About Tesalia Rizzo

Graduate Student

Political Science

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Fields: Comparative, Methods

On Job Market?



Email: trizzo@mit.edu

Website: http://www.tesaliarizzo.com

Biographical sketch and research interests

I am a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I study comparative political behavior using a variety of techniques such as field experiments, surveys, interviews and observational data. All my research is informed by intensive ethnographic fieldwork. My dissertation, titled “When Clients become Citizens: Intermediaries and Claim-Making in Mexico,” explores how bureaucratic transaction costs prevent individuals from directly claiming welfare benefits. Instead, these costs make citizens dependent on clientelistic brokers and intermediaries, who demand political favors in return for access. Drawing on a large-scale field experiment across 150 villages in Yucatán, as well as more than 18 months of fieldwork in Mexico, I find that the clientelistic equilibrium can be broken and citizenship strengthened by reducing the costs individuals face in claiming welfare benefits independently and directly. My broader research agenda incorporates both the demand and supply side of political intermediation. I study how informal and clientelistic intermediaries shape citizens’ attitudes and political engagement during elections and in the electoral off-cycle. My work also examines how intermediation influences political representation in local politics and the effectiveness of bureaucratic agencies. Before coming to MIT, I studied Political Science at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM). Also, I am currently a Graduate Research Fellow at MIT Governance Lab. In January 2019, I will be a pre-doctoral fellow at the Center for US-Mexican Studies at the University of California, San Diego.