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Michelle Jurkovich

Assistant Professor of Political Science, College of Liberal Arts, UMASS Boston
Postdoctoral Fellow in International and Public Affairs, 2015-2017


Michelle Jurkovich is a postdoctoral fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies and an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Boston. A member of the fifth generation of her family from Fresno, CA, the county with the highest rates of agricultural production in the United States but also high rates of malnutrition, Michelle is especially interested in the politics of hunger and the right to food movement.  

Michelle’s current book manuscript examines the construction of international anti-hunger campaigns, drawing on interviews and surveys with executive and senior level staff across top anti-hunger organizations.  She is also interested in why international human rights law is leveraged sometimes (but not at other times) by international activists in their human rights campaigns, the practical implications of blending development and human rights frameworks for activist efforts on the ground, and the causes and implications of current efforts in the UN to bind human rights responsibilities to transnational corporations and the private sector. Michelle received her PhD from the George Washington University in Summer 2014.


Michelle’s research is motivated by a desire to be both policy-relevant and theoretically driven.  Her work draws on her dual passions for better understanding the politics of hunger and food security and economic and social rights more broadly. 

Michelle’s current book manuscript asks: What explains how international anti-hunger organizations construct their campaigns and whom they decide to target in these campaigns? Relying on interviews and surveys of executive and senior level staff at top international anti-hunger organizations, she documents the diffusion of blame and causal frames among advocates around the hunger problem.  She examines why international anti-hunger campaigns look the way they do, provides a model (the “buckshot model”) to explain campaigns in this issue area, and examines what lessons we can draw for activism around economic and social rights more broadly from the hunger case.

Michelle is currently working on several projects, including the varied use of international law in international human rights activism, a comparison between anti-HIV/AIDS and anti-hunger activism, and a project on international hunger metrics, among others.   She has conducted archival work on the construction of hunger as a global problem at the UN FAO archives in Rome, the UK National Archives and the US National Archives as well as the OXFAM organizational archives in Oxford, UK.  

In keeping with her more general curiosity about the (often neglected) role of the Global South in constructing international norms and practices, she published an article with Martha Finnemore entitled “Getting a Seat at the Table: The Origins of Universal Participation and Modern Multilateral Conferences,” Global Governance, 20, no. 3 (2014): 361-373.  


Food is a Human Right” (October 2015) at The Duck of Minerva

“Getting a Seat at the Table: The Origins of Universal Participation and Modern Multilateral Conferences,” Global Governance, 20, no. 3 (2014): 361-373 (with Martha Finnemore).


The Politics of Food Security (Spring 2015 & 2017)

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