Ph.D. Job Candidates

Crina Archer

Dissertation Title

"Times of Democratic Revolution: Historical Teleology and Political Freedom in Kant, Tocqueville, and Arendt."

From Enlightenment narratives of world-historical progress to more recent attempts by the Bush regime to cast the Iraq invasion as a moment in the historical unfolding of a universal telos of liberal democracy, political theory and practice has often sought to make sense of the struggle for democracy in the temporal register of progressive, teleological history. Despite devastating criticisms of the illiberal implications of such historical perspectives that have emerged from across the spectrum of contemporary democratic theories, the identification of modern history with the inevitable spread of democracy across space and time persists as a powerful political discourse; in particular, this discourse has often been invoked to account for the phenomena of modern struggles for democracy as moments within a single, and ongoing, historical process leading toward democratic universality. My dissertation project investigates this persistence, interrogating the tensions and entanglements that mark the conceptual relationship between democratic struggles and teleological narratives of history in modern political thought. Via a series of engagements with the works of Immanuel Kant, Alexis de Tocqueville, and Hannah Arendt, I propose that the idea of a democratic telos governing history may not be antithetical to the liberal idea of freedom as a form of sovereign autonomy, as many critics argue, but may actually operate as its disavowed supplement.

             

Dissertation Committee

Linda Zerilli (Chair), Bonnie Honig, Sara Monoson

Mneesha Gellman

Dissertation Title

Claiming Culture: A Comparative Study of Ethnic Minority Rights Mobilizations in Mexico, Turkey and El Salvador

Dissertation Description:

My dissertation examines why some violence-affected ethnic minorities are more successful than others in mobilizing for cultural rights. Despite many common characteristics—such as democratizing political regimes and legacies of state and paramilitary persecution—ethnic minority groups in Mexico, Turkey and El Salvador make cultural rights demands on their states in very different ways. I argue that communities that are highly mobilized around cultural rights generally exhibit lower levels of political, economic, and cultural accommodation by their states, which leads these communities to use extra-institutional rather than institutional claims. By contrast, communities that are less mobilized tend to enjoy higher degrees of state accommodation, rendering these communities more willing to accept fewer cultural rights. I find that when certain combinations of state accommodation of ethnic minorities are high, communities will be less likely to produce public narratives that catalyze their communities to mobilize.

 

Dissertation Committee

Edward Gibson (chair), William Reno, James Mahoney

 

Jael Goldsmith

Dissertation Title

Striving for Services: Citizen Strategies in Changing Economic, Political, and Welfare Regimes, Chile 1954-2010

Dissertation Description:

This project traces citizen-state interactions during three radically different economic, political, and welfare provision regimes in contemporary Chile.  It centers on the way people's everyday lives and abilities to ensure services are shaped by macro-economic models -- what commodification and decommodification mean to individuals in their everyday lives, how people adapt and resist to dramatically different political, macroeconomic, and social provision systems.  By situating observation smade on multiple levels; from a citizen grass-roots perspective, at the site of interactions between citizens and the state, at the changing roles of NGO's in providing and pressuring for services, as well as a revision of official policy, I will show that by focusing only on formal institutions, scholars have missed the informal on-the-groud practices that govern social welfare.  This investigation sheds light on the elaborate collective, familial, and individual strategies deployed by citizens to to shape the contents of their interactions with state workers, and the ways these practices are both reproduced intergenerationally and rapidly adjusted.  It speaks to the changes and continuities in people's everyday life experiences under very different economic and political regimes, challenging conceptions of citizens as the passive clients/recipients as depicted in mainstream welfare literature and imagined policy makers.

Dissertation Committee

James Mahoney, Edward Gibson, Andrew Roberts

 

Brian Harrison

Dissertation Title

Red Brain, Blue Brain: The impact of Partisanship & Motivated Reasoning on the President

Dissertation Description:

Reliance on partisan identity carries a potentially major liability: it predisposes citizens to a distorted view of the political world. Partisans expect their party to perform better, to produce high-quality candidates, and to take appropriate issue stands (e.g., Gerber & Huber 2010; Taber and Lodge 2006; Gerber, Huber, & Washington 2010). To preserve expectations and to protect their partisan identities, people often expose themselves to information that validates their existing partisan identities. When confronted with uncongenial information, they tend to ignore, to discount, or to counter-argue it (Taber and Lodge 2006). In the heat of partisan rhetoric and political campaigns, partisan identities become more salient, leading citizens to hold situational self-conceptions as Republicans, Democrats, or Independents, and to think about politics from an “us” verses “them” perspective. When partisanship is emphasized- during times of elite polarization, for example- people engage with their partisan identity more deeply and use it to evaluate the political world around them. Using survey and original experimental data, I show that an increasingly partisan climate and competitive media environment tends to (1) prevent Presidents the ability to gain access and to impact an audience outside of like-minded partisans and ideologues; (2) increase the likelihood that individuals self-select into partisan information sources to reinforce existing partisan beliefs and (3) provide added incentives to interpret and process rhetoric that challenges existing political attitudes differently than that which supports attitudes.  The implications of this finding is that the President and his rhetoric may have limited influence, only having an intensifying effect for like-minded partisans while having little or no effect on the other party. This phenomenon may have deleterious effects for the President given the frequency with which the President engages in explicitly partisan rhetoric.

Dissertation Committee

James Druckman (chair), Benjamin I. Page, Laurel Harbridge, and Daniel Galvin

 

Angela Maione

Dissertation Title

Revolutionary Rhetoric: The Political Thought of Mary Wollstonecraft

 

Dissertation Description

This dissertation offers a new interpretation of Mary Wollstonecraft's political thought that recovers her radical democratic project which cannot be grasped without attending to the historical context in which the political debate around radical republicanism arose. Resituating Wollstonecraft's works within the Revolution Controversy allows for an examination of the rhetorical style that enabled her claims to be heard and reveals the rootedness of those claims in radical republican arguments against hereditary monarchy. I show that Wollstonecraft both draws from this radical republicanism and also critiques it to the extent that it remains tethered to arbitrary rule through its implication with patriarchy. 

Dissertation Committee

Linda M. G. Zerilli (Chair), Mary G. Dietz, Ann Shola Orloff

 

Jacqueline R. McAllister

Personal website: http://www.jacquelinemcallister.com

Dissertation Title

On Knife’s Edge: The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia’s Impact on Civilian Violence

 

Dissertation Description

My dissertation explains how and when the strategies that ICTY officials pursued in war zones impacted violence against non-combatants.  I focus on the ICTY given its extensive and varied involvement in conflicts that have run their course.  There is also an abundance of reliable, longitudinal data for these cases, which does not yet exist for others.  Drawing on a wealth of interview (200 semi-structured interviews) and archival data collected in The Hague and throughout Southeast Europe, I find that ICTY played a key role in de-escalating civilian violence.  It marginalized spoilers and served as a control on the behaviors of conflict participants.  The Tribunal also provided international and domestic actors with an important source of leverage when urging restraint from combatants.  The extent of support that ICTY officials secured from influential actors (or, the strength of their enforcement power), along with the ex ante benefits that belligerent veto players perceived in violating humanitarian norms, determined when the Tribunal was able to de-escalate civilian violence in performing these roles.  When ICTY personnel came up against veto players that identified few ex ante benefits in violating humanitarian norms, even with limited enforcement power, the Tribunal was able to check civilian violence.  However, when ICTY officials confronted veto players that viewed violating such norms as secondary to the achieving their key interests, they required high enforcement power (e.g. the ability to secure arrests) in order to have any impact.  Importantly, the study found no evidence that the ICTY escalated civilian violence during the wars associated with the break-up of Yugoslavia.  With the permanent International Criminal Court, the threat of criminal prosecution now extends to modern-day conflicts.  It is thus essential that we begin to understand how and when international criminal tribunals might actually contribute to limiting violence against civilians.  My research on the ICTY is an important step forward in this effort.

 

Dissertation Committee

Karen Alter (Chair), John Hagan, William Reno, and Hendrik Spruyt

 

Joshua Robison

Personal website: http://joshrobison.wordpress.com/

Dissertation Title

Why Politics? The Top-Down and Bottom-Up Causes of Political Interest

Dissertation Description

In my dissertation, I study why some citizens are interested in politics while many others are not. This is a core question of the field as it has important implications for studies of political participation, public opinion formation, the influence of the mass media, and political representation.  Unfortunately, political scientists still do not have a good grasp on why some citizens say they are interested, and act as so, due to the relatively scarce attention the question has been given. In my dissertation, I use an array of methodological tools—including laboratory and survey experiments, content analyses, and analyses of observational survey data—to explore both individual-level and contextual factors that increase political interest. Three distinct, but related, studies comprise the dissertation. In my first study, I explore the influence of horse-race media coverage, elite polarization, and media choice on interest, trust, and learning. In my second study, I explore the role that social motivations play in driving political interest. In my third study, I focus on how personal values and personal identity influence interest and engagement with politics. Taken together, these studies demonstrate the powerful influence of institutional features on citizen engagement while providing novel insight into the motivations that structure interest and behavior.

Dissertation Committee

James Druckman (Chair), Benjamin I. Page, Traci Burch

 

Christopher Swarat

Dissertation Title

"In Other Words: A Critique of Modernism in International Relations Discourse from the Perspective of Confucian Tradition"

 

My dissertation centers on the “recovery” of an ancient Chinese, specifically Confucian, language and vocabulary as a means to unsettle common ways of thinking about international relations. I argue that claims to, for example, find realist sentiments or evidence of state-building in ancient Chinese texts, are cultural interpretations. These interpretations express contemporary practices, and as such distort the world they claim to “explain.” I turn the tables on this kind of reasoning by considering International Relations discourse in light of a Confucian language and vocabulary. The “translation” of International Relations discourse into this new idiom serves as an interesting way to unsettle common ways of thinking about international relations as well as suggesting new ways of looking at the world and thinking about political possibilities in it. Such possibilities are suggested through a series of vignettes that consider such words as “diplomacy,” “inside/outside,” “civilization,” and “harmony” in light of the recovered Confucian vocabulary.

 

Dissertation Committee

Hendrik Spruyt, Michael Loriaux, Ian Hurd, Victor Shih

 

Salvador Vazquez

Dissertation Title

"Institutional Bravado: How Politicians Gain Popularity at the Expense of the Legitimacy of Institutions. "

Due to past experiences of electoral fraud, countries of recent democratization face low confidence in electoral institutions. This project puts forth the hypothesis that runner-up candidates, in the pursuit of popularity, have incentives to accuse winners of orchestrating an electoral fraud regardless of fraud having happened, further reducing the credibility of electoral institutions. Through content analysis, this project assesses the features of pre- and post-electoral discourse about electoral institutions in Mexico from the controversial presidential election of 1988 through the again controversial election in 2006, and using survey-based experiments it explores the effect of said discourse on the popularity of the accusers, and on the credibility of electoral institutions.

 

Dissertation Committee

Edward Gibson (Chair), Jamie Druckman, Jason Seawright,