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Cynthia Arnson

Cynthia Arnson

Adjunct Lecturer


Dr. Cynthia J. Arnson is a Distinguished Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and former director of its Latin American Program, a position she held for 16 years.  She is a widely recognized expert on Latin American politics, political economy, and international relations, including U.S. policy in the Western Hemisphere.  She is quoted frequently in major U.S. and Latin American media and has testified on multiple occasions before committees of the U.S. Congress.

Arnson is editor or co-editor of multiple highly regarded volumes published by major university presses.  These include Comparative Peace Processes in Latin America (Stanford University Press, 1999, now in its third printing); In the Wake of War: Democratization and Internal Armed Conflict in Latin America (Stanford, 2012); (with I. William Zartman) Rethinking the Economics of War: The Intersection of Need, Creed, and Greed (Johns Hopkins University, 2005); and (with Carlos de la Torre) Latin American Populism in the Twenty-First Century (Johns Hopkins, 2013). She is the author of Crossroads: Congress, the President, and Central America, 1976-1993 (Penn State, 2d edition, 1993). Her articles have been published by Foreign Affairs, Foreign Affairs Latinoamérica, Latin Trade, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Boston Globe, among other outlets.

Her publications at the Wilson Center have covered the Andean region (especially Colombia and Venezuela), Central America, Argentina, and issues including democratic transitions, combatting corruption, human rights, and U.S.-Latin American relations.  She is frequently quoted in the U.S. and Latin American print and broadcast media.

Arnson is a member of the editorial advisory board of Foreign Affairs Latinoamérica, the Spanish-language edition of the distinguished journal Foreign Affairs. She is also a member of the advisory boards of the Salvadoran Foundation for Economic and Social Development (FUSADES), and Human Rights Watch/Americas.  She served as associate director of the Americas division from 1990-1994, covering Colombia and Central America.

Arnson served as an assistant professor of international relations at American University's School of International Service from 1989 to1991.  As a foreign policy aide in the House of Representatives during the Carter and Reagan administrations, she participated in the national debates over U.S. policy and human rights in Central and South America.

Arnson graduated magna cum laude from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, and has an M.A. in Latin American Studies and International Economics and a Ph.D. in International Relations from The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.



  • Latin American Politics
  • Latin American Political Economy
  • International Relations
  • U.S. Policy in the Western Hemisphere