Natalie Wright Romeri-Grass, a doctoral student in the Department of Political Science at The Ohio State University, has been awarded the prestigious Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) Fellowship by the U.S. Department of Education, International and Foreign Language Education (IFLE) office. Doctoral candidates can engage in full-time dissertation research abroad in modern foreign languages and area studies through the DDRA grant. Nationwide across all disciplines approximately 90 Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowships were awarded.
Romeri-Grass will conduct research for her dissertation for nine months in Colombia examining From Fighters to Farmers in My Back Yard? Social Cohesion Among Unlikely Neighbors in the Hardest of Contexts. Romeri-Grass will explore topics of peace agreement implementation, post-conflict individual and community reintegration, and the geographic flow of aid throughout peace economies. Specifically, she will examine the perspectives of and interactions between ex-combatants relocated to post-conflict areas and the neighboring villagers with whom they interact.
Because ex-fighter reintegration and post-conflict social cohesion require time to develop and monitor, this longitudinal study requires a second year of fieldwork to: 1) re-interview respondents to plot whether social cohesion changes over time, 2) re-interview respondents on whether and why ex-fighter recidivism decreases, and 3) interview elites on their priorities while creating a new reintegration and housing model and their predicted timeline for social cohesion and recidivism.
Romeri-Grass will also map which civilian villages receive aid to ascertain how aid travels geographically from the epicenter of a reintegration settlement and as a result influences community acceptance of nearby ex-fighters. She will examine whether social cohesion can grow where ex-fighters move into the areas of their former victims, what type of social ties decrease an ex-fighter’s likelihood of returning to combat, and how Colombia’s new reintegration model, with its restricted aid and unique collective-living conditions, impacts the ability of the ex-fighters’ neighbors to accept them.
Romeri-Grass completed her Bachelor of Arts from Brigham Young University, a Master of Science from the University of Reading (UK), J.D. from West Virginia University College of Law, and additional training on forced migration and humanitarian law at the University of Oxford (UK), and is currently a PhD student in International Relations and Comparative Politics at Ohio State. Her faculty advisors are Christopher Gelpi, Jan Pierskalla and Rachel Bowen. She has consulted on data on war, women, peace, and transitional justice processes and is also a diversity fellow with the American Political Science Association, a graduate fellow at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies, Recovering From Violence Cluster, and an affiliate at The WomanStats Project, the most comprehensive compilation of information on women.
While in Colombia, Romeri-Grass will collaborate with and be supported by the following peace and conflict scholars: Juan Esteban Ugarriza and Rebecca Nielsen (Universidad del Rosario), Monica María Uribe G. (Universidad Nacional de Colombia), Francy Carranza Franco, Max Yuri Gil (Universidad de Antioquia), and Andrés Tafur, Paulo Murillo Sandoval, Miguel Antonio Espinosa Rico, and Fernando Cruz (Universidad del Tolima).
The Office of International Affairs administers the Fulbright-Hays program for Ohio State, and grant competitions are held annually. Doctoral candidates interested in applying for the award must contact Fulbright-Hays program director, Joanna Kukielka-Blaser.