Student Testimonials


Nora Bardelli, MA 2014

PhD Candidate/SNSF Doc.Mobility Fellow
University of Oxford

Thinking about the two years I spent in Geneva for the Master in Anthropology programme, I feel a mix of extreme gratitude and nostalgia, and I remember it as a time of personal growth.
When I started my postgraduate degree, I thought I had well-developed critical reasoning. After only a few weeks, I quickly realised how much I had not questioned in my scholarly thinking, as well as in my personal and political assumptions – there was still so much to learn; but then I felt myself starting to develop and mature as a thinker and a scholar. What at first felt like ineptitude in comparison to bright international students and internationally-renowned faculty members (I had never studied outside of Switzerland, nor did I have any significant international experience) became consistent and substantial learning exchanges. I learnt how to study and how to question knowledge, deconstruct it, and rebuild it. More importantly, during my two years in Geneva I learnt how to analyse and develop my own critiques of the great variety of important issues discussed and studied, and to value them. I learnt how to express myself clearly in order to make my arguments stronger. I learnt how to ask for help and of the importance of collaboration and exchange in academia. The institute also gave me the confidence to believe in my intellectual abilities and myself. And I learnt all that thanks to the incredible cohort of classmates I had, the intellectually stimulating environment of the department as a whole, and the enriching and thought-provoking courses led by great professors. Were it not for the support of ANSO faculty members and the critical and intellectual growth I underwent in the programme, I would not be writing my dissertation at the University of Oxford right now on the commodification of refugeeness and the refugee regime in Burkina Faso.

[Posted Feb. 2018]



Annelise Erismann, MA 2016

PhD candidate/Teaching Assistant at the Gender Centre 

University of Lausanne

"What I liked most about the programme was how international and interdisciplinary my cohorts were. I had classmates from very different educational and disciplinary backgrounds, and I found especially enriching to have so many geopolitically diverse voices from the Global South represented in my cohorts. The fact that we were such a small class truly helped to maintain a certain intellectual proximity to faculty. During my time there, the doors of their offices seem to have been always open to us ANSO students. I am convinced that most Professors believe in the sense of what they are teaching and researching, which somehow allures you into working in and for the academy - you believe that it is one of the few sectors of the labour market in which curiosity is fostered and original perspectives are welcomed. I entered the rooms of Maison de la Paix for the first time, knowing that after this experience, I could attempt to get a Ph.D. position back in Germany or Brazil. I left the school aware of the existence of a global labour market, with the promise of a paid position at another university in Switzerland and a co-supervisor for my doctoral thesis. Perhaps more importantly, I left it knowing that there was something about the way in which social boundaries structure the internationalisation of higher education that was still worth studying. And this is what I do now for a living, I am writing a thesis on international universities and the trajectories of international students to global professionals - needless to state here how much I was inspired by my experience as an international student in the ANSO programme to conceive this research project."

[Posted Nov. 2017]



Clara Guardado, MA 2017

Associate Doctoral Fellow of the SNF-project “Contested amnesia and dissonant narratives in the Global South”

University of Zurich

"I consider that the ANSO programme at the IHEID has been one of the most wonderful experiences in my academic life so far. During my studies, I was able to discuss and challenge my ideas, both with professors and students from all over the world which enhanced my ability to analyse problems in a more critical way. This motivated me to pursue my Ph.D. because I found that academia might be useful to problematise social reality and contribute to transforming it. I realized that social issues have usually several voices which must be taken into account in order to provide better solutions. Today, this is necessary because we live in an interconnected world. My current project is about aesthetics, art and memory and the way in which dissonant narratives in Central America, Colombia and Lebanon deal with the claims for justice and truth in post conflicts settings. I will work in El Salvador and Guatemala studying the way in which materiality of the war such as bones, pictures, and archives contribute to achieving justice for those who suffered the atrocities of war violence and violation of human rights during the civil wars in the region."

[Posted Nov. 2017]



Sonja Moghaddari, PhD 2016

Visiting Postdoctoral Researcher

Max Planck Institute for the Study of Ethnic and Religious Diversity, Göttingen/Germany

"Looking back at my PhD studies at the Graduate Institute’s Department of Anthropology and Sociology of Development, I can say that I was equipped with the tools necessary for pursuing a career in academia. I appreciated the high academic standards of courses and supervision at the Department, orientating students towards innovative and critical research that address pressing issues around the globe. The institutional environment was inspiring thanks to international conferences and politically relevant extracurricular activities. In my PhD on the interrelation between local differentiation among Iranian-Germans and transnational inequalities, I acquired the skills to conduct topical research and raise funding. These experiences were crucial in designing and obtaining a position as a postdoctoral researcher."

[Posted Nov. 2017]



Dagna Rams, MA 2015

Research assistant/PhD candidate

University of Lausanne

"The ANSO Department is made of professors and students, who are not shy to ask pressing questions about our global condition. During the Masters course, I participated in exciting seminars about corporations and capitalism, post-colonial theory or rise of international expertise that are the perfect guides to understand the economic and institutional networks converging in Geneva. I benefitted from the university’s exchange programme, which took me on a semester abroad in Ghana. A semester was long enough to devise my future PhD research and more importantly forge a sense of investment in national debates. The Institute definitely teaches to be relevant, speak to wider processes, and know how to look beyond the academia for inspiration. I am currently an assistant and a PhD student at the University of Lausanne. My research is about the unexpected consequences of the material side of our global digital revolution and the emergence of concern for the environments in faraway places. I do my fieldwork in electronic waste sites in Ghana’s capital of Accra and the market city of Kumasi, where I follow men who work in the business of recycling computers for metals and spare parts, the various national, international, non-governmental institutions and the media that alert to the existence of such places in Ghana, as well as communities that live around the polluted sites."

[Posted Nov. 2017]



Claudio Todisco, PhD 2017

Independent scholar and consultant

"With an education in the social sciences and a longstanding engagement in humanitarian action, it felt quite natural to pursue a PhD at the heart of 'International Geneva', where many intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations have their headquarters. The Graduate Institute has a history of training future members of the global leadership thanks to its established network in that very community.
It is within this institutional context that studying and doing research at the Department of Anthropology and Sociology turned out to be a pleasantly overturning experience. I enjoyed daily confrontations with a student body thoughtfully selected to represent different voices and backgrounds. I also greatly benefited from the example of professors and invited scholars who are known for having pushed the critical gaze of anthropology beyond its accepted domains of enquiry. Thus, my PhD thesis about the politics of aid in South Sudan became an account of the way international investment in post-war reconstruction, state-building and emergency relief can paradoxically legitimise actual practices ranging from aid withholding to the support of a violent regime."

[Posted Nov. 2017]
















Ilay Yesil.jpg

Ilay Zehra Yesil, MA 2017

Research assistant/ PhD candidate

University of Bern

"Critical learning of the curricula, a diverse student body and the professors who are familiar with the current trends in academia are the main factors that I appreciate the most about ANSO. In addition to the amazing people that I was lucky to have as classmates (and now as life-long friends), the teaching environment of the programme prepared me very well for a career in academia. As a PhD candidate now at the University of Bern in the political centre of Switzerland, I work as a research assistant in a project which is jointly funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) and the German Research Foundation (DFG). For the next three years, I will be doing fieldwork in Belgium and France to explore the influence of religious groups during the implementation stage of morality policies such as same sex marriage, abortion and religious education. The overall education I received in the programme, played a big role for me to be employed in an excellent Swiss university. Thanks to classes such as “Research Design and Proposal Writing in Social Sciences” I was able to write a successful outline for the planned doctoral thesis. On the whole, the theoretical and methodological training that I got from my MA in ANSO, gave me the confidence to pursue doctoral research."

[Posted Nov. 2017]