Melissa Chiovenda

Assistant Professor

After completing my PhD in anthropology at the University of Connecticut, I was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Global Health and Social Medicine. My research focus includes collective trauma and civil society in Afghanistan and Afghan refugees in Greece. Prior to entering academia, I was a high school English teacher in Los Angeles and Arizona and a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

Roles and Responsibilities

Co-Editor of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences Newsletter


PhD in Anthropology, University of Connecticut, 2016

MA in Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies, Georgetown University, 2009

Certificate in Refugees and Humanitarian Studies, Georgetown University, 2009

BS in Russian Language and Linguistics, Georgetown University, 2001


American Anthropological Association

Central Eurasian Studies Society

Central Eurasian Scholars and Media Initiative


Dari and Russian

Research and Professional Activities

Research interests:

  • My dissertation research was on Hazara ethnic identity in Bamyan, Afghanistan, with a focus on perceptions of their own marginality, involvement in civil society, collective trauma, and historical memory. I am also conducting research with Hazara refugees who are serving as cultural mediators for new arrivals in Athens. Previous research interests have included Pashtun women NGO workers employed by international development organizations in Jalalabad, Afghanistan

Current Projects:

  • I am currently conducting a research project with Afghan refugees in Athens, Greece, and continuing research on Hazara civil society activists in Bamyan and Kabul, Afghanistan.


  • Afghanistan, collective trauma, civil society, historical memory, forced migration, refugees

Teaching Areas


Introduction to Culture and Society (undergrad)

Politics of Identity (undergrad)

History of the Modern Middle East (undergrad)

The Specter of the ‘Arrivant’: Hauntology of an Interethnic Conflict in Afghanistan

Co-authored with Andrea Chiovenda

Asian Anthropology, forthcoming December 2018.


Hazara Civil Society Activists and Local, National, and International Political Institutions

In Shahrani, M. Nazif, ed. Identity and Politics in Modern Afghanistan: Forty Years of War and Rebellion, Bloomington & London: Indiana University Press. (April 2018).