Professor Stephen Sawyer

Prof. Stephen Sawyer

Stephen W. Sawyer is the Ballantine-Leavitt Professor of History and Director of the Center for Critical Democracy Studies. Sawyer came to BT天堂 from the University of Chicago center in Paris and the Ecole Normale Sup茅rieure-rue d鈥橴lm where he was lecturer in the final years of his dissertation. After receiving fellowships from the EHESS, Fulbright, and Sciences Po, Sawyer served as part-time assistant to Pierre Rosanvallon at the Coll猫ge de France. A specialist in political history and theory, Sawyer earned his PhD at the University of Chicago. He has served on the editorial board of the Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales and as the Associate Editor for its English version since 2012. In 2014-15, he was named inaugural Neubauer Collegium Fellow at the University of Chicago. Appointed Directeur de publications of The Tocqueville Review/La Revue Tocqueville in 2014, he founded the online platform Tocqueville21 in 2017. In 2018-2019, he was named research fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. In Spring 2020 he was invited Kratter Visiting Professor to the History Department at Stanford University.

The core of his project articulates a history and theory of democracy as a mode of popular magistrature, administration and public regulation. The project advances along two dimensions: first, a critical intellectual history featuring a close rereading of key texts and authors that may be read surprisingly differently when one places democracy 鈥 rather than liberalism or republicanism 鈥 at the center of our histories of political modernity. Second, the project turns on a rediscovery and re-prioritization of the variety of substantive and concrete activities, programs, and policies that have constituted democratic action. The first volume of this project was published in 2018 under the title Demos Assembled: Democracy and the International Origins of the Modern State, 1840-1880 (University of Chicago Press). It was followed by a monograph entitled La contingence et le pouvoir (Armand Colin, 2018). This book, focusing on the highly contentious figure Adolphe Thiers, further elaborated the project鈥檚 methodology, 鈥渁 pragmatic history of the political.鈥 He is currently preparing the second volume on Regulation and the Birth of the Democratic Social Contract, 1810-1850. The project as a whole self-consciously builds on late twentieth-century, primarily French, democratic and social theory. Sawyer has explored this work and its legacy in a series of edited volumes, including: In Search of the Liberal Moment: Democracy, Antitotalitarianism and Intellectual Politics in France since 1950 (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2016); Pierre Rosanvallon's Political Thought (Bielefeld University Press, 2018); Michel Foucault, Neoliberalism and Beyond (Rowman and Littlefield, 2019); and his translation of Michel Foucault's lectures Wrong-Doing, Truth-Telling: The Function of Avowal in Justice (University of Chicago Press, 2014). The international, historical and theoretical dimensions of this project have been explicitly elaborated in a series of co-edited volumes with his colleagues William Novak and James Sparrow, including Beyond Stateless Democracy (Tocqueville Review, Spring 2015), A Comparative History of the French and American Democratic States (Tocqueville Review, 2012) and Boundaries of the State in US History (University of Chicago Press, 2015). Alongside these 9 volumes, the project includes over sixty articles, book chapters and reviews, in six countries and leading journals including The American Historical Review, Annales. Histoire, Sciences sociales, The Journal of Modern History, Modern Intellectual History, The European History Quarterly and The Tocqueville Review.

Professor Julian Culp

Prof. Julian Culp

is Associate Professor of Philosophy, Program Coordinator for听Philosophy, and Fellow of the听Center for Critical Democracy Studies听at听The American University of Paris. Previously, he was a lecturer in philosophy and political theory at the Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main, where he received his Habilitation and PhD in philosophy. Culp held postdoctoral fellowships from the University of Toronto and the Catholic University of Louvain, and he spent research stays at Duke and Princeton universities.

Culp is the author of听听(Palgrave, 2014) and听听(Routledge, 2019), as well as of numerous articles in journals such as听Philosophy Compass, Theory and Research in Education,听Third World Quarterly听and听Zeitschrift f眉r philosophische Forschung. He is co-editor of听(CUP, 2023),听the journal听(De Gruyter) and the book series听听(Brill and Mentis).

Professor Sofia Valeonti

Prof. Sofia Valeonti

Professor Valeonti arrived at BT天堂 in 2021. She holds a PhD in Economics from Paris 1 Panth茅on-Sorbonne University and has been a post-doc research fellow at Duke University.

Valeonti is a historian of economics, especially interested in the history of monetary ideas and policies of 19th century US. Her research focuses on the interplay between economic theory, policy, and visions of economic development in the context of the monetary policy debates of the post-Civil War Reconstruction period (1865-1879). She is currently focusing her research to shed light on the role of monetary policies and ideas in the building of American capitalism, with particular emphasis on the way monetary policies affected the economic policies related to the status of the newly emancipated slaves.

Research Areas

  • Monetary and banking economics
  • History of monetary theories and ideas
  • International money and finance
  • 听U.S. 19th century political economy

Professor Miranda Spieler

Prof. Miranda Spieler

Professor Miranda Spieler joined the faculty of the American University of Paris in 2012. She holds an AB from Harvard College, where she studied the history and literature of France and Germany. In graduate school at Columbia University in New York, she worked as assistant to the writer Susan Sontag, taught Columbia's flagship course, Contemporary Civilization, and served as lecturer in Harvard's History and Literature program. After graduate school, she joined the department of history at the University of Arizona, where she received tenure in 2011.

She is an historian of France and the overseas empire and writes about law and imperial violence. She is especially interested in using archives to recover the elusive and fragmentary traces of marginal people, including slaves, former slaves, immigrants, prisoners, and vagabonds in France and in former colonies. Her research for Empire and Underworld led her to archival depositories in France and in French Guiana (where she spent six months).

Her new book project focuses on the story of people of color living in Paris and in the port cities of France during the eighteenth century.

Professor Roman Zinigrad

Prof. Roman Zinigrad

Roman Zinigrad听is Assistant Professor of Law at the American University of Paris and is the coordinator of the BT天堂 History, Law & Society undergraduate program. He is a Fellow of the BT天堂 Center for Critical Democracy Studies (CCDS) and a Fellow of the Sciences Po Law School Human Rights Clinic. He specializes in constitutional law and theory, comparative constitutional law, and law and education. Roman鈥檚 research interests include law and religion, international human rights law, and children鈥檚 rights. He has published on the right to education, parental rights, constitutional law, and legal aspects of the French approach to radical violence.

Zona Zari膰

Zona Zari膰

Zona Zari膰, philosopher and feminist, is our newest member of the Center for Critical Democracy Studies (CCDS) joining as a post-doctoral fellow to work on our Horizon Europe grant OppAttune. Zari膰 is presently Lecturer at The American University of Paris (BT天堂) and serves as a Research Fellow at the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade. Though only recently receiving her PhD in Philosophy from the Ecole normale sup茅rieure rue d鈥橴lm, her notable achievements also include a J.D. in law from the University of Belgrade, and a M.A. in International Affairs from the American University of Paris. In her doctoral thesis, Zaric focused on the concept of compassion and its strategic political application. She highlights the moral and political significance of compassion in response to the challenges posed by a prevailing culture of rampant individualism. In so doing, she paves the way for a deparochialization of theory, challenging previously understudied forms of inequality, in particular those related to tolerance and the implicit hierarchy between the one who tolerates and the one who is tolerated.

Her scholarly interests primarily revolve around political and moral philosophy, as she continues focusing on questions that have inspired her since her doctoral thesis: What is the need to make compassion a political concept? How can we broaden the scope of our collective political attention? By virtue of what can we reinterpret the ethico-political heritage in the light of a new questioning of the meaning of the relationship to the other?听 These questions are also pathways of future research that she aims to direct towards formulating viable connections between care ethics and critical theory.听Zari膰 developed these academic endeavors with postdoctoral research conducted at the Center for Advanced Studies in Southeast Europe, University of Rijeka, Croatia, where she also organized an international conference in collaboration with BT天堂 and SciencesPo Paris: 鈥淩e-inventing/reconstructing cosmopolitanism in contested spaces and post-conflict zones鈥.听In collaboration with Cynthia Fleury and Pauline B茅gu茅, she organized and led the seminar "Care and Compassion: The Individual, the Hospital Institution, and the Polis" at the Philosophy Chair of the H么tel-Dieu, Paris.

Zari膰's scholarly contributions extend to her role as the co-author of "Care and Compassion: A New Paradigm for Political Philosophy?" (Hermann Edition, 2021) and as the co-editor of the collected volume "Pierre Bourdieu: Radical Thought and Praxis" (IFDT Edition, Belgrade, 2023), as well as co-editor of a book of interviews "Refusing to Be Silent: Engaged Conversations with Leading Intellectuals" (Mimesis International, 2023). She is currently working on the first monograph dedicated to Nancy Fraser's oeuvre, which is to be published by Edinburgh University Press in 2024. Her multilingual academic prowess is showcased by numerous articles in English, Serbo-Croatian, and French. She is the editorial board member of Novi Plamen, an intellectual magazine of the region of former Yugoslavia.

Her teaching experience spans across multiple esteemed institutions, including the 脡cole Normale Sup茅rieure (Ulm, Paris), the Faculty of Law, University of Belgrade, Conservatoire National des Arts et M茅tiers (CNAM) Paris, the Catholic Institute of Paris (ICP), Paris 8 University, and the The American University of Paris (BT天堂).

For an interview with Zaric, see

Professor Hannah Taieb

Prof. Hannah Taieb

Dr. Hannah Davis Taieb holds a PhD in Anthropology and is a Fellow at the BT天堂 Center for Critical Democracy Studies (CCDS). Hannah Taieb is the founder and leader of BT天堂鈥檚 innovative prison education workshops, where students learn from and with people who are currently incarcerated, and participate in workshops led and co-led by teachers, activists, and creators who have experienced incarceration. Taieb first established a collaboration with La Sant茅 prison in 2019. In 2023, Hannah Taieb will be once again bringing groups of BT天堂 students weekly to meet and exchange with detainees at La Sant茅 in the Spring and Summer semesters.

Dr. Taieb is primarily interested in developing and using egalitarian pedagogies that create connection and generative exchange across difference. She has sought out these approaches to learning in such contexts as her recent co-taught BT天堂 course on Coexistence and Religion, which fostered discussion on diverse approaches to religion, secularism and spirituality.

After graduating from New York University in 1992, Taieb taught in the Global Communications Program at BT天堂, then went on to serve as a program director at the Council on International Educational Exchange鈥檚 study program in Paris. In classes, community service projects, and faculty seminars, Taieb developed innovative and dialogue-based programs, with topics including French and US contrasting approaches to laicity, chaplaincy, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and 鈥渄isability in situation.鈥 Her interest in bringing together social actors in unusual ways led her to design the 鈥淒iplomats of Diversity鈥 program, in which youth from the Paris immigrant Goutte d鈥橭r district visited US high schools and universities. Taieb also designed and led a study trip to US prison and chaplaincy training programs in which French prison officials, wardens, and chaplains visited their US counterparts, culminating in a discussion with incarcerated people at Graterford prison in Pennsylvania. Her writings during this period brought out the subtle ways students handle emotions arising through crossing borders, and proposed ways that international educators can promote critical and dialogic approaches.

In 2019, Taieb received training from Walls to Bridges, a Canadian NGO and an important innovator in prison education. This has in turn inspired her to develop the current BT天堂 鈥 la Sant茅 prison education workshop approach. In 2020, working with an international group of educators, activists, writers and students, Taieb founded the non-profit Dialogue & Transformation () which is developing workshops led and co-led by people who have experienced incarceration. As a Fellow at the CCDS, Taieb intends to continue this focus on engaging students in innovative forms of creativity and learning, with people whose paths they might not otherwise have crossed. Throughout her career Taieb has prioritized collaborative practice, and at BT天堂 has developed projects and taught in tandem with colleagues including Waddick Doyle, Michelle Kuo, Albert Wu, and Roman Zinigrad.

To deepen her practice of leading individuals in groups across and through difference, Taieb is currently training as a gestalt practitioner.

Zach Frieg

Zach Freig

Zach Freig is Programs Officer for the CCDS. He holds an MPhil from the University of Cambridge in Political Thought and Intellectual History, as well as a Bachelors degree in Philosophy and Religion from the University of Winnipeg (Canada). Based in Paris currently, Zach鈥檚 research intersects political theory, intellectual history, and philosophy.

Kendra Mills

Kendra Mills

Kendra is a Program Officer at the CCDS. She is a听graduate of BT天堂鈥檚 History, Law, and Society program. She also holds an MSc. in Human Rights from the London School of Economics and has previously worked with the Global Justice Center, the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, and the Education Justice Project.

Shane McLorrain

Shane McLorrain

Shane McLorrain is a Visiting Research Analyst with the Center for Critical Democracy Studies and an Editor for Tocqueville 21. His contributions focus on geopolitics, international political economy and French politics. He is also the creator, host and producer of the Tocqueville 21 Podcast.

Prior to joining the CCDS, Shane was an analyst and consultant with PR firm听Fabriq, where he worked with industry leaders in fields such as cybersecurity and Machine Learning. In 2019, he founded听Zeitgeist Zeitung, now the听Concorde International Review, where he and a small team undertook a collaborative commentary project on issues of money, politics, and culture.

He holds an MSc in History of International Relations from the London School of Economics and a B.A. in History from the American University of Paris

Student Contributors/Interns

Dominic Spada

Dominic Spada is originally from a small town just outside of Boston, MA听and is in his final year of undergraduate studies at BT天堂 where he will receive his BA/MSc in International and Comparative Politics and Human Rights and Data Science. Dominic is particularly intrigued听by European politics and development, in particular, policy surrounding personal data use and protection. He is currently a project assistant at the Institut Mines-Telecom Business School in Evry, France working on a team researching university-business collaboration, small business growth, and research valorization.

Visiting Scholars

Carlo Burelli

Carlo Burelli will be joining the Center as a visiting scholar, teaching "Ethical Inquiry: Problems and Paradigms." Carlo's research is focused on traditional political realism, which has seen increased focus recently as a criticism of liberal theory, bridging classical philosophies of Machiavelli and Hobbes to contemporary issues. He brings a contemporary realist justification of democracy to the CCDS, one based on Machiavellian republicanism. In the Ethical Inquiry course, he will explore normative ethics, whether the skepticism of ethics is warranted and how to answer skeptical challenges. At the University of Genova, Carlo works at the intersection of political theory and political science, as his research is broadly interested in clarifying what can and should hold together today鈥檚 large and conflictual societies. This vast question led him to cross various debates: utopian and realist political theory, theories of justice and theories of legitimacy, solidarity and equality in contemporary political societies. He published two monographs in Italian, and several articles in leading international journals (such as European Journal of Political Theory, Journal of Common Market Studies, and Ethical Theory and Moral Practice).

Past Student Researchers and Interns

Anastasiya Sindyukova

Anastasiya Sindyukova, Communications Intern
Anastasiya Sindyukova is a student at the American University of Paris, from which she will be graduating with honors and a double major in International Comparative Politics and International Economics this Spring. Despite having a specialization focused on politics and economics, her interests, studies, and experiences have without a doubt inspired her to pursue a path of communications and public relations strategies, which she will be working on for the Center for Critical Democracy Studies. Being one of the undeniable backbones of global and political change, she plans to pursue a master's degree in strategic political communications shortly.

Her academic interests specialize in Ukrainian policy, encompassing topics from international security to international trade law. In 2019, she wrote her thesis, "Expanding Jurisdiction for the Prosecution of War Crimes Committed in Eastern Ukraine under Article 8 of the ICC Rome Statute," and plans to continue her research into the uses of mass media and various means of propaganda to influence Ukrainian politics between 2010-2021.

Zachary Egan

Zachary Egan, Research Intern

Born in 艩ilut臈, Lithuania and raised on the East Coast of the United States, Zach is an undergraduate at BT天堂 majoring in History, Law & Society and minoring in International Law. Zach is working on his undergraduate thesis, which explores how both cultural and economic domination from Polish cities impacted the formation of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Outside school, he loves playing tennis, weightlifting, and doing CrossFit. He speaks English and French and is learning German and Lithuanian.

Madison Coakley

Madison Coakley is a graduate of the American University of Paris and holds her Bachelor鈥檚 Degree in International and Comparative Politics with minors in Sociocultural Anthropology and Linguistics. She is currently pursuing her Master鈥檚 Degree in International Development at the Graduate Institute of Geneva. Madison is interested in issues of sustainable development鈥攅specially, those related to education鈥攁nd how new digital technologies are shaping the developing world.