Cultural Anthropology

Donna Auston

Donna AustonPhD Student
Advisor: Parvis Ghassem-Fachandi
Program: Cultural Anthropology (CITE)
Research Interests: My research interests include race, ethnicity, Islamophobia, gender, the body, phenomenology and embodiment, religion, language, media representation, and Islam in America.

My dissertation is an ethnographic study of Islam, race, sprituality, and protest through an examination of Black Muslim activism in the northeastern U.S., within the context of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Elizabeth (Lissa) Crane

PhD Student
Advisor: Louisa Schein
Program: Cultural Anthropology (CITE)

Research Interests: philanthropy; critical humanitarian studies; gender;
feminist anthropology; U.S.; China

I study contemporary philanthropy in two different contexts: women’s/feminist philanthropy based in the U.S. (but often with global reach); and Chinese social philanthropy.  In both cases, my research focuses on conceptualizations of “effective” philanthropy and the development of “best practices,” as well as on the role played by affective and instrumental donor-recipient relationships in the distribution of philanthropic gifts.

Reecha Das

DasPhD Student
Advisor: Dr. Parvis Ghassem-Fachandi
Program: Cultural Anthropology (CITE)

Research Interests: Law, kinship, gender, violence, religion, courtroom discourse, North India

My research is based in Uttar Pradesh, India where I study how exogamous romantic relationships, such as inter-religious or inter-caste relationships, are policed and criminalized despite there being no laws prohibiting such relationships.

I hold a degree in Law from the National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata. Prior to joining the graduate program at Rutgers, I worked at the Right to Education Resource Centre at IIM-Ahmedabad and at the Centre for Law and Policy Research, Bangalore.

William Downey

WilliamDowneyPhD Student
Advisor: Omar Al-Dewachi
Program: Cultural Anthropology (CITE)

Research Interests: Cultures of Militarism and Militarization, Political Economy, Organizational Anthropology, Affect among agents of Empire, Mental Illness, the Violence (and magic) of everyday life.

William Downey is an anti-war veteran whose time in the Marine Corps led to a radical rethinking of the often unseen violence that keeps the cultural machinery of everyday life (dys)functioning. He's interested in the creation and circulation of affect and worldview among private military and security companies, and their role as intermediaries of global finance, nationalism(s), and its relevance to the changing nature of the nation-state.”

Nada El-Kouny

hamed headshot ballad NadaPhD Student
Advisor: Becky Schulthies
Program: Cultural Anthropology (CITE)
Research interests: Infrastructure, political action, mobility, inter-generational disjunctures, structural violence, memory, Revolution, Rural Egypt.   
My dissertation research, currently being written, is an ethnographic (and partly archival) study of infrastructure, state-making and political action in Rural Egypt. I focus on two villages in the Egypt's Nile Delta region to address how the state produces itself and enacts itself through built infrastructures. I additionally look at how citizens in return, experience, utilize and contest infrastructural projects (or their lack) and what meanings and imaginations revolve around them. On a theoretical level, I conceive of infrastructure both in its material form: roads, bridges, railways; as well as "social infrastructures" of communicative practices, social mobility, and political mobilization. Emerging from my research sites, it is evident how both the physical and social infrastructures together are co-constitutive in producing political subjectivities in Egypt. 

Andres M. Gonzalez-Saiz

Andres 3 79d13   PhD Student
   Advisor: Ulla Berg
   Program: Cultural Anthropology (CITE)

I am interested in the intersection between the state, violence and the body in the Colombian armed forces as they go through the implementation of a transitional justice process.

Dalia Ibraheem

Dalia IbraheemPhD student
Advisor: Omar Al-Dewachi
Program: Cultural Anthropology (CITE)

Research interests: Anthropology of sports, leisure, pop culture; human rights

I hold an MA in Anthropology from the American University in Cairo AUC. My masters thesis “Ultras Ahlawy and the Spectacle: Subjects, Resistance and the Organized Football Fandom in Egypt” won Magda al-Nouwahi award in gender studies for best writing thesis in 2016. I am interested in anthropology of sports, leisure and pop culture.

For ten years, I worked as a human rights practitioner at The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR). I am the author of the report “The Trap: Punishing Sexual Difference in Egypt”, which documents the state crackdown on the users of queer dating applications especially gay men and those who are perceived as gays.

Mary Elizabeth Knipper (Bird)

PhD student 
Advisor: Peter Guarnaccia
Program: Cultural Anthropology (CITE)

My name is Mary Beth Knipper, and I’m very excited to be joining the Rutgers Department of Anthropology. I have a B.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering from Virginia Commonwealth University and an M.Sc. in Medical Anthropology from the University of Oxford. After completing my Master’s degree in 2011, I joined the U.S. Peace Corps and spent two wonderful years serving as a high school Math and Physics teacher in a rural village in northern Lesotho. In 2015, I returned to Lesotho as a U.S. Fulbright Student Scholar. My research focuses primarily on examining selective utilization of prenatal HIV testing amongst Basotho mothers in the remote community of Motete in the eastern highlands of the country. In the coming years as a PhD student, I am interested in shifting this research to further explore local protective exposure practices for infants in the region. In 2016, I joined the Robert Wood Johnson Rutgers-Princeton M.D/Ph.D. Program. I completed my second year of Medical School in 2018, and now look forward to focusing on my Anthropology PhD degree for the next several years!

Dunstan Matungwa

Dunstan MatungwaPhD Student
Advisor: Angelique Haugerud
Program: Cultural Anthropology (CITE)  

 Dunstan Matungwa, a Ph.D. Candidate in the CITE program, holds an M.A. in Anthropology from Rutgers University as well as an M.A. and a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Broadly, his research interest is to understand how people negotiate social, cultural, political and economic relations, structures and processes that mediate their lives to produce precarity, suffering and ill health. While paying attention to liberal and non-liberal forms of agency, he studies how people shape and are shaped by these relations, structures and processes as well as their resulting forms of subjectivities. His dissertation research is an ethnography that explores non-client, female-centered social relations and networks among women who sell sex in Tanzania to examine their economic, political, social, and emotional significance. In this research, he asks: what motivates women to engage in selling sex? With whom, how, and why do women who sell sex develop different forms of social relations and networks? What are the “forms of power” or “infrapolitics” that arise from these social relations and networks and how can they be understood? How do women who sell sex draw on these social relations, networks and the resulting forms of power to negotiate gendered stigma, respectability and gendered economic inequality? Prior to doctoral study, he taught at the University of Dar es Salaam and later worked with the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) in Mwanza, Tanzania, where he is tenured as a Research Scientist.


Timothy McGhee

TimMcGheePhD Student
Advisor: Christien Tompkins
Program: Cultural Anthropology (CITE)

Timothy McGhee is an African-American initiated priest in the Yoruba Ifa and Lukumi traditions.  He earned his Bachelors degree from the City College of New York as a double major in Black Studies and Anthropology.  Tim continued his studies to pursue a Masters degree from Columbia University in Anthropology.  His background as a priest and scholar is evidence of his passion to serve humanity as a cultural custodian, and preserver of African religious and cultural traditions.  Timothy’s work focuses on the formation of Afro diasporic religions and communities that consequently informed social justice movements and revolutions in Cuba specifically, and in the larger African diaspora. 

Currently, Timothy is working to collect, translate, and organize rare Afro-Cuban liturgy from elders that will greatly contribute to the academy’s understanding of ancient Yoruba religious concepts.  He hopes to ultimately coordinate this work in conjunction with his pursuit of a PhD. 

As a native of New Brunswick, NJ and coming from the south Bronx, NY, Timothy has a deep seated desire to educate youth in impoverished communities and areas where minority populations are underserved.  Timothy writes and teaches to contribute to the community’s understanding of class, race, sexuality, and religion.

Burcu Pehlivan

BurcuPehlivanPhD Student
Advisor: Zeynep Gursel
Program: Cultural Anthropology (CITE)

I received a BA in International Relations from Sabanci University and MA in Sociology from Koç University in Turkey. I am interested in medical anthropology, reproduction, medicalization of pregnancy and pregnancy loss experiences. My master’s research focused on the impacts of pronatalist policies and cultural context on reproductivity-related issues in Turkey. Through ethnographic research in a hospital, I investigated the medical authority over women’s reproductive health and the role of socio-economic differences in experiencing pregnancy loss. I also gained fieldwork experience at a non-governmental organization under UNHCR, which provides social and psychological support for Syrian refugees in Turkey. As a doctoral student in anthropology, I look forward to researching social and political contributions to healthcare systems, and reproductive health in Turkey.

Marian Thorpe

Marian ThorpePhD Student
Advisor: David Hughes
Program: Cultural Anthropology (CITE)

Research Interests: Indigenous identity, climate change policy, sustainable development, social movements, environmental anthropology, political ecology, Latin America. My research explores indigenous participation in climate change policy implementation in Panama. 

Timothy Weldon

Tim WeldonPhD Student
Program: Cultural Anthropology (CITE)
Research interests: Political, Economic, and Historical Anthropology, especially Europe and North America; Democracy and Alternative Democracies; Social Movements/Control; Economic and Social Marginalization/Justice; Neoliberal Capitalism and Non-Capitalist Alternatives; Leftist Autonomist Movements, Squatting; Privatization; Disabilities/Different Abilities.

Dawn Wells-Macapia

wells DSC0010 APhD Student
Advisor: Ulla D. Berg
Program: Cultural Anthropology (CITE)

Research interests: Migration and citizenship studies; whiteness and settler colonialism; urban anthropology; economic and political anthropology; United States; Australia


Departmental Chair
Craig S. Feibel

Graduate Director
Erin Vogel
Spring 2020 office hours:
Monday 2-3 or by appointment

Graduate Assistant
Safiena Salaman