During her time at CASBS, Luz Marina Arias plans to explore how indigenous agency during the colonial and early independent periods has shaped the development of ethnic inequalities in Mexico. Being indigenous is highly correlated with underdevelopment yet few studies decompose indigenous by type of ethnicity. By studying whether and why different ethnic groups differ in their long-term outcomes we can reframe development policies to address inequalities. The project will deploy a temporally disaggregated analysis and focus on the relative importance of two mechanisms through which indigenous organization can set regions apart. Collective organization allows negotiation between ethnic leaders and outsiders, facilitating exploitation of indigenous resources through their own leaders. Political complexity, on the other hand, also facilitates the organization of indigenous resistance against European encroachment.
Arias’ research lies at the intersection of economics, history and political science, with a focus on the political economy of development. She has published work on the indigenous origins of colonial institutions in the Americas, and on the mechanisms behind fiscal centralization in late colonial Mexico. Her current work focuses on state building in 19th century Mexico. She has been a fellow at the Carlos III-Juan March Institute in Madrid, the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at University of California, San Diego, and the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at Stanford University.
Arias is assistant professor at CIDE in Mexico City. She received her PhD in economics from Stanford University.