DPIR DPhil graduate Maryhen Jiménez Morales wins top prize for doctoral research


DPIR DPhil graduate Maryhen Jiménez Morales has been awarded a top prize by the Political Studies Association for the outstanding quality of her doctoral research.

Maryhen received the association’s Lord Bryce Award for best dissertation in comparative politics for her work on ‘Opposition Strategy Formation in Autocracies: A Theory of Coordination with Evidence from Latin America.

Her dissertation studies uneven patterns of opposition coordination in dictatorships, using evidence from Latin America, particularly Mexico and Venezuela.

She found that what determines opposition parties incentives to coordinate is the amount of repression they face and how repression is applied (targeted or indiscriminate).

Maryhen argues that opposition coordination and repression have a curvilinear relationship, whereby coordination is only possible under two conditions: when repression is both intermediate and indiscriminate. In contrast, when repression is either low/high and/or targeted towards specific parties, opposition parties will have less incentives to coordinate.

Her research also explored different types of coordination – informal or formal- and the way the coordinate will respond to the levels of repression they are exposed to. While informal coordination only implies opponents having private agreements around certain political or socio-economic issues (e.g. loose platforms, cross-party endorsements, protests), formal coordination constitutes the institutionalisation of opponent’s willingness to work together, including the establishment of decision-making rules and conflict resolution mechanisms.

Maryhen’s dissertation was noted for ‘the potential it has for travelling outside the countries and region and adding new knowledge and openings for further research on the important and growing field of comparative autocratization.’

Maryhen is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Latin American Centre, where she previously studied for a Masters in Latin American Studies.

She said: “It’s amazing to have won this award – I’m really excited actually. It involved lots of work and travel to get the data in Latin America and writing so many different drafts but it’s also been very rewarding for me and for all the people who have supported me along the way. It’s very much a collective award and an acknowledgment of collective efforts.”

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