I am a research fellow at the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities (Kungl. Vitterhetsakademien) and at the Department of Political Science, Lund University. Prior to this, I was a post-doctoral researcher affiliated with the project “State-Making and the Origins of Global Order in the Long Nineteenth Century and Beyond” (STANCE) also at Lund University.

My research interests lie at the intersection of comparative politics, political development, and democratic theory, with regional specializations on the politics of Latin America and Western Europe.

I am particularly interested in political inequality and its effects on democracy and development. Most of my work to this date can be grouped under three more specific topics:

  1. the effect of political inequality on processes of state formation;
  2. the development of deliberative systems from a historical institutionalist perspective; and
  3. the tensions between state sovereignty and the rights of non-citizens.

My research has been published or is forthcoming at Comparative Political Studies, Politics & GenderPolitics & Society, Oxford University Press, Toronto University Press, Edward Elgar Press, and the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos.

I moonlight as a novelist. My first book of fiction, La frase negra, was published by Ediciones ERA in Mexico in 2007.



In my doctoral (UBC) and post-doctoral (STANCE, Lund) work, I have studied the evolution of deliberative systems from a historical perspective. In particular, I focused on the ways in which the diffusion and institutionalization of communicative practices among the popular classes as a way to coordinate collective action affected the development of the modern state during the 19th and 20th centuries. My book manuscript, Communication and Political Development: The Social Origins of State Autonomy and Capacity, examines the impact of “communicative organizations”—i.e., mass parties, unions and associations that mobilize supporters through communication rather than selective incentives—on the ability of states to provide complex public goods such as economic transformation.

As a research fellow of the Royal Academy of Letters based at Lund University, I am launching a new multi-year project entitled “Deliberative Capacity of Democratic Systems”, which will propose a new measurement strategy to asses the quality of deliberation at the polity level. The goal is to then use this data to examine how changes in the institutions responsible for collective preference formation have affected satisfaction with and support for democracy in a sample of European and Latin American countries.

I also have a couple of articles in progress on popular sovereignty, citizenship and the rights of foreigners. The first of these articles, with Antje Ellermann (UBC), discusses the ethics of policies of immigrant selection in liberal democracies. The second one draws on the literature on “discursive opportunity structures” to explain why the enfranchisement of non-citizens has been a highly contested issue in places like France, the US or Germany, but not in countries like Sweden, Denmark or the Netherlands.

Recent publications

Hansen, Michael and Agustín Goenaga. (Forthcoming) “Gender and Democratic Attitudes: Do Women and Men Prioritize Different Democratic Institutions?”, Politics & Gender, accepted.

Brambor, Thomas, Agustín Goenaga, Johannes Lindvall, and Jan Teorell. (Forthcoming) “The Lay of the Land: Information Capacity and the Modern State”, Comparative Political Studies, accepted.

Ellermann, Antje and Agustín Goenaga. (2019). “Discrimination and Policies of Immigrant Selection in Liberal States”, Politics & Society, Vol. 47(1), 87-116.

Goenaga, Agustín and Alexander von Hagen-Jamar. (2018). “When Does War Make States? War, Rivalries and Fiscal Extraction in the 19th and 20th Centuries” in Bartelson, Jens, Martin Hall and Jan Teorell (eds.), De-Centering State-Making: Historical and Geographical Perspectives, London: Edward Elgar Press, 2018.

Goenaga, Agustín. (2016)  “Democracy in Latin America” In Oxford Bibliographies in Political Science. Ed. Sandy Maisel. New York: Oxford University Press.


My published fiction is mostly in Spanish but some of it has appeared in English. My first novel, La frase negra, came out in 2007, and since then I try to carve out time at night, weekends and holidays to work on the second one. You can find links to some of my creative writing here.