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Post-Doctoral Scholars

Jackson Smith

Dr. Jackson Smith completed his Ph.D. in American Studies at New York University’s Department of Social and Cultural Analysis. As a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow with the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies and the Department of History at UCLA, he is working to complete his book manuscript. Dirty Capital: Vice Police, Nuisance Property, and the Long War on Drugs in Philadelphia will trace the history of vice policing in Black Philadelphia from Prohibition to the contemporary War on Drugs. Jackson’s academic work draws from interdisciplinary urban studies scholarship, critical prison studies, and socio-legal perspectives on policing and punishment.

Web: jacksonsmith.info


Noelle Turtur

Dr. Noelle Turtur, the Eugen and Jaqueline Weber Postdoctoral Scholar in European History at the University of California, Los Angeles,  is a historian of modern Europe and European empires, with a regional focus on the Mediterranean and the Horn of Africa. She studies Italian migration and imperialism primarily through the lens of business history. Dr. Turtur places Italy in a global and comparative context of competing world empires. Italy serves as a case study for her to examine the respective powers of the nation-state, migrants, and colonists; the different ways states exercise power beyond their borders; and the transformation of imperial power over time.

Her manuscript, Making Fascist Empire Work: Italian Enterprises, Labor, and Organized Community in Occupied Ethiopia, 1896-1943, studies four Italian enterprises in Italian East Africa (Eritrea, Italian Somaliland, and occupied Ethiopia). It reveals that “fascist settler colonialism” was a particularly violent form of settler colonialism that was facilitated by an expansive military occupation and a disciplinary corporatist state, yet depended on the capital, labor, and knowledge of Africans, members of the Ottoman diaspora, and Italian colonists.

Dr. Turtur is currently writing about how Italian truckers in the Italian empire challenged the status quo between capital and labor established by the fascist corporatist system. She is also studying the Italian colonial police in Italian East Africa and histories of the Horn of Africa that connect the region thematically and historically to the wider world.

She received her doctorate in History from Columbia University in 2022, after completing undergraduate studies at the University of Chicago and the University of Bologna. Prior to beginning graduate studies, Dr. Turtur worked as a researcher and project coordinator at the Bronx Defenders in the criminal defense practice. Although originally from New York, she considers Rome (Italy) home.


Samuel Lamontagne

Samuel Lamontagne is a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow with the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies and the Department of History at UCLA. His research focuses on hip hop and electronic dance music in Los Angeles, and in the African diaspora more generally. He has published articles in various national and international publications. He’s the former co-editor-in-chief of the journal Ethnomusicology Review, and founder of the section ‘France through Race: Beyond Colorblindness’ of Ufahamu: An African Studies Journal. Alongside H. Samy Alim and Tabia Shawel, he co-leads the UCLA Hip Hop Initiative. Beyond his academic work, he’s been involved in L.A. and Paris musical communities for the past decade. To learn more, please visit: https://ucla.academia.edu/SamuelLamontagne


Patrícia Martins Marcos

Patrícia Martins Marcos (Ph.D. UC San Diego) is UC Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Rising to the Challenge fellow at UCLA’s History Department and the Bunche Center for African American Studies. Her work tracks how producing bigger and better population futures became the key scientific project of the Portuguese Empire. Her book manuscript, Imperial Whiteness, uncovers the colonial roots of racial whitening in the early modern Afro-Luso-Brazilian Atlantic, excavating how Portugal was construed as a race-free space. She is an Associate Editor at the History of Anthropology Review and her work has been supported by the Huntington Library, the American Philosophical Society, the Center for Black, Brown, and Queer Studies, and the John Carter Brown Library. She is currently a fellow with the Folger Shakespeare Library. Her article on Black visual resistance in Portugal and its former imperial spaces, “Blackness out of Place,” was recently published with the Radical History Review.


Ben Zdencanovic

Ben Zdencanovic (pronounced sten-CHAN-oh-vich) is a Postdoctoral Associate at the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy and a Lecturer in the UCLA Department of History. He is a historian of the United States in the world, domestic and international politics, and economic and social policy. 

Ben is currently working on two book projects. The first, tentatively titled Island of Enterprise: The End of the New Deal and the Rise of U.S. Global Power in a World of Welfare, 1940 – 1955, traces connections between the end of New Deal reformism, the rise of U.S. global power, and the birth of social and economic rights and the modern welfare state around the world in the mid-twentieth century. His second book is a major reevaluation of the “War on Poverty” in the 1960s, viewing it as a political-economic response to the manpower imperatives of racial capitalism, the Cold War national security state, and the unfolding conflict in Vietnam. 

He has published peer-reviewed articles in the Journal of Transatlantic Studies and the Radical History Review. In addition to his scholarly writing, he has written essays on history, policy, and politics for popular audiences in outlets such as Jacobin, the Boston Review, and the Washington Post. His writing and research have been supported by numerous grants and fellowships from such sources as the Yale Macmillan Center, the Rockefeller Archive Center, the Roosevelt and Truman presidential libraries, the University of Illinois Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Ben earned his doctorate with distinction from the Department of History at Yale in 2019, where his dissertation was the winner of the Edwin W. Small Prize for outstanding work in United States history. Prior to coming to UCLA, Ben was a postdoctoral fellow at the Yale Jackson School for Global Affairs and an Assistant Instructional Professor at the University of Chicago.