Current Global Research Initiative (GRI) Fellows

The Dangerous Speech Project is thrilled to introduce our current cohort of Global Research Initiative (GRI) Fellows.  Members will support each other to advance research and intervention projects. This year’s class of Fellows was chosen from a highly competitive pool of students, scholars, and members of civil society. Each Fellow will complete a detailed case study on their selected topic and discuss their work with other Fellows. The Fellows’ work will help us continue to advance our understanding of Dangerous Speech and how it operates in a variety of contexts. A list of Fellows along with brief descriptions of their projects is below.


Achol Jok Mach, South Sudan

Mach will study the use of hate speech by South Sudanese politicians and whether it has influenced the diaspora to encourage more conflict, both online and offline.

Achol Jok Mach is a South Sudanese/Canadian. She was born in South Sudan and has lived in Cuba and Canada. In 2011, she voluntarily moved back to South Sudan, a few months before independence, with the hope of learning more about her country and culture and wanting to contribute to building the new nation. She is currently a Specialist with PeaceTech Lab managing their South Sudan projects, which include developing and updating the South Sudan lexicon of hate speech, monitoring online hate speech using semi-automated and manual media monitoring approaches, and working with a data scientist to produce biweekly early warning reports containing predictions of violence. 


Ayesha Khan, India

Khan’s project will examine speeches made by Indian political figures to identify how their words spin a narrative of hate against the country’s minority Muslim community and perpetuate societal dislike for and discrimination against this group. She will also examine the role of social media platforms like Facebook in fueling these narratives, which, through its unevenly applied Community Standards, lays bare its own motivations of uninhibited growth at any cost.

Ayesha Khan is an international lawyer and public policy professional who has worked for the United Nations, in federal government, with the World Bank, and in human rights and commercial law practice in the United States and India. She is currently engaged with the Yale/Wikimedia Initiative on Intermediaries and Information where she is researching the impact of digital technologies on human rights with a focus on freedom of expression and the right to privacy in the Global South.  She also serves as Policy Vice-Chair for the American Bar Association’s International Human Rights Committee. Ayesha has a Masters in international law from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.


Ana Beatriz Guimarães Passos and Guilherme Saraiva Grava, Brazil.

Passos and Grava will study the use of dangerous speech by the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, with a specific focus on the attacks directed at the press and journalists. Such rhetoric not only represents a potential threat to the country’s democratic institutions and the freedom of speech in general, but also raises concerns about the increase of the risk of violence perpetrated against these individuals while exercising their profession.

Ana Beatriz Guimarães Passos is a Brazilian lawyer and a Ph.D. candidate in Law and Development at FGV Direito SP. Guilherme Saraiva Grava is also a Brazilian lawyer. He teaches law at Centro Universitário Paulistano. Both have Master of Laws degrees in Law and Development from FGV Direito SP. Their research mainly focuses on the study of legal institutions and their relation to political, economic, and social development.


Katarina Damčević, Croatia

Damčević will examine the increase of hate speech against Croatia’s Serbs, communicated and perpetuated by different mnemonic actors such as football fans, members of war veterans’ organizations, and politicians. The Serb minority in Croatia remain in a sensitive position largely due to the certain groups’ and individuals’ misuse and instrumentalization of hateful speech and contested symbols for political gain.

Katarina Damčević is a doctoral student and teaching assistant at the University of Tartu, Estonia. Her research focuses on hate speech and contested symbols in post-conflict societies and narratives of nation-building, primarily in the post-Yugoslav context. She is interested in conflicted meanings associated with symbols from the World War II Ustasha regime and their use by various mnemonic actors in contemporary Croatia.  She co-founded the research group dedicated to the development of a semiotic framework for the analysis of different types of conflicts, with emphasis on the multi-faceted nature of conflicts and the dynamics of meanings surrounding them. The group designed a course and organized several events and workshops in Estonia and Croatia in the past two years. You can find Katarina on Twitter @kdamcevic.


Paweł Trzaskowski, Poland

Trzaskowski’s project discusses the instances of dangerous speech that targeted Silesians infected with COVID-19. Silesia is a distinct region of Poland that during the first months of the coronavirus outbreak was the epicenter of pandemic in this country. The Silesians are an ethnic minority in Poland. During 2020, Silesians were ostracized, both online and in real life situations to the point that government officials had to issue statements to mitigate the attacks.

Paweł Trzaskowski is a Polish scholar based at the University of Warsaw. He has obtained two MA degrees (at the Faculty of Polish Studies and at the Institute of English Studies) and is about to complete his PhD degree in the very near future. His PhD research discusses the manipulative language of online comments and the mechanisms that trigger dangerous emotions of those who produce and receive such texts. Paweł has also written several scholarly articles and co-authored a book on the topic of unethical language, a subject that shares key principles with the concept of Dangerous Speech. He was also a lecturer at the University of Warsaw as well as a member and the secretary of the Ethical Language Commission of the Council for the Polish Language. In his spare time he rides a road bike.


Rina Komiya, Japan

Komiya will examine “dog whistle” type speech in Japan directed at ethnic Koreans who are permanent residents in Japan, commonly referred to as Zainichi Koreans. She will explore speech used by ultra-rightist groups that are now gaining political power through the mainstream political process and see how it triggers aggressive reactions against Zainichi Koreans in the realm of social media.

Rina Komiya is a Japanese human rights practitioner with a strong background in refugee protection. She has worked for NGOs and the United Nations in different countries such as Japan, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Jordan, and Bangladesh. As a research fellow at a Japanese human rights organization Human Rights Now, she is currently working on a project of human rights abuses in social media. She holds a BA in Law from Waseda University, an MSc in Human Rights from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and an MSt in International Human Rights Law from the University of Oxford (with Distinction).

You can find more information about past GRI researchers here.

If you have questions or would like more information about the Global Research Initiative Fellowship, please contact