Gustavo Flores-Macias


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.  Below you will find a sample of recent books and ongoing projects.

Protean Power book cover


Mainstream international relations continues to assume that the world is governed by calculable risk based on estimates of power, despite repeatedly being surprised by unexpected change. In this ground-breaking work, Peter Katzenstein and Lucia Seybert depart from existing definitions of power that focus on the actors’ evolving ability to exercise control in situations of calculable risk. It introduces the concept of ‘protean power,’ which focuses on the actors’ agility as they adapt to situations of uncertainty. Protean Power uses twelve real world case studies to examine how the dynamics of protean and control power can be tracked in the relations among different state and non-state actors, operating in diverse sites, stretching from local to global, in both times of relative normalcy and moments of crisis. Katzenstein and Seybert argue for a new approach to international relations, where the inclusion of protean power in our analytical models helps in accounting for unforeseen changes in world politics.

Poetic Justice book cover

Poetic Justice: Rereading Plato's Republic (University of Chicago Press, 2018)

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 Book Cover

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.

Damm Great Empires book cover

Damn Great Empires! William James and the Politics of Pragmatism (Oxford University Press, 2016)

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 book cover

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.

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The Founding of Modern States (book manuscript in progress) by Richard Bensel

All modern states claim that they rule by popular consent and that this consent arises out of the state’s commitment to what I call “a transcendent social purpose” demanded by their citizens.  They also claim that both popular consent and the state’s transcendent social purpose merged within the founding moment when the state’s right to rule was created.  The way in which the “will of the people” and the transcendent social purpose of the new state are reconciled is conceptually determined by the historical destiny of the people as articulated by the revolutionary elite.  It is the commitment of the new state to this historical destiny that constitutes its transcendent social purpose.  In most instances, the founding moment has thus taken the form of a legislative assembly in which a constitution was written.  The six historical cases analyzed in the manuscript are (in chronological order): the English Constitution, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution (Bolshevik), Germany (the Third Reich), and the Iranian Islamic Revolution.