Renee Michelle Ragin
PhD student, Duke University
Thesis Title: Picking up the Pieces: The Literary Re-Negotiation of History in the Post-Trujillo Dominican Republic
What Now: In the fall of 2014, I left the US Foreign Service to pursue a PhD with Duke University’s Program in Literature. My academic research focuses on Lebanon; I interrogate the ways in which the country’s long history of collective violence problematizes the viability of nationalism (a colonial rubric) as a meaningful mode of long-term political and social organization.
What Next: In the short-term, I will be traveling between Lebanon and the US as I begin the research and writing of my dissertation. Post-graduation, I am eagerly anticipating a career trajectory that bridges government and academia.
After graduating from Harvard, I joined the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer where I served in Washington D.C. as well as Saudi Arabia. About three years into my time with State, I found myself caught quite off-guard: my experiences throughout the Middle East were steering me back towards key questions on political violence, memory and collective identity that had been at the heart of my undergraduate research -- albeit in a new geographical context. My thesis advisors had long predicted a PhD would be in my future, and after much deliberation, I had to admit that they were right!