VF 2020

The Kellogg Institute for International Studies is welcoming its newest visiting fellows to campus this month – a diverse group of scholars that includes two returning visiting fellows.  

The seven members of the 2020-2021 cohort specialize in anthropology, history, political science, and sociology, and are at various stages of their academic careers. Several focus their research on Latin America, highlighting Kellogg’s longstanding strength in studies of the region.

During their fellowships, they will work on projects that address topics ranging from governance during a pandemic to the political and economic crisis in Venezuela.

Kellogg Assistant Director Denise Wright said that while the group’s on-campus experience will in some ways be shaped by the coronavirus pandemic, the Institute is committed to providing the elements that make its signature residential program for scholars unique: deep engagement with other scholars, a sense of community, and a physical and intellectual space that allows them to delve deeply into their research.

“None of our visiting fellows hesitated to accept their fellowship offers despite the uncertainty and challenges posed by the coronavirus,” she said.

Visiting Fellow Susan Shepler is an associate professor at the School of International Service at American University with extensive experience working in conflict-affected West Africa. She plans to spend her fellowship year at Kellogg completing a manuscript, tentatively entitled “Power You Can Trust”: Fractal Sovereignty in Sierra Leone, that examines how the global health community and the government of Sierra Leone responded to the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak. She will also study questions of democracy in fragile states.

COVID-19 has made it hard to predict the future, Shepler said, but “I hope to be able to meet with students and fellow researchers as much as possible while on campus. I’m also ready to work with others to find innovative ways to allow those connections to happen online if necessary.”

This year’s cohort also includes two returning visiting fellows, Francisco R. Rodríguez and David Smilde, both Venezuela experts. Rodríguez is the director and founder of Oil for Venezuela, a nonprofit that seeks to provide depoliticized, transparent, and sustainable solutions to the country’s humanitarian crisis. He was a visiting fellow in the spring of 2005. During his current fellowship, he will work on a project entitled “The Unraveling of Venezuela’s Populist Experiment: 2013-2019,” which examines the political economy underlying the policy decisions that led to Venezuela’s economic collapse.

Smilde, a spring 2001 visiting fellow, is the Charles A. and Leo M. Favrot Professor of Human Relations at Tulane University and a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), where he founded the blog Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights.

He said his current visiting fellowship allows him to step back from the demands of his academic career and focus on the first half of a two-volume book project, Venezuela's Transition to Illiberalism, Vol.1: Hugo Chávez and 21st Century Socialism, about the crisis in Venezuela.

“The writing process requires a community to help you break through the conceptual eddies you inevitably find yourself in, and jumpstart your thinking process through external stimulation,” Smilde said. “Going to another academic space for a period of time, with different colleagues, all of whom have areas of specialization that are relevant to yours, provides a perfect ecosystem to avoid stagnation and push your thinking forward.”

The other 2020-2021 visiting fellows are:

• Paula Alonso, an associate professor of history and international affairs at The George Washington University, where she is a historian of politics in Latin America with a focus on Argentina.  Her research addresses institutions, politics, the press, and cultural history. Her fellowship project, “The Politics of Democracy: Argentina and the Atlantic World, 1860-1930,” explores the interaction between the idea and the practice of democracy.

Candelaria Garay, a Ford Foundation Associate Professor of Democracy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She studies social policy, collective action and party politics, and environmental politics, with a focus on Latin America.

While at Kellogg, she plans to finish her second book, Labor Coalitions in Unequal Democracies, which examines why coalitions between labor unions and social movements of informal and/or rural workers have formed in some developing countries and not in others.

Alonso and Garay will be visiting fellows during the spring semester; the others will hold fellowships for the entire academic year.

Denisa Jashari, a historian and Latin Americanist who will begin her appointment as an assistant professor of Latin American history at the University of North Carolina Greensboro in 2021. She studies modern Latin America, urban history, political culture, social movements, the Cold War, and oral history and memory.

While at Kellogg, she will revise her dissertation, “Cartographies of Conflict: Political Culture and Urban Protest in Chilean Shantytowns, 1872-1994,” into a book manuscript. The project examines the contested physical, conceptual, and geographical place of the urban poor in Chile’s capital from the end of the 19th century to the late 20th century.

Sara Niedzwiecki, an assistant professor of politics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research focuses on the politics of social policy and on multilevel governance in Latin America.

While at Kellogg, Niedzwiecki will work on a project entitled “Immigrants’ Access to Social Protection in Latin America,” which examines the extent to which states, markets, and families protect immigrants from sickness, poverty, and old age and provides the first systematic analysis of immigrants’ access to social services and transfers in the region.

Niedzwiecki called it an “honor” to be a visiting fellow and follow in the footsteps of scholars who have shaped her understanding of politics in Latin America. She plans to use her fellowship to work on a book on social policy and immigration.

“While I have been working on this project for the past year, it is in an early enough stage to be fundamentally shaped by a productive exchange with other fellows, faculty, and students,” she said. “It is a privilege to have the opportunity to focus on this new project exclusively, with fresh and creative eyes, and to receive feedback from extraordinary scholars at Kellogg.”