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DI Welcomes New OSUN Fellows

We are happy to announce that 9 new fellows are joining the CEU Democracy Institute (DI) in the framework of the CEU Budapest-OSUN Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowship Program.

The fellowships provide an opportunity for individual research grant support to 6 post-doctoral and 3 PhD-students. Our new fellows will spend 5-12 months in Budapest and will work independently on their own individual research projects, which fit within the interdisciplinary research activities carried out at the DI and the Open Society Archives (OSA), thus contributing in full to the intellectual life of their host institution. During their fellowship, they will also contribute to the activities of the Open Society University Network (OSUN), through teaching and/or research collaborations.

Meet the new fellows

Top row (from left to right): David Karas, Eva Schwab, Anna Grutza
Middle row (from left to right): Teodora Miljojkovic, Gabor Petri, Mariam Begadze
Bottom row (from left to right): Carlos Melendez, Alberto Fierro, Elena Basheska​​​

Elena Basheska holds LL.M. in European law and PhD in law from the Faculty of Law, University of Groningen. Her research interests focus on EU enlargement, EU external relations, rule of law, citizenship matters, and protection of human rights. At the DI she will be working on the EU’s Rule of Law promotion in the Western Balkans. The project will focus on assessing the progress of the rule of law in EU candidate and potential candidate countries in the Western Balkans in light of their membership prospects. Given the specificity of the topic, strong inter-institutional cooperation will also be sought with other OSUN institutions, specifically the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory (IPST), University of Belgrade through joint projects, workshops, seminars and summer schools.

Mariam Begadze is an SJD candidate in Comparative Constitutional Law Stream of Legal Studies Department at CEU. Her current doctoral project examines health rights jurisprudence in Colombia, South Africa, and India considering its implications for the Separation of Powers doctrine in these jurisdictions and theory. As a CEU Budapest-OSUN Doctoral Fellow, she will investigate the techniques of undermining opposition-led states and local governments as well as situations of their incidental strengthening during a crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic including by examining the role of the judicial branch in allowing/bringing about such changes. Her project also includes holding a workshop in cooperation with other OSUN higher education institutions.

Alberto Fierro holds a PhD from the Doctoral School of Political Science, Public Policy and International Relations, Central European University. His autoethnographic dissertation focused on militant and participatory approaches to research. His post-doctoral project at the DI focuses on alternative paths to knowledge production and it asks about how to explore and push the existing boundaries between scholarship and activism. He will conduct collaborative research with Diana Correal (Universidad de los Andes) and the MTST – Homeless Workers’ Movement. With them, he will organize an international workshop to explore and transcend the rigidity that exists between activism and research. The objective is to develop knowledge that helps to struggle against structural inequalities. The project also offers to strengthen the inter-institutional cooperation between OSUN partners towards a better understanding of intersecting inequalities in the global context.

Anna Grutza is a PhD Candidate in Comparative History at CEU. In her dissertation she focuses on Cold War truth regimes, questions of epistemology, subjectivity and objectivity in relation to the work of Radio Free Europe. In her research project at the DI and OSA, she investigates how information analysis at Radio Free Europe and the Polish secret services in the 1950s-70s dealt with and produced error, ignorance and unreliability, all at the same time. Furthermore, while historicizing the mis/usages of the term ‘paranoia’ by US social scientists, she traces ‘paranoia’ as an epistemic criterion and organizing concept, and its feedback processes upon Cold War scientific and political discourses. The project also aims to foster collaboration with other OSUN institutions, in particular the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard College and the Interdisciplinary Research Cluster “Democracy in the 21st Century” at the EUI.

David Karas is a French-Hungarian political economist working on developmental policies in emerging economies. He holds an MA in Comparative Politics from Sciences Po Paris, an MA in Nationalism Studies from CEU and a PhD in Social and Political Sciences from the EUI. At the DI, his post-doctoral research project examines how the European Commission utilized ongoing reforms to redeploy EU development finance to Sub-Saharan Africa by leveraging private capital as a platform to expand its own political and geopolitical influence. Building on his contacts established during his previous work at the OSCE Academy in Bishkek, he also aims to foster a strategy of regionalization among OSUN-affiliated institutions starting with Central Asia, and continuing with Latin America. Regional partner universities would collaborate in conferences, workshops, and curriculum development on democracy for undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Carlos Melendez holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame, United States. He is Professor at Universidad Diego Portales (Chile). His academic work has been published in various prestigious journals, and he has contributed to publications edited by Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press. The aim of his research project at the DI is to bring together the literature on populist demand and negative partisanship at the individual level in Latin America and Europe, based on original survey data. As part of the activities of this fellowship, he aims to create a repository of the public opinion data corresponding to the Latin America cases. The accessibility of this information will strengthen cooperation in research among OSUN higher education institutions and will close the gap in understanding empirically how populist appeals work at the individual level in the Latin American region.

Teodora Miljojkovic is an SJD candidate at the Department of Legal Studies at Central European University in Vienna. Her work focuses on the interplay between the principles of judicial independence and rule of law through the assessment of phenomena emerging under the judicial reforms' framework - court-packing, court-purging and judicial vetting. During her fellowship at the CEU DI, in line with her PhD research, she will explore two specific phenomena - court-packing and judicial vetting, which are deeply embedded with the rule of law narrative. Hence, the analysis of the contexts, rationales but also the legal tools through which the interference with the judicial independence takes place in court-packing and judicial vetting will shed light on the use and abuse of the rule of law principle in judicial reforms setting. The project includes the organization of conferences, symposiums, panels and lectures hosting researchers and students from all OSUN institutions, as well as workshops or crash-courses in collaboration with the CEU offered online to other OSUN institutions.

Gabor Petri received his PhD at the University of Kent, Tizard Centre in 2019, where his research explored the position of self-advocates in the learning disability and autism advocacy movement. His research interests include post-socialist disability policies, the disabled people’s movement, disability human rights, mental health policies, the use of EU Structural Funds, and community-based services. As studies are lacking about the movement's current position vis-á-vis governments in Central and Eastern Europe, at the DI, he will explore the current position of the disabled people's movement in public policy-making in Central and Eastern Europe, with a specific focus on four countries: Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Serbia. The project also supports OSUN organizations in these countries.

Eva Schwab received her PhD at the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Central European University. Her research interests are in the area of historical sociology, (post-)socialist urbanization, and policing. As an OSUN Post-doctoral Fellow, she will investigate civic vigilantism as a lens on how communal order and air pollution become sites for the articulation of middle classness in a city that is increasingly restructured to serve the interests of international capital. The project includes the organization of a workshop in cooperation with the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, which would bring together perspectives on urban participatory governance from the post-socialist cities and the Global South contributing to the production of urban theory from the (semi-)periphery, further fostering the cooperation among OSUN partner institutions.

The Open Society University Network (OSUN) is a network of higher education institutions aiming at creating a long-lasting network with deep partnerships among diverse institutions committed to addressing global challenges collaboratively.