Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict

Past visiting scholars and postdoctoral fellows

Ifat Maoz, Ph.D. (msifat at mscc.huji.ac.il) a social psychologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was in residence at the Asch Center during the 2002-2003 academic year, and from August 2006 to February 2008.  Her work here focused on patterns of communication and interaction between groups in conflict and the effects of bias mechanisms on attitudes toward conflict and its resolution. She has also initiated and remains involved in collaborative research with directors at the Asch Center. This research includes analysis of public opinion data in protracted conflicts, uncovering the psychological foundations of political attitudes towards conflict and towards its resolution.

Alan Keenan, Ph.D. (akeenan23 at earthlink.net) was a Visiting Scholar at the Solomon Asch Center during the 2005-2006 academic year. With funding from the United States Institute of Peace he is working on a book manuscript entitled Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: On the Politics of Human Rights and Civil Society Building in Sri Lanka. The book will examine the complex politics of human rights in Sri Lanka, with particular focus on the difficult relations between the discourses of "human rights" and of "conflict resolution."

 Tina Kempin was a Visiting Scholar at the Solomon Asch Center during the 2005-2006 academic year. She received her doctoral degree in International Relations and International Law from the University of Zurich in Summer 2006 and is now on the faculty of Christopher Newport University in Virginia. Her interdisciplinary dissertation project (Ethnic Conflict and International Law: Group Claims and Conflict Resolution within the International Legal System) examines international legal approaches to ethnic conflict and conflict resolution.

Shane O'Neill, Ph.D., was a Fulbright Scholar and Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Asch Center in 2005. He is a Full Professor of Political Theory at Queen's University in Belfast, where he is Chair of the 35-member School of Politics and International Studies. Shane studied at University College Dublin (BA in History andPolitics, MA in Moral and Political Philosophy) and subsequently for his doctorate at Glasgow University in Scotland. He was a member of the Department of Government in Manchester University, England, before moving to Queen's University in 1994. His research interests can be located at the interface between Anglo-American normative political theory and continental philosophy, particularly hermeneutics and German critical theory. In his

published work he has investigated a variety of critical approaches to social scientific research and has examined a range of questions concerning the

demands of justice and democracy under conditions of pluralism. His main project at present focuses on the normative dimensions of ethnonational conflict.

Adebayo Okunade, Ph.D., is Professor of Political Science at the University of Ibadan and Director of the University’s Centre For Peace and Conflict Studies (CEPACS). He was a visiting scholar at the Asch Center during 2005 as part of a MacArthur Foundation funded collaboration between CEPACS and the Asch Center. Dr. Okunade’s current research examines terrorism and counter-terrorism from the perspective of categorical moral imperatives. This study proffers some categorical political, economic and social imperatives for change and for the repositioning of Africa beyond merely “oiling” the economy of the North, thereby reducing its current status as a burden to the international system and making it a relevant partaker in globalization. Professor Okunade is also pursuing research related to Blair’s New Labour and the “Northern Ireland Question;” political conditionality and aid in Africa; and the laws of armed conflict and modern warfare. He has written over 50 articles, chapters, or books bearing on issues of communal conflict.

Rotimi Suberu, Ph.D. is a Professor of Politics at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. He was a visiting scholar at the Asch Center during 2005 as part of a MacArthur Foundation funded collaboration between CEPACS and the Asch Center. Dr. Suberu is coeditor of Federalism and Political Restructuring in Nigeria (1998) and author of Ethnic Minority Conflicts and Governance in Nigeria (1996) and Public Policies and National Unity in Nigeria (1999), as well as a number of articles on Nigerian politics published in both Nigerian and international journals. He was a fellow at the United States Institute of Peace in 1993-1994 and served as a visiting scholar at the University of Florida (1995), the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (1999-2000), and Northwestern University (2002).

Florian Bieber, Ph.D. received his doctorate in Political Science from the University of Vienna. During the 2004-2005 year, he undertook a research project on institutional design in multiethnic states of the former Yugoslavia under the mentorship of Asch Center Director Brendan O’Leary. More information about Dr. Bieber's current work is available at his website: www.policy.hu/bieber

Amal Jamal, Ph.D., a political scientist and Associate Professor of Political Science at Tel Aviv University in Israel, spent a year in residence at the Asch Center (2002-2003) furthering his research and writing related to political communication; state building and civil society; minority politics and democratic theory; and Palestinian and Israeli politics. 

Malathie Dissanayake, a psychology graduate of the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka spent two years at the Asch Center (2002-2004) as part of a post-baccaulaureate and graduate student visiting scholar program that brings talented overseas students to the Asch Center and the University of Pennsylvania for informal but structured programming in order to help advance their graduate-level studies.

Sonia Roccas, Ph.D., a social psychologist from the Open University in Israel, spent a year in residence at the Asch Center (2000-2001) during which time she pursued her research program examining group identification, the management of ethnic identities, and the phenomenon of "collective guilt" (guilt associated with wrongdoing by a group with which the individual identifies). She also initiated and remains involved in collaborative research with directors at the Asch Center.

Gameela Samarasinghe, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka, was a visiting scholar at the Asch Center for a short visit (one month) during 2002. During this time she initiated collaborative pursuits with the Asch Center's Director of Refugee Initiatives and also furthered her work on psychological distress and coping behaviors under conditions of protracted conflict.

Andrew Ward, Ph.D., a social psychologist and Associate Professor at Swarthmore College, spent a year at the Asch Center (2000-2001) furthering his research and writing on sources of false polarization--that is, the motivational and cognitive factors that lead partisans to overestimate the extremity and consistency of each side in a contentious dispute (the result of such overestimation is likely to be missed opportunities for discovering common ground between the sides, resulting in inappropriate exacerbation or maintenance of intergroup conflict).

S. K. Menon (shankar3 at psych.upenn.edu) has been a research fellow in residence at the Asch Center since 2001. A native of India, Mr. Menon holds an MA in Economics from Patna University (India) and studied Development Finance at Birmingham University in the United Kingdom. He worked for the Indian Administrative Service for 30 years where his duties included work in the Defense Ministry, the Commerce Ministry, and the Department of Culture. S. K.’s research at the Asch Center examines crosscultural issues of personal and community forgiveness as it occurs in India and the United States. Toward this end he is studying perceptions of intergroup conflict in the United States (between Blacks and Whites) and in India (between Muslims and Hindus).

Carolyn Ristau (car31 at columbia.edu) was a 1999 Asch Center Summer Fellow in the first summer program. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. She is presently also affiliated with the Dept. of Psychology at Barnard College of Columbia University in New York City and works with the NGO Pro-Natura International-Nigeria (PNI-N).  Her background has been as a cognitive ethologist conducting experimental field studies of animal cognition and behavior. Presently she focuses on human conflict and risk analysis in Nigeria’s strife-torn Niger Delta and beyond.  She is also involved in community development efforts through PNI-N’s programs in Nigeria. Her field work has included sites in mainland USA, Alaska, and Africa.

Catherine Byrne was a postdoctoral fellow in residence at the Solomon Asch Center. A native South African, Dr. Byrne earned her doctorate from the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Social Psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno (2002) and her M.A. in International Peace Studies from the Joan B. Kroc Institute at the University of Notre Dame (1995). During her year at the Center, Cath developed a number of articles for publication based on her doctoral dissertation research. The articles address theoretical and empirical aspects of social psychological and sociological “accounts theory” as applied to a human rights context. How real victims respond to perpetrators' explanations for such severe atrocities is the focus of one of the papers. Another addresses victims’ evaluations of participating in the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a third examines the logistical, emotional, and ethical challenges of conducting a research project with such traumatized individuals. Cath is currently an Assistant Professor in the Social Justice Program in the Psychology Department at the University of California-Santa Cruz.

Britt Cartrite was a postdoctoral fellow in residence at the Solomon Asch Center. Dr. Cartrite earned his doctorate from the University of Colorado at Boulder (2003) and a masters from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver (2000). During his time at the Asch Center Britt worked on a number of projects, including extending his dissertation research on ethnopolitical mobilization in Western Europe to develop a model grounded in a Complex Adaptive Systems framework. He also collaborated with Professor Ian Lustick on "Virtualstan," an agent-based model evaluating the impact of succession crises on three distinct types of authoritarian regimes. Based on fieldwork in Scotland conducted in May 2004, Britt also explored the impact of local cultural variation on identity formation and subsequent political activism. In addition, Britt worked on a project testing hypotheses of voter behavior in European Parliament elections and taught courses for the Department of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Britt is currently an Assistant Professor in the Political Science Department at Alma College.

Julie Chalfin was a postdoctoral fellow in residence at the Solomon Asch Center. Dr. Chalfin earned her doctorate from the Ph.D. Program in Social Psychology at Claremont Graduate University (2003). During her year at the Center, Julie supported the efforts of the Center's Refugee Initiatives Program. This included developing, implementing, and evaluating psychosocial programs that assist refugees living in refugee camps, and collaborating with local and international organizations that address refugee issues. Julie also developed articles for publication based on her doctoral dissertation research which addressed the application of models in social psychology to understand the international conflict management process. In addition, Julie represented the Asch Center at the Alliance for International Conflict Prevention and Resolution meetings and facilitated collaborative relationships with local organizations in South Africa. She spent a second year as an Asch Center Postdoctoral Fellow in Washington DC working at Save the Children.

Al-Hassan Conteh was a research fellow in residence at the Asch Center from 2001-2005. A native of Liberia, Dr. Conteh received his Ph.D. in demography and regional science from the University of Pennsylvania in 1993. His research work includes crosscutting issues in human security, conflict prevention in Africa, and education in emergencies. He is currently writing a book on population, identity, and group dynamics as factors in the Liberian civil war. Al-Hassan is a past president of the Liberian Studies Association and the current editor of the Liberian Studies Journal. He was founding chairman of the new Liberia Institute dedicated to actively involving technocrats in all fields to work for the attainment of durable peace, democracy, and good governance in Liberia. Dr. Conteh is now the President of the University of Liberia in Monrovia.

Darren Schreiber was a postdoctoral fellow in residence at the Asch Center. Dr. Schreiber received his Ph.D. in Political Science from UCLA in 2003. He also holds a law degree from the U.C. Davis School of Law and specialized in civil rights litigation before returning to academia. Darren?s research centers on emergence and complexity theory in political science. His dissertation research used functional brain imaging (fMRI) to study the neural substrates of political cognition and affect. He has shown that ideological sophisticates differ from political novices in their heightened use of the posterior cingulate, a brain region associated with automatic emotional evaluations. His research at the Asch Center involved integrating the neural level findings about individual political cognition into his model of political party dynamics with an aim of developing a general theory of the emergence of ideology.