Pittsburgh Network for Threatened Scholars (PiNTS)
Administered by the Global Studies Center (GSC) with support from the Provost's Office, the PiNTS network convenes diverse local and national partner organizations to bring threatened scholars, artists, and practitioners to Pitt and to Pittsburgh. Our program aims to provide scholars with safe and stable working and living environments as a way of helping them to regain their footing, rebuild their professional networks, and reset their careers.
By leveraging the Provost's funding with GSC endowment monies and partnerships with national organizations like the Artist Protection Fund and the Scholar Rescue Fund, we provide our visitors with a salaries, benefits, visa and other legal assistance, and help acclimating to University and local life. Through our membership of the New University in Exile Consortium, we provide scholars with intellectual and professional development opportunities and a network for engagement with similarly situated colleagues around the world. Our scholars work with Pitt faculty and students – as teachers, interlocutors, and colleagues – and contribute to the rich intellectual life of the University.
PiNTS employs a graduate student intern who assists with relocation and navigating life in the city. Through our partnership with City of Asylum (CoA), some scholars live on their northside campus, where they connect with exiled writers, artists, and musicians and engage the broader Pittsburgh community. This housing, provided at no cost by CoA, helps to stretch our funds further.
In our first two years, we have hosted a political scientist from Turkey, a Vietnamese rock star and free speech activist, and a Congolese documentary filmmaker (all in partnership with City of Asylum, and the latter two as Artist Protection Fund fellows). We are preparing to welcome a Cuban dissident couple (a writer and a women’s rights activist) in November (again with City of Asylum) and an Iranian sociologist and legal scholar in late fall (with Scholar Rescue Fund). We also have emergency efforts underway to assist scholars displaced as a result of the changing political situation in Afghanistan.
Current PiNTS Scholars
Tariq Basir is a Research Scholar at the Center for Governance and Markets in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) at the University of Pittsburgh where he contributes to the Afghanistan Project. He is also an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Economics at Kabul University. Tariq has the experience of working as an Economic Advisor to the Ministry of Finance in Afghanistan. His primary research interests include positive political economy, game theoretical models of regime change and democratization, Arab Spring and democratization in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as well as the political history of Afghanistan. Tariq Basir is in his final year as a Ph.D. Scholar at South Asian University (SAU), a university established by the SAARC nations, and also holds an MA in Economics (2016) from the same university. Tariq is also the author of many international and national publications and has presented in many prestigious international conferences.
Naima Mohammadi is an Iranian sociologist and women’s right activist. She received her Ph.D in political sociology at Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran (2013). Her doctoral thesis was conducted with an emphasis on qualitative methods and addressed the diversity of Muslim women's demands in Organization of Islamic co-operation (OIC). Dr. Mohammadi is currently a full-time visiting scholar in the Global Studies Center (GSC) at the University of Pittsburgh. Previously, she served as a research fellow in the department of Political Science, Law and International Studies at the University of Padova, Italy (2020-2021). She used to work very closely with Elena Cornaro, the Center for Gender and Women Studies. Dr. Mohammadi also was as an affiliated full-time assistant professor in the department of Social Science at Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Iran (2014-2018) and taught courses in Civil Rights of women in the Middle East and Family and Marriage under the Islamic Laws. Her book The Sociology of Polygamous Families in Iran was published in 2018 highlighting the circumstances of Sunni Iranian women under sharia laws. Her most recent studies associate with semantic implications of Islamic veil as a visible symbol for Muslim women. She is working on the category of civil disobediences of Iranian women against compulsory hijab in cyber space and daily life. Her future research interests deal with putting Colored and Covered Muslim Feminism in dialogue with ‘global feminism’, ‘post-colonial feminism’, ‘and intersectional feminism’ to raise the voice of misrecognized Muslim women.
Jorge Olivera Castillo is a Cuban poet, writer, television editor, journalist, and songwriter. He is a well-known dissident, and his work has been banned in Cuba. Olivera Castillo has published six books of poetry and two short story collections. His works have been translated into several languages, including Czech, English, Italian, and Polish. Jorge recently finished two books: a book of poetry and his third collection of short stories, based on his experiences as a soldier in the jungle during the Angolan Civil War. He is a writer-in-residence at City of Asylum and a Research Scholar at the Global Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh. He is married to Nancy Alfaya Hernandez, a Cuban human rights and women’s rights activist.
Aunel Arneth is a pro-democracy activist, journalist, producer and documentary filmmaker whose work explores human rights, democracy and African political history. He was trained in writing, producing and directing documentaries at the Gaston Berger University of Saint-Louis in Senegal as well as in residencies with a number of renowned filmmakers in Congo and France. Aunel has also worked as a producer, editor and journalist for, Human Rights Television , Africa24 and MNTV.He has directed two medium-length documentaries, Blood and Voting Machine (2020) and Keep Quiet or Die (2020), and is currently in production for another film entitled Homeland or Death. Aunel Arneth’s work has received support from the Congolese Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH) and other international institutions.
Dr. Omar Sadr is a Research Fellow at the Center for Governance and Markets (CGM) in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) at the University of Pittsburgh where he will lead Afghanistan Policy Project. He is also an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF). Previously, he worked as a Senior Researcher at the Afghanistan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS) and as a Researcher at the Department of Peace Studies, the National Centre for Policy Research (NCPR), Kabul University. His primary research interests include political theory, governance of cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and multiculturalism, democratic governance, as well as political history of Afghanistan. Dr. Sadr holds a Ph.D. (2018) and an MA (2013) from South Asian University (SAU), a university established by the SAARC nations. Dr. Sadr is an author of numerous books, chapters, book reviews, papers and articles. His most recent book, Negotiating Cultural Diversity in Afghanistan, was published in 2020 by Routledge in London and New Delhi.
Mai Khoi is a Vietnamese artist and dissident. Mai Khoi has been awarded an IIE‐Artist Protection Fund Fellowship in residence at the University ofPittsburgh with participation from the International Free Expression Project and City of Asylum. In addition to her ongoing musical and political work, in 2016 Mai Khoi nominated herself to run in her country's National Assembly elections on a pro-democracy platform in an attempt to reform the system from within, sparking a nationwide debate about political participation. In 2018 she received the Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent in recognition of her democracy activism. She continues to fight for democracy and civil liberties and previously was a Safe Haven for Music (SHIM) NYC resident through NYC Safe Haven and Tamizdat. Khoi, an accomplished artist, provides a musical and electrifying mix of social protest, traditional forms, and experimental jazz.
Simten Coşar, received her Ph.D in political science from Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey (1997). Through the early 2000s, Dr. Coşar has been briefly involved in feminist organizations as an academic, participating in training courses, acting as executive committee member, and/or member in board of advisors. She defines herself as a feminist political scientist. She has been specialized in political thought. Dr. Coşar has published in English and Turkish on Turkish politics, feminist politics, and political thought. She was a Fulbright scholar at the Northern Michigan University, in a collaborative academic research with the late Professor Louise Bourgault. In the English-speaking and reading world, she is the co-editor of Universities in the Neoliberal Era: Academic Cultures and Critical Perspectives (UK: Palgrave MacMillan, 2017) (with Hakan Ergül), and Silent Violence: Neoliberalism, Islamist Politics and the AKP Years in Turkey (Canada: Red Quill Books, 2012) (with Gamze Yücesan-Özdemir). In Fall 2017 she taught two graduate courses at the Institute of Political Economy, Carleton University, and in Fall 2018/19, she taught in the Department of Government at Cornell University (Ithaca, NY).
Her residency is made possible through generous funding from the Office of the Provost and in cooperation with City of Asylum, as part of a new initiative to host endangered scholars at Pitt.
Monday, March 29
Pitt's very own Mai Khoi, Artist Protection Fund fellow and Simten Coşar, Scholar at Risk visiting faculty, shared their experiences with political censorship and the importance and challenges of speaking globally about political repression. The conversation was led by GSC Director Michael Goodhart.