Tamara Kay is Associate Professor of Global Affairs in the Keough School of Global Affairs. She also holds a joint appointment in Notre Dame’s Department of Sociology.
Her research and teaching focus on the political and legal implications of regional economic integration, transnationalism, and global governance for labor and environmental movements, NGOs, and policy formation.
Dr. Kay earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and spent two years as a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California, San Diego. She began her academic career at Harvard where she was Associate Professor of sociology and co-director of the Transnational Studies Initiative.
Dr. Kay’s prizewinning book, NAFTA and the Politics of Labor Transnationalism (Cambridge), explores why and how the North American Free Trade Agreement stimulated transnational relationships among key unions in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. The book illuminates how global governance institutions can play a pivotal role in the development of transnational social movements by providing new arenas for activists to build collective interests, strategies, and trust.
Dr. Kay is the co-author of a second book manuscript on trade battles, activism, and the politicization of international trade policy. The manuscript examines how activists were able to politicize and influence trade policy during NAFTA’s negotiation despite their relative weakness in the trade policy arena by creating a new set of institutionalized and disruptive strategies around trade that leveraged broader cleavages across state and non-state arenas. It also analyzes the effects of civil society — in particular, social movement mobilization — on international policy formation, exposing the linkages between institutional opportunities and democratic practice.
Dr. Kay also is working on a third book that focuses on transnational relationships between NGOs in the U.S. and developing countries — particularly how they negotiate cultural issues — and the effects of different organizational structures and strategies on development outcomes. For this project, she has completed more than 120 in-depth interviews and intensive ethnographic fieldwork in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Nigeria, and India.
During the 2016-17 academic year, Kay will be on research leave to gather data for a new project that will culminate in her fourth book, which is centered on global health policy and innovation. This research focuses on how Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine replicates an innovative healthcare model and builds relationships to engage in collaborative work around the world.
Research Interests: Global and transnational sociology; sociology of culture; political sociology; organizations; social movements