Alumni (National Fellow)

Shamira Gelbman

National Fellow
Brooklyn, New York
B.A. City University of New York Hunter College (2000)
M.A. Grad (2003)
Ph.D. University of Virginia (2006)
Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
Professional Sector:
Dream Mentor:
Elisabeth Clemens
University of Chicago
Fields of Interest:
African American History
Human Rights
Region: Africa
Social Issues


Shamira Gelbman is associate professor of political science and department chair at Wabash College. Gelbman’s research focuses primarily on the role of interest group and social movement organizations in American politics. She’s especially interested in the collaborative lobbying efforts by more than fifty organizations that contributed to civil rights policymaking during the 1950s and ’60s, as well as the ways in which century-old organizations have begun to use new media like Twitter to inform and mobilize supporters. She is the editor of Clio, the biannual newsletter of the American Political Science Association’s Politics and History section. A native of Brooklyn, NY, Gelbman attended the City University of New York’s Hunter College before heading south to the University of Virginia for her graduate degrees. Before coming to Wabash, she taught at Illinois State University for five years.

Thesis Description:

Coalitions of the Unwilling: Insurgency and Enfranchisement in the United States and South Africa
Based on a paired comparison of the American civil rights movement and the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa, Gelbman’s dissertation argued that state actors’ responses to social movements vary with changing coalition dynamics at both the elite and mass levels. Specifically, the confluence of intra-regime conflict and labor-civil rights coalitions provides the incentives for democratic concessions that would otherwise be too politically risky for public officials who are beholden to constituencies that oppose suffrage expansion to undertake.

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