Romelia M. Solano

Romelia M. Solano

Fields of Study: American Politics, Comparative Politics


Areas of interest: Political behavior, criminal justice and immigration policy, and causal inference

Romelia M. Solano is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in political science, a Joseph L. Gaia Distinguished Fellow in the Institute for Latino Studies, a 2015 Ralph Bunche Summer Institute Fellow. A Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant from the American Political Science Association supports her research.  The National Science Foundation funds this grant. 

Romelia’s dissertation, “Dignity Politics: Detention and Democracy in the American Midwest,” develops a theory explaining individual responses to racialized experiences of state-sanctioned trauma, surveillance, and violence through the U.S. criminal justice and immigration systems.  Her theory explains how social identity needs compel us to reclaim dignity in the face of the state’s repressive apparatus, and her empirical strategy leverages large-n survey data, original interview data with formerly detained immigrants and their loved ones, and administrative crime reporting data establishing a causal linkage between the likelihood of experiencing state violence and various forms of political behavior.  

Romelia is the co-author of multiple articles on race, mobilization, and vote choice in the 2016 election appearing in the peer-reviewed Journal of Race Ethnicity and Politics, and Aztlan:  A Journal of Chicano Studies, and she has contributed to public commentary on immigration detention issues. She holds a B.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in political science and Latino Studies.  

In addition to her doctoral studies, Romelia is a teaching fellow in the Moreau College at the Westville prison in Northern Indiana.