University of Massachusetts Amherst

Search Google Appliance


Luz Maria Sanchez

Professional Title: 

Ph.D. Candidate



Master of Laws, Universidad Nacional, Colombia


I am a Ph.D. Candidate with concentrations in comparative politics and contemporary political thought and with a regional focus in Latin America. I am currently working on my dissertation, tentatively titled "Defending Indigenous Rights in the Indigenous State: Participation, Peoplehood, and Development under the MAS Rule in Bolivia." In this research, I examine how and why the defense of indigenous self-governing rights became more difficult precisely under the rule of a pro-Indigenous party. I also study how grassroots organizations advanced their grievances in front of a formerly allied government that grew hostile towards their grievances but claimed to speak in their name. Using archival research, field interviews, and participant observation within an interpretive methodology, I use this case study to analyze two broader topics. First, I study the relationship between populism, democracy, and legal change from below and its role in shaping state-grassroots relations. Second, I explore how contested meanings on democracy, peoplehood, and development impact the enforcement of participatory institutions and indigenous communal rights.

My research interests also include human rights, constitutional law, and transitional justice. As part of this broader agenda, I am currently conducting preliminary research about the migratory experiences of victims of the Colombian armed conflict who live in the United States. Here you can find some of the publications that resulted from my advocacy and academic work before coming to UMass (Spanish):



  • Political Science