When the Rebels Win: State Building and Service Provision in Revolutionary Nicaragua


Tuesday, September 19, 2017, 12:00pm to 2:00pm


CGIS South, S250, 1730 Cambridge Street


Speaker: Kai Thaler, PhD Candidate, Department of Government, Harvard University; Graduate Student Associate, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University

Moderator: Steven Levitsky, Professor of Government, Harvard University

What explains how rebels govern when they win civil wars? Looking at the case of the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) in Nicaragua, this project focuses on the role of leadership, goals, and ideology in shaping organizational policies and practices both while fighting as rebels, and while controlling the central state. Leaders' aims and their decisions about how to organize a movement and its relations with civilians can set durable patterns of governance, orienting a group more towards the pursuit of either public or private interests.

Kai Thaler is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Government and a Graduate Student Associate of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. He works on civil wars, state-building, regimes and regime transitions, political violence, and the politics of development, focused on Latin America and Africa. He has been conducting research in Nicaragua since 2012 and is the author of a recent article in the Journal of Democracy on the Ortega regime.