Undergraduate Fellows

  • Zahra Asghar


    Zahra Asghar '20 is an undergraduate student concentrating in Behavioral Decision Sciences within the Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences and Middle East Studies under the Watson Institute for International Affairs. Her primary interest within these disciplines is decision-making within the humanitarian sector, specifically in the context of the Syrian Refugee Crisis. Her thesis, entitled "Dialogue under Humanitarian Governance: The Creation of Water and Sanitation Networks in Zaatari Camp," explores the creation of the wastewater and water networks within Zaatari—systems which are not only the first of their kind within a refugee camp, but are also considered to be of a higher standard than similar infrastructure in local Jordanian communities. Her research seeks to provide insight into the factors that allowed for and encouraged this major shift in humanitarian policy, with a focus on the different forms of dialogue that took place between the humanitarian organizations governing the camp and the Syrians living within it, as well as on the preliminary implications of the change.


    Aliosha Bielenberg ’20 is concentrating in Archaeology and the Ancient World, is a member of the Swearer Center’s Engaged Scholars Program, and is also completing an Independent Concentration in Critical Thought and Global Social Inquiry. His thesis explores non-colonial forms of world-making, informed by Hannah Arendt’s ideas of action and natality as forces that open up a world. His project is enriched by resources drawn from Hegelian, Marxist, and phenomenological understandings of the world. His work also considers post-apartheid testimony in South Africa and pre-colonial Christian approaches to the world-as-community. Bielenberg serves as an undergraduate representative on the College Curriculum Council and plays clarinet in the Brown University Orchestra and various groups on campus.

  • Isaac Leong


    Isaac Leong ’20 is an undergraduate with the Department of History. He is interested in the social aftermaths of war and in particular, the ways in which postwar societies negotiate the interlocking issues of guilt, justice, and memory. His thesis, tentatively titled “Contested Justice: Law and Ritual in Postwar Singapore,” focuses on competing visions of justice concerning the 1942 massacre of Chinese civilians during the immediate postwar period in Singapore. By studying the formal British-conducted war crimes trial vis-à-vis local articulations of justice in the people’s courts set up by resistance groups and at Chinese pacification rituals for the massacred, he hopes to investigate the meaning of “justice” as a juridical and ethical concept as it was articulated and contested through different forms. He is drawn to the methods of literary analysis and ritual studies, focusing on the way in which the law functions as a discursive form that narrates normative possibilities and how the law interacts with other discursive forms like literature and religion.

  • Tabitha Payne


    Tabitha Payne, ’20, was born and raised in Cambodia to Filipino and American parents. At Brown, she concentrates in Development Studies, with a regional focus on Southeast Asia. Her range of academic interests lie at the crossroads of gender, race, sexuality, modern Southeast Asian history, Black critical thought, English literature, prison/abolition studies, and theology. Her honors thesis, tentatively titled, “Intergenerationality in the Cambodian Queer Community,” hopes to study how the differing life experiences, attitudes, and temporalities of LGBTQI Cambodian elders and youth were shaped and reveal the tumultuous regime changes and rapid development the country has undergone in the last half-century. Working with local grassroots activists at CamASEAN Youth’s Future, her participatory action ethnographic research project employs interviews with LGBTQI adults of all ages—including those who were out during the Khmer Rouge genocide—as well as community dialogues to foster intergenerational relationship-building and knowledge-sharing.