Associate Professor in the Qualitative Study of Comparative Political Institutions
Research Interests: Comparative Judicial Politics, Latin American Politics, Qualitative Methods
I am the Associate Professor in the Qualitative Study of Comparative Political Institutions in the Department of Politics and International Relations, and a Professorial Fellow of Nuffield College. In 2018 I received the Philip Leverhulme Prize in Politics and International Relations.
My research seeks to understand the impact of international human rights law in domestic judicial politics. My book Shifting Legal Visions: Judicial Change and Human Rights Trials in Latin America (Cambridge University Press) shows that the diffusion of international legal ideas by local activists explains why some Latin American judiciaries chose to decisively punish those responsible for serious human rights violations perpetrated during dictatorships and armed conflicts. The book has won several awards: Herman Pritchett Best Book Award from the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association; Best Book Award from the Human Rights Section of the International Studies Association; and Donna Lee Van Cott Best Book Award from the Political Institutions Section of the Latin American Studies Association. Part of this research also appeared in Comparative Politics (July 2014) in an article entitled 'Persuade Them or Oust Them: Crafting Judicial Change and Transitional Justice in Argentina.' I've also published about the impact of human rights trials on public opinion in The International Journal of Human Rights.
I am currently working on two new projects. The first one tries to explain the influence of the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights among Latin American high courts. The goal is to identify the conditions under which international courts find reliable partners among domestic judges, and trace the processes whereby international jurisprudence becomes a routine reference point for local courts. This form of transjudicial communication has important implications, not only for the power of international courts, but also for the effectiveness of human rights norms. The first paper from this project appeared in International Studies Quartely.
The second project, in collaboration with Nara Pavao from the University of Pernambuco (Brazil), examines the impact of anti-corruption judicial activism in Latin America. Like never before, courts in Latin America are investigating and punishing corruption at the highest level, with far reaching implications. While some of the consequences of anti-corruption judicial activism are readily observable, others prove much more elusive, and deserve closer scrutiny. In particular, we know little about whether or how the fight against corruption led by judges and prosecutors affects public opinion. Specifically, we are interested in examining the effects of anti-corruption judicial activism on emotions, tolerance for corruption, political cyncism, and leadership preferences. Another part of the project seeks to explain variation in the intensity of anti-corruption judicial activism across countries.
I have also co-authored a series of papers on the political economy of vote buying and intimidation during electoral campaigns. Using original post-electoral survey data from several Latin American countries, our work explores the extent of these practices, what citizens think about them, and who gets targeted by parties. Some of our findings appeared in two articles published in the American Journal of Political Science, 'Vote Buying and Social Desirability Bias: Experimental Evidence from Nicaragua' (January 2012) and 'The Conditionality of Vote Buying Norms: Experimental Evidence from Latin America' (January 2014), in paper in Comparative Political Studies (July 2015), and in a piece in the Latin American Research Review (December 2018).
I recieved my Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame in 2012. My thesis won APSA's 2013 Edward S. Corwin Award for the best doctoral dissertation in the field of Public Law.