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About Me

As a scholar and teacher, I seek to do work that helps us understand the political consequences of marginalization. My research explores how patterns of economic, social, and political marginalization shape democratic processes and institutions across the Americas. Although elections are common throughout the hemisphere, the region’s political systems often fall far short of promoting political and social inclusion. My scholarship analyzes how limited political representation and persistent economic and social marginalization distort political institutions and processes in formally democratic regimes. I am particularly interested in understanding how the failings of democracy impede ordinary citizens’ efforts to obtain a voice in politics and improve their well-being.

In my work, I have shown how political parties’ failures to provide representation undermine public support for egalitarian policies, weaken partisan ties, and threaten the maintenance of party systems and democracy. I have further demonstrated how marginalization of historically excluded groups, like women, Indigenous, and Afro-descendant Latin Americans, undermines trust in the state, weakens democratic values, and jeopardizes democratic processes.

Triángulos, Melissa Dupont (Peru), 2017 (c) Texture Photo
Triángulos, Melissa Dupont (Peru), 2017 (c) Texture Photo

As a teacher and mentor, I aim to bring students into the work of understanding and critiquing the practice of politics. I see teaching as an inherently dynamic process in which I challenge students to think analytically and ask critical questions about political power, and they challenge me to do the same. I love the vibrant ideas that emerge as students grapple with understanding the dynamics of power.

Multiple markers of distinction underscore the significance of my contributions. My research on party failure has appeared in leading outlets in political science and Latin American studies. My book Bankrupt Representation and Party System Collapse, which argues that representational failures cause party systems to collapse and create openings for democratically ambivalent actors, received two book honors from sections of the Latin American Studies Association. My gender inequality research has been published in the American Political Science Review and received a best paper award.

My ongoing work examines the damaging consequences of economic and ethnoracial inequalities for democratic institutions and democratic citizenship. This work includes a book with Chris Witko, Nate Kelly and Peter Enns — Hijacking the Agenda. The book received the Gladys Kammerer Award from the American Political Science Association, and the Russell Sage Foundation provided the funding to clean and analyze the large congressional speech corpus used in the book. This line of research has also produced multiple articles in highly visible outlets, with other articles under review and a new book in the works. This book manuscript (with Nate Kelly) examines how ethnoracial hierarchies shape democratic attitudes and behaviors across the Americas and draws on dozens of public opinion surveys, original survey experiments, and extensive field work in Peru.

I give invited talks at numerous leading universities across the United States and Latin America, I share my findings with policymakers via appearances at think tanks and government agencies across the region, and my work has been featured in public interest blogs and news stories.

I am currently a Professor of Political Science at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. I am a proud Pennsylvanian, and since my time as a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation, also a wistful one-time New Yorker. I am a life-long Tar Heel, having earned my MA and PhD at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. I am mom to a wise elven princess, and fond of time spent exploring. I tweet about politics, inequality, higher education, and other things that interest me at @prof_jmorgan.