UCSC celebrates graduation of first Feminist Studies Ph.D.s

Veronika Zablotsky
Veronika Zablotsky
Erin McElroy
Erin McElroy

Erin McElroy and Veronika Zablotsky will be the first students to graduate from UC Santa Cruz with a Ph.D. in Feminist Studies.

The UCSC Feminist Studies Department was founded in 1974 and is one of the oldest and largest programs focused on gender and sexuality studies in the country. The department accepted its inaugural grad cohort in 2013.

The Ph.D. program in feminist studies at UCSC has two objectives: to train scholars and teachers; and to develop professional skills for careers in areas such as public policy and human rights research and advocacy.

Throughout the years, the department has contributed to the development of internationally recognized feminist scholarship and activism, and the Ph.D. program is designed to continue this legacy.

Erin McElroy’s dissertation project, "Unbecoming Silicon Valley: Techno Imaginaries and Materialities in Postsocialist Romania," looks at spaces of technological entanglement and contradiction between post-Cold War Silicon Valley and post-socialist Romania. Drawing upon two years of fieldwork in Bucharest and Cluj, and five years of research in Silicon Valley, her project aims to decenter Silicon Valley from normative IT geographies.

McElroy is co-founder of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project (AEMP), a data visualization, digital humanities, and critical cartography collective that produces maps and analyses to support on-the-ground housing justice struggles. Building upon this work, she is now in the process of launching new collaborations with researchers and collectives transnationally.

Her book, Counterpoints: Bay Area Data and Stories for Resisting Displacement, is scheduled to be published by PM Press in Spring 2020. A collaboration with other AEMP members, it encompasses geographies ranging from Vallejo to Santa Cruz in an effort to tell a regional story of gentrification, particularly as it is racialized and classed.

McElroy has been offered a postdoctoral position at New York University in order to continue this research following graduation and has also received funding from the British Academy to investigate the use of artificial intelligence in real estate speculation.

Veronika Zablotsky's dissertation, “Governing Armenia: The Making of Global Diaspora in West Asia,” investigates the impact of forced displacement on visions of return in the Armenian diaspora. Informed by transnational and postcolonial feminist perspectives, she examines diasporic return as a vehicle of global development in Armenia.

Working in four languages, Zablotsky does original research that connects archives and field sites across Eastern Europe, West Asia, and North America.

She is the recipient of a two-year Armenian Studies Dissertation Scholarship of the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian in Portugal. She was also part of the inaugural cohort of the THI Public Humanities Fellows on “Race & Freedom,” a Dissertation Fellow with the CUNY Committee on Globalization and Social Change, and a Visiting Scholar at the Harriman Institute for Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies at Columbia University.

During her fieldwork in Yerevan, Zablotsky was additionally a Research Fellow in the Political Science and International Affairs Program at the American University of Armenia. She is currently developing a new project on refugee autonomy, mobile technology, and crossborder solidarity between diasporic and displaced SWANA (South-West Asian and North African) communities in North America and Europe.

Zablotsky is also co-convening "New Directions in Armenian Studies," a multi-day conference at the University of Pennsylvania in April 2020, and recently wrote a chapter on racial profiling and Europe's "refugee crisis" for Moving Images: Mediating Migration in Europe, an anthology to be published in early 2020.