Gabrielle Kruks-Wisner’s Global Reach

Gabi Kruks-WisnerGabrielle Kruks-Wisner joins the Woodrow Wilson Department of Political Science beginning in the Fall 2016 semester. She comes to the University from Boston College as an Assistant Professor, and from the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies as an Academy Scholar. Her research focuses on citizen-state relations, local governance, and social welfare in developing countries, with a regional focus on India. She has also conducted research in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa.

Starting in Spring 2017 Kruks-Wisner will teach undergraduate classes about local politics, governance, and the study of political participation at the grass roots level. Being new to the University, Charlottesville, and Virginia, she will update her lessons based on our own communities and organizations, making her classes contemporary and applicable to current events.

“Gabi's expertise in the politics of India adds to existing strengths across the College; her ability to teach a variety of classes means that students in Politics and in Global Studies will have an opportunity to learn from someone who has spent substantial time in the field.”

—David Leblang

Kruks-Wisner’s field research in Rajasthan, India draws from a massive survey of 2210 households and as 500 interviews in 105 villages. Her book manuscript based on this research, Active Citizenship: Claim-Making & the Pursuit of Social Welfare in Rural India is currently under review. The research is a toolbox for citizen-scholars helping at a pragmatic level, useful to policy makers, grass roots orgs, and other political scientists in an international setting. Kruks-Wisner asks: How can governments better serve and be more accountable to citizensHow can citizens actively and effectively engage the stateWho participates in politics, how, and to what ends?

Kruks-Wisner also will be teaching Global Studies, an interdisciplinary major at UVA.

Kruks-Wisner has a Ph.D. in Political Science and Masters in International Development & Regional Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a B.A. in Sociology/Anthropology from Swarthmore College.

Games Without Frontiers

Anne MengAnne Meng has joined the University of Virginia Department of Politics. She comes to our department from the University of California, Berkeley where she received her Ph.D. in Political Science and an M.A. in Economics.

Her research in Comparative Politics focuses on how political institutions emerge and develop in dictatorships – in particular how autocratic leaders choose to build or exploit their own ruling parties in order to stay in power. Meng uses game theory and statistical methods in her work and has a regional focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. She works with archival data and records, looking at state constitutions and succession rules to measure the institutionalization of parties and regimes. She also tracks ministerial appointments which reveal changing power structures over time.

“Anne’s work brings theoretical and mathematical rigor to the study of policies as she deploys formal, mathematical models of strategic interaction to help understand the complex ways in which countries develop stable political institutions.”

—David Leblang

Meng started graduate school as a China specialist, examining the development and rule of the Chinese Communist Party. Her fieldwork in China revealed how party officials tightly hold onto power, and she became especially interested in the question of how some autocratic parties become especially institutionalized and durable. To gain traction on this question, Meng expanded her regional focus to Sub-Saharan Africa, which provided a great set of cases with rapid development of parties—frequently emerging from rebel groups.

Party building in autocratic regimes is a difficult process to track. Meng has compiled an extensive dataset of post-independence parties and regimes in Sub-Saharan Africa from 1960-2005. She will be looking at more current regimes in the future and plans to expand her dataset to other regions. Going forward she is planning on publishing several articles based on this data and is writing a book on authoritarian institutions and dictatorships.

“Anne has a knack for finding creative solutions to thorny research challenges. This is exhibited in an original multi-method strategy for achieving causal inference that we developed in our research.”

—Brian Palmer-Rubin

She has published two papers co-authored with Brian Palmer-Rubin (Democracy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School): Gerrymandering Opposition: Minority-Concentrated Districts and Electoral Competition in Mexico, forthcoming in Studies In Comparative International Development, and A Case for Case Studies: A Multi-Method Strategy for Ecological Inference in Qualitative and Multi-Method Research.

Meng comes to the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics with a particular interest in our strong Comparative Politics faculty and in the prospect of working with Carol Mershon (Institutions and Coalitions), Dan Gingerich (Elections), David Waldner (Authoritarian Regimes), Denise Walsh (Institutions and Democratization), and Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl (Conflict), whose works dovetail nicely with her own.

UVA Visit Day 2016

Are you thinking about attending graduate school in Political Science? Do you want to learn more?

For students from under-represented groups considering getting a Ph.D. in Politics

This event is for students from underrepresented groups who want to learn more about political science graduate school and the Politics Department at UVA. Accepted students will have their travel and hotel costs covered to spend the day visiting the department on October 6th, 2016.

The visit will include:

  • breakfast social
  • individual and small group meetings with professors to discuss students’ intellectual interests
  • attending classes
  • information sessions on applying to graduate school, funding opportunities,
  • mentoring, and graduate student life
  • information session with the Director of Diversity Programs
  • socializing with current graduate students

Apply Now!To apply, please click here.

Deadline: applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, so students should apply as early as possible, but no later than September 9th 2016.

Questions? Email uvapolitics-visitday@virginia.edu