2020 marks the 9th year of the AHDA fellowship program. Since 2012, the fellowship has hosted 96 fellows who represent over 47 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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Bosch Stiftung Fellow
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”.
Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life (IRCPL) Fellow
Rana Tanveer works as a Senior Reporter with The Express Tribune daily (tribune.com.pk), a publishing partner of International New York Times. As a journalist, Rana is passionate about covering issues relating to religious minorities and human rights. He has become particularly interested in the Ahmadi religious minority and the discrimination this community faces. Writing about the activities of extremist religious organizations; issues related to terrorism among religious extremist organizations; and cases under review within the Pakistani court system are topics he covers as well. As head of a reporting team, Rana’s role at The Express Tribune also includes supervising the reporting team in Lahore to ensure coverage of all important issues of the day.
Ahmadis, who identify themselves as Muslim, but who are considered a heretical sect by the Muslim majority, face a particularly unique set of issues because of their self-identification as Muslims. The Pakistani media, for example, does not give proper coverage of atrocities suffered within their community, and censorship of publications relating to the community is widespread: it is a crime for Ahmadis to call themselves Muslim; the leadership of the Ahmadia community is forbidden from visiting Pakistan, where the largest community (approximately 2 million) of Ahmadis in the world resides; violence against members of the Ahmadiyya community is regularly committed with impunity. As a professional journalist, Rana strives to publicize both the discrimination suffered by the Ahmadi community, but also the lack of redress and tolerance within the community at large. Addressing the historical roots of this violence and the conflicting narratives about the Ahmadi identity are central to reducing discrimination towards the Ahmadiyya community, and allowing members of this community, like those of other religious minorities, to practice their religious beliefs without fear of being attacked. As an AHDA fellow, Rana will develop a project that seeks to address these issues, and that seeks to open up discussion of Ahmadi identity and place in Pakistani society.
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.
Sadiah Boonstra is currently a Project Associate at the International Institute for Asian Studies, in the Netherlands. In addition Sadiah is a freelance museum curator and previously worked as an exhibition maker and curator in various national museums in the Netherlands. She is also finishing her PhD at the Department of History at VU University in Amsterdam, where she has worked as a lecturer. As an AHDA fellow, Ms. Boonstra will develop a project that examines the mass killings that followed the violent coup attempt in Indonesia in 1965-66. Official historical discourse on the period was controlled throughout the rule of Suharto, and academic discussions have had limited success in terms of opening discussion. This project seeks to use audiovisual technology to collect the testimony of victims and their families and to create a platform for alternative histories that maps sites of violence; that opens up discussion of these events further; and that convinces the government to consider more openly the events of this period.
Serhat Çaçan is a historian, with a particular interest in oral history. He is one of the founders of the Mulberry Tree Collective which focuses on oral history research. His work in this collective is mostly about the violence of the past and its impact on different communities within Turkey. His most recent oral history work focuses on Kurdish oral traditions. In the AHDA program, he is going to implement an oral history project which focuses on the massacres in Northern Mesopotamia in the first half of the 20th Century, and more specifically the Armenian massacre. In this research project, he will collect the oral narratives of Kurdish people about "filleh"s, namely, Armenian, Assyrian, and other "non-muslim" people, then analyse them to understand how these massacres are remembered and memorialized by Kurdish people. In so doing, he seeks to initiate a dialogue between Armenians and Kurds about their shared history.
Sofia Dyak is the director of the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe in Lviv (Ukraine), an institution dealing with research and public history projects. Her responsibilities at the Center include researching and curating exhibitions and other public history projects. Before taking the position of director, she was involved in developing and realizing research projects, exhibitions and workshops, and summer programs dealing with preservation and oral history in western Ukraine, a region often described as borderland and known for its diversity before the Second World War. Dr. Dyak earned her PhD at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences (Warsaw). Her research interests include the post-war history of border cities, heritage and urban planning in post-catastrophic cities, as well as city branding. The project she will develop as an AHDA fellow is an urban history project that examines cities such as Medzhybizh, which was a center of the 18th century Jewish movement known as Hassidism. The Holocaust not only marked the destruction of Jewish communities from such towns, but also the obliteration of historical narratives that were associated with this past. The last two decades of post-socialist development have been marked by an increased nationalization of local memory that further ignores the history and diversity of these cities and their past and present inhabitants. Through educational workshops, an exhibit and a film, Dr. Dyak’s project reconstructs the history of these cities and emphasizes the multi-ethnic patchwork of these cities. In so doing, the project presents the diversity of these cities in a 21st century context, where respect towards Others is a fundamental requirement of living in today’s civilization.
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Nataša Govedarica currently works as Program Manager at Heartefact Fund, a private foundation which uses culture as a tool for social change. She is an award winning play writer and a dramaturge, and has won multiple prizes of the Bosnian Public Radio 1 for her radio plays. Her latest prize came from a festival in Bosnia for her co-authorship of a theatre play “Hypermnesia”, which tackled childhood memories of individuals from Bosnia, Serbia, and Kosovo. Ms. Govedarica was born and grew up in Sarajevo, and currently lives in Belgrade. Ms. Govedarica holds a BA in Dramaturgy from the Academy of Performing Arts, University of Sarajevo, and an MA cum laude in Human Rights (University of Sarajevo and University of Bologna). Her MA thesis on film as a medium for human rights awareness rising was published under the title “The Picture of Human Rights”. Recently Govedarica published a study “A Land of Uncertain Past”, which dealt with the politics of memory in Serbia from 1991 - 2011. As an AHDA fellow, Ms. Govedarica will develop a documentary theatre performance that examines the case of Prijedor ethnic cleansing (sometimes called the “Prijedor Genocide,”) where survivors live next to unprosecuted perpetrators and bystanders. The performance will also examine the treatment of this case in Serbia (the perpetrators’ community).
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Cleber Kemper currently works in the coordination of The Special Commission of Murders or Disappeared for Political Reasons of the Secretariat for Human Rights of the Presidency of the Republic. His office seeks to investigate the deaths and forced disappearances that took place during the Brazilian dictatorship (1946-1985), to establish a clear record of past human rights violations, and to implement and promote reparation programs for the families of the victims of the dictatorship. Mr. Kemper works specifically to resolve legal claims relating to the legacy of Brazil’s dictatorship, and to assist and follow up with cases of recognition and in compensation programs on behalf of the families of killed or disappeared people under the military regime. The project he will develop as an AHDA fellow relates to the final report of the National Truth Commission, which will be published in May 2014, and which examines the period of the military regime in Brazil. Mr. Kemper seeks to teach about the findings of the report in schools, and to create a series of public events that enable the public to engage with victims, to build empathy, and in so doing to deconstruct the national myths glorifying the military that continue to hold sway today.
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Daphne Lappa has been working for the multi-communal Association for Historical Dialogue and Research in Nicosia, Cyprus, where she holds the position of Research Officer since 2011. Ms. Lappa’s research interests evolve around the theme of coexistence in diversity, namely how religiously and ethnically diverse communities managed to live alongside in the pre-modern and modern era. She has extensive experience in the fields of social and cultural history and has worked with archival material of diverse periods and nature. She is also especially interested in the use of new technologies in history as a way of minimizing the gap between academic and public history. Ms. Lappa has studied history at the Universities of Crete and Athens, Greece. As an AHDA fellow, Ms. Lappa will work on the development of a series of graphically powerful and user-friendly on-line interactive maps that will provide a visual, alternative narrative of Nicosia as a shared and contested space (both religiously and ethnically) in the late 19th and 20th centuries, in an effort to redress the multiple fragmentations that the city’s body and memory have undergone.
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Darija Marić is a sociologist who has been working at Documenta – Center for Dealing with the Past since 2009. Her responsibilities at Documenta include coordinating field research for the project “Unveiling Personal Memories on War and Detention from 1941 until today.” The project includes the creation of a collection of 400 video-recorded testimonies on a wide range of war experiences in Croatia with the use of oral history as a method to collect and open up individual memories on past traumatic events from a wide range of perspectives, including those of minorities, victims, women, war veterans, etc. Prior to this work, Ms. Marić worked as a coordinator for the initiative for the establishment of RECOM, the Regional Commission Tasked with Establishing the Facts about All Victims of War Crimes and Other Serious Human Rights Violations Committed on the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia from 1991-2001, in Croatia. As an AHDA fellow, Ms. Marić will focus on refugee issues during and after the war in Croatia. The aim of her project is to try to increase awareness, empathy and a deeper understanding of suffering and losses experienced by different ethnic groups during and after the war in Croatia.
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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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Mikang Yang is co-chairperson of the steering committee of the Asia Peace and History Education Network and International History Forum on Peace and History, where she executes various programs in the field of historical reconciliation. She has, for example, developed materials for history classes and various campaigns related to historical matters, and she has conducted programs such as the Youth History Camp with participants from Korea, Japan and China. Dr. Yang’s work in the field history dialogue and history reconciliation also takes up the relationship between Korea, Japan, and China. She currently serves as coordinator for the publication of an alternative textbook available in all three countries entitled History to an Open Future, which is the first collaborative history textbook in East Asia. Previously Yang worked as secretary general of the Korean Council for the drafted Military Sexual Slavery by Japan from 1997-2002. She also serves as senior pastor of the Hanbaik Presbyterian Church, and in 1998 she completed her doctor of ministry degree. As an AHDA fellow, Mikang Yang seeks to develop a methodology for history and peace education that can be applied to different programs promoting historical reconciliation, and that will increase mutual trust among states and citizens in East Asia, where historical dialogue has become increasingly difficult because of territorial conflicts and the prevalence of parochial nationalism.
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Titi Yu is a documentary producer based in New York. She has produced hundreds of hours of documentaries for PBS, HBO, NBC, and History Channel. In her career, Titi has worked with such luminary media figures such as Bill Moyers, Tom Brokaw, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Michael Moore. Documentaries she’s produced have garnered prestigious awards such as the Emmy, Gracie Award, the Headliner Award and the Sidney Hillman Foundation Award. Titi holds a BA in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania and a MA in Documentary Film from Emerson College. She is currently the Editorial Producer at Futuro Media Group. The film project Ms. Yu will develop as an AHDA fellow explores what happens when in the aftermath of war, when a beleaguered nation begins the arduous task of building a civic dialogue. Ms. Yu’s film follows a group of Burmese reporters as they become pivotal players in building a newly independent, professional news media. The story examines the larger narrative of journalist and democracy in transition by asking the question, what happens after the revolution is over?
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Ekrem Murat Çelikkan is a founding member and co-director of Hafıza Merkezi, the Center for Truth, Memory and Justice, in Turkey. Çelikkan has worked as a journalist for the past 25 years, assuming the role of reporter, editor, columnist, and chief executive editor. His primary focus has been on human rights violations and democracy.
In addition to journalism, Çelikkan has been an active member of the Turkish Human Rights Movement, and he has collaborated with human rights NGOs in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Italy and Argentina. He was a founding member and has been on the boards of the Human Rights Association, Helsinki Citizens Assembly, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Foundation.
Çelikkan has also worked on projects related to the Kurdish problem and media ethics. Çelikkan has a bachelor’s degree in management from the Middle East Technical University (Turkey). As an AHDA fellow he will explore issues of historical dialogue and reconciliation regarding the Kurdish conflict, in particular with regard to the enforced disappearances of Kurds in the 1990s.
Civil Rights Defenders named Çelikkan Civil Rights Defender of the Year in 2018.