Mneesha Gellman, Ph.D.

Emerson College

City: Boston, Massachusetts

Country: United States

About Me:

Mneesha 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 resilience, memory politics, and social movements in the Global South and the United States. She is currently focused on a new project looking at indigenous and ethnic minority participation among high school and college-aged students in Oaxaca, Mexico, and northern California. Gellman is a political ethnographer and also used mixed methods, including surveys, focus groups, and qualitative interviews in her work.

Research Interests

Comparative Democratization

Human Rights

Latin American And Caribbean Politics

Race, Ethnicity and Politics

Research Methods & Research Design

Political Violence

Specific Areas of Interest

Memory Politics

Indigenous Politics

Language Politics

Education Policy

Cultural Diversity

Diversity Politics

Countries of Interest


El Salvador


United States

Sierra Leone

My Research:

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 stakeholders in Northern California and Mexico to develop a project that documents cultural resiliency projects in two indigenous communities. This project includes a longitudinal study that follows cohorts of students enrolled in indigenous language electives, including Yurok and Zapotec, at local high schools and community organizations in order to document the effects of language learning on student experiences of civic, cultural, and political participation.
Gellman's recent book, Democratization and Memories of Violence: Ethnic Minority Social Movements in Mexico, Turkey, and El Salvador (Routledge 2017) examined 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, and she 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. Her 2015 article in Third World Quarterly looked at the role of peace museums as alternative educational spaces in El Salvador and Sierra Leone. She is currently working on two articles, one that looks at indigenous representation in formal and informal educational spaces in El Salvador and Guatemala, and another that addresses language politics in Sierra Leone.