Published February 26, 2019 by Tom Porter

Meet the New Postdocs

This academic year, Bowdoin College welcomed nine new postdoctoral researchers in a variety of fields, from Arabic to Africana studies, via biology, religion, Latin American studies, Francophone studies, Asian studies, and religion. 

The scholars shared a bit about their backgrounds, their research and teaching interests, and what they like to do when they find themselves with free time.

bedecarre

Bedecarré, Madeline (Bowdoin class of ’09)

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Francophone Studies, Romance Languages and Literatures

Academic Passions

I am a specialist in Francophone African literature and the sociology of culture. One of my main interests is the relationship between politics and literature. I work on how certain institutions (ranging from political organizations to prizes, libraries, or literary festivals) shape the production, circulation, and recognition of African literatures.

Teaching Interests

Last semester, I taught African Immigrant Voices, a class that examined the ways novelists and sociologists give voice to the immigrant experience. Students met regularly with French-speaking immigrants in Portland and collaborated with them to produce a digital storytelling project. I also taught Intermediate French, where I had a lot of fun with my students. They used their newly acquired grammatical knowledge to compare artwork at the Bowdoin museum, to write and perform skits, and to watch and discuss films. This semester I am teaching Contemporary France through the Media, where students master the art of public speaking while learning about French politics.

Life before Bowdoin

I grew up in California but came to Bowdoin for my undergraduate studies, majoring in French. I did my MA in French at Columbia University in New York, and I lived in France for a number of years, where I taught courses in sociology and completed my PhD at the EHESS in Paris. While completing my doctoral work I participated in different group research projects, trained as a translator, and worked at an art gallery.

Life beyond Bowdoin

In my spare time I do quite a bit of translation from French into English. I also do yoga and read for fun—right now I’m in the middle of Elena Ferrante’s Neopolitan novels. My husband is an antiques dealer, so I enjoy going to flea markets and vintage shops with him and learning about midcentury modern design. Last year I began Irish step dancing again after a fifteen-year hiatus, but I'm still looking for a studio in Maine.


jellison

Jellison, Brittany

Doherty Marine Biology Postdoctoral Scholar, Biology

Academic Passions

I am a marine ecologist broadly interested in how coastal marine organisms are responding, acclimating, and adapting to human-altered environments. Through both laboratory experiments and manipulative field studies, I explore how changes to the ocean alter species’ interactions and trophic cascades. I am particularly interested in how the behaviors of animals are shaped by environmental change. 

Teaching Interests

I teach as part of Bowdoin’s Marine Science Semester. My current class focuses on methods in marine ecology and prepares students to execute their own independent research projects. Next year I will hopefully teach a course that focuses on global ocean change. I am lucky to be teaching as part of Bowdoin’s Marine Science Semester because I am able to use the coast as my classroom, enabling students to get their feet wet and immerse themselves in studying local ecosystems. 

Life before Bowdoin

I was born and raised in California (yes, that means this winter is my first experience living in snow and I love it!) I went to undergraduate at UC San Diego, where I studied biology and did independent research on deep-sea methane seeps. I was also able to study tropical biology abroad in Costa Rica. I then spent a year working for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife where I helped collect fisheries data at ports and spent time measuring fish at sea. For graduate school, I went to UC Davis and investigated the impacts of ocean acidification on snail behavior at the Bodega Marine Laboratory. 

Life beyond Bowdoin

I am happiest outdoors being in nature. I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring Maine and getting to know the local flora and fauna through hiking, mushrooming, backpacking, and biking. And although I wouldn’t count myself as a talented artist, I really love to craft.​


klasova

Klasova, Pamela Marketa

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Arabic, Arabic

Academic Passions

I study the period of early Islam and, more specifically, its oral culture—mainly public speech and poetry—as a powerful political tool of its time. My other research area is Islamic magic and divination. With these projects, I explore how early Islamic society fit in the larger world around it, with its key cultural strands, such as Greek learning, Syriac Christianity, rabbinic Judaism, etc.

Teaching Interests
I teach Advanced Arabic and Myth in Arabic Literature: From the Qur’an to the Modern Poetry and Prose. Languages are my passion and I enjoy passing this passion onto students. My Myth class is a chance to show how ancient stories have played an important role in different societies from antiquity until today and, of course, to present students with some beautiful pieces of modern and classical Arabic literature. 

Life before Bowdoin

I was born in Bolivia but grew up in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. I began my studies there and continued at Leiden University in the Netherlands. During that time, I also studied at Oxford University and at different universities in Syria and in Egypt. After finishing my MA in the Netherlands, I moved to Washington DC to pursue a PhD at Georgetown University. During my doctoral studies, I also spent a wonderful year in Beirut, and, finally, directly after finishing my PhD, I moved to Maine.

Life beyond Bowdoin

I love learning languages, Arabic poetry, and being on the road. Though not a big fan of winter sports, I recently bought snow shoes, and so I am willing to give snowshoeing a try.


marrewa

Marrewa, Christine

ASIANetwork-Luce Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in South and Southeast Asian Studies, Asian Studies.

Academic Passions

I am a cultural and religious historian of South Asia, focusing on the confluence of language, print, and politics in North India over the longue durée. My current research focuses on communal identity formation and the literature of the Nath yogis (best known for their connection with Hatha yoga) from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries. I examine the religious fluidity of this community of yogis during the early modern period and ask how colonialism, modernity, and print affected the manner in which the Nath yogis have come to express themselves in their own literature in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Teaching Interests

This semester I’m teaching The Tigress’s Snare: Gender, Yoga, and Monasticism in South and Southeast Asia. This class will examine the highly gendered worldview found within South and Southeast Asian yogic and monastic texts. Primarily reading Hindu, Nath yogi, Jain, and Buddhist canonical teachings, the class will discuss the manner in which women have historically been viewed within these religious traditions. It will then shift to look at the manner in which women have been, and continue to, take part in these communities in their everyday life.

Life before Bowdoin

I grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts, and first attended Holyoke Community College before transferring to Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley. I went on to receive two master's degrees: one from Columbia University and the other in Asian Languages and Literatures at the University of Washington. In between I have also lived for nearly ten years in India, learning Hindi, Urdu, and Sanskrit.


martino

Martino, Allison Joan

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Africana Studies, Africana Studies

Academic Passions

My research interests include textiles, dress and fashion, photography, contemporary art, cultural heritage, and memory studies, as well as curatorial practice in art museums. My current book project traces how one of the best-known African textiles, called adinkra cloth, has evolved from royal dress among Akans of Ghana in the early nineteenth century to later become a symbol of national identity in postcolonial Ghana and a global icon of Africa in the African diaspora.

Teaching interests

In the fall, I taught a course on African art and visual culture. I’ve been working with students in the course to curate an exhibition, Fashioning Modernity: Art and Independence among Yorùbás in Nigeria, which opened at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in January 2019. This semester, I am teaching two courses in Africana studies and art history: Art and Politics in Africa and Traveling Textiles: Cultural Exchanges from Trade Routes to the Runway.

Life before Bowdoin

I moved to Maine from Michigan, where I completed my doctoral work in the history of art at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Previously, I earned my master’s degree in the history of art at Indiana University in Bloomington. I grew up in northeast Ohio, near Cleveland, and studied visual arts and art history during my bachelor’s program at Denison University.

Life beyond Bowdoin

After spending most of my life in the Midwest, I am delighted to be living in New England. I love the ocean, so I’m enjoying living in an area with a stunning coastline and so many lovely beaches nearby. I like to stay active and have been visiting parks around coastal Maine during the fall. I’m looking forward to traveling more in Maine and other parts of New England.


mock

Mock, Tara

CFD (Consortium for Faculty Diversity) Postdoctoral Fellow in Africana Studies, Africana Studies

Academic Passions

As an Africana social scientist , I specialize in the cultural political economy of modern Africa. My research and teaching interests include Afro-Chinese relations, diaspora issues, cultural political economy, cultural identity and community formation, globalization, memory, and nation branding. I am currently working on a book combining survey research, interviews, ethnography, and discourse analysis with theories of diaspora, black geographies, cultural political economy, nation branding, and imagined community, to situate an investigation into conceptualizations of selfhood and community between African and Chinese people within an Africana studies framework.

Teaching Interests

This semester, I’m teaching a course called The New Scramble for Africa: Capital Accumulation in the Global Age. The course dedicates considerable time to exploring contemporary interactions between African states and their most significant external partner—China— considering questions of neocolonialism and neo imperialism, and asks students to conclude whether a new scramble for Africa is underway.

Life before Bowdoin

I earned a PhD in African American and African studies at Michigan State University. I also earned a master of arts in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and studied international business at the HEC School of Management in Jouy-en-Josas, France.

Life beyond Bowdoin

I am originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, and though I've spent much of my adult life living in the Northeast, I return home as often as possible. I enjoy traveling and once spent two years backpacking through thirty-six countries around the world. I am a huge foodie but could likely subsist on cheese and fruit. The cold, homebound Maine days have introduced me to a new hobby: reupholstering furniture.


mutter

Mutter, Jessica

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Religion, Religion

Academic Passions

I study the early Islamic era, which roughly spans the seventh to the ninth centuries CE and encompasses a wide swath of the globe (from Spain to India!). I focus on religious conversion between Christianity and Islam during this period, examining texts written in Arabic and Syriac. I also study the Qur'an, and am working on a study of the Qur'an's narrative structure. A distant future project will focus on the economic history of the early Muslim caliphate.

Teaching Interests

I teach about Islam, with a focus on Islam's origins and texts. I taught a course on Islam in the fall, and in the spring I'm teaching Introduction to Religions of the Middle East, as well as a course on religious conversion (which is what I study in the context of early Islamic history). I hope to teach a course on the Qur'an at some point, and I've had students express interest in courses on gender and sexuality in Islam and on Islam in America, so those may be topics of future courses.

Life before Bowdoin

I recently completed my PhD in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. Before that, I earned an MA at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, and a BA at Columbia University in New York. I grew up mostly in the rural South, so everywhere I've lived as an adult has been very different, Maine included (the first time I visited the state was in April, 2018!).

Life beyond Bowdoin

Being at Bowdoin is wonderful in part because there is so much to do outdoors. I really love hiking, camping, and exploring new places, and I feel very lucky to have found myself in a place where the opportunities to do all of those things are so vast.


popescu

Popescu, Irina

Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in Latin American Studies, Latin American Studies

Academic Passions

My research centers on the intersections between human rights discourse and cultural production in the Americas. I am interested in how literature, art, and film revise historical narratives, particularly the history of slavery and colonialism. My book project, The Empathy Archive, connects the evolution of the novel with changing conceptions of human rights discourse and law in the Americas in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. 

Teaching Interests

I am teaching a first-year seminar called Human Rights in the Americas this fall. The course investigates how cultural products such as films, novels, photographs, and so on engage with human rights discourses and document past and present human rights abuses in the Americas. Currently, I am gathering materials and working with the McKeen Center to develop a course on activism in Latin America for next year.

Life before Bowdoin

I was born in Brasov, Romania. Yes, that is in Transylvania. Yes, that is where Dracula is from. No, I have no idea if we are related (but maybe?). I got my BA at the University of Texas at Austin (hook ‘em) and received my master’s from UC, Santa Barbara. I earned my PhD in comparative literature from UC, Berkeley.

Life beyond Bowdoin

I love spending time with my family, especially my adventurous son, Mateo, who, even at 21 months, always keeps my husband and me running and smiling.  I also am an avid runner and hiker and was happy to run around like crazy in Maine over the summer and fall. I love being outside more than anything, especially near the ocean. When I can’t be outside, I love to cook, read, write, and dance! Always dance!


siwi

Siwi, Marcio

CFD Postdoctoral Fellow in Latin American Studies, Latin American Studies

Academic Passions

My current book project, Making the Modern and Cultured City: Art, Architecture, and Urbanism in Postwar São Paulo, explores efforts to transform São Paulo into a world-class city after WWII, through a transnational analysis of artistic production, architecture, and urban planning.  These practices are examined as expressions of an idealized urban sensibility inflected by foreign models that leading Paulistanos aspired to produce, and as a broader pattern of racial anxiety, uneven development, and spatial segregation.  

Teaching Interests

My teaching interests include Latin American studies, Urban studies, race, Brazilian history, and the history of the United States in the world. More specifically, last semester I taught a course titled Race and Culture in Brazil: The Paradox of Progress. This semester I am teaching Cities and the Urban Experience in Latin America.

Life before Bowdoin

Prior to coming to Bowdoin, I was a college fellow in history at Harvard University. I was also program manager of the Brazil Studies Program at Harvard’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (2007-2010) and a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York (2002-2005). I am a native of São Paulo, Brazil, and a citizen of both Mexico and the United States. I received my PhD from New York University in 2017.

Life beyond Bowdoin

Right now, that basically consists of taking care of our five-month-old baby. It’s a full time extra curricular activity! I also enjoy running, music, the theater, and the outdoors more generally!