Professor of Political Science
Interim Chair of International Studies, 2021-22
Spring 2023 office hours
Mon. – 11:00am-12:00pm
I am a Professor of Political Science and International Studies at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA. I came to Allegheny in 1999 after receiving my Ph.D. in Government at the University of Texas, Austin and my B.A. in Political Science, with a minor in Spanish, from Central College in Pella, Iowa. In May 2021 I received a doctorate in humane letters, honoris causa, from my alma mater.
I teach classes at Allegheny in the field of comparative politics, with a focus on Latin America. My classes include Introduction to Comparative Politics, Immigration and Citizenship, U.S.-Latin American relations, Latin American Politics, Politics of Memory, Mexican Politics, and Megacities. I strive to bring my research into the classroom, as I believe that students benefit greatly from seeing academics as practitioners of their craft. Doing research keeps academics fresh and alert to the many analytical challenges of understanding our complex and shifting world.
I was a Fulbright Scholar at the Catholic University of Chile in Santiago, from January-July 2019. While there, I taught a class on Immigration to undergraduate students at the Catholic University of Chile in Santiago, gave some local lectures, and collaborated on a research project with Professor Carla Alberti.
Over the last several years, I have been working with Guillermo Trejo (University of Notre Dame) and Sandra Ley (CIDE, Mexico City), on research related to criminal violence in Mexico. We are particularly interested in how some communities are successful in resisting organized criminal groups in the context of multiple drug wars in Mexico. We published an article together in 2019 entitled, “Indigenous Resistance to Criminal Governance: Why Regional Ethnic Autonomy Institutions Protect Communities from Narco Rule.” I am currently working on a book project with Trejo examining community resistance to organized criminal groups in different parts of Mexico. Sandra Ley and I recently published a research note about the low homicide rate in Yucatán in the Journal of Politics in Latin America in February 2022.
From the beginning of my career, I have focused on how citizens organize collectively to make demands and to obtain rights. Early in my career, I published three books on ethnic organizing in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas: To See With Two Eyes: Peasant Activism and Indian Autonomy in Chiapas, Mexico; and with Aída Hernández and Jan Rus, Mayan Lives, Mayan Utopias and Tierra, Autonomía, y Libertad.
I co-authored two papers on labor relations in Mexico with Tomas Nonnenmacher (my husband, an economist at Allegheny) and Lee Alston, titled “Coercion, Culture, and Contracts: Labor and Debt on Henequen Haciendas in Yucatán, Mexico, 1870–1915” and “The Organization of Hacienda Labor during the Mexican Revolution: Evidence from Yucatán.” In these papers, we study labor relations on henequen haciendas in Yucatán, Mexico, specifically how employers used debt contracts to tie workers, both legally and culturally, to haciendas. I also became interested in looking at why Maya people in Yucatán were not organizing around ethnic identity, as they were in Chiapas. I published this work in the article, “Ethnic Mobilization among the Maya of Yucatán.”
Yucatec anthropologist Patricia Fortuny and I wrote a research note on the collective organization of Yucatec migrants in San Francisco: “Yucatec Maya Organizations in San Francisco, California: Ethnic Identity Formation across Migrant Generations.” Rodrigo Llanes and I collaborated on an article about multicultural legislation in Yucatán entitled, “Reformas Multiculturales para los Mayas de Yucatán.” Tom Nonnenmacher and I are working on a project currently that examines migration to Mérida, Yucatán for safety and security.
From 2014-2018 I worked with a team of colleagues from colleges that form part of the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) on a multidisciplinary project focused on Mexico City. We approached the city from several disciplinary angles, while reading similar books and tying our individual projects to these common readings. I worked with Kenyon sociologist, Jennifer Johnson, to examine security in two marginal neighborhoods in Mexico City, Santa Fe and La Polvorilla. We published our joint effort in a book entitled, Mapping the Megalopolis: Order and Disorder in Mexico City.
Over the last several years, I have been working with Guillermo Trejo (University of Notre Dame) and Sandra Ley (CIDE, Mexico City), on research related to criminal violence in Mexico. We are particularly interested in how some communities are successful in resisting organized criminal groups in the context of multiple drug wars in Mexico. We published an article together in 2019 entitled, “Indigenous Resistance to Criminal Governance: Why Regional Ethnic Autonomy Institutions Protect Communities from Narco Rule.” I am currently working on a book project with Trejo examining community resistance to organized criminal groups in different parts of Mexico.
My undergraduate advisor and mentor, Roderic Ai Camp, asked me to join him in writing the seventh edition of Politics in Mexico: Path of a New Democracy, a textbook published by Oxford University Press.
Other research and presentations can be accessed via my Curriculum Vita or my Google Scholar pages.
I played Division III tennis and continue to be an avid player. One of my greatest joys is reading literary fiction.