Dr. Risley's Curriculum Vitae


I offer courses that build on my main areas of specialization, which include comparative politics, Latin American politics, and international relations. I have taught Introduction to Comparative Politics, Senior Seminar, the Department’s Latin America sequence (Politics and Government of Latin America and Contemporary Issues in Inter-American Relations), Democratization in World Politics, and Women in World Politics: Global Perspectives on Women’s Issues, Rights, and Movements, which is cross-listed with Gender and Sexuality Studies. My courses emphasize critical thinking and expression: students are asked to make reasoned judgments about complex social and political problems by weighing a variety of contending perspectives. Students who enroll in my classes also have the opportunity to cultivate their own interests through independent research. It is my sincerest hope that they will develop a passion for international politics that endures long after the semester has ended.

As an advocate for interdisciplinary programs and learning on campus, I am actively involved in the Latin American Studies Program. I directed the Program from Fall 2013 until Fall 2016. I have also taught Introduction to Latin American Studies, the LAS internship course, and Senior Seminar.

I was awarded a Mellon Faculty Innovation Fellowship during 2014-15 to develop a new course on the politics of grassroots organizing. This course investigates the origins and strategies of urban social movements that have emerged within the US as well as overseas. Particular emphasis is placed on movements seeking to represent communities who have been politically marginalized on the basis of class, race, ethnicity, gender and/or sexuality. The course entails community-based learning in local organizations.

With the support of a Buckman Curriculum Development award, I participated in a CIEE Faculty Development Seminar in Havana in June 2016. The program, “Contemporary Cuban Transformations: Social Inequalities and Social Policy,” entailed academic exchanges, site visits, and excursions outside of Havana designed to expose participants to the significant economic, social, and political changes that the island has been experiencing.


The central themes of my research are activism and democratization. I am especially interested in the advocacy efforts of civil society groups and the implications of their political influence for democratic consolidation and quality in Latin American countries. I have therefore conducted research on organizations and movements advocating on behalf of children, the environment, greater transparency and freedom of information, and human rights in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. I have published several journal articles and book chapters on these (and related) topics.

My book, Civil Society Organizations, Advocacy, and Policy Making in Latin American Democracies: Pathways to Participation, was published in 2015. The study investigates civil society involvement in policy making and identifies successful issue framing and effective alliance building as important "pathways" to participation. In some cases of policy making, members of NGOs and other groups shape the agenda, provide analysis, collaborate with government officials in the formulation of policy, and pressure lawmakers to adopt reforms. These activists do not merely respond to existing "political opportunities;" they create opportunities for participation. The book offers the first analysis of alliance building and framing that spans three different issue areas and three countries. For further details, visit http://www.palgrave.com/us/.

My second broad area of research is gender and politics, and I have written on gender violence and sex trafficking. I have also investigated the international response to this crime and, in particular, the US government’s counter-trafficking policies. I have enjoyed working with several Rhodes student research assistants on some of the projects described here. I was awarded the J.S. Seidman Research Fellowship from 2005 to 2008, a Creative Advance Planning (CAP) Mellon Study Leave in Spring 2010, an American Political Science Association (APSA) Small Grant in 2012-2013, and a Faculty Development Endowment Grant in Summer 2012. 

Beyond the Classroom

I am a member of Phi Beta Kappa at Rhodes. I proudly hail from Madison, WI but have also enjoyed living in Buenos Aires, Santiago, Madrid, New York City, and Austin. My interests include traveling, listening to music, and watching films and documentaries. Above all, I love spending time with my family.


Civil Society Organizations, Advocacy, and Policy Making in Latin American Democracies: Pathways to Participation. Palgrave (2015).

“America Will Not Tolerate Slave Traders: Anti-Trafficking Policies and US Power.” Journal of Women, Politics & Policy (2015).

“Protecting Children and Adolescents in Uruguay: Civil Society’s Role in Policy Reform.” Social Sciences (2014).

“It’s Not Easy Being Green: Environmental Advocacy and Policy Making in Chile.” Society & Natural Resources (April 2014).

“Human Rights in Argentina.” In Contention in Context: New Opportunities in Social Movement Research, ed. Jeff Goodwin and James M. Jasper, 2012.

“The Power of Persuasion: Issue Framing and Advocacy in Argentina.” Journal of Latin American Studies (November 2011).

“From ‘Perverse’ to ‘Progressive’?: Advocating for the Rights and Well-Being of Argentina’s Children.”International Journal of Children’s Rights (Vol. 19, 2011).

“Sex Trafficking:  The ‘Other’ Crisis in Mexico?” The Latin Americanist (March 2010).

“Trafficking and the International Market in Women and Girls.” In Women and Politics Around the World: A Comparative History and Survey, ed. Joyce Gelb and Marian Lief Palley, 2009.

“Joining Forces: Civil Society Alliances and Policy Influence in Argentina and Chile.” In Interest Groups and Lobbying: Volume Three - Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, ed. Conor McGrath, 2009.

 “Putting People First:  Globalization and Human Security.”  International Studies Review (Fall 2008).
“Framing Violence: Argentina’s Gender Gap.” International Feminist Journal of Politics (December 2006). 
“The Political Potential of Civil Society:  Advocating for Freedom of Information in Argentina.” The Latin Americanist (Spring 2006).


2005, Ph.D., Government, University of Texas at Austin 
1998, M.A., Latin American and Caribbean Studies, New York University
1995, B.A., Political Science, International Relations, University of Wisconsin-Madison
1994-1995, International Study Abroad Program, Universidad Complutense, Madrid