Transregional Center for Democratic Studies




1. Elcin Aktoprak, Project Coordinator, The School of Human Rights

Elçin Aktoprak was Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences, Ankara University, Turkey, until she was dismissed as per the emergency decree in February 2017. Her research interests are theories of nationalism, minority issues in Europe, the Kurdish question, conflict resolution and peace studies. Recently she is the project coordinator of an EU funded project called the School of Human Rights. 

2. Kerem Altıparmak, Dr., Director of Human Rights Center (Ankara Bar Association), Ankara Bar Association

Kerem Altıparmak studied and taught human rights law since 1996 at Ankara University. I resigned from my post in October 2018. Currently I am a legal consultant to the International Commission of Jurists. I am also a practicing lawyer focusing mainly on human rights law. I litigate before the European Court of Human Rights and the Turkish Constitutional Court. I also teach human rights courses in the Human Rights School and work with human rights NGOs in Turkey.

3. Utku Balaban, Visiting Associate Professor, Amherst College

Utku Balaban is a visiting associate professor at Amherst College’s Anthropology and Sociology Department. He taught at Ankara University until 2017 when the government expelled and blacklisted him along with over thirty colleagues as signatories of the Peace Petition to protest the violence against the Kurdish civilian by government forces in 2015. He pursues his studies on urbanization and industrialization. His current work focuses on the relationship of the late urbanization and industrialization with the rise of Islamism in Turkey.

4. Nazan Bedirhanoglu, Postdoctoral Fellow, Wellesley College 

Nazan Bedirhanoglu works at Wellesley College where she teaches courses on international political economy and the Middle East. She is a fellow of the New University in Exile Consortium. She was expelled from Ankara University because she was a signatory of the Peace Petition that condemns the Turkish government’s atrocities against the Kurdish civilians. 

5. Alexandra Bitusikova, Professor, Director of University Center for International Projects, Matej Bel University in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia

Alexandra Bitusikova is professor of social anthropology. Her research interests include urban change, diversity, identity, gender and social movements. She is actively engaged in a grassroots anti-fascist movement Not in Our Town in the city of Banska Bystrica, particularly in the organisation of the Human Forum conference and Schools for Democracy programme.

6. András Bozóki, Professor, Central European University

András Bozóki is Professor of Political Science at the Central European University, Budapest and Vienna. His research interest includes political change, democratization and democratic decline, political ideologies, comparative East Central European politics, and the role of intellectuals. He has been a visiting professor at Columbia University, Smith College, Bologna University and several other universities. His recent book discusses the role of intellectuals in the transition to democracy before, during, and after 1989. .

7. Maria Bucur, John V. Hill Professor of history and gender studies, Indiana University

Maria Bucur is the author of six books and over forty articles on the recent history of Romania and gender relations. She has published on eugenics, war and memory, citizenship under communism, gender violence, modernism, feminism, and is now working on a book about the veterans administration in interwar Romania.

8. Helena Chmielewska-Szlajfer, Assistant Professor, Kozminski University

Helena Chmielewska-Szlajfer, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at Koźmiński University, author of books, Reshaping Poland’s Community after Communism: Ordinary Celebrations (Palgrave, 2019) and Marxism and Sociology: A Selection of Writings by Kazimierz Kelles-Krauz (Brill, 2018). Her research interests include post-1989 democratic transformation and the public sphere, everyday practices, as well as media in political and cultural change. Her current project focuses on politics in online tabloids in Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States in the context of 2015-16 elections and the role of emotions in the online public sphere.

9. Mark W. Frazier, Professor, New School for Social Research

Mark Frazier is Professor of Politics at NSSR and Co-Director of the India China Institute. He is the author of The Power of Place: Contentious Politics in Twentieth Century Shanghai and Bombay (2019) and Socialist Insecurity: Pensions and the Politics of Uneven Development in China (2010). His current project examines public space and protests in Hong Kong. 

10. Daniel Gerbery, Assistant Professor, Comenius University in Bratislava

11. Jeffrey C. Goldfarb, Michael E. Gellert Professor of Sociology, New School for Social Research

Jeffrey Goldfarb is the Michael E. Gellert Professor of Sociology at the New School for Social Research. He is also the Co-Executive Editor of Public Seminar and Special Advisor to the Provost for The New School Publishing Initiative. His work primarily focuses on the sociology of media, culture and politics. 

12. Ali Riza Güngen, Ph.D., Carnegie Mellon University Distance Fellow

Ali Rıza Güngen is a political scientist and CHR/Carnegie Mellon University Distance Fellow. Dr. Güngen’s research currently focuses on dependent financialisation, financial inclusion, and sovereign debt management across the global South and public banks. 

13. Jeffrey C. Isaac, James H. Rudy Professor, Indiana University, Bloomington

Jeff Isaac writes regularly for Public Seminar and a range of other journals. He has taught about and published on democracy for over thirty years, and his 1998 book, Democracy in Dark Times, anticipated some of the challenges we now face.

14. Pawel Knut, PhD candidate, Human rights attorney, University of Warsaw, Campaign Against Homophobia

Human rights attorney and Fulbright visiting scholar at The New School Transregional Center for Democratic Studies (2019/2020). For the last 8 years he has been cooperating with several Polish NGOs specializing in human rights protection. Currently he is preparing a PhD dissertation at the Liberal Arts Faculty, University of Warsaw on new strategies of response to hate speech.

15. Elzbieta Korolczuk, Associate Professor, Södertörn University, Stockholm & American Studies Center, University of Warsaw

Elżbieta Korolczuk is an Associate professor in sociology, her research interests involve: social movements, civil society, politics of reproduction and gender. Most recent publications include a volume co-authored with Beata Kowalska, Jennifer Ramme and Claudia Snochowska-Gonzalez Bunt kobiet. Czarne Protesty i Strajki Kobiet [Women’s Rebellion. Black Protests and Women’s Strikes], published by European Solidarity Centre in 2019 and a book Anti-gender Campaigns, Right-Wing Populism and the Future of Feminism written with Agnieszka Graff (currently under review in Routledge). Korolczuk is also a commentator and women’s and human rights activist. 

16. Jacek Kucharczyk, President of the Executive Board, Instytut Spraw Publicznych (Institute of Public Affairs)

Jacek Kucharczyk is President of the Institute of Public Affairs, one of Poland’s leading think tanks. He received a PhD in sociology at the Polish Academy of Sciences. He studied at the Graduate School for Social Research in Warsaw, Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research in New York, the University of Kent at Canterbury (MA in philosophy) and Warsaw University (MA in English studies). In the 1980s he was active in the independent student movement and clandestine publishing. Dr Kucharczyk has been a co-founder and board member of a number of international NGOs, including Prague Center for Civil Society and the European Partnership for Democracy (EPD) in Brussels.  He currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Scholarship Program at Open Society Foundations. In 2008-2015 he was Advisory Board member of OSF Think Tank Fund. In 2009-2015 he was a board member of the National School of Public Administration in Warsaw. Kucharczyk has authored and edited articles, reports, policy briefs and books on European integration, democratic governance, democracy assistance, migrations and populism. His recent  book-length publication is Phantom Menace. The Politics and Policies of Migration in Central Europe. Dr Kucharczyk regularly comments on current domestic and European affairs and political developments for Polish and international media. 

17. Dagmar Kusá, Assistant professor, Bratislava International School of Liberal Arts

Dagmar Kusá teaches Comparative Politics and International Conflict and Cooperation at the Bratislava International School of Liberal Arts in Bratislava, Slovakia. Her recent work focuses on the impact of memory regimes–legislative and institutional frameworks for addressing the past during democratic transitions–on the quality of democracy a few decades later. 

18. Chang Liu, MA Student, The New School for Social Research

Chang Liu is currently a MA student in sociology at the New School for Social Research, with research interests in political sociology, historical sociology, and the sociology of China in general. She also holds a master’s degree in global development from University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Central University of Finance and Economics in China.

19. Paweł Marczewski, Head of research unit Citizens, Batory Foundation, Warsaw

Paweł Marczewski is head of the research unit Citizens at the ideaForum, think tank of the Batory Foundation, Poland. He holds a PhD in sociology from University of Warsaw. His main areas of interest are social movements, civil society organizations, and social justice. He is a contributing writer at the weekly Tygodnik Powszechny and member of the editorial board of Przegląd Polityczny quarterly, his comments and articles appeared also in the Nation, Public Seminar, Eurozine, as well as major Polish dailies Gazeta Wyborcza and Rzeczpospolita.

20. Samuel Marec, Publicist, SME, Dennik N

Started as a blogger in 2008. Now a regular contributor for two of Slovakia’s major newspapers focusing on domestic politics, civil society and human rights.

21. Elzbieta Matynia, Professor, New School for Social Research

Elzbieta Matynia is Professor of Sociology and Liberal Studies, and founding director of the Transregional Center for Democratic Studies (TCDS). Her research in political and cultural sociology focuses on democratic transformations, gender and democracy, and more recently on the challenges faced by democracies emerging with a legacy of violence. Her book Grappling with Democracy: 1989-1995 (1995) documents the debates of the first Democracy Seminar project; Performative Democracy (2009, Paradigm) examines a potential in political life that easily escapes theorists: the indigenously inspired enacting of democracy by citizens, and identifies the conditions for performativity in public life; An Uncanny Era (2013, Yale University Press) is a discussion on the precariousness of democracy, and early signs of its recent retreat in Central Europe). One of her recent essays, “How to Kill Democracy?”  was published in 2019 in Social Research.

22. Jan Orlovsky, director, Open Society Foundation Bratislava, Slovakia

 Jan Orlovsky is the head of OSF Slovakia since 2015, starting his career as a foreign service officer of Slovakia weeks before the split of Czechoslovakia in January of 1993, joining the Foundation after a brief stint in politics and a decade in the private sector.

23. Daniel Peres, Professor, Federal University of Bahia-Brazil

PhD in Philosophy, with an interest in History of Modern Philosophy and Political Philosophy.  My actual research is focused on the role of imagination in historical and political thought and action.

24. Kálmán Petőcz, Chairperson, Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Slovakia

Independent political and human rights analyst, runs civic education and human rights projects for the youth. Former Ambassador of Slovakia at the UN in Geneva. Earlier held various high level civil service positions in the reformist Slovak governments. In the 90-ies active in the liberal Hungarian Civic Party. Worked also with the Forum Minority Research Institute. Formerly external lecturer at Comenius University, Nitra University and Bratislava International School of Liberal Arts. Vice-Chairman of the Council on Human Rights, a permanent advisory body to the Government.

25. Gábor Scheiring, Marie Curie Fellow, Bocconi University

Gábor Scheiring is a Marie Curie Fellow at Bocconi University, Milan, researching the social consequences of economic globalisation, the political economy of health and populism. His book, The Retreat of Liberal Democracy (Palgrave, 2020) analyses how global economic transformation gave rise to illiberal populism in Hungary. He served as a member of the Hungarian Parliament between 2010–2014.

26. Kristóf Szombati, Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute, Halle

I have a background in both politics and academia. In 2007 I co-founded the green LMP party, which I left four years later to do a PhD on the rise of anti-Gypsyism and the far-right Jobbik party in rural Hungary at CEU (Budapest). I am currently a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, where I am conducting research on illiberal statecraft in Hungary. 

27. Malkhaz Toria, Graduate Student in Sociology program at the The New School for Social Research; coordinator of the Memory  Studies Croup at the New School

Malkhaz Toria is an associate professor of history and head of the Memory Studies Center at the Ilia State University (Tbilisi, Georgia).

28. Michal Vašečka, Programme Director, Bratislava Policy Institute

Michal Vašečka, PhD. is sociologist by background, he studied at the Comenius University in Bratislava and at the Masaryk University in Brno. He focuses his interests on issues of ethnicity, race, and migration studies, as well as populism, extremism, social movements, and civil society. As an Associate Professor Michal operates at the Bratislava International School of Liberal Arts (BISLA) since 2015 and at the Pan-European University in Bratislava since 2018. As a visiting scholar he operated at the New School University in New York (1996-1997), at the University of London (1998), at the Georgetown University In Washington DC (2008-2009), at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (2015), he was also a ISGAP Scholar-In-Residence at the Oxford University (2016), and in 2019 he lectured at the tribal Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa College in Wisconsin, USA. 

Michal Vašečka is a founder and former director (2006-2012) of the Center for the Research of Ethnicity and Culture (CVEK). Since 2012 Michal Vašečka has served as a representative of the Slovak republic in the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), human rights body of the Council of Europe. He serves as a vice-chairman of the governmental committee VRAX tackling extremism and racism in Slovakia since 2017. Dr. Michal Vašečka is a chairman of the Editorial Board of the Denník N, major daily newspaper in Slovakia since 2016, and a member of the Advisory Board of the Prague-based Aspen Review Central Europe in 2012-2016, since 2016 member of the Editorial Board. In 2018 Michal became a laureate of the Award for special contribution in the field human rights of the Minister of Justice of Slovakia.    


1. Funda Başaran, Member, Academics for Peace

2. Laszlo Bruszt, Professor, Central European University

Laszlo Bruszt is Professor of Sociology at the Central European University, Budapest, recently on leave at Columbia University.  His more recent studies deal with the politics of economic integration of the Eastern and Southern peripheries of Europe. His recent publications include “Making states for the single market: European integration and the reshaping of economic states in the Southern and Eastern peripheries of Europe” West European Politics; “Varieties of Dis-embedded Liberalism – EU Integration Strategies in the Eastern Peripheries of Europe” in Journal of European Public Policy. A special issue “Manufacturing development – How transnational market integration shapes opportunities and developmental capacities in Europe’s three peripheries” that he has co-edited is forthcoming at the Review of International Political Economy.

3. Jonathan Fanton, former President, The New School, and, American Academy of Arts and Science

Jonathan F. Fanton served as President of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences from 2014 to 2019. Prior to that Dr. Fanton held the position of Interim Director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College from 2009 to 2014. He previously was President of The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation from 1999 to 2009 and for 17 years was President of The New School for Social Research. Earlier, he was Vice President of Planning at The University of Chicago. Dr. Fanton holds a Ph.D. in American History from Yale University, where he taught and was Special Assistant to President Kingman Brewster.

He is the author of Foundations and Civil Society, volumes I and II (2008), and The University and Civil Society, volumes I and II (1995, 2002).

In addition to his leadership of these organizations, he has served as board chair for several organizations, including Human Rights Watch, the Security Council Report, and the New York State Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities. He currently serves on the boards of Scholars At Risk, the Asian Cultural Council, and the Benjamin Franklin House, and he chairs the advisory board of the Newman’s Own Foundation.

4. Irena Grudzińska Gross, Professor in the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Polish Academy of Science and, Princeton University

Irena Grudzińska Gross emigrated from her native Poland after student unrest of 1968. She studied in Poland, Italy and in the United States; she received her PhD from Columbia University in 1982. She taught East-Central European history and literature at Emory, New York, Boston and Princeton universities. Her books include Golden Harvest with Jan T. Gross, Oxford University Press, 2012, Czesław Miłosz and Joseph Brodsky: Fellowship of Poets, Yale University Press, 2009, and The Scar of Revolution: Tocqueville, Custine and the Romantic Imagination, University of California Press, 1995.  As a Guggenheim Fellow she is working on a biography of Alexander Weissberg-Cybulski (1901-1964), an Austrian-Jewish physicist, political prisoner, writer, businessman, communist, then anti-communist and gambler. 

5. Shireen Hassim, Professor/ Canada 150 Research Chair, Carleton University and University of the Witwatersrand

Interested in feminist theory and democracy, and in state and social policies.

6. Michal Havran, Founder and Editor-in-chief,

Michal Havran is a Slovak publicist and founder and editor-in-chief of the left-wing portal

7. Renata Reverendo Vidal Nagamine, Professor, Federal University of Bahia

Professor at the International Relations Program at the Federal University of Bahia. Researcher at the Brazilian Center of Analysis and Planning (Cebrap). 

8. Asli Odman, Senior Instructor, Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Istanbul

Aslı Odman is a senior instructor at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Department of Urban and Regional Planning in Istanbul. She worked mainly on the concretization of labor practices and capital accumulation processes in urban spaces, in other words on “the social production of space and spatial differentiation.”  The period she has mostly worked on is the interwar period. Her recent research has focused thematically on labor processes in the Tuzla Shipbuilding Region (Istanbul), Ford Motor Company’s global history, the restructuration in Turkish higher education in the 2010s. She currently does anthropological research in various labor geographies of Istanbul on working people’s health/safety and precarity, organization of work and body in workplaces. She is a founding honorary member of the Istanbul Health and Safety Labor Watch (, an interdisciplinary independent watchdog in the fields of occupational health and safety, public health and  environmental health. 

9. Julia Sonnevend, Assistant Professor, New School for Social Research

Julia Sonnevend is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Communications at the New School for Social Research in New York. She has held fellowships at the Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the Centre for Contemporary History in Potsdam, and the Yale Center for Cultural Sociology in New Haven. Her scholarship lies at the intersection of media studies, cultural sociology, memory studies and international relations, and explores how people are far less rational in their political, social and mediated lives than they ordinarily image.  Her first book, Stories Without Borders: The Berlin Wall and the Making of a Global Iconic Event (Oxford University Press, 2016), asks: how do particular news events become lasting global myths, while others fade into oblivion? Focusing on journalists covering the fall of the Berlin Wall and on subsequent retellings of the event (from Legoland reenactments to the installation of segments of the Berlin Wall in shopping malls), Sonnevend discusses how storytellers build up certain events so that people remember them for long periods of time. She also shows that the powerful myth of the fall of the Berlin Wall still shapes debates about separation walls and fences, borders and refugees around the world.

Democracy Seminar staff: 

  1. Udeepta Chakravarty, Assistant Editor, Democracy Seminar, and PhD Student, Sociology, New School for Social Research, 
  2. Lala Pop, Program Manager, Transregional Center for Democratic Studies & Democracy Seminar, and PhD Student, Politics, New School for Social Research, epop@newschool.ed

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