I study comparative politics with research interests in ethnic and identity politics, inequality and development, citizenship, and social movements. I have a regional interest in Latin America. Here you will find a brief description of my current book project and some information on my on-going projects and works under review.
You can find my CV here.
How do social categories become political identities? I leverage the case of Brazil, where individuals have long capitalized on fluid racial boundaries to reclassify toward whiteness, but where in recent years this trend reversed itself toward blackness. I argue that this reversal is driven by the formation of a racialized political consciousness among the population, spurred by state-led efforts to incorporate lower-class sectors through educational expansion. Education has increased newly mobile citizens’ exposure to new information, social networks, and labor market experiences, leading many to challenge racial hierarchies and the national myth of racial unity. I build and test this argument with in-depth qualitative data collected during 15 months of fieldwork, quantitative analysis of census and pseudopanel data, and an originally designed survey and survey experiments. This project contributes a novel account of how individuals develop political consciousness in certain social categories and emphasizes the interaction between social structure and citizenship institutions in these processes.
Forthcoming. "Racial Reclassification and Political Identity Formation." World Politics.
2018. "The Racialized Effects of Social Programs in Brazil.'' Latin American Politics and Society 60, no. 1: 52-75.
Article - Online Appendix - Replication Files
Tenuous Pacts and Multiparty Coalitions: The Politics of Impeachment in Latin America (with Ken Roberts and Jose Sanchez)
When and why do legislatures impeach presidents? We analyze a recent wave of instability in Latin America and contend that coalitional politics is central to understanding presidential impeachment. Presidents in Latin America often govern with multiparty and ideologically heterogeneous coalitions that are built on and sustained by tenuous pacts. When political conditions sour, impeachment threats emerge and coalitions are tested. Presidents are likely to survive threats when coalitional pacts are sustained, preventing congressional allies from resorting to impeachment in acts of opportunism, self-preservation, or retaliation. We test this argument with comparative process-tracing analysis of six possible cases of impeachment in Paraguay, Brazil, and Peru. This analysis draws attention to the centrality of the intricate and contingent dynamics of intra-coalitional politics as a proximate cause of presidential impeachment, above and beyond more generic challenges associated with economic crises or political scandals, partisan composition of legislatures, mass social protest, or legal malfeasance. Manuscript.
What Is Political Identity? Concept Clarification with Insight from Brazil
References to “political identity” abound in political science scholarship, yet rarely do we offer clear definitions of the concept. This article seeks to clarify the concept by providing a definition that unites current usages in the literature and distinguishes political identity from the related concepts of social identity and political cleavages. I present critical discussion of three major usages in the literature and argue instead for a definition of political identity as categories of social membership that inspire group consciousness and shape individuals’ perceptions of power, broadly defined. To illustrate the empirical manifestations of this conceptualization and its analytical utility, I present qualitative analysis of in-depth interview data from Brazil and contrast individuals in the same racial category on the extent to which this identity inspires consciousness and shapes their interpretations of power. This article clarifies a commonly employed but rarely defined concept and offers a broadly applicable framework useful for diverse research agendas in identity politics scholarship and beyond. Manuscript.
Sources of Public Trust in Latin America’s Courts (with Whitney Taylor)
This article examines judicial trust in Latin America. Despite the integral role of the judiciary in democratic politics, popular conceptions depict courts as slow, expensive, and confusing, or even worse, simply spaces in which the party with the most money gets what they want. Upon closer examination in Latin America we see substantial variation in judicial trust both over time and between countries. Yet, we know little about the micro-foundations of institutional confidence. This article probes the relative importance of judicial system quality, subjective experiences with the judicial system, and factors more broadly related to individuals’ lived experience. Perceptions of discriminatory treatment in the courts drive institutional confidence above and beyond the impact of variables linked to the functioning of the courts. Further, we find that satisfaction with democracy, positive economic outlook, and perceptions of corruption are associated with judicial trust.
On the Study of Brazil’s ‘Once-Rising Poor’: Methodological Challenges and Samples from Recife,
Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo (with Ben Junge, Sean Mitchell, and Charles Klein)
This paper recounts the process and preliminary results of a survey-based investigation into the lifeways and political subjectivities of Brazil’s ‘once-rising poor’, the demographic sector comprised of poor and working-class people exposed to various forms of socioeconomic mobility during recent years. First, we reflect on challenges of maintaining a critical perspective on contentious class labels while planning an empirical survey about class-linked subjectivities. Next, we present survey data on demographic characteristics, material conditions, and class identifications for our sample (n=738). The portrait that emerges is one of economic precarity, heterogeneous experiences of socioeconomic mobility, and significant alienation from formal politics.
Racial Reclassification, Education Reform, and Political Identity Formation in Brazil, book project.
"Group Consciousness and Political Engagement: An Alternative Approach to Measurement with
Evidence from Brazil."