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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Pınar Sayan is Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Beykoz University, Visiting Scholar at University of Cambridge and Scholar at Istanbul Political Research Institute. She received Bachelor’s degree from Marmara University; Master’s degrees from Boğaziçi University and London School of Economics; and PhD degree from Marmara University. She is a recipient of the Jean Monnet Scholarship, Humanity in Action Pat Cox Fellowship, Swedish Institute Fellowship, Georg Eckert Institute Fellowship among others and was a visiting researcher at Stockholm University Institute for Turkish Studies and Georg Eckert Institute. Previously, she acted as the Turkey Director of Imagine Center for Conflict Transformation and co-editor of Caucasus Edition: Journal of Conflict Transformation. She takes part in civil society projects addressing conflict transformation, human rights and minority rights as coordinator, consultant, trainer or facilitator.
Marigona Shabiu is a human rights activist from Kosovo. Since 2017 she has been working as Executive Director at Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Kosovo (YIHR KS), leading a multi-ethnic group of young people who are working towards fostering a free, equal, just and peaceful society in Kosovo as well as in the Western Balkans region. Marigona holds a Master's Degree in Public Affairs from the Indiana University Bloomington in the United States. While doing her graduate studies, she completed an internship at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. In 2014, Marigona founded a youth NGO in her hometown focused on human rights, inter-cultural dialogue and youth empowerment. She has more than eight years of experience in the civil society sector working with different local and international NGOs. Marigona is a passionate activist for human rights, peace and gender equality.
Bayar Mustafa Sevdeen is an assistant professor at the College of International Studies at the American University of Kurdistan. He has fifteen years of expertise in supervising and teaching undergraduate and graduate students at a number of universities. Sevdeenhas taught the courses “Turkey and Iran Politics”, “Modern History of Europe”, “Political History of Kurdistan/Iraq and international Issues”. He is currently active in two projects: Politics of Kurds and Kurdistan and the survival and societal transformation among the Yazidis after the last genocide.
In addition, Sevdeen has been working as advisor at the International Middle-East Peace Research Center (IMPR) since 2012. He is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Center for Peace and Human Security (CPHS) at the American University of Kurdistan (AUK). He has also worked in the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the ‘Turkey division’ as a diplomat during period from 2010 to 2013.
Velma Šarić is Founder and Executive Director of the Post-Conflict Research Center (PCRC) Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Šarić has extensive academic and professional experience in the fields of sociology, genocide studies and international law and war crimes. As a graduate of the BBC reporting school, she has dedicated her 14-year career to investigative reporting in the Western Balkans. Šarić has worked as a journalist for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) and as a researcher on numerous publications and films about the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, including “Uspomene 677”, “In the Land of Blood and Honey” by Angelina Jolie, and “I Came to Testify” and “War Redefined” from PBS’ Women, War & Peace series. She is also the founder of Balkan Diskurs, a non-profit, multimedia platform dedicated to challenging stereotypes and providing viewpoints on society, culture, and politics in the Western Balkans. In 2014, Velma and the Post-Conflict Research Center were awarded the Intercultural Innovation Award by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC). As an AHDA fellow, Šarić will work on a multimedia education project called ‘Ordinary Heroes’, which utilizes stories of rescue and moral courage—through workshops, a photography exhibit, and a documentary series—to promote tolerance, reconciliation and interethnic cooperation in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Louisa Slavkova is a founding member and director of Sofia Platform, an organization that focuses on dealing with the past and promoting democracy in Bulgaria, as well as in EU’s Eastern and Southern neighbourhoods. In addition, she is programme manager at the European Council on Foreign Relations, supporting the organization in managing activities and its cross-programme work. Between 2011 and 2013 she served as an advisor to the Bulgarian minister of foreign affairs Nickolay Mladenov and to the caretaker minister of environment Julian Popov. She is co-editor of the 2015 book “Unrewarding crossroads? The Black Sea Region amidst the European Union and Russia”. Louisa is a PhD candidate and holds an MA in political science and history from the University of Cologne in Germany, and her research interests include looking at EU’s foreign policy towards its neighbours to the East and South. As an AHDA fellow, Slavkova will develop a project that examines the response on the part of many Cenral and Eastern European countries to prevent predominantly Muslim refugees from entering their respective countries, and the connections that exist between this response and the failure on the part of many of these countries to fully and properly confront their communist past.
Bosch Stiftung Fellow
Subha Ghale works as a project coordinator for the National Indigenous Women’s Federation (NIWF) in Kathmandu, Nepal. She has worked with various other organizations such as Heifer International Nepal, and the National Human Rights Commission Nepal/UNDP, and the Asia Foundation, primarily on issues related to gender, indigenous women’s rights, and human rights. She has a Master's in Rural Development from Tribhuvan University, Nepal and a Master's in Human Rights and Democratization from the University of Sydney Australia. Subha's association with NIWF has increasingly sharpened her awareness about the situation of indigenous women in Nepal. Indigenous peoples make up over one-third of the total population of Nepal.
She is keen to deepen her knowledge about the experiences of indigenous women in Nepal and the history of discrimination against them. A question she seeks to address is how to strengthen their voices and move beyond tokenism to ensure their inclusion. As an AHDA Fellow, Subha plans to to develop an oral history project on the personal narratives of indigenous women who were affected by the decade-long armed conflict (1996-2006) in Nepal. How do they understand their experiences, and how do they define truth and justice? How are their wartime experiences intertwined with their social and cultural identity? Subha will use oral history as a tool to uncover an alternative history of the conflict, and hopes this will help bring about policy attuned to the experiences of historically marginalized groups.
Petar Subotin is the Regional Development Officer of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Regional Network, BIRN Hub, and has held this position since 2010. The BIRN Network aims to build and strengthen media capacity in the Balkans, in the belief that better reporting, and the scrutiny and analysis that such reporting entails, contributes to political, social, and economic reforms and transitional justice efforts. Petar’s role is related to the development of the BIRN Network – expanding the Network’s influence within and beyond the Balkan region. He works closely on the Balkan Transitional Justice program that aims to improve the general public’s understanding of transitional justice issues in former Yugoslav countries. Aside from designing the program and securing funds for its continuation, he oversees monitoring and evaluation of the program’s activities that include publishing and broadcasting balanced reports (online, radio and TV) in a variety of different languages (Albanian, Bosnian/Croatian/Montenegrin/Serbian, Macedonian and English). Petar graduated from media studies as the top student at Philosophy Faculty in Novi Sad, University of Novi Sad, Serbia. After graduation he participated in the Professional Development Year program organized by Voice of America, where he studied journalism for a year at University of El Paso, Texas, US. In 2011, he studied cycle management and European integrations at the College of Europe in Bruge, Belgium.
Petar’s professional involvement in dealing with the past emerged from his experience as a teenager, during the wars and violence that occurred in the Balkans during 1990s. Although history was taught in schools, there was almost no opportunity to understand or contextualize the events being taught due to intense media pressure and the nationalist narratives that defined that period. While media played a crucial role in the wars of the 1990s, TV, radio and print also served as main sources of information (as opposed to textbooks). Taking part in shaping the public’s discourse has inspired Petar’s awareness of the importance of dealing with the past, and the responsibility that lies with younger generations to open the public discussion by exposing the crimes that were committed in the name of a people or a country. As an AHDA fellow, Petar will develop a multi-media project that examines the acts of one of the most notorious military units, the “Serbian Volunteer Guard”.
Dahlia Scheindlin is an international political and strategic consultant whose expertise is public opinion research; she is also an academic and a writer. Ms. Scheindlin is based in Tel Aviv, where she moved from New York City in 1997; she has developed research-based strategy for electoral, social, and corporate campaigns in more than a dozen countries. She is currently a doctoral candidate in political science at Tel Aviv University, researching unrecognized (or de facto) states. Ms. Scheindlin has advised political campaigns on public opinion and strategy since 1999, including four national campaigns in Israel, as well as political and other public campaigns in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Austria, Italy, Serbia, the USA, Cyprus and Greece. She also works extensively on issues of conflict resolution and human rights; she has conducted extensive research for the government during the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at Camp David negotiations in 2000 and currently conducts research and advises a number of peace and human rights groups in Israel. Ms. Scheindlin has contributed opinion articles to major publications and blogs regularly at 972mag.com. As an AHDA fellow, Ms. Scheindlin’s project takes up the issue of Palestinian refugees. She seeks to explore fresh ways for Israel to acknowledge and take responsibility for traumas perpetrated on others, and to move the discourse on the topic to the mainstream Israeli public.
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Tammi Sharpe is presently on a sabbatical from the United Nations (UN), serving as a Human Rights Fellow at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) and carrying out independent research on the U.S. Civil War and Civil Rights Movement. The purpose of her research is to examine peacebuilding lessons from U.S. history, focusing on the legacies of slavery and segregation. Prior to her sabbatical, Sharpe worked for fifteen years with the UN in humanitarian protection, promotion of human rights and peace-building. Her main affiliation is with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees but she has also served with the Department of Peacekeeping and the Peacebuilding Support Office. The majority of her service has been in the field serving in: Angola, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. She also worked at Headquarters in Geneva and New York. Before joining the UN, she worked on immigration policy in Washington, D.C. and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal. Sharpe earned a BA in Political Science from Columbia University and an MA in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. As an AHDA fellow, Ms. Sharpe seeks to develop a project that would enable the BCRI to expand its oral history project to include members of the white community who either actively or passively opposed the Civil Rights Movement.
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Jolanta Steciuk works as an NGO analyst at the Polish-American Community Assistance Fund in Warsaw. Since 2008, Ms. Steciuk has played a central role in the Fund for Civic Initiatives, for the Grant Program of the Polish Ministry of Labor and Social Policy. She has been involved in a number of projects involving Poland, the Caucasus and the Balkans that have taken up issues of historical dialogue, accountability and the development of local communities and the NGO sector. Ms. Steciuk is also a Member of the Young Journalists Association POLIS and the author of the book All Shall Be Different, which received Book of the Summer Award from the BibliotekaRaczynskich in 2010. Ms. Steciuk has conducted a series of interviews with Polish human rights activist and publicist HalinaBortnowska. JolantaSteciuk obtained a degree in Law from Warsaw University, Law and Administration Faculty and was a fellow in the “Human Rights and Religious Freedom Program” at Columbia University in 1997.
Ms. Steciuk’s project at AHDA seeks to explore the aftermath of World War II in Poland and neighboring countries, with a particular focus on the redrawing of national borders and the forced transfers of populations. Ms. Steciuk is investigating how these shifts contributed to the narratives and memory that has since been developed in Poland, Germany and Ukraine. She is interested in models of building shared narratives.
Irena Stefoska works as an Associate Professor of Research at the Institute of National History, University Ss. “Cyril and Methodius” in Skopje. Her main areas of research include the theory and methodology of history, and the modern phenomena of nation and nationalism related to the Macedonian historiography. In the last decade, Dr. Stefoska has participated in various national and international projects related to the teaching of history. Dr. Stefoska holds a bachelor’s degree in Classical Philology from the University of Cyril and Methodius (Skopje), a master’s degree in Medieval Studies from the Central European University (Budapest), a master’s degree in Byzantine Studies from Belgrade University (Belgrade) and a doctorate from the University Ss. “Cyril and Methodius” (Skopje). She was also the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship, for which she was a visiting research scholar at Brown University. Dr. Stefoska’s project while an AHDA fellow, entitled “The Burden of the Past: Teaching Macedonia (1945-1991),” offers an innovative approach to teaching history in the multiethnic society that defines Macedonia that stimulates peace, diversity and understanding.
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