Christy Thornton

Christy Thornton

Assistant Professor

Contact Information

Research Interests: Comparative-historical sociology, global inequality and development, labor and social movements, political economy of Mexico and Latin America

Education: PhD, New York University

I joined the Hopkins faculty in 2017 and spent a year as a fellow at the Weatherhead Initiative on Global History at Harvard University. At Hopkins, in addition to my appointment in sociology, I serve as the Co-Chair of the Program in Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies. I was previously an assistant professor of history and international studies at Rowan University, having received my PhD from New York University in 2015. I also hold a BA from Barnard College and Master’s in International Affairs from Columbia University. Before graduate school, I was for five years the Executive Director of the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), a 50-year-old research and advocacy organization. My research interests include global inequality and development, labor and social movements, international organizations, and Latin American political economy, with an emphasis on Mexico.

My first book, Revolution in Development: Mexico and the Governance of the Global Economy, was published in 2021 by the University of California Press. The book uncovers the surprising influence of postrevolutionary Mexico on the twentieth century’s most important international economic institutions. Drawing on extensive archival research in Mexico, the United States, and Great Britain, Revolution in Development meticulously traces how Mexican officials repeatedly rallied Third World leaders to campaign for representation in global organizations and redistribution through multilateral institutions. By decentering the United States and Europe in the history of global economic governance, Revolution in Development shows how Mexican economists, diplomats, and politicians fought for more than five decades to reform the rules and institutions of the global capitalist economy. In so doing, the book demonstrates, Mexican officials shaped not only their own domestic economic prospects but also the contours of the project of international development itself.

My second manuscript project, “To Reckon with the Riot: Global Economic Governance and Social Protest,” investigates the impact of social protest around the world on international financial institutions (IFIs), asking how widespread protest against policy implemented at the behest of organizations like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization was understood inside those institutions. How did IFI experts and policymakers characterize, narrate, and react to protest against the policies they prescribed, and how did their reactions change over time? And how has social protest historically changed the rhetorical approaches, legitimating strategies, and policy frameworks used by international institutions? Reading against the grain of institutional assertions of apolitical, technocratic expertise, this project examines the ways that street politics have reverberated in the international halls of economic and financial power. 

  • 230.150 Issues in International Development
  • 230.238 Beyond the Wall: The US and Mexico
  • 230.342 Resistance, Rebellion, and Revolution in Latin America
  • 230.350 Capitalism, Dependency & Development in Latin America
  • 230.397 The Political Economy of Drugs & Drug Wars
  1. Developmentalism as Internationalism: Toward a Global Historical Sociology of the Origins of Development,” Sociology of Development 9(1): 33–55.
  1. Fences Make Bad Hombres: Trump in Latin America,” in Chaos Reconsidered: The Liberal Order and the Future of International Politics, R. Jervis, D. Labrosse, S. Goddard, and J. Rovner, eds. (Columbia University Press): 278–290.
  1. Establishing the Limits of the Liberal International Order: Latin America and the Demand for Development,” Cambridge Review of International Affairs35(5): 680–697.
  1. Introduction: The Liberal International Order and the Global South: A View from Latin America,” with J. Luis Rodríguez, Special Issue of Cambridge Review of International Affairs35(5): 626–638.
  1. “‘Our Balkan Peninsula’: The Mexican Question in the League of Nations Debate,” Diplomatic History46(2): 237–262. 
  1. Responding to a Revolution: The ‘Mexican Question’ in the United States,” in A Companion to U.S. Foreign Relations, Colonial Era to the Present, Vol. 1, Christopher Dietrich, ed. (Wiley-Blackwell): 325-344.
  1. A Mexican International Economic Order? Tracing the Hidden Roots of the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States,” Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development9(3): 389-421.

Republished as “A Mexican New International Economic Order?” in Latin America and the Global Cold War, T. Field, S. Krepp, and V. Pettinà, eds. (University of North Carolina Press, 2020): 301-342.

  1. “‘Mexico Has the Theories’: Latin America and the Invention of Development in the 1930s,” in The Development Century: A Global History, S. Macekura and E. Manela, eds. (Cambridge University Press): 263-282.

2017. “Voice and Vote for the Weaker Nations: Mexico’s Bretton Woods,” inGlobal Perspectives on the Bretton Woods Conference and the Post-War World Order, G. Scott-Smith and J.S. Rofe, eds. (Palgrave MacMillan,): 149-165.

Colombia’s Petro Sees a Way Out of the Failed Drug War. Will the U.S. Cooperate? New York Times, September 7, 2022. Op-ed.

Published in print with the headline “The War on Drugs Abroad Has Been A Failure,” New York Times, September 8, 2022, p. A23.

Audio: “Christy Thornton on Revolutionary Mexico’s Plan to Transform the World Economy,” Long Reads podcast, April 03, 2021

Audio:  “Christy Thornton On Revolution In Development,” interview by Dustin Walcher, Historias podcast, March 30, 2021

“A Global Americans interview with Dr. Christy Thornton, author of Revolution in Development,” Global Americans, March 25, 2021

Audio: “Mexico and Global Financial Institutions,” interview by Erik Loomis, Lawyers, Guns, and Money podcast, February 22, 2021

Bret McCabe, “A Seat at the Table,” Johns Hopkins Magazine, Spring 2021

Audio: “‘Revolution In Development’ Chronicles How Mexico Shaped The Global Economy,” Texas Standard, KUT Austin, February 11, 2021

Audio: “Revolution in Development: Mexico and the Governance of the Global Economy,” interview by Rachel Grace Newman, New Books Network, February 11, 2021

How Mexico Reshaped the Global Economy,” interview by Jonah Walters, Jacobin, January 26, 2021

Video: “Trial of El Chapo Highlights Failure of U.S. War on Drugs, But Will U.S. Ever Be Held to Account?,” Democracy Now, February 5, 2019.

Audio: AMLO Shatters Mexican Establishment The Dig Podcast, July 8, 2018

Audio: AMLO and the State of Mexico w/ Christy Thornton, Majority Report Radio, July 5, 2018

Audio: Who is Mexico’s New President? Radio Times, WHYY 90.9 FM Philadelphia, July 5, 2018

“AMLO and the State of Mexico​​​,” NACLA, July 3, 2018

Audio: López Obrador Moves from Promises to Policy, Marketplace PRI, July 3, 2018

Video: Leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador Wins Mexican Presidential Election in Landslide Victory, Democracy Now, July 2, 2018

Video: Mexicans Head to the Polls, Interview with CNN’s Camila Bernal, June 28, 2018

Ricky Ochoa-Kaup,”Challenging the status quo in Mexico,” The World Weekly, June 28, 2018.

Emir Olivares Alonso, Académicos e investigadores participarán como observadores electorales, La Jornada, June 28, 2018

Audio: Current Events: What’s Happening in Mexico?, A Correction Podcast, June 19, 2018

Audio: AMLO and Mexico’s July Elections with Christy Thornton, Behind the News, KPFA 94.1 FM, Berkeley, May 10, 2018

Audio: The Mexican Elections with Christy Thornton, WPFW 89.3 FM, Washington DC, April 27, 2018

Audio: Discussing the Mexican Elections w/ Professor Christy Thornton Hopkins Podcast on Foreign Affairs, March 18, 2018

Audio: Is Mexico About to Elect a Leftist President? w/ Christy Thornton Majority Report Radio, March 14, 2018

Arturo Sánchez Jiménez, “El autoritarismo, amenaza a un eventual cambio real en el gobierno: académicos,” La Jornada, February 16, 2018

Jorge Nuño Jiménez, “Nuevo Orden Económico Internacional: ¿La Carta o la Guerra?”El Universal, November 21, 2017

In Mexico, Solidarity Versus the State,” NACLA, September 23, 2017

Audio: Christy Thornton: Confronting the Neoliberal Narco-State in Mexico, The Dig podcast, August 8, 2017

Mexico’s Ruling Party is in Free Fall,” Washington Post, July 27, 2017

An Empire Upside Down,” Dollars & Sense, (cover story) July/August 2017

Estado de México: Grietas en la fortaleza,”Aristegui Noticias, Mexico, June 7, 2017

Cracks in the Fortress,” NACLA, June 6, 2017