Current Students

Currently 3rd  year PhD in American Studies, Co-Organizer “Public Humanities Working Group”

Candace Borders graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2017 with a B.A. in American Culture Studies, Cum Laude. Her research questions center on how African-American women experience and theorize their lives at the nexus of race, gender, sexuality, and public assistance. As a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, she wrote an honors thesis, “‘You Knew You Were Equal’: Black Women Constructing Place in Pruitt-Igoe,” based on interviews with Black women who grew up in St. Louis, Missouri’s Pruitt-Igoe housing project. Prior to starting her graduate studies, Candace was an Editorial Assistant for Black Perspectives, the blog of the African American Intellectual History Society and worked as the PNC Arts Alive Fellow at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. She is pursuing a joint Ph.D. in American Studies and African American Studies. 


5th  Year PhD student, Co-Organizer, “Public Humanities History Slam,” 2015-16

“An American and Nothing Else: The Great War and the Battle for National Belonging,” Exhibition at Sterling Memorabilia Room and Digital Site.  Anna Duensing is a PhD candidate in the joint program in History and African American Studies specializing in transnational U.S. and German social and cultural history. Her primary research concerns civil rights radicalism, antifascism, and far-right social movements in the context of the Cold War and in the U.S. military presence in postwar West Germany. In her dissertation, Duensing hopes to explore these aspects of the African American freedom struggle by chronicling the overlapping worlds of veterans, expats, civil rights activists, military officials, artists, segregationists, and white nationalist militants from the 1940s-1960s. Other interests include Holocaust studies, historical memory, documentary studies, the West German New Left, and transnational studies of the German-German border. In Spring 2019, Duensing will be a Visiting Fellow at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Duensing graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in History and Memory Studies from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University. With an avid commitment to Public Humanities, she has worked in various capacities at a number of museums and institutions, including the National September 11 Museum, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the German-American Institute in Heidelberg, Germany, and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, where she is currently a researcher and educator. She hails from Charlottesville, Virginia.

Currently 3rd  year PhD in American Studies

Charlotte Hecht graduated from Connecticut College in 2016 with a B.A. in American Studies. Her research is focused on the history of design, architecture, and art in the United States from the 20th century to the present. She is particularly interested in the connections between visual culture and the creation of political and social power. In addition she studies the role of museums and cultural institutions in society. 

Currently 3rd Year PhD in American Studies

Maria Jose “MJ” Plascencia graduated from the University of Southern California, where she received her BA in American Studies and Ethnicity. Her research explores culture, historical memory, and economic dependency in transborder spaces. MJ is originally from the Tijuana-Chula Vista region, but lived in Boston for the last 2 years.

Currently 3rd year PhD in American Studies, Currently taking Introduction to Public Humanities

Before beginning the American Studies PhD program at Yale, Sylvia worked for eight years at Appalshop, a documentary arts center in Central Appalachia. Sylvia served as a radio producer and Director of Public Affairs Programming for Appalshop’s community radio station WMMT-FM, and led Calls from Home, a nationally recognized radio show broadcasting toll-free phone messages from family members to their loved ones incarcerated in rural Appalachia. In 2015 she started Restorative Radio, a participatory audio documentary project that sends “audio postcards” to people in prisons and ICE immigrant detention centers. Her research is rooted at the intersection of scholarship, activism and art, and probes the overlapping crises of mass incarceration and detention, rural poverty, and environmental destruction. Her work has been featured on NPR, the BBC, The Marshall Project, the Boston Review, the Third Coast International Audio Festival,, and in the film The Prison in Twelve Landscapes.

Currently 5th year PhD student, Organizer “Public Humanities Working Group” 2015-17 and “Public Humanities History Slam” 2015-17

Sasha Sabherwal is a PhD student in American Studies and is pursuing the certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She received her B.A. magna cum laude in Gender and Sexuality Studies, International Studies, and Political Science from the University of California, Irvine. She is interested in transnational feminism, postcolonial theory, critical ethnic studies, and the South Asian diaspora. Her research explores the nexus between gender, race, and religion and the ways these categories are produced globally. At Yale, she is the co-organizer of the Public Humanities working group. 

PhD Candidate

Jub Sankofa is an artist, mobile filmmaker, and healing justice organizer. He received his B.A in Africana Studies at the University of Cincinnati. jub then obtained a Master of Arts Degree in African American Studies from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). While at UCLA, jub was a co-founding member of the Justice Work Group-a network of students, faculty, and community members working on issues related to incarceration, education, and reentry. His master’s thesis, “The Trap: Black Youth and the Carceral State in California, 1929-1939,” sheds light on the California Penal system’s role in restricting the labor and mobility of migrant youth in the Great Depression. Currently, Jub is completing a joint Ph.D in American Studies and African American Studies at Yale University with a Master of Arts concentration in Public Humanities, ie. Family Memory, Digital Humanities and Documentary Studies.  Jub’s Public Humanities project–a feature length animated documentary– Down by the River: The Story of Beloved Barb follows his journey of learning about his mother’s battle living with schizophrenia and bipolar. His dissertation project maps black migrations, labor, and mobility in the American West at the turn of the 20th Century up to World War II. through California prison and police records.  Publications include:Juvenile Corrections in the Era of Reform: A Meta-Synthesis of Qualitative Studies.