The Geography of State Power: Political Antagonism and Partisan Statebuilding in Colombia and Mexico


Tuesday, October 5, 2021, 12:00pm to 1:20pm

For a recording of this event, please click here.

Why do states develop more effective authority in some parts of their territory and domains of governance than in others? The Geography of State Power attributes contemporary variation in the state’s ability in Mexico and Colombia to perform such core functions as taxation, coercion, and public service provision within its borders to the historical lines of political conflict – religious in Mexico and partisan in Colombia – between state-building coalitions and their rivals during formative periods of state-making. This study helps to explain spatial inequalities, the emergence of vigilantism, and the political roots of institutional weakness.

Speaker: Mariano Sanchez Talanquer, The Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies; El Colegio de Mexico (COLMEX)
Discussant: Sebastian Mazzucca, Assistant Professor of Political Science, John Hopkins University
Moderated by: Frances Hagopian, Jorge Paulo Lemann Senior Lecturer on Government, Harvard University

Mariano Sánchez-Talanquer is currently an Academy Scholar at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies. He will join the faculty of the Center for International Studies at El Colegio de México (Colmex) in 2021. He received a PhD in Government from Cornell University. His dissertation received the 2018 William Anderson Award to the best dissertation in the general field of federalism or intergovernmental relations, state, and local politics, from the American Political Science Association (APSA). Between 2018 and 2020, he was an Assistant Professor of Politics at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) in Mexico City. His interests include state-building, democracy, inequality, and historical institutional development, with a regional focus on Latin America. His current book project examines historical state formation in Mexico and Colombia to investigate the origins of territorial variation in several dimensions of state capacity.

Sebastián L. Mazzuca graduated in Political Science (MA, PhD) and Economics (MA) from the University of California at Berkeley and has been a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University’s Academy for International and Area Studies. His work focuses on state formation, regime change, and economic development. On state formation, he published the book Latecomer State Formation: Political Geography and Capacity Failure in Latin America with Yale University Press (2021). On political economy, he edited three volumes of essential readings with the Cámara Andina de Fomento (2015-18). On democratization, he co-authored Middle-Quality Institution Trap with Gerardo Munck (Cambridge University Press, 2020). His articles have been published in the American Journal of Political Science, Comparative Politics, National Bureau of Economic Research, Studies in International Comparative Development, Journal of Democracy, Hispanic American Historical Review, Qualitative & Multi-Method Research, and the Oxford Handbook of Political Science.

Frances Hagopian is Jorge Paulo Lemann Senior Lecturer on Government. She specializes in the comparative politics of Latin America, with emphasis on democratization, political representation, political economy, and religion and politics. Hagopian is author of Reorganizing Representation in Latin America (2014, Cambridge University Press), editor of Religious Pluralism, Democracy, and the Catholic Church in Latin America (University of Notre Dame Press, 2009), co-editor (with Scott Mainwaring) of The Third Wave of Democratization in Latin America: Advances and Setbacks (Cambridge 2005), and author of Traditional Politics and Regime Change in Brazil (Cambridge University Press, 1996) and numerous journal articles and book chapters. Her current work focuses on the establishment of a social welfare regime in Brazil, and the political economy of inequality in Latin America. She previously taught at the University of Notre Dame, where she was Director of the Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies, as well as Tufts and Harvard Universities. She has also been a visiting professor at the London School of Economics and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an Associate Member of Nuffield College, Oxford.

Presented in collaboration with Weatherhead Center for International Affairs