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Research

Research in the Department of Government is methodologically and substantively diverse. Areas of particular strength include international relations theory; international security; international political economy; Chinese politics and foreign policy; American political development; political psychology; public opinion; and American political thought.

Current projects and recent publications:

  • "Poetic Justice: Rereading Plato's Republic" (University of Chicago Press, 2018) by Jill Frank. Plato set his dialogues in 5th century BCE, when written texts were disseminated primarily by performance and recitation. He wrote them in the 4th century, when literacy was expanding. Jill Frank argues that there are unique insights to be gained from appreciating Plato’s dialogues as texts to be read—and reread. At the center of these insights is the analogy in the dialogues between becoming literate and coming to know or understand something, and two different ways of learning to read. One approach treats literacy as a top-down affair, in which authoritative teachers lead students to true beliefs. Another, recommended by Socrates in the Republic, encourages trial and error and the formation of beliefs based on students’ own cognitive and sensory experiences. The first approach to learning to read aligns with philosophy as authoritative knowledge and politics as rule by philosopher-kings. Following the second approach, Poetic Justice argues that the Republic neither endorses nor enforces fixed hierarchies in knowledge and politics but offers instead an education in ethical and political self-governance, one that prompts citizens to challenge all claims to authority, including those of philosophy.

  • Equal Opportunity Peacekeeping: Women, Peace, and Security in Post-Conflict States” (Oxford University Press, 2017), Sabrina Karim and Kyle Beardsley argue that gender power imbalances between the sexes and among genders place restrictions on the participation of women in peacekeeping missions. Sabrina was awarded the Conflict Research Studies Best Book Prize for 2017 for this new book.

  • “Between Means and Ends: Reconstructing Coercion in Dewey’s Democratic Theory,” American Political Science Review.  When can coercive tactics, like labor strikes, become democratic means for democratic ends? Alexander Livingston examines the works of John Dewey for a pragmatist perspective on political experiments in making problems public.    

  • "Lost in Translation: An Epistemological Exploration of the Relation between Historical Analysis and the NOMINATE Algorithm," Studies in American Political Development.  Richard Bensel. The NOMINATE algorithm has become the most important analytical tool used in the study of the United States Congress.  As such, congressional scholars have developed a great many social conventions, practices, and assumptions that enable interpretation of the statistical artifacts the algorithm produces.  However, as many of these scholars recognize, serious problems emerge whenever we try to translate these statistical artifacts into language and thus attempt to assign them meaning in historical analysis.  These problems are irresolvable because they reside in the very construction of the algorithm itself.

  • "Ideal Points and American Political Development: Beyond DW-NOMINATE," Studies in American Political Development.  David A. Bateman and John Lapinski
     
  • "Damn Great Empires! William James and the Politics of Pragmatism" Alexander Livingston brings the history of political thought into conversation with contemporary debates in political theory, and offers a fresh and original reexamination of the political consequences of pragmatism as a public philosophy.
     
  • Incarceration Nation: How the United States Became the Most Punitive Democracy in the World (Cambridge University Press, 2016). Peter Enns' new book explains why the public became more punitive in the 1960s, 70s, 80, and 90s, and how this increasing punitiveness led to the rise of mass incarceration in the United States.

Student Research:

Six doctoral students presented papers at a global security workshop in Sweden, with visits to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and the Uppsala Peace and Conflict Studies Department at Uppsala University. Associate professors Sarah Kreps and Gustavo Flores-Macias organized the event with funding from the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies and the Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies.