jewish Society and Culture I,” and “Beginnings: A Literary Reading of Genesis.”

Tami Navarro, Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow in Anthropology, comes to Rutgers from a position as Visiting Assistant Professor of African-American Studies and Anthropology, Wesleyan University. She received her Ph.D. from Duke University in Cultural Anthropology, May 2010, for “Virgin Capital: Foreign Investment and Local Stratification in the U.S. Virgin Islands.”

Justine Mukhwana Sikuku, Postdoctoral Fellow in Linguistics, is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Linguistics and Foreign Languages, at Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya.  She studies the morphology and syntax of Bantu languages, with a focus on LuBukusu and related Luhya languages, and southern Nilotic languages especially Kalenjin.

Caroline Wigginton, ACLS New Faculty Fellow in American Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies, received her Ph.D. from the Department of English at The University of Texas at Austin for “Imagined Intimacies: Women’s Writing, Community, and Affiliation in Eighteenth-Century North America.”

Danielle Young, Postdoctoral Fellow in Psychology, received her Ph.D. in Social and Personality Psychology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2011 with a dissertation entitled “Explicit and implicit stereotype content: The case of gender in STEM disciplines.” She studies racial and gender bias in the law and science professions and the role of race in sentencing.

Three of these scholars are ACLS New Faculty Fellows. This program funds two-year positions for recent Ph.D.s in the humanities at universities and colleges across the United States where their particular research and teaching expertise augment departmental offerings. The generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation makes this program possible.

The Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows in English, History, and Women's and Gender Studies are supported by a new grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which will allow us to recruit a total of twelve postdoctoral fellows in these fields over a five-year period.  In addition to teaching and conducting their own research, these fellows are participating in seminars at the Center for Cultural Analysis, the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis, and the Institute for Research on Women.



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