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My name is Mneesha Gellman and I am an Associate Professor of Political Science in the Marlboro Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies at Emerson College, in Boston, MA, USA. My research interests include democratization, minority rights, education politics, incarceration, and immigration in the Global South and the United States.

My current research looks at decolonization and human rights in a variety of spaces such as high schools, colleges, prisons, and within educational media like textbooks. Since 2016, I have been working in collaboration with the Yurok Tribe's Education Department to document the impact of Indigenous-language access in public education in far northern California. I also work comparatively in southern Mexico on cultural resilience projects. Working with young people in schools to better understand how education can support wellbeing and participation keeps me hopeful about the world.

I came to study education politics from memory politics. 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. This led to my second book, Indigenous Language Politics in the Schoolroom: Cultural Survival in Mexico and the United States (University of Pennsylvania 2023), which looks at how decolonization of educational curricula impact students from a range of demographics. My third book, also created in collaboration with the Yurok Tribe’s Education Department, is tentatively titled Learning to Survive: Native American Youth Wellbeing in High School, and is in process. I am also working on fourth book that analyzes representation of minority groups in high school history textbooks.

My interests in the rights of marginalized communities extend in many directions. I am the founder and Director of the Emerson Prison Initiative (EPI), which seeks to bring a BA pathway to incarcerated students at Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Concord (MCI-Concord), a men’s medium-security state prison. I edited Education Behind the Wall: Why and How We Teach College in Prison (Brandeis University Press 2022), and am co-editor with Justin McDevitt on the forthcoming Unlocking Potential: Education in Prison Around the World (Brandeis University Press 2024) .

Since 2016, I have served as a pro bono expert witness for asylum hearings regarding country conditions for people from El Salvador and Mexico, drawing from my longstanding research on the effects of state- and power-based violence on historically marginalized communities, including women and girls. Prior to joining the faculty at Emerson College, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Global Cooperation Research in Duisburg, Germany, and I returned to Germany as a Senior Fellow in Education for Sustainable Peace at the Leibnitz Institute-Georg Eckert Institute in 2022. 

I have published in a wide range of journals, and many of my writings are linked under the thematic tabs on this site in both English and Spanish. Read and let me know what you think! 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! My mantra is "There are many ways to live."

Contact me at

Follow me on Twitter: @mneesha_gellman

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