Nancy Powers teaches comparative politics and works with the Center for the Study of American Democracy, where her role includes directing the CSAD Student Associates program. She offers courses on Latin American politics, immigration and citizenship, global poverty, borders and forms of political activism. Aided by Kenyon student researchers, Powers is part of a multi-college team studying working and living conditions of LatinX migrants in rural Ohio. Her earlier research on democratization amidst poverty resulted in the book, “Grassroots Expectations of Democracy and Economy: Argentina in Comparative Perspective” (University of Pittsburgh Press). Powers has worked as a legislative aide in the Ohio General Assembly; an advocate for immigration reform and farmworkers’ rights; and a grant writer for small faith-based non-profits.
Areas of Expertise
Immigration, Latin American politics, global poverty
1995 — Doctor of Philosophy from University of Notre Dame
1988 — Master of Arts from University of Notre Dame
1983 — Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College, cum laude
Courses Recently Taught
Representative democracy came to be the most common form of government in Europe and the Americas in the 20th century. In the last half of the century it became increasingly popular among the peoples of the rest of the world. Representative democracy takes many forms and confronts many challenges in its implementation. This course will explore the institutional variety of representative democracy, the causes of political stability and instability in democratic regimes and the possibility of successful creation of democratic regimes in countries in which the political culture has not traditionally supported democracy. Case studies may include the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Russia, Brazil and Mexico. This course is required for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or first-year students currently enrolled in PSCI 102Y. Offered every year.
Migration is a worldwide phenomenon posing both opportunities and challenges for immigrants, their families, their countries of origin and the countries to which they move. Immigration policy often inspires virulent debates over border control, national identity, admission and citizenship policies, "guest" workers and bilingualism. The issues raise fundamental questions about human rights, citizenship and a political community’s rights to define and defend itself. The challenges are exacerbated by the fact that contemporary immigration is managed by nation-states, while migrants move in response to global economics and transnational relationships. This course deals with these issues by examining the social, economic and political forces giving rise to immigration today; the different ways nations have chosen to define citizenship and how those rules affect immigrants; the different strategies nations have used to incorporate immigrants; attempts to control immigration and their consequences; and the implications of immigration for recipient societies. About half of the course deals with the immigration experience and controversies in the United States, particularly with respect to migration from Mexico. The other half looks at these issues in Western Europe as well as in the developing world. This course is sometimes taught with a community-based research component, depending on the instructor. This counts toward the comparative politics/international relations requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
This course examines the causes and consequences of poverty and inequality in the developing world. Topics include the conceptualization, definition and measurement of poverty and inequality; the lived reality of urban and rural poverty around the globe; individual, structural and governmental causes of and solutions to poverty; and the possibilities for grassroots empowerment, public policy, international organizations, philanthropy and foreign aid to reduce poverty and inequality. This counts towards the comparative politics/international relations requirement for the major.
This course examines key political events and debates in Latin America (1970s to the present), through the lens of film and the pages of fiction, using works by Latin American directors and writers. We examine the works of fiction not from a literary or artistic perspective, but as political arguments that both reflect the political debates at the time they are created, contribute to a nation's self-understanding or "collective memory" about critical moments in a nation's life and influence how readers/viewers understand political issues and questions. Students view films outside of class time. Knowledge of Spanish is not necessary. This counts toward the seminar or comparative politics/international relations requirement for the major and counts toward the Latino/a Studies Concentration, MLL/Spanish area studies, and the international studies major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every other year.
This course focuses on contemporary Latin America with emphasis on the institutions and quality of democracies in the region. Focusing on institutions, civil society and norms, we will analyze contemporary Latin American democracies from the perspectives of representation, participation, legitimacy, accountability and the rule of law. We examine successes and innovations, as well as problems and challenges for democracy. Readings draw on data and case studies of many countries, but most of the course does not focus on particular countries, but rather on core concepts and theoretical approaches used to analyze politics in the region. The course uses advanced readings and a strong emphasis on discussion, in-class presentations, and writing. Prior coursework in Latin America or PSCI 240 is recommended but not required. This counts toward the Latino/a Concentration, Spanish major, or international studies major, with permission of program director. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of instructor.