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Current CRF Scholar Bernal Receives Grant to Study Radical Populism and Presidential Constitutionalism

CRF Family Research Scholar (’11-’12), Angelica Bernal has received a Faculty Research/Healey Endowment grant for her work on radical populism and presidential constitutionalism in Latin America.


According to Dr. Bernal, an assistant professor of political science, recent populist leaders such as Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, Bolivia’s Evo Morales, and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa have turned to constitutionalism as a central platform in their presidencies. "This recent turn to constitutionalism represents a challenge to the conventional understanding of populism and reveals new, under-studied dynamics of presidential power."


This project will examine these recent constitutional turns in order to better inform the prospects of building and deepening democracy in the region. Building upon previous field research in Ecuador, the study will also examine the politics of constitution-making in Venezuela and Bolivia "in order to better illuminate these complex contemporary processes and shed better light on the relationship between populism and democracy."


The Family Research Scholars Program provides selected faculty with the time, technical expertise, peer mentorship, and national expert consultation to prepare a large grant proposal for their research.  The year-long interdisciplinary faculty seminar includes presentations and discussions of the Scholars’ developing proposals, concrete instruction on successful proposal submission and the resources of the university, individualized methodology consultation, and information about relevant funding agencies. National experts are also invited to campus to provide individual consul­tation to each of the scholars on their specific projects and present a public research lecture. 


As a CRF Scholar, Dr. Bernal is developing another grant research proposal on The Impact of Petroleum Contamination, Litigation & Legal Activism on Indigenous Families in Ecuador’s Amazonian Region.  This research will study power in contexts of great inequality that involve actors across different political levels: local, national, and transnational.  Through this research, Bernal hopes to provide a better understanding of the impact of environmental pollution and litigation upon affected families, a perspective that remains obscured in the literature.


For more information on the Family Research Scholars Program, please visit:

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