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Dr. Ruth Blakeley

Ruth Blakeley is a lecturer in International Relations at the University of Kent. Ruth joined the department in 2007, having completed her PhD, funded by the ESRC, at the University of Bristol. Her PhD thesis explored the relationships between US training of military forces from the global South and repression and human rights. While completing her PhD, Ruth received additional ESRC funding to undertake field work in the US.

She spent a month in Washington DC interviewing Department of Defense staff involved in Latin America over the last 40 years, and interviewing representatives of various human rights NGOs. She spent a further two months interviewing staff and students and observing US training of Latin American military forces at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly the School of the Americas. The School has been training Latin American military and police personnel since World War II, and has been the focus of significant criticism for its counterinsurgency training, which has been linked to repression in Latin America.

She is currently developing a new research project which will examine the challenges posed by social reforms in Venezuela and Bolivia to US dominance and neoliberalism in the region. The work will also assess US political and military responses to those reforms, in relation to democracy and human rights.

Ruth has worked with NGOs in Latin America , before and during her PhD. This involved six months in Buenos Aires in 1998-9, where she was involved in a research project to assess the involvement of local churches in community development, and a short period in El Salvador as an election observer in 2003. During 2006, Ruth acted as academic consultant to investigative journalist, John Pilger, for his new film War on Democracy, to be screened in UK cinemas and on ITV1 during 2007.

Ruth’s research interests include US foreign policy, US and Latin American relations, the neoliberalisation of the global South, political violence and torture as tools of foreign policy, and the study of terrorism. She maintains a personal website containing details of some of her research: www.ruthblakeley.co.uk.