Miller Center

Miller Center National Fellowship

Beginning in the 2017-2018 academic year, the National Fellowship Program, a longstanding initiative of the Miller Center, will fall under the leadership of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation at U.Va.. The Jefferson Scholars Foundation, created in 1980, currently offers the premier graduate fellowship and undergraduate scholarship at the University. To learn more about the National Fellows Program, including how to apply, click here.

Meet The Fellows

Sean Beienburg - Politics, Princeton University

Project: Constitutional Resistance in the States, 1880–2010

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Fellowship year: 2014

Mentor: John Dinan, Wake Forest College

Sean Beienburg is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Lehigh University.

Beienburg's teaching and research interests include the U.S. Constitution and constitutional law, American political development and thought, federalism, parties and interest groups, and Prohibition.

His dissertation examined how states’ rights claims and efforts to evade, ignore, and resist federal constitutional development played an increasingly central role in the political climate. He questioned whether such state activity was a normal part of American political development or a dangerous aberration recalling the divisions before the Civil War. He analyzed whether such efforts were primarily the seeds of Southern resistance to racial integration or had a more honorable, broader legacy. Beienburg sought to understand such developments by providing an account of state constitutional resistance since 1880. In short, this project aimed to better understand the historical legacy of state participation in constitutional politics in order to make sense of its current manifestations.

Selected Recent Publications

"The People Against Themselves: Rethinking Popular Constitutionalism." Law and Social Inquiry 41, no. 1 (Feb 2016)

"Contesting the U.S. Constitution through State Amendments." Political Science Quarterly 129, no. 1 (March 2014): 55-85.

Laura Blessing - Politics, University of Virginia

Project: The New Politics of Taxation: The Republican Party and Anti-Tax Positions

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Laura Blessing is a Senior Fellow at The Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University.

Blessing earned her PhD from the University of Virginia. While at UVa she taught courses on Congress, the Presidency, and Media and Politics for students at both UVa and Sweet Briar College.  After defending her dissertation she worked on Capitol Hill as an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow.  She served as the legislative assistant for tax policy for Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee.  She is currently working on a book on the politics of tax policy from the mid-century to today. Blessings' areas of expertise include the politics of tax policy, legislative politics, the legislative process, the state of partisanship, Congressional operation and history, and Executive-Legislative relations.

Blessing's dissertation investigated the development of our current tax politics.  In the mid-1950s to mid-1970s a balanced budget consensus and low levels of politicization were apparent.  Since then, these have changed, with profound consequences.  This transformation has been caused, not by ideological or economic factors, but rather by a national Republican party-building strategy.  This is evident in a number of different measures, both qualitative and quantitative, from roll call votes and party platforms to the coordination strategies of national party leaders.  The party has used an explicitly anti-tax strategy to win elections and build a powerful coalition of many otherwise disparate groups. 

Rebecca Brubaker - International Politics, University of Oxford

Project: From the Un-Mixing to the Re-Mixing of Peoples: Understanding U.S.-Led Support for Minority Returns Following the Ethnic Conflict in Bosnia

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Fellowship year: 2014

Mentor: Susan Hyde, University of California, Berkeley

Rebecca Brubaker completed her doctorate in the Department of International Development, University of Oxford, where her research focused on international solutions to forced displacement following ethnic conflicts. Following graduation, she became a Visiting Fellow at the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. In addition to her scholarship, she has worked for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Migration Unit, the UN Development Program, and spent extensive time in the field. Brubaker is the recipient of numerous awards including a Fulbright Scholarship, a Rhodes Scholarship, and a Smith Richardson Fellowship (Yale). 

Brubaker’s dissertation focused on the U.S.-led response to the 1990s' ethnic conflict in Bosnia. Her work illuminated the multilateral attempt to reverse the ethnic conflict through the return of displaced people.  The policy emphasis on “re-mixing” people, interpreted through a policy of minority returns, and supported and coordinated on an international scale, was unprecedented in contemporary history.

Brent Cebul - History, University of Virginia

Project: The Rise of Antigovernment Governance: The Politics of Federal Economic Development and Local Business Mobilization, 1938–1994

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Brent Cebul is the Mellon Postdoctoral Research Scholar in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond.

In 2014-2015, he was a Postdoctoral Visiting Scholar at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He received his Ph.D. in U.S. History from the University of Virginia in August 2014 and continues to serve as an Associate Fellow at UVa's Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture where he is a project investigator for the Thriving Cities Project and serves as the associate director of the program on Culture, Capitalism, and Global Change. Cebul's current book project, Developmental State: Business, Poverty, and Economic Empowerment from the New Deal to the New Democrats, recenters the history of 20th-century liberalism by highlighting the recurring governing pattern of local-national, public-private partnerships begun in the New Deal.

Cebul’s dissertation was a social and political history of local business leaders’ perceptions of the federal government’s proper role in fostering community and economic development from the New Deal through the early 1990s. The project explored how business constituencies in the rural Sunbelt and deindustrializing Rustbelt created kindred public-private institutions that benefited from and sought to expand local, state, and federal developmental capacities. By illuminating the intertwined themes of localism and the evolution of fiscal federalism through the lens of the development policies of the New Deal, the Great Society, and Nixon and Reagan’s New Federalisms, the dissertation challenged assumptions about the decline of liberalism, the rise of conservatism, and business leaders’ embrace of neoliberal policy prescriptions. 

Adam Liff - Politics, Princeton University

Project: Shadowing the Hegemon? National Identity, Global Norms, and the Military Trajectories of Rising Powers

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Adam Liff is Assistant Professor of East Asian International Relations in the School of Global and International Studies at Indiana University.

Professor Liff also serves as an Associate-in-Research at Harvard University's Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies and Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. His primary disciplinary fields of academic inquiry are international relations and security studies with a particular focus on contemporary security affairs in the Asia-Pacific region. Liff’s scholarship has been published or is forthcoming in International Security, Journal of Contemporary China, Journal of Strategic Studies, Security Studies, and The China Quarterly, and he has been cited widely in global media, including in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Reuters, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Financial Times, and The Economist. Other recent publications include several book chapters in edited volumes and articles published or forthcoming in Foreign Affairs, The Washington Quarterly, Foreign Policy, Asahi Shimbun, Asan Forum, The National Interest, The Diplomat, PacNet, and Asia-Pacific Bulletin. Professor Liff holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Politics from Princeton University and a B.A. from Stanford University.

Liff’s dissertation sought to develop a general theory of great power emergence by explaining variation in the military trajectories of rising powers in the modern era, past and present. By analyzing data gathered on seven cases of rising powers, including during eighteen months of field work in mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, and the United States, Liff argued against the prevailing materialist conventional wisdom that rising powers’ major strategic choices are in all cases shaped primarily by shrewd calculations of the state’s economic and security interests. Rather, he shows that in many cases of historical and theoretical significance, non-material variables—above all, national identity and prevailing contemporaneous global norms of appropriate ‘great power’ behavior—have powerful and independent effects on rising powers’ decisions about military policy.

Douglas O’Reagan - History, University of California, Berkeley

Project: Science, Technology and Diplomacy: American, British, and French Efforts to Extract German Science and Technology During and Following the Second World War

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Fellowship year: 2014

Mentor: James Hershberg, George Washington University

Douglas O'Reagan has been selected as the Ambrose Monell Foundation Funded Fellowship in Technology and Democracy.

Douglas O'Reagan is a postdoctoral fellow in Digital Humanities in the Departmentof History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 2016 where he works closely with faculty members of Humanities subjects (History, Literature, Global Studies and Languages, and Comparative Media Studies/Writing) to produce a comprehensive assessment of the needs, current capacity, and future uses of digital humanities at MIT.  Prior to joining MIT, O'Reagan was visiting Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities in the Department of History at Washington State University

O'Reagan's dissertation, "Science, Technology and Diplomacy: American, British, and French Efforts to Extract German Science and Technology During and Following the Second World War," provided a comparative perspective and analysis of the possibilities and difficulties of international technology transfer.  Following the Second World War, the United States, United Kingdom, and France operated cooperative yet competitive efforts to extract technology, industrial machinery, and scientific personnel from Germany. The United States and United Kingdom began these efforts in a joint study of German military technology for use against Japan, yet they quickly expanded to cover all aspects of civilian industrial technology, and the newly-established Gaullist French government eagerly joined in, each nation anticipating great value from these "intellectual reparations." Some aspects of these programs have become something like common knowledge - the most famous case being the German aeronautical engineers led by Wernher von Braun drafted into American space research through "Operation Paperclip" – but they have rarely been considered in a wider context, as a phenomenon international in character but with key differences in the programs' implementation and goals in each national context. O'Reagan's dissertation also examines the role of access to shared technology in postwar international economic integration; how each nation's postwar challenges, and a growing perception of the importance of science and technology in overcoming them, impacted early Cold War diplomacy; and how these local circumstances shaped each country's experience of the broader phenomenon of the drawing together of industry, academic institutions, and governments experienced by each nation during and quickly following the war.

Selected Recent Publications

"Learning to Code, Learning to Collaborate.Berkeley Digital Humanities blog, July 9, 2015.

"French Scientific Exploitation and Technology Transfer from Germany in the Diplomatic Context of the Early Cold War." International History Review (February 13, 2014)

HistoriCal Outreach Podcast

Jose Luis Ramos - History, University of Chicago

Project: The Other Revolution: Politics, Culture, and the Transformation of U.S.-Mexican Relations after the Mexican Revolution, 1919–1930

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Luis Ramos is Assistant Professor of Latin American History at Valparaiso University.

Ramos’s dissertation is a revisionist interpretation of 20th century United States-Mexican history. He examines the origins of a rich and unacknowledged history of collaboration that began during the 1920s, the decade after the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Due to assumptions that political and cultural conflict has determined US-Mexican history, there is no historical explanation for the remarkable improvement of US-Mexican relations after the Mexican Revolution, the persistence of Mexican sovereignty, and the increasing influence of American culture. To answer these questions, his project traces how Americans and Mexicans collaborated in the reconstruction of post-Revolutionary Mexico and US-Mexican relations in six areas traditionally examined as evidence of conflicting interests: the oil controversy, inter-American politics, the external debt, rural reconstruction, immigration, and public health. Luis argues that in the aftermath of World War I and the Mexican Revolution, a political and cultural transformation in how Americans and Mexicans understood each other encouraged mutually beneficial political arrangements that leveraged power asymmetry, sustained Mexican sovereignty, and spurred common networks of progressive reformers that connected the political and intellectual agendas of American progressivism and Mexican revolutionary nationalism. This marked an exceptional embrace of revolutionary nationalism and the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship unlike any other in Latin America, what he calls the other revolution. His work contributes to studies of US-Mexican history and to broader debates on the relationship between international politics, culture, and nationalism.

Kelly Kelleher Richter - History, Stanford University

Project: Uneasy Border State: The Politics and Public Policy of Latino Illegal Immigration in Metropolitan California

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Fellowship year: 2014

Mentor: Meg Jacobs, Princeton University

Kelly Kelleher Richter is a J.D. Candidate at Georgetown University Law Center, where she is a Public Interest Fellow.

Richter earned her Ph.D. in History from Stanford University in January 2015, with a specialization in modern U.S. political and policy history, immigration, social policy, and race & ethnicity. She has since worked as a Policy Fellow at the National Immigration Law Center in Washington D.C., engaging in policy research and advocacy focusing on executive actions for immigrant access to status and immigration law enforcement. She has also lectured at Stanford in Washington, teaching a course on U.S. Immigration Politics and Policy.
 Richter’s academic research centers on explaining the origins of modern American illegal immigration politics and policy. Her dissertation was the first academic work to comprehensively examine this topic through a focus on late-twentieth-century California, the state with the largest Latino undocumented immigrant population. Drawing on dozens of largely untapped archival collections of local, state, and federal officials, agencies, and legislative bodies, and advocates, as well as published government, legal, and media sources, her dissertation analyzed evolving debates over labor market impacts, social and fiscal policy, federal immigration policy implementation, local and state immigration policy, and immigration law enforcement. Richter’s project broke new ground for interdisciplinary understanding of modern American debates over immigration federalism and comprehensive immigration policy reform.

Selected Recent Publications

"Results from a Nationwide Survey of DACA Recipients Illustrate the Program's Impact" with Tom Wong, Ignacia Rodriguez, and Philip Wolgin. Center for American Progress, July 9, 2015.

Anthony Ross - History, University of Michigan

Project: The Ownership Society: Mortgage Securitization and the Metropolitan Landscape Since the 1960s

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Anthony Ross is a Research Associate at the University of Michigan.

“The Ownership Society” examines the systematic transformation of the U.S. home finance industry between the 1960s and the 1990s.  During the early postwar era, a federal-local system of home finance compromised between the capital mobility required for suburban growth and the barriers that sustained localized financial relationships.  In the late 1960s, this system began to change.  To attract new sources of capital to a tightening mortgage market, policymakers partnered with financial elites to create a state-supported institutional network that would transform illiquid mortgages held by local financial institutions into liquid securities marketable on national and international capital markets.  By abstracting the value of place-bound mortgages and consolidating circuits of capital, mortgage securitization transformed the political economy of home finance.  Other policy changes during the 1970s and 1980s, such as the liberalization of branching regulations, contributed to the growth of securitization and the de-segmentation of the industry.  By the end of the 1980s, the  securitized home finance system had replaced the federal-local system of the early postwar era. “The Ownership Society” explores the causes and effects of this transformation through policy history and local case studies.  Its approach combines an economic history of home finance with a cultural history of homeownership.

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