Department of Government
Professor Eisenstadt's research focuses on the intersection of formal institutions and laws with informal institutions and practices, mostly in democratizing countries in Latin America. He is presently PI (along with Karleen West) of a National Science Foundation (NSF) project "Lawsuits for the Pacha Mama [Mother Earth] in Ecuador: Explaining the Determinants of New Indigenous Movements to Mitigate Environmental Impacts." Using a survey conducted with Ecuadorian partners, he and his co-author are studying poor, rural, indigenous communities to understand how they overcome socioeconomic and geographic barriers to launch new forms of social movements relying on Western science and international collaboration. The project stems from an earlier book, Politics, Identity, and Mexico's Indigenous Rights Movements (Cambridge University Press, 2011).
His research also looks at the relationship between constitution-making processes and democratization across scores of nations, and the implementation of judicial reforms in Mexico and Latin America. Co-author of a fall 2015 piece in the American Political Science Review, he is also the author of Courting Democracy in Mexico: Party Strategies and Electoral Institutions (Cambridge University Press, 2004 based on his University of California, San Diego dissertation), and dozens of journal articles and book chapters. His research has been funded by the Fulbright Commission, the National Security Education Program (NSEP), the Ford and Mellon foundations, USAID, and the NSF.
A former director of multiple United States Agency for International Development (USAID) grants in Mexico, Eisenstadt has helped train hundreds of stakeholders in judicial reform implementation, electoral observation and other government processes there. Formerly an award-winning print journalist and Capitol Hill staffer, Eisenstadt has worked as a consultant for USAID, the Organization of American States, and several development companies, including, most recently, Democracy International (2015). From 2009-2012 Eisenstadt served as chair of the Department of Government, has been the Doctoral Program Director there, and is presently vice chair of the Faculty Senate (2015-16). He has held visiting appointments at El Colegio de México and CIDE (Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas) in Mexico City, Harvard University, the University of California, San Diego, and the Latin American Social Science Faculty (FLACSO) in Quito, Ecuador.
DegreesPhD University of California, San Diego
MA The Johns Hopkins University
BA Brown University
Favorite Spot on Campus:Anywhere there is good coffee
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Partnerships & Affiliations
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Honors, Awards, and Fellowships
Recent Grants: Latin American Studies Association/Mellon Foundation, 2012 principal investigator (co-PI Carl LeVan of American University) for “From Parchment to Practice: Explaining When New Constitutions Fail to Improve Democracy."
USAID, Higher Education and Development TIES Program for “Uniting Law and Society in Oaxaca, Mexico: A Research and Teaching Program.”
Recent Awards: William M. LeoGrande Award for best book on Latin American or Latino Studies published during 2011-2012 by a member of the American University community for Politics, Identity, and Mexico’s Indigenous Rights Movements.
Van Cott Award from the Political Institutions Section of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), 2012, for Politics, Identity, and Mexico’s Indigenous Rights Movements, which was named by a jury as best book on political institutions since the last LASA Congress in 2010.
Work In Progress
"Environmental Attitudes in a Climate-Vulnerable State: Rainforests, Oil, and Political Competition along Ecuador’s Extractive Frontier," Todd Eisenstadt and Karleen West (Working Paper)
Latin America’s Multicultural Movements and the Struggle Between Communitarianism, Autonomy, and Human Rights. (with Mike Danielson, Jaime Bailon, and Carlos Sorroza, eds.) New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.
Politics, Identity, and Mexico's Indigenous Rights Movements. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Contentious Politics Series. Kindle version also published.
Area of Expertise: U.S.-Latin American relations, politics in Latin America, immigration, democratization, Mexico, ethnic identity, survey research, indigenous rights movement, ethnic politics
Additional Information: Todd Eisenstadt studies democratization, identity and social movements, public opinion, political parties, and election finance—mainly in Latin America. He is the principal researcher of the grant Uniting Law and Society in Oaxaca, Mexico: A Research and Teaching Program, a project of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Higher Education and Development Program. He is also the author of Courting Democracy in Mexico and has authored and edited four other books. He is completing the manuscript Surveying the Silence: Liberal and Communal Identities in Southern Mexico’s Indigenous Rights Movement. Between 2000 and 2005, Eisenstadt directed USAID’s Mexico Elections Project, including academic research and the training of hundreds of observers of local elections and other government processes in Mexico. He is a former print journalist and Capitol Hill staffer.
To request an interview please call AU Media Relations at 202-885-5950 or submit an interview request form.
AU News and Achievements
Undergrads Surpass World Leaders in Crafting Global Environmental Agreement
While real-world efforts failed at nailing down a global environmental agreement, Prof. Todd Eisenstadt's ...
Professor Todd Eisenstadt and Two Other Scholars Receive Inaugural LeoGrande Honors
The LeoGrande Award and Prize go to the best book on Latin American or Latino studies published by an ...
Professors Eisenstadt, Edelson, and Lane Win Elections in AU Faculty Senate
SPA congratulates Professors Todd Eisenstadt, Chris Edelson and Ruth Lane on their elections in American ...
NSF Funds Research on Indigenous Efforts to Mitigate Environmental Impacts
Prof. Eisenstadt will begin a multi-year project researching the factors that lead individuals in indigenous ...
Award-Winning PhD Student’s Research in Drug Violence, Public Opinion and Law Enforcement in Mexico Comes at a Critical Time
PhD Jennifer Yelle's Award Winning Policy-Shaping Research on Drug Violence, Public Opinion and Law ...
We, the People: Citizen Input Helps Constitutions, Study Suggests
A study by Todd Eisenstadt, Carl LeVan, and Tofigh Maboudi suggests that democracies may be stronger ...