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Ezequiel González Ocantos

Ezequiel González Ocantos

(Ph.D. (Notre Dame); MPhil, BA Hons (Cambridge))

Associate Professor in the Qualitative Study of Comparative Political Institutions; Professorial Fellow, Nuffield College
Comparative Politics and Government, Research Methods
Nuffield College
Office Address:
E9, Nuffield College

I am the Associate Professor in the Qualitative Study of Comparative Political Institutions in the Department of Politics and International Relations, and a Professorial Fellow of Nuffield College. In 2018 I received the Philip Leverhulme Prize in Politics and International Relations.

My primary research agenda is in the field of comparative judicial politics, with a regional focus on Latin America. I've written about judicial behaviour and strategic litigation in human rights cases; transitional justice; transnational judicial dialogue in the Inter-American Human Rights System; and the relationship between courts and public opinion. I am currently working on a book that examines the causes and consequences of anti-corruption judicial crusades in Latin America, comparing different national chapters of the Lava Jato investigation. In addition to my work on courts, I've published chapters and articles on the political economy of vote buying and electoral intimidation, and also on qualitative methods.

I am the author of two books: Shifting Legal Visions: Judicial Change and Human Rights Trials in Latin America (Cambridge University Press, 2016) which won the Herman Pritchett Best Book Award from APSA's Law and Courts Section, the best book award from ISA's Human Rights Section and the Donna Lee Van Cott Best Book Award from LASA's Political Institutions Section; and The Politics of Transitional Justice in Latin America: Power, Norms and Capability Building (Cambridge University Press, 2020). My peer-reviewed articles have appeared in the American Journal of Political Science, Comparative Politics, Comparative Political Studies, European Journal of Political ResearchInternational Studies Quarterly, Latin American Research ReviewLaw & Society Review, Journal of Peace ResearchSociological Methods & Research, The International Journal of Constitutional Law and The International Journal of Human Rights.

I recieved a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame in 2012. My doctoral thesis won APSA's 2013 Edward S. Corwin Award for the best dissertation in the field of Public Law.

Curriculum vitae: Download Gonzalezocantos Online Cv (275.7KB)

Research Interests

Comparative Judicial Politics

International Courts, Transitional Justice & Human Rights


Comparative Politics of Latin America

Qualitative Methods in Political Science

Human rights Constitutions and Government Democracy and Democratisation Elections Institutions and organisations


Research Design in Comparative Political Science (MPhil/DPhil, MT)

Qualitative Methods (MPhil/DPhil)

Comparative Government (PPE/MPhil)


I am happy to supervise students interested in comparative judicial politics, international courts and law, transitional justice, human rights, corruption, qualitative methods and Latin American politics

Number of DPhil supervisions completed: 1



2016. Shifting Legal Visions: Judicial Change and Human Rights Trials in Latin America. New York: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Studies in Law and Society.

          Best Book Award, International Studies Association, Human Rights Section (2018)

          H. Pritchett Best Book Award, American Political Science Association, Law and Courts Section (2017)

          Donna Lee Van Cott Best Book Award, Latin American Studies Association, Political Institutions Section (2017)

Reviews: Perspectives on Politics, Latin American Research Review, Latin American Politics and Society, Law and Society ReviewThe English Historical Review


2020. The Politics of Transitional Justice in Latin America: Power, Norms, and Capacity Building. New York: Cambridge University Press, Elements in Politics and Society in Latin America.

Reviews: Democratization


Forthcoming. The Limits of Judicialization: Progress and Backlash in Latin American Politics. New York: Cambridge University Press (co-edited with Sandra Botero and Daniel Brinks)


Book manuscripts in progress:


The Criminalization of Corruption in Latin America: Prosecutors, Politicians and Voters During Lava Jato (with Viviana Baraybar, Paula Muñoz and Nara Pavao) 


Peer-reviewed articles:

Forthcoming. "The Sources of Resilience of International Human Rights Courts: The Case of the Inter-American System" in Law and Social Inquiry (with Wayne Sandholtz)

Forthcoming. "Constructing a Regional Human Rights Legal Order: The Inter-American Court, National Courts, and Judicial Dialogue, 1988-2014," in International Journal of Constitutional Law (with Wayne Sandholtz)

Forthcoming. "Process Tracing and the Problem of Missing Data," in Sociological Methods and Research (with Jody LaPorte)

                        Alexander George Article Award, American Political Science Association, Qualitative and Mixed-Methods Section (2020)

2021. "Defending the European Court of Human Rights: Experimental Evidence from Britain," in European Journal of Political Research, 60(2): 397-417 (with Elias Dinas)

2020. “Carrots and Sticks: Experimental Evidence of Vote Buying and Voter Intimidation in Guatemala” in Journal of Peace Research, 57(1): 46-61 (with Carlos Meléndez, Chad Kiewiet de Jonge, Javier Osorio and David Nickerson)

2019. "Compensation and Compliance: Sources of Public Acceptance of the UK Supreme Court's Brexit Decision" in Law & Society Review, 53(3): 889-919 (with Elias Dinas)

2019. "Lava Jato Beyond Borders: The Uneven Performance of Anti-Corruption Judicial Efforts in Latin America," in Taiwan Journal of Democracy, 15(1): 63-89 (with Viviana Baraybar-Hidalgo), special issue on anti-corruption politics

2018. "Communicative Entrepreneurs: The Case of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights' Dialogue with National Judges" in International Studies Quarterly, 62(4): 737-750

2018. "Remittances and Vote Buying: Experimental Evidence from El Salvador," in Latin American Research Review, 53(4): 789-707 (with Chad Kiewiet de Jonge and Covadonga Meseguer)

2016. "Evaluations of Human Rights Trials and Trust in Judicial Institutions: Evidence from Fujimori’s Trial in Peru," in The International Journal of Human Rights, 20(4): 445-470

2015. "Legitimacy Buying: The Dynamics of Clientelism in the Face of Legitimacy Challenges," in Comparative Political Studies, 48(9):1127-1158 (with Chad Kiewiet de Jonge and David Nickerson)

2014. "Persuade Them or Oust Them: Crafting Judicial Change and Transitional Justice in Argentina," in Comparative Politics, 46(4):279-298

2014. "The Conditionality of Vote Buying Norms: Experimental Evidence from Latin America," in American Journal of Political Science, 58(1):197-211 (with Chad Kiewiet de Jonge and David Nickerson)

2012. "Vote Buying and Social Desirability Bias: Experimental Evidence from Nigaragua," in American Journal of Political Science, 56(1):202-217 (with Chad Kiewiet de Jonge, Carlos Melendez, Javier Osorio and David Nickerson)


Book chapters:

Forthcoming. "The Peruvian Chapter of Lava Jato: Judicial Agency, Backlash and Resistance in Anti-Corruption Crusades," in S. Botero, D. Brinks & E. Gonzalez-Ocantos eds. The Limits of Judicialization: Progress and Backlash in Latin American Politics. New York: Cambridge University Press (with Viviana Baraybar)

Forthcoming. “Electoral Fraud,” in E. Posada-Carbó & A. Robertson eds. The Oxford Handbook of Revolutionary Elections in the Americas. Oxford: Oxford University Press (with Svitlana Chernykh)

2020. “Designing Qualitative Research Projects: Notes on Theory Building, Case Selection, and Field Research,” in L. Curini and R. Franzese Jr. eds. SAGE Handbook of Research Methods in Political Science and International Relations.Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE

2019. "Courts in Latin American Politics," in Oxford Encyclopedia of Latin American Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press

2019. "Clientelism in Latin American Politics," in Oxford Encyclopedia of Latin American Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press (with Virginia Oliveros)

2017. “Political Clientelism,” in W. Outhwaite & S. Turner eds. The SAGE Handbook of Political Sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE (with Paula Muñoz)

2015. “Dependencia y Autonomía,” in M. D’Alessandro & G. Ippolito-O’Donnell eds. La ciencia política de Guillermo O’Donnell. Buenos Aires, Argentina: EUDEBA

2010. “Crisis de gobernabilidad en América Latina: Juegos verticales y horizontales,” in F. Barrero & S. Jost eds. Estabilidad democrática en América Latina: Equilibrio de poderes, perspectivas teóricas. Bogotá, Colombia: Fondo Editorial de la Universidad Sergio Arboleda. (with Carlos Meléndez)


Commissioned academic reports:

2016. Informe Especial sobre Libertad del Sufragio en Mexico. Mexico: Institito Nacional Electoral (with Chad Kiewiet de Jonge and Javier Osorio)

2013. Avances y obstáculos en el juzgamiento de graves violaciones de derechos humanos y crímenes internacionales en América Latina. Informe presentado a la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos en audiencia temática regional durante el 149 período de sesiones.(with Due Process of Law Foundation, Instituto de Defensa Legal, FESPAD, Centro de Derechos Humanos Universidad Diego Portales, and Fundación Myrna Mack)

2012. Aproximación a las percepciones de la ciudadanía sobre la compra de votos y la intimidación de votantes en el régimen político guatemalteco. Cdad. de Guatemala, Guatemala: National Democratic Institute. (with Carlos Meléndez, Chad Kiewiet de Jonge, Javier Osorio and David Nickerson)


Working papers:

"Interviewing for Process Tracing" (with Juan Masullo)

"Witch Hunts? Electoral Cycles and the Judicialization of Corruption in Argentina" (with German Feierherd and Guadalupe Tuñon)

"Why Some Beggars Can Be Choosers: The Ford Foundation and Human Rights Activism" (with Alvaro Morcillo Laiz)