Mary A. Shiraef

Mary A. Shiraef

Fields of Study: Comparative Politics, Political Theory


Areas of Interest: international borders, minority identity engineering policies, diasporas, identity transmission, transnationalism

Mary A. Shiraef is a Ph.D. Candidate in political science. Her work examines identity transmission outcomes of border policies, with a focus on collective memory, migration, and sites of memorialization during and after periods of communist, authoritarian rule. With an MLitt degree in International Relations theory from the University of St Andrews and an M.A. degree from the University of Notre Dame specializing in comparative politics, her PhD dissertation draws from historical and contemporary data to address two lines of research: (1) how are minority identities transmitted under authoritarian institutions and under which conditions are they linked to political beliefs and behaviors? (2) what are the long-term effects of communist-era efforts to recognize ethnonational identity in foreign border contexts? Her primary population of interest is those born in Albania or in northern Greece 1800 to now.

Her research connects with post-Soviet legacy studies literature on identity as well as migration, diaspora, and authoritarianism literatures. Her dissertation work has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded American Political Science Association's Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (APSA DDRIG), a Boren Fellowship, and several department and university-wide grants.

She is also a recent contributor to #openscience efforts, having led an international team called the COVID Border Accountability Project (COBAP), which hand-coded an original dataset of border policies introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. COBAP covered 200+ countries and associated island territories and was published in the open access, peer-reviewed journal Scientific Data in the Nature Portfolio. The second study she led using the data yielded no evidence that 2020 international border closures curbed the spread of COVID, published in Scientific Reports also in Nature. A third ongoing COBAP study, co-led with Paul Friesen, examines the political motivations of pandemic border closures.