Rachel Schwartz, Assistant Professor of Political Science, History & Political Science

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Rachel A. Schwartz is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Otterbein University.  Her research focuses on the legacies of armed conflict, state building, corruption, and human rights in Central America. Dr. Schwartz’s research has been supported by the Fulbright Program and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), and her work has been published or is forthcoming in scholarly journals like the Journal of Peace Research, the Journal of Global Security StudiesLatin American Politics & SocietyOxford Encyclopedia of the Military in Politics, and Studies in Comparative International Development. She has also contributed to a number of popular outlets including The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog, NACLA Report on the Americas, Americas Quarterly, and World Politics Review.

Her current book project, provisionally titled Undermining the State from Within: The Institutional Legacies of Civil War in Central America, was awarded the 2020 Gabriel A. Almond Award for the best dissertation in comparative politics from the American Political Science Association (APSA).

Dr. Schwartz began conducting research in Central America as an undergraduate at Haverford College and continued her engagement with the region as a program associate at the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington, D.C. based think tank, where she coordinated programs on security and migration in Central America and Mexico as well as Congressional outreach.  She received her Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2019.  Prior to beginning at Otterbein University, Dr. Schwartz was a 2019-2020 postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Inter-American Policy and Research (CIPR) at Tulane University.


  • Ph.D., University of Wisconsin–Madison, 2019
  • B.A., Haverford College, 2011
  • Research, Creative, & Professional Work

  • Dr. Schwartz is currently completing a book manuscript, provisionally titled Undermining the State from Within: The Institutional Legacies of Civil War in Central America, which examines how armed conflicts in the 1980s generated perverse, often predatory, rules and procedures within state institutions, which have distorted long-term development in the Central America.
  • Publications

  • Forthcoming. “Guatemala: The Military in Politics,” with Anita Isaacs. Oxford Encyclopedia of the Military in Politics. Oxford University Press.
  • 2020. “Conjuring the Criminal State: Rethinking the ‘State-Idea’ in Post-Conflict Reconstruction and International Statebuilding.” Journal of Global Security Studies. Online First.
  • 2020. “Civil War, Institutional Change, and the Criminalization of the State: Evidence from Guatemala.” Studies in Comparative International Development 55(3): 381-401.
  • 2018. “What Drives Violence against Civilians in Civil War? Evidence from Guatemala’s Conflict Archives,” with Scott Straus. Journal of Peace Research 55(2): 222-235.
  • 2018. “Rethinking Comparison,” with Erica S. Simmons and Nicholas Rush Smith. Qualitative and Multi-Method Research 16(1): 1-7.
  • 2018. “From Reconciliation to Rule of Law: The Shifting Landscape of International Transitional Justice Assistance in Guatemala,” with Anita Isaacs, in Transitional Justice, International Assistance, and Civil Society: Missed Connections, eds. Paige Arthur and Christalla Yakinthou (New York: Cambridge University Press), 27-51
  • Affiliations & Awards

  • Gabriel A. Almond Dissertation Award, American Political Science Association, 2020
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Center for Inter-American Policy and Research (CIPR), Tulane University, 2019-2020
  • Fulbright Award (Guatemala), 2016-2017
  • Jennings Randolph Peace Scholarship, United States Institute of Peace, 2016-2017
  • American Political Science Association
  • Latin American Studies Association
  • International Studies Association
  • Guatemala Scholars Network