The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Ana Maria Ospina Pedraza

Professional Title: 

PhD Candidate


Thompson 512 or South College W412


Office Hours: 

Fall 2018: By Appointment


PhD Candidate in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. 

Graduate Certificate Student in Advanced Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies.

Trained as a political scientist, I bring political theory and comparative politics to the study of contentious politics. My current research project focus on the historical development of cultures of activism and the production of political subjectivities in protest politics. As an interdisciplinary scholar, my research engages with substantive debates in feminist theory and Latin American studies. 

My dissertation, “Grammars of Identity: Languages of Activism in Argentina and the United States,” asks: how do political culture and intellectual traditions shape the implementation of global ideas about collective action? Do local conventions of activism produce unique political subjects despite shared political principles across latitudes? I answer these questions in a study of two cases of social mobilization where popular assemblies reached international significance: the neighborhood assemblies of Buenos Aires in 2002 and the New York General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street in 2011.These movements were connected by transnational networks of activism where internal democracy was a central ideological commitment. Nonetheless, their operationalization of this principle differed as a result of different conventions in activist cultures.

In a qualitative study of material produced by each movement —pamphlets, minutes and serial publications—I demonstrate that participants in Argentine assemblies colored the practice of horizontality as radical equality and independence from the political class. When ‘independent’ neighbors enacted equality at the assemblies, they discovered a mechanism of empathy that transformed neoliberal subjectivities and awoke democratic virtues. Alternatively, in Occupy a tradition of activism that revindicates internal democracy overlapped with the rhetoric and logic of feminist legal scholarship and intersectionality. In this case, anxieties about demands and language-use made democratic spaces designed to support social justice move towards management of speech-acts. My findings show that despite embracing almost identical principles, assembly participants in Buenos Aires demanded an independent subject untarnished by previous party politics, capable of embracing post-neoliberal social practices. A decade later, Occupy demanded a ‘virtuous’ subject able to recognize their role in the reproduction of power relations and cater their language accordingly. 



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  • Political Science