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Dr. Michelle Bonner

Michelle Bonner


Political Science

On leave Jan 1-June 30, 2024
Office: DTB A338 250-853-3561
PhD (2004) (Toronto)
Area of expertise:
Comparative politics, democracy, human rights, global south (Latin America)

Office hours

On leave January 1 - June 30, 2024.


  • democratization and democratic erosion
  • policing, police power and police abuse
  • media and politics
  • social movements and protests
  • human rights
  • comparative politics (Latin America, especially Argentina and Chile)

About Dr. Bonner

Dr. Michelle Bonner is professor of Political Science at the University of Victoria. Her research explores authoritarian practices within democracy, with a human rights lens. In particular, she studies the tension between police violence and democracy through studies of punitive populism, protest policing and enforced disappearances. She examines the impact of public discourse on police violence through her research on the mass media, social movements and the judiciary. Her work takes a critical and fresh look at the challenges of democratic accountability.

She welcomes the opportunity to work with graduate students interested in any of these areas of study and is an associated faculty member with the MA stream in the Politics of Global Challenges. She specializes in comparative politics and the Global South (Latin America).

Her current SSHRC-funded project examines enforced disappearances in Latin America and asks how mass media can best be mobilized by human rights organizations to increase the policy impact of judicial cases at the domestic and international level.

She is the author of four books. Tough on Crime: The Rise of Punitive Populism in Latin America (Pittsburgh University Press, 2019), Police Abuse in Contemporary Democracies (co-edited, Palgrave 2018), Policing Protest in Argentina and Chile (Lynne Rienner, 2014), and Sustaining Human Rights: Women and Argentine Human Rights Organizations (Penn State, 2007).

Her book Policing Protest won the 2016 Canadian Political Science Association’s  prize for the best book in Comparative Politics published in 2014-15. It has also been translated and published in Spanish (Ril Editores, 2018). Her most recent book, Tough on Crime, examines how media deregulation and privatization has contributed to political leaders’ increased use of tough on crime rhetoric and policies to win elections and popular support, with important consequences for human rights and democracy.

She has written many articles published in academic journals including Journal of Latin American StudiesLatin American Research ReviewLatin American Politics and Society, Bulletin of Latin American Research, International Journal of Press/PoliticsInternational Journal of Transitional JusticePolicing and Society, and the Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

She is on the editorial board of the leading international journal on policing, Policing and Society. From 2006-10 she was on the board of the Canadian Association of Latin American and Caribbean Studies. She is also a member of the Latin American Research Group at the University of Victoria and organizes their speakers’ series in coordination with the Centre for Global Studies.


Dr. Bonner teaches courses on Latin American politics and human rights.

Teaching 2023-24

Fall 2023:

Spring 2024:  Study Leave 

Previous courses taught:
  • POLI 210: Comparative Politics
  • POLI 372: Latin American Politics
  • POLI 381: Mass Media in Latin America
  • POLI 436/533: Politics of Human Rights in New Democracies
  • POLI 508/608: Comparative Politics Graduate Seminar
  • POLI 600: PhD Seminar



Journal articles & chapters

  • In press. "Measuring Absence: Narrative Obstacles to Counting Contemporary Enforced Disappearances in Latin America." Journal of Human Rights
  • 2022 "Le profilage selon le statut social et la classe d’âge: le cas du pibe chorro en Argentine" In Pascale Dufour and Francis Dupuis-Déri (eds.) Profilages policiers. Montreal, Qc.: Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal.
  • 2022."Populismo mediático y punitivo en Argentina y Chile." In Alejandro W. Slokar, Gabriela L. Gusis, and Mariela Barresi (eds.)  Dolor y punición. Buenos Aires: EDIAR.
  • 2021. “Constructing Police Legitimacy During Protests: Framing and Consequences for Human Rights.” With Lucía Dammert. Policing and Society
  • 2021. "Reclaiming Citizenship from Police Violence." Citizenship Studies. 25:3, 317-332.
  • 2021. "What is Punitive Populism? A Typology based in Media CommunicationMATRIZes. 15:1, 77-102. (open access, available in English, Spanish and Portuguese)
  • 2020. "What Democratic Policing Is… And Is NotPolicing and Society. 30(9), 1044-1060. (open access)
  • 2019. "Protest and Police 'Excesses' in Chile: The Limits of Social Accountability" In Pablo Policzer (ed.) The Politics of Violence in Latin America. Calgary, AB: University of Calgary Press.
  • 2018. "Media and Punitive Populism in Argentina and Chile" Bulletin of Latin American Research. 37:3, 275-290.
  • 2018. "Holding Police Abuse to Account: The Challenge of Institutional Legitimacy, a Chilean Case Study" In Michelle D. Bonner, Guillermina Seri, Mary Rose Kubal, and Michael Kempa (eds.) Police Abuse in Contemporary Democracies. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • 2018. "Rethinking Police Abuse in Democracy" In Michelle D. Bonner, Guillermina Seri, Mary Rose Kubal, and Michael Kempa (eds.) Police Abuse in Contemporary Democracies. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • 2018. "Police Abuse in Contemporary Democracies" In Michelle D. Bonner, Guillermina Seri, Mary Rose Kubal, and Michael Kempa (eds.) Police Abuse in Contemporary Democracies. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. (with Michael Kempa, Mary Rose Kubal, and Guillermina Seri).
  • 2017. "Policing Economic Growth: Mining, Protest, and State Discourses in Argentina and Peru" Latin American Research Review 52:1, 3-17. (with Ariel Taylor)
  • 2016. "The Politics of Development" In Christopher G. Anderson and Rand Dyck (eds.). Studying Politics: An Introduction to Political Science (5th edition). Toronto, ON: Nelson.
  • 2016. "Rethinking Debates on Media and Police Reform in Argentina” Policing and Society 26:8, 925-943.
  • 2014. "Never Again: Transitional Justice and Persistent Police Violence in Argentina" International Journal of Transitional Justice, 8:2, 235-255.
  • 2014. "Violence, Policing and Citizen (In)Security" Latin American Research Review, 49:1, 261-269. (review essay).
  • 2013. "The Politics of Police Image in Chile" Journal of Latin American Studies, 45:4, 669-694.
  • 2011. "The Three R’s of Transitional Justice: Reparation, Responsibility, and Reframing in Canada and Argentina” International Indigenous Policy Journal, Vol.2: Iss3, Article 3. (with Matt James)
  • 2010. "Memory, Human Rights and Democratization?" Journal of Third World Studies, 27:1, 323-326. (review essay)
  • 2009. "Media as Social Accountability: The case of police violence in Argentina". International Journal of Press/Politics, 14:3, 296-312.
  • 2009. "State Discourses, Police Violence and Democratisation in Argentina." Bulletin of Latin American Research. 28:2, 227-245.
  • 2009. "Defining Rights in Democratization: The Argentine Government and Human Rights Organizations, 1983-2003." In William C. Smith (ed.) New Perspectives on Democracy in Latin America: Actors, Institutions and Practices, Malden, MA, USA: Blackwell.
  • 2008. "Applying the Concept of 'Human Security' in Latin America: an Argentine Case Study." Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, 33:65, 7-31. 2008.
  • 2008. "Law and Injustice in Latin America" Latin American Politics and Society, 50:1 (Spring), 169-183. (review essay)/
  • 2005. "Defining Rights in Democratization: The Argentine Government and Human Rights Organizations, 1983-2003." Latin American Politics and Society, 47:4 (Winter), 55-76.