What does palm oil — cheap, easy to produce, and endlessly versatile — explain about state-building in a region wracked by violence? Plenty, according to Ph.D. candidate Camilo Nieto-Matiz, a comparative political scientist who studies how states increase their capacity in subnational peripheries, poor areas with little state presence, in times of conflict. In other words, he examines how governments undertake fundamental tasks like providing security, collecting taxes, and building schools and roads — all of which are necessary for development, democracy, and political order.
A major sociology conference at the University of Notre Dame recently brought together scholars and practitioners for a rare chance to talk about their work and research on a range of development-related topics. “We don’t get this opportunity very often. This is one of the only academic conferences where we can have that dialogue with practitioners,” said sociologist Tamara Kay, one of three faculty members in the Department of Sociology who organized the American Sociological Association’s 8th Annual Sociology of Development Conference, held Oct. 17-19.
Trejo, an associate professor of political science and faculty fellow at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, helped draft a major proposal for a truth commission that was presented to the federal government at a press conference in Mexico City on January 22. If implemented, the truth commission would investigate alleged human rights atrocities committed by the government or organized criminal groups during Mexico’s war on drugs between 2006 and 2018.