Cynthia Miller-Idriss

Associate Professor of International Education and Educational Sociology

Cynthia Miller-Idriss

Phone: +1-212-992-9374
Office Hours: Wednesdays 2-4 p.m. (by appointment)

I conduct research on a range of topics related to identity, nationalism, right-wing extremism, citizenship, and education in international and comparative contexts. I am currently the PI or co-PI for three major research projects.

My first project, which has been funded by the Goethe Institute, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, will result in a book tentatively titled The Extreme Goes Mainstream?: Youth Culture and the New Right-Wing in Germany. The book traces transformations in contemporary right-wing extremist youth subculture in Germany, focusing in particular on the recent escalation in the use of symbols and codes among right-wing extremist and neo-Nazi youth in Germany in the form of tattoos, slogans, t-shirts, and particular brands of clothing, sneakers, or music labels. In tracing the transformation, commercialization and commodification of right-wing extremist symbols and codes since 1945, I argue that the increasing appeal of and participation in the extreme right-wing on the part of German youth today can partially be explained by the popularity of these new coded symbols. The book draws on a digital archive of right-wing extremist images (both historical and contemporary) and will also include planned qualitative and ethnographic research with right-wing youth, police, school and legal authorities, and anti-fascist activists in Berlin and Brandenburg, Germany.  For recent media interviews on this project, see (in German)

or (in French)

The second project, which I am conducting together with colleagues at the Social Science Research Council, is an examination of internationalization and interdisciplinarity in higher education in the U.S. and will result in a book (co-authored with Mitchell Stevens and Seteney Shami), Teaching the World: How American Universities Organize Knowledge About the Rest of the World (under contract with Princeton University Press). With nearly $1M in funding from the U.S. Department of Education, we collected data for the U.S. portion of the research from 2005-2008 with a focus on four overlapping regions of the world: the Middle East, South Asia, Eurasia/Russia, and Central Asia. The project had a sequential mixed-methods research design consisting of 17 qualitative site visits to 12 U.S. campuses, during which we conducted hundreds of interviews with university administrators and faculty as well as focus groups with students and faculty and many hundred hours of observation; statistical analysis of the U.S. Department of Education's national (EELIAS) database on area studies centers; national surveys of students and area studies centers; and document analysis of hundreds of area studies center proposals, reports, and other university documentation. A second book manuscript from this project will be an edited volume (together with Seteney Shami) on Middle East Studies in the U.S. university.

The third project extends my work on the genetic and cultural understandings of collective belonging, which I studied in my first book (Blood and Culture: Youth, Right-Wing Extremism, and Belonging in Contemporary Germany , Duke University Press 2009), to the study of kinship and family reproduction. This historical project focuses on the pre-commercial era of fertility treatments in the U.S. and in particular on medical school programs. In addition to archival research in medical college and national associational archives, I am conducting oral histories with physicians, sperm donors, and families who conceived through fertility treatments in the pre-commerical era (approximately 1945-1980).

Photo Credit:  Milas Smith Photography

Affiliated Appointments

  • Research Associate, Social Science Research Council
  • Affiliated Appointment as Associate Professor of Sociology, New York University Department of Sociology
  • Affilated Faculty Member, Institute for Education and Social Policy, NYU 

Selected Publications

  • Miller-Idriss (2009). Blood and Culture: Youth, Right-Wing Extremism, and National Belonging in Contemporary Germany. Duke University Press.
  • Miller-Idriss, Cynthia, Mitchell Stevens, and Seteney Shami. Teaching the World: How US Universities Organize Knowledge about the Rest of the World. (Under contract at Princeton University Press).
  • Miller-Idriss, Cynthia and Fabian Virchow, eds. Cultural Dimensions of Right-Wing Extremism in Comparative Perspective. (Forthcoming from Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften in 2013).
  • Shami, Seteney and Cynthia Miller-Idriss (eds). At the Precipice: Middle East Studies in the American University. (Under review). Edited manuscript in progress.
  • Miller-Idriss, Cynthia and Bess Rothenberg 2012. “Ambivalence, Pride, and Shame: Conceptualizations of German Nationhood. Nations and Nationalism 18(1).
  • Miller-Idriss, Cynthia and Seteney Shami. 2012. “Graduate Student Training and the Reluctant Internationalism of Social Science in the USA.” Research in Comparative and International Education, 7(1): 50-60.
  • Miller-Idriss, Cynthia and Elizabeth Hanauer. 2011. "Exporting Higher Education: Offshore Campuses in the Middle East.” Comparative Education, 47(2): 181-207.
  • Miller-Idriss, Cynthia. (2010). “Vom Umgang mit Rechten Jugendlichen: Zur Rolle der Schule bei der Lösung sozialer Probleme“ (Working with Right-Wing Youth: The Role of the School in Social Problem-Solving). In: Geissler-Jagodzinski, Christian; Overwien, Bernd (Eds.): Elemente einer zeitgemäßen politischen Bildung. Berlin, Münster: Lit-Verlag, pp.157-172.
  • Fox, Jon and Cynthia Miller-Idriss. “Everyday Nationhood.” Ethnicities. Volume 8, Number 4, December 2008, pp. 536-562. Fox, Jon and Cynthia Miller-Idriss. “The ‘Here and Now’ of Everyday Nationhood.” Ethnicities. Volume 8, Number 4, December 2008, pp. 573-576. Response article to Anthony Smith’s debate reply (Smith, Anthony. “The Limits of Everyday Nationhood.”) Ethnicities 2008 8: 563-573)
  • Miller-Idriss, Cynthia. "Everyday Understandings of Citizenship in Germany." Citizenship Studies. Volume 10, Number 5, November 2006, pp. 541-570.
  • Miller-Idriss, Cynthia. 2005. "Citizenship Education and Political Extremism in Germany: An Ethnographic Account." In Wilde, Stephanie, ed. Political and Citizenship Education: International Perspectives. Wallingford, United Kingdom: Symposium Press, pp. 101-122.
  • "Challenge and Change in the German Vocational Education System since 1990." Oxford Review of Education. Volume 28, Number 4, December 2002, pp. 473-490.


  • 2012 : Goethe Institute 2012 Interculture Prize in Sociology Intercultural Prize in Sociology (Interkulturpreises 2012: Soziologie)
  • 2012 : The Teagle Foundation, seed grant for “The Socrates Award Proposal Development,” with Jal Mehta
  • 2012 : The Ford Foundation of Cairo, subcontracted through the U.S. Social Science Research Council. “Higher Education and Social Inequality: Models, Tools and Transfers in Comparative Perspective (the U.S. and Egypt)”
  • 2011 : Deutsche Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD)/German Academic Exchange Service, Faculty Research Grant for “Performance and Commodification: Neo-Nazi Symbols in Germany since 1945”
  • 2011 : Deutsche Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD)/German Academic Exchange Service, Faculty Research Grant for “Performance and Commodification: Neo-Nazi Symbols in Germany since 1945”
  • 2010 : The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Short-Term Research Grant for “Performing Extremism: Youth Symbols and the Right-Wing in Germany”
  • 2010 : Daniel E. Griffiths Research Award (peer-reviewed award for best faculty book), NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, for Blood and Culture: Youth, Right-Wing Extremism, and National Belonging in Contemporary Germany
  • 2009 : Teagle Fellow, National Forum on the Future of Liberal Education
  • 2009 : The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Aufenthaltsbeihilfe Award for "Area Studies in the United States"
  • 2006 : Spencer Foundation Grant, “Race, Nation, and Identity for New Americans,” Co-Principal Investigator, with Ann Morning
  • 2006 : U.S. Department of Education, "Internationalization, Inter-Disciplinarity, and Boundary-Crossing." Senior Consultant with PI Seteney Shami; Grant Institutional Home is the Social Science Research Council.
  • 2004 : German Academic Exchange Service/American Institute for Contemporary German Studies
  • 2004 : The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Wiederaufnahme (Renewal) Fellowship

Degrees Held

  • Ph.D. University of Michigan 2003
  • M.P.P. University of Michigan 2000
    Public Policy
  • M.A. University of Michigan 1999
  • A.B. Cornell University 1994
    Magna Cum Laude, Sociology and German Area Studies


Courses Taught:

  • Globalization and Education (Undergraduate)
  • Terrorism, Extremism and Education (Undergraduate)
  • The Global Curriculum (Graduate)
  • Fieldwork: Data Collection(Graduate)
  • Fieldwork: Data Analysis (Graduate)
  • Sociology of Education in Developing Areas (Graduate)
  • Comparative Education Research: Qualitative Methods (Graduate)
  • Cross-Cultural Studies of Socialization (Graduate)
  • Comparative Education (Graduate)
  • Principles of Empirical Research (Graduate)
  • International Education Doctoral Seminar (Graduate)
  • Introducation to Sociology (Undergraduate)

Research Interests

  • Nationalism, Citizenship and National Identity
  • Right-wing Extremism and Neo-Nazism
  • Youth Culture
  • Comparative Higher Education Systems
  • Area Studies and Universities
  • Pathways for Non-College-Bound Youth
  • Cultural Sociology
  • Sociology of Education
  • Qualitative and International/Comparative Research Methods
  • Research Design