American University News
Professor Marcelo Bohrt joined the SIS faculty this past fall from Brown University, where he completed a PhD. A sociologist, Bohrt studies the intersection of race, racism, and politics in Bolivia and the US. We sat down with Bohrt to learn more about his research interests as he settles in at SIS.
What are your main areas of research and study?
My research lies at the intersection of three areas of sociology: organizational sociology, political sociology, and cultural sociology. My main focus is on how race and racism shape the experiences of members of historically excluded ethno-racial populations when they access state bureaucracies. I’m interested in understanding how race and racism have shaped organizational structures and cultures, as well as interpersonal relations, within state bureaucracies.
My dissertation research focused on the Bolivian Foreign Ministry since the arrival of President Evo Morales in 2006. Evo Morales was the first indigenous man to become president in Bolivia. Morales’ party had a strong indigenous base, and he was elected during a tumultuous time in Bolivia when traditional parties and the political projects they stood for were losing legitimacy. This made it possible to propose radical changes to the state and the country, and to advance a new nation-building project that put indigeneity at the center.
Does this research have broader implications in our world today?
There is a broader relevance to this question of political participation. It’s important in itself because it touches on central democratic questions of political equality and inclusion and being able to participate in government. But there’s also a discussion in the US and in Latin America about creating representative bureaucracies. How do we build bureaucracies that are representative of the population, whether we’re talking about race, gender, or ethnicity?
What are you currently researching?
In addition to my research on Bolivia, I’m currently working on a couple of projects …