Alumni Postdoc Fellow

Mneesha Gellman, Ph.D.

Alumni Fellows

Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research
Schifferstr. 44
47059 Duisburg

Tel:  +49 (0)203 379-5230
Fax: +49 (0)203 379-5276
E-mail: gellman@spam


Mneesha Gellman, Ph.D., joined Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research as a Postdoc Fellow. She conducted her research in Research Unit 4 “Paradoxes and Perspectives of Democratization” from April to December 2014.

Research Project at the Centre

Shaming and Claiming: Ethnic Minority Social Movements in Mexico, Turkey, and El Salvador

Mneesha Gellman’s research examines variation in ethnic minority mobilizations for cultural rights. She asks the question; how, why, and under what conditions do ethnic minority communities advocate for increased cultural rights from their states? Despite many common characteristics—such as democratizing political regimes and legacies of state and paramilitary persecution—ethnic minority groups in Mexico, Turkey, and El Salvador make cultural rights demands on their states to different degrees and in different ways. Gellman’s research demonstrates that highly mobilized communities, those that visibly and vocally demand state recognition and funding for minority cultural projects, generally use narratives about historic violence to instrumentally press their cases, and experience less political, economic, and cultural accommodation by their states. As a result, some communities use more extra-institutional rather than institutional claim-making tactics. By contrast, less mobilized communities produce weaker narratives about past violence, sometimes enjoy higher degrees of state accommodation, and tend to use institutional channels for claim-making. In sum, the interaction between narratives of violence and state accommodation shapes mobilization patterns. The project seeks to contribute to an understanding of democratization as a dynamic process that includes memory and narratives as integral to political behavior choices in social movements.

Research Interests

  • Minority rights
  • Social movements
  • Language politics
  • Democratization
  • Politics of multiculturalism and pluri-ethnicity

Current Projects

  • Learning the Culture of Silence: The Politics of Forgetting in Sierra Leonean Education
  • “Shaming and Claiming: The Right to Remember and Speak in Mexico and Turkey”
  • “Unifying Tongue, Unified Nation? Language Politics in Sierra Leone”
  • “Vamos a Regresar:” The Right to Autonomy in San Juan Copala, Mexico


10/2013-01/2014 University of Sierra Leone
Fourah Bay College
Visiting Lecturer
09/2008-12/2013 Northwestern University, Chicago, USA
Politics Department
PhD, Comparative Politics, International Relations
06/2013 Syracuse University, USA
Institute for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research
08/2008-12/2008 Northwestern University, Evanston, USA
Research Assistant
07/2007-07/2008 University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
Research Assistant
2008-2013 (intermittent) Northwestern University, Chicago, USA
Politics Department
Doctoral Research abroad in Mexico, Turkey and El Salvador
07/2006-12/2007 University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
Department of Political Science
MA in International Studies/Peace and Conflict Resolution
12/2006-02/2007 Khmer Institute of Democracy, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Conflict Manager
06/2006-07/2006 Organization of American States, Sucre, Bolivia
Elections Observer
03/2006-07/2006 United Nations Development Programme, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Conflict Analyst
07/2003-09/2005 Mainstream Media Project, Arcata, USA
Associate Producer
08/1999-05/2003 Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, USA
Department of Political Studies
BA in Political Studies with Concentration in Latin America and Iberian Studies


Gellman, Meesha (2012): Memories of Violence: The Role of Apology in Turkey’s Democratization Process. Democratization, April: 1-24.

Gellman, Meesha (2010): World Views in Peace Building: a Post-conflict Reconstruction Challenge in Cambodia. Development in Practice 20 (1): 85-98.

Gellman, Meesha (2009): From Sulha to Salaam: Connecting Local Knowledge with International Negotiations for Lasting Peace in Palestine/Israel. Conflict Resolution Quarterly 26 (2): 127-148. (co-authored with Mandi Vuinovich)

Gellman, Meesha (2008): Justice or Reconciliation? The Khmer Rouge Tribunal, in: Debidatta Aurobinda Mahapatra and Seema Shekhawat (eds.), Afro-Asian Conflicts: Changing Contours, Costs and Consequences, New Century Publications: Delhi, 101-127.

Gellman, Meesha (2008): No Justice, No peace: Cambodia's Post-Conflict Reconstruction Challenges. Asian Perspective 32 (2): 37-57.

Gellman, Meesha (2007): Powerful Cultures: Indigenous and Western Conflict Resolution Processes in Cambodia. Peace, Conflict and Development 11: 1-28.

Teaching Responsibilities

University of Sierra Leone, Fourah Bay College, Visiting Lecturer, Sierra Leone, 10/2013 – 01/2014

  • Social Research Methods


Northwestern University, School of Continuing Studies, Instructor, Evanston, IL, 9/2011 – 12/2011

  • Political Science 356, The US and Latin America
  • Designed and taught upper level undergraduate seminar. Created and implemented syllabus, lectures, and assessment mechanisms, including student debates, presentations, and final research papers

Northwestern University, Searle Center for Teaching Excellence, Graduate Teaching Certificate Program, Evanston, IL, 9/2010 – 8/2011

  • Interdisciplinary program dedicated to teaching methods, syllabus and assessment design

Northwestern University, Teaching Assistant, Evanston, IL, 9/2009 – 12/2011

  • Introduction to International Relations (Dr. Ian Hurd), (Dr. Michael Loriaux)
  • Law in the Political Arena (Dr. Mark Iris)
  • International Environmental Politics (Dr. Yael Wolinsky)
  • Methods of Political Inference (Dr. James Mahoney)
  • Democratization (Dr. Edward Gibson)

University of Queensland, Teaching Assistant, Brisbane, Australia, 2/2007 – 12/2007

  • Introduction to Inequality in Development (Dr. Heloise Weber)
  • Peace and Conflict Analysis (Dr. Bryn Hughes)

Seminars and Conferences

  • Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology: Integration and Conflict along the Upper Guinea Coast Conference, “Unifying Tongue, Unified Nation? Language Politics in Sierra Leone”, Germany, 10/14 (paper proposed)
  • Reconstructing Minds: The Ethics of Post-War Memory and Recollection, University of Lapland, Finland, 08/2014 (paper accepted, forthcoming)
  • Latin American Studies Association Conference, “Making citizens at school: Tensions in pluri-cultural education” Panel Organizer, and Panelist, Chicago, IL, 5/2014 (panel accepted, forthcoming)
  • Social Science History Association, “Comparative Claim-Making”, Co-chair and Panelist, Chicago, IL, 11/2013
  • American Political Science Association, “Ethnic Minority Rights Mobilization in Mexico, Turkey and El Salvador”, Panelist, Chicago, IL, 8/2013
  • Latin American Studies Association Conference, “El Salvador’s New Social Contract”, Panel Organizer, Chair, and Panelist, Washington DC, 5/2013
  • Nicholas D. Chabraja Center for Historical Studies, International Doctoral Workshop, The Politics of Multiculturalism in Turkey: Kurdish Language Rights, Panelist, Bogaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey, 4/2013
  • Latin American Studies Association Conference, “Vamos a Regresar”: The Right to Autonomy in San Juan Copala, Oaxaca, Mexico”, Panelist and panel co-chair, San Francisco, CA, 5/2012
  • Northwestern University, Global Engagement Summer Institute, invited lecturer, “The Political Economy of Nicaragua”, 6/22/2011
  • Northwestern University, Methods of Political Inference undergraduate class, invited lecturer, “Case Study Methods”, 5/2011
  • University of Toronto, Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, invited panelist, Community Approaches to Peace Conference, “Cambodian Reconciliation Strategies”, Canada, 1/2011


  • American Political Science Association, Member, Comparative Politics and Qualitative Methods Section Member, since 2012
  • Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies, Global Research Team Member, since 2011
  • Midwest Political Science Association, Member, since 2009
  • Latin American Studies Association, Member, Central America and Mexico Section Member, since 2009
  • International Society for Cultural History, Member, since 2009
  • Buffett Center for Comparative and International Studies, Graduate Affiliate, Northwestern University, 2009–2013
  • Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Cluster Fellow, Northwestern University, 2008–2013


  • Dispute Resolution Research Center, Research Grant, Northwestern University, El Salvador fieldwork, 4/12 – 5/12
  • Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies, Summer Research Grant, Mexico fieldwork, 1/12-3/12
  • Graduate Research Grant, The Graduate School, Northwestern University, Mexico fieldwork, 1/2012-3/2012
  • Keyman Modern Turkey Research Grant, Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies, Northwestern University, 2/2011 – 3/2011
  • Critical Language Scholarship, US Department of State, Yeditepe University, Istanbul, Turkey, 6/2010 – 8/2010, (fully funded summer language immersion)
  • Dispute Resolution Research Center, Research Grant, Northwestern University, 1/10 – 4/10
  • Keyman Modern Turkey Research Grant, Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies, Northwestern University, 6/2009 – 8/2009
  • Rotary Foundation World Peace Fellowship, 3/2006 – 11/2007 (fully funded two year MA)
  • Antonio Gramsci Award for Best Thesis in Applied Political Economy, Bard College 5/2003

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