BiographyMneesha Gellman is Assistant Professor of Political Science in the Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies, at Emerson College, Boston, USA. Her research interests include comparative democratization, cultural rights movements, memory politics, and citizen formation in the Global South and the United States. She teaches classes on US-Latin American relations, human rights, and truth, justice, and reconciliation, among others.
Gellman’s current research looks at how citizens are formed in the formal education sector and in community-run spaces organized around mother tongue and heritage language learning. She is working with statekholders in Northern California to develop a five year study that will follow cohorts of students enrolled in Yurok and Spanish language classes at local high schools in order to assess the effects of language learning on student experiences of civic, cultural, and political participation. She will begin a comparative pilot for this project in southern Mexico in 2017-18.
Gellman’s recent book, Democratization and Memories of Violence: Ethnic Minority Social Movements in Mexico, Turkey, and El Salvador (Routledge 2017) examines how ethnic minority communities use memories of violence in mobilizations for cultural rights, particularly the right to mother tongue education. She argues that violence-affected communities use memory-based narratives in order to shame states into cooperating with claims for cultural rights protections. Gellman shows that shaming and claiming is a social movement tactic that binds historic violence to contemporary citizenship.
Gellman’s other earlier work investigated how museums and memorials serve as spaces that can integrate marginalized memories and identities into mainstream vernaculars. For example, her 2015 article in Third World Quarterly looked at the role of peace museums as alternative educational spaces in El Salvador and Sierra Leone (Spanish translation is available on the publications tab of this website).
Prior to joining the faculty at Emerson College, Gellman was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Global Cooperation Research, Käte Hamburger Kolleg, University of Duisburg-Essen, in Duisburg, Germany. She has published in journals such as Democratization, Conflict Resolution Quarterly, Asian Perspective, and Development in Practice. Gellman holds a PhD in Political Science from Northwestern University, USA, and an MA in International Studies/Peace and Conflict Resolution from the University of Queensland, Australia. She has lived, worked, and studied on six continents, and may skip Antarctica in this lifetime.
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
Latin American Politics
Activism, gardening, urban homesteading, parenting, bike-riding, traveling
Published: Oct 05, 2016 by Development in Practice
Authors: Mneesha Gellman
This article explores post-conflict reconstruction in Cambodia through an analysis of both the dangers of liberal peace building and the positive role that training in capacity building plays in war-torn societies. The central question addressed is how insider–outsider dynamics influence Cambodia’s post-conflict reconstruction projects; and what assumptions do international workers and Cambodian NGO staff make about ‘the good life’ that will be constructed?
Published: Oct 05, 2016 by Conflict Resolution Quarterly
Authors: Mneesha Gellman and Mandi Jane Vuinovich
In this paper we survey conflict resolution in the Arab world and then turn to sulha, a Palestinian peacemaking process, for an in-depth analysis to distill lessons for Palestinian/Israeli negotiations. Our argument is that culture is crucial in fostering mutual understanding in conflict resolution, and that ensuring the basic human right to dignity should be an essential component of international third party interventions.
Published: Jan 15, 2015 by Third World Quarterly
Authors: Mneesha Gellman
This article addresses the divergent cultures of silence and memorialization about the civil wars in Sierra Leone and El Salvador, and examines the role that sites of remembering and forgetting play in crafting post-war citizens. In the formal education sector, the Ministries of Education in each country have taken different approaches to teaching the history of the war, with Sierra Leone emphasizing forgetting and El Salvador geared towards remembering war history.
Published: Apr 01, 2012 by Democratization
Authors: Mneesha Gellman
Subjects: Middle East Studies
In this paper I ask the question: how do citizens use memories of violence in dialogue with the democratizing Turkish state? To address this, I unpack how memories of violence influence solidarity communities in addition to those who are direct descendents of survivors. I also examine how these solidarity communities are widening political space for contemporary dialogue about the Armenian Catastrophe.