Christy Thornton

Christy Thornton, Johns Hopkins UniversityI am an Assistant Professor in the Johns Hopkins University Department of Sociology and Program in Latin American Studies, and a core faculty member for the Latin America in a Globalizing World Initiative. During 2017-2018, I was a Fellow at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Initiative on Global History. I received my PhD from NYU in 2015, and taught in History and International Studies at Rowan University before coming to Hopkins. My research interests are interdisciplinary, and include the history of development, labor and social movements, Latin American political economy, and Mexican state formation.

I hold a Bachelor’s degree from Barnard College, which I attended as a Pell Grant student, as well as a Master’s of International Affairs from Columbia University, which was supported by a Truman Scholarship. Having been raised on public assistance by a single mom who received her GED after a stint in prison, I am a dedicated advocate for low-income and under-represented students in higher education.

Before graduate school, I was for five years the Executive Director of the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), a 50-year old research and advocacy organization working on Latin American affairs and the U.S. relationship with the region, and I am currently a member of the Board of Directors there.

In addition to my scholarly work, I make frequent media appearances and write for popular publications such as The Washington Post, The New York Times’ “Room for Debate,”  Al Jazeera, The Nation, and Jacobin. I am also a radio producer and host.

Research Description

My current manuscript project, Revolution in Development: Mexico and the Governance of the Global Economy, under contract with the University of California Press, uses a case study of post-revolutionary Mexico to reexamine the origins of development as an international project. Using a historical analysis, the book traces how 20th-century Mexican diplomats, political figures, and economists mobilized the social and economic tenets of the Mexican Revolution to advocate for an international regime of redistributive multilateralism. The book argues that this Mexican advocacy had a profound impact on the creation and reform of international development institutions, as well as on how planners in the United States understood and executed the development project. This project therefore argues for the need to move beyond frameworks of diffusionist modernization or dependent development to re-theorize the emergence of development from the Global South.

Fellowships and Awards

  • Dean’s Interdisciplinary Project Grant, Latin America in a Globalizing World Initiative, Johns Hopkins University (with Casey Lurtz, Bécquer Seguin, Alessandro Angelini), 2018
  • Mellon Fellowship in Comparative Revolution, Brandeis University (declined), 2017
  • Lewis-Hanke Post-Doctoral Award, Conference on Latin American History (CLAH), 2015
  • Dissertation Completion Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS)/Mellon Foundation, 2014
  • Dissertation Completion Fellowship, Mellon Foundation, NYU GSAS (declined), 2014
  • History Project Research Fellowship, Harvard University/Institute for New Economic Thinking, 2013
  • International Dissertation Research Fellowship, Social Science Research Council (SSRC IDRF), 2012
  • New York University History Department Dissertation Research Grant, 2013
  • Samuel Flagg Bemis Dissertation Research Grant, Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR), 2012
  • New York University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Pre-Dissertation Research Grant, 2012
  • Mellon Foundation Pre-Dissertation Research Grant, 2011
  • Barnard College Alumnae Association Fellowship, 2010­–2011
  • New York University McCracken Fellowship, 2009–2014
  • Phi Beta Kappa, 2002
  • Harry S. Truman Scholarship, 2001