I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Barnard College – Columbia University. Previously I was a faculty member in the Department of Political Science at Rutgers University. Prior to my current position I was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and Pre-Doctoral Fellow at Yale University’s Program on Order, Conflict, and Violence.
Within my research agenda I am interested in understanding the political factors that shape the dynamics and consequences of urban violence and local democracy and development. My first book, Cities, Business and the Politics of Urban Violence in Latin America, analyzes and explains the ways in which major developing world cities respond to the challenge of urban violence. At a general level, I argue that political projects in response to urban violence are conditioned by and reflect the distribution of political power within cities. I specifically find that such political projects are shaped by the interaction between urban political economies — referring to relations between the state and business — and patterns of armed territorial control within cities. To test my argument I construct comparative analyses of the institutional outcomes of the politics of urban violence in three major cities in Colombia.
I am currently conducting research for my next book project on the ways in which historical and contemporary relations between civil society organizations (CSOs) and state institutions and political parties influence the ways in which CSOs address urban crime and violence and engage local armed actors. This project will draw on field research and data collection in several major cities across the developing world.
I received my B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Human Rights (1999) from what was then known as Friends World College and is today called Global College of Long Island University. During my undergraduate years I was fortunate to travel and study in Central America, East Africa, and the Middle East. This was a transformative period in my life, during which I had unforgettable experiences and met amazing people working at the front lines of development and conflict resolution that continue to shape my professional career today. I also hold an M.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of Miami (2003) and then a Ph.D in political science from Brown University (2011).