Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies

Emelio R. Betances


Latin American Studies



Campus Box 0412


Glatfelter Hall
Room 110 C
300 North Washington St.
Gettysburg, PA 17325-1400


BA Adelphi University, 1978
MA Rutgers University, 1982
PhD Rutgers University, 1989

Academic Focus

Political Sociology, Historical and Comparative Sociology, Social Movements, Democracy and Citizenship

I use the Dominican Republic as a case study to reflect on issues of social development, state formation, religion, politics, social movements, citizenship, and democracy. My explorations of Dominican society began with a monograph on State and Society in the Dominican Republic (Westview Press, 1995), an essay that provides an interpretation of Dominican society through the 19th and 20thcenturies. As a follow up to this research, in collaboration with Dr. Hobard Spalding, I edited The Dominican Republic Today, a book that explains the transformation of Dominican society in the 1980s (The Buildner Center for Western Hemisphere Studies, 1995).

I also published The Catholic Church and Power Politics in Latin America: The Dominican Case in Comparative Perspectives (Rowman and Littlefield, 2007). This monograph examines the role of the Catholic Church in political mediation in five Latin American nations. It was translated into Spanish in 2009 and, in 2010, the Ministry of Culture of the Dominican Republic gave it the National Book Award in recognition for its contribution to the understanding of Dominican society.

In 2016, the Archivo General de la Nación in the Dominican Republic published my book In Search of Citizenship: Social Movements and Democratization in the Dominican Republic, a monograph in Spanish that analyzes a variety of social movements including, labor, peasant, urban poor, teachers, and environmentalists. It explains how, through their social struggles, these movements have contributed to the development of social citizenship and democratization.

In addition, in 2016, Palgrave McMillan, published Popular Sovereignty and Constituent Power in Latin America: Democracy from Below, a volume I edited with the collaboration of Dr. Carlos Figureoa Ibarra of the Benemerita Universidad Autonoma de Puebla in Puebla, Mexico.This collection combines a bottom-up and top-down approach to the study of social movements in relationship to the development of constituent power in Latin America. Subsequently, I published two articles on recent social movements in the Dominican Republic.

While still keeping an eye on social movements in the Dominican Republic, my current research focuses on the social policies of the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico. During his presidential campaign of 2018, López Obrador promised to address the claims raised by social movements over the last 40 years. My research explores the achievements and limitations of a government that seeks to address social and political issues in the midst of a pandemic that might derail its objectives.

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