Summer Doctoral Fellows

CHR is thrilled to have the support of Mason's Graduate Division to offer competitive summer fellowships to doctoral fellows conducting research in the humanities. Visit our events page for opportunities to connect with our fellows and hear about their work!

Deepika Hooda

Deepika Hooda is a doctoral candidate in Sociology at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, George Mason University. Her research interest includes globalization, political economy, labor, migration, computational social science, and social movements.

Deepika's dissertation project is titled "Rethinking marginalization: A qualitative study of highly skilled migration, a case of Indian IT workers in the US." The phenomenon of international migration exerts a profound influence on social life, generating intricate effects that extend beyond the migrants themselves to impact both their country of origin and the host society. As migrants navigate through unfamiliar, ambiguous, and often uncertain living conditions in their new host country, they encounter a multitude of challenges. This doctoral dissertation project focuses on understanding the difficulties faced by highly skilled Indian IT workers in the United States, with a particular emphasis on their labor market participation while on temporary work visas. By employing ethnographic methods, this research project aims to delve into the complex processes of 'meaning making,' while capturing the nuanced and multifaceted lived experiences of temporary work visa holders. The study further explores critical concepts such as the racialization and marginalization of skilled Indian IT workers, as well as prevailing notions of the 'model minority' stereotype.

Ayondela McDole

Ayondela McDole holds a Master of Arts in Pan African Studies from Syracuse University and a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Studies from Columbia College Chicago. Her dissertation, "Working Paradise: An ethnographic study of tourism labor in the 21st century Caribbean," uses critical ethnography to examine the work experiences of a staff on a elite luxury resort in the Bahamas. The project, spanning five years, uses participant observations, oral histories and interviews to examine the day-to-day social relations between staff, management and tourists. In total, seventy interviews and oral histories were performed that included staff members, managers, consultants, and guests. By examining the workforce that sustains the tourism industry, Ayondela interrogates the exploitative nature of high-end tourism in the world today. Her other projects include the politics of Black representations in popular culture. 

Mohamed Mohamed

Mohamed Mohamed is a PhD candidate at the George Mason University’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology. His work draws from the sociology of religion, political sociology, and theories of globalization to examine how and under what circumstances might domestic religious actors influence global politics. Prior to embarking on his PhD journey, Mohamed earned two master’s degrees: one in Islamic Studies from the George Washington University, where he was a Fulbright scholar, and another in Middle Eastern Studies from King’s College London, where he was a Chevening scholar. Additionally, he recently conducted a research visit at the University of Oxford Department of International Development (ODID), focusing on a project titled "Beyond the Instrumentalization Thesis: The Reconfiguration of al-Azhar-State Relationship in Post-Coup Egypt."

At CHR, Mohamed will be working on a project centered around an interdisciplinary exploration of the complex intersections between sociology of religion, political sociology, and globalization theories. Specifically, hisdoctoral research seeks to comprehensively examine the dynamics of the relationship between domestic religious actors and the broader global political landscape. Through the dissertation, entitled “Beyond the National: The Role of al-Azhar in Global Politics After 9/11”, Mohamed embarked on a comprehensive investigation of the myriad ways in which al-Azhar — a thousand-year-old prestigious Sunni religious edifice — has been intricately involved in transnational politics over the past two decades. Building on the existing literature, he contends that the majority of studies on the intersection of al-Azhar and politics are limited by a methodological approach that is anchored in national frameworks, failing to consider the broader transnational phenomena that transcend parochial nationalistic perspectives. Drawing upon his interdisciplinary background, his research offers an alternative epistemological and methodological framework, that traces the discursive evolution of al-Azhar’s global political role and investigates the factors that have been conducive to its formation. Through this lens, Mohamed aim to offer a comprehensive understanding of the complex interplay between religion, politics, and globalization, ultimately contributing to the broader discourse on the intersection of religion and global politics. 

Kevin Nazar

Kevin Nazar is a Doctoral Candidate of Public and Applied Sociology at George Mason University where he is Graduate Lecturer for the Sociology Department and the Honors College as well as part of the Global South Hub at the Center for Social Science Research. Kevin's research areas involve Sociology of Development, Hyper-nationalism, Immigration, Globalization, Sociology of Health, Social Psychology and Quantitative Research Methods. Prior to coming to GMU Kevin was a consultant for several United Nations and International Cooperation agencies in Latin America where he also received his Masters Degree in Political Science and Philosophy.

Kevin's project is titled "Contemporary Social Correlates and Predictors to the Emergence of Hyper-nationalism." This study is examines the socio-economic configurations that may lead to the emergence of the phenomenon known as Hypernationalism in the world. This dissertation uses data from Gallup Inc., the World Bank, United Nations development indicators and historical data from 144 countries to try to elucidate the situations that are generating the modern day threat of Hypernationalism. The methodology implemented involves both Qualitative Comparative Analysis and Logistic Regression Models. The results of this study are important both to address the modern social divisions brought about by Xenophobia and Ethnocentrism as well as for international security.

Breonna Riddick

Breonna Riddick is a PhD Candidate and Graduate Teaching & Research Assistant in the Department of Communication. Her research interests include health communication and advocacy, interpersonal communication and intercultural communication. Much of her research focuses on the intersections of health, identity, power and culture in various contexts. Bree also serves as a birth doula, a labor-support person who provides emotional, educational and physical support to families as they prepare to bring forward new life! Improving perinatal healthcare is one of Bree’s main goals for her research areas bridged with her practice as a birth worker. 

Bree's project is titled "Making Birth Stories Matter(s): An Examination of Health, Communication, Culture and Identity through Critical Autoethnography and Narratives of Women Birthing with Doulas." Birth doulas are described as trained labor-support professionals who provide continuous emotional, physical and informational support for families during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum periods. Birth doulas have increased healthy birth outcomes, including reducing unnecessary medical interventions and decreasing the time spent in the most intense phases of labor. In the current context of maternal and perinatal healthcare in the United States, the relationship between birthing people and birth doulas is a site for cultural analysis to understand how culture, structure and agency intertwine to influence birthing decisions and outcomes. This dissertation blends two qualitative methodologies (critical autoethnography and semi-structured interviews with women who have given birth with a doula present) to interrogate the intersections of disposability, democracy, capitalism, and social justice for birthing women in the United States. These stories are important for transforming narratives around birth and improving health outcomes for birthing women and future generations. 

Ian Sinnett

Ian Sinnett is a PhD candidate in Cultural Studies. His research interests are in popular culture and popular music with an emphasis on hip hop, cultural memory, affect theory, media and technology studies, and Marxian political economy. His work has appeared in the peer-reviewed journals Riffs and Lateral.  

Ian's dissertation project, "Hip Hop Sampling, Temporality, and the Politics of Memory," investigates the emergence of hip hop sampling and its social and political effects by concentrating on 1980s New York City, where and when the practice is thought to have originated. With this locational and temporal focus, he examine how the particular factors of this historical conjuncture - e.g. the rise of neoliberal capitalism and its effects on urban working class communities - shaped sampling’s rise as a dominant expressive and creative practice. By employing various cultural studies frameworks, Ian hopes to parse out the ways in which material conditions interact with the creative practice of sampling, the broader hip hop community, and the culture of hip hop in general. Furthermore, he seeks to present a deep analysis of hip hop sampling's connection to the surreal, and the sociopolitical potentials of sampling's formal aesthetics. Sampling, with its reliance on the hip hop aesthetic of "the break," explicitly represents temporal disjuncture and historical nonlinearity, and it is this intentional application of the break through sampling that Ian seeks to interrogate.

Sevil Suleymani

Sevil Suleymani (her/hers) is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology with an emphasis on gender and globalization. Her research interests are nationalism, minorities in the Middle East and social movements, gender regimes in Middle Eastern communities, and feminist and queer movements in Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Iran. She is currently a GTA in the Communication department and working on her dissertation. 

Sevil's project is titled "Nationalism and the Politics of Identity Inclusion in Iran." This study analyzes the relationship between nationalism and historiography by discussing the concept of Aryanism as a race and the role of racialization processes in constructing the Iranian national identity. The Aryan race ideology had become fundamental for building the nation and determining which communities would be included in the country's national identity, which resulted in the adaptation of Persian identity as superior by forcing other groups and communities to assimilate and Persianize.

Amy Zhang

Amy Zhang is a PhD Candidate in Cultural Studies. Her dissertation is titled "Contested Legitimacy: Art Museums in the Arabian Peninsula." It studies the development of art museums in the Arabian Peninsula during the 21st century as examples of how legitimacy is constructed and maintained by art institutions in the non-West. It locates the establishment of art museums in Qatar and the U.A.E. within the context of an intensely conflicted art world where ideas about the universality and autonomy of art that were formerly axiomatic to the field have become challenged but not fully unsettled. It shows how the counterintuitive forms that 21st-century Arabian Peninsula art museums take, and their ambivalent Western media reception demonstrate that the contemporary art world remains structured to exclude, despite how desires for the globalization of art and presumptions about the universal value of art remain motivating principles within the art world. It argues that art museums in Qatar and the U.A.E. fully embody the institutional contradictions of the contemporary fine art world. As a result, new Arabian Peninsula art museums, as much as established ones, inhabit an unsustainable position.