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

Gwendoline Alphonso - Government, Cornell University

Project: Progressive & Traditional Family Orders: Parties, Ideologies, and the Development of Social Policy across the 20th Century

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Gwendoline M. Alphonso is Assistant Professor of Politics at Fairfield University.

Alphonso is interested in the study of state-society relations, particularly the intersection of culture and morality with law and political development. Her primary research interests are two-fold: first those pertaining to American Politics: United States Congress, Political Parties, American Political Development, Gender and Politics, Politics of the Family, Social Policy; and second those relating to Law: Feminist Legal Theory, Family Law, Comparative Constitutional Law and Theories of Criminal Law and Punishment.

Alphonso's dissertation examined the origins and evolution of partisan family ideology and its effect on social policy through three periods in 20th century American political history – the Progressive Era (1900–1920), the postwar Period (1946–1960), and the Contemporary period (1980–2005). The overarching contention is that the family has been a central organizing principle of political development and the historical development of American social policy, a claim that has been largely overlooked in political and policy analysis. Through extensive inductive analysis of party platforms, congressional hearings, family bill sponsorship/co-sponsorship and roll call data in the House and Senate, she identified patterns in the development of partisan family ideologies, contending that there have been two competing family ideologies – the progressive and traditional – that have persisted across the past century. She explored the two family ideologies as part of broader family political orders, defined as "constellations of ideas, policies, institutions, and practices regarding the family that hang together and exhibit a coherence and predictability." The dissertation documented and explained the change and evolution of the progressive and traditional family orders, their partisan composition and attendant social policies. By inserting social policies into evolving family orders and unearthing elite interests, partisan dynamics, electoral family conditions, and family ideologies, the project hoped to account for why certain types of policy ideas, such as same-sex marriage, gain ascendance during certain periods while others decline.

Selected Recent Publications

"Resurgent Parenthood – Organic Domestic Ideals & the Southern Family Roots of Conservative Ascendancy, 1980-2005.Polity 48 (2016): 205-223. 

"From Need to Hope: The American Family & Poverty in Partisan Discourse." Journal of Policy History 27, no. 4 (Autumn 2015): 592-635.

Public & Private Order: Law, Race, Morality and the Antebellum Courts of Louisiana, 1830-1860.”  Journal of Southern Legal History 23 (2015): 117-160. 

Of Families or Individuals?Southern Child Workers & the Progressive Crusade for Child Labor Regulation, 1899-1920.” in James Marten (ed). Children and Youth during the Gilded Age and Progressive Period (New York: New York University Press, 2014).

Saladin Ambar - Political Science, Rutgers University

Project: The Rise of the Hudson Progressives: How Governors Helped Shape the Modern Presidency

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Fellowship year: 2008

Mentor: Sidney Milkis, University of Virginia

Saladin Ambar is Associate Professor of Political Science at Lehigh University.

He teaches courses in American politics on the American presidency and governorship, race and American political development, and political parties and elections. Professor Ambar is the author of How Governors Built the Modern American Presidency (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012) which won the Robert C. and Virginia L. Williamson Prize in the Social Sciences, and the newly released Malcolm X at Oxford Union: Racial Politics in a Global Era (Oxford University Press, 2014).  He is currently working on a book about the political career and thought of former New York Governor, Mario M. Cuomo. Since his arrival in 2009, Professor Ambar has been active in Lehigh's Africana Studies program where he has taught courses in Black Political Thought, along with a First Year Seminar on the Political Philosophy of Barack Obama.

Ambar's dissertation explored how pre-presidential executive office and leading Progressive Era state executives built a line of practices that reinvigorated and expanded the scope of presidential action. The central case studies of Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin Roosevelt's governorships are examined against a backdrop of shifting executive practices, exemplified by such instrumental governors as Grover Cleveland, Bob LaFollette, and Hiram Johnson. This study challenged the presumption of the modern presidency's origins. It posited that the modern American presidency cannot be fully apprehended without recognition of its ties to developments launched by state executives.

Selected Recent Publications

Malcolm X at Oxford Union (Oxford University Press, 2014)

How Governors Built the Modern American Presidency (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012)

Malcolm X at the Oxford Union.” Race and Class (London, UK: April, 2012): 24-38.

Francesca Ammon - American Studies, Yale University

Project: Waging War on the Landscape: Demolition and Clearance in Postwar America

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Francesca Ammon is Assistant Professor of City & Regional Planning and Historic Preservation at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design.

Professor Ammon is an historian of the built environment. Her teaching, research, and writing focus on the changing shapes and spaces of the 20th- and 21st-century American city. She grounds her interdisciplinary approach to this subject in the premise that the landscape materializes social relations, cultural values, and economic processes. In particular, Professor Ammon is interested in the ways that visual culture informs planning and design, the dynamic relationships between cities and nature, the politics of place and space, and the roles of business and the state in shaping the physical landscape.

Professor Ammon is currently a colloquium member of the Penn/Mellon Foundation Humanities + Urbanism + Design Initiative. She is on the board of the Society for American City & Regional Planning History (SACRPH). Before joining the PennDesign faculty, Professor Ammon was a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. She has also held the Sally Kress Tompkins Fellowship, jointly sponsored by the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) and the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). While completing her Ph.D. in American Studies, she held a fellowship as a Whiting Fellow in the Humanities and was the John E. Rovensky Fellow with the Business History Conference.

Professor Ammon was the 2010-2011 Miller Center Ambrose Monell Foundation Fellow in Technology and Democracy.

Selected Recent Publications

“Post-Industrialization and the City of Consumption: Attempted Revitalization in Asbury Park, New Jersey.” Journal of Urban History 41. no. 2 (March 2015): 158-174.

“Unearthing Benny the Bulldozer: The Culture of Clearance in Postwar Children’s Books.” Technology and Culture 53, no. 2 (April 2012): 306-336.

Josh Ashenmiller - History, University of California, Santa Barbara

Project: The Strange Career of Environmental Impact Assessment

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Josh Ashenmiller is Professor of History at Fullerton College in California.

Ashenmiller has taught U.S. history at Fullerton College since 2006. Prior to that, he taught at Scripps College, Claremont-McKenna College, Cal State Northridge, Campbell Hall School, and River Oaks School. He has published articles in the Pacific Historical Review and various historical encyclopedias. In addition to teaching, he has worked on the Faculty Senate, Program Review Committee, and the accreditation self-study.

Ashenmiller wrote his dissertation on environmental impact assessment (EIA) and discussed a strong continuity between environmental impact assessment and the long tradition of federal attempts to manage economic growth, dating to the establishment of the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1887.

Emily Baer - Political Science, University of Minnesota

Project: "Party Factions and the Roots of Institutional Change in Congress: The Democratic Study Group and Liberal Democrats' Campaign to Reform the House of Representatives (1959-1994)"

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Fellowship year: 2017

Mentor: Sarah Binder, George Washington UniversityBrookings Institute

Emily Baer' project addresses how factions within political parties promote policy and leadership change in the U.S. Congress through institutional reform. Congress is frequently criticized as an institution structured by rules and norms which make policy and leadership changes among its members difficult. Leaders are often slow to respond when policy preferences within parties change, a new group or constituency emerges, or elections reveal policy shifts among the public. The relative impermeability of parties to new ideas and leaders poses a significant problem for democratic representation and responsiveness within parties. This dissertation approaches these issues through a case study of the Democratic Study Group (DSG), the faction of liberal Democrats in the House from 1959-1994 and leader of the 1970s “reform era.” Liberals organized DSG out of their frustration with party leaders’ inability to overcome the power of southern conservative committee chairs, ultimately leading to a series of reforms significantly redistributing power between the Democratic leadership, committee chairs, and individual members. Today, this historic effort has taken on a renewed importance as a new faction – the Republican Freedom Caucus (analyzed as a comparative case) – has emerged to challenge the balance of power between junior members and party leaders.  But while the 1970s reform era is widely recognized for increasing representation and responsiveness in the Democratic Caucus, we know little about how a faction was empowered to lead the reform effort. In Baer' dissertation, she questions and analyzes using original archival research and in-depth interviews with former Members of Congress and their staffers: How do political parties respond to the changing preferences of their members? How does the rise of a new faction shape power in parties? And how can factions overcome the institutional hurdles to reforming rules and procedures, and expanding party leadership pathways and policy agendas?

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 Bohrman - Political Science, Yale University

Project: Sifting Immigrants: The Political and Historical Roots of Administrative Failure in the I.N.S.

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Bohrman has over seven years of corporate research experience, in which she has used her qualitative and quantitative research skills to help clients with benchmarking, media strategies, corporate social responsibility campaigns, media monitoring, corporate crises, internal and external communications, and executive transitions.

In her dissertation, she argued that the INS's problems can be traced to its institutional design, and that these problems are perpetuated by the particular alignment of political conflict over immigration issues. Immigration administration is at the center of American politics, affecting everyone from legal and undocumented immigrants to workers and employers, yet Immigration and Naturalization Service has been troubled since its inception. Bohrman's dissertation explained why the INS has been an agency in disarray, by answering the question: why has Congress so rarely tried and even more rarely succeeded in giving the INS greater administrative capacity?

Carl Bon Tempo - History, University of Virginia

Project: The Politics of American Refugee Policy, 1952–1980

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Carl Bon Tempo is Associate Professor of History at the State University New York, Albany.

Bon Tempo's work explores the links between domestic political history and America’s role in the world. He maintains a particular focus on the histories of refugees, immigration, and human rights.

Bon Tempo wrote his dissertation on the formation and implementation of the American government's policies toward refugees between 1952 and 1980, arguing that the study of refugee policies provides an opportunity to examine how Americans (in and out of government) conceived of citizenship and "American-ness" in the post-World War II era – and that these conceptions vitally influenced the intent and character of specific refugee policies and programs. He displayed that post-World War II era American refugee policies and laws, and the contentious deliberations that produced them, resembled the larger debates about citizenship and national identity occurring during that period.

Selected Recent Publications

Americans at the Gate: The United States and Refugees During the Cold War (Princeton University Press, 2008).

From the Center-Right: Freedom House and Human Rights in the 1970s and 1980s” in  Petra Goedde and William Hitchcock, eds, The Human Rights Revolution: An International History,  (New York: Oxford University Press, January 2012).

American Exceptionalism and Modern Immigration History in the United States.” in Jamey Carson and Sylvia Soderlind, eds., American Exceptionalisms (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, December, 2011.)

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. 

Emily Charnock - Political Science, University of Virginia

Project: From Ghosts to Shadows: The National Party Organizations and Interest Groups

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Emily Charnock is the Keasbey Research Fellow in American Studies at Selwyn College at the University of Cambridge.

In her dissertation, “From Ghosts to Shadows: The National Party Organizations and Interest Groups,” Charnock explores the institutional impact of the relationship between key interest groups and the parties with which they have traditionally been allied. Her project promises to inform our current debate about the way interest groups like the Tea Party or labor can drive the political debate and party’s agendas. Charnock has published a co-authored piece in Political Science Quarterly.

Selected Recent Publications

"The Second Emancipation Proclamation." Virginia Quarterly Review, August 28, 2013.

"What happened to post-partisanship? Barack Obama and the New American Party System." with Sidney M. Milkis, Perspectives on Politics 10, no. 1 (2012): 57-76.

"What to Expect in the Second Term: Presidential Travel and the Rise of Legacy Building, 1957-2009." with James A. McCann and Dunn Tenpas, Brookings Institute: Issues in Governance Studies 54 (December 2012)

Anthony Chen - Sociology, University of California - Berkeley

Project: From Fair Employment to Equal Opportunity and Beyond: Race, Liberalism, and the Politics of the New Deal Order, 1941–1971

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Anthony S. Chen is Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of Undergraduate Studies at Northwestern University.

Previously, Chen was Assistant Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In addition to holding appointments in the Department of Sociology and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, he was also a Faculty Associate in the Program in American Cultures. From 2005 to 2007, he held the position of Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, San Francisco. Chen's book, The Fifth Freedom (Princeton, 2009), won the President's Book Award from the Social Science History Association. Chen received his B.A. from Rice University 1994 and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 2002.

Selected Recent Publications

The Fifth Freedom: Jobs, Politics, and Civil Rights in the United States, 1941-1972. (Princeton University Press, 2009)

Political Parties and the Sociological Imagination: Past, Present, and Future Directions.” with Stephanie L. Mudge. Annual Review of Sociology 40 (2014): 305-330.

Jenny Diamond Cheng - Political Science, University of Michigan

Project: Are Children Citizens?: The Minimum Voting Age and Liberal Democratic Citizenship

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Fellowship year: 2005

Mentor: Carol Sanger, Columbia Law School

Jenny Diamond Cheng is a Lecturer in Law at Vanderbilt University’s Law School.

Cheng's research focuses on the intersection of law and political theory. Her doctoral dissertation addressed the question: Given their disenfranchisement, to what extent does it still make sense to think of children as "citizens"? Her research focused on political discussions of the minimum voting age from 1942 to the present. The decades in and after World War II witnessed a quiet but persistent movement to reduce the voting age from 21 to 18, which gathered steam in the late 1960s and culminated with the passage of the 26th Amendment in 1971. A close reading of the debates about the voting age over the last six decades reveals competing ideas about the meaning of the franchise and profound confusion about children's place in the polity. In her dissertation, Cheng explored the theoretical links between voting, military service, and education while additionally examining how advocates for lower voting ages have sought to frame youth as the natural heirs to the women's suffrage and African-American civil rights movements.

Selected Recent Publications

"Leave the Voting Age Alone.New York Times, 28 May 2012.

Merlin Chowkwanyun - History and Public Health, University of Pennsylvania

Project: The Dilemmas of 'Community Health': 1945-2000

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Merlin Chowkwanyun is Assistant Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and a member of the Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health.

Chowkwanyun’s work centers on three themes: the history of public health and health policy; racial inequality; and social movements. He is working on a book examining the development of post-WWII medical care and environmental health hazards in four regions (Los Angeles, Cleveland, Central Appalachia, and New York) and another about political unrest at medical schools and neighborhood health activism during the 1960s and 1970s. With Adolph Reed, he is writing an essay collection that questions the dominant theoretical assumptions and frames in disparities research (under contract with the University of California Press). With the Center for Public Integrity, he is part of a group of environmental health journalists and historians on a database featuring millions of previously unseen corporate documents that have emerged in recent environmental health lawsuits. He teaches courses on health advocacy and mixed methods.

Selected Recent Publications

"Q&A with Pau Gasol: The NBA All-Star's Health Advocacy Off-the-Court," Culture of Health, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, April 20, 2015.

"Grassroots Isn't Always Best." Boston Review, February 23, 2015.

"We keep pledging to study the cause of riots like Ferguson’s. And we keep ignoring the lessons." The Washington Post, August 18, 2014.

"Training Historians and the Dual Degree." Chronicle of Higher Education, January 28, 2014.

Christopher Cimaglio - Communications, University of Pennsylvania

Project: "Contested Majority: The Representation of the White Working Class in US Politics from the 1930s to the 1990s"

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“Contested Majority” examines how American politicians, journalists, pollsters, academics, social movement groups, and others have studied, written about, and claimed to speak for white working class people and how this work has shaped American politics. While popular and scholarly accounts of the rise and decline of liberalism and the rise of conservatism in the twentieth century US have often given the white working class a very prominent role (for instance, as the New Deal’s popular base and the forefront of the white reaction that provided an electoral majority for conservatives), this work sometimes frames the white working class as a homogenous group with uniform political views—centered, since the late 1960s, on cultural and racial conservatism.  Placing primary emphasis on how white workers have been represented in national politics and media and those who have represented them, “Contested Majority” offers a different angle on a familiar story.  It traces how prominent understandings of white working class politics, identity, and culture—from a militant, progressive working class combating economic royalists to culturally conservative and racially anxious “Middle Americans” and “Reagan Democrats” opposed to liberal elites—emerged, circulated, impacted political contestation, and shaped elite decision-making.  In doing so, “Contested Majority” points to the power of the white working class majority as a political symbol, one that has consistently featured in debate around fundamental issues in American politics, including the legitimacy of capitalism, unions, challenges to prevailing understandings of race, gender, and class, and an activist state combating inequality.

Sarah Coleman - History, Princeton University

Project: Redefining American: The Shifting Politics of Immigration Policy at the End of the 20th Century

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Sarah Coleman’s dissertation “Redefining American: The Shifting Politics of Immigration Policy at the End of the 20th Century,” explores how politicians, activists, citizens and the courts competed to define the rights of immigrant persons in the U.S. who did not have American citizenship status in the last quarter of the twentieth-century. With the passage of the landmark Hart-Celler Act in 1965, the United States entered a new era of immigration.  This period of massive immigration led to a fierce struggle, which has been at the heart of contemporary American political history, between activists who fought to ensure rights and benefits for these newcomers and those who opposed open borders and sought to limit the rights of immigrants.

Battles over education, health, welfare, and civil liberties were deeply influenced by this influx of immigration.  This phase in the longer struggle over the rights of immigrants began in the mid-1970s when a network of liberal activists, who had roots in the civil rights movement, successfully fought in the courts to expand the rights of non-citizens to include protection from workplace discrimination, the benefits of the welfare state, and the right to education and other social services. Coleman’s dissertation then looks at the politics of immigration policy that followed these revolutionary court decisions through to the early twenty first century.  In doing so, she traces the development of a movement, within both political parties, to limit the expansion of these rights.  She focuses on some of their success but also on the challenges and obstacles that they have encountered in rolling back the changes that took place since 1965.  

Selected Recent Publications

"Sorry, Trump. Ike's shameful program failed." CNN, November 12, 2015.

Joseph Crespino - History, Stanford University

Project: Strategic Accommodation: Civil Rights Opponents in Mississippi and their Impact on American Racial Politics, 1953–1972

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Joseph Crespino is Professor of History at Emory University.

Crespino's Research considers white Southerners more directly in the context of the emerging conservative politics of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s to reflect the complicated role that race has played in the emergence of modern conservatism.

Crespino's dissertation, "Strategic Accommodation: Civil Rights Opponents in Mississippi and their Impact on American Racial Politics, 1953–1972," won the 2003 Dissertation Award from the Jepson School of Leadership at the University of Richmond. It examined the impact of racial desegregation on political culture in the American South by providing a case study of resistance and accommodation to civil rights reform in Mississippi's white community. His project revealed how key policy makers along with local economic elites led an accommodation to racial change that accepted token forms of desegregation in ways that preserved racial and economic privilege and forestalled further civil rights reform.

Selected Recent Publications

Strom Thurmond's America (Hill and Wang, 2012)

David Dagan - Political Science, Johns Hopkins University

Project: "Building the Big House: American Institutions and the Rise of Mass Incarceration, 1980-1995"

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Fellowship year: 2017

Mentor: Kimberly Johnson, Columbia University

David Dagan’s dissertation examines the rise of mass incarceration in the United States as a project of state-building—a major expansion of government authority and capacity. While scholars have typically associated American state-building with centralization and particularly with the expansion of social policy, Dagan emphasizes the role of decentralization and the expansion of penal policy.

Dagan argues that mass incarceration was spurred by “interdependent fragmentation” – the condition that American governing authority is split both vertically and horizontally, even while policy responsibility is shared across those levels. This combination provided policy makers with substantial buck-passing opportunities that exacerbated punitive electoral dynamics and weakened moderating influences, particularly by putting off a reckoning with prison crowding and costs. Dagan shows these dynamics at work in Pennsylvania and Texas, where prosecutors fought pitched battles against judges and jailers throughout the 1980s, centered on the problem of prison crowding.

Dagan also traces the flow of tough-on-crime rhetoric back and forth between Washington, D.C., and the states. He argues that federal leadership was important in the rise of mass incarceration, even absent significant centralization. This leadership occurred through professional networks, which diffused ideologies and technologies of punishment to the decision makers sitting at the policy levers—state and local officials.

The project helps to link the analysis of rhetoric, policy choices, and outcomes in the mass-incarceration literature. It contributes to a new understanding of the American state by showing that fragmentation enables and even drives the particular brand of state power Dagan dubs coercive capacity.

Michele Davis Jones - Political Science, University of Virginia

Project: Beyond Redistricting: How the Voting Rights Act Has Transformed Politics in a Southern City

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Fellowship year: 2003

Mentor: Clarence Stone, University of Maryland

Jones wrote her dissertation on how the Voting Rights Act generated an enormous amount of scholarship, while considering the empirical consequences of the act by looking at its impact on the descriptive and substantive representation of minorities. Jones stated that it is unclear if minorities actually benefited from the increased number of minority representatives, while additionally continuing the effort to assess the question of descriptive versus substantive representation. Her dissertation looked at the politics of a Southern city before and after it was forced to adopt majority-minority districts.

Jefferson Decker - History, Columbia University

Project: The Conservative Legal Movement and American Government, 1971–1987

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Fellowship year: 2008

Mentor: Daniel Ernst, Georgetown University Law Center

Jefferson Decker is Assistant Professor in the Department of American Studies at Rutgers University.

Decker writes about politics and government in twentieth-century America.  He is the author of The Other Rights Revolution: Conservative Lawyers and the Remaking of American Government (Oxford University Press, 2016) in which he illustrates how a series of legal battles over property rights and the regulatory state shaped the public ideas and policy agenda of modern U.S. conservatism.

His dissertation described the political mobilization of conservative lawyers and their attempt to reform and reshape American government. In the 1970s, conservative lawyers, political activists, and donors created a network of non-profit legal foundations in order to challenge liberalism in the courts. These groups took on a variety of cases, from challenging local land use regulations and offering a "pro-business" perspective on environmental disputes to challenging "sweetheart deals" between government agencies and liberal trial lawyers. In doing so, they sought to reassert principles of federalism and limited government, while restricting (or rolling back) the regulatory state. After Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, veterans of these firms took jobs in the new administration, where they had an opportunity to rework some of the policies they had litigated from inside the government. In describing this journey from outsiders to policymakers, this dissertation described the evolution of public policy and conservative ideas about the law during the Reagan era.

Selected Recent Publications

The Other Rights Revolution: Conservative Lawyers and the Remaking of American Government. (Oxford University Press, 2016)

Legal Conservatism.” in Oxford University Encyclopedia of American Political, Policy, and Legal History (Oxford University Press, 2011)

Joshua Dunn - Politics, University of Virginia

Project: Judges, Lawyers, and Experts: Law vs. Politics in Missouri vs. Jenkins

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Joshua Dunn is Associate Professor of Political Science and Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Government and the Individual at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.

Dunn's research primarily focuses on constitutional history and judicial policymaking. He is the author of Complex Justice: The Case of Missouri v. Jenkins (University of North Carolina Press), which explores the judicial attempt to desegregate the Kansas City, Missouri school system. He co-edited, with Martin West, From Schoolhouse to Courthouse: The Judiciary's Role in American Education (Brookings Institution Press). He also co-authors, with Martha Derthick, a quarterly article on law and education for the journal Education Next. Previously he taught at the College of William & Mary and was a fellow in contemporary history, public policy, and American politics at the Miller Center of Public Affairs in Charlottesville, Virginia. He recieved his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in 2002.

Selected Recent Publications

Complex Justice: The Case of Missouri v. Jenkins. (University of North Carolina Press, 2008).

Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University. with Jon Shields (Oxford University Press, 2016).

"The Paradoxes of Politics in Colorado Springs." The Forum 12, no. 2 (2014): 329-42.

"Who Governs in God's City?" Society, 49 no. 1 (2012): 24-32.

Jack Epstein - History, Ohio University

Project: Behind the Menancing Racket: Organized Labor, Federal Anti-Racketeering Policy, and the Law and Order Origins of the Modern American State, 1927–1970

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Fellowship year: 2012

Mentor: Daniel Ernst, Georgetown University Law Center

Jack Epstein is an Instructor at Tulane University.

Epstein’s dissertation promises to recast the history of the New Deal state and its policy and political legacies, by exploring the emergence of federal racketeering laws. Conservatives up to the 1970s, he contends, used these mechanisms to undermine the New Deal state by fostering competition and resisting federal intervention in labor markets. Titled “Behind the Menacing Racket: Organized Labor, Federal Anti-Racketeering Policy, and the Law and Order Origins of the Modern American State, 1927-1970,” Epstein’s project challenges traditional assumptions about the development of political ideologies. 

Jeannette Estruth - History, New York University

Project: "A Political History of the Silicon Valley: Structural Change, Urban Transformation, and Local Movements, 1945-1995"

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Fellowship year: 2017

Mentor: Mark Brilliant, University of California, Berkeley

Jeannette Estruth has been selected as the Miller Center/ Hagley Library Dissertation Fellow in Business and Politics.

It has become accepted wisdom that the history of Silicon Valley represents something universal about the power of technology to transform national and global economies in the twenty-first century. While acknowledging the influence of the Valley on technologies like computing, telecommunications, and surveillance, Jeannette Estruth’s dissertation takes a wider view, interrogating the relationships between the politics of urban development, labor organizing, and social inclusion to understand how the technology industry became synonymous with California’s South Bay Area in the postwar period. By drawing from a variety of archival sources-- oral histories, corporate memos, activist pamphlets, and union newspapers-- it argues that debates over land use, race, gender, labor, and the urban environment shaped the technology industry’s growth in the Valley in the twentieth century. Estruth posits that local claims to economic inclusion and the concurrent rise of the technology industry combined to produce a new normative political discourse by the 1990s. Defining this impulse as “techno-libertarianism,” she asks how an industry with its roots in federal defense spending came to see itself in opposition to the state; how the culture of participatory entrepreneurship sought to replace the culture of participatory left politics as the hallmark of progressivism; and how the collectivist ideals of the local political left were appropriated into a global promise of universal human liberation through market technologies. By uniting the technological history of the Silicon Valley with its urban and political history, her project prompts new understandings of the emergence of global economies in the postwar period.

Michael Fein - History, Brandeis University

Project: Public Works: New York Road Building and the American State, 1880–1956

Fein photo

Michael Fein is an Assistant Dean of Arts and Sciences and an Associate Professor of History at Johnson & Wales University.

Fein's dissertation led to Paving the Way: New York Road Building and the American State, 1880–1956 (Kansas University, 2008), which won the Annual Archives Award for Excellence in Research from the New York State Archives. Fein has also published a collaborative work with Professor David Moss at the Harvard Business School. 

Fein's dissertation, "Public Works: New York Road Building and the American State, 1880–1956," examined the link between infrastructure and political development. The project used New York State as a case study to explore the expansion of state capacity, providing a historical perspective on the development of New York's massive public works program, from the paving of the first state roads to the construction of the Thruway. In so doing, Fein shed light on the ways in which public construction helped to reconfigure landscapes and communities, as well as political and economic structures. From that study, he drew important insights on a vital question in policy history: How have the units of the state addressed modern problems that are national in scope but local in implementation?

Selected Recent Publications

Paving the Way: New York Road Building and the American State, 1880-1956 (University Press of Kansas, 2008)

Tunnel Vision: ‘Invisible’ Highways and Boston’s ‘Big Dig’ in the Age of Privatization." Journal of Planning History 11, no. 1 (2008): 47-69.

Kathleen Grammatico Ferraiolo - Government, University of Virginia

Project: A Theory of Drug Control Policy in the Twentieth Century and the Success of Drug Law Reform in the 1990s

Ferraiolo photo

Fellowship year: 2004

Mentor: Mark Landy, Boston College

Kathleen Grammatico Ferraiolo is Associate Professor of Political Science at James Madison University.

Ferraiolo's research agenda focuses primarily on direct democracy as a policymaking institution in the American states. Current projects examine state legislators’ response to successful initiatives, the federalism implications of direct democracy, and variations in state and federal approaches to morality policies including drug control and gambling. 

Ferraiolo's dissertation explained the success of medical marijuana initiatives and the willingness of a majority of Americans to reject an important component of federal drug policy. She began by placing the medical marijuana movement in the historical context of twentieth century federal drug control policy. Ferraiolo argued that the institutional locus of control over policy, the way the drug issue was framed, and the formulators and administrators of policy created a federal drug control regime that was highly resistant to fundamental reform. Further, she proposed that changes in these factors – a shift in institutional venue from the federal government to the states and the direct democracy process, a new way of framing drug policy debates that emphasized patient rights and compassion, and an alliance between marijuana activists and political campaign professionals who had the resources to challenge the federal government – helped bring about policy change.

Selected Recent Publications

"Selective Media Exposure and Partisan Differences about Sarah Palin's Candidacy.” with David A. Jones and Jennifer Byrne, Politics & Policy 39, no. 2 (April 2011): 195-221

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