Faculty Fellows

Asher Ghertner

I am an interdisciplinary geographer interested in the technologies and tactics through which mass displacement is conceived, justified and enacted. My research uses the contemporary politics of urban renewal in India to challenge conventional theories of economic transition, city planning, and political rule. I taught for two years at the London School of Economics before joining Rutgers in 2012. I am the current Graduate Program Director in Geography and served as the Director of the South Asian Studies Program at Rutgers from 2013-2020.  I am the author or editor of three books and have published widely on subaltern urbanism, environmental politics, aesthetic governmentality, property, and the uses and limits of gentrification theory. Faculty Page

Trinidad Rico

Dr Rico is also Senior Honorary Lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology of University College London and currently serving in the Executive Committee of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies. Dr Rico's areas of research in critical heritage studies include risk, Islamic materiality, ethnography and the vernacularization of heritage discourses and expertise and heritage ethics. Her current research projects focus on the mobilization of Islamic values in the Arabian Peninsula and the study of heritage and secrecy in South America. She is co-editor of Cultural Heritage in the Arabian Peninsula (Ashgate, 2014) and Heritage Keywords: Rhetoric and Redescription in Cultural Heritage (University Press of Colorado, 2015); as well as author of Constructing Destruction: Heritage Narratives in the Tsunami City (UCL Institute of Archaeology Critical Cultural Heritage Series, Routledge 2016). She is also founding editor of the series Heritage Studies in the Muslim World (Palgrave...

Mary Rizzo

Mary Rizzo earned a PhD in American Studies from the University of Minnesota. Her research and teaching centers on 20th century American cultural and urban history; public history theory, methods and practice; and, digital humanities. She is the author of two books. The most recent, Come and Be Shocked: Baltimore Beyond John Waters and The Wire (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020) examines how Baltimore has been represented in popular culture since the 1950s. Including both well-known depictions like The Wire and Hairspray alongside less-remembered examples such as the TV show Roc or the poetry magazine Chicory, the book analyzes the political economy and racial implications of cultural representation, showing how artists and city leaders battled over the image of the city. It was awarded the 2021 Arline Custer Memorial Award from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference for its use of diverse archival sources. Through this research she rediscovered Chicory, which published...

Sean Silver

I teach the literature and culture of the British Restoration and eighteenth century. Related interests include complex systems, the history of science, the origins of the museum, cognitive studies, and the history of ideas and craft practices. I am the author of The Mind Is a Collection, which traces the history of our most prevalent mental models. The book is the exhibit catalogue of a virtual museum, www.mindisacollection.org, which I hope you will visit. I am now working on a cultural history of complexity, a particularly modern way of thinking about the world. These interests find their way into my classroom. Two courses which I particularly enjoy teaching are a seminar on museums and literature, in which students become curators of literary objects, and a class I call “Reading With Your Laptop,” in which students learn the rudiments of the programming language “R,” and apply their new skills to unpack literary texts.. Faculty Page

Samah Selim

Samah Selim received her BA in English Literature from Barnard College in 1986 and her PhD from the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University in 1997.  She has taught at Columbia University, Princeton University, the University of Aix-en-Provence and the American University in Cairo, and she is co-director of the literature module of the Berlin-based postdoctoral research program, Europe in the Middle East; the Middle East in Europe. Her research focuses mainly on modern Arabic Literature in Egypt and the Levant, with a particular interest in narrative genres like the novel and short story; comparative theories of fiction, and the politics of translation practice in colonial and postcolonial contexts. Her most recent book, Popular Fiction, Translation and the Nadha in Egypt (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019) is on the cultural and literary politics surrounding the translation of the novel into Arabic at the beginning of the twentieth century. She is...

Diane Wong

Diane Wong is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University, Newark. She is also an affiliate faculty of Global Urban Studies, American Studies, and Women's and Gender Studies. Previously, she was Assistant Professor and Faculty Fellow in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University. She holds a Ph.D. in American Politics and M.A. in Comparative Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration from the Department of Government at Cornell University. Currently, she is a faculty fellow at the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice and the Center for Cultural Analysis. Her research and teaching interests include American politics, race and ethnicity, critical urban studies, comparative immigration, gender and sexuality, cultural and media studies, and community rooted research. Her current book project, You Can’t Evict A Movement: Intergenerational Activism and Housing Justice in New York City, focuses on intergenerational resistance to gentrification in...

Graduate Fellows

Sal Ayah Camarillo

Sal Ayah Camarillo is a graduate student in the Department of English.

Paulina Barrios

Paulina Maria Barrios is a graduate student at the Program in Comparative Literature at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. She holds an M.A. in Asian and African studies, special subject Africa, from El Colegio de México, and has experience working in translation and feminist resource mobilization. For her PhD she currently aims to analyze the use of literature by grassroots feminist and queer organizations in Latin America and Africa.

Aaron Martin

Aaron Martin is in his fourth year in the Rutgers Ph.D. program. He uses a variety of methods to study catastrophic risk and the role of predictive tools and practices in risk governance. Martin’s research examines how organizations and institutions assess uncertainty related to extreme risk and the implications of these assessments for risk policy and decision-making. He is currently a Fellow at the Center for Cultural Analysis at Rutgers and has previously held Fellowships at the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute and the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis. Prior to Rutgers, Aaron spent six years building partnerships between governments, foundations, and human rights organizations in Washington, D.C. He received his B.A. in English and Education from Houghton College and his M.A. in Sociology from Rutgers University.

Carolina Sanchez

Carolina Sanchez is a graduate student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. She is a Fulbright scholar, M.A. in Literary Criticism and B.A. in Philosophy from the National University of Colombia. She worked for four years as Editorial Assistant of the Philosophy Journal Ideas y Valores and co-founded the Colombian independent publishing house: El lobo está en el bosque libros. She works on political transitions in Contemporary Latin America, representations of spaces and belonging in visual narratives, and poetics and politics of space. She uses conceptual tools from Ecocriticism, Continental Philosophy, Film Studies, and Literature.

Leo Valdes

Leo Valdes is a PhD candidate in the Department of History specializing in US-based social movements and the carceral state. Valdes’ dissertation explores the political cultures of Black and Latinx trans/nonbinary communities in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area. Valdes is an oral historian and community researcher who collaborates with grassroots groups including the Rikers Public Memory Project and Movimiento Cosecha.

Postdoctoral Associates

Dima Abi Saab

Dima Abi Saab received her Ph.D. from New York University in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies in the Cultural Studies track. She is currently working on her book manuscript based on research conducted for her dissertation, Geographies of War: Scalar Containment, Municipal Politics, and the Making of Post-War Lebanon. Dima’s project engages with the politics of scale as a framework from which to examine the legislative, territorial, and social mechanisms involved in reclaiming territoriality and sovereignty with the collapse of the Lebanese state. She examines how sect-based militias created the blueprint for Lebanon’s post-war governmentality through the formation of quasi-autonomous archipelagos where militias governed through the formation of checkpoints, popular committees, and the provisioning of services. She thinks through the impact of specters of violence, the afterlives of visual politics, and the ontological experiences involved in navigating geographies of war, which...

Jake Silver

Jake Silver is a cultural anthropologist who works with Palestinian astronomers, city planners, GIS experts, and activists to study the contemporary dimensions and volumes of Israel’s occupation. His work shakes our understandings of the sky as a stable environmental object and instead approaches how politics and political conflicts bring it into being, creating multiple skies that we each experience differently. In so doing, he hopes to offer new frameworks for grasping colonial settlement that best address its reaches and contours (sometimes far above our heads) today. Email: js3342@cca.rutgers.edu  

Affiliated Fellows

Matthew Libassi

Matthew Libassi is a researcher and educator interested in the relationships between people, nature, and power. His work focuses on natural resource use, conflict, and governance, as well as more broadly on uneven human experiences of environmental change. Matt’s current project analyzes the politics of gold mining in Indonesia. He examines how contemporary modes of resource extraction have been historically produced and how they are experienced, engaged with, and contested by neighboring communities. In particular, he is interested in the growth of small-scale, unlicensed mining and the ways its participants are resisting or demanding incorporation into formal resource policies. Matt holds a PhD in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from UC Berkeley and a BA in International Studies from Vassar College.