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10 · DECEMBER · 2019

Matthias vom Hau obtains an ERC Consolidator Grant to carry out his research

Matthias vom Hau, Associate Professor and Ramón y Cajal Researcher at the Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals (IBEI), has been one of the 301 top scientists and scholars across Europe selected by the European Research Council (ERC) to receive the prestigious Consolidator Grants. Funding for these researchers, part of the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, is worth €600 million in total.

With this support, Matthias vom Hau will receive a grant of 1.9 million euros to carry out, over five years, research focusing on the relationship between ethnic diversity and public goods provision.

Is Ethnic Diversity a Problem?

His project starts from the observation that ethnic diversity is usually seen as a problem for the effective provision of public goods such as schools or hospitals. States, Nationalism, and the Relationship Between Ethnic Diversity and Public Goods Provision (ETHNICGOODS) instead revisits and challenges this conventional wisdom. Spearheading an emerging research agenda on the historical construction of diversity, the project explores the role of long-run patterns of nation-building and state institutional development in shaping contemporary levels of ethnic diversity and public goods provision. ETHNICGOODS will develop and test this novel argument on a global scale, based on the combination of comparative historical case studies and statistical analysis.

Matthias vom Hau emphasizes the importance of injecting history into the current public debate around ethnic diversity. “Around the world, from Hungary to Myanmar, nativist movements present ethnic minorities as detrimental to public services.” By contrast, if ETHNICGOODS’ main argument is empirically verified, then policies aimed at improving the provision of education or health services should focus on alleviating the negative effects of exclusionary nation-building and pursue the strengthening of state institutional capacities.

Matthias vom Hau is an Associate Professor and Ramón y Cajal Researcher at IBEI. A sociologist by training, he has a PhD (2007) from Brown University and previously held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Manchester. He has also been a visiting researcher at Princeton University, the Freie Universität and the Humboldt Universität in Berlin, the Universidad de San Martín (UNSAM) and Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) in Buenos Aires, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), and the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos (IEP) in Lima.

Matthias’ research is centrally concerned with the relationship between identity politics, institutions, and development, with a comparative-historical focus on Latin America. He has published widely on how states construct a sense of national belonging, how civil society actors negotiate and contest official nationalisms, and the extent to which ordinary citizens subscribe to official and counter-state identity projects. A second line of research explores the rise and consequences of indigenous movements in Latin America and beyond, while his third line of work corrects for the fundamentally ahistorical approach that underpins the supposedly negative relationship between ethnic diversity and public goods provision.