Amy Erica Smith is an associate professor of political science, as well as a Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Professor at Iowa State University. In the 2020-24 academic years, she is an Andrew Carnegie Fellow. Professor Smith’s research examines how ordinary people understand and engage in politics. Although she studies democratic and authoritarian regimes globally, from the US to Kenya to Oman, her primary expertise is in Latin America, and particularly Brazil.
Smith has published four books, including The Knowledge Polity: Teaching and Research in the Social Sciences (2022, Oxford University Press, with Paul Djupe and Anand E. Sokhey) and Religion and Brazilian Democracy: Mobilizing the People of God (2019, Cambridge University Press) — now in translation, agora traduzido como Religião e a democracia brasileira (2023, Editora Vozes). Her academic articles appear in numerous peer-reviewed outlets, among them the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, the British Journal of Political Science, and Perspectives on Politics. She also enjoys writing for public audiences and talking with journalists.
Outside of the halls of academia, Smith is also a member of the Ames Community School Board and she’s one half of a creative writing duo with Ryan Lilith Jeffrey. Oh, and it’s probably not too surprising she was recently diagnosed with ADHD!
In Fall 2021, Smith received the Theda Skocpol Emerging Scholar Award from the Comparative Politics section of the American Political Science Association. A member of the LAPOP family, Amy Erica has previously held fellowships from Fulbright, the Notre Dame Kellogg Institute for International Studies, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Luce/ACLS Fellowship in Journalism, Religion, and International Affairs. Smith’s research has also been funded by the National Science Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Mellon, Luce, and Templeton Foundations. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University has recognized her with Awards for both Mid-Career and Early Achievement in Research. She earned her PhD in political science from the University of Pittsburgh in the fall of 2011.
- Anti-democratic you-know-what happens. Is it a coup?
- What can women (and men) do about gender inequality in academia?
- On the Weakness of the Galactic Empire (for Vox Mischiefs of Faction)
- Could the United States Become a Different Kind of Democracy? (interview in The New York Times, July 19, 2018)
- Signs of Democratic Demise in Latin America (on Vox Mischiefs of Faction blog)
- Here’s What Citizens Who Vote for Authoritarians Have in Common (Monkey Cage Blog, Washington Post)
- What explains the troubles facing Evo Morales, Trump, and Lula? Maybe the problem is the presidency.
Selected Recorded Talks and Interviews:
- “Politics and Religion in Brazil“: Interview on the Democracy Paradox Podcast, November 2020
- “Religion and Politics in Latin America“: Charlemos series @ the University of Pittsburgh, August 2020
- “Religion and Democracy“: The Wilson Center, February 2020
About the photos on this site:
In August 2019, my bosses wanted a good photo of me. They hired the amazing McClanahan Studio in Ames, IA, which took the four (non-Darth Vader) photos of me on this website. I loved their work so much that I couldn’t choose just one.
Check the studio out–they have some of the most creative portraiture I’ve ever seen. (Here’s my favorite.)