Thomas Hazell

St Antony's College
MPhil Comparative Government

I am a second-year student on the MPhil in Politics (Comparative Government) at the DPIR. My research focuses on comparative study of authoritarianism with a regional emphasis on Central Asia.

My MPhil work considers the issue of subnational delegation in autocracies. Who do autocrats share power with? How do they judge their subordinates' abilities? My thesis, supervised by Katerina Tertytchnaya, approaches this question through studying variation in the tenure of akims (appointed governors and mayors) in Kazakhstan. Through computational techniques, I construct an original dataset of over 1100 akim tenures in regions and districts. The dataset is the first consolidated set of information on akim characteristics and includes a rich set of biographic information, including education and career history. I then link these data with local-level economic and political indicators to statistically examine the determinants of governor dismissal. I draw on this analysis to trace the mechanisms driving dismissal through fine-grained case studies of akim career paths. This work is generously funded by a four-year Economic and Social Research Council studentship awarded by the Grand Union Doctoral Training Programme.

I currently work as a research assistant on the UKRI/Horizon Europe-funded AUTHLIB project, led at Oxford by Stephen Whitefield, Spyros Kosmidis, and Zofia Stemplowska. I previously worked as a research assistant for Professor Lenka Buštíková's work on illiberalism in Ukraine and on the Oxford University Economic Recovery Project at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment.

Prior to starting on the MPhil, I received a first-class BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Oxford. My undergraduate thesis traced electoral reform under Leonid Kuchma’s competitive authoritarian regime in early 2000s Ukraine.