Margaret Keck taught comparative politics, Latin American Politics, and environmental politics. She is the author or co-author of numerous articles and four prize-winning books, including Practical Authority: Agency and Institutional Change in Brazilian Water Politics (Oxford 2013), with Rebecca Abers; Greening Brazil: Environmental Activism in State and Society (Duke 2007), with Kathryn Hochstetler; Activists beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics (Cornell 1998), with Kathryn Sikkink; and The Workers' Party and Democratization in Brazil (Yale 1992). She has been doing research in Brazil since 1982.
Professor Keck's research has always focused on activism and organization, in particular how organizers make creative use of unexpected opportunities. Recent work on Brazilian water politics, carried out together with a diverse network of scholars and practitioners in Brazil and the US, focuses on the micro-politics of institutional innovation. Her new book Practical Authority, co-authored with Rebecca Abers of the University of Brasília, builds on this research to ask how new institutions that are supposed to administer important policy changes acquire the authority on the ground to do so. The book was awarded the 2014 best book prize from the Brazil section of the Latin American Studies Association, the 2014 Yale Ferguson Book Prize from the International Studies Association - NE, the 2014 Giovanni Sartori Book Prize - Honorable Mention from the Qualitative and Multi-Methods Research section of the American Political Science Association, and the 2014 Roberto Reis Book Prize, Honorable Mention, from the Brazilian Political Science Association.