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Latin American and Latino Studies

Latin American and Latino Studies (LALS) - Political Science
Speaker Series, Spring 2021

Organizer: Prof. Jorge Alves, Political Science and LALS Advisory Board

Sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation


Jennifer Pribble

Chile Rewrites Its Constitution: A Turning Point for Democracy?

Dr. Jennifer Pribble, Associate Professor of Political Science & Coordinator of Global Studies, University of Richmond

February 10 (Wednesday), 12:15-1:30 pm

Dr. Pribble will focus on Chile’s upcoming Constituent Assembly, an unprecedented turn of events for one of the wealthiest and most consolidated democracies in Latin America, that nevertheless had not dealt with many troubling legacies from its authoritarian past. How did the Constituent Assembly come about, and how does it relate to the wave of violent public protests assailing Chile in the past few years? What is unique and what is common about the Chilean process? What can we expect from the new Constitution?

Jenny Pribble is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Coordinator of Global Studies at the University of Richmond. Her research focuses on issues of comparative political economy and her book, Welfare and Party Politics in Latin America (2013, Cambridge University Press) develops and tests a theory to explain why some Latin American states have been more effective than others at reforming social policy in a universalistic direction. Jenny's new research project analyzes subnational variation in the quality of public healthcare in Chile. She is also working on a project to chart the evolution of cash transfer policies in 10 Latin American countries, following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Jenny's research has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including Latin American Research Review, the American Sociological Review, Comparative Politics, and Studies in Comparative International Development. She received her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2008


Natalie Alcoba
Natalie Alcoba

Cora Fernández Anderson
Cora Fernández Anderson

Women Movements and Reproductive Rights Reforms in Argentina
Natalie Alcoba, Journalist, Buenos Aires (formerly Vice Canada) (Website) (Twitter)
Dr. Cora Fernández Anderson, Assistant Professor of Comparative Politics, Mount Holyoke College (Google Scholar)

March 1 (Monday), 12:15-1:30 pm

This panel focuses on the recent legal abortion reforms which make Argentina one of the few countries in Latin America in which women may now legally choose to interrupt a pregnancy without specific justifications. Our panelists will provide both an account of the passage of the law and its immediate antecedents and a broader perspective on the mobilizational strategies of women movements in Argentina as well as the contextual factors which made this possible. The panelists will also consider the aftermath of the reforms in Argentina and the implications for the rest of Latin America.

Cora Fernandez Anderson is an Assistant Professor of Comparative Politics at Mount Holyoke College. Her research explores social mobilization as a possible path towards social change. She is the author of the book Fighting for Abortion Rights in Latin America. Social Movements, State Allies and Institutions. 

Natalie Alcoba is an Argentinian-Canadian journalist whose work stretches across form and geography. She launched VICE News Canada in 2015 and served as its Managing Editor for four years, shepherding coverage on national issues such as the crisis of unsafe drinking water in Indigenous communities, the opioid epidemic and the legalization of weed. In 2019, Natalie returned to reporting and her roots. She is currently based in Buenos Aires. She has written powerful pieces covering the women’s movement in Argentina for Vice, The Daily Telegraph, The Globe and Mail, Al Jazeera, and WNYC’s The Takeaway.


Jorge Derpic
Jorge Derpic

Calla Hummel
Calla Hummel

What’s Behind Bolivia’s Pandemic Woes?

Dr. Jorge Derpic, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Georgia
Dr. Calla Hummel Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Miami (Google Scholar)

March 8 (Monday), 12:15-1:30 pm


This panel will provide a nuanced account of the social, economic and political factors behind Bolivia’s struggles with COVID-19 pandemic, which generated unprecedented economic strain on the most vulnerable populations and on a poorly prepared health system. Dr. Hummel will share results of recent research examining how low government legitimacy is linked to variation in subnational government policy responses to the pandemic and citizen compliance. Dr. Derpic will link current struggles to the broader social and political crises which have been exacerbated since the contested election that led to the ouster of Evo Morales and the reopening of longstanding ethnic wounds in response to the interim Jeanine Añez government. What prospects does the recent electoral victory of the MAS bring for social healing, economic recovery and justice?

Jorge C. Derpic is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Georgia. His work deals with collective violence responses to crime in urban and rural Bolivia.

Calla Hummel is an assistant professor in the University of Miami’s Department of Political Science. She studies when and why informal workers organize and the impacts that the world’s two billion informal workers have on local and national politics. She is also tracking COVID-19 policy responses as the Bolivia team leader with the University of Miami’s Observatory for the Containment of COVID-19 in the Americas. Dr. Hummel uses statistical, ethnographic, survey, computational, and formal methods. She conducts research with street vendor unions in La Paz, Bolivia and São Paulo, Brazil. Brazil. Her research has been published in Lancet Global Health, the British Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, Latin American Politics and Society, and Latin American Research Review, among others, and supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Education, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Washington, and the University of Miami. She received her PhD from the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin.


Sandy Placibo

Caribbean Women and Anti-Imperialist Organizing: Scenes from the 1800s to the Present.

Prof. Sandy Plácido, Assistant Professor of History, Queens College and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow

March 22 (Monday), 12:15-1:30 pm


Sandy Plácido is an assistant professor in the History Department at Queens College, and a researcher at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute. She received her Ph.D. from the American Studies Program at Harvard University. Her research and teaching examine social movements in the Americas, with a special focus on the contributions of women and people of African and Caribbean descent. Her book manuscript, A Global Vision: Dr. Ana Livia Cordero and the Puerto Rican Liberation Struggle, emphasizes the influential role of Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans in Cold War-era freedom struggles by centering the life of Ana Livia Cordero, a physician who forged connections between anti-imperialist movements across the Third World. Placido worked to preserve Cordero's archival collection at Harvard's Schlesinger Library, and she has received support for her research from the Ford and Mellon Foundations.


Victor Araújo

Brazilian Politics in the 21st Century: From Lula to Bolsonaro.

Dr. Victor Araújo, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Zurich

April 12 (Monday), 12:15-1:30 pm


After a short period of political and economic stability (1995-2013), Brazil has steeped in a deep institutional crisis induced by a corruption scandal that has plagued the main Brazilian party, Work’s Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT), and a prolonged economic downturn started in 2014. The victory of Jair Bolsonaro in the 2018 presidential elections inaugurated a new era in Brazilian politics. Mainly supported by extreme-right radical groups, evangelicals, and voters disillusioned with traditional parties in Brazil, Bolsonaro is a ruler with an authoritarian profile and a discourse anti-establishment. What should we expect from this political scene? Is the Brazilian democracy under threat?

Dr. Victor Araújo is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Zurich. He studies comparative politics, voting behavior, and development economics. His research draws on experimental designs and qualitative fieldwork in developing countries with a special focus on Latin American countries. Before joining UZH, Araújo received a Ph.D. in political science from the University of São Paulo, Brazil. He also was a visiting scholar at the Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA, Brazil) and Duke University. His work has been published or is forthcoming at Comparative Political Studies, Research & Politics, and Brazilian Political Science Review, among others.


Vanessa Perez

Who are the Republican Puerto Ricans (in FL)?

Prof. Vanessa Perez, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Queens College, and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow

April 26 (Monday), 12:15-1:30 pm


Vanessa M. Perez is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Queens College. She specializes in American politics, with a focus on electoral institutions, campaigns, race and ethnicity, political behavior, health care policy, and research methods. Dr. Perez also previously worked in the nonprofit sector in Washington, D.C. She is currently working on two projects, one on the impact of strict voting laws on turnout through a historical perspective and another analyzing the voting behavior of recent Puerto Rican arrivals to Florida in the 2018 midterm elections. Dr. Perez holds a PhD, MPhil, and BA in Political Science from Columbia University.


Juan Luis Rodriguez

Language, Diaspora and Online Affective Stance in the Venezuelan Diaspora

Prof. Juan Luis Rodríguez Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Queens College, and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow

May 10 (Monday), 12:15-1:30 pm


This talk will explore affective stancetaking in online performances of Venezuelan Identity in the US and Chile. It will show how a Venezuelan diasporic identity is being formed by the mobilization of linguistic forms in different linguistic contexts across the continent.

Juan Luis Rodríguez is Assistant Professor of anthropology at Queens College, CUNY. His expertise is on semiotic and linguistic ideologies, specifically how these are mobilized to produce public political life in the process of state formation and the formation of diasporic identities. He is interested in how material circumstances affect the way in which politicians, and the voters who support them, conceive of the linguistic practices and performances that sustain their relationship. His work relies on a discourse-centered approach to language and culture taking instances of language use, and performative practices in context, as the starting point of his ethnographic research.​

 Office Information


Due to the impact of the COVID-19 virus, there are currently no regular in-person office hours. For all matters, please send an email to the director listed below.

Director: Zadia Feliciano
Office: Powdermaker 306F
Phone: ​718-997-5442

Advisory Board
Jorge A. Alves
Political Science Department

Sara Hinojos
Media Studies Department

Brais Outes-León
Hispanic Languages and Literatures Department

Juan Luis Rodriguez
Anthropology Department


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