Projects Funded by MCI


Hatou Camara: Exploring Modes of Irregular Migration and Reintegration of Returned Migrants in Accra, Ghana

Jennith Lucas: More than Clients: Blind Industrial Workers and the Struggle to Organize at the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind


Cassie Dutton: Non-Professional South Asian Immigrants and Citizenship Making in the Labor Market

Aaron M. Hoy: Same-Sex Marriage and Citizenship: Insights from the Divorced

Andrew Korn: Staying Connected: How Malians in the U.S. practice Malian citizenship

Jessica Posega: (Re)Productive Lives: Exploring Life Histories of Pro-Choice Volunteers and Activists in Ireland and Northern Ireland

Taapsi Ramchandani: “Power from Towers to Ours”: Citizenship and Civic Engagement in Trinidad and Tobago

Taveeshi Singh: Serving the Nation: Domestic Labor and Welfare Work in the Indian Army

Jared Van Ramshsorst: Emotion, Migration, and the Undocumented Journey from Central America to the U.S.


Madonna Harrington Meyer: SOC 300 US Social Policy and Citizenship

Dr. Azra Hromadžić: Citizenship Across Cultures and Societies

Tosca Maria Bruno-VanVijfeijken: Emerging forms of Trans-boundary citizenship? Citizen participation through NGOs in a digital Age

Corrinne B Zoli: Citizenship, Military Service, and Perspectivism


Hatou Camara

Exploring Modes of Irregular Migration and Reintegration of Returned Migrants in Accra, Ghana


This research is primarily concerned with the reintegration of returned migrants in various Ghanaian communities on the outskirts of Accra. I am interested in exploring modes in which migrants navigate and negotiate their role in their respective communities and how families and community members come to make meaning of loss. In doing so I will structure my research based on the following questions: How do returned migrants reintegrate into their communities having left for varying periods of time? How do they negotiate the bounds of their role (s) in their communities? The goal of this study is to offer the voices of migrants who are often left out of policy decisions made for and about them.

This summer I took part in an eight-week summer internship and fieldwork practicum at the Ghanaian chapter of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). IOM staff members in the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) program, provided individual contacts for interviews. Along with a group of five other student interns from Syracuse University, I interviewed twelve returnees, ten men and two women. The irregular migration patterns in the greater Accra region tells a story of predominantly unskilled and unemployed young men who are disenchanted with job prospects in the country, and seek upward mobility and job security elsewhere. Poor working conditions and wages are a few of the driving factors. Though quite a number of returnees were enchanted with real life examples of Ghanaians who have returned after making a decent living and thus want the same opportunities, many more were plagued by high unemployment, cost of living, and the waning interest in farming among young people. The choice between remaining in an atmosphere of uncertainty in a home country or attaining even the slightest possibility of rebuilding their lives is certainly not made voluntarily.


Jennith Lucas

More than Clients: Blind Industrial Workers and the Struggle to Organize at the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind


This research project explores the experiences and history of labor organizing by blind industrial workers at the Chicago Lighthouse for the blind in the 1970s. Organizing efforts by Lighthouse workers brought their case before the National Labor Relations board, who ruled that the disabled employees at segregated workshop environments like the Lighthouse could collectively bargain. This project seeks to understand the relationship between the disabled and nondisabled workers and how disabled workers participate in employment and citizenship within the labor system.

This summer, I conducted an extensive literature review, accessed a variety of newspaper archives, drafted research protocols, wrote a prospectus, and networked with the Lighthouse’s archives department. 



Cassie Dutton

Non-Professional South Asian Immigrants and Citizenship Making in the Labor Market


This project looks to expand on immigrant literature by examining the ways in which non-professional South Asian immigrants manage the notions of citizenship and belonging in the United States labor market. Empirically speaking, the field of non-professional South Asian immigrant population is woefully under-studied. Theoretically, this study contributes to other literature regarding immigration and notions of citizenship. Ong (2003) for example, discusses the ways in which the definition of citizenship has evolved over the past several decades, arguing that for immigrants with lower levels of social and cultural capital, this acquisition of citizenship is particularly difficult, as they may not adhere to the norms dictated by the receiving country. Dhingra (2012) complicates this further to argue that political rhetoric and discourse have assigned full citizenship to non-professional Indian immigrant entrepreneurs, whether or not these immigrants feel that they are full citizens. This project aims to put collected data in conversation with current literature and these theoretical discussions of citizenship and immigration.

Having time over the summer allowed me the opportunity to begin my work on this project for the Maxwell Citizenship Initiative. First and foremost, I was able to gain IRB approval, which was an important step in this research project. I also spent a considerable amount of time working on the literature review and gaining access to the South Asian community and building rapport so that I can conduct successful interviews this fall.  Laying this important groundwork was fundamental to the continued success of this research project.


Aaron M. Hoy

Same-Sex Marriage and Citizenship: Insights from the Divorced


This project uses semi-structured, in-depth interviews to explore the entanglements of marriage, divorce, and citizenship for divorced gays and lesbians. In the fight for marriage equality, advocates argued that marriage is crucial to citizenship. Many rights, including some related to taxation, inheritance, and parenting, are accessible only through marriage. Marriage also remains an important source of legitimacy and respectability, especially for same-sex couples. Recent research indicates that many gays and lesbians now marry in order to obtain the rights attached to marriage, and upon marrying, some find that they are finally accepted by family members and others. However, scholars have yet to explore same-sex divorce or the extent to which “first-class citizenship” is affected by divorce. Thus, in my project, I ask: For gays and lesbians who experience acceptance upon marrying, does this acceptance disappear with divorce? And how might the conditions of their divorce shape whether family members and others continue to accept or reject them?

I obtained IRB approval for this project at the end of spring 2016. During the summer, I released recruitment materials via several LGBT organizations throughout New York State. I also posted these materials at several law firms in the Central New York area. I then began conducting interviews; thus far, I have conducted 3. I also began to draft sections of the literature review for my dissertation, which synthesize scholarship on the public nature of marriage and its evolving relationship to citizenship, as well as scholarship addressing how sexuality affects inclusion and exclusion.


Andrew Korn

Staying Connected: How Malians in the U.S. practice Malian citizenship


This project seeks to discover how Malians living in the U.S. stay connected with Malians residing in Mali. International travel for work and education is a common practice for Malians and the diaspora population contributes much to the country in the form of money, expertise and ideas. Malians living abroad also tend to maintain strong connections to Mali. Due to these connections and influences, it is likely that the Malian diaspora has considerable influence on Malians residing in Mali. New ideas and understandings of concepts such as citizenship that evolve after living in the U.S. may also be transmitted to Malians living in Mali.

Over the summer I interviewed twenty Malians living across the U.S. Roughly two-thirds of interviews were conducted in person in Washington DC and New York City where there are large concentrations of Malians, the rest were conducted over the phone. These were informal, semi-structured interviews focused on how my interviewee ended up in the U.S., how they keep in touch with Mali, if their identities and ideas of citizenship have shifted after living in the U.S., and how the Malian diaspora influences people residing in Mali.  


Jessica Posega

(Re)Productive Lives: Exploring Life Histories of Pro-Choice Volunteers and Activists in Ireland and Northern Ireland

My multi-sited project uses life histories of pro-choice activists in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland as the starting point for exploring their social networks on multiple levels from local, national, all island, and to international. Active members of these pro-choice networks represent a range in terms of age, gender identity, religion, and nation of origin. Many activists and pro-choice groups rely on the discourse of women’s rights as human rights, that engages with notions of autonomy and bodily citizenship. My project uses a collaborative research model grounded in life history methodology with a feminist, critical medical anthropology approach to contextualize and frame the lives of multinational volunteers’ work for pro-choice causes in Ireland and Northern Ireland. This approach allows for critical interpretation of the data, and the research itself, from the individual to the global level. It also allows for comparisons across life histories that illuminate the ways in which reproductive rights, abortion, citizenship and stigma are conceptualized through individual women’s narratives and how they reflect different cultural, economic, political and legal contexts.

Research conducted during summer 2016 lead to a dramatic change in the focus of my project. The previous focus was on a transnational reproductive rights organization in the Netherlands. The project is now based in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Therefore summer research involved travel throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland and meeting with local pro-choice organizations. During this time I gained official permission to research with four of these groups.


Taapsi Ramchandani

“Power from Towers to Ours”: Citizenship and Civic Engagement in Trinidad and Tobago


My doctoral dissertation examines civic engagement in Trinidad and Tobago (TT). Using the action-oriented framework of public consultations on local government reform that were held over four months early in 2016, my research delves into the performance and practice of participatory democracy to address two core questions: In the absence of strong local mechanisms for civic engagement, how effective are state-controlled public consultations in facilitating public participation? How does participation through this format shape, incubate, and reveal citizenship of the attending public? The promise for reform was first propounded in 1965, three years after the country gained its independence from the British Crown. However, in 2015, it was the first time that local government reform took center stage in a national election battle that ushered in the current ruling party, the People’s National Movement. As such, this historical juncture presents a unique opportunity to examine the motivations and frustrations of an engaged citizenry within the mundane context of “yet another consultation”.

 In June 2016, I completed three months of fieldwork in San Fernando (SF) and relocated to Sangre Grande (SG) to compare and contrast public perceptions following the conclusion of the consultations in April 2016. SF and SG are both “swing municipalities” and have the lowest and highest ratings of multi-dimensional poverty in the country. Ethnographic research across these regions promises a rich and compelling account of how citizenship is differently conceived both as a legal status and normative aspiration of a demanding, deserving individual in relation to the state.


Taveeshi Singh

Serving the Nation: Domestic Labor and Welfare Work in the Indian Army


This research looks at contemporary labor practices of the Indian army rooted in colonial legacy and mediated by gender, class, caste, race and rank. I focus on two practices that serve to reify power differentials in officer-soldier relations in the domestic and family spheres: (i) household chores and care work informally performed by soldiers in domestic spaces of officers, and (ii) charity work programmed into regimental welfare meetings, a regulated space of contact between soldiers’ wives and officers’ wives. Through this research I seek to examine more broadly the production of dominant and subordinate masculinities through social, cultural and psychological practices—as they vary across the subjectivities of military personnel and dependents—employed in the making of ideal military citizen-subjects in contemporary India.

This summer I traveled to India to do archival research in military libraries and carry out preliminary interviews with soldiers and officers. I traveled around the country to meet with retired soldiers who shared with me their varying experiences of sahayak service work. I plan to return in December to revisit the soldiers, spend time with their families and connect with non-profits working for soldiers' and ex-servicemen's rights.


Jared Van Ramshsorst

Emotion, Migration, and the Undocumented Journey from Central America to the U.S.


Every year, hundreds of thousands of migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras travel to the U.S. Long before Central American migrants reach the U.S.-Mexico border, however, they travel thousands of miles across jungles, deserts, and sprawling urban centers in Mexico, frequently seeking refuge in migrant shelters scattered along the way. Whether travelling by foot or by car, migrants spend weeks, months, and sometimes years in transit to the U.S., encountering incredible dangers along the way, including human trafficking, dehydration, robbery, and in many cases, death. My dissertation examines the emotional dimensions of these journeys, exploring how emotions in the sites and spaces between Central America and the U.S. shape the mobility of migrants, as well as their identities in transit. Using interviews and participation observation, I will conduct eight months of fieldwork in Mexico and along the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas.

This summer, I began the first stage of my research in Ixtepec, Mexico—a key waypoint for migrants travelling from Central America to the U.S. While volunteering at a migrant shelter, I spoke with staff members and interviewed Central American migrants about their journeys to the U.S. This research is ongoing, and I will remain in Mexico until December. In January, I will begin the second stage of my fieldwork, which will take place in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas.



SOC 300 US Social Policy and Citizenship

To be Taught AY 2018-2019

Instructor: Madonna Harrington Meyer

Course Description

The purpose of this course is to provide students with an introduction to the interplay between US social policy and citizenship.  The US has a wide array of social programs.  Some are social assistance programs designed to aid only the poorest for short periods of times.  Others are social insurance programs designed to aid all who are old and/or disabled. Each one of these policies has different sets of rules about eligibility and benefits on the basis of citizenship.  We will analyze the changing definition and enforcement of citizenship over time; examine inequalities linked to citizenship status and other sociodemographic variables, particularly SES, gender, race, and ethnicity; assess the citizenship requirements for various social policies; and explore social and economic support programs created entirely for immigrants.  We will employ a variety of theoretical frameworks to address issues related to citizenship and social policy. To balance this macro-level approach, we will explore the individual experience of immigration and citizenship through documentaries and speakers.


Citizenship Across Cultures and Societies

Fall Semester 2017

Instructor: Dr. Azra Hromadžić

Course Description

Citizenship is one of the most powerful markers of belonging in the modern world. Not surprisingly, the idea of citizen-belonging, inclusion and exclusion has been the theme of significant interest in a variety of disciplines, including anthropology. This course looks at how anthropologists have been approaching, grasping, naming, studying and theorizing processes and practices of citizen-identification, belonging and exclusion in different socio-cultural, political and historical contexts. 

This survey course is divided into two main parts. The first part titled Citizens, States and Nations looks at how the relations and intersections of race, sexuality, gender, generation, “biology” and ethnicity shape the rules, obligations, expectations, experiences and boundaries of citizenship in different national contexts. Here the students will learn about: “biological citizenship” in post-socialist Ukraine; ethnicization of citizenship and anti-citizenship practices among youth in postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina; the relationship among race, sex, and citizenship in contemporary Germany; and the experiences of marginalization, immigration, illegality and citizenship in the US. The second half of the course titled Trans-border and Emerging Regimes of Citizenship illuminates citizen-practices beyond the nation-state and it examines the emerging forms of transnational, neoliberal and radical forms of citizen-identification and mobilization. In this part of the course, students will explore: the emergence of global elite citizens; the embodiment of (post)colonial citizenship in transnational Jamaica; neoliberal forms of citizenship in Italy; experiences of citizenship in Palestinian exile; diasporic citizenship in Dubai; and the forms of radical politics and emerging regimes of citizenship in Croatia and Slovenia.


Emerging forms of Trans-boundary citizenship? Citizen participation through NGOs in a digital Age

Led by Tosca Maria Bruno-VanVijfeijken

The Transnational NGO Initiative (TNGO) has, for the past two years, developed a research agenda focused on the effect of digital technologies on international NGOs. This work includes developing a more nuanced understanding of the ways in which digital strategies and tools used by these organizations may broaden and deepen civic participation in the societies where they operate. In the last 18 months we have conducted a range of interviews with key informants representing a diverse sample of international NGOs on topics related to these issues, and have produced a conference paper outlining our findings and a suggesting areas of future research. Additionally, our research in this field has allowed us to cultivate a number of productive relationships with both academics and practitioners interested in similar research questions. Funding from the Maxwell Citizenship Initiative has given us the necessary financial support to send a TNGO graduate researcher to Berlin to present our current research at the annual conference of the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR), and to participate on our behalf in a research roundtable at the Hertie School of Governance. Both are unique opportunities to collaborate with friends, colleagues, and practitioners and to better coordinate our future research efforts."


Citizenship, Military Service, and Perspectivism

Led by Corrinne B Zoli

 Participating/Invited Faculty include:

  • John Burdick (committed)
  • Robert Rubinstein (committed, Principal)
  • Susan Wadley (invited)
  • Jackie Orr
  • Azra Hromadzic

This summer 2016, the group on “Citizenship, Military Service, and Perspectivism” 

(1.) discussed and developed a bibliography of relevant, interdisciplinary scholarship

 (2.) added two new members to informal discussions (Jackie Orr and Azra Hromadzic);

(3.) scheduled two dinner meetings for the month of October; and

(4.) collaboratively co-authored two chapter contributions in anthropology, with an additional essay in the works on the military and culture: (a.) Robert A. Rubinstein & Corri Zoli, “Military Culture And Humanitarian Actions: Short-Term Gains And Long-Term Losses,” in H.C. Breede ed., Force and Tool:  How Culture Shapes and Is Used By the Military (University of British Columbia Press, forthcoming); (b.) R. Rubinstein & C. Zoli, “Civil-Military Relations in the United States: Notes on Mutual Discontents and Disruptive Logics,” in Birgitte Refslund Sørensen & Eyal Ben-Ari eds., Rethinking Civil-Military Relations: Anthropological Perspectives (in progress); and (c.) R. Rubinstein & C. Zoli, “The Abuse of Culture: Rethinking Anthropological and Military Strategic Uses of Culture in Conflict Settings” (in progress). 

The group—despite tight schedules—is eager to meet to address in a dialogical format the following research questions that inform many of the group-members work:

  1. Why are contemporary U.S. military service members often considered exemplars of American citizenship?
  2. Where do such citizenship assumptions come from? Are they based in norms, ideals (“service to country”), practice, history, institutions, bureaucratic politics, and/or other areas? Are they distinctive to the United States?
  3. Which social science fields have investigated this link between military service and citizenship, and how do qualitative and ethnographic data collection methods figure into this research? What role do especially recent (Gulf War/Post-9/11) service members’ perspectives play in this research?

Many of these questions are treated in Ken MacLeish’s, Making War at Fort Hood: Life and Uncertainty in a Military Community (Princeton UP, 2013)—the first work scheduled for discussion in October 2016.