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Contreras Wins Bolin Fellowship

Dissertation examines race and electoral politics in Dominican Republic

Posted: February 12, 2013

Graduate student Danilo Antonio Contreras has been awarded the prestigious Gaius Charles Bolin Dissertation Fellowship from Williams College. Bolin Fellowships are two-year residencies at Williams, with up to three scholars or artists appointed each year; Contreras will be a Bolin Fellow in the department of political science at Williams from August 2013-May 2015.

Danilo’s dissertation, “Nation Before Pigmentation: Race and Electoral Politics in The Dominican Republic,” examines the effect of racial identity on electoral politics in the Dominican Republic. He challenges the assumption inherent in broader approaches on race and ethnic politics that high levels of racial stratification create strong racial group identities and that these identities dictate electoral preferences. He argues that stratification may actually undermine the activation of racial cleavages in elections by discouraging identification with marginalized racial groups. This is particularly true in regions like Latin America, where high levels of mestizaje (race mixing) and historical nation-building efforts have helped to prevent the formation of strong racial identities.

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