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 , 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. Several of our PiNTS Scholars are research fellows at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Governance and Markets.

Current PiNTS Scholars

Mirwais Parsa is a research scholar at the Center for Governance and Markets. He is finalizing his Ph.D. in economics at South Asian University with a focus on institutions and economic development. His research focuses on macroeconomics, institutions, and the political economy of Afghanistan. He also earned a diploma in United Nations Studies and International Understandings from the Institute of UN Studies, New Delhi, India. Mr. Parsa has served as a lecturer of Economics at Dunya University, Kabul, Afghanistan.   In addition to his academic experience, Mr. Parsa served as an advisor to the Afghanistan Ministry of Finance. In this capacity, he drafted the second document of Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF-II) and assisted with the COVID-19 fiscal stimulus and response program in Afghanistan. He has also worked as the country author for the South Asian Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE), where he reported on the socio-economic aspects of Afghanistan, including poverty, inequality, and human migration.  

Mohamad Machine-Chian is a senior research scholar at the Center for Governance and Markets. He is a scholar of public policy in Iran and the greater Middle East. Mr. Machine-Chian has authored several books on privatization, constitutionalism, immigration, and economic reform and has translated important works of economic theory and on Islamic finance from English into Persian. He has written extensively on Islamic social institutions and public finance, especially in the Shi'a tradition. He is the founder and editor of bourgeois.ir. Mr. Machine-Chian is one of Iran’s most prominent thinkers on economic reform and appears regularly on BBC Persian and Iran International TV (the largest Persian-language television service). He is currently producing a documentary film on the history of market reforms in Iran. He has worked on issues of privatization and regulatory reform for several think tanks in Tehran.

Habibullah Sorosh is a professor, screenwriter and playwright whose research includes the history of Afghan cinema, the structural effects of absurdist dramas, and Kazakh historical genre films. Born in the Jaghori district, Ghazni province of Afghanistan Habib received his Bachelor of Cinema and Theater from the Department of Fine Arts at Kabul University and Master of Art Criticism at Kazakh National Academy of Arts T. Zhurgenov. For the past ten years, Habib has been a professor at Kabul University in the Department of Fine Arts and Dramatic Literature. He is currently a Visiting Researcher in the Schools of Drama and Art at Carnegie Mellon University where he is researching the fields of theatre, cinema, and art theory. 

Dr. Ramin Mansoori is a visiting scholar at the Global Studies Center and the Center for Governance and Markets (CGM) at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Dr. Mansoori is a former lecturer in the Chinese Language Department at Kabul University. His primary research interest includes comparative politics, the political history of Afghanistan, and the great power completion. As a contributor to CGM’s Afghanistan Project, Dr. Mansoori’s research will primarily be focusing on Nation-building in Afghanistan, and China’s Afghanistan policy. Dr. Mansoori obtained his PhD in Comparative Politics from the School of International Studies, Peking University in 2022. He holds a MA in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language and Education from the School of Chinese as a Second Language and Education, Peking University (2016), and a BA in Chinese Language and Literature from Kabul University (2011). Dr Mansoori’s PhD dissertation is titled “On Nation-building in Afghanistan” and was written in Chinese Mandarin.

Oleksandr Frazé-Frazénko is a filmmaker, writer, and musician. His oeuvre includes several hundred films, music videos, and advertising. He authored a dozen books of poetry; in Ukrainian, they are collected in a volume “Decadence” (2017), in English – in “Happy Lovers” (2021). He was the first to have translated Jim Morrison’s poetry into Ukrainian and published it in 2013. He has also translated English poetry of the Restoration Period, including the works of John Rochester. His music discography consists of more than 50 albums and had a few personal photo exhibitions in Ukraine and Georgia. Oleksandr's paintings, drawings, and sculptures are in private collections located in Ukraine, Poland, Georgia, Germany, Canada, and the United States. For the first year of the war when Russia invaded Ukraine, he remained in Ukraine, got involved in a volunteer movement, and worked with foreign journalists as a producer, filmmaker, and journalist to spread the truth about the situation, the context, and the historical background. He is a writer-in-residence at City of Asylum and a Research Scholar at the Global Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh.

Olena Boryshpolets was born in Odessa, Ukraine, and is a poet, writer, journalist, actress, and culture manager. She was a laureate of the Konstantin Paustovsky Municipal Literary Prize for the collection of poems "Blue Star", a member of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, and co-founder of the public organization "Creation Without Borders". After the full-scale invasion of Russia into Ukraine in February 2022, she went to Poland and worked with other Ukrainian women to tell European audiences about the war and its consequences in the Polish-Ukrainian play "Life in the Event of War." Olena is a writer-in-residence at City of Asylum and a Research Scholar at the Global Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh.

Haifa Subay is a graffiti and street artist whose depiction of humanitarian issues, motherhood and war, and the desire for peace gives a voice to the people of Yemen.She has led a number of powerful campaigns including “#SilentVoices”, which demonstrates the human cost of war, and “Women and War”, which portrays her own experience with pregnancy and motherhood, the effects of being a woman in wartime, and her desire for peace. Subay’s work, “War and Humans”, was featured in the Singapore Art Museum as a part of the Singapore Biennale 2019: Every Step In The Right Direction and was shortlisted for the 12th Benesse Prize. She also received a Seed Award from the Prince Claus Fund, which recognizes emerging artists whose work engages with social and political issues. Haifa is also part of the Artist Protection Fund program.

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.  

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 of Pittsburgh 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.

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.

Volodymyr Rafeyenko is an award-winning Ukrainian writer, poet, translator, literary and film critic. Having graduated from the Donetsk University with a degree in Russian philology and culture studies, he wrote and published entirely in Russian. Following the outbreak of the Russian aggression in Ukraine’s east, Rafeyenko left Donetsk and moved to a town near Kyiv where he wrote Mondegreen: Songs about Death and Love, his first novel in the Ukrainian language, which was shortlisted for the Taras Shevchenko National Prize, Ukraine’s highest award in arts and culture. Among other recognitions, he is the winner of the Volodymyr Korolenko Prize for the novel Brief Farewell Book (1999) and the Visegrad Eastern Partnership Literary Award for the novel The Length of Days (2017). He is a writer-in-residence at City of Asylum and a Research Scholar at the Global Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh.

Past PiNTS Scholars

Naima Mohammadi
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.
Simten Coşar
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). 
Mohammad Khalid Ramizy
Mohammad Khalid Ramizy 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. His primary research interests include the events that led to the failure of the U.S. state-building efforts and the loss of democratic republic in Afghanistan, pluralism, human rights, and religious freedom. He has a B.A. in Law & Political Science from the Dunya University and an M.A. in Educational Management from Kabul University.  He is also the chief executive officer of the Afghanistan Economic and Legal Studies Organization (AELSO), a leading free-market think tank in Afghanistan and has been working for liberal democracy and the values of a free society and its compatibility with Islam since 2009. Ramizy is also the founder and senior fellow at The White Assembly, a leading non-profit organization working in 19 provinces of Afghanistan with its 10K+ members to educate and promote the ideas of liberty and oppose radicalism among Afghan youth. Khalid Ramizy is the author of The Death of Republic & Democracy: Examining the Collapse of the Republic and 20 Years of Democracy in Afghanistan, which will come out in August 2022, the co-author of Religion and Freedom. In addition, he has translated and edited several well-known classical liberal books from English into national languages of Afghanistan.   
Nasir Ahmad Farahmand
Nasir Ahmad Farahmand is a Visiting Research Scholar at the Global Studies Center as part of the Practitioner at Risk program through the Scholar at Risk Network. Nasir was born in Herat, Afghanistan and immigrated to the United States with his family in 2021. Previously, Nasir was the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs of Jami Private University in Herat since 2016. He is also a member of the directorate board of Herat Professionals Shura (council), a leading non-profit organization working for Democracy and Human Rights since 2001 in Afghanistan. Nasir has also contributed to six research publications as the head of each research team from 2016 to 2021. The publications are all produced in Farsi and you can find electronic copies here: https://www.heratps.org/research/. Topics that he has written on include the following: Good Governance, Centralism or Decentralism (2016); Economic Development of Herat (2017); Afghanistan Election, Opportunities & Challenges (2018); Ethnicity and Political Development in Afghanistan (2019); Obstacles on Democracy in Afghanistan (2020); and Exploring the Reflection of Democratic Values in Afghanistan School's Curriculum (2021). From 2003 to 2016, he also worked as Finance Officer in the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). Nasir has a Master of Arts in Economics from Kurukshetra University, India and is pursuing a PhD from Dr. B. R. Ambedkar University, India.