Comparative Politics, Latin American Politics, Research Design, Qualitative Methods, State Building


Hillel David Soifer (PhD Harvard, 2006) 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. His 2015 book State Building in Latin America (Cambridge University Press) explains variation in state-building outcomes across Spanish America, with a focus on the development of education, taxation, and conscription in Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru in the period 1850-1920. In addition to a series of related articles on the historical development of the Latin American state, he has also published widely 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.

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 and a set of related articles on the challenges entailed in studying spatial aggregate units, focusing on the modifiable areal unit problem and its implications for political science scholarship.

Professor Soifer has served as a visiting scholar at Harvard's David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Brown's Watson Institute for International Affairs, and the Politics Department at Princeton University.

Curriculum Vitae


Selected Publications


  • State Building in Latin America (Cambridge University Press, 2015)
  • (co-edited) Politics After Violence: Legacies of the Shining Path Conflict in Peru (University of Texas Press, 2019)


  • (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).
  • (2012) ‘The Causal Logic of Critical Junctures’ Comparative Political Studies vol.45 #12 (December), pp.1572-1597.
  • (2008) ‘State Infrastructural Power: Conceptualization and Measurement in Empirical Analysis’ Studies in Comparative International Development vol.43 #3-4 pp.231-251 (November)
  • (2008) (with Matthias vom Hau) ‘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)

Courses Taught

  • POLS 8002: Qualitative Methods (graduate)
  • POLS 8216: The State in Comparative Politics (graduate)
  • POLS 8201: Comparative Politics Core Seminar (graduate)
  • POLS 1201: Foreign Governments and Politics (undergraduate)
  • POLS 2231: Comparative Politics in Latin America (undergraduate)
  • Undergraduate capstone classes on topics including: The causes and consequences of revolutions, and Violence, Inequality, and Democracy in Latin America