Kristin Fabbe, PhD '12

  • BA History, Lewis & Clark College
  • MSc International Relations, London School of Economics & Political Science
  • Dissertation: Disciples of the State? Secularization and State-Building in the Former Ottoman World
  • Future: Assistant Professor in Middle Eastern Studies at Claremont McKenna College as of January 2012
Why did you choose to pursue your PhD at MIT Political Science?

The faculty. Because of my interest in identity politics, I really wanted to work with Roger Petersen and Melissa Nobles. I'd read their books, knew their reputations, and admired their work. Another draw was MIT Poli Sci's emphasis on and depth in comparative politics. Also, MIT is the epicenter of an amazing academic community—Boston/Cambridge. I knew I would have a connection to any resources I might need.

In your experience, what sets this program apart from its peers?

MIT Political Science offers a heavy emphasis on fieldwork, which is essential in comparative politics. I have spent 23 months in the field in the countries that I study: Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Egypt. And I undertook that fieldwork at the enthusiastic encouragement of my advisors. They understood how critical it was to my area of interest. I've had incredible experiences—being in Egypt, for example, on the history-making day that revolt broke out, having that opportunity to watch policy in action.

How has the program supported you in your goals?

MIT Political Science is a community with a powerful sense of camaraderie among students and between students and faculty. I have built strong bonds here. My advisors have given me a great deal of support and flexibility for my somewhat unorthodox thesis subject. They allowed me to do the project that I wanted to do, even though it resides on the intersecting margins of political science, sociology, history, and religion. Many poli sci departments would have discouraged me from tackling a macro-level project. They would have told me the scope was too ambitious. Here, they told me to "go for it!" and they've been there for me every step of the way.