Janice Gallagher

Janice Gallagher


janice.gallagher [at] rutgers.edu



Office Location

Hill Hall Room 719


Janice Gallagher is currently an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University, Newark. She was previously a postdoctoral fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. She holds a PhD in Government from Cornell University, an MA in Teaching at Brown University, and a BA in Political Science and Economics from Swarthmore College. She conducted more than two years of fieldwork in Mexico and Colombia, and previously worked as a human rights accompanier in Colombia. Gallagher’s dissertation, "Tipping the Scales of Justice: The Role of Citizen Action in Strengthening the Rule of Law," examines the role of organized citizen action and institutional pressure in affecting the provision of justice in Mexico and Colombia. This study is part of a larger research agenda of state-civil society relations, specifically how informal institutions, relationships and mobilization shape judicial and human rights outcomes. Her research has appeared in Comparative Political Studies, and in many popular venues such as the Huffington Post and openglobaldemocracy.net.

Courses Taught

2016 “Violence and Human Rights in Latin America.” Senior Seminar, Department of International Relations, Brown University.

2014 “Social Movements and Struggles for Justice.” Senior Seminar, Department of Political Science, Brown University.

2014 “Legal Advocacy and Human Rights: Institutions and Compliance in Latin America.” Independent Study Instructor, Department of Political Science, Brown University.

2014 “Power and Politics: Theory and Practice of Human Rights.” First Year Writing Seminar, Government Department, Cornell University.

2010 “Comparative Politics of Latin America.” Teaching Assistant to Professor Gustavo Flores-Macias, Cornell University. Ran weekly discussion sections (in English); also taught add-on section (in Spanish) about current events and politics in Latin America

2010 “Introduction to Comparative Politics.” Head Teaching Assistant to Professor Kenneth Roberts, Cornell University.

2009 “Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies.” Teaching Assistant to Professor Sarah Kreps Cornell University.

Research Initiatives

Book Manuscript in progress

Bootstrap Justice: Activists, Advocates and Lethal Violence in Mexico and Colombia Janice Gallagher

Democratic legitimacy rests on the state’s promise to protect the lives of its citizens. In democracies struggling with violence, the failure of the state to deliver on this promise - and to hold those who commit acts of lethal violence legally accountable – shakes the base of the democratic system. While democracies have overhauled their constitutions, elections and legislatures in efforts to improve governance and security, judiciaries have proved stubbornly resistant to change. In Bootstrap Justice: Activists, Advocates and Lethal Violence, Janice Gallagher forefronts relationships between citizens and state investigators, as opposed to institutional rules and bureaucratic organization, in order to understand what drives judicial behavior and outcomes.

Employing a least likely research design in two democracies struggling with high rates of lethal violence and impunity, Mexico and Colombia, Gallagher asks whether there are conditions under which organized citizens and their international allies can activate judicial systems plagued by corruption and dysfunction. Drawing on ethnography, interviews and judicial outcomes data gathered over the course of more than four years, she develops two analytical categories to understand how civil society action affects legal outcomes: activists impose a political cost to impunity and reframe victims of violent crime as deserving of justice, while advocates facilitate the flow of investigative information and promote trust between state officials and family members of victims. She finds that a synergistic political dynamic between activists and advocates can emerge in which political pressure is mounted by activists and channeled into judicial progress by advocates. This activist/advocate pressure more than doubles the likelihood that a case will be investigated, escaping the fate of similar cases – more than 70 percent of which languish in justice systems without any sign of investigative activity. While local groups most often anchor these activist-advocate dynamics, international NGOs and inter-governmental organizations may also play productive and definitive roles in disrupting tenacious patterns of impunity by using their outsider status to legitimize local groups and broker relationships with state officials. External groups also, however, can disrupt productive local organizing dynamics and destroy nascent coalitions and organizing efforts if they are not attuned to local political dynamics.



2014 Teaching Award: The Spencer Prize: Recognizes excellence in collaboration between a graduate instructor of a First-Year Writing Seminar and a student leading to a finished essay. Cornell University.

2014 Teaching Award: Information Literary Assignment Sequence Prize: Recognizes the best sequence of assignments promoting student research and information literacy in a First-Year Writing Seminar. Cornell University.

2012 The George Kahin Prize: for the dissertation research in the areas of international relations and foreign policy studies judged to hold the greatest promise as a contribution to the discipline. Department of Government, Cornell University.


2015 Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award (UTRA): for two full-time research assistants for data collection in Mexico. Brown University.

2012 Inter-American Foundation Grassroots Development Fellowship: for dissertation research in Colombia and Mexico.

2012 National Science Foundation Law and Social Science Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant: for dissertation research in Colombia and Mexico.

2011 Fulbright/Garcia Robles Scholarship: for dissertation research in Mexico.

2010 Social Science Research Council Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship: grant for summer research and intensive dissertation proposal development workshops.

2010 Tinker Grant - Latin American Studies Program: to support summer research in Colombia.

2009/10 Cornell University Peace Studies Grant and Einaudi Center for International Studies Summer Travel Grant: to support summer research in Mexico.

2009/10/12/14 Cornell Graduate School Conference Grant.


Cornell University PhD, Department of Government 2015

  • Fields: Comparative Politics, International Relations, International Law
  • Regional focus: Latin America, especially Colombia, Mexico.
  • Committee: Sidney Tarrow (co-chair), Kenneth Roberts (co-chair), Matthew Evangelista

Brown University Masters of Arts in Teaching 2003

  • Certification to teach secondary American and World History, Social Studies

Swarthmore College Bachelor of Arts with High Honors 1999

  • Major: Political Science, Minor: Economics.


Human rights, Latin America, especially Mexico and Colombia, Social Movements, International Law, Transnational Advocacy Networks, Legal Mobilization


Book Project

“Bootstrap Justice: Activists, Advocates and Lethal Violence in Mexico & Colombia.”

Peer-Reviewed Journals

2016 The Last Mile Problem: Activists, Advocates and the Struggle for Justice in Domestic Courts.” Forthcoming, Comparative Political Studies.

Invited Book Chapters

2016 The Judicial Breakthrough Model: Transnational Advocacy Networks and Lethal Violence In Anaya, Alejandro, Barbara Frey, & James Ron (Eds.) In Human Rights in Mexico: Crisis and opportunity. Chapter accepted with revisions

2016 “State and Law in Latin America: A Critical Assessment.” Second author, with Lisa Hilbink. In Handbook of Law and Society in Latin America. Ansolabehere, Karina & Rachel Sieder (Eds.) Chapter submitted; under review

2013 “Mobilization in Mexico in 2012: The Movement for Peace and the Struggle for Justice” in Anuario del Conflicto Social 2012 / 2012 Social Conflict Yearbook. Universidad de Barcelona ICCS (Investigaciones sobre Conflicto y Cambio Sociales). Barcelona.

Selected NGO/Media Publications:

2016 “The day after Trump was elected, we came to Colombia. Why?” With Ted Lewis and Whitney Taylor. Huffington Post, 11/16/16

“24 Months after Ayotzinapa.” With Paula Martinez Gutierrez and Camila Ruiz Segovia. NACLA. http://nacla.org/news/2016/09/27/human-rights-crossroads-24-months-after-ayotzinapa

“Human rights at a crossroads: 18 months after Ayotzinapa.” With Paula Martinez Gutierrez and Camila Ruiz Segovia. Opendemocracy.net https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/janice-gallagher-paula-martinez-gutierrez-camila-ruiz-segovia/human-rights-at-cross

2015 “Ayotzinapa: 10 Reasons to Keep the Search for Truth Alive.” With Ted Lewis. Article published Sept 9, 2015 on Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ted-lewis/ayotzinapa-ten-reasons_b_8099778.html

2014 “The Rise and Fall of ‘False Positive’ Killings in Colombia: The Role of U.S. Military Assistance, 2000-2010.” Contributing author on NGO-issued report: NGO authors are the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Colombia-Europe-U.S. Human Rights Observatory. http://forusa.org/content/report-rise-fall-false-positive-killings-colombia-role-us-military-assistance-2000-2010

2013 “Neither Elites Nor Masses: Protecting Human Rights in the Real World.” Article published Dec 13, 2013 in online human rights forum Open Global Rights: https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/janice-gallagher/neither-elites-nor-masses-protecting-human-rights-in-real-world

2008 “Struggling for Respect: The Freedom of Conscience Movement in Colombia,” War Resistors’ League Magazine, with Moira Birss. http://forusa.org/struggling-respect-freedom-conscience-movement-colombia

2007 We will not be silenced: Testimonies of Hope from Colombian Women, Contributing Editor. American Friends Service Committee / Fellowship of Reconciliation, 2007.