Three new faculty members join MIT SHASS


Dean Melissa Nobles and the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences are very pleased to welcome the newest members of the MIT SHASS faculty. They come to us with diverse backgrounds and vast knowledge in their areas of research, which include the legacies of the Holocaust, the rise of "the Girl" as an object of global investment, and public service in the context of moral agency.

Volha Charnysh  

Assistant Professor of Political Science


Volha Charnysh's work focuses on historical political economy, nation- and state-building, and ethnic politics. She received her PhD in Government from Harvard and spent the subsequent year as a fellow at the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton University Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Between 2010 and 2016, she served as an executive editor of Belarus Digest, a website that provides non-partisan analysis of Belarusian politics.


Charnysh’s works combines statistical methods, including spatial and content analysis, with extensive field and archival research. She is at work on a book-length project on the legacies of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe. This work investigates the effects of Holocaust-era property redistribution in the vicinity of Nazi death camps and draws attention to how conflicts in the distant past can, in the present day, create discursive and organizational opportunities for the populist right.

Profile at MIT Political Science

Charnysh's website


Laura Finch  

Assistant Professor of Literature


Laura Finch joins the Literature section as an Assistant Professor. Her work focuses on 20th and 21st century US novels, contemporary transnational novels, as well as literature and finance, critical theory, and girl studies. She earned her PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Pennsylvania and previously served as a member of the Michigan Society of Fellows at University of Michigan and as the Gillespie Visiting Assistant Professor of English at the College of Wooster.


One major aspect of her research theorizes the post-1970 ascendancy of global finance through the archive of the contemporary novel, including thrillers, realism, and speculative fiction. Her second major project “Girl: Empire, Capital, and Impossible Subjects,” theorizes the rise of “the Girl” as a new frontier of global investment.


Finch's website
Profile at Literature at MIT


Bernardo Zacka  

Assistant Professor of Political Science


Bernardo Zacka graduated from MIT with a S.B in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science before continuing on to earn his PhD from the Department of Government at Harvard. He is a political theorist with an interest in ethnographic methods. His research focuses on the normative challenges that arise in the course of public policy implementation. He is also interested, more broadly, in normative political theory, architecture and urbanism, and 20th-century European political thought.


Prior to joining MIT, he was a junior research fellow at Christ’s College, Cambridge and a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Ethics in Society at Stanford. His book, When the State Meets the Street: Public Service and Moral Agency, was published through Harvard University Press in 2017 and portrays the complex moral lives that entangle various public servants and their work.


Profile at MIT Political Science

Zacka's website