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Dr. I. (Imke) Harbers

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
Programme group: Transnational Configurations, Conflict and Governance
Photographer: onbekend

Visiting address
  • Nieuwe Achtergracht 166
  • Room number: B9.06
Postal address
  • Postbus 15578
    1001 NB Amsterdam
Social media
  • Profile

    I am associate professor of political science at the University of Amsterdam. Before coming to Amsterdam, I obtained my PhD from Leiden University and I was a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for US-Mexican Studies at the University of California, San Diego. My research focuses on subnational political institutions, state capacity, citizenship and democracy. I am also interested in multi-method research, and specificially in developing new approaches for integrating geo-spatial analysis and qualitative methods.

    My dissertation was nominated for the annual thesis award of the Dutch Political Science Association (NKWP) and in 2009, I received the Rudolf Wildenmann Prize of the European Consortium for Political Research. I  am one of the co-editors of the journal Regional and Federal Studies

    In 2020, I received an ERC Starting Grant for CitizenGap, a project that analyzes the politics of birth registration. My previous research has been funded by a Marie Curie Global Fellowship.

  • ERC Project CitizenGap

    Legal Identity for All?

    Research Project led by Imke Harbers (PI), funded by an ERC Starting Grant (€ 1.5 million), 2021-2026


    Although we often think of undocumented persons as migrants or non-citizens, about one in seven people across the globe lack documents such as birth certificates, ID cards or passports to prove their legal identity, and thus their status as citizens in their own country. This gap between citizens with and without state-recognized documents can be just as consequential as the distinction between citizens and non-citizens.

    Existing approaches tend to portray the citizenship gap – that is the difference between legal status and the ability of citizens to document their claim to this status – as the apolitical by-product of deficiencies in governance. The CitizenGap project aims to change how scholars and policy-makers think about achieving one of the key targets of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals “By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration” by developing a novel political understanding.

    The project pursues two main questions: (1) How and why do states invest in civil registration? (2) How and why do citizens decide to obtain documents? To understand why millions of citizens are undocumented, it is crucial to remember that citizenship is not only a legal status, but first and foremost a political relationship between states and the populations they govern. CitizenGap advances a strategic theory that seriously considers the incentives of states and citizens in the politics of civil registration. Empirically, the project contributes a comprehensive, cross-national measure that captures the number and characteristics of undocumented citizens, including those at risk of having their citizenship status questioned. The project also analyzes the origins and nature of the citizenship gap through in-depth country studies.

    Additional information about the project can be found on the project website:

  • Publications







    • Harbers, I. (2015). Taxation and the unequal reach of the state: mapping state capacity in Ecuador. Governance: an international journal of policy, administration and institutions, 28(3), 373-391. Advance online publication. [details]



    • Harbers, I., de Vries, C. E., & Steenbergen, M. R. (2013). Attitude variability among Latin American publics: how party system structuration affects left/right ideology. Comparative Political Studies, 46(8), 947-967. Advance online publication. [details]


    • Faust, J., & Harbers, I. (2012). On the local politics of administrative decentralization: applying for policy responsibilities in Ecuador. Publius - The Journal of Federalism, 42(1), 52-77. Advance online publication. [details]





    • Harbers, I. (2017). [Review of: J.I. Domínguez, K.F. Greene, C.H. Lawson, A. Moreno (2015) Mexico’s Evolving Democracy: A Comparative Study of the 2012 Elections]. Revista Europea de Estudios Latinoamericanos y del Caribe, 103, Article book review 8. [details]


    • Harbers, I. (2021). Two pathways to citizenship in Mexico. In B. Manby, & R. Bauböck (Eds.), Unblocking access to citizenship in the global South: should the process be decentralised? (7 ed., Vol. EUI RSC 2021, pp. 46-50). (EUI Working papers). European University Institute.


    • Faust, J., Harbers, I., Razu, Z., & Thunert, M. (2018). Mexico Report: Sustainable Governance Indicators 2018. SGI. [details]


    • Faust, J., Harbers, I., Razu, Z., & Thunert, M. (2017). Sustainable Governance Indicators 2017: Mexico Report. Bertelsmann Stiftung. [details]


    • Harbers, I. (2016). Kader 4.4: Centralisatie en autoritarisme. In C. Klaufus, & P. van Lindert (Eds.), Latijns-Amerika: Een regio in beweging (pp. 85-86). LM Publishers. [details]



    • Harbers, I. (2010). [Review of: G.W. Grayson (2010) Mexico: narco-violence and a failed state?]. Revista Europea de Estudios Latinoamericanos y del Caribe, 89, 161-163. [details]


    • Faust, J., Arneth, F., von der Goltz, N., Harbers, I., Illerhues, J., & Schloms, M. (2008). Political Fragmentation, Decentralization and Development Cooperation: Ecuador in the Latin American Context. Bonn: German Development Institute.


    • Faust, J., & Harbers, I. (2005). Lateinamerika: Demokratischer als jemals zuvor. Die Zivilgesellschaft kann politische Parteien nicht ersetzen. Zeitschrift Entwicklungspolitik, 2005(14), 24-62.

    Prize / grant

    • Harbers, I. (2020). ERC Starting Grant "Legal Identity for All?".
    • Harbers, I. (2016). Marie Skłodowska-Curie Global Fellowship.
    • Harbers, I. (2011). Shortlisted NKWP Jaarprijs.
    • Harbers, I. (2011). Best paper award, Decentralization and Subnational Governance Section, Latin American Studies Association.
    • Harbers, I. (2009). Rudolf Wildenmann Prize.


    • Richetta, C., Harbers, I. & van Wingerden, E. (2023). Subnational Electoral Coercion in India (SECI) Data set, 1985-2015. Harvard Dataverse.


    • Harbers, I., Richetta, C. & van Wingerden, E. (2022). Replication Data for: Shaping Electoral Outcomes: Intra- and Anti-systemic Violence in Indian Assembly Elections. Harvard Dataverse.


    • Ingram, M. & Harbers, I. (2020). Replication Data for: Spatial Tools for Case Selections: Using LISA Statistics to Design Mixed-Methods Research. Harvard Dataverse.


    • Harbers, I. (10-12-2019). Replication Data for: Legal Identity for All? Gender Inequality in the Timing of Birth Registration in Mexico. Harvard Dataverse.
    • Harbers, I., Bartman, J. & van Wingerden, E. (23-4-2019). Replication Data for: “Conceptualizing and Measuring Subnational Democracy Across Indian States”. Harvard Dataverse.


    • Ingram, M. C. & Harbers, I. (12-12-2018). Replication Data for: Spatial Tools for Case Selection: Using LISA Statistics to Design Mixed-Methods Research. Harvard Dataverse.


    • Harbers, I. & Ingram, M. C. (31-12-2016). Replication Data for: Geo-Nested Analysis: Mixed-Methods Research with Spatially Dependent Data. Harvard Dataverse.
    This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library or the Pure staff of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
  • Ancillary activities
    No ancillary activities