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Energy and Environment

Energy & Environment Working Group

Energy and Environment are two fundamental elements in promoting sustainable development, with significant impacts on politics and society as well. Latin America is a key region globally for energy: Venezuela has the world’s largest reserves of petroleum, Argentina the third largest potential reserves of shale gas, the region has the potential to generate the second highest proportion of electricity from hydropower, has the world’s largest solar farm, and holds the largest reserves of lithium. Exploitation of energy reserves has substantial political, economic, environmental, and societal/cultural impacts.

In addressing political, economic and community issues related to energy integration, our Working Group will bring together academics, industry, social groups and think tanks in a research-based effort with the knowledge to provide state of the art advice concerning efficient and environmentally sound options, community impact and buy-in including indigenous communities, regional markets and local politics. All energy production, even so-called “green technologies” represents a complex balance of environmental, social and political trade-offs with no “free” solutions. Shale gas produces substantially lower emissions than petroleum or coal, but raises concerns about water pollution, induced seismicity, land collapse and land pollution, as well as the use of large amounts of scarce water. Green technologies raise concerns regarding waste-water management and constant fluxes of sulfuric gas to the atmosphere from geothermal exploitation, habitat encroachment by solar panels, wind turbines and high voltage transmission lines, and the competition for scarce water involved in the mining of lithium for batteries to store ‘green’ energy. Thus the complex web of interactions among energy production and the distribution of costs and benefits provides a rich area in which the working group will engage with both research as well as policy foci, drawing on expertise from the social sciences, engineering, and the humanities.

Coordinator: David R. Mares, Political Science, UCSD

Full Members

David R. Mares, Political Science, UCSD

Ross Frank, Ethnic Studies, UCSD

Christine Hunefeldt, History, UCSD

Keith Pezzoli, Urban Studies and Planning, UCSD

Associate Members

Jeremy Martin, Institute of the Americas

Isidro Morales, Monterey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM), Santa Fe, Mexico

Amado Villarreal Gutierrez, ITESM, Santa Fe, Mexico

Marcela Lopez Valledjo Olvera, Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla, Mexico

Affiliate Members

Amy Jaffe, Graduate School of Management, UCD  

David Victor, School of Global Policy and Strategy, UCSD

Global Mental Health

Global Mental Health Working Group

                                                                                        From left to right: Dr. Olga Olivas, Dr.  Olga Odgers, Dr. Janis Jenkins, Dr. Paula Saravia, Lillie Sanchez, Giselle Sanchez, Dr. Claudia Rafful-Ioera, Rogelio Scott-Inutarria (Dr. Thomas Csordas not pictured but present).

From left to right: Dr. Olga Olivas, Dr.  Olga Odgers, Dr. Janis Jenkins, Dr. Paula Saravia, Lillie Sanchez, Giselle Sanchez, Dr. Claudia Rafful-Ioera, Rogelio Scott-Inutarria (Dr. Thomas Csordas not pictured but present).


This working group seeks to serves as a meeting ground for scholars to engaged in important cross-disciplinary work in the field of global mental health in Iberian and Latin American settings.

We are interested in exploring how political events and policies affect mental health. In the most recent meeting, the working group members discussed mental health in relation to displacement (as this is a core theme in the research projects of this working group) and the political situation in Catalonia during the November elections.  

Research projects in global mental health are underway in Chile; Mexico; Spain; U.S.  These projects involve participants who have been experienced displacement—i.e. deportees, immigrants, refugees. We seek to comparatively analyze and understand how these conditions affect mental health and wellbeing specifically related to themes of precarity, social inequality, vulnerability, and racism. This center is interested in the question of whether policies that restrict immigration or deport vulnerable populations could be social determinants of mental health.

We are also interested in how the political conflict in Catalonia and Spain has impacted psychological and social wellbeing. The MOU agreement between UCSD and Rogili y Virgili continues collaboration between UCSD Center for Iberian Latin American Studies and Center for Global Mental Health with recent (2017) CILAS Visiting Scholars (PI, Professor Angel Martínez-Hernáez).

An upcoming working group meeting is scheduled for early June 2018.


Indigeneity Working Group

This group brings together faculty from across the social sciences and humanities to consider the politics, cultures, and histories of indigenous peoples of the Americas. Our participating faculty members come to the topic from a wide variety of perspectives: history, art, performance and dance, literature, linguistics, anthropology, and sociology. From these diverse standpoints, we think together about the cultural and political struggles facing native peoples over the long arc of history, from early encounters between the original inhabitants and the European colonizers to the ongoing efforts to decolonize settler societies today. What are the legacies of colonialism, often referred to as coloniality? What efforts are underway to challenge the inequalities inherent in colonial modernity and to enact sovereignty? For instance, what are the current experiments in plurinationalism and decolonization producing? How is the demand for territorial sovereignty meeting the ongoing challenges of natural resource extraction? Further, as indigenous peoples migrate across borders and engage in new ways with global capital, what meanings reside in indigenous identity? How do indigenous cultures, literature, and languages offer resources in these new contexts, and what are the constraints on them? How do the categories of indigeneity, gender, and class, intersect? What educational and media platforms offer sites for indigenous activism and community building?

In this working group, we will workshop our own research, and nourish it by reading new scholarship on indigeneity, including works produced by Native American/indigenous authors. The goal is to establish an intellectual community for faculty and graduate students working on these topics and to provide a welcoming home for visiting scholars and postdoctoral fellows. We will also seek funding for collective research. Our first proposed project (with visiting scholar John Andrew McNeish, Norway) will focus on indigenous natural resource governance.

Coordinator: Nancy Postero, Anthropology, UCSD

Full members

Abigail Andrews, Sociology, UCSD

Julie Burelle, Theatre and Dance, UCSD

Gloria Chacon, Literature , UCSD

Ross Frank, Ethnic Studies, UCSD

John Haviland, Anthropology, UCSD

Nancy Postero, Anthropology, UCSD

Leon Zamosc, Sociology, UCSD

Associate Members

Veronica García Martinez, Communication, Universidad Juárez Autónoma de Tabasco, Mexico

Academic Affiliates

Helene Risor, Department of Anthropology and Interdisciplinary Center for Intercultural and Intercultural Studies (ICIIS), Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile


Populism Working Group

The objective of the Working Group on Populism is the study of populist regimes, movements and ideologies in Latin America. Populist regimes, from the classical ones of Vargas or Peron to the contemporary cases of Maduro in Venezuela and Kirchner in Argentina, constitute a variety of plebiscitarian democracy that should be distinguished from more social-democratic regimes, like those of contemporary Brazil, Chile, or Uruguay, which are closer to the liberal-democratic model. They are characterized by a very high level of centralization of power in the hands of the president; nationalist and even autarkic economic policies oriented toward short-term political advantage; and, to a larger extent than other regimes, expansion of participation through corporatist or clientelistic mechanisms and inclusionary social policies focused on the poor and the underprivileged. Our working group focuses on questions such as the conditions under which mass populist movements appear, populist ideologies become hegemonic, and populist regimes come to power; the domestic and international conditions under which they might institutionalize; and the economic, social, and political consequences of their success or failure.
                                                                                                                                                                                 Coordinator, Carlos Waisman, Sociology, UCSD

                                                                                                                                                                                                 ●Full Members

Carlos Waisman, Sociology, UCSD

Scott Desposato, Political Science, UCSD

Simeon Nichter, Political Science, UCSD  

Associate Members

Manuel Anselmi, Political Sociology, University of Perugia

Michael Monteon, History, UCSD

Moira MacKinnon, Sociology, Universidad Tres de Febrero, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Peter Smith, Political Science, UCSD

Richard Feinberg, School of Global Policy & Strategy, UCSD

Samuel Amaral, Sociology, Universidad Tres de Febrero, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Affiliate Members

Sebastian Edwards, Anderson School of Management, UCLA