Research projects


Edit Antal Fodróczy









Science, Technology, and Society in North America. Comparison of Science and Technology Policies and Regulations

This research project aims to use a multidisciplinary framework to examine the dynamic of advanced technology in order to understand the resulting restructuring of societies in North America. It also seeks to identify the essential factors that make rapid technological development possible and detect those that in Mexico’s social context are obstacles to or facilitate that advance. The project includes the complex interaction and communication among the spheres of business, science, and government in science and technology policy, fundamentally in regulatory processes. It consists of an empirical study of concrete themes (biotechnology, bio-fuels, and technologies used to fight climate change), of science policies (regulation and risk management), and the dynamic of the public debates in the countries of North America compared to other regions, like the European Union.

Juan Carlos Barrón Pastor








Mass Media in North America: Mexico in the U.S. and Canadian Social Imaginary

This research proposal aims to integrate into and contribute to CISAN’s lines of research by studying the mass media in North America from an interdisciplinary perspective. The aim will be to find out why and how the media construct a regional social imaginary and to identify the mechanisms that allow them to function as interactive adaptive systems. To sketch a tentative answer about why, this proposal develops the hypothesis that it is practically pertinent and academically relevant to investigate how Castoriadis’s theory of the social imaginary works, enriched by Žižek’s proposal to better understand the construction of collective fantasies. Also, utilizing the theory of complex systems, the project will study how the media operate and the mechanisms they use to interact and adapt to other social systems, including the fragments of the social imaginary that they institutionalize.

Raúl Benítez Manaut

















Security and Geopolitics in North America

Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect in 1994, analysts have talked of the greater economic, social, culture, and political integration of the United States, Canada, and Mexico changing the security doctrines and policies in the three countries. This research project seeks to gather documents, do interviews, and participate in seminars and academic activities in which security in each of the three countries is discussed, as well as the possible commitments and links among armed forces, border protection institutions, intelligence services, and in general cooperation on matters of security among the three nations. Today, the work focuses on the analysis of cooperation with the United States, mainly through the Mérida Initiative, taking into account the scope of its implementation. The research project also takes into account security on Mexico’s northern and southern borders.

See documentation about the research at

National Security and the Armed Forces in Mexico

This project’s aim is to analyze Mexico’s armed forces. It takes into account elements of history, doctrine, politics, and organization to establish their relation to Mexico’s political system, the power relations inside the state apparatus, and Mexico’s contribution to the regional and international security system. Specifically, it analyzes the professionalization and structural make-up of the army, air force, and navy in the context of their institutional organization, divided into two ministries: the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of the Navy. The project looks particularly at the process of modernization and reforms of the armed forces, which today must undertake missions like the fight against organized crime.

See documentation about the research at

Leonardo Curzio Gutiérrez












Security and Governance in North America: National Agendas and Integration

This research project explores how economic reforms have been implemented and their impact on the country’s democratization and image abroad. Today’s Mexico, the product of these reforms, is on the path to economic integration with the rest of North America. Therefore, the nationalist visions that had been the driving force behind the development strategy for several decades and the Latin Americanist image that Mexico projected for the entire last century have been left behind.

The research’s starting point is the supposition that there are spheres of the relationships among the countries of North America in which integration has advanced notably, while in others the obstacles and prejudices are enormous —and for the moment, insurmountable. The two crosscutting themes unifying this work are governance and security. Governance is understood as the capability of legitimately and effectively managing the growing number of common issues and, at the same time each country’s own agenda, often exclusionary and incompatible with each other’s. Security is understood as the creation of conditions to guarantee common interests and objectives, as well as the each nation’s exclusive, exclusionary interests and objectives.

Ignacio Díaz de la Serna




















Origins and Development of the Republican Ideal among the U.S. Founding Fathers

In the face of the homogeneity imposed on all aspects of social life by globalization, in recent years we have witnessed the assertion of national and regional identities. Given their importance today, it is appropriate to once again bring to the table the discussion of the historic process that forged these identities in our culture with the aim of formulating possible ways forward that may constitute an alternative to that homogeneity.

Undoubtedly, the cases of France and the United States, emerging nations in the second half of the eighteenth century, are exemplary for more than reasons than one. It is necessary to recover a historic memory that will make it possible to create the foundations for updating the political and social values that intervened in the origins of U.S. democracy. Among those values —and perhaps the most important— is the sovereignty of the people. This idea operates as an authentic “method of equality” among members of society, which gave rise to a pragmatic democracy, situated at the opposite pole from the dogmatic democracy conceived in Europe.

That is, a pragmatic democracy is not a decree based on reason alone, but a concrete arrangement to regulate customs and established practices of individuals; this was an invention of the United States to cover and organize all societal and political practices. This was what made the U.S. case an original, unique experience.

The great historical lesson that the process of setting up the United States as an independent nation resides in having shown that democracy as a political system presupposes existing customs that are already democratic and a collective feeling of equality that emanates from society.

Therefore, the topic of this research, the influence of Enlightenment thinking on the U.S. Founding Fathers, aspires to open up a new line of thinking in the Center for Research on North America, since it will make it possible to understand the reality of a modern, contemporary North America (Mexico-United States-Canada) within a broader framework, that is, on an intercontinental scale as a participant in the longstanding Western European tradition.

Nattie Golubov Figueroa


















The Culture Wars in U.S. Higher Education: a Historic, Socio-cultural Perspective

The starting point for this research is the supposition that studying the cultural politics of U.S. higher education is crucial for understanding its make-up, functioning, and aims, since culture is the system of signification whereby a social order is communicated, reproduced, experienced, and studied, and that, given its importance, it becomes a territory where diverse political interests clash. This is why this analysis is part of the field of cultural studies, examining the cultural conflict among a broad gamut of systems of signification and their effects, the production and representation of experience, the constitution of social subjects, and the values that guide their actions, as happened in the 1980s.

U.S. Cultural Studies

This project has two related aims: 1) disseminating the interdisciplinary field of cultural studies, which offers a series of useful conceptual and methodological tools for studying a wide gamut of today’s cultural phenomena; and, 2) through an analysis of some manifestations of current U.S. culture, which produce collective and individual identities, the objective is to deepen our knowledge of them. To achieve these aims, the research will analyze the functioning and ideological operation of a broad gamut of cultural artifacts to understand the process whereby they instrumentalize values and signifiers that drive the consumption of material and non-material goods both domestically and in the rest of the world. In addition to publishing a book that will offer students and scholars tools of analysis and cultural critiques useful for studying contemporary U.S. culture, I have created an annotated bibliography (which is on line and continually updated) in order to offer an up-to-date research instrument to students, professors, and researchers interested in the culture of the United States.


Elizabeth Gutiérrez Romero







The Service Economy in North America; Integration and Internationalization of Services. Information Technologies, and Their Socio-Economic Repercussions

This project studies the current trends toward the creation of a service economy in North America, analyzing particularly the case of services associated with production, innovation, and regional localization. It will discuss concepts involving post-industrial societies and their effects on the structure of employment. The study of information technologies and advanced services and their socio-economic impact will be central to the analysis.

Paz Consuelo Márquez-Padilla








U.S. Political Thinking

This research encompasses three subjects related to U.S. political thinking: democracy, conservatism, and federalism. The aim is to review certain notions and political/intellectual movements considered fundamental in U.S. American thinking; to analyze their origins and development, the influences they received, and how they were expressed institutionally; and to explore how the ideas about them, which emerged down through history in Europe, were adapted and filled with content in the United States. The research particularly analyzes the different conceptions of democracy; studies conservative movements, both the Neo-conservatives and the Tea Party; reflects on federalism in the United States to understand how it is constantly re-defined; and discusses the possibility of talking about international justice today.

Graciela Martínez-Zalce Sánchez












Instructions for Living in Limbo: North American Borders on the Cusp of Two Centuries

This research sub-project examines border cities along both the Mexican-U.S. and the U.S.-Canadian border, to see how border spaces are represented in contemporary films and to what extent they depend on national stereotypes in constructing their narratives. The corpus includes Mexican, U.S., and Canadian films.

Mercurial Light. Canadian Cities vis-à-vis U.S. Metropolises. Literature and Cinema on the Cusp of Two Centuries

This research project has two main aspects: a) that cultural products both portray and form groups and identities and that these depend in a certain sense, on the media that sponsor them, whether they be cultural industries or institutions; and b) that cities have been a central topic for contemporary art, particularly for narrative, whether it be in cinema or literature, given that they both owe a great deal of their nature to the development of cities; but cities, in turn, have been changed by the cinematic form.

Claudia Maya














Transformation of U.S. and Canadian Financial Structures: A Prospective Analysis of Securitization

This research project evaluates the importance of the performance of U.S. financial structures and the transformation of Canadian banking activities through securitization practices by their different financial institutions, particularly commercial and investment banks, in the continual transformation of the global economy. The operational nature of banks is partially expressed through the conflicts and competition for a bigger share of the market and, therefore, more earnings through financial innovation.

The recent crisis in the developed countries merely underlines the profound contradiction between the enormous generation of financial wealth and the monumental complexities of slow-growing economies with high unemployment. Thus, financial crises, economic stagnation, the competition for higher profitability, investment decisions, and high unemployment levels can only be understood if we put the nature and performance of credit and the institutions that create it at the center of the economic analysis. This relationship between the banking system and money, credit/money, and, more recently, credit/securitization, is expressed in the financial industry’s transformations and the competition strategies materialized in the practices of securitization and other financial innovations that U.S. —and to a lesser extent, Canadian— banks use to capture more of the market and raise their profits, not only globally, but also regionally, thus affecting the economic policies taken on board by their closest trade partners, in our case, Mexico.

Camelia Nicoleta Tigau








Brain Circulation in North America. The Case of Highly Qualified Migration in Mexico

This project analyzes the circulation of talent in North America, emphasizing the Mexican case. Its aim is to complement the problem of brain drain with novel approaches to offer a series of viable tools for constructing policies for retaining, repatriating, and linking Mexican talents to avoid the economic losses caused by direct investment in human capital in country that is then utilized abroad. In addition, it is the basis for an academic vision that jibes with the country’s socio-economic conditions, since it also experiences the opposite phenomenon of receiving talent from other countries. Until now, an online questionnaire has been filled out by 148 Mexican professionals around the world and 66 in-depth interviews have been done on this issue.

Silvia Núñez García













Class Inequality and Social Structure in the United States

Given the persistent, deepening social inequality in today’s world, we can foresee the resurgence of academic debate about social classes. In this context, this research project takes into consideration the extreme fragility of the world economy in general and that of the United States in particular —just remember the impact of the events of 9/11—, which demands serious reflection on the determining factors for relations between unequal classes in terms of conflict or consensus.

The Role of U.S. Social Movements in the Fight against Urban Poverty in the 1990s

This project studies one of the most sensitive and polemical issues in U.S. society, poverty, using as a starting point the reflection about the capability of social movements that in the United States have managed to consolidate organizations that are spaces for empowerment of the voiceless vis-à-vis the traditional power structures represented by political parties, unions, and the state itself. The analysis is confined to two organizations, the National Coalition for the Homeless and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. The study compares them using different parameters, such as the rational expectations of promoting upward mobility for their members, economic democracy, and the formation of social capital through collective action.

Oliver Santín Peña
















Succession and Balance of Power in Canada (1980-2010).
Analysis and Perspectives of the Party System after Three Decades of Liberal and Conservative Governments

This project deals with the processes that have made possible the uninterrupted succession and balance of power between Liberals and Conservatives over the last 30 years. The origins of this situation go back to 1867, the year of the first general election. Outstanding among the reasons underlying it are the profoundly conservative nature of Canada’s elites, whether Liberal or Conservative, and how, through a series of pragmatic agreements, they have managed to maintain and preserve political power and exclude new actors. This has been the consequence of a series of strategies aimed at reaffirming the country’s federal system.

This dynamic has been possible because these groups, ensconced at the pinnacle of economic and political power, have structured an inclusionary discourse with a dynamic use of democratic values, making them extensive to the rest of the population. With the passing years, this practice of the Canadian elites has forged a very inclusive discourse in which liberalism has successfully embedded the concept of democracy as a tool constantly used in the country’s discourse of power.

Given these circumstances, this project describes, analyzes, and compares the different internal processes of Canada’s Liberal and Conservatives groupings over the last three decades, as well as the main characteristics of their respective governments once they consolidate their position as the party in power, whether as a minority or a majority government.

The research also delves into the origins and impact of the new government dynamics of the current Conservative administration headed by Stephen Harper.

Paola Virginia Suárez Ávila








Analysis of the governance of higher education in the United States in the context of the knowledge economy

The present research focuses on the critical analysis of the governance of higher education of the United States of America in the context of the knowledge economy, taking as object of study the institutional development of six universities in the United States that have high levels of academic quality at the national and international level. The research analyzes how governance of higher education has focused on the paradigm of knowledge economy at the national level in the United States through the analysis of interactions in the governance model of higher education, in which they participate as main actors, the global institutions such as the World Bank and OECD, and at national level by universities and civil society organizations.

José Luis Valdés Ugalde








The United States and Democracy in Latin America: Political, Economic, and Social Transition

This project aims to identify the historic keys to U.S. foreign policy in Latin America. The research concentrates on two aspects: the relationship between foreign policy and democracy and/or authoritarianism and the relationship between foreign security policy and the social changes that have taken place in Latin America. The study of the problems involved in the economic and political processes of the hemisphere’s countries lead us to case studies and the concrete periodization. The purpose is to study the degree of influence that Washington’s foreign policy has had in authoritarian trends in Latin America vis-à-vis the endogenous conditions that made it possible for those changes to take place.

From “Americanism” as a Hegemonic Ideology to Smart Power as an (Inevitable) Strategy for the New Century. Globalization, Decline, and Recovery in the United States: Toward a New Foreign Policy? Regional Repercussions. A Comparative Review

U.S foreign policy after September 11 opted for a failed, polarizing unilateralist strategy. The transition from George W. Bush’s presidency to Barack Obama’s was an opportunity for a gradual change in Washington’s policy on several international fronts that remained open and represent steep inclines for the balance and equilibrium of international power. To reposition itself in the global sphere during a stage of its complex decline as the central hegemonic actor, the United States has resorted to a diplomatic strategy ruled by the maxims of smart power. At a high decision-making level of the state’s “rational core,” there is a clash between currents of thought about the foreign policy the U.S. should implement. Nevertheless, reality seems to be coming down on the side of Obama; this will mean containing the foreign policy establishment’s most extremist visions. The comparative regional analysis, in which this phenomenon has a direct and indirect impact, will shed light on how this process unfolds and on the prospects for transforming the international system’s architecture. The project will pay particular attention to the Latin American sub-region.

Rosío Vargas Suárez








The U.S. Energy Sector: Implications for Mexico

The project consists of a profound analysis of the policies and energy security program of the current U.S. administration. Given the strategic nature of energy —above all oil— for the United States due to its dependence on foreign supply, energy takes on the status of a national security issue. This implies studying the relationship of energy security strategy not only to national energy policy, but also to diplomacy and military strategy at any given time. Mexico’s geographical proximity and participation in the energy integration project means that the implications of U.S. energy policy (its project of “energy independence”) for its neighbor become endogenous, visible in the design of Mexico’s energy security policy and strategy. Mexico incorporates the course of its neighbor to the north as its own in the context of implementing the neoliberal and liberal proposal for natural resources.

Mónica Verea Campos






Migratory Policies in North America

This project analyzes U.S. and Canadian migratory policies throughout the twentieth century, taking a special look at the nativist and restrictionist movements that have come out of conservatism, and their impact on their respective societies, particularly among ethnic minorities, as well as abroad, specifically on Mexico. The task with regard to U.S. migratory policy is to evaluate the impact that the measures implemented by the three branches of government have had on the shared border region as well as on our compatriots living in the United States as permanent, temporary or undocumented residents.

Roberto Zepeda Martínez





Sub-national Dynamics in North America: Relations of Canadian Non-Central Governments with Their Counterparts in the United States and Mexico

The project focuses on the study of sub-national dynamics in North America, particularly the relationships and interactions among Canadian provinces and the region’s sub-national governments. The conceptual approach takes globalization, decentralization, democratization, and governance as its reference points.