2016 marks the 5th year of the AHDA fellowship program. To date we have had over 50 fellows in the program representing over 30 countries. Below find information regarding the professional interests and accomplishments of select 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. Click here to read more about the fellows' projects.
Click here to read about more about the work of our Fellows.
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.
Bonita Bennett is Director of the District Six Museum in Cape Town, South Africa. Prior to this, Bennett worked as a youth worker for the Diocese of Cape Town, a high school teacher, a project manager for the South African Institute of Race Relations, and as a research and project manager for the African Tenants Verification Project of the Western Cape Land Claims Commission. Bennett’s work in the non-profit and public sector has sought to bring together her pedagogical training and her political activism, and she has combined skills gleaned during the days of the anti-apartheid struggle with her formal training to inform her approach to her position as Director of the District Six Museum. As an AHDA fellow, Bennett will develop school curricula that use moments in South Africa’s national history—employing storytelling, performance, creative writing, the arts, and history—to illuminate current realities and link the past to the present, with the overarching message that the past matters.
Benji de la Piedra is an independent oral historian and writer living in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA. He is currently at work on an oral history project that explores the biography of Herbert Denton Jr (1943-1989), a little-known but legendary journalist at The Washington Post whose life and work provide a window onto issues of race, sexuality, and political culture in the second half of American twentieth century history. Previous work includes his M.A. oral history thesis project, entitled “That Something Else”: Botkin, Portelli and Ellison on Democratic Pluralism and the Dialogical Encounter. During his time as an ADHA Fellow, de la Piedra will be developing a project that gathers and interprets oral histories from current graduate students at Columbia. The project aims to explore perceptions of race, gender, and identity on an American college campus, with the goal of initiating a restorative campus-wide dialogue about the ideal of diversity and feelings of institutional disavowal.
María José Kahn Silva holds a degree in Art History (Universidad de Buenos Aires). Since September 2015, she has been responsible for Educational, Artistic and Museographical Development at ESMA Memory Site, where she is working to develop International Cooperation by building networks between the Site and the international community to promote human rights, memory and museums. Prior to this she coordinated the Educational Department at MALBA -Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, developing educational programs and collaborative actions between the museum and social organizations and worked as a Bilingual Museum Educator. She has assisted investigators and cultural agents at Fundación Proa and the Latin America Research Center of Harvard Business School in Argentina. In addition to these activities, Kahn Silva teaches Art History at Escuela Motivarte. As an AHDA fellow, Kahn Silva will develop an education program that invites security and military students to visit the ESMA Memory Site, as a way to learn about and understand the human rights violations committed during the last military dictatorship in Argentina.
Simon Kaneneka, born in Uvira, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is a survivor of the two wars that ravaged the country. After studying Communication Sciences at the Université Lumière de Bujunbura in Burundi, he began working as Director of Communication and Engagement at IMPACT NGO in 2011. At IMPACT, Kaneneka manages a team of 8 staff to design and develop initiatives that make use of documentation to promote dialogue and reconciliation for survivors of sexual violence and former combatants within communities affected by war. Prior to this, he managed civic mass education on general elections in Eastern DRC and was an observer from the civil society delegation for the 2006 general elections in the country. As an AHDA fellow, Kaneneka will develop a project that seeks to use the thousands of stories from perpetrators and victims to initiate reconciliation through the traditional method of “BARAZA” and to work towards the reintegration of combatants into the community.
Miraji Magai Juma Maira is a Programme Officer at the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation, the Foundation founded and named after the first President of the United Republic of Tanzania. Maira also serves as Secretary of the National Committee for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities of the United Republic of Tanzania. Prior to this, he served as Regional Coordinator of the Regional Civil Society Forum Provisional Secretariat of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) in its establishment phase. His work at the Foundation and the National Committee seeks to contribute to conflict resolution and reconciliation, peace building, and promoting human development by developing and implementing pertinent programs and projects. As an AHDA fellow, Maira will develop a project called “Prevention of land conflicts in Tanzania: A case study of the land conflict between farmers and pastoralists in Kiteto”, which seeks to address this more than 10-year conflict through historical dialogue processes.
Elena Monicelli has been a Coordinator at the Peace School Foundation of Monte Sole, in Bologna, Italy, since 2009, having joined the School as a Senior Officer in 2004. As Coordinator, Monicelli develops educational workshops and conducts historical research on the link between memory and citizenship education, memory and post-conflict reconciliation, and memory and public political discourses. She also coordinates the School’s finances, fundraising, research projects, and other activities. In addition, Monicelli is a founding member of the “International Coalition of Sites of Conscience – Europe”. As an AHDA fellow, Monicelli will develop a project on the dehumanization of migrants and victims of torture by analyzing which kinds of political, social, and anthropological discourses delete the adjective ‘human’ from a being in order to let some behaviors and attitudes apply to him or her without perceiving it as an injustice, a violation, or a crime.
Natalia Petrova is Director of Public Relations at Memorial International Society in Moscow, Russia, where she develops PR strategy, designs campaigns, and organizes art projects designed to present historical memory. Prior to this, she worked as a researcher at All-Union Rehabilitation Center, and later moved on to work at the Carnegie Moscow Center, Nature Magazine, Google, and the Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Among her interests are the problems of preserving the memory of the past, personal memory, and art projects related to the preservation of memory. As an AHDA fellow, Petrova will work on a project called “Burying the Dead and Ghosts of Soviet/Stalin’s Past”, which aims to promote intensive discussion of what happened in Russia starting from the October Revolution of 1917.
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.
Marijana Toma is Deputy Executive Director at the Humanitarian Law Center, where she works on documenting war crimes, oral history, forced disappearances and transitional justice. During the past 13 years, she has been involved in numerous transitional justice projects in the region and internationally. She was the Coordinator of the task force for drafting the mandate for the Regional Commission for establishing facts about war crimes and other violations of human rights in Yugoslavia (RECOM). Prior to this, Toma was a Serbia Programme Coordinator at Impunity Watch, where she worked on the promotion of accountability for atrocities in countries emerging from a violent past, and as part of the International Organisation for Migration Mission in Serbia she worked on the issue of legal migration. During her time in South Africa completing her Masters studies in transitional Justice, she worked as a consultant for the International Centre for Transitional Justice. Toma writes and lectures on transitional justice in numerous regional and international informal and formal educational programmes. As an AHDA fellow, Toma will develop a project that seeks to bring educators and youth in schools into the debate on the responsible and factual representation of the former Yugoslavia’s past, with the aim of reforming the formal history education curriculum.