Julie Mazzei

Associate Professor and Interim Director, School for Multidisciplinary Social Sciences and Humanities, Kent State University at Kent
Areas of Expertise:

About Julie

Mazzei's research focuses primarily on irregular political violence, looking at the ways in which actors like paramilitary groups (or "death squads") organize and procure resources, including how non-state violent actors are able to organize and commit often extraordinary acts of violence in part because they are able to access institutional resources and use them without recourse. More generally, Mazzei's research focuses on and speaks to the intersection of political development and human rights.

In the News

Interviewed in "Response and Responsibility: How to Address Grave Violence Beyond our Borders," The City of Cleveland ideastream, March 29, 2019.


"Landowners, Politicians, and the Threat from Below: Emergence and Evolution of Paramilitary Groups in Chiapas, Mexico" (Routledge, 2022).

Looks at the ways in which paramilitary violence emerged and evolved with the expansion and diversification of investment in the region of Chiapas, Mexico.

"Kids Today: They Care, But They Don’t Think We Do" (with Andrew Barnes, Oindrila Roy, and George Poluse). Journal of Political Science Education 18, no. 4 (2022): 536-554 .

Finds that many students associate a political science major with the practice of politics, and the practice of politics with dishonestly and selfishness.Therefore, many students assume that the major is not suitable for those who want to contribute to the public good. Purposeful outreach by academic units is found to have a positive impact drawing service-oriented students to the degree.

"The Extraordinary Rendition Network: Illiberal Security Complexes and Global Governance" (with Todd Nelson). The International Journal of Human Rights 26, no. 5 (2021): 902-928.

Uses network analysis to examine flight data from the Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation program under the Bush Administration, we find that democratic and non-democratic states cooperated, playing different roles, in the extraordinary rendition of individuals during the "war on terror." This illiberal security complex allowed state to skirt the global governance system designed to prevent such violations.

"You Got It, So When Do You Flaunt It?: Building Rapport, Intersectionality, and the Strategic Deployment of Gender in the Field" (with Julie Mazzei). Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 38, no. 3 (2009).

Illustrates how establishing rapport in the field is key to successful data-collection. Explores the role identity plays in establishing rapport, looking specifically at the ways in which gender intersects with other identity components. Suggests ways in which researchers can navigate the relationships between their own intersectionality and that of informants.

"Death Squads or Self-Defense Forces? How Paramilitary Groups Emerge and Challenge Democracy in Latin America" (University of North Carolina Press, 2009).

Offers in a comparative case study in-depth data analysis demonstrating the ways in which paramilitary groups pull together networks of differently-resourced actors to procure space, weapons, and impunity.

"Non-state Violent Actors and Social Movement Organizations" ( Emerald Publishing Group, 2017).

Offers insights on the ways in which non-state actors organize, cooperate, learn over time, and impact the broader political environment. Discusses covering a wide range of non-state actors, the collection speaks to the import of extra-institutional political action.

"Finding Shame in Truth: The Importance of Public Engagement in Truth Commissions" Human Rights Quarterly 33, no. 2 (2011): 431-452.

Discusses using the Truth Commission launched in El Salvador after the civil war and demonstrates that the failure to include the public in an open truth-telling project has long-term political ramifications. Analyzes that the commission launched in El Salvador after the civil war along with the discourse used to protect and support the power hierarchy of the civil-war era (and before) was not challenged by the Truth Commission. Mentions that instead it continued to be utilized in post-conflict politics.

"Cuba’s Quest for Economic Independence" (with William M. LeoGrande). Journal of Latin American Studies 34, no. 2 (2002): 325-363.

Elaborates on how Cuba's economy has evolved over the post-Revolution decades in a myriad of ways, perhaps most significantly in terms of trade partner relationships. Evaluates the independence of Cuba's economy since the Revolution, using the metrics of dependency theory. 

"Negotiating Domestic Socialism With Global Capitalism: So-Called Tourist Apartheid in Cuba" Communist and Post-Communist Studies 45, no. 2 (2012): :91–103.

Summarizes how the dual economic constructed in Cuba during the late 1990s has been called "apartheid" by some.  Explains that the system was used not to exploit Cubans, but to exploit the international capitalism system to benefit the Cuban socio-economic policy-implementation.