Mary Fran T. Malone (Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of New Hampshire. She first became interested in democratization while she was volunteering at an orphanage in rural Argentina. As part of her preparation for her volunteer work, she began reading about the history of Argentina, particularly its transition from a brutal dictatorship to a fledgling democracy in 1983. Once in Argentina, she became fascinated by the debates surrounding this transition to democracy. On one hand, some people still defended the previous dictatorship, despite the horrific human rights abuses that occurred during military rule. Others countered that there was no excuse for the human rights abuses, but for the sake of national reconciliation the past should be forgotten. At the other extreme were those calling for full prosecution and accountability for all those responsible during the dictatorship. These debates occurred against a backdrop of economic crisis, during which time many citizens expressed high levels of dissatisfaction with the current state of democracy in their country.
These experiences in Argentina led Malone to study democratization in graduate school. She has continued to pursue these interests, as her current research focuses on democratization in Latin America, and examines how institutional change influences citizens' attitudes during the transition from authoritarianism to democracy. Currently, Prof. Malone is working on a book manuscript that examines the impact of justice reform on citizens' support for democratic norms in Central America. Her recent publications have appeared in Latin American Politics and Society, Bulletin of Latin American Research and the European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies as well as edited book volumes.
University Dialogue contribution: Can the United States Export Democracy?