Robert Barr, assistant professor of political science and international affairs, is an expert in Latin American politics. His articles have been published in the American Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, Latin American Politics and Society, Party Politics and Third World Quarterly. His work also appears in the edited volumes The Fujimori Legacy and Decentralization in Asia and Latin America.
In addition, he is one of the authors of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Handbook of Democracy and Governance Program Indicators. He has presented numerous papers at domestic and international conferences held by the American Political Science Association, the International Political Science Association, the International Studies Association and the Latin American Studies Association, among others. He presented “The Sources of Latin American Populism” at the American Political Science Association’s annual convention in 2010.
Dr. Barr’s experience also includes field research in Bolivia and Peru; development work in El Salvador, Guatemala, Philippines, Senegal and Uganda; language study in Mexico; and travel in sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas and Europe. His honors include grants or fellowships from the University of Mary Washington, the University of Miami, the University of Texas, USAID and the National Security Education Program.
Dr. Barr is recipient of the 2018 Grellet C. Simpson Award, UMW's most prestigious annual award for excellence in undergraduate teaching, and the 2010 Alumni Association Outstanding Young Faculty Member Award. He held the UMW Jepson Fellowship for the 2009-2010 academic year, and in 2007 he received a highly competitive and prestigious Junior Faculty Research Grant from the Smith Richardson Foundation.
He has served as a grant reviewer for the David L. Boren Graduate Fellowship Program and the Economic and Social Research Council, a manuscript reviewer for multiple academic journals and an advisory panel member for the Council on Foreign Relations’ Center for Preventative Action. Dr. Barr is a member of the American Political Science Association and the Latin American Studies Association.
Areas of Expertise (5)
2018 UMW Grellet C. Simpson Award (professional)
The Grellet C. Simpson Award is the University of Mary Washington's most prestigious annual award for excellence in undergraduate teaching.
UMW Alumni Association Outstanding Young Faculty Member Award (professional)
This award, supported by the University of Mary Washington Alumni Association, is given to one member of the faculty who has been at the University at least two but no more than five years.
UMW Jepson Fellowship (professional)
A generous gift to the University from Alice Andrews Jepson ’64 and Robert Jepson, her husband, enabled the creation of the Jepson Fellows Program. This initiative is designed to enhance the University’s ability to recruit and retain the highest-quality junior faculty members and to support them in their quest for promotions and tenure.
Junior Faculty Research Grant - Smith Richardson Foundation (professional)
This grant is intended to buy-out up to one year of teaching time and to underwrite research costs (including research assistance and travel).
University of Texas at Austin: Ph.D., Political Science 2002
University of Virginia: M.A., Foreign Affairs 1994
University of Virginia: B.A., Economics, minor in International Relations 1990
- U.S. Agency for International Development
- American Political Science Association
- David L. Boren Graduate Fellowship Program
- Economic and Social Research Council
- Council on Foreign Relations' Center for Preventative Action
- Latin American Studies Association
Media Appearances (2)
Congratulations to 2013-14 Sabbatical Awardees and Jepson Fellows!
University of Mary Washington online
Rob Barr, Department of Political Science and International Affairs. Project for 2013-14 academic year: complete book project on “Populism and Democracy in Latin America.”...
Cuban–American says Obama’s visit to Cuba ‘invalidates all the suffering’ she and others have experienced
Richmond Times-Dispatch; The Free Lance-Star print
That’s why Robert Barr, an associate professor of political science and international affairs at the University of Mary Washington, considers the visit historic.
PSCI 101A-01 – Intro to Political Science
Survey of the basic concepts and theories of political science, including comparative analysis of political institutions and ideologies.
444 – Political Movements and Organizations in Latin America
Intensive analysis of political organizations and movements in contemporary Latin America. Topics may include political parties, guerrilla movements and populism.
PSCI 323-01 – Latin American Politics
Comparative analysis of politics in Latin America, including historical precedents and contemporary systems in several of the region’s countries.
In this article, I attempt to clarify the relationships among three contemporary concepts that are often used interchangeably or conflated in the literature: anti-establishment politics, political outsiders and populism. In order to make sense of these manifestations of public discontent, I argue that one must examine the nature of political appeals, political actors' locations vis-à-vis the party system and the linkages between citizens and government. Doing so, furthermore, helps clarify the meaning of populism, one of the most elusive concepts in political science. The definition of populism I offer allows us to synthesize much of the literature on the subject while weeding out unnecessary and secondary characteristics. Importantly, too, this definition allows us to separate competing claims of `direct democracy' and thus populists from non-populists.
Since 1999, growing citizen dissatisfaction in Bolivia has been manifest in a cycle of often violent protests. Citizens believe that they have no means of expressing themselves except demonstrations. The public has grown weary of neoliberalism, which is perceived as benefiting only the elite. A recent economic downturn provided the catalyst for the unrest. Underlying these economic concerns, however, are fundamental problems with representation. The second Bolivian "revolution" involved not only the shift from state-led economic development to neoliberalism but also a shift from corporatism to pluralism. Representative institutions have not fully responded to the new pluralistic landscape, despite a range of political reforms. Many Bolivians find that their voice in government has weakened even as their needs have grown. The Bolivian case thereby highlights the obstacles young democracies face in winning over decreasingly tolerant citizens.
This article examines the prevalence and consequences of authoritarian attitudes among elites in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela. We focus on the connection between antidemocratic elite attitudes and support for democracy; the causes and effects of authoritarian attitudes among elites and their implications for authoritarianism; and the impact of authoritarian attitudes beyond social policy preferences to other policy areas that have indirect implications for order. Contrary to some of the literature, we find that antidemocratic attitudes affect elites' support for democracy. Our analysis also speaks to the debate on the origins of authoritarianism. Much of the evidence supports Altemeyer's notion that perceived threat raises levels of authoritarianism, rather than Feldman's contention that threat strengthens the influence of authoritarian attitudes. Finally, we demonstrate that there is a broader influence of authoritarian attitudes on economic policy preferences, but only where those policies appear to have implications for social order.