Amy Erica Smith (PhD, University of Pittsburgh), a 2016–17 visiting fellow, is assistant professor of political science at Iowa State University. In her research, Smith asks how citizens in new and less-developed democracies learn the political information, attitudes, and behavior that make democracy work. She is particularly interested in the ways disadvantaged groups and racial and religious minorities identify their interests and seek representatives who look like and think like themselves. With a regional focus on Latin America and especially Brazil, much of her work emphasizes the importance of informal social ties and religious organizations. 
At Kellogg, Smith will complete the book manuscript “The Culture Wars in Another America: Evangelicals, Catholics, and Brazilian Democracy.” She is examining why Brazilian evangelicals and Catholics have become highly active in recent Brazilian elections, but in ways distinctive from evangelicals and Catholics in the United States. Ultimately, she wants to understand how religious mobilization affects the quality of Brazilian democracy. She draws on data she collected during a Fulbright fellowship in Brazil in 2014, as well as in other survey projects.

Among Smith’s recent publications are “Talking it Out: Political Conversation and Learning in Unequal Contexts” (British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming) and “Incorporating Marginal Citizens and Voters: The Conditional Electoral Effects of Targeted Social Assistance in Latin America” (with Matthew Layton), Comparative Political Studies 48, 7 (2015).

Previously, she spent two years as a research coordinator for the Latin American Public Opinion Project at Vanderbilt University.

Thematic Interests

Informal social ties and religious organizations

Current Research

The Culture Wars in Another America:  Evangelicals, Catholics, and Brazilian Democracy


Upcoming Events


February 23 to February 24
2018 Human Development Conference
Conferences/Workshops, Undergraduate Programs
Abigail Midlige, Tommy Emmet
February 23
The Curious Case of Political Liberalization: A Step to Democratization or an Authoritarian Survival Strategy?
Working Groups, Comparative Politics Workshop
M. Tahir Kilavuz


February 26
Diálogo: Journalism, Violence, and Freedom of Speech in Mexico
Working Groups, Latin American History Working Group, Mexico Working Group
Katherine Corcoran, Gema Santamaría
February 26
Deadline: Experiencing the World (ETW) Fellowships
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February 26
Deadline: Doctoral Research Grants