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Hillel David Soifer

Associate Professor
Personal Statement

Hillel David Soifer is Associate Professor of Political Science, specializing in Comparative Politics and research methods.

His empirical work has mainly been centered in Latin America, where he works on state building and other elements of political development. Work in this area includes his 2015 book State Building in Latin America (Cambridge University Press), a series of related articles on the historical development of the Latin American state, and various articles on the conceptualization and measurement of state capacity. He continues to work in this area, investigating both historical trajectories of state development and related issues in the contemporary Latin American context. An edited volume on the legacies of the Shining Path conflict in Peru Politics After Violence was published by University of Texas Press in 2019.

Professor Soifer's research also explores issues in research design and qualitative methodology. He has published on critical junctures, the use of shadow cases in empirical research, and subnational comparison. He is currently working on a book manuscript on the challenges entailed in studying spatial aggregate units, focusing on the modifiable areal unit problem and its implications for political science scholarship.

He receieved his PhD in 2006 from Harvard University, and degrees from Georgetown University and Haverford College. Before coming to Berkeley he held tenure-track positions at Bates College and Temple University.

BA 1995 Haverford College (The Growth and Structure of Cities)
MA 1999 Georgetown University (Latin American Studies)
PhD 2006 Harvard University (Comparative Government)

(2015) State Building in Latin America (Cambridge University Press)

(2019) Politics After Violence: Legacies of the Shining Path Conflict in Peru University of Texas Press (co-edited with Alberto Vergara)


(conditionally accepted pending replication) ‘The MAUP as a threat to inference in political science’ Political Analysis (with Melissa Rogers and Dong Wook Lee)

(2023) ‘Fiscal and information capacity in the developing world’ Journal of Institutional Economics vol.19 #3 pp. 426-443. (with Matthias vom Hau and Jose Alejandro Peres Cajías)

(2021) ‘The drug trade and state violence in internal conflicts: evidence from Peru’ (with Angelica Durán-Martínez) Latin American Politics & Society vol.63 #4 (Winter) pp.96-123.

(2020) ‘Shadow cases in comparative research’ Qualitative and Multi-Method Research vol. 18 #2 (Fall) pp.9-18.

(2020) ‘The indigenous inheritance: critical antecedents and state-building in Latin America and Southeast Asia’ Social Science History vol. 44 #2 pp. 251-274. (with Dan Slater)

(2017) ‘The Bolivarian education reform in context’ Journal of Latin American Studies, Volume 49 #4 (November) pp. 885-916. (with Jared Abbott & Matthias vom Hau)

(2017) ‘Capturing subnational variation in state capacity: a survey-based approach’ American Behavioral Scientist, vol. 61 #8 (July) pp. 887-907 (with Juan Pablo Luna)

(2016) ‘Regionalism, ethnic diversity, and variation in public good provision by national states’ Comparative Political Studies vol.49 #10 (September) pp.1341-71.

 (2013) ‘State power and the redistributive threat’ Studies in Comparative International Development vol.48 #1 (March) pp.1-22. (erratum published in vol.51 #4 pp.530-538, 2016)

(2012) ‘The causal logic of critical junctures’ Comparative Political Studies vol.45 #12 (December), pp.1572-1597.

(2012) ‘Measuring state capacity in contemporary Latin America’ Revista de Ciencia Política vol.32 #3 (November-December) pp.585-598.

(2009) ‘The sources of infrastructural power: evidence from 19th century Chilean education’ Latin American Research Review vol.44 #2, pp.158-180

(2008) ‘State infrastructural power: conceptualization and measurement in empirical analysis’ Studies in Comparative International Development vol.43 #3-4 pp.231-251 (November)

(2008) ‘Unpacking the ‘strength’ of the state: the utility of state infrastructural power’ Studies in Comparative International Development vol.43 #3-4 pp.219-230 (November) (with Matthias vom Hau)