PhD Student Profiles
Jennifer Ayres is a sixth year PhD candidate in American Studies who focuses on creative work, fashion, the secondhand clothing trade, and cultural economy. With a BA from UC-Davis in Women & Gender Studies in 2008, a Masters from Cornell in Apparel Design in 2011, and as a vintage shop owner, Jen approaches the material culture of style through the lens of a scholar-practitioner. Jen's dissertation project, "Circuits of Value: The Political Economy of Buying and Selling Vintage", uses economic geography and multi-sited ethnography to examine how value is created across a loose network of corporate non-profits and small businesses for a category of objects traditionally classified as 'Post-Consumer Waste'. Researching the variety of labor that is required to transform used clothes into vintage (creative, flexible, affective, immaterial, atomized, and non-unionized), the spaces that comprise the secondhand trade (thrift stores, flea markets, and buy-sell-trade clothing shops), and the exchanges that enliven secondary markets (gift and commodity), Jen’s project illuminates how the secondhand trade is a vital part of the aesthetic economy that the creative city increasingly relies upon as an untapped market, infinite resource, and lucrative export. What it shows is how the intersections of race, gender, class, immigration, and sexuality complicate simplistic notions about how fashion and the economy works.
A.J. Bauer is a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion fellow and sixth year doctoral candidate. He works at the intersection of American political development and media studies, with a focus on contemporary and historical right-wing movements and conservatism in the United States. He entered the American Studies PhD program in 2011, following his completion of the Master’s program, which culminated in an ethnographic study of the Tea Party movement. His dissertation, “Before Fair and Balanced: Conservative Media Activism and the Rise of the New Right,” is a historical study attendant to debates in the fields of mass communication and political theory. He is a contributor to the Historian’s Eye online archive, a member of the Writers for the 99% collective, and his work has appeared in Social Text Periscope and The Guardian. Before his graduate studies, Bauer served as editor of The Daily Texan, the student newspaper of the University of Texas at Austin, and worked as a reporter, writer and researcher in Texas and Massachusetts.
Jordan H. Carver is a writer, educator, and sometimes designer based in New York. His work investigates various combinations of space, law, political rhetoric, conservatism, media, tax havenry, and sovereignty. He is a contributing editor to the Avery Review and a core member of Who Builds Your Architecture? an advocacy group working to educate architects on the effects of globalization and labor. He was the 2014–2015 Peter Reyner Banham Fellow at the University at Buffalo and is currently a Henry M. MacCracken Doctoral Fellow in American Studies at New York University. Jordan’s writing and design work have been published widely and exhibited around the world. His first book, Spaces of Disappearance: The Architecture of Extraordinary Rendition investigates the sovereign, architectural, and aesthetic manifestations of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program and is forthcoming from UR (Urban Research)
Max Cohen's art, activism, and studies focus on political economy and economic justice. He studied Business, Policy, and Poverty as well as Urban Studies as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania. As an activist and community organizer, Max has organized around issues of labor, immigration, and debt. Since 2014, he has contributed to a research project on the challenges of contemporary family finance by conducting and analyzing interviews with student debt-holding families across the US. Concerned with how power is wielded, resisted, and critiqued, Max's work draws on critical social theory, political theory, economic anthropology and history, US and Latin American history, and social movement theory. He is a first year American Studies PhD.
Emma Shaw Crane is a third year American Studies PhD student. She received an interdisciplinary social science BA from UC Berkeley in 2009. Her work draws on urban studies, medical anthropology, feminist geography, and critical poverty and refugee studies. Her current research investigates the afterlife of U.S. imperial warfare across the urban Americas. In 2012 and 2013, Emma was a Global Poverty and Practice Research Fellow at UC Berkeley, where she studied counterinsurgency and urban poverty programs in the 1960s in Oakland, California. She is co-editor, with Professor Ananya Roy, of Territories of Poverty, published in 2015 by the University of Georgia Press.
Ricardo Gamboa is a fourth year Ph.D. student in American Studies with research interests including history of capitalism, finance and derivative logics, the politics of knowledge production and race, and aesthetics and social movements with particular attention to immigration, incarceration, and life in urban enclosure or the ghetto.In Summer 2013, Gamboa completed his M.A. Arts Politics from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts after working as an artist creating work in an activist key for almost a decade in Chicago and New York City. In Chicago, Gamboa was a Company Member of Barrel of Monkeys and founding Artistic Director of Teatro Americano as well as recipient of the CAAP Grant, MacArthur Foundation International Connections Award, ImPACT Latino Playwright Award. His first short, The Southside Has Many Beauty Queen received Best Short and his first feature MAYDAYS premiered at the 2010 and 2013 Chicago Latino Film Festivals, respectively. In 2010, Gamboa moved to New York City where he was Associate Producer and National Youth and Engagement Coordinator for ScenariosUSA, EmergeNYC fellow at the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, developed his Border Jump-Off Short Film Series, Company Member of New York Neo-Futurists, featured performer at queer venue Low Standards. In addition to his studies, Gamboa is also currently authoring a novel for a queer independent press, directing a playformance on Chicago's epidemic youth violence, and developing his next feature film while guest contributing with cultural commentary to NPR's Chicago Vocalo station.
Emmaia Gelman is an activist with deep roots in direct action on queer, antiracist, anticolonial and housing struggles, particularly in New York City's ACT UP, ILGO/Irish Queers, and Palestine-related organizing. She also spent nearly a decade as a policy strategist for labor and political organizations, working primarily on housing, fiscal policy, and energy democracy. in 2009 she completed the "Green Jobs/Green NY" blueprint, and subsequently collaborated on the establishing NYS legislation and supported community-based organizations in the first year of implementation. Driven in part by the lessons of Green Jobs/Green NY, Emmaia's doctoral research investigates racial capitalism and its entrenchment in progressive state projects. Her work also investigates the new territory of racial capitalism forged by Islamophobia and US neocolonialism; and the authorizing discourse of racial injury and remedy with respect to Jewish identity. In true Gemini fashion, Emmaia has yet another project: she is working on an archival project documenting the two-way influence of queer and radical activism between Ireland/Northern Ireland and New York City in the early 1990s. Emmaia is a typical queer New Yorker with three kids and a dog. She holds a Masters Degree in Urban Planning from MIT.
Ayasha Guerin is a fifth year PhD graduate student who studies urban and environmental studies, engaging questions about sustainable urban development and the sociopolitical relations that define the 21st century neoliberal city. Her art and writing concern themes of the urban/natural, public and private space, ecology, community, and security. Ayasha completed her bachelor's degree at the University of Pennsylvania in 2012, where she studied Urban and Environmental Studies and minored in Anthropology and Photography. Currently, Ayasha is the Andrew F. Mellon Pre-doctoral Fellow at the Museum of the City of New York. Her dissertation “Making Zone A: Flooding and Resilience on NYC’s Most Vulnerable Shores” is a socio-ecological study of four New York City waterfront communities and the environmental histories of their settled land.
Justin Abraham Linds is interested in queer cultural production around microbial life such as viruses and bacteria. His work often involves theories of illness, the body, queerness, and gender and sexuality as well as 20th and 21st century literary and non-literary texts, but he is regularly inspired by thought and texts from outside his "disciplines." For his master’s thesis he researched AIDS dissident writing from the 1980s from Canada and the U.S. and examined the presence of AIDS dissident political thought in the contemporary fermentation “cookbooks” of Sandor Ellix Katz. In January 2016, a portion of the thesis was published in the Eros issue of the journal SCAPEGOAT. In the summer of 2015, Justin performed original work around ideas of queerness, dying, and eulogy on the main-stage at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in Toronto.
Sam Markwell is a third-year PhD student with an MA in American Studies from the University of New Mexico. His work is situated in the fields of historical materialism, anthropology, geography, Native studies, settler colonial studies, and ethnic studies. His research investigates the array of concepts and apparatuses of "security" that animate U.S. and Israeli settler colonial projects, specifically focusing on contestations over food and water infrastructures. By critiquing the roles played by the U.S. and Israel in shaping life in these regions, he aims to reorient the study of security away from the priorities and frameworks of the settler nation-state to alternative political and ethical geographies of the Americas and West Asia. He locates the specific questions of this research in conversation with general questions of the reciprocal relations between material processes of urbanization and colonization; structures and dynamics of biological, psychical, and social life; and international formations of solidarity and accountability. His publications include essays in La Jicarita: An Online Magazine of Environmental Politics in New Mexico; a chapter, “Greenwashing and the Scrubbing of United States and Israeli Settler Colonialisms”, in the anthology Queer After Homonationalism and Pinkwashing, under review by Duke University Press, and an article “The Colonial Hydropolitics of Infrastructure in the Middle Rio Grande Valley”, forthcoming from WIREs Water.
Oscar Marquez is a fourth year Ph.D student in American studies. He received his B.A in Chicana/o Studies at Cal Poly Pomona and his M.A. in Latin American Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. His research interests are in comparative colonialisms, Chicana/o indigeneity, and Border Studies. His work investigates the role race plays in the dispossession of indigenous territory by non-indigenous mestizos in the Sierra Wixárika of Northwestern Mexico.
Julia A. Mendoza is a fifth year doctoral student in the American Studies program. Prior to coming to NYU, Julia obtained her law degree from UC Davis and a master's degree in Human Rights from Columbia University. Julia thereupon worked at the ACLU of Northern California in the Racial Justice Project as a legal fellow. During her fellowship she worked on two advocacy campaigns that utilized a combination of legal and legislative advocacy, public education, and organizing strategies to address racial disparities within public schools and felon disenfranchisement. She is continuing her advocacy by using research as a tool to address the problems and issues confronting urban public schools and prison education programs. She is currently teaching in the recently launched NYU Prison Education Project and conducting preliminary research for her dissertation. During the summer, she enjoys returning home to the Bay Area to teach at San Quentin State Prison for the Prison University Project and work as a youth organizer at Fathers and Families of San Joaquin Valley--a community organization located in Stockton, California.
Susana Morales is a scholar activist of color, mother, and now third year doctoral student in the American Studies program. Her research interests include globalization, feminist studies, place-based movements, intersections of gender, power, and ethnicity, informal economy, and decoloniality.
American Studies PhD student Joan Morgan is a pioneering hip-hop journalist, author, and cultural critic. Joan coined the term "hip-hop feminism" in 1999. Her book, When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost is used routinely in college coursework. Formerly an instructor in the Creative Writing Program at the New School, a Visiting Instructor at Duke University and a Visiting Research Scholar at Vanderbilt University, she was recently appointed to the Advisory Board of Hip-Hop Collection at Cornell University, which houses one of the most extensive hip-hop archives in the country. Joan’s current research interests are black American ethnicities, diaspora, transnationalism, cultural studies and second-generation identity formations of Black Caribbean-Americans. She is particularly interested historic and social conflation of the terms Black and African-American, excisions of Black-Caribbean ethnicity and the erasures these conflations produce in African-American scholarship and socio-political movements.
Sam Ng is a doctoral candidate in the American Studies program. He received his BA in American Studies from Yale University in 2009 and worked as a teaching fellow in the history department of Phillips Academy Andover before coming to NYU. His research interests include African American history and culture in the twentieth century, social movements, gender, queer theory, performance, and affect studies. His dissertation, “Bodies in Danger: The Politics of Black Mourning in the United States, 1917-1955,” examines the emergence and development of mourning as a viable basis for black political organizing and protest in the United States during the first half of the twentieth century. He plans to join the Africana Studies Department at Smith College as an assistant professor in 2017.
Kaitlin Noss completed her MA in Sociology and Equity Studies at the University of Toronto and taught in the cultural and regional studies department at Prescott College in Arizona until 2012. Since 2005 she has worked with the Maasai Community Partnership Project doing legal and archival research to support Indigenous land rights cases and compile watchdog reports on the practices of US and UK gender-focused and environmental NGOs in Indigenous lands. She came to American Studies NYU in 2012 to continue thinking through the interlocking relations of race and sexuality within both transnational neoliberal capitalism and US settler-colonialism. She also organizes with GSOC-UAW to help restore collective bargaining rights for graduate employees.
Carmen Phillips began the PhD program in American Studies at NYU directly after her 2008 graduation from Macalester College. There she received an honors distinction in American Studies, as well as a dual minor in Political Science and History. Her research interests include 20th century African American & U.S. Latina/o history, black freedom movements, conceptions citizenship & the Nation, critical race theory, Afrolatinidad, post-World War II U.S. Latina/o literature, and women of color feminism. Her dissertation "Breaking Nation" focuses on African American and U.S. Latina/o understandings of nationalist politics, articulations of citizenship, and belonging between World War I and the end of the power movements.
Brian Ray is a fifth-year doctoral student in American Studies who works in the transnational history of capitalism and social movements, queer studies, science studies, and transnational religion studies. He holds a BA in Women's Studies and Philosophy from the University of Georgia. His dissertation project is a transdisciplinary study of gay conservative activism and thought in the U.S. and Mexico. Tentatively, he conceives of gay conservatism as a post-WWII political "third-way" movement that poses interesting questions regarding left/right political identification, subjectivity, and the structure of history. Drawing on immanent critique and biopolitical frameworks, his project is in conversation with reconfigurations of Thomas Frank's infamous "What's the matter with Kansas?", like Bethany Moreton's reversal "What matters to Arkansas?" As such, his project explores how some counterintuitive or seemingly frustrated political identifications, like gay conservatives, are made possible by mapping the ethical substance of self-proclaimed post-partisan politics. Without psychologizing them, neither right nor left, what motivates these political actors? In this endeavor, particular attention is given to transnational material formations that have inaugurated and facilitated gay conservative movements in particular but that speak questions of subjectivity and progress in broader ways. A few include: narco trafficking, aesthetics, atheistic and theistic Satanisms, BDSM, contemporary science, the HIV/AIDS crisis, prosperity gospel, and the rise of neoliberalism in the Americas.
James Rodriguez entered NYU's American Studies PhD program in 2012 following his graduation from Brooklyn College, where he obtained a BA in both English and Psychology. His senior thesis, Divide on the Lower East Side, laid the groundwork for his research interests in gentrification, public-housing, neighborhood ethnography, and community responses to urban change. James is an occasional freelancer whose writing has appeared in More Intelligent Life and The Economist. Most recently, he worked as a contributor to the Advertising Educational Foundation and The Smithsonian Institution's online exhibition, Race, Ethnicity, and Advertising in America 1890-1900.
Emily Lim Rogers is a second year PhD student in American Studies. She received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College in 2015. Prior to entering doctoral study, she was a Leadership Alliance Mellon Initiative fellow at the NYU Center for the Humanities and a C3-LADO undergraduate fellow at Columbia University. Her work draws on STS, medical anthropology, disability studies, feminist/queer theory, and the history of capitalism. Currently, her research looks at contested diagnoses, specifically chronic fatigue syndrome (myalgic encephalomyelitis), to better understand the affective and temporal dimensions of “everyday life” in the post-Fordist United States.
Emi Sawada is a second-year PhD student in American Studies. She graduated from Scripps College in 2011 with a BA in Asian American Studies, a division of Race & Ethnic Studies. Her dissertation research will likely examine images of eugenic reproduction in contemporary expressive culture, and especially the visual arts. While her recent writings investigate the aesthetics of new reproductive technologies, Sawada remains interested in a variety of topics such as affect, temporality, development, embodiment, pedagogy, autobiography, and the US/Japan's double empire. Her undergraduate thesis, which folded ethnographic interviews into literary analysis and creative writing, explored the use of radical pedagogy as an instrument of community organizing in feminist organizations. In 2009, Sawada partnered with Pomona College and the Southeast Asian Community Alliance in Los Angeles to co-found Rise Up, a program for Los Angeles youth to improve their community via the creative arts. In 2011, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in Jeonju, South Korea. She is also an alumna of the Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers' 2014 Associate's Program and the Public Policy Institute of America's 2010 Junior Summer Institute. Sawada speaks fluent Japanese and also knows Korean and French. She holds an MA in English from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Jackson Smith is a third-year doctoral student in American Studies. He researches civil forfeiture, a legal practice that enables law enforcement to generate revenue through the seizure of assets and properties from those suspected of crimes. In Philadelphia the District Attorney’s Office earns over $5 million annually through seizures of cash and homes from predominantly black and Latino residents. Jackson’s dissertation will examine how forfeiture practice in Philadelphia conjures these properties into threats to public safety. Before his graduate studies Jackson conducted research on the rise and fall of the Lower East Side squatters’ movement, a project that spanned his graduation from Reed College and his volunteer work with the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space. Jackson’s work draws from historical materialism, socio-legal scholarship, anthropologies of money and value, and critical interdisciplinary perspectives on race, security, and urban governance.
Sunaura Taylor is an artist, writer and activist. Through painting, printmaking, writing and other forms of political and artistic engagement her work intervenes with dominant historical narratives of disability and animal oppression. Taylor's artworks have been exhibited at venues across the country, including the CUE Art Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution and the Berkeley Art Museum. She is the recipient of numerous awards including a Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant and an Animals and Culture Grant. Her written work has been printed in various edited collections as well as in publications such as the Monthly Review, Yes! Magazine, American Quarterly and Qui Parle. Taylor worked with philosopher Judith Butler on Astra Taylor’s film Examined Life (Zeitgeist 2008). Taylor holds an MFA in art practice from the University of California, Berkeley and is co-founder of the disability arts collective Yelling Clinic. Her book Beasts of Burden, which explores the intersections of animal ethics and disability studies, is forthcoming from The New Press.
Steven W. Thrasher, a third year doctoral student in American Studies, was named Journalist of the Year 2012 by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for his writing in the Village Voice, the New York Times and Out magazine. He is a member of the editorial board of the American Sociological Association¹s journal Contexts, a Contributing Editor at BuzzFeed, and a weekly columnist at the Guardian. Steven is particularly interested in the historic intersection of race, LGBT sexuality, economics and incarceration in the state of Missouri, which he recently explored in St. Louis while investigating HIV criminalization for BuzzFeed and in Ferguson while covering the shooting of Mike Brown for the Guardian. A public radio producer and filmmaker by training, Steven has crewed on Saturday Night Live and HBO's film The Laramie Project, and he once spent a year interviewing 500 people for the NPR StoryCorps project. His stories have been broadcast on All Things Considered, Marketplace and the BBC, and his work was included in the New York Times bestselling book Mom: A Celebration of Moms from StoryCorps and in Gawker¹s Best Posts of 2013. Steven is planning to use oral history, critical race theory, queer history and sociology to approach African American history and American Studies. He is a recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science Writing Fellowship, an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies feature writing award, Hunter College¹s James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, and the Anti-Violence Project¹s Courage Award.
Amrit Justin Trewn is a native of Detroit, the city and the metropolis. As a community educator who is his mother's child, he has collaborated with youth and adults of color in generating critical and creative projects that center social health, wellbeing, and empowerment. He also regularly contributes as an archivist to The Funambulist: Politics of Space and Bodies, a magazine that stages interventions into design by architects, activists, and academics. He situates his scholarly work at the cross-currents of black feminism, queer thought, surveillance studies, diaspora studies, and critical human geography. In particular, he is interested in how colonial relationships between blackness and tropes of surveillance— including visibility, captivity, discipline, and fear— have migrated over the last century alongside architectural and technological transformations. He is also working on a literary project that recovers and reimagines the loosely convergent journeys of his black, brown, and indigenous ancestors. Most importantly, he believe that the bigger the curls, the bigger the dreams.
Maya Wind is a feminist activist from Jerusalem. In 2008 she helped establish the Shministim Letter of Israeli conscientious objectors. For her refusal to serve in the Israeli army she was sentenced to military prison and detention. After her release she co-led the Jerusalem alternative education program of New Profile, the feminist movement for the demilitarization of Israeli society. She also guided political tours in East Jerusalem and the West Bank for the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, and worked against Palestinian displacement and Israeli colonial expansion in East Jerusalem. Today she is a steward in GSOC, NYU's graduate student union, and a member of Boycott from Within, the Israeli contingent of the BDS movement.a feminist activist from Jerusalem. In 2008 she helped establish the Shministim Letter of young Israeli conscientious objectors. For her refusal to serve in the Israeli army she was sentenced to military prison and detention. After her release she co-led the Jerusalem alternative education program of New Profile, the feminist movement for the demilitarization of Israeli society. She also guided political tours in East Jerusalem and the West Bank for the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, and worked against Palestinian displacement and Israeli colonial expansion in East Jerusalem. Today she is a board member of ICAHD-USA and an active member of Anarchists Against the Wall and Boycott from Within, the Israeli contingent of the BDS movement.