How did you get interested in Political Science?
I became interested in Political Science as an undergraduate taking a first year political science course at the University of Toronto in 1965. The 1960s was a period of social and cultural upheaval, involving radical protests against poverty, the war in Vietnam, and U.S. imperialism. It was also the high point of the Cuban revolution, the activities of Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara, the emergence of insurgent movements throughout Latin America, and the rise to power of a series of brutal military dictatorships in the region. These events and the courses I took during my undergraduate years inspired my interest in the politics of Latin America and in the social justice issues at the root of the events I was witnessing. While history has soured my youthful enthusiasm for the transformative prospects of revolutionary movements, I remain hopeful that social justice will eventually prevail.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently working on issues related to the politics of inclusive development in the Global South with a focus on the process that produces absolute exclusion of some groups from the benefits of economic growth. I am particularly interested in the long-term political process that shapes the persistent deprivation of some groups in society and how public policy might be able to alleviate this exclusion.
I am also researching the political conditions under which countries are able to use the revenue from extractive resources for the improvement of social well-being. My case studies for this project include Chile, Mexico and Indonesia. Another project I am involved in deals with politics of political and criminal violence in Mexico and the relationship of these distinct forms of violence to the country’s development model through history.
What do you bring to the undergraduate class room?
My lecture notes, my PowerPoint slides, and my sense of humor. Learning is hard work but it should also be enjoyable.
I also bring an enthusiasm for my subject matter, the politics of development and social justice in Latin America and the Global South, and a wish to raise awareness and inspire student concern about social justice issues in general. I have had many years of experience living in Latin American doing field research. While there, I encountered first-hand the development problems (poverty, inequality, political repression) I was seeking to grapple with intellectually.
Equally important is my concern that students develop good analytical and writing skills. I work very hard to ensure that this happens for all my students.
What is one helpful tip you’d like to share with your students to help them succeed at UTSC?
Come to class regularly, take written notes, and review your notes afterwards. Ask questions in class. If you are too shy, or if you discover upon reviewing your notes that there is something you do not understand, visit me in my office hours. I will be happy to help.