Professor Kevin Middlebrook

Professor of Latin American Politics


Kevin J. Middlebrook is Professor of Latin American Politics at the Institute of the Americas, University College London. He was previously affiliated with the Institute of Latin American Studies (2002-04) and the Institute for the Study of the Americas (2004-12), both at the University of London. Between 1995 and 2001 he was Director of the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California, San Diego, where he also held an appointment as Adjunct Professor of Political Science.

Educated at Harvard University, he has held postdoctoral fellowships at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies (1983-84, 1991) and the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University (1993-94), as well as research grants from the Fulbright-Hays Commission, the Social Science Research Council, the Howard Heinz Endowment, the Fulbright Commission, and the Nuffield Foundation.

His professional activities include service as an editorial board member of the Latin American Research Review (1997-2000) and the Journal of Latin American Studies (2006-12), multiple interviews on Latin American politics and US foreign policy with newspapers and electronic news media throughout the world, and consultancies with government agencies in the United Kingdom and the United States. Within the international Latin American Studies Association, he has served as a member (1992-94) and co-chair (1994-97) of the Task Force on Human Rights and Academic Freedom, a member of the steering committee for the working group on labour studies (1994-95), chair of the “Democracy and Human Rights” section of the 1994-95 Congress programme committee, co-founder and co-chair of the organized section on Mexico (2009-12), co-chair of the Development Committee (2012-14), and the Association’s first elected Treasurer (2006-10).

He has served as a Ph.D. examiner at Indiana University-Bloomington in the United States, La Trobe University in Australia, and, in the United Kingdom, King’s College London, the London School of Economics and Political Science, the University of Birmingham, the University of Essex, the University of Oxford, the University of Sheffield, the University of Sussex, and the University of Warwick.

Current research

Professor Middlebrook’s current research examines alternative strategies for the international defence of workers’ rights. . It focuses empirically on the special labour institutions created in association with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), systematically evaluating their performance over their first fifteen years of operation and exploring the domestic and international factors that have shaped their capacity to address labour rights violations in Canada, Mexico and the United States. The project also compares the NAFTA experience with labour-rights regimes in the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR) and the European Union, and it assesses the effectiveness of trade agreement-linked institutional arrangements compared to such alternative rights-protection strategies as corporate social responsibility campaigns and internationally sanctioned labour norms like those promoted by the International Labour Organization. The research highlights the tensions between national sovereignty and the cross-national or supranational protection of labour rights, and it considers the conditions under which labour organizations and their political allies can strengthen safeguards of worker rights.

Professor Kevin Middlebrook
icons_PM__phone.png +44 (0)20 3108 9717; internal extension: 59717
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Current teaching and supervision

Modules for Term 1 (Fall Term) 2015/16:

AMERG004: Democratization of Latin America

Professor Middlebrook supervises research (MPhil/PhD) students examining the comparative and international politics of Latin America. Past and current students have analysed such topics as the politics of media regulation in the Southern Cone, ethnicity and indigenous political participation in Peru and other Andean countries, political clientelism and democracy in Belize, constitutional reform and democratization in Colombia, the politics of electoral reform in Latin America, labour rights and corporate social responsibility in the Central American garment industry, the politics of state-led economic development in Mexico and South Korea, and Ecuadorean foreign policy and the ‘law of the sea’.

Publications, networks and links


Authored or co-authored

Organized Labour and Politics in Mexico: Changes, Continuities and Contradictions (Institute for the Study of the Americas, 2012), of which there is a 2013 revised and expanded edition in Spanish

Sindicatos y política en México: cambios, continuidades y contradicciones (Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales-México, 2013)

The Paradox of Revolution: Labor, the State, and Authoritarianism in Mexico (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), winner of the 1996 Hubert Herring Book Prize from the Pacific Coast Council of Latin American Studies

Mexico Since 1980: A Second Revolution in Economics, Politics, and Society (Cambridge University Press, 2008)

Edited or co-edited

The United States and Latin America in the 1980s: Contending Perspectives on a Decade of Crisis (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1986)

Unions, Workers, and the State in Mexico (Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, 1991)

The Politics of Economic Restructuring: State-Society Relations and Regime Change in Mexico (Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, 1994)

Electoral Observation and Democratic Transitions in Latin America (Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, 1998)

Conservative Parties, the Right, and Democracy in Latin America (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000)

Party Politics and the Struggle for Democracy in Mexico: National and State-Level Analyses of the Partido Acción Nacional (Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, 2001)

Confronting Development: Assessing Mexico’s Economic and Social Policy Challenges (Stanford University Press and Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, 2003)

Dilemmas of Political Change in Mexico (Institute of Latin American Studies, University of London / Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, University of California, San Diego, 2004)

Producción de exportación, desarrollo económico y el futuro de la industria maquiladora en México (Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, 2005)

Journal articles and book chapters

'Caciquismo and Democracy: Mexico and Beyond' Bulletin of Latin American Research, 28 (3) (2009): 411-27.

In addition, Prof Middlebrook has published articles in major English- and Spanish-language journals, including Bulletin of Latin American Research, Comparative Politics, Estudios Sociológicos, Foro Internacional, Journal of Common Market Studies, Journal of Latin American Studies, Labor Studies Journal, Latin American Research Review, Revista Mexicana de Sociología, and World Politics, as well as chapters in numerous edited books.


The British Network on Latin American Politics promotes debates and exchanges on contemporary Latin American politics, public policy and international affairs. It also facilitates collaboration among university-based researchers at a number of universities, including King’s College London, London School of Economics and Political Science, University College London, University of Bradford, University of Oxford, University of Sheffield and others.

The co-convenors of the Network are Kevin J. Middlebrook (UCL-Institute of the Americas) and Laurence Whitehead (Nuffield College, Oxford).

Page last modified on 28 aug 14 15:28 by Oscar V Martinez Gonzalez