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Meet a Fletcher Ph.D. Candidate: Roxani Krystalli
Date: March 9, 2017
Tell us a little bit about your path to Fletcher?
I graduated with my BA from Harvard University and began working at the intersection of gender and violence issues in conflict-affected areas around the world. This work had brought me to Egypt, Uganda, Sudan, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico and other areas, in affiliation with UN agencies and community-based groups.
The work itself varied from working to incorporate a gender-analytical perspective into the reintegration of former combatants into peacetime communities to developing gender-sensitive trainings for women parliamentarians and interviewing conflict-affected mothers about their livelihoods after violence. My studies during my MA at Fletcher helped me develop an interest in the research dimensions of the same themes I had explored as a humanitarian practitioner.
You co-founded Fletcher’s
How has that extracurricular experience enhanced your coursework in Gender in International Studies?
In the past five years, I have worked with fellow students, faculty and administrators to expand gender analysis offerings in the Fletcher curriculum, provide opportunities and training to consider gender analysis in different professional paths, and think about the ways in which power is organized and distributed in our communities.
Fletcher now features a Gender Analysis in International Studies field of study — and I was thrilled to take one of my PhD comprehensive exams in it. Our tracking of the gender (and other characteristics) of Fletcher’s invited speakers, a version of which I recently co-published in the
International Journal of Feminist Politics
, is helping us slowly but surely combat the all-male-panel and draw attention to various factors of gendered credibility. Fletcher students organize an annual conference on gender in international affairs, drawing together major thought leaders across different fields. With the support of Fletcher alumni, there is a growing Fletcher Leads mentorship and professional development program.
When I look at who fills key roles within leading organizations working on gender issues, it is often a Fletcher alum. The list of faculty either teaching explicitly on gender issues or incorporating a gender perspective into their courses is ever evolving. I am excited to continue to support the current and future leaders of the Gender Initiative in their endeavors, and look forward to sharing what we learned with peers at other institutions, while also replicating some of our key lessons to reflect on other dimensions of identity, power and inequality within The Fletcher School.
What is your doctoral dissertation topic and why did you select it?
I investigate the politics of victimhood during transitions from armed conflict, with a specific focus on the case of Colombia. Victimhood does not merely describe an experience of harm; it is also a political status and identity that requires performance, recognition and contestation. In his June 2014 address to the Colombian Senate, the High Commissioner for Peace in Colombia declares, “This is the era of the victims." Yet, not all victims are created equal.
Conflict-affected individuals themselves have perceived a sense of hierarchy among their claims, with one family member of a disappeared person telling me, “We are not good victims.” In my dissertation project, I ask: What does it mean to be a “good victim?” Why are some victim claims seen as more legitimate than others in the eyes of the state, human rights actors and conflict-affected individuals themselves? How do performances of victimhood render it legible — or marginal — in the context of transitional justice processes? And what are the implications of these constructed hierarchies for theories and experiences of justice during transitions from violence?
You served as a Research Assistant at the World Peace Foundation while at Fletcher. Did that experience leave you with a new perspective on your field of International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution?
During my time as a research assistant at the World Peace Foundation, I learned a lot from Professor Bridget Conley’s research on how mass atrocities end. The book she edited on this subject particularly influenced me. Specifically, her work has helped me understand how to research patterns of violence, with attention to how forms of violence — and the ways in which they are directed — vary over time during and after armed conflict.
How have the Ph.D. resources at Fletcher helped you with your research?
My advisors, Professors Kimberly Theidon, Dyan Mazurana and Alex de Waal, have been immensely generous with their time, insight and guidance.
The Institute for Human Security
at Fletcher provides a dissertation fellowship, which is supporting some of my work this spring. I have also received external support from the Social Science Research Council, whose Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship was instrumental [in] supporting my exploratory research and putting me in contact with mentors and peers who provided invaluable insights on my dissertation project.
Finally, the Ph.D. conference fund has supported my presentation of ongoing research at various conferences and workshops, which is helpful for meeting peers pursuing similar inquiries and receiving feedback to strengthen the project.
Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, and International Organizations
Security and Conflict Resolution
International Economic Relations and Management
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