About Me

I am currently a Ph.D. candidate in the department of political science. I received a Master of Public Administration from Kennesaw State University in 2016 and my Bachelor of Science in History, Technology, and Society from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2012. In 2021, I received the Donald G. Puchala Fellowship through the Walker Institute for my research on international relations. I am interested in research that intersects the study of democratic backsliding and foreign policy. In addition to my dissertation project, I have worked on research that explores autocratic policy preferences, development aid, and international organizations. I have presented this research at several top political science conferences.

While in the program, I have served as a TA for several political science lectures and have participated in the University’s Incubator for teaching innovation. In 2021 I also received the Political Science Department’s Best Graduate Student Teaching Award.

Research Interests

  • Democratic Backsliding
  • Foreign Policy
  • Non-Governmental Organizations
  • International Organizations

Regime Contraction and NGOs

Over the past decade, developing democracies around the globe have become increasingly more illiberal. Many people, from academics to journalists and politicians, have identified this phenomenon as democratic backsliding or autocratic consolidation. Cases have been identified around the world, from Hungary to India, as undergoing backsliding. Even bastions of democracy like the United States and the United Kingdom have experienced erosions to important domestic institutions. This dissertation will attempt to connect the disparate narratives around democratic backsliding and autocratic consolidation to provide a cohesive theoretical approach. I will test this theory of institutional contraction by examining the relationship between these domestic changes and their interaction with civil society. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are an institutional representation of civil society promoting the spread of global, democratic norms, in addition to providing the public with goods and services that the state is unable to accommodate. Yet their presence represents a threat to regimes seeking to consolidate their power and engage in the illiberalization of the state. Therefore, I anticipate the NGOs will be strategic targets of states experiencing these domestic changes and that over time their profile within the state will change as a state becomes less democratic. Further, after a state targets NGOs, I will explore how their relationship with the state changes to promote and diffuse non-democratic policies. Finally, as NGOs are the largest delivery system of aid, I will write a policy analysis that provides possible directions going forward concerning regime contraction and NGOs.

Contact Me

Email: km30@email.sc.edu

: Kelsey Martin-Morales