TAMARA KAY is Associate Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of Harvard's Transnational Studies Initiative. Dr. Kay has affiliations with the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations, and participates on the faculty of Film Studies.
She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in December 2004 and spent two years as a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California, San Diego. Her work centers on the political and legal implications of regional economic integration, transnationalism, and global governance. She is interested in how organizations and social movements — particularly labor and environmental movements, and NGOs and non-profits — respond and adapt to processes of regional economic integration and globalization.
Dr. Kay's first book NAFTA and the Politics of Labor Transnationalism was published in 2011 by Cambridge University Press as part of the Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics series. It explores why trinational relationships developed among some Canadian, U.S., and Mexican labor unions at the precise moment when regional economic integration reached its peak, and why the same staggering changes had little, if any impact on other unions.
Dr. Kay published two articles from this project. The first, "Labor Transnationalism and Global Governance: The Impact of NAFTA on Transnational Labor Relationships in North America" was published in the American Journal of Sociology in 2005. It won the Distinguished Scholarly Article Award from the Labor Movements Section of the ASA in 2005 and was reprinted in Doug McAdam and David Snow's Social Movements: Readings on Their Emergence, Mobilization, Dynamics, and Impact (Oxford University Press 2009). The second article "Legal Transnationalism: The Relationship Between Transnational Social Movement Building and International Law" was published in Law and Social Inquiry in 2011.
Her second book (in progress with Rhonda Evans) examines the extraordinary politicization of U.S. trade policy that began with NAFTA, the surprising ability of environmental and labor activists to make their concerns central to NAFTA's passage, and the unexpected privileging of environmental over labor demands in the negotiating process. An article from this project, "How Environmentalists "Greened" Trade Policy: Strategic Action and the Architecture of Field Overlap" was published in the American Sociological Review in 2008.
She is currently 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. She has already completed over 120 in-depth interviews and intensive enthographic fieldwork in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Nigeria.
Dr. Kay's work on culture began with an article published in the American Sociological Review in 2004 titled“Abortion, Race, and Gender in Nineteenth-Century America” (with Nicola Beisel). It won Best Article Awards from both the Political Sociology Section and the Race, Gender and Class Section of the ASA.
Professor Kay received her B.A. in sociology and art theory and practice from Northwestern University, where she studied painting with Ed Paschke and James Valerio. At the University of California, Berkeley she also studied photography and film with David Bacon, Harun Farocki, Gilles Peress, Alice Shaw, Kaja Silverman, and Michelle Vignes. Her photographs can be viewed at www.tamarakay.com.