Graduate Affiliates

Graduate students affiliated with the CRIGHS work on multiple aspects of the history of sexuality across the world.  They have the opportunity to meet visiting scholars and to organize day-long symposia related to their primary research interests.  The CRIGHS also encourages them to meet other scholars and receive feedback on their work by providing them funds to travel to present their research at conferences in the field, such as the Queer History Conference 2019 at San Francisco State University and the European Social Science History Conference 2020 (History of Sexuality track) at Leiden University (The Netherlands).

Current Graduate Affiliates

Desiree Abu-Odeh

Desiree Abu-Odeh is a PhD candidate specializing in the history of public health at Columbia University’s Department of Sociomedical Sciences. Before beginning her PhD, Desiree earned an MA in Bioethics from the University of Minnesota and an MPH in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia. Her research interests include public health ethics and histories of gender, race, sexuality, public health, and social movements in the United States. Her bioethics and public health work has been published in the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, Public Health Reports, and the American Journal of Public Health. Her dissertation examines the emergence of what is now known as “sexual violence” and responses to it on American college campuses from 1950 to 1990. She has received funding for her doctoral studies and dissertation research from her department’s Predoctoral Fellowship in Gender, Sexuality and Health, the Columbia Population Research Center, Harvard’s Schlesinger Library, Barnard Library, Smith College Libraries, and a 2019 National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship. She is currently an Editor and Social Media Manager for the online blog NOTCHES: (re)marks on the history of sexuality.

Elya Assayag

Elya Assayag’s main research interests are in social aspects of the French colonial period in North Africa.  With a law degree, and after practicing as a human rights lawyer, she examines questions regarding the intersections between colonial law, community traditions, gender and sexuality in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia in the twentieth century. Her current project deals with the broad topic of violence against women in different communities across North Africa, and the comparison between the responses of the local community and the colonial government to this phenomenon. In her work Elya is examining diverse types of historical materials such as literary and intellectual sources written by North African women, and oral interviews conducted with women who are living or used to live in these areas. Thanks to the FLAS fellowship she won, she is going to travel in the upcoming summer to Morocco to conduct both archival research and oral interviews to expand and preserve the existing knowledge on this topic.

Alice Gorton

Alice Gorton focuses on the changing nature of religion and the family in Britain and the British empire between 1870-1920. In particular, she is interested in a transnational group of conservative Catholic radicals who reacted to nineteenth-century economic and social liberalism by re-inscribing and re-asserting heterosexuality as an essential feature of popular democracy. Her work contextualizes this conservative and anti-modern moment in Britain and the empire within the European Catholic revival and demonstrates the significance of the family to these thinkers’ libertarian economic vision – distributism -- which emphasized traditionalism as the chief bastion of defense against both capitalism and state reform. In addition, she has written on homosociality in Canadian and Australian gold mining communities, and she is interested broadly in the relationship between sex, gender, and religion in a range of British imperial settings.

Lotte Houwink ten Cate

Lotte Houwink ten Cate focuses on intellectual and legal history, western Europe, and the history of sexuality. Her particular interests include criminal law, feminist thought, and the interleafing of intimate and national history. Her dissertation charts the transatlantic second-wave feminist exposure of domestic and sexual violence as a social problem, and its intellectual, political, and legal afterlives in western Europe between 1970-2000. Her work on Hannah Arendt has appeared in New German Critique, and chapters on the global intellectual history of feminism and sexual politics are forthcoming in two edited collections. She is also co-editing two special journal issues. Lotte is a 2020-2021 Heyman Center for the Humanities Fellow, and has been supported by the German Academic Scholarship Foundation, the American Historical Association, the New York Consortium for Intellectual History, and Fulbright.

Lucas René Ramos

Lucas René Ramos is a Modern Europeanist in the History Department. He focuses on French, British and especially the Italian homophile and liberation movements. His current project traces the rise of Catholic sexology movements in Italy during the 1960s, how this movement affected activism at the turn of the decade, and hopefully complicates how we think about historical LGBTQIA progress. He is interested in respectability politics, masculinity, activism, faith, and psychoanalysis. He has been awarded fellowships from the Ford Foundation (pre-doctoral), Mellon Mays (fellowship program), and the University of Notre Dame's Rome Seminar to do archival work in Italy and Britain. He serves as co-president of the Graduate History Association (2020-2021) and delegate for the Office of Academic Diversity and Inclusion (2019-). One of his translation works will appear in Figurative Fulminations: Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Writing on Art and Art History (forthcoming 2022 from Verso). 

Nikita Shepard

Nikita Shepard studies gender and sexuality, LGBTQ communities, social movements, data and surveillance, and radical politics in the twentieth century United States and beyond. Their research has engaged topics of queer youth culture and organizing, anarchism and homosexuality, analogies between sexuality and race and the origins of the minority model in the homophile (early gay and lesbian) movement, and the politics of data, surveillance, and privacy in the gay liberation movement. They serve as the Graduate Coordinator for the Lehman Center for American History, founded the Data, Algorithms, and Social Justice working group at the Center for the Study of Social Difference, and have also worked for the Center for Spatial Research on their Mapping Historical New York City GIS project and for the Columbia Oral History Archives. They have received research fellowships from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Texas A&M University, and the Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of American History. Their essay "'To Fight for an End to Intrusions into the Sex Lives of Americans': Gay and Lesbian Resistance to Sexual Surveillance and Data Gathering, 1945-72" will be published in the edited volume Queer Data (University of Washington Press, forthcoming 2021).


Emily Rutherford

Emily Rutherford’s dissertation (PhD 2020) is a history of the politics and culture of gender in British universities between 1860 and 1935. It accounts for the disparate but foundational ways that gender difference as a social norm shaped the emergence of a national higher education system in Britain in this period, from the rise of the research university and the politics of private donations to the culture of organized student life and the emotional lives of men and women academics. She also works on the history of male homosexuality in Britain. Her work on homosociality, homosexuality, and elite educational institutions has previously been published in the Journal of British Studies and the Journal of the History of Ideas, and she is beginning work on a second project that seeks to offer a new, alternative genealogy of elite ideas about male homosexuality in modern Britain.

Benjamin Serby

Benjamin Serby’s dissertation (PhD 2020), Gay Liberation and the Politics of the Self in Postwar America, is an intellectual history of the gay liberation movement. Benjamin has taught in Columbia's history department and advised undergraduates through the Center for American Studies since 2013. He was a 2016-2017 fellow in museum education at the Museum of the City of New York, where he taught about social movements in New York City and developed content relating to the exhibitions Gay Gotham: Art and Underground Culture in New York City and AIDS at Home: Art and Everyday Activism. He has also written LGBTQ-themed public history material for the Jewish Museum, the High Line, the Museum of the City of New York, the Alliance for Downtown Manhattan, and other institutions. His writing has appeared in Jacobin, The Nation, and elsewhere.