2016-2018 Fellows



Jeffrey Omari is a Ph.D. candidate in cultural anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz with a J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law.

Jeffrey Omari’s research examines the political, legal, and cultural implications of Internet governance in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  His dissertation, “Democracy Through Technology? Internet Governance and Urban Development in Rio de Janeiro,” will use ethnographic research to examine how governmental policies intended to expand Internet inclusion are key contemporary efforts to redefine the relationship between the Brazilian state and Rio de Janeiro’s urban poor communities.  This study will argue that the simultaneous moves to control Rio’s slums more comprehensively and to extend the assumed benefits of Internet participation, benefits that are linked to unforeseen consequences, constitute jointly a kind of social force field within which new meanings of connectivity, power, and social transformation are being contested.  Omari’s work is inspired by an abiding interest in the impact of emergent technologies on notions of democracy. His background in entertainment law, which he practiced in both Atlanta and Los Angeles, informs his research as an anthropologist.  He earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Morehouse College.


Ayobami Laniyonu is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at University of California, Los Angeles with an MS in Statistics from UCLA.

Ayobami Laniyonu’s research interests center around state practices of social control and political behavior. His work primarily focuses on the political determinants of criminal justice policies, the political outcomes that those policies generate, and the implications that these two relationships have for understanding American democracy.

His dissertation explores the impact that policing practices and strategies have on political participation. It attempts to reconcile apparently contradictory evidence, which has suggested on one hand that frequent and punitive police-citizen contact reduces the likelihood of citizens to engage in politics, while simultaneously noting that instances of police violence and abuse can motivate significant levels of political mobilization and protest. Using newly available datasets on police behavior and police-citizen contact, official records of citizen voter-turnout and registration, and qualitative evidence from local and elite level interviews, my dissertation attempts to characterize how day-to-day policing in some communities can negatively affect participation, the conditions in which we might observe political mobilization, and the long-lasting consequences of both for American democracy.


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