Luiz Vilaça is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Inter-American Policy and Research at Tulane University. In the fall of 2024, he will become an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Bowdoin College.
Luiz’s research cuts across Sociology of Law and Politics, and seeks to explain the causes of anti-corruption crusades. His mixed-methods dissertation examines Operation Car Wash (Operação Lava Jato) in Brazil, a widespread corruption scandal that resulted in the conviction of over 200 business executives and politicians.
Luiz’s research is composed of two projects. The first one focuses on prosecutors. Luiz draws on 120 in-depth interviews to examine the processes through which prosecutors shift their focus to new issues and how they build capacities to press charges against political and corporate elites. Moreover, Luiz fielded an online experiment to test how the frames prosecutors use when talking publicly about investigations affect people’s mobilizing attitudes to fight corruption.
The second part of his research zooms into the Judiciary, drawing on two original datasets and interviews. First, Luiz used supervised machine learning to build a dataset of corruption appeals from the Superior Court of Justice in Brazil, and uses this dataset to examine how judges’ ideology and external factors such as social movement mobilization affect the outcomes of cases. Moreover, he constructed a dataset that tracks the judicial proceedings of each defendant (N=1,053) charged as part of Operation Car Wash. Drawing on this dataset, he examines judicial biases in anti-corruption trials.