Introducing this Year's RAI Fellows-in-Residence

Every year, the RAI welcomes a group of Fellows-in-Residence. Fellows-in-Residence benefit from using the scholarly resources of the Vere Harmsworth Library (as well as desk space in our builing), presenting their work and receiving work at our Fellows’ Forums, and being part of our RAI intellectual community, as well as that of the University more broadly. Read about the research projects of our current RAI Fellows-in-Residence below.


olivier burtin

Olivier Burtin is a Visiting Research Fellow at the RAI, on secondment from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, where he holds a postdoctoral fellowship at the Amerika-Institut and the Center for Advanced Studies. He is a political historian of the modern United States, with particular interests in the relationship between the state and society, war, welfare, and citizenship. At the RAI, he will be putting the finishing touches on his current book project, A Nation of Veterans: War, Citizenship, and the Welfare State in Modern America, which explores the role of the veterans’ movement in the growth of a separate welfare state for former soldiers and their relatives in the mid-twentieth century United States. This project is under contract with the University of Pennsylvania Press for publication as a book. His work has been published or is forthcoming in various venues, including the Journal of Policy History, Social Science History, War & Society, Historical Social Research / Historische Sozialforschung and Reviews in American History.

thomas gift

Thomas Gift is Associate Professor of Political Science in the School of Public Policy at University College London, where is director of the Centre on US Politics (CUSP). His research focuses on political behavior, public policy, and applications of survey and experimental methods. As a Fellow-in-Residence at the RAI, Gift will be working on a project (joint with Andrew M. Bell at Indiana University-Bloomington) on Donald Trump’s challenges to respect for the law of war, including his pardon of multiple US service members accused or convicted of war crimes and efforts to delegitimize the Geneva Conventions. Gift’s project will examine how Trump has implemented his agenda, the political motivations for doing so, what the likely effects will be on respect for international humanitarian law within the US military.

katharina rietzler

Katharina Rietzler works on publicness and gender in twentieth-century international intellectual history. Building on recent and forthcoming publications on the history of International Relations as a discipline and women’s international thought, her current research connects the history of international thinking with the critical study of constructions of the gender binary in mid-century American culture: how notions of statesmanship masculinised international rule, and how women were constructed, and constructed themselves, as responsible but international citizens at home. At the RAI, she will work on an article that investigates the ‘woman question’ in American foreign affairs think tanks from the 1930s to the 1960s. This was a period during which think tank women emerged as producers of authoritative knowledge and, in some cases, even public intellectuals, while the ‘wise men of foreign affairs’ relied to a great extent on an information economy underpinned by female labour.

janet wilson

Janet M. Wilson is a Professor Emerita in English and Postcolonial Studies at the University of Northampton. Her project examines the early American and British reception of Katherine Mansfield’s stories following her death in 1923 to the end of World War Two. It will identify the popular and more elite literary marketplaces in which her work circulated by examining a range of outlets: popular print culture (e.g. weeklies, newspapers, commercial publishing and broadcasting), literary venues (e.g. little magazines, academic journals, biographies, anthologies), and evaluate her literary legacy. She argues that the critical reception of Mansfield’s work in the USA and UK can be considered with reference to a model of world literature with multiple, interconnecting outlets. She also addresses the paradox of why Mansfield the writer became venerated after her death yet her work was received unevenly and overlooked in the modernist canon where she was pigeonholed as a ‘minor Modernist writer’, a feminine miniaturist who mastered the short story, a minor art form.

olivia wright

Olivia Wright is an interdisciplinary scholar whose research contemplates ideas of identity, citizenship and belonging within American subcultures. She is currently working on her first book Caged Sister: Women’s Prison Zines in the United States. It is the first study to collect, analyse, and theorize the history of women’s prison zines and is grounded in an analysis of over fifty different publications and nearly 1,000 individual issues gathered through original archival research across the United States. The book considers the ways in which the carceral state has affected the production of prison zines over the century: how censorship and outside involvement has influenced the style, production, readership, and content of the zines; and how serialization, reader involvement, and diverse authorship have shaped a distinctive and compelling sub-genre of American literature. Whilst at the RAI, Olivia is also working on an article on adolescent reformatory school zines and constructions of girlhood, analysing what these publications can tell us about confinement, gender expectations, and collective writing.

maximilien zahnd

Max Zahnd is a J.S.D. candidate at Berkeley Law and a Ph.D. candidate at the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge. As a Fellow-in-Residence at the RAI, he will be working on a new research project that seeks to analyse the relationship between tribal taxation, space, and sovereignty. Specifically, the project will unpack the ways in which tax law revitalizes Indigenous territories—politically, legally, economically, and culturally. In doing so, it will mainly focus on the recent history of tribal taxation, namely from the enactment of the Indian Reorganization Act to the present. Selected tribal tax systems and tax cases (both state and federal) will be studied and resituated within broader U.S. legal history. The project will explore how tribal taxation has uniquely impacted Indigenous spaces and sovereignty. The project’s main endeavour, therefore, will be to demonstrate how tribal taxation has been able to both decolonize and revitalize Indigenous territories.