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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)



Camila Vergara is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at University of Cambridge working on a longue durée analysis of the rights of the common people from antiquity to the present. By focusing on the relation between inequality, corruption, and domination, her work is an economically engaged legal political theory that examines issues of political legitimacy and authority within different conceptions of liberty and the organizations of power and ethical structures they promote. Dr Vergara holds a PhD in Political Theory with specialization in Constitutional Law from Columbia University, an MA in Politics from the New School for Social Research, and an MA in Latin American Politics from New York University. Before coming to Cambridge, she was a postdoctoral research fellow in civil and political rights at Columbia Law School.

She is the author of Systemic Corruption. Constitutional Ideas for an Anti-Oligarchic Republic (Princeton University Press 2020), which theorizes the crisis of democracy from a structural point of view, arguing that representative governments suffer from a form of political decay connected to a constitutional deficit: the lack of popular institutions of accountability and the resulting unchecked oligarchization of power. Transcending critique, the book also proposed both a materialist constitutional method to study structural domination and a set of anti-oligarchic institutions.

Dr Vergara’s work on corruption, populism, republicanism, and constitutional theory has been featured in leading international journals such as Philosophy & Social Criticism, the Journal of Political Philosophy, History of Political Thought, and REVUS Journal for Constitutional Theory and Philosophy of Law.

In addition to her work in academia, Dr Vergara is an advisor to international and grassroots organizations on civil and political rights, and on procedures and institutions for direct deliberative democracy. As a global public intellectual, her articles and interviews have been featured in mass media outlets such as New Left Review, Jacobin, Politico, Revista Plebeya, Il Manifesto Inret y Setenta e Quatro.


Dr Vergara’s research combines critical legal theory, grounded on the material organization of power, and normative political theory, guided by a radical republican critique of procedural theories of rights, law, and justice. Her work is focused on four interrelated areas:

  • radical republicanism
  • Left populism
  • critical constitutionalism
  • alternative ethico-political forms of organization


Key publications: 



Systemic Corruption. Constitutional Ideas for an Anti-Oligarchic Republic (Princeton University Press 2020)

Machiavelli on Liberty and Conflict , co-edited with David Johnston & Nadia Urbinati (University of Chicago Press 2017)

Journal Articles

Republican Constitutional Thought: Elitist & Plebeian Interpretations of the Mixed Constitution” History of Political Thought 43.5 (December 2022): 28¬–55.

Towards Material Anti-Oligarchic Constitutionalism” REVUS. Journal for Constitutional Theory and Philosophy of Law 46 (2022)

Republican Constitutionalism: Plebeian Institutions and Anti-Oligarchic Rules” Theoria 69.171 (June 2022): 25-48.

Corruption as Systemic Political Decay” Philosophy & Social Criticism 47.3 (2021): 322–346.

Populism as Plebeian Politics: Inequality, Domination & Popular Empowerment” Journal of Political Philosophy 28.2 (2020): 222–246.

Book Chapters

Democracy to Avoid Ecocide” in How Democracy Survives: Global Challenges in the Anthropocene. Edited by Sam Deese and Michael Holm. Routledge 2023.

Machiavelli's Republican Constituent Power,” in Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy. New Readings. Edited by Diogo Pires Aurélio & Andre Santos Campos. Brill 2022

Lenin and the Materialist Critique of Labor Law,” in The Futures of Lenin.  Edited by Alla Ivanchikov & Robert Maclean. SUNY Press 2022

Political Action, Revolutionary Parties and the Transition to a Republic of Councils,” in Rosa Luxemburg: New Perspectives on Life, Works and Impact, V2 edited by Frank Jacob. Karl Dietz Verlag 2021.

Crisis Government: The Populist as Plebeian Dictator” in Mapping Populism. Edited by Amit Ron and Majia Nadesan. Routledge 2020.    

Other publications: 


Book Reviews


‘Neoliberalism Has Always Been Precarity Capitalism in the Global South' Review of Albena Azmanova’s Capitalism on Edge. Contemporary Political Theory ‘Imaginando la utopía realizable’

Review of Daniel Ramírez’s Manifiesto para la sociedad futura. El Periodista

‘On the Limits of Elitist Theories of Constituent Power’ Review of Joel Colón-Ríos’ Constituent Power and the Law. Ethics & Politics (forth.) Critical Dialogue between Systemic Corruption and Hélène Landemore’s Open Democracy, Perspectives on Politics (forth.)


Review essay on John McCormick, Reading Machiavelli & Gabriele Pedullà, Machiavelli in Tumult. Constellations 27.2 (June): 316–320.

Review of Mike Gonzalez, In the Red Corner. The Marxism of José Carlos Mariátegui. Theoria 163, 67.2 (June): 106–118.


Press Articles & Non-Academic Publications


‘Our Machiavellian Moment’ Boston Review (January)

‘Burying Pinochet’ Sidecar—New Left Review (January)

‘Chile Confounds’ Sidecar—New Left Review (June)

‘Construyendo un mandato popular: distintos modelos de participación popular para el proceso constituyente’ Intereferencia (July)

‘Desde el análisis discursivo al populismo plebeyo’ Revista Plebeya (September)


‘To Crush Chile’s Popular Uprising, Its Government Is Taking a Page from the Fascist Playbook’ Jacobin Magazine 01/02

‘Apartheid socioeconómico y nueva Constitución’ CIPER 01/22

‘Yendo de la calle al cabildo: vías para un proceso constituyente popular’ CIPER 01/29

‘Inequality, Corruption & Oligarchic Domination’ in Key Questions on Global Inequality Global Inequality Project 08/09

‘Systemic Corruption and the Oligarchic Threat to National Security’ Tax Justice Focus, October 2019

‘The Meaning of Chile’s Explosion’ Jacobin Magazine 10/29

‘Chile Can Be a Laboratory of Popular Democracy’ Jacobin Magazine 11/23

‘Sobre la ley anti-encapuchados y otras adaptaciones legales fascistas’ CIPER 12/26

Teaching and Supervisions




“Power, Rights, and Social Change: Achieving Justice” Columbia University 2020

“Modern Political Thought” New York University 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

“Theories of Socialism” New York University 2013

“Theories of Democracy” New York University 2013

“Latin American Politics” New York University 2011


“Populism, Oligarchy, and Popular Constitutionalism” in the Social Science Doctoral Program, Universidad Diego Portales, Chile 2020

“The U.S., Latin America & the Media” MA seminar, New York University 2008 

Research supervision: 


Doctoral supervision: Roberto A. Cabrera y Rodriguez, Political Science UNAM. “The Democratic Constitutional State and its Contemporary Challenges”

Other Professional Activities

• Editorial Advisory Board, Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory

• Associate Member, Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics (CSRP), University of St. Andrews

• Member of the organizing committee, The Venice World Multidisciplinary Conference on Republics & Republicanism 

• Advisor to the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) to establish an International Centre of Indigenous Thought & Knowledge in Colombia

• Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts

• Referee for: APSR; Journal of Political Philosophy; Intellectual History Review; Capitalism, Nature, Socialism; Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy; Theoria; Contemporary Political Theory; Biblioteca della Libertà; Political Studies; Journal of Politics; Cogent Social Sciences

• Co-chair Political Theory section, IPSA World Congress of Political Science 2023

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow

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