Faculty Publications

The Center for Latin American Studies faculty research regularly appears in leading academic journals and periodicals and is frequently cited by the press. Our faculty has addressed a variety of challenging issues related to Latin America, including human rights abuses, climate change, and immigration policy. Scroll down to learn more about LAS faculty’s innovative work, and check out some highlights from their published articles and books.  

 Core Faculty Publications:


Elizabeth Oglesby


Bio: Liz joined the LAS faculty in 2001 with an interdisciplinary background in Latin American Studies, Geography, and Sociology and previous experience working for non-governmental organizations in Central America. Her research interests include globalization and labor issues, human rights, and Central America, especially Guatemala.


Publications: The Guatemala Reader: History, Culture, Politics – published October 31, 2011 by Duke University Press.  By Greg Grandin (Editor), Deborah T. Levenson (Editor), Elizabeth Oglesby (Editor)“This reader brings together more than 200 texts and images in a broad introduction to Guatemala's history, culture, and politics. In choosing the selections, the editors sought to avoid representing the country only in terms of its long experience of conflict, racism, and violence. And so, while offering many perspectives on that violence, this anthology portrays Guatemala as a real place where people experience joys and sorrows that cannot be reduced to the contretemps of resistance and repression.” - Amazon.com


Educating Citizens in Postwar Guatemala: Historical Memory, Genocide, and the Culture of Peace by Elizabeth Oglesby. Published in Radical History Review, 01/2007, Volume 2007, Issue 97

"Oglesby examines the wake of the Guatemalan Commission for Historical Clarification in terms of a double movement...his article raises the issue of how the histories produced by truth commissions are used and implemented. It also noted a report issued by the Guatemalan Commission for Historical Clarification about the state-directed terror and genocide of the late 1970s and 1980s." - Abstract


Guatemala's Genocide Determination and the Spatial Politics of Justice

by Elizabeth Oglesby and Amy Ross. Published in

Space and Polity, 04/2009, Volume 13, Issue 1

“This paper focuses on the Guatemalan Commission for Historical Clarification's (CEH) determination that state violence in Guatemala between 1981 and 1983 constituted acts of genocide. The construction of the CEH's argument is analysed, together with its implications for political dynamics within post-war Guatemala. The potential new ‘geographies of justice’ that flow from the CEH's genocide argument are explored in terms of new venues and avenues for prosecution of Guatemalan genocide cases." - Abstract


Marcela Vasquez-Leon

Bio: Dr. Marcela Vásquez-León was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. She has an interdisciplinary background, with a Ph.D. in Anthropology and an M.S. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Arizona. She joined the LAS faculty in 2004 and holds a joint appointment with The Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology (BARA). She was made director of the Department for Latin American studies in 2016. Marcela’s research interests include environmental anthropology; political ecology; fisheries management and maritime anthropology; rural development and agricultural cooperatives; environmental justice; and human dimensions of global environmental change.



Free Markets and Fair Trade, Collective Livelihood Struggles, and the Cooperative Model: Two Case Studies from Paraguayby Vásquez-León, MarcelaLatin American Perspectives, 11/2010, Volume 37, Issue 6

"Two agricultural cooperatives in Paraguay illustrate different models of smallholders' collective livelihood struggles to enter international markets and achieve autonomy. One cooperative exports organic sugar and follows a strategy based on Fair Trade, independence from state bureaucracies, and alliances with international buyers and nongovernmental organizations. The other cooperative exports bananas to Argentina and follows a strategy based on free trade, regional market liberalization, and dependence on state bureaucracies. These cooperatives operate in a context of deep structural inequalities in which elements of a 35-year dictatorship mix with more recent regional and global integration and the consolidation of a democratic project."  - Abstract


Assessing Vulnerability to Climate Risk: The Case of Small-Scale Fishing in the Gulf of California, Mexicoby Marcela Vasquez-Leon

Latin American Journal of Aquatic Research, 07/2002, Volume 30, Issue 1

“This paper examines the interactions between the environment, political and economic policies, and changes in land use and land quality by focusing on one region in northwest Mexico where dramatic transformations have occurred since the early 1970s. A political ecology approach is used to examine the nature and causes of environmental change at different scales of analysis, to address the importance of meanings assigned to ecological systems, and the effect of human-environmental interactions on natural resources. The objective of the study is to uncover the different circumstances under which farmers and ranchers have affected environmental change and how land-use decisions interact with political, economic, and environmental drivers through history.” - Abstract

Hispanic Farmers and Farmworkers: Social Networks, Institutional Exclusion, and Climate Vulnerability in Southeastern Arizonaby Vasquez-Leon, Marcela

American Anthropologist, 09/2009, Volume 111, Issue 3

“In the U.S. Southwest, prolonged drought may force those most dependent on water to abandon their livelihoods. By focusing on Hispanic farmers and farmworkers, in this article I examine how ethnicity and other factors compound risk and create highly vulnerable groups. I use the concept of “social capital” to understand how the critically vulnerable access resources embedded in informal social networks of mutual aid to reduce their vulnerability. By contrasting their situation to that of Anglo farmers, I explore how social networks emerge as a result of diverse socioeconomic and ethnic contexts. Under a more permanent scenario of increased aridity, a better understanding of the risk management mechanisms deployed by vulnerable groups sheds light on how collective approaches build resilience and on the role of policy in promoting or inhibiting these approaches. I seek to contribute to discussions about the importance of sociocultural dynamics and policy decisions to improving society's adaptive capacity.” - Abstract



Margaret Wilder


Bio: Margaret Wilder is an associate professor of Latin American studies at The University of Arizona. She is also an associate research professor of environmental policy with the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy and an associate professor of geography and development. She earned a Ph.D. in geography and regional development from The University of Arizona in 2002 and holds a master’s degree in public policy studies from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in government and international affairs (with certification in Latin American studies) from the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Wilder’s research focuses on the political ecology of water and development in Latin America, water policy and water governance in Mexico, water and equity, and transformations in small-scale agriculture in northwest Mexico and Central America. Her recent research examines the interconnections of climatic change and the vulnerability of water resources in the U.S.-Mexico border region, and she is a principal investigator of several projects supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research.





Southwest climate gap: poverty and environmental justice in the US Southwest by Diana Liverman, Tracey Osborne, Margaret Wilder, and Laurel Bellante Published by The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability 19 January 2016

"From a climate justice perspective, this article examines how climate is experienced and embodied by low-income and marginalized communities in the US Southwest (Arizona and New Mexico)  across the health, energy, and food security spectrum." - Abstract  



Water, power and social transformation

by Margaret Wilder. Published by La revue électronique en sciences de l'environnement09/2005

"Power flows through water via control of water resources, access to water supply and distributive decisions about who has the right to water.  In recent years, global water conferences and national governments have increasingly asked whether water is a human right and a social good or an earned right and an economic good.  Water scarcity—whether “constructed” or “real”— enhances the potential for serious conflicts over water, especially in arid regions such as northern Mexico, where annual rainfall is less than 450 mm.  Discovery of how the relations of power are conveyed through water can uncover critical aspects of social transformation as well: the classic question of ‘who benefits? Who loses?’ in newer water management regimes." - Abstract  


Water Governance in Mexico: Political and Economic Aperatures and a Shifting State-Citizen Relationship

by Margaret Wilder

Ecology and Society, 06/2010, Volume 15, Issue 2

"Since the adoption of dramatic national water policy reforms in 1992, Mexico's water governance paradigm has had time to mature. This article analyzes Mexico's experience with water policy transition, based on research in irrigation districts and river basin councils in the northwestern state of Sonora." - Abstract


By Margaret Wilder, Ismael Aguilar-Barajasc , Nicolás Pineda-Pablosd , Robert G. Varadye , Sharon B. Megdalf , Jamie McEvoyg , Robert Meridethe , Adriana A. Zúñiga-Teráne and Christopher A. Scott. Published by Water International


“In the western US–Mexico border region, both countries’ authorities look to desalination as a means to meet increased demands for dwindling supplies. In addition to several existing or planned desalination plants, plans exist to develop projects along Mexico’s coasts to convert seawater into freshwater primarily for conveyance and consumption in the United States. Even though desalination systems have the potential to increase water supply in the region, there are associated consequences, costs and constraints. To understand the impacts of such binational desalination systems, this paper assesses, through a water-security framework, the case of a proposed desalination plant on the Upper Gulf of California. The analysis suggests that for binational desalination systems, there are several key areas of impact against which the benefits of increased water supply must be weighed.” - Abstract


Jennifer Cyr

Bio: Dr. Cyr is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Latin American Studies at the University of Arizona. Her research interests focus on representation, democratization, and institutional stability and change in Latin America. Her work is informed a great deal by the time she spent in Latin America and the relationships she has cultivated with friends and colleagues in the region. She has carried out extensive fieldwork in Peru, Venezuela, and Bolivia, and has also lived and researched in many others countries in Latin America, including Brazil, Argentina, and Chile.


Making or Breaking Politics: Social Conflicts and Party-System Change in Democratic Bolivia by Jennifer Cyr

Studies in Comparative International Development, 09/2015, Volume 50, Issue 3

"Why do only some social conflicts lead to party-system change? In Bolivia, the recent politicization of the regional autonomy movement represented a stark difference with how conflicts had affected party-system dynamics in the past. This study argues that social conflicts led to party-system change in Bolivia thanks largely to the strategies of ruling elites." - Abstract


Mapping political legitimacy in Latin America

By Timothy J Power and Jennifer M. Cyr

International Social Science Journal, 06/2009, Volume 60, Issue 196

"We present a general overview of political legitimacy in Latin America circa 2005. We first discuss ways in which the concept of legitimacy has coloured debates on Latin American politics. Secondly, we generate empirical information on contemporary Latin American legitimacy by replicating the innovative measurement approach of Bruce Gilley. We use this multidimensional legitimacy score to generate cross-national rankings of legitimacy in contemporary Latin America. We then examine how our new legitimacy scores correlate with a wide variety of performance data and governance indicators in the region. Finally, we offer some initial hypotheses to explain high and low performance in specific cases." - Abstract


Do Electoral Laws Affect Women's Representation?

by Seawright A Roberst and Jennifer Cyr

COMPARATIVE POLITICAL STUDIES, 12/2013, Volume 46, Issue 1

"Numerous studies have found that proportional electoral rules significantly increase women's representation in national parliaments relative to majoritarian and mixed rules. These studies, however, suffer from serious methodological problems including the endogeneity of electoral laws, poor measures of cultural variables, and neglect of time trends. This article attempts to produce more accurate estimates of the effect of electoral rules on women’s representation by using within-country comparisons of electoral rule changes and bicameral systems as well as matching methods" - Abstract