Dr. Jorge I. Dominguez was a longtime Harvard University professor who served as chair of the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies. Among the textbooks Dr. Jorge I. Dominguez has edited is “Cuban Economic and Social Development: Policy Reforms and Challenges in the 21st Century,” and he maintains a focus on trends in this area.
A May 2022 World Politics Review article brought focus to Miguel Diaz-Canel’s emergence as president in 2018. This culminated in his being named Cuban Communist Party chief in 2021. Between these milestones, Diaz-Canel favored a number of institutional reforms that included the creation of a new prime minister position, while working to implement a limited number of market economic reforms within an essentially static state-run system.
At the same time, the byword of Diaz-Canel’s leadership has been “continuity,” which has disappointed those in search of even more systemic reforms that would unlock Cuba’s entrepreneurial potential. In addition, the faltering US-Cuba relations during the term of President Trump placed even Havana’s limited efforts to privatize portions of the economy at risk. While many expected the normalization process begun under President Obama to gain traction under Joe Biden, Trump-era rules remained in place during a 15-month policy review process. This underlined the back-burner status of Cuba in current US political calculations.
The review did finally wind up with the most extreme sanctions being lifted, including those impacting the ability of Americans to study in Cuba, and restrictions on cash remittances were lifted. This did not mark a shift toward normalization, however, and mass protests have occurred since then, reflecting an often desperate population with few good economic options.
A writer and publisher, Dr. Jorge I. Dominguez served in a variety of roles during his time at Harvard University, from professor of undergraduate and graduate students to 14 years as chair of the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies. Dr. Jorge I. Dominguez has also edited a number of books through the Harvard University Press. Cambridge University Press published his co-edited Challenges of Party-Building in Latin America.
Published in 2016, Challenges of Party-Building in Latin America serves as an in-depth analysis of the overall weakness of political parties throughout Latin America. In addition to the collapse of parties in several countries, a number of new party-building efforts have ended in failure. The text, which Dr. Dominguez co-edited with Steven Levitsky, James Loxton, and Brandon Van Dyck, examines why party building is so challenging in Latin America, while also exploring why certain parties manage to succeed and sustain support.
The book questions whether the introduction of democratic elections naturally supports the development of strong, durable political parties. At the same time, writers propose the idea that intense political and cultural conflict may provide better conditions for forging a strong party, as opposed to periods of routine democracy. The book holds this belief up against numerous civil wars, revolutions, and other events defining Latin America’s recent history.
Many of the book’s chapters are formatted as case studies that examine the formation of existing political parties, as well as failed political movements.
Jorge I. Domínguez was a professor of Government at Harvard University, with a specialty in the study of Latin American politics.
He was one of the founding teachers of the Harvard College Core Curriculum, in which he taught until his 2018 retirement. The Core Curriculum sought to introduce undergraduates to various approaches to knowledge, in the expectation that learning how to learn would serve students well during their lives.
Domínguez’s best known Core Curriculum course was, “The Cuban Revolution, 1956-1971: A Self-Debate.” He taught it twelve times between 1989 and 2016, with high enrollments (one year nearly reaching two hundred). The course featured lectures and discussion; students could choose discussions in English or Spanish. Domínguez also taught discussions in the lecture hall.
Each lecture was a self-contained argument, with evidence, about a key question. It was delivered with vigor and conviction. The next presented a different self-contained argument, also with evidence, delivered with vigor and conviction, but it contradicted the previous lecture in part or in full. Each unit featured two-to-six lectures on that same topic.
Students had to learn to think for themselves. Exams and papers required them to provide two answers to the same question. It was impossible to agree with the professor because the professor systematically impersonated different points of view. Students became equipped to address complex questions, with uncertain answers, puzzling evidence, during a transformative event.
Students held Professor Domínguez in the highest regard. At the end of each course, students filled out a questionnaire that the Committee on Undergraduate Education administered. One question asked students for their assessment of the professor overall. When graduate student instructors are evaluated in the same way, at the highest range they receive a teaching award. If the same had applied to this course, Domínguez would have earned a teaching award each of the twelve times he taught the course.
Dr. Jorge I. Domínguez served as a professor of comparative and international political science, with a specialty on Latin America, at Harvard University from 1972 until he chose to retire in 2018.
In 2022, Research.com, a prominent academic platform for scientists, ranked him among the top 1000 scientists in the United States in the area of Law and Political Science. He ranked #876 in the United States as well as #1588 in the world ranking. This was noteworthy because specialists on the politics of a region rarely rank as high as Domínguez has done.
Domínguez’s most often cited works were Cuba: Order and Revolution, Democratizing Mexico: Public Opinion and Electoral Choices, and “Mexicans React to Electoral Fraud and Political Corruption: an Assessment of Public Opinion and Voting Behavior”. Domínguez has also published many other scholarly books and articles in English and in Spanish.
The Research.com ranking is constructed using the H-index data that Microsoft Academic gathers. The ranking includes only prominent scientists with an H-index of at least 20 for scientific papers published in the field of Law and Political Sciences.