Summer Graduate Research Fellows – 2013

Jean-Michel Landry

Landry is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. His doctoral research inquires into the life of shia sharia law in contemporary Lebanon. He is currently an associated scholar (doctorant associé) at Beirut’s Institut Français du Proche-Orient as well as a research fellow at the Orient Institute—Beirut. Prior to study Islamic Law in Lebanon, he conducted research in Michel Foucault’s archives in Caen (France) as well as in the Russian State Archives in Moscow. These archival inquiries resulted in a series of articles on post-structuralist theory and literary practices in Russia, published in academic journals both in French and in English. Jean-Michel holds a B.A and a M.A. in Anthropology from Université Laval (Québec City, Canada). He intervenes regularly in Canadian newspapers (La Presse, Le Devoir) as well as on Première Chaîne, the radio network of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Landry’s research project is titled “Islamic legal Reasoning and the Adjudication of Family Law among the Shia of Lebanon.”  During the period of his fellowship, he will inquire into the social life of shia sharia law in contemporary Lebanon. Focusing on hawza religious schools (where the sharia is taught) and jaafari family law courts (where matters of marriage and divorce are adjudicated), he will study the various processes through which independent legal reasoning (ijtihad) is taught, learned and exercised both inside and outside the Lebanese state-sponsored juridical apparatus.

Candace Lukasik

Lukasik is currently a master’s candidate in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia University where she specializes in Arab Studies. She has been the recipient of various language scholarships and fellowships for the study of Arabic and Area Studies including the NSEP David L. Boren Scholarship to Egypt, (funded through the US Department of Education), the Critical Language Scholarship to both Jordan and Oman, (funded through the US Department of State), and the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (funded through the US Department of Education). Starting in the fall of 2013, she will begin doctoral studies in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. While there, she will focus on how “modernity” as a colonially mediated project produces the “minority” in fields of power associated with the naming of difference. Within this framework, she will explore the fluid relationships between “religious” and “secular” formations within the emerging contexts and “community” formations in the Middle East.

Lukasik’s research project is titled “The Interplay between Religious and Secular Politics and Coptic activism in post-revolutionary Egypt.”  During her fellowship, she will focus on how Coptic political groups in post-revolutionary Egypt were formed to combat the dominant role of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egyptian politics. In particular, her project will examine how Coptic youth groups attempt to reconcile ethno-nationalist discourse with a call for human rights and religious freedom.

Mona Oraby

Oraby is a PhD candidate in Political Science, specializing in international relations and political theory, at Northwestern University. She is interested in the status of non-Muslim minorities in Muslim-majority states, exploring the legal construction and regulation of religion and religious difference in these contexts. Her present focus is on the Baha’i community in Egypt and the co-constitution of national identity and religious affiliation.

Oraby’s research project is titled “Hierarchies of Citizenship: The Legal Regulation of Religion in Egypt”  During the period of her fellowship, Oraby will undertake dissertation research in Cairo where she will investigate how the Egyptian state participates in creating vulnerable populations within its territorial boundaries, working under the premise that each delineation or ascription of responsibility brings with it a terrain of irresponsibility. Her project will explore how the Egyptian judiciary has made determinations about eligibility for citizenship on the basis of religious affiliation within the context of the right to education.

For her recent piece published by the Arab Studies Institute online at their ezine,, titled “Contested Citizenship in Egypt,” April 25, 2013.

Nazli Ozkan

Ozkan is a PhD student in Cultural Anthropology at Northwestern University, currently studying Alevis, a religious and cultural minority in Turkey and in Europe.  She received an MA degree in the Comparative Studies in History and Society program at Koc University in Istanbul, where she wrote a thesis on the Turkey’s Alevi movement in the 1990s.  She began her doctoral studies in the United States as a fellow of the Fulbright Foreign Student Program.

Ozkan’s research project is titled “The Politics of Religious Freedoms and the Mediation of Alevism in Turkey.”  As part of her project, she will conduct a preliminary summer fieldwork in Istanbul for her dissertation research, which is on the media politics of Alevism. Specifically, she will question the ways in which Alevis respond to the discourse of religious freedom in Turkey, which, she suggests, has become a technique of government with the current Justice and Development Party rule.

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