Technocracy vs Politics


Tuesday, October 26, 2021, 12:00pm to 1:20pm

For a recording of this event, please click here.

Technocrats dominated policymaking across Latin America in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Now, in much of the region, including its largest democracies, voters and politicians on both the left and the right have challenged the role of technocrats in democratic governments. What explains technocrats’ declining legitimacy in many Latin American democracies? How have technocrats changed their approach to governance in the face of these challenges?

Speakers: Miguel Angel Centeno, Professor of Sociology and Vice-Dean of the Scholl of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University; Eduardo Dargent, Associate Professor, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Peru; Matthew Rhodes-Purdy, Assistant Professor, Clemson University; Katherine Bersch, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Davidson College
Moderated by: Steven Levitsky, Director, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies; Professor of Government, Harvard University

Miguel Centeno is Musgrave Professor of Sociology and Vice-Dean of the Scholl of Public and International Affairs (SPIA). He has published many articles, chapters, and books. His latest publications are War and Society (Polity 2016), Global Capitalism (Polity 2010), States in the Developing World (Cambridge UP, 2017) and State and Nation Making in the Iberian World (Vol I, Cambridge UP 2013; Vol. II 2018). He is also finishing a new book project on the sociology of discipline. He the founder of the Research Community on Global Systemic Risk funded by PIIRS at Princeton University from 2013. He has served as Head of First College, Founding Director of PIIRS, and Chair of the Sociology Department. In 2001, he founded the Princeton University Preparatory Program (PUPP) and in 2019-20, the Presidential Scholars Program (PSP).

Eduardo Dargent is a lawyer from PUCP, holds a master’s in political philosophy from the University of York, and a PhD in Political Sciences from the University of Texas at Austin. He specializes in comparative politics, with emphasis in Latin America. His research focuses in the study of political regime, the State and political parties. His doctoral Research Studies technocracies in Latin America, specially the Economic and health sectors.

Matthew Rhodes-Purdy is an Assistant Professor at Clemson University. He received his PhD in Government (comparative politics and methodology) from the University of Texas at Austin. His research uses democratic theory and social psychology to suggest solutions to difficult puzzles in political behavior. His research topics include political system attitudes (especially regime support), populism, and the interaction of political economy and culture. His regional focus is on Latin America, though he also studies the United States and Europe.

Katherine Bersch is the Wallace Assistant Professor of Political Science at Davidson College. She is also an investigator with the Governance Project at Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law. Her research focuses on democratic quality in developing countries, with an emphasis on governance reform and state capacity in Latin America. Bersch is the author of When Democracies Deliver: Governance Reform in Latin America (Cambridge University Press, 2019), which won the Van Cott Prize (LASA), the Levine Memorial Award (IPSA), and the Best Book in Public Administration Prize (ASPA). She completed her doctorate in Government at the University of Texas at Austin and has held postdoctoral fellowships at Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law, and at McGill University’s Institute for the Study of International Development.

Steven Levitsky is the Director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University. As the David Rockefeller Professor of Latin American Studies and Professor of Government, his research focuses on democratization, authoritarianism, political parties, and weak and informal institutions. He is author (with Daniel Ziblatt) of How Democracies Die (Crown, 2018), a New York Times Best-Seller that has been published in 25 languages, Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War (with Lucan Way) (Cambridge, 2010), and Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America: Argentine Peronism in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge, 2003), and co-editor of Informal Institutions and Democracy in Latin America (with Gretchen Helmke) and The Resurgence of the Latin American Left (with Kenneth Roberts). He has written frequently for the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Vox, The New Republic, The Monkey Cage, La República (Peru) and Folha de São Paulo (Brazil). He is currently writing a book (with Lucan Way) on the durability of revolutionary regimes. Levitsky received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.

Presented in collaboration with Weatherhead Center for International Affairs