International Relations Faculty Profile: Burcu Akan Ellis

Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Photo of Burcu Akan Ellis giving a class lecture

Burcu Akan Ellis’ proseminar in foreign-policy analysis has gained notoriety on campus for its epic research paper.

“Students have to write possibly the longest paper they’ve ever written in their lives, usually around 45 pages,” Ellis says in a new video feature produced by the College of Liberal & Creative Arts’ Communication Team.

Students in the six-unit course begin working on the paper at the beginning of the semester, providing comparative analysis between two or more separate cases.

The associate professor, who teaches in the International Relations Department and Middle East and Islamic Studies Program, says she takes great joy in helping students discover and achieve new goals as well as making a connection with them.

“I came from somewhere else; you know, my English isn’t perfect. ... I make jokes about Turkish fields and cows, and students laugh about them,” says Ellis, a native of Turkey. “Having that cross-cultural diversity and to learn from your students, when you have a diverse crowd, is a wonderful thing.”

Ellis’ research interests include identity issues in the Muslim communities of the Balkans and youth and migration in Southeast Europe, with an emphasis on regional Albanian and Turkish populations.

“The themes that I explore are quite globally relevant,” Ellis says. “Identity is a difficult issue, and international migration and global displacement have affected identity of a variety of ways. …

“I try to capture very unique aspects of migration. I like to learn about what kinds of shifts are available at the level of the people, of people on the ground, in terms how they deal with huge sociopolitical changes, so a lot of my work is ethnographic.”

Her latest book is Catapulted: Youth Migration and the Making of a Skilled Albanian Diaspora (Columbia University Press).

— Matt Itelson


Video directed, edited and shot by Hannah Anderson

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