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Jackson School welcomes new faculty in 2014-15

September 22, 2014

The Jackson School is pleased to welcome the following new faculty in the 2014-15 academic year:

Mika AhuviaMika Ahuvia, assistant professor, was born in Kibbutz Beit Hashita in northern Israel. She researches the formative history of Jewish and Christian communities in the ancient Mediterranean world. Specializing in Late Antique Jewish history, she works with Rabbinic sources, liturgical poetry, magical texts, early mystical literature, and archaeological evidence. Her dissertation was on angels in Jewish texts from the fourth to eighth century CE. Ahuvia is fascinated by the daily life of ancient Jews and investigates the different ways they struck a balance between their local religious environment (whether Roman, Christian, or Zoroastrian) and biblical, rabbinic, and other Jewish traditions. She co-authored an article with John Gager on the portrayal of Mary the mother of Jesus in the Toledot Yeshu, an early medieval Jewish satire of Jesus’ life as recorded by the gospels. There she paid careful attention to the sympathy shown Mary in the Jewish sources and how it might reflect broader Jewish interest in the figure of a messianic mother. In another article in a volume on Jewish and Christian Cosmogony in Late Antiquity, Ahuvia analyzed depictions of the abyss in late antique church mosaics in the Transjordan region and the Near Eastern, Greco-Roman, as well as Jewish and Christian sources that may have inspired emphasis on this abstract concept.

Jeffrey C. Begun, lecturer, specializes in international economics and political economy, China, and environmental issues. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Jeffrey BegunWashington and he is the co-author of several articles including “Red Obsession: Foreign Conglomerates Battle over Chinese Wine” and “In Search of an Environmental Kuznets Curve in Sulphur Dioxide Concentrations: a Bayesian Model Averaging Approach.” He has done field work in China and has taught political economy at Renmin University in Beijing. Begun served on the editorial board of the International Journal of Sustainable Economy and on the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability at the University of Washington, Tacoma. He has several years of teaching experience in an interdisciplinary program and he has taught courses in a variety of areas including environmental policy, comparative economic development, international political economy, East Asian development, and China’s economic rise. He speaks conversational Mandarin and Spanish.

Daniel BessnerDaniel Bessner, assistant professor, received his Ph.D. from Duke University in 2013, and spent the 2013-14 academic year as a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University’s Einaudi Center for International Studies. His research addresses U.S. foreign relations, cultural and intellectual history, U.S.-Europe relations, Jewish studies, and the history of the human sciences. His book manuscript, provisionally entitled Democracy in Exile: Hans Speier and the Rise of the Defense Intellectual, is under contract with the United States in the World series at Cornell University Press. His articles have appeared or will appear in several publications, including the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, Religions, Armed Forces & Society, and Terrorism and Political Violence. In 2014, the International Society for Intellectual History awarded him the Charles Schmitt Prize for Best Article by a young historian for an essay on Murray Rothbard and modern libertarianism.

Rebecca Herman Weber, assistant professor, received her Ph.D. in history from the University of California, Berkeley in 2014. Her areas of research include U.S.-Latin American relations, modern Rebecca WeberLatin American history, U.S. foreign relations, military and development aid, labor relations, law, race, gender, and popular education. Her current book project examines conflicts over governance in the early history of U.S. military basing in Latin America. She has received research fellowships and awards from the Social Science Research Council, the Mellon Foundation, the Council on Library and Information Resources, the Smithsonian Institution, the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations, and the George Marshall Foundation. Her work has appeared in the journal Gender & History. In addition to her academic writing, she has worked on documentary projects throughout the Americas on topics including human rights, immigration, literacy and political activism.