Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

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Prize-winning Book Explores Ethnicity and Politics

Harris Mylonas

Harris Mylonas

Harris Mylonas (PhD 2008, Political Science), assistant professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, has won the Peter Katzenstein Book prize for The Politics of Nation-Building: Making Co-Nationals, Refugees, and Minorities (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

The prize recognizes an outstanding first book in International Relations, Comparative Politics, or Political Economy. The judges wrote, “In a strong field of excellent first books, The Politics of Nation-Building by Harris Mylonas distinguishes itself on several dimensions. It addresses an important question at the intersection of international and comparative politics by productively combining insights from theories of Comparative Politics and International Relations and by reformulating key concepts in the study of nation-building.”

Through a detailed study of the Balkans, Mylonas shows that the way a state treats a non-core group within its own borders is determined largely by whether the state’s foreign policy seeks change or favors the international status quo, and whether it is allied to, or in rivalry with an ethnic group’s external patrons. His work, bridging international relations and the politics of ethnicity and nationalism, is the first to explain systematically how the politics of ethnicity in the international arena determine which groups are assimilated, accommodated, or annihilated by their host states. The book is part of the Problems of International Politics series, edited by Yale professors Keith Darden and Ian Shapiro.

At Yale, Mylonas wrote a dissertation titled, “Assimilation and its Alternatives: The Making of Co-Nationals, Refugees, and Minorities,” on which his book was based. In the thesis, he analyzed the conditions in which the ruling political elites of a state target non-core groups with assimilationist policies instead of granting them minority rights or excluding them from the state. His committee included Keith Darden, Ivo Banac, and Bill Foltz and was chaired by Stathis Kalyvas. Before coming to Yale, Mylonas completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Athens, in Greece. In 2008-09 and 2011-2012, he was an Academy Scholar at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, which offers research fellowships in the social sciences, history, and law to scholars at the beginning of their careers who study non-Western areas of the world.

Mylonas is currently associate editor of Nationalities Papers, a publication of the Association for the Study of Nationalities. The journal focuses on nationalism, ethnicity, ethnic conflict, and national identity in Central Europe, the Balkans, the former Soviet Union, the Caucasus, the Turkic world, and Central Eurasia.


Geneticist/Author Wins Writing Award

Tiffany Briere

Tiffany Briere

Tiffany Briere (PhD 2008, Genetics) was awarded a 2013 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, given annually to six women who demonstrate excellence and promise in the early stages of their writing careers.

At Yale, Briere pursued research on polycystic kidney disease in Stefan Somlo’s lab.

“Steve was a generous mentor whose enthusiasm for research (and The Who) was infectious,” she says.

After completing her PhD, she earned an MFA at Bennington College in 2011 and attended Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference at Middlebury in 2013. She currently teaches English at Orange Coast College in California and is working on a novel and a collection of essays about her work in genetics. The award will enable her to write full time in the coming year.

Her essays are about her work in genetics and how it informs the larger truths of life. She says, “Genetics, like writing, is a search for core truths, for what informs the human condition. At its best, it tells an artful and thoughtful story, a narrative meant to inspire and enrich our lives.” She is also beginning work on a novel. “The vision for my novel arose from a number of conversations I’ve had with my mother, who is facing the end of her life. The novel is set in New York and is centered around a young Caribbean-American woman, a scientist at Yale, who upon returning home to Brooklyn, is faced with the unthinkable request: to assist in her ailing father’s suicide. Pitting her advanced education against their religious beliefs, her family convinces her that she is the only one suited for the task. She agrees to do it, and in the aftermath, her life – her whole belief system – unravels. Ultimately, she regains her footing as a healer of sorts, in a community where she has never truly belonged.”

Before coming to Yale, Briere received a BS in biology from the University of Hartford.

“I really enjoyed my time at Yale,” she says. “My favorite moments were spent with fellow grad students and lab mates, Halloweens at GPSCY, lunches at Mory’s, happy hours at BAR – these stand out in my memory. While at Yale, I shook President Clinton’s hand. I sat front row to hear Christopher Reeve speak. I met a magician in a hallway, an NBA star in the elevator, but I never made it to the med school’s rooftop pool.”

Briere lives in San Diego with her husband David, their two-year-old daughter Lilou Rose, and her mother Rose Samaroo, who encouraged Briere to study science and to follow her passion as a writer.


Alumnus Elected President
of National Research Association

Alan J. Abramson

Alan J. Abramson

Alan J. Abramson (PhD 1990, Political Science), professor of government and politics at George Mason University, has been chosen by his peers to serve as president of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA). ARNOVA is the major national association for researchers who study the nonprofit sector and philanthropy. He is the founding director of George Mason’s Center for Nonprofit Management, Philanthropy, and Policy, which seeks to improve the effectiveness of nonprofit organizations through research, training, public education, and related activities.

Abramson’s own research interests span many topics: nonprofit-government relations; foundation policy and practice; social enterprise and social entrepreneurship; and the engagement of all three sectors – nonprofit, government, and business – in addressing social problems.

He is currently a senior fellow in the Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation at the Aspen Institute, and an Affiliated Scholar with the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute. For more than a decade, he directed the Aspen Institute’s nonprofit program, overseeing the Nonprofit Sector Research Fund and other initiatives that helped to build the nonprofit research field, strengthen nonprofit and foundation leaders, and deepen the understanding of policymakers about nonprofit activities. Before joining the Aspen Institute, Abramson was on the research staff of the Urban Institute, where he worked on a variety of domestic public policy issues. Abramson has often been named among the 50 most influential leaders in the nonprofit sector.

Abramson is the author and co-author of numerous books and papers, including chapters in forthcoming books on: “Effective Advocacy: Lessons for Nonprofit Leaders from Research and Practice” (with Gary Bass and Emily Dewey); “Hot and Cold: The Weatherization Assistance Program Under ARRA”; “Foundations in the Washington, D.C. National Capital Area” (with Stefan Toepler); and “Metro TeenAIDS: From Service Provider to Advocate” (with Lehn Benjamin and Stefan Toepler).

Abramson completed his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. His dissertation, advised by David Mayhew, focused on budgeting and won the Leonard White Award from the American Political Science Association for the best dissertation in the subfield of public administration. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his husband, Alex Wilson, and their thirteen-year-old son, Ben.