Kelly Bauer, Ph.D.

Nebraska Wesleyan University

Country: United States (Nebraska)

About Me:

I am an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Nebraska Wesleyan University. I research how Latin American states govern to recenter themselves in the midst of global trends that destabilize state sovereignty; currently, I am exploring state responses to international indigenous rights, irregular migration, and human security regimes. My interdisciplinary research documents and interrogates the governmentalities that work to preserve and extend state power, in hopes of offering insight into how to transform the state. My second line of research studies the best practices of teaching and learning, examining how to make the classroom and university spaces for place-based student learning and empowerment.

Research Interests

Latin American And Caribbean Politics


Research Methods & Research Design

Human Rights

Race, Ethnicity and Politics

Immigration & Citizenship

Countries of Interest



Journal Articles:

(2018) Not-So-Neoliberal Governance: Chile’s Response to Mapuche Territorial Demands, Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies

This article analyzes the Chilean state’s response to the territorial demands of Mapuche indigenous communities. Throughout Latin America, governments recognized Afro-descendant and indigenous communities’ communal property rights as part of a broader territorial turn that offered to reshape territoriality and indigenous–state relations; more often, however, the resulting reforms became a means of extending neoliberal governance. Given the strength of Chile’s neoliberal project and reputation of good governance, why are there inconsistencies in the state’s response to Mapuche territorial demands? I argue that neoliberal governance is a means of pursuing the demobilization and disarticulation of Mapuche demands, rather than an end. The state employs a combination of formal and informal governance strategies to further these motivations, highlighting that many assumptions about Chilean politics do not necessarily apply to indigenous policy. The interaction between these governing motivations create space, albeit extremely limited and costly, for some Mapuche communities to access land by working around and through both formal policy procedures and informal economic interests, while simultaneously undercutting broader territorial demands. In addition to complicating understandings of Chilean governance, the hidden patterns of policy implemented that are highlighted in this article reveal the diversity of ways in which governance strategies threaten the recognition of indigenous territorial rights.

(2018) Teaching Race and Social Justice at a Predominantly White Institution, Journal of Political Science Education

At our predominantly white university, students often shy away from controversial conversations. How can the classroom encourage students to value and engage in potentially explosive conversations? We develop a concept of “empathic scaffolding” to articulate an approach that integrates diversity and inclusion into the classroom. Empathic scaffolding structures content and pedagogy in a way that strategically expands students’ zones of comfort, starting with very personal experiences with the material and expanding to include broader groups of people and course concepts. Understanding and engaging with these concentric circles of students’ relationships to the course material is crucial if students are to hear and engage with voices to which they may have limited exposure. This article documents the best practices of implementing empathic scaffolding in the realms of content and pedagogy, offering a toolkit for professors to critically engage conversations about race and social justice.

(2018) Creating student-scholar-activists: Discourse instruction and social justice in political science classrooms,, New Political Science

This article advocates the use of discourse instruction as a means of integrating issues of social justice into the classroom and transcending the debate over politicization in academia. The field of political science is at an uncomfortable juncture; it is faced with an obligation to ourselves and our communities to critically engage and push back against the more toxic components of the political moment, staying relevant and accurate and providing students with the tools they need to process the political world; while, also resisting the dual pressures to either stay apolitical/non-partisan, or to become a current events class, ceding class time to deciphering the day’s political events. We argue that discourse instruction can be used to teach the skills of social justice in political science classrooms. In addition, the infusion of diversity into the classroom through discourse instruction is both a means of enhancing student learning by engaging in high-impact practices of teaching and learning and political activism.

(2016) Land versus Territory: Evaluating Indigenous Land Policy for the Mapuche in Chile, Journal of Agrarian Change

What are the challenges associated with translating indigenous territorial demands into land policy? While most land policy prioritizes the economic utility of land, indigenous territorial demands call for governments to more broadly conceptualize the definition and utility of land. Since the 1990s, most Latin American countries have formally recognized a range of indigenous territorial rights and worked to translate these rights into practice. Drawing on the Chilean experience, this paper argues that these alternative conceptualizations of land and territory complicate the implementation of government efforts to recognize indigenous demands. Specifically, the insufficiently defined scope of the policy exacerbates tension between communities' territorial rights demands and the government's capacity to return land. This tension is gradually and bureaucratically resolved, hindering both the policy's ability to meaningfully respond to indigenous territorial demands and the government's objective of promoting rural development. Future discussions and research must consider how these competing conceptualizations of land affect indigenous and land policy.