Sigur Center for Asian Studies


Benjamin D. Hopkins is a specialist in modern South Asian history, in particular that of Afghanistan, as well as British imperialism. His research focuses on the role of the colonial state in creating the modern states inhabiting the region. His first book, The Making of Modern Afghanistan, examined the efforts of the British East India Company to construct an Afghan state in the early part of the nineteenth century and provides a corrective to the history of the so-called ‘Great Game.’ His second book, Fragments of the Afghan Frontier, co-authored with anthropologist Magnus Marsden, pairs a complex historical narrative with rich ethnographic detail to conceptualize the Afghan frontier as a collection of discrete fragments which create continually evolving collage of meaning. He has additionally co-edited Beyond Swat: History, Society and Economy along the Afghanistan-Pakistan Frontier with Magnus Marsden.

Professor Hopkins is currently working on a comparative history of frontiers across empires, using the history of the governance of the Afghanistan-Pakistan frontier as the central case study. The manuscript is provisionally entitled The Imperial Frontier. Outside of GW, his research has been funded by Trinity College, Cambridge, the Nuffield Foundation (UK), the British Academy, the American Institute of Iranian Studies, the Leverhulme Trust and the National University of Singapore. Professor Hopkins regularly teaches courses on South Asian history, the geopolitics of South and Central Asia, as well as World history.

1957 E Street, NW, Suite 503M
Tel: (202) 994-2822

Associate Director

Deepa Ollapally is directing a major research project on power and identity and the worldviews of rising and aspiring powers in Asia and Eurasia. Her research focuses on domestic foreign policy debates in India and its implications for regional security and global leadership of the U.S.

Dr. Ollapally has received major grants from the Carnegie Corporation, MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Asia Foundation for projects related to India and Asia.

She is a frequent commentator in the media, including appearances on CNN, BBC, CBS, Reuters TV and the Diane Rehm Show.

1957 E Street, NW, Suite 503I
Tel: (202) 994-8854

Manager, Research Programs

Miriam Grinberg is the Manager of Research Programs for the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, GW Institute for Korean Studies, and the GW East Asia National Resource Center. Since graduating with a BA in Political Science from Gettysburg College in 2011, she has gone on to complete an MA in International Politics and East Asia and a PhD in Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick. Prior to joining Sigur and GWIKS, she worked as a communications assistant for the Politics, Sociology and Philosophy departments at Warwick, and has held visiting research fellow positions at American University, Waseda University in Tokyo, and the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa.

1957 E Street, NW, Suite 503P
Tel: (202) 994-4360

East Asia National Resource Center

Principal Investigator — East Asia National Resource Center

Jisoo M. Kim is Korea Foundation Associate Professor of History, International Affairs, and East Asian Languages and Literatures and Director of the Institute for Korean Studies at GW. She received her Ph.D. in Korean History from Columbia University. She is a specialist in gender and legal history of early modern Korea. Her broader research interests include gender and sexuality, crime and justice, forensic medicine, literary representations of the law, history of emotions, vernacular, and gender writing. She is the author of The Emotions of Justice: Gender, Status, and Legal Performance in Chosŏn Korea (University of Washington Press, 2015), which was awarded the 2017 James Palais Prize of the Association for Asian Studies. She is also the co-editor of The Great East Asian War and the Birth of the Korean Nation by JaHyun Kim Haboush (Columbia University Press, 2016). She is currently working on a new book project titled Suspicious Deaths: Forensic Medicine, Dead Bodies, and Criminal Justice in Chosŏn Korea.

Office: Room 503L, Elliott School of International Affairs
Phone: 202-994-6761

Program Associate

Richard J. Haddock is currently the Program Associate for the East Asia National Resource Center (NRC), which is supported by the U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI grant. The NRC works in close coordination with the Sigur Center for Asian Studies and the GW Institute for Korean Studies, and is a University-wide initiative based at the Elliott School of International Affairs. He holds an M.A. in Asian Studies from the Elliott School, with a concentration on domestic politics and foreign policy of East Asia. He graduated from the University of Central Florida with a B.A. in Political Science and minors in Asian Studies and Diplomacy.

Previously, he was the Program Coordinator at the Sigur Center, where he designed and implemented the Center’s robust public outreach programs. Prior to that role, he was a Project Assistant with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs working primarily on democracy and governance programs in East and Southeast Asia. He also worked with the American Institute in Taiwan as a Public Diplomacy intern, and with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs in the Office of Taiwan Coordination and in the Office Public Diplomacy. Mr. Haddock studies Mandarin Chinese language and participated in intensive language and culture immersion programs in Soochow University in Suzhou, China (Critical Language Scholarship) and National Cheng Kung University in Tainan, Taiwan (Taiwan-U.S. Sister Relations Alliance Summer Ambassadorship program).

1957 E Street, NW, Suite 503N
Washington, DC 20052
Tel: (202) 994-5874

Program Coordinator

Emir Bailey is the Program Coordinator for the East Asia National Resource Center (NRC). He is a Howard University Alumnus with a Bachelor of Arts in Strategic Communications and minor in Japanese. During his time at Howard, he studied abroad in Japan at Kanda University of International Studies with IES Abroad. Currently, he is a graduate student at the Graduate School for Education and Human Development (GSEHD) pursuing his master’s degree in Higher Education Administration. Prior to joining the NRC, he has worked as a communications associate at the School of Law and Medical School, and has interned for the United States-Japan Friendship Commission.

1957 E Street, NW, Suite 503N
Washington, DC 20052
Tel: (202) 994-0790

Asian Studies Program

Director — Asian Studies Program

Gregg A. Brazinsky is Professor of History and International Affairs and Deputy Director of GW Institute for Korean Studies. He is interested in the flow of commerce, ideas, and culture among Asian countries and across the Pacific. He is proficient in Mandarin Chinese and Korean. He is the author of two books: Winning the Third World (2017), which focuses on Sino-American Rivalry in the Third World, and Nation Building in South Korea (2007), which explores U.S.-South Korean relations during the Cold War. Currently he is working on two other book projects. The first examines American nation building in Asia during the Cold War. The second explores Sino-North Korean relations between 1949 and 1992 and focuses specifically on the development of cultural and economic ties between the two countries. He has received numerous fellowships to support his research including the Kluge Fellowship from the Library of Congress, the Smith Richardson Foundation junior faculty fellowship, and a fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson Center. Professor Brazinsky also currently serves as the director of the George Washington Cold War Group.

Sigur Center for Asian Studies
1957 E St. NW, Suite 503R
Phone: (202) 994-0987
Fax: (202) 994-6096

Program Assistant – Asian Studies Program

Jinny Ahn is the current Program Assistant for the Asian Studies Program at the Elliott School of International Affairs’ Sigur Center for Asian Studies. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Lehigh University in May 2014, majoring in Global Studies and History. She also received her M.A. in International Affairs from the Elliott School in May 2017, where she focused her studies on International Law and Organizations and Conflict Resolution. Prior to joining the Sigur Center and the Asian Studies Program, Ms. Ahn worked at the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) as a research intern where her some of her duties included news media monitoring and assisting with UN outreach for HRNK’s successful consultative status accreditation application with UN ECOSOC. She is proficient in Korean and also has study abroad experience at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. Her research and academic interests generally lie in the areas of Korean Studies, Asian Studies, human rights, and international law.

1957 E Street, NW, Suite 503
Tel: (202) 994-2694

Partnerships for International Strategies in Asia

Director — Partnerships for International Strategies in Asia (PISA)

Linda J. Yarr joined the Elliott School as Director of Partnerships for International Strategies in Asia (PISA) in June 1996. She began her work for PISA in 1995, when PISA was located within the American Council for Learned Societies. PISA promotes international affairs education training and research in partnership with leading agencies and institutions in Asia. Ms. Yarr has secured foundation grants and private donations to underwrite all of PISA’s activities and designed its collaborative and path-breaking programs in Asia. In 1994-1995, Ms. Yarr taught a research course on conflict resolution at American University. From 1987 to 1994, she was assistant professor of global political economy at Friends World College (subsequently the Friends World Program of Long Island University). In addition to teaching global political economy and experiential education, Ms. Yarr guided students in active learning projects and designed a program in global women’s studies. From 1983 to 1987, she offered courses in comparative politics, development, gender, and the Vietnam War at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the University of Denver.

Ms. Yarr has held visiting scholar appointments at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, the Institute for Malaysian and International Studies of the National University of Malaysia, the School of International Service of American University, and the Rocky Mountain Women’s Institute.

1957 E Street, NW, Suite 503S
Tel: (202) 994-4313

Program Assistant — PISA

Ikerighi David (IK) is a graduate student at the George Washington University working towards completing his master’s degree in History with a concentration in public policy. IK is particularly interested in history as it relates to the analysis and conduct of public policy and in American military history and Western Imperialism. IK aims to utilize his writing acumen and analytical skills to further PISA’s short and long term goals.

1957 E Street, NW, Suite 503
Tel: (202) 994-5886

Staff Assistants

Research Staff Assistant

Yehna Bendul is a sophomore in the Elliott School studying Philosophy and International Affairs with a concentration in international politics. She is currently studying Spanish but is also interested in U.S. relations with East Asia. In her position as Research Assistant with the Sigur Center, Yehna hopes to learn more about other regions of Asia and develop a more holistic understanding of the continent.

1957 E Street, NW, Suite 503
Tel: (202) 994-5886

Operations Staff Assistant

Vita Felig is a sophomore in Elliott School of International Affairs majoring in International Affairs with a concentration on Security Policy, and a minor in Journalism. Though her academic studies do not concentrate on Asian affairs, Vita is especially interested in Asia because of its food, culture, economics and especially k-beauty, which sparked her interest in becoming part of the office at the Sigur Center. She is particularly interested in South Korea, and hopes to study abroad there someday.

1957 E Street, NW, Suite 503
Tel: (202) 994-5886

Events Staff Assistant

Dante Schulz is a first-year student at the Elliott School studying International Affairs and History with a concentration in Asia and a minor in Chinese Language and Literature. He is currently working as the Events Staff Assistant for the Sigur Center. Dante hopes to study abroad in China or Singapore to study international law and politics focused on East Asia. 

1957 E Street, NW, Suite 503
Tel: (202) 994-5886

Communications Staff Assistant

Shule Chen is a third year undergraduate in the Elliott School of International Affairs, majoring in International Affairs with a concentration on Asia and minor in Business Administration. She is especially interested in US-East Asia relations, and just returned from studying abroad in Tokyo, Japan. 

1957 E Street, NW, Suite 503
Tel: (202) 994-5886

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