2021-2022 marks the 10th year of the AHDA fellowship program. Since 2012, the fellowship has hosted at least 106 fellows who represent over 48 countries and territories. Below please find information regarding the professional interests and accomplishments of fellows and alumni. While at Columbia, fellows design individual projects that address some aspect of a history of gross human rights violations in their society, country, and/or region.
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Ngozika Anthonia Obi-Ani is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of History and International Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. She did her PhD on “the Nigeria-Biafra war and the Occupation of Nsukka and Enugu Areas:1967-1979”. Her research focuses on social and political history, women, gender and conflict studies. Ngozika Anthonia is currently working on, “Uneasy Peace since the Civil War: A Bottom-Up Approach Perspective”. She is a member of Historical Society of Nigeria, Lagos Studies Association (LSA), Conflict Research Network West Africa (CORN) and an African Humanities Program (AHP) fellow. She is also an alumni of Partnership for African Social & Governance Research (PASGR), Nairobi, Kenya.
Laura Alvarez is a political scientist with an emphasis in democratic governability and international relations. From Cali, Colombia, Laura works at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana's Institute of Intercultural Studies (Instituto de Estudios Interculturales), which is known for its involvement in both scholarly and advocacy work. Laura's position as researcher has enabled her to work on a number of peacebuilding and applied research projects with communities that have been victims of the Colombian conflict, and that are working towards reconciliation. Recent projects include establishing a dialogue between indigenous communities and sugar cane industrialists, and the creation of a regionally-focused post-conflict development plan in Montes de Maria that involved government, women’s and victim’s organizations, and peasant, indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities.
As an AHDA fellow, Laura plans to develop a project proposal that will focus on collecting stories and testimonies about Colombian victims that have been displaced by violence, suffered human rights violations and later became heroes in their own communities, fostering reconciliation and peace building. These stories will not only be presented as reports on the Colombian post-conflict Truth Commission, but also will be made public through various media resources, so that they can be known and the victims can be acknowledged.
Laura is a Ford Foundation Fellow.
Mariam Aboughazi is a researcher and coordinator of the Memory of Conscience file for the Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), based in Cairo, Egypt, where she has been developing a narrative of the past 5 years in the country. Prior to this, Aboughazi worked on a number of projects related to memory and history, including ‘Revisiting Memory: Public Space’, with the Cimatheque Alternative Film Center, and as a research assistant on projects related to politics in Egypt. As an AHDA fellow, Aboughazi will develop a mobile application that offers downloadable walking tours of downtown Cairo narrating the different events (accompanied by testimonies, personal anecdotes and soundscapes from these events) of the Egyptian revolution and the story of political transformation, turning the city’s downtown into ‘a walking museum’.
Javeed Ul Aziz joined the Department of History at the University of Kashmir as an Assistant Professor in January 2013, where his research focuses on the economic history of modern Kashmir, the historical roots of marginalization, and the role of memory in shaping identity. Besides teaching courses on Modern Indian History and the History of Modern Kashmir, Aziz also supervises graduate projects as part of the “Gathering History from Below” initiative, which facilitates projects based on non-conventional sources that aim to bring to the fore people and communities who were hitherto hidden from history. Since 2015, Aziz has been actively involved in creating an Oral History Repository at the Department of History, working to identify persons who have witnessed oppression or have personal stories of oppression, and motivating them to come forward and record their narratives. As an AHDA fellow, Aziz will develop a project around memory and narration that attempts to identify the roots of oppression and the ways that power manifests itself differently for different communities.
Javeed joined AHDA as a Whitney M. Young Fellow.
Bosch Foundation Fellow
Nora Ahmetaj is a founder and director of the Centre for Research, Documentation and Publication (CRDP), which was established in 2010. Its foundation was inspired by a profound need to seek transitional justice, reconciliation and right to truth for victims and former adversaries of the Kosovo conflict. The mission of CRDP is to develop mechanisms related to Dealing with the Past through research, documentation, publication and advocacy. In some ways the work of CRDP came out of Ms. Ahmetaj’s experience during the armed conflict in Kosovo, when she conducted investigations of war crimes and crimes against humanity for the Humanitarian Law Centre. Ms. Ahmetaj’s work at CRDP includes developing projects in line with the mission and vision of the organization, as well as focusing on the organization’s strategic initiatives. Her responsibilities include communication, status reporting, risk management (contingency planning), fundraising, networking, lecturing and advocacy.
Prior to working at CRDP, Ms. Ahmetaj was engaged as a consultant for the European Commission, and worked for a variety of international organizations such as HLC, UNDP, ICG, AI and HRW. From 2010-2012 Ms. Ahmetaj was a member of the Regional Coordination Council of Coalition for Regional Truth Commission (RECOM) for war crimes committed during the years 1991-2001 in Former Yugoslavia. Her specialization throughout her career has been human rights, peace and conflict transformation, and transitional justice. In terms of her education, Ms. Ahmetaj was trained in human rights and international relations at Harvard’s Kennedy School, the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy which she attended in 2000. She earned an MA in Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies from the University of Tromsø, Norway in 2005, and in 2008 she attended a Tufts University workshop on Solving Non-violent Conflicts. In 2010, she was selected to attend an Advanced Learning Course for Professionals on Dealing with the Past in Switzerland. As an AHDA fellow, Ms. Ahmetaj will take up issues related to Dealing with the Past: she will develop a project that explores conceptual and practical applications regarding what reconciliation means for stakeholders within the context of Kosovo and the Western Balkans.
Dr. Niđara Ahmetašević, is an independent scholar who works in the areas of democratization and media development in post conflict societies, transitional justice, the process of facing the past, media and political propaganda, and human rights. She has had a long career as a journalist working for various local, regional and international media on human rights, war crimes, and international affairs. Her work has been published in The Observer, The Independent on Sunday, the International Justice Tribune, and Balkan Insight (among others). In 2013, together with two colleagues, Dr. Ahmetašević established the Open University Sarajevo, a platform for public discussions, social, artistic and political alternatives, and informal education.
Dr. Ahmetašević received her PhD from the University of Graz, Austria in the Program on Diversity Management and Governance. She holds an MA in Human Rights and Democratization in Southeast Europe from the University of Sarajevo/University of Bologna. Aside from the numerous awards she has received in Bosnia and internationally for her journalistic work, Dr. Ahmetašević has been recognized with a number of fellowships and academic awards, including the Chevening Scholarship, the Ron Brown Fellowship for Young Professionals, and the UNICEF Keizo Obuchi award. Dr. Ahmetašević has an extensive list of online publications, and her article “Media and Transitional Justice: Reporting on ICTY War Crimes Trials in Serbia,” appeared in the printed volume, Beyond Outreach: Transitional Justice, Culture and Society (New York: ICTJ, 2013). As an AHDA fellow, Dr. Ahmetašević is interested in employing oral history methods to examine the stories of people who were sentenced for war crimes they committed in Bosnia and Croatia, and who returned to cities where their victims, as well as families and friends, live. There are few studies that address the relationship among citizens of individual communities where perpetrators have been reintegrated into Bosnian and Croatian society, and this project will seek to open this field for further investigation of topics such as victim acknowledgement, accountability for past actions/atrocities, and the differing perceptions of the past that often continue to divide communities.
Margarita Akhvlediani started working as a journalist in the late 1980s, at age 16, and she has been working ever since as a journalist, editor and producer at local and international newspapers, radio and TV stations ever since. She has worked in the field of journalism through several wars and civil confrontations, and in 2009, she co-founded the Go Group Media/ Eyewitness Studio, where she currently serves as the organization’s director and editor-in-chief. In this position she is responsible for strategic development of the organization; coordination of its cross-Caucasus network of journalists; research within the organizations political analysis department as well as other responsibilities relating to reporting, media production, and education. In these different capacities, Ms. Akhvlediani seeks to contribute to the mission of Go Group Media in transforming the conflicts in Georgia and the South Caucuses by enhancing the quality of media and citizen journalism throughout the region.
Before founding Go Group Media, Ms. Akhvlediani served as the Caucasus Programme Director for the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), where she was responsible for managing and training journalists in Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and the North Caucasian regions of Russia. For several years, she has also taught courses on News Reporting, Conflict Reporting and Media Management to graduate students at the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs. In 2011, Margarita earned an MA in Political Philosophy, from the University of York. Ms. Akhvlediani was elected a member of the Board of Directors of the Dart Society at the Columbia University and was a Knight fellow at Stanford University. Her publications include a chapter on the information war between Georgian and Russian media during the August 2008 war, which appeared in Crisis in the Caucasus. Russia, Georgia and the West published in 2009.
Ms. Akhvlediani’s professional interests in the social and political aspects of post-Soviet history, the challenges and issues relating to self-determination in the region, and the way ordinary people are affected by this history are components that continue to define her work. As an AHDA fellow, Ms. Akhvlediani seeks to develop an oral history project that focuses on people trapped in the aftermath of violent conflict. By gathering eyewitness stories from different kinds of witnesses and former adversaries, she hopes that participants in the project will better understand and empathize with the multiplicity of perspectives that exist about the memory of violence, particularly in thinking of those who for years they regarded as enemies.
Bosch Stiftung Fellow
Ines Amri is the Founder/CEO-President of Organisation Volonté et Citoyenneté (Will and Citizenship Organization), a Youth-led and Post-Revolution NGO founded in Gabes, in the southeast of Tunisia. It has as objectives defending Human Rights, training and empowering youth leaders and women, and promoting cultural and social projects. Ines is a trainer in Strategic Planning and social entrepreneurship. She manages a local team and has significant experience designing, leading programs and training workshops. She has been a member and Alumnus of American Islamic Congress (AIC) and the Cultural Innovators Network (CIN). She has been also a certified ESL teacher since 2008 at the Tunisian Ministry of Education. She has been a Legislative Fellow, one of the four Tunisian delegates to work for the US Congress for a month. She has been placed at the office of Congresswoman Betty McCollum (Minnesota-4). Ines was appointed to serve as a member of the International Jury of the Plural+ Video Festival 2013, put on by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Ines is an alumnus of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) as she was nominated to represent Tunisia in “The Role of NGOs in Promoting Global Women’s Issues Program”.
Coming from a country that is currently living the tensions between sectarian and religious ideologies, and where identity is used as a political weapon for propaganda, Ines has also led several initiatives that explore and embrace the multiplicity of Tunisian identity, and that seek to use the memory of Tunisia’s history to ensure that religious and national identity are not co-opted by a single narrative. As an AHDA fellow, Ines seeks to develop a project that addresses the growing sectarianism and ideological conflicts developing in Tunisia, by exploring Tunisia’s past and its identity as a nation with “multiple” selves.
Dr. Alfaleet is currently the Director of International Affairs and Quality Assurance at Gaza University, a private university located in the Gaza Strip. He is responsible for managing all social and public activities between the university and the local and international communities, with particular emphasis on local universities and NGOs. Dr. Alfaleet is also a professor of political science with a strong interest in teaching political & historical courses at various Palestinian universities, with a particular emphasis on the Israeli-Arab conflict and Human Rights. Among his many projects, Dr. Alfaleet organized a ‘Model United Nations’ conference in Gaza that included four UN organizations and sought to develop young people’s capacity in leadership and diplomacy. His research projects include work on the history of the Palestinian Liberation Organization; the history of Islamic radical movements; and the changing nature of European attitudes toward the Palestinians. He has also produced a number of documentary films in Gaza to highlight the challenging economic situation, the tunnels economy, and the sewage and pollution problems that threaten to spill over into the Mediterranean. As an AHDA fellow, Dr. Alfaleet seeks to create a network of local and international NGOs and universities that pursue public discussions of peace perspectives and peace-building policies in the Middle East, and that create projects that increase the capacity of citizens in the region to do the work of peace-building. Dr. Alfaleet received his PhD in Political Science in 2010 at the Institute of Arab Research & studies, Cairo, Egypt.