Mneesha Gellman

mneesha

Hello, and thanks for visiting my website.

I am an Assistant Professor of Political Science in the Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies at Emerson College, in Boston, MA, USA. My primary research interests include comparative democratization, cultural resilience, memory politics, and social movements in the Global South and the United States.

My current research looks at how citizens are formed in the formal education sector and in community-run spaces organized around mother tongue and heritage language learning. I am working with stakeholders in northern California and southern Mexico to develop a project that documents cultural resilience projects in indigenous communities. This project examines youth identity for public school students enrolled in indigenous language courses, including Yurok and Zapotec, at local high schools and community organizations, in order to document the effects of language learning on civic, cultural, and political participation.

My first book, Democratization and Memories of Violence: Ethnic Minority Social Movements in Mexico, Turkey, and El Salvador (Routledge 2017) examines how ethnic minority communities use memories of violence in mobilizations for cultural rights, particularly the right to mother tongue education. I argue that violence-affected communities use memory-based narratives in order to shame states into cooperating with claims for cultural rights protections, and I show that shaming and claiming is a social movement tactic that binds historic violence to contemporary citizenship. You can link to the book here.

I am the founder and Director of the Emerson Prison Initiative (EPI), which seeks to bring high quality liberal arts education to incarcerated students at Massachusetts Correctional Institute (MCI) at Concord, a men’s medium security prison. EPI follows the model of college-in-prison work led by the Bard Prison Initiative and the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison.

My volunteer work as a pro bono expert witness for asylum hearings regarding conditions of violence in El Salvador and Mexico stems from my longstanding commitment to researching the effects of violence on historically marginalized communities. Prior to joining the faculty at Emerson College, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Global Cooperation Research in Duisburg, Germany. I have published in journals such as Democratization, Conflict Resolution Quarterly, Asian Perspective, and Development in Practice. I hold a PhD in Political Science from Northwestern University, USA, and an MA in International Studies/Peace and Conflict Resolution from the University of Queensland, Australia. I have lived, worked, and studied on six continents – no Antarctica for me!

Contact me at mneesha_gellman@emerson.edu.