Javier Perez Sandoval Receives the 2022 William Anderson Award

The William Anderson Award is presented annually by the American Political Science Association (APSA)to honor the best dissertation in the general field of federalism or intergovernmental relations, state, and local politics. 

Javier Perez Sandoval  holds a DPhil from the University of Oxford.  He is passionate about regime change, subnational politics, presidentialism, and the dynamics linking socio-economic development and politics.  While his doctoral thesis explored the origins of subnational democracy, his new research project focuses on its consequences for security, representation, and redistribution.  Javier is currently a Stipendiary Lecturer in Politics at Pembroke College and a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Manchester.

Citation from the Award Committee:  

The committee selected Javier Perez Sandoval’s dissertation, “The Origins of Subnational Democracy: How Colonial Legacies and Labor Incorporation Shaped Regime Heterogeneity within Latin American Countries,” for the 2022 William Anderson Award.

Research on subnational politics often highlights variation in the level of subnational democracy, with some scholars noting the presence of subnational authoritarian regimes within nationally democratic systems.  Most research to date explaining such regime juxtaposition highlights a variety of contemporary (proximal) political and economic factors that contribute to it.  In a novel contribution to current research, Javier focuses on the role of prior (distal) factors in explaining variation in subnational democracy.  Specifically, he argues that variation in the nature of economic development under colonial rule – that is, in whether colonial empires relied on liberal or mercantilist relationships with their colonies – determined the timing and strength of organized labor, thereby shaping the role local political leaders and their relationship with national authorities.  Those local leaders mediating labor-elite conflict during colonial rule were more likely to develop the capacity to support local democratic systems, especially compared to those local leaders that never developed such roles and who were thus usurped by colonial powers and national governments later on.  Javier tests his argument using a range of qualitative and quantitative evidence and methods.  Notably, he also carefully considers an exhaustive list of potential alternative mechanisms and provides empirical evidence to dismiss them.  It is this effort that goes a long way to providing crucial support for his argument.

In making this argument, Javier shows how antecedent, colonial-era economic conditions fundamentally shape the evolution of subnational political arenas, leaving a legacy for subnational democracy that affects it even today.  Impressive in its theoretical reach and empirical support, this research will force scholars of subnational politics to redefine the role of contemporary economic and political factors in explaining variation of subnational democracy and autocracy within nations.

APSA thanks the committee members for their service: Dr. Allyson L. Benton (chair) of the University of Essex, Gwen Arnold of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Philip B. Rocco of Marquette University.

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