My name is Isabel Laterzo (she/her/hers) and I am a Political Science PhD Candidate studying Comparative Politics and Quantitative Methodology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I hold an M.A. in Political Science from the same university and a B.A. in International Relations from Claremont McKenna College.
My research focuses on how crime and violence influence politics (and vice versa). My dissertation examines gubernatorial elections in Brazil and Mexico, and the ways in which candidates address crime and violence in their platforms. I examine how, often counterintuitively, “progressive” politicians offer punitive policies to their constituents and “conservative” politicians offer prevention-based solutions. In 2021, I received a Fulbright-Hays DDRA award to complete 7 months of fieldwork for this project, including expert interviews and observation of the 2022 Brazilian gubernatorial elections.
In other related research, I explore youth crime in Mexico and mechanisms of blame attribution, citizen preferences for punitive security policies, and underreporting of crimes. In addition, complementary work examines elite cues, partisanship, and political behavior in Latin America. My work has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including The Journal of Politics in Latin America and Revista Latinoamericana de Opinión Pública, and press outlets like The Washington Post. My research and studies have been supported by UNC Chapel Hill’s Department of Political Science, UNC’s Institute for the Study of the Americas, the Brazilian Studies Association (BRASA), the U.S. Department of State, USAID, and the U.S. Department of Education.