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PLAS Graduate Works-in-Progress

María José Urzúa, Ph.D. Candidate in Politics; Wyatt Leaf, Ph.D. Candidate in Comparative Literature

October 27, 2022 · 12:00 pm1:20 pm · 3rd Floor Atrium, Aaron Burr

Program in Latin American Studies

Princeton graduate students, faculty and visiting scholars are invited to learn more about our graduate students’ current research.

“When Do International Organizations Praise or Criticize? Evidence from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights”

The literature on the international promotion of human rights norms has mostly considered how non-governmental organizations (NGOs) publicly criticize or praise governments for their human rights records. Less theoretical work has been devoted to explore the independent motivations international organizations have to engage in these actions. This paper presents a first attempt at explaining when does the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACmHR) decide to praise or criticize countries through press releases. It argues that “insider” NGOs are in a strategic position to play the role of information suppliers and exert influence over what the IACmHR decides to publicly speak about. The paper tests this expectation through statistical analysis and provides supporting qualitative evidence from interviews.

María José Urzúa is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Politics, where she specializes in International Relations and Comparative Politics, with a regional focus on Latin America. She holds a master’s degree in Politics from Princeton University and a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM). She was a Fulbright-García Robles scholar from 2018 to 2021. Read more.

Discussant: Gabrielle Girard, Ph.D. Candidate in History


“Provincial Cosmopolitans & Reactionary Bohemians: A Study of Modern Mexican Poetry”

The Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) marked the end times for the florid poetry of Mexican Modernismo: a movement of widely misunderstood poets whose work is hardly read outside of Mexico. In the spirit of the French decadent movements of the late nineteenth century, these poets established a high standard of formal beauty in their work, with a commitment to art for art’s sake and the utmost poetic rigor. In this paper, I consider how the poetic world inhabited by the modernistas might come across as a paradox when one considers the realities from which these writers came. Growing up during the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz, many of the modernists came from the margins of Mexican society: provincial, rural towns and, in several cases, orphanhood and situations of extreme poverty. In the face of the Revolution, they would side with Victoriano Huerta and cast an extremely skeptical gaze on the political upheaval. I argue that the complex world of the modernists would inscribe a specific dynamic in the development of modern Mexican poetry which would persist in spite of the Revolution: namely, the union between rigor and conflict. I attempt to hone in on these two elements and assess how they became radicalized throughout the first half of the twentieth century, particularly in the poetry of the Avant-Garde group known as “los Contemporáneos.”

Wyatt Leaf is a Ph.D. Candidate in the department of Comparative Literature, where he studies Hispanic and French literature with an emphasis on the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His current work focuses on modern Mexican literature. Read more.

Discussant: Alonso Burgos, Ph.D. Candidate in Comparative Literature

Open to students, faculty, visiting scholars and specially invited guests. A boxed lunch will be provided while supplies last.

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