Keeping up with Kellogg - Spring 2019

Volume 1 | Issue 1

Our students and scholars come to the Kellogg Institute for International Studies because of their shared interest in democracy and human development. When they leave campus, that doesn’t change. Keeping up with Kellogg is a semiannual feature highlighting the work of those connected with the Institute, both past and present. The links below spotlight what some members of the Kellogg community did in the spring of 2019, and more comprehensive lists of community news can be found via the links in each section.

We welcome your feedback – and any updates to share – at

What We’re Investigating: Religion and Right-leaning Movements in Latin American Politics

Amy Erica Smith
Former Kellogg Institute Visiting Fellow
Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Professor and Associate Professor of Political Science, 
Iowa State University

Across Latin America, right-leaning social movements are shaping politics in unprecedented ways – from the Colombian mobilization opposing the peace agreement to Brazilian organizing behind Jair Bolsonaro’s presidential bid. How should we understand these movements? What is driving them? And what are their consequences for Latin American democracy?

My new book Religion and Brazilian Democracy: Mobilizing the People of God (Cambridge University Press, 2019) – much of which I wrote in residence at the Kellogg Institute – examines religious engagement in leftist and rightist politics in Brazil. I discovered that religious competition has shaped the political stances of both evangelical and Catholic clergy in Brazil. Religious politicking improves democratic representation while strengthening support for the right (see also this soon-to-be-published article co-authored with former Visiting Fellow Taylor Boas). 

Now, more questions keep bubbling up. In a new panel study of Brazil’s 2018 elections, collaborators and I discovered that both previously unexploited demographic divides and democratic attitudes shaped the outcomes. To begin to theorize the contours of the “grassroots right” across Latin America, Lindsay Mayka, an assistant professor of government at Colby College, and I are editing a special issue of Latin American Politics and Society. Stay tuned for more questions on these movements, and maybe even some answers – including (fingers crossed) from Kellogg Institute alumni.

The "What We're..." series is a collection of brief reflections written by Kellogg-affiliated scholars on a subject of their choice, explaining a current topic of scholarly reflection – what they're excited about, concerned over, following closely, reading, etc. To submit a reflection, contact for more information.