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Published articles

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Silva-Muller, Livio, and Henrique Sposito. “Which Amazon Problem? Problem-constructions and Transnationalism in Brazilian Presidential Discourse since 1985.” Environmental Politics (2023): 1-24.

This article investigates how the Amazon has been constructed as a problem in Brazilian presidential speeches since 1985. We develop a framework that accounts for how important transnational actors, as presidents, construct policy objects as particular problems depending on where and when they participate in politics. We create a dataset containing 6240 official speeches by all Brazilian presidents since 1985. We train a supervised machine learning algorithim to classify how Amazon related sections within speeches construct the Amazon as a problem. We find that presidents often construct the Amazon as an environmental problem when speaking far away from the region, whereas they usually construct it as problems of economic integration or social development when in the Amazon.

Awarded Best Paper in Amazonian Studies at the Latin American Studies Association

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Under Review

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“Radiating Truthiness”: Authenticity performances in politics in Brazil and the United States

Conditionally Accepted in Political Studies

Political authenticity is connected to higher levels of political trust from electorates and can influence political outcomes, but it is often overlooked as a relevant factor for electoral behavior. To date, discussions of how authenticity appears and changes in politics typically remain at the theoretical level and are rarely comparative. This article develops a framework to identify and compare how authenticity is performed in political discourses over time and across settings by politicians. To demonstrate the usefulness of the framework, this article investigates authenticity performances in 21,496 political texts of electoral debates, interviews, campaigns, and official speeches by presidents and presidential candidates in Brazil and the United States (US) since 1988. The findings indicate that authenticity is generally performed with greater frequency by presidents and presidential candidates in Brazil than in the US, though authenticity performances are not more prevalent during election years in either country.

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Working papers

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Promises Promises: An introduction to urgency analyzis (with Jael Tan and James Hollway)

Political statements are regular sources of politicians’ preferences and plans. The urgency with which a politician speaks about their preferences and plans communicates important information about what they should pursue first, most strongly, or with most energy or commitment. Urgency is an expression of how necessary or how soon an action should be undertaken or completed in political discourse. In this paper, we examine the urgency of promises in political statements. To do so, we develop a new method, urgency analysis, to extract and rank these promises in political statements according to politicians’ intent and time frame for action to be taken. Urgency analysis employs a combination of Natural Language Processes (NLP) and dictionary approaches to provide a localized (section and issue specific), normalized (comparable by default), and inclusive (accounts for metadata related to setting and timing) new method for the analysis of political texts. Urgency analysis is implemented for R with the poldis package, making it an easy, free, and accessible tool for researchers interested in analyzing political discourses. The package includes additional tools to visualize and compare results.

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Managing imprecise dates in R with messydates (with James Holway)

Dates are often messy. Whether historical (or ancient), future, or even recent, we sometimes only know approximately when an event occurred, that it happened within a particular period, or sources offer multiple competing dates. Although researchers generally recognize this messiness, many feel expected to force artificial precision or unfortunate imprecision on temporal data to proceed with analysis. However, this can create inferential issues when timing or sequence is important. This paper introduces the messydates R package that assists researchers with this problem by retaining and working with various kinds of date imprecision.