Otto Kienitz is a PhD Candidate in Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on autocratic institutions in comparative perspective ranging from Europe to imperial and post-Soviet Eurasia. His dissertation explores the relationship between local self-government and state capacity in Russia, Ottoman Turkey, and China. He is the co-founder of the Berkeley Historical Social Science Workshop and concentrates on the role of local political economy in autocratic state-building.
Kienitz is a recipient of the 2021 IIS Simpson Research Grant.
Kienitz's dissertation explores the autocratic origins and legacies of local self-government and fiscal state capacity in historical autocracies. He uses the tools of historical political economy and digital humanities to leverage local level data on representation and local public goods provision, highlighting the relationship between local government and public revenue in the nineteenth century. His dissertation compares the emergence of local self-government in three historical autocracies -- the Russian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Qing Dynasty in China -- with broader patterns of local taxation and representation in 19th century Europe. His other work explores elections under autocracy more broadly, along with sub-national state capacity and local elections in historical and contemporary Russia.