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Luis De la Calle

Luis De la Calle

Political Science
Fellow, 2020-21 Study #7

Luis De la Calle will spend the fellowship year working on a book project on the link between regime type, warfare, and state capacity. Researchers have looked at fragmented parts of this triangular relationship, but a systematic analysis of how different types of regimes perform in terms of state building when facing domestic threats is still missing. The main argument of this project is that revolutionary regimes facing external credible threats are more willing to extract resources and boost their capabilities than non-revolutionary governments. Revolutionary regimes get rid of inimical elites (who are killed or forced to leave) and use threats to mobilise society and extract vast amounts of resources in exchange for the production of cheap, large-scale public goods. In contrast, non-revolutionary regimes have a hard time in strengthening the state because elites have more leeway to oppose tax hikes and prefer shirking their fiscal share in favour of external patrons who transfer aid and bail out the regime in case a domestic challenge emerges.

De la Calle is an associate professor of political science at Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE, Mexico City) and the current editor of Política y Gobierno. His broader research interests include terrorism, conflict dynamics, legacies of violence, and warfare and state capacity. His book Nationalist Violence in Postwar Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2015) compared why some sub-state nationalist movements turned to terrorism during the second half of the previous century whereas others remained peaceful. Together with Ignacio Sánchez-Cuenca, he is working on another book-long project that lays out an original theory of terrorism identifying it as the defining feature of clandestine armed groups engaged in highly asymmetrical conflicts. His previous work has been published in journals such as the Annual Review of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, and the Journal of Peace Research.

For more, see his website at