My Students

Current Students

Malika Bahovadinova

Malika Bahovadinova is a PhD candidate in Socio-cultural Anthropology. Her research interests include the anthropology of state and bureaucracy, migration, political anthropology, poverty, and Central Asia. Her dissertation research focuses on migration management and policies regulating labour migration through an analysis of their bureaucratic production by actors such as the International Organization of Migration (IOM). She conducted field research in the IOM’s offices in Tajikistan to study the application of IOM and other international actors’ agendas in the field of labour migration, and is currently writing her dissertation. Malika holds a degree in International Relations from the Russian Tajik Slavonic University and an MA in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution from the University of Notre Dame.

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Tania Bulakh

Tania Bulakh is a PhD student in Socio-cultural Anthropology with a minor in Russian and Eastern European Studies. The focus of her Master’s degree research was on the Western consumer culture in Eastern Europe during the post-Soviet era, including identity and value transformations caused by new cultural influences, consumerism as an instrument for ideological declarations, and recent trends in contemporary Ukraine’s material culture. For her doctoral dissertation, Tania plans to study the situation of Ukraine’s internally displaced persons (IDPs), especially aspects of citizenship negotiations, social welfare, and gender identities. Tania earned her MA in Anthropology from IU as a Fulbright Scholar. Prior to this she graduated from the National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” (Kyiv, Ukraine), where she obtained BA and MA degrees in Theory of Literature and Comparative Studies. She also worked as a senior project manager for an international PR agency and as a journalist for several Ukrainian publications.

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Alexandra Cotofana

Alexandra Cotofana is a PhD student in Sociocultural Anthropology, with research interests geographically focused on Romania and Ukraine. Topically, her interests include spirituality in socialist and post-socialist regimes, secondary economies, the anthropology of secrecy, gendered practices, medical anthropology, documentary-making and visual identities, and the anthropology of human rights. For her dissertation Alexandra plans to analyze the effects of dictatorial regimes on spiritual practices and post-socialist divides within the Christian Orthodox ideology. She explores changes in the relation of religion and magic within Romanian Christian Orthodoxy, with a strong focus on magic practices. Alexandra was Festival Director for the In Light Human Rights Documentary Film Festival at IUB in March 2015. Alexandra completed her BA in Political Sciences (2009) and her MA in Anthropology (2011) at the National School for Political and Administrative Studies in Bucharest, Romania.

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Safak Kilictepe

Safak Kilictepe is a PhD student in Socio-cultural Anthropology with a minor in Gender Studies. Her dissertation project focuses on the effects of the changing local and global dynamics on the bodies and lives of women in Turkey. Her research areas are medical anthropology, political anthropology, gender, reproduction, reproductive technologies, demography, citizenship, identity, and race/ethnicity. Safak’s research has been supported by the Social Science Research Council’s Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship, the Kinsey Institute Student Research Grant Program, and the Skomp Feasibility Fellowship. She also received the Republic of Turkey National Education Ministry Scholarship for her MA and PhD degree studies in the United States. Safak received her bachelor’s degree in Anthropology at Cumhuriyet University in Sivas, and completed her coursework in Physical Anthropology at Ankara University in Ankara, Turkey. She has also taken part in various projects, such as ancient DNA studies in Molecular Biology Laboratory, anthropometric evaluation of children (2,000 school children were measured), determinants of oral health in primary school students (2,000 children attended), and biocultural approach analysis.

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A. Caitlin Lester is a PhD student in the International and Comparative Education program and in Socio-cultural Anthropology. Her fields of interest include feminist theory and methodology, critical social theory, student agitational movements, subaltern counterpolitics, and narratives of national and transnational citizenship. Her current research focuses on responses of national and transnational student unions to the Bologna Process and national higher education reform in post-socialist Hungary. Caitlin received bachelor's degrees in English and Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles and a master’s degree in Anthropology from the University of California, San Diego.

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Rebecca Mueller

Rebecca Mueller is pursuing a dual MA/MPH through IU’s Russian and East European Institute and the new IUB School of Public Health. Rebecca is an alumna of Smith College, where she received her BA in Anthropology in 2008. In 2008-09, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Republic of Georgia (for a short time) and later Albania, where she worked as a health educator. At IU, Rebecca studies behavioral, social and community health and contemporary issues in the Balkans: labor migration, health, human rights, and the influence of socialist legacies, conflict, and European integration on the formation of national identity. In 2013, she was awarded an American Councils Advanced Research Fellowship for fieldwork on deinstitutionalization and community mental healthcare in Albania. Her MA project considers these efforts as a case study that illustrates changing notions of state, community, family, and individual roles in the maintenance of biological and social well-being after socialism.

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Elena Popa

Elena Popa is a PhD student in Socio-cultural Anthropology. Her research interests concentrate geographically on Eastern and Western Europe (particularly Romania and France), and thematically on post-socialist transformations, migration, citizenship, labor, gender, and identity. Her dissertation research focuses on Romanian labor migration to France, mainly to Bordeaux and Paris. Elena is interested in examining how major political changes in Europe since 1989, such as the collapse of communism and the European Union enlargement, have shaped Romanian migrants’ relationship to their Romanian identity and to their status as European, Romanian, and/or French citizens. Elena completed her BA in Romanian Language and Literature and in Ethnology and Folklore at the University of Bucharest in 2008 and her MA in Ethnology, Cultural Anthropology, and Folklore at the University of Bucharest and the University of Bordeaux in 2010. 

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Julie Johnson Searcy

Julie Johnson Searcy is a PhD student in Socio-cultural Anthropology and Communication and Culture with research experience in the U.S., Tanzania, and South Africa. She is broadly interested in gender, reproduction, health and culture, and science and technology in both the United States and southern Africa. Her dissertation project, funded by the Fulbright foundation, addresses the uneven ground where reproduction, disease, and technology intersect in South Africa. Her thesis examines how a chronic disease like HIV/AIDS—and the technologies that accompany it—intersect with the technologies of reproduction. In looking at the ways women negotiate the different technologies that surround birth and disease, her study seeks to address larger issues of how cultures conceive, define and enact boundaries between life and death. Trained as a birth doula and a childbirth educator, Julie has also completed research focusing on the role of doulas in U.S. births. Her co-authored essay "Mothers, Doulas, Flexible Labour, and Embodied Care in the United States" can be found in the edited volume Mothering in the Age of Neoliberalism (Demeter Press 2014).

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Julie Johnson Searcy

Polina Vlasenko is a PhD student in Socio-cultural Anthropology with a specialization in Medical Anthropology. Her research interests cover the issues of production of biomedical knowledge about women’s health, assisted conception and new kinship, genetically modified organisms and genetic diseases, synthetic biology and stem cell research, commodification and traffic of body parts, transfer of biotechnologies and medical migration, clinical and reproductive labour, biopolitics, bioeconomies, governmentality and biological citizenship. In particular she explores women’s experiences of encounters with ova-donation and in vitro fertilization in Ukraine and the role that transnational travel of gametes and medical migrants and laborers to and from Ukraine play in the global politics, economies and technologies of life. ​Her recent article “Governing Through Precarity: The Experience of Infertile Bodies in IVF Treatment in Ukraine” was published in both Russian and English in Журнал исследований социальной политики (The Journal of Social Policy Studies) in 2014. Polina received her bachelor's degree in Political Science from the National University of "Kyiv-Mohyla Academy" in Ukraine and a Master's degree in Social Studies of Gender from Lund University in Sweden.

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Completed Doctoral and Master’s Degree Students

Elizabeth (Libby) J. Pfeiffer, PhD (Anthropology) Viral Stories: HIV/AIDS, Stigma, and Globalization in Kenya (2014)

Woo Jeong Cho, PhD (Anthropology) The Homeland on the Move: Diasporic Practices of Belonging in Sakhalin Korean Repatriation (2014)

Antonina Semivolos, MA/JD (REEI/Maurer School of Law), One Country, Two Languages: Evolution of Language Preference in Post-Independence Ukraine (2014)

Hidemi Dehays, MA (Anthropology), Passed qualifying exams for the MA (2013)

Emily J. Young, MA (REEI/SLIS; co-chair with Susan Herring), Alt-SHIFT: Queer Online Discourses on Coming Out in Serbia (2012)

Heidi Bludau, PhD, Searching for Respect: Czech Nurses in the Global Economy (2011)

Olga Bueva, MA (REEI), Pictures from the Margins: Disability and Difference in post-Socialist Art (2011)

Laura Linderman, MA (Anthropology, co-chair with Beverly Stoeltje), The Gendered Feast: Experiencing a Georgian Supra (2011)

P. Brooke Swafford, MA (Anthropology) Passed qualifying exams for the MA. (2011)

Abby Drwecki, PhD (Anthropology) Dangerous Women: Self-Defense, Individuation and Gender in post-Socialist Poland (2010)

Yuryi Napelenok, MA (REEI), “Together we are many": Popular Music and Public Participation in Ukraine (2010)

Mary L. Kozub, PhD (Anthropology) The Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders in the US: Trends and Family Experiences (2008)

Dmitriy Upart, MA (REEI), Nuclear Catastrophes and Socioeconomic Ramifications: The Belarus Case (2008)

Joseph Crescente, MA (REEI), Performing Post-Sovietness: Verka Serduchka and the Hybridization of Identity in post-Soviet Ukraine (2007)


Individualized Major and Anthropology Honors Students

Served as faculty sponsor for graduates of Indiana University’s Individualized Major Program

Faith Liveoak, “Medicine, Health & Society” (2015)

Madeline McDonough, “Ethnobotany” (co-sponsor with Sarah Osterhoudt) (2015)

Molly Langteau, “Therapeutic Nutrition and Holistic Medicine” (co-sponsor with Catherine Tucker) (2011)

Beth Underdahl-Peirce, “Therapeutic Horticulture and Holistic Health” (2011)


Served as chair of Undergraduate Anthropology Honors Papers

Rebecca M. Bedwell, The Impact of Federal Breastfeeding Policy Initiatives and Socioeconomic Factors in Indiana on Women’s Breastfeeding Practices and Attitudes” (2014)

Rebeca Laracuente, “Maternal Mortality, Midwifery, and Childbirth in Guatamala: A Historical and Ethnographic Perspective” (2010)

Laura Ciancone, “The Problem with the Penis: Phalloplasty and the 21st Century Male” (2012)