Nov. 13, 2020
UCalgary Political Science Congratulates: Dr. Elizabeth Pando!
Best Political Science Doctoral Dissertation Prize is for the best Doctoral dissertation defended in the Department of Political Science at the University of Calgary, open to any area of Political Science.
Dr. Elizabeth Pando’s doctoral dissertation was written under the supervision of, and nominated by, Dr. Susan Franceschet.
Dr. Susan Franceschet, tell us a bit about what made Dr. Pando’s thesis stand out to you?
Dr. Pando’s dissertation had everything that makes a doctoral thesis outstanding. She identified a truly fascinating puzzle, conducted extensive primary research in Chile, and produced a compelling causal narrative about the drivers of immigration policy change in Chile. Best of all, her thesis was a real pleasure to read. Her research findings are important not just for political science or those interested in Chilean politics. Her research offers real-world evidence of how to improve services for immigrants and should be read by policymakers here in Canada too.
Dr. Elizabeth Pando, can you give us a brief description of your dissertation and its main findings?
In my dissertation I look at the development of immigration policy in Chile, a country which has become a major destination for immigrants since returning to democratic rule in the 1990s. This topic was interesting to me because Chile still has a nearly 50-year-old anti-immigrant legislation, product of the brutal dictatorship that ruled the country from 1973 to 1990. However, since the 1990s, governments have adopted policies meant to protect the status and social rights of immigrants, so I set to explain this contradiction. Through my research, I found that expansive immigration policies have been possible, in spite of an outdated legislation, because policy actors have found ways to “build around” and bypass the formal rules and institutions that govern immigration, and instead, have gradually replaced those outdated rules. This is why to an observer it could appear as if there is policy change and at the same time there is continuity with the past.
What are you doing now?
Currently I work for a not-for-profit that assists immigrants in their settlement journey in Canada. I am involved in coordinating two research projects, one on how immigrants access mental health services and the second one on how immigrant children support their parents to navigate life in their new country. Although not strictly political science, this work is still part of the social sciences, so the training I received during my graduate studies at the UCalgary Political Science department has been extremely useful.