Pine (‘96): In the ten years since I received the Holocaust
Remembrance Project award, I have been lucky to have many amazing
opportunities in my academic career. Looking back now, I can see that I
am indebted to both great teachers in my teenage years, and programs
like the HRP that inspired me to work beyond my normal capacity.
For my undergraduate experience I chose to go to Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. It is a small college with an alternative philosophy towards education. There are no grades, majors, or exams at Hampshire. Rather, students engage in large scale, self-directed research projects and are mentored by committees of professors. My interests took me to Kyrgyzstan for a year, where I studied folk music and the political implications that it had after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. That topic later become my Hampshire thesis, for which included both a CD and a short film in addition to the written portion.
Upon graduating from Hampshire, I became the first US student to be awarded a Fulbright fellowship for research in Kazakhstan. There, I did a similar study to my work in Kyrgyzstan, this time focusing on cultural policy (language laws, decrees about holidays and arts) to understand how legislating culture can engender ethnic chauvinism.
In 2005, following a three-year stint of working in New York City, I entered the Ph.D. program in anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. I have just completed my second year there, and my research centers around the development of alternative models of state sovereignty and citizenship. This means that I am trying to find more accurate descriptions for the way that people’s rights are either given or taken away in spaces where the state is not the only ruler, such as along the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border or in the oil fields surrounding the Caspian Sea. During my first summer of graduate school, I received a fellowship to go to Sarajevo and do an assessment of the characterization of various ethnic groups in the media leading up to the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s. This summer, I have another fellowship to be in Tajikistan for intensive Persian language study and a pre-dissertation assessment of trafficking (of drugs, arms, and humans), mafia, and corruption in the region.
At UPenn, I have had the opportunity to be a teaching assistant as well for such interesting courses as Cultural Anthropology and Medical Anthropology. In the future, I would like to be a professor based at a major research university, but also found an organization that can address the seeds of ethno-political conflict before tensions in a region or community build to violence.
I am grateful to the Holocaust Remembrance Project for contributing to my love of research and my commitment to social and economic justice.