Otto Kienitz

Postdoctoral Fellow

Otto Kienitz received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 2024. His research interests in comparative politics and political economy include the intersection of democratization and state-building in Europe and Eurasia with a particular focus on local taxation and representation in autocratic regimes.

His research focuses on how state-society and state-elite relations constrain or enable state-building and public goods provision. He is an expert in Russian politics and the historical political economy of the Russian Empire. He is currently working on transforming his dissertation “The Historical Political Economy of Local Self-Government” on the causes and consequences of local democratization in the Russian Empire, Ottoman Empire, and the Qing Dynasty into a book manuscript on state-building strategies in weak states in historical comparative perspective.

He has a number of ongoing projects on land ownership and local self-government reform in the Russian Empire and critical appraisals of the literature on state-building and state capacity. Prior to joining the SNF Agora Institute, he received his Ph.D. and M.A. with Distinction in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley, an M.A. in Russian and Eurasian Studies from the European University at St. Petersburg (Russia), and a B.A. (Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude) in History with a Minor in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania.