Skip Navigation
UT wordmark
College of Liberal Arts wordmark
lacs masthead
lacs masthead
Robert Vega, Director FAC 18 / 2304 Whitis Ave. Stop G6200 78712-1508 • 512-471-7900

Faculty Profiles - Latin American Studies

Dr. Henry Dietz - Latin American Politics


Academic Background: Ph.D. Political Science, Stanford University – Stanford, CA; M.A. Political Science, Indiana University – Bloomington, IN; B.A. English & American Literature, Miami University – Oxford, OH

Area of Specialization: Latin American Politics

What made you decide to go to graduate school?
I was always quite sure from the time I entered undergraduate work that I wanted to go to graduate school and become an academic; my father was a professor and I was brought up in it, so perhaps that had something to do with it as well.

What was your dissertation topic when you were in grad school?
My dissertation topic dealt with the political adjustment of low-income migrants from the Peruvian countryside who make their way into the capital city of Lima.

What topics do you teach at UT?
I teach Poverty and Politics; Intro to Latin American Politics; Democracy and Democratization in Latin America; and Latin American Urban Politics.

Can you tell us a bit about your areas of specialization?
Regionally, Latin America; discipline, LA politics, especially, poverty and urban politics in the region; governance of the major cities; poverty and political participation (voting, etc.).

What is your current research focus at UT?
A comparative study with a colleague at Penn State on the urban roots of populism in LA, using Hugo Chavez and Caracas in Venezuela and Alberto Fujimori and Lima in Peru.

Is there a hot topic currently being discussed by scholars of Latin American studies in the U.S. or around the world?
Many, of course – US/LA relations dealing with immigration, drugs and violence, etc.; the sustainability of democracy in LA; poverty and inequality in the region; the growing importance of Brazil and Mexico in the region and the world.

Did you participate in a research project as an undergraduate?
A bit, but not much; I would have liked to have done more, but the opportunities weren’t available. I would recommend it strongly for undergraduates who are considering an academic career and/or graduate school.

What makes a good grad student?
A lot of factors: willingness to work hard for a long time; being absolutely sure that graduate school is what you want to do; having a research question or focus in mind from the very beginning; having prior experience in LA and a good grasp of at least Spanish and preferably Portuguese as well.

What are your top three tips for students interested in applying to a Latin American studies graduate program?

  1. Have a research topic (however tentative) in mind when you apply;
  2. Spend as much time in the area as possible; and
  3. Determine what you want the MA degree to do for you – i.e., is it a stepping stone toward the PhD, or a terminal MA?

What are the top five Latin American studies programs in the US?
There are several: University of California - San Diego, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame, University of California - Berkeley, University of Pittsburg, University of Wisconsin - Madison; Tulane University; University of Florida.

What careers do alumni generally pursue after graduation from the program?
For the MA students, about half of every graduating class goes on to a PhD. The others head to Washington DC to look for work with an NGO or with the federal government; others go to or go back to Latin America.

Download Dr. Dietz's profile

bottom border