Cristina Dragomir

Ph.D. candidate

Expected Completion
October 2014

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Contact Information Profile

Major Field
American Politics

Minor Field
Political Theory

Dissertation Title
"Making the American Immigrant Soldier: Inclusion and Resistance"

Dissertation Committee
David Plotke (chair), Timothy Pachirat, Terry Williams, Aristide Zolberg (deceased)

Dissertation Abstract
This thesis describes the process of immigrants' naturalization via a powerful state institution, the U.S. military. It reveals how the immigrant soldiers participating in this study underwent the process of naturalization using diverse practices of both integration/assimilation and resistance. The study presents the life stories of three immigrants soldiers: Lily, an immigrant from Romania who serves in the Air Force; Alexa, an immigrant from Paraguay, who is an Army veteran; and Vinod, an Indian immigrant serving in the Army's active duty forces. Each life story shows why the participant in question joined the U.S. military, and to what extent did she/he became a full member of the military and host society. This study empowers us to understand the naturalization process from within, through the lived experiences of the immigrant soldiers who participated in this research.

My work relies on several qualitative/interpretative methods: life stories, theoretical and historical analysis, ethnography and participant observation. As a result of this methodological approach, I unearthed three distinct discoveries. First, contrary to intuition, the three immigrant soldiers did not simply integrate or assimilate. They engaged in various seemingly contradictory practices of integration/assimilation and resistance in order to find a place for themselves in the host country. Second, the participants joined the American armed forces to obtain recognition of their identity and to access economic resources. Third, the contemporary institution of the U.S. military faces a set of divergent and competing demands for unity and diversity of its personnel, especially regarding foreign-born soldiers. Together, these discoveries portray a unique version of the immigrants' naturalization process.


Research Interests
My research is in the field of American Politics, with a focus on immigration. My previous academic training, which I undertook at the New School for Social Research, drew from work in the areas of identity, multiculturalism and social justice in immigration studies. My dissertation was titled Making the American Immigrant Soldier: Inclusion and Resistance, and the Bucerius Fellowship - "Settling into Motion" supported its completion. It analyzed the patterns of naturalization that immigrants used while enlisted in the U.S. military. While studying the experiences of three immigrant soldiers this dissertation described the practices they conducted in order to find an equal place in their new country. Using ethnography, in-depth interviews, participant observation, and historical analysis, I argued that in order to acquire social justice immigrants employ a series of practices of integration/assimilation, alongside practices of resistance. For the past three years, I have been working on a project that furthers a comparative dimension. It is a research study on the struggle for justice of nomadic groups. It looks at how the nomadic Roma/Gypsies in the European Union and Southern India access social, political and economic justice. This qualitative, multidisciplinary research is titled The Quest for Social Justice: The case of the nomadic Roma/Gypsies in the EU and India. Through in-depth fieldwork, this project aims to answer the following question: How do nomadic populations, such as the Roma/Gypsy, acquire justice in nation states? Breaking away from the classic paradigm, which regards the Roma/Gypsy as a minority, this project looks at the Roma/Gypsy as a community present in various nation-states. I intend to transform the results of this research in a book manuscript by the end of 2016.

Beginning in the academic year 2012 - 2013, which I spent at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute as a postdoctoral fellow, I have been developing my second research project. This project investigates the relevance of the concept of justice within the framework of American politics, particularly as this relates to current policies of border security and detention centers. I am interested in how local and state politics play out with respect to more general immigration policies. Particularly, I will analyze the U.S.'s strategies of immigration control that heavily emphasize border enforcement and detention centers. This research highlights the fine line between immigration and criminality, and explores the theoretical, policymaking underpinnings of the legal immigration system. In this regard, conducting field research in the Northeast region of the U.S. presents a great opportunity for exploring these issues. Work on this topic is also evident in my teaching endeavors, as I engaged with my students in projects on the politics of detention centers in the United States. This project is in its initial stages, and I plan to conduct research over the next year.

I am currently working on transforming one of the life-stories from my doctoral dissertation into an article to be published in a peer review journal. This article titled From Being A Foreigner to Being a Soldier and an American, presents the life story of Lily, an immigrant soldier from Romania. Based on a five-year-long in-depth qualitative fieldwork, this article details Lily's journey of transformation via Air Force Reserve Service. It starts by showing Lily's life before military service, analyzes how her life in communist Romania, her experience of the anti-communist revolution, and her early years in an economic and socially broken system motivated her immigration to the United States, her stay, enlistment and life in the military.

Writing Samples
Short writing sample (PDF)

Teaching Experience/Courses Taught
Intro to American Government; Interest Groups; Women in Politics; Gender and Membership; Politics of International Migration; Liberalism vs. Conservatism in American Political Thought; World Civilization I & II; Russia after 1917; American Conservative Political Thought; Intro to Political Theory; Modern Political Thought; Eastern European Politics and Government; Eastern European Politics through Art and Film, Liars; Truth Tellers and Hypocrites; Modern and Contemporary Philosophy

Teaching Statement
I am an experienced and successful teacher. I have had the opportunity to teach diverse student population groups and understand the challenges of different audiences and types of courses. When teaching arts and design students in a required core curriculum course, I focused on improving reading and writing skills while using primary sources to engage them. While working as a teaching assistant for university-wide classes that included a combination of science and traditional liberal arts students, I used group activities to bridge the gap between students with different specializations and to create a shared sense of community in the classroom. The honors classes, which I taught for gifted undergraduate students, were focused on generating particularly challenging activities that would further develop their academic sophistication and excellence. In each instance, I have worked to create interdisciplinary courses that engaged students in contemporary community-based issues. Simultaneously, I strive to instill practical knowledge and to build the students' knowledge base and developed their repertoire of skills.

My diverse teaching portfolio includes courses in Political Science, as well as in general Education, Philosophy and History. I truly enjoy teaching and I am dedicated to creating a stimulating and research-friendly environment, where students can explore their intellectual possibilities. Teaching "Oral History" and "Liberalism vs. Conservatism in American Politics" (in the U.S. and abroad) has been a central academic experience that has helped me to understand the political and philosophical bases of different political and cultural systems.

Professional Experience
-Event Coordinator, International Center for Migration, Ethnicity and Citizenship (Spring 2013). Organizing and coordinating events; contacting international scholars; publicizing the events; introducing presenters and facilitating conversations, furthering liaisons between members.

-Student Liaison, Politics Department, New School for Social Research (2011- 2012). Advised prospective students; connected academic and administrative staff from different departments to prospective students. Organized meetings, participated at open-houses.

-Research Assistant, Prof Aristide Zolberg, New School for Social Research (2009- 2012). Research for book manuscripts and articles about democratic management of minorities, immigration policies and their impact, citizenship in the era of globalization, and migration vs. immigration patterns in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

-Research Assistant, Charney Research Institute, New York (2008- 2012). Conducted research on domestic and international politics for private, international and federal agencies. Topics of research: democratic development, international security issues, Middle-East politics, defense strategies, legal history, program implementation and evaluation. Created and organized rapports. Assisted with the organizing the data, organized database supporting research presentations.

-Researcher, Hunter College, Political Science Department, New York (2007- 2008). Conducted comparative field research in Eastern Europe (Romania and former East Germany) on the process of democratization. Orchestrated research strategies, conducted field research, interview subjects, created analysis reports and organized database supporting class lectures.

-Research Assistant, The New School, Parsons Gimbel Library, (2004- 2008). Assisted professors with teaching materials. Conducted on line and library research. Research and organized visual resources database.

-Faculty Coordinator, Eugene Lang College, The New School. Assisted faculty with logistic and academic resources; connected academic and administrative staff from different departments. Conducted research and performed a wide variety of administrative tasks. Organized annual rapports.

-Telephone Fundraiser, The New School for Social Research. Assist with transcribing interviews; created a data base. Analyzed fundraising materials and implemented fundraising techniques. Called prospects. Related friends to alumni. Closed gifts.

-TV Program Host, Romanian Voice TV Program, New York (2004). Created and maintained relationships in the Romanian community. Researched and orchestrated cultural events, interviews and hosted a Romanian TV program. Researched, and edited copy for news presentations.

-Interviewer and Researcher, National Sociological Institute “Metro-Media Transilvania,” Romania (1997- 1999). Conducted polling research. Utilized database. Transcribed interviews. Selected subjects. Conducted interviews. Organized and edited data.


Connect with the New School