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DIRECTORY OF PH.D. CANDIDATES

(Also see testimonials from past and current students.)

Eron Ackerman

Interests: Interests: British colonialism, the Caribbean, and the history of drugs and alcohol. My dissertation examines how the uses, meanings, and legal status of ganja (Cannabis indica) changed as it spread through three British Caribbean colonies: Trinidad, British Guiana, and Jamaica. I explore how ganja was introduced to the region by indentured workers from India, creolized by Afro-Caribbean peasants and city dwellers, and restricted at the urging of colonial officials and moral reformers. Using the social and political entanglements of cannabis as an analytical lens, the study intervenes in scholarship on imperial knowledge production, transculturation, and the politics of drug control.

Dissertation: "Cannabis and Colonialism in the British Caribbean, 1838–1938"

Advisor: Anderson

Academia.edu profile: https://sbsuny.academia.edu/EronAckerman


Spencer Austin

Interests: My research concerns the socio-political history of modern Europe with an emphasis on political movements and ideologies in nineteenth-century France. As the center of revolutionary thought at that time, France provides the lens through which I study new ideas as they spread across the Continent and the Atlantic World.

Advisor: Lebovics


Marisa Balsamo

Interests: I am an historian of modern Britain, focusing on cultural developments in both domestic an imperial settings. My research centers on the dualistic nature of Victorian London as national and imperial sights try to find their place in a city undergoing cultural, social, and political transformations. Proponents of rational recreation hoped to promote leisure activities that would lead to the intellectual and moral growth of individuals across class lines, but such sites in London had to contend with a crowded commercial market that combined the rational and the spectacular. 

Dissertation: "Finding London: The Rational, The Spectacular, and the Dangerous"

Advisor: Wilson


Elena Liliana Mutu Blackstone

Interests: Eastern Europe, peasant history.

Advisor: Marker 



Ashley Black

Interests: My dissertation examines Mexican asylum policy during the 1950s through the lens of foreign policy and human rights. Though I focus primarily on Mexico, my work encompasses U.S. and circum-Caribbean geopolitics during the Cold War, with a focus on the state and its relationship to non-citizens.

Dissertation: "The Politics of Asylum: Cold War Revolutionaries, Human Rights, and Mexican Foreign Policy, 1944–1961"

Advisor: Zolov

Academia.edu profile: https://sbsuny.academia.edu/AshleyBlack


Lance Boos

Interests: My field is Early America and the Atlantic World, with particular attention to transatlantic intellectual and cultural connections, construction of identity, revolutionary ideologies, and performance history. My current research examines the role of music as political propaganda in the American Revolution.

Advisor: Anderson

Academia.edu profile: https://sbsuny.academia.edu/LanceBoos


Mia Brett

Advisor: Miller


Elisabeth Capece


Zinnia-Capó Valdivia

Interests: I study how activities related to "drugs" became crimes. My dissertation project analyzes Mexican congressional debates that transformed the state's drug politics and drug laws from tax-centered to prison-centered. I want to understand how international and national trends in science, policy, and politics contributed to Mexican drug prohibition. The relationship between policies and citizens is not a one-way street: I will also explore how changes in the law affected the attitudes of politicians, religious authorities, parent groups, and other "ordinary citizens" toward those who commercialized, purchased, and consumed drugs.

Advisor: Gootenberg

ResearchGate profile: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Zinnia_Capo_Valdivia


Ximena López Carrillo

Interests: History of mental health, psychiatry, and psychology in the United States and Mexico. I'm interested in the ways that social and political contexts have shaped the scientific discourses regarding Mexican immigrant populations, as well as the intellectual exchanges between psychiatrists in the U.S. and Mexico across the twentieth century.

Advisor: Tomes

Academia.edu profile: https://independent.academia.edu/XimenaLópez2


Michael Conrad

Interests: My research sits at the intersection of U.S. environmental, urban, business, and technology history. It examines how suburban aggregate mines in Long Island and the Hudson Valley provided the concrete infrastructure for New York City, with special focus on ecocultural material movements that involve businessmen, politicians,
ethnic miners, labor unions, and residential activists across the twentieth century.

Dissertation: "Nature's Mine: Concrete Aggregates and the Building of the New York Metropolis, 1919–1976"

Advisor: Sellers

Academia.edu profile: https://sbsuny.academia.edu/MichaelConrad


Brian Conway

Interests: I am a Cold War historian with an emphasis on diplomacy, strategy and de-colonization. My dissertation builds a narrative concerning the negotiations for American air and naval bases in Morocco during the 1950s and 1960s. This work also belongs to "base studies": the examination of the strategic, economic, cultural, diplomatic and other aspects in regards to military bases on other nations' soil.

Dissertation: "Bread and Bombers: U.S. Military Bases in Morocco, 1948–1964"

Advisor: Barnhart


William Demarest

Interests: My work has varied across time and subject, but has always centered on how Latin Americans reinterpreted and contributed to global culture. My current research examines the emergence of middle-class identity in Medellín, Colombia, through the lenses of material culture, transnational modernist design culture, and consumerism.

Dissertation: "Consumerism, Architecture, and Middle-class Culture in Medellín, Colombia, 1945–1980"

Advisor: Zolov

Academia.edu profile: https://sbsuny.academia.edu/WilliamDemarest


Parissa Djangi

Interests: I am an historian of modern Britain, with an emphasis on gender, social, cultural, and imperial history at the turn of the nineteenth century. My dissertation aims to trace links between diverse colonies by highlighting the critical roles that British wives of high-ranking colonial officials played throughout the British Empire.

Dissertation: "Colonial Wives: Gender Work and Trans-colonial Connections in the British Empire, 1780–1830"

Advisor: Wilson


William Edwards

Dissertation: "Pilgrims to Paradise Lost: The Effect of the Fall of Jerusalem on Christian Pilgrimage to the Holy Land" 

Advisor: Lipton


Andrew Ehrinpreis

Interests: I work at the intersection of twentieth-century Bolivian history, indigenous history, and drug history. My research concerns the evolution of coca politics, and the origins and development of coca nationalism in Bolivia.

Dissertation: "Coca Nation: The Protean Politics of Coca in Bolivia, 1900–1977"

Advisor: Gootenberg


Andrés Estefane


Carlos Gómez Florentín

Interests: My work overlaps environmental history, modern Latin American history, transnational studies, and Southern Cone history. My dissertation deals with the largest developmental megaproject of the western hemisphere—Itaipú Dam on the borderlands of Brazil and Paraguay—and its unintended effects on a new transnational region, the Upper Paraná.

Dissertation: "Transnationalizing the Dam: The Unanticipated Consequences of the Itaipú Dam in the Making of the Upper Paraná Region, 1957–1992"

Advisor: Gootenberg

Academia.edu profile: https://sbsuny.academia.edu/CarlosGomezFlorentin


Matthew Ford

Interests: Latin American postcolonial borderlands, particularly upper Andean Amazonia.

Advisor: Larson

Academia.edu profile: https://sunysb.academia.edu/MatthewWFord


Brian Gebhart

Dissertation: "Ostforschung and Empire: Race, History, and Imperialism in the Kaiserreich, 1900–1918"

Advisor: Hong

Academia.edu profile: https://sbsuny.academia.edu/BrianGebhart


Elizabeth O'Connell Gennari


Aishani Gupta

Interests: Sufism and North India; dargahs and cityscape; Sufi literature.

Advisor: Beverley


Joshua Harris

Interests: The history of telecommunications and media, with a focus on the United States.

Advisor: Frohman


Matthew Heidtmann

Interests: U.S. political history during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. More specifically, I am studying the relationships between progressive reform and conservatism, and their effects on policy-making, political culture, and statecraft, with considerable focus on the Republican party.

Dissertation: "Undercurrents of Progress: 'Stand Pat' Reformers and the Remaking of American Politics, 1881–1913"

Advisor: Masten

Academia.edu profile: https://sbsuny.academia.edu/MatthewMHeidtmann


Jordan Helin

Interests: Early U.S. political culture, French Revolution in America.

Advisor: Anderson

Academia.edu profile: https://sbsuny.academia.edu/JordanHelin


Kelly Jones

Dissertation: "Needles, Herbs, and Qi: Chinese Medicine in the United States post World War II"

Advisor: Tomes


Jennifer Jordan

Interests: I am a historian of medieval Europe with a particular interest in gender and inter-religious relations in the High Middle Ages. In my dissertation, I aim to illuminate women's networks—particularly their cross-confessional interactions—across Norman territories that stretched across the Mediterranean.

Dissertation: "Henna on their Fingers: Muslim, Jewish, and Christian Women in Norman Sicily and Southern Italy"

Advisor: Lipton


Gregory Lella


Daniel LoPreto

Interests: U.S. foreign relations in twentieth century, the origins and projections of U.S. global power, and broader themes of empire and imperialism.

Advisor: Barnhart


Erica Mukherjee

Interests: I am a historian of South Asia with a focus on the colonial period. My dissertation explores the relationship among the environment, large-scale infrastructure projects, and East India Company rule. Additional research interests include the environment, science and technology, material culture, and urban history. 

Dissertation: "Imagined Infrastructure: Railways, Embankments, and Canals in Colonial Bengal, 1820–1860"

Advisor: Beverley 

Academia.edu profile: http://sbsuny.academia.edu/EricaMukherjee


Kevin Murphy


Emmanuel Pardo

Interests: My current research focuses on the consumption and critical reception of motion pictures in Argentina between 1900 and 1940. More broadly, I am interested in representations, the narrative dimension of historical experience, and the points of contact between mass culture, literature, media innovation and conditions for political participation.

Dissertation: "Valentino's Kiss: Cinema and Political Culture in Argentina, 1895–1935"

Advisor: Zolov


Sergio Pinto-Handler

Interests: My research focuses on the history of slavery and abolition in the Atlantic world, especially Brazil. My dissertation explores how historical consciousness shaped debates over abolition in Brazil’s capital city, and how emancipation was subsequently memorialized in a particular transnational context. My broader interests include the history of state-making in Latin America, the comparative and interconnected histories of race relations in the Americas, as well as political and intellectual history. 

Dissertation: "The Last Emancipation: Rio de Janeiro and the Atlantic History of Slavery, 1879–1900"

Advisor: Larson


Caroline Propersi

Interests: I work on ninteenth-century British imperial and trans-Atlantic social movements, including anti-slavery, with a focus on gender and non-state power. I am also interested in applications of feminist and queer theory to historical scholarship.

Advisor: Wilson


David Purificato

Interests: Nineteenth-century American social and cultural history, material culture, and the history of the book. 

Advisor: Miller


Cody Rossler

Interests: Nineteenth-century British Empire, focusing on topics related to gender, race, and science in the social and cultural spheres. My current research focuses on how images of gender were communicated through the popularization of scientific racism.

Advisor: Wilson

Academia.edu profile: https://sbsuny.academia.edu/CodyRossler


Leah Savage 

Interests: I am interested in racial constructs in the United States during the twentieth century, particularly in how filmmakers represented race though characters' physical appearance, behavior, and values in films, as well responses to these representations of race in the media and among filmgoers.

Advisor: Lim

Academia.edu profile: https://sbsuny.academia.edu/LeahSavage


Aishah Scott

Interests: Twentieth-century U.S. history, public health, and African American studies. My dissertation focuses on how African American communities in the United States were (and are) distinctly affected by the HIV/AIDS crisis due to long-term healthcare disparities.

Dissertation: "The AIDS Epidemic in Black America: Making the Connections"

Advisor: Tomes


Laila Selim 

Avisor: Lipton


Gonzalo Romero Sommer

Interests: My dissertation focuses on the electrification of Peru, particularly the construction of the Mantaro Hydroelectric Power Plant. I am interested in examining the development of state infrastructural power through electricity networks. Furthermore, I wish to explore the emergence of new conceptions of Peruvian space as the Andes come be seen as an opportunity rather than a challenge regarding the generation of electric power.

Dissertation: "Empowering the Andes: Peruvian Electrification and the Mantaro Hydroelectric Power Plant, 1933–1971"

Advisor: Gootenberg

Academia.edu profile: https://sbsuny.academia.edu/GonzaloRomeroSommer


Michelle Spinelli

Interests: My background is in U.S. women's history and the history of psychiatry. Presently, I am using literature and disability theory to explore the "voice(s)" of patients in nineteenth-century insane asylums. 

Dissertation: "Echoes of Reality: Patient Voice, Print Culture, and the Nineteenth-ventury Asylum"

Advisor: Tomes


Yalile Suriel

Interests: Twentieth-century U.S. criminal justice system, specifically matters of policing, surveillance, and the construction of the carceral state in post-war America. Also: party politics, the building of state power, civil rights, and Latino studies.

Advisor: Chase


Suzanne Swartz

Interests: Holocaust studies, Polish-Jewish relations, children's history.

Dissertation: "Hidden Encounters: Jewish and Christian Children's Interactions in Nazi-Occupied Poland"

Advisors: Hong and Frohman


Richard Tomczak


Maria-Clara Torres

Interests: I am a historian of Latin America with an emphasis on drugs, peasant politics, rural conflicts, Cold War, and the Andean region. My dissertation shows how Colombia's long unresolved rural conflicts, the legacies of Cold War counterinsurgency campaigns, and the Alliance for Progress' agrarian reforms interacted with specific regional powers, peasant economies, and ethnic cultures to produce a distinct regional path to illicit coca. It illustrates Colombia's transformation into a major drug-producing country from the ground up. 

Dissertation: "The Roots of an Illicit Peasant Crop: Coca in Colombia, 1950–2010"

Advisor: Gootenberg

Academia.edu profile: https://sbsuny.academia.edu/MariaClaraTorres


David Yee

Interests: Modern Latin America, Mexico, urban history, housing. My current research explores the persistence of social inequalities in modern Mexico through a study of housing—both informal and public—that emerged on the periphery of Mexico City during the mid twentieth century.

Dissertation: "A Marginal Majority: Housing in the Mexican Metropolis, 1940–1982"

Advisor: Zolov
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