Recent Faculty Publications
The Political Science faculty at the University of Minnesota are leading publishers in their field. They are authors of paradigm-shifting books and deliver signal and enduring contributions to their field. They are published by the most respected presses and contribute to the most widely read journals.
Information, Democracy and Autocracy: Economic Transparency and Political (In)Stability
(Cambridge University Press, 2018)
Advocates for economic development often call for greater transparency. But what does transparency really mean? What are its consequences? This breakthrough book demonstrates how information impacts major political phenomena, including mass protest, the survival of dictatorships, democratic stability, as well as economic performance. The book introduces a new measure of a specific facet of transparency: the dissemination of economic data. Analysis shows that democracies make economic data more available than do similarly developed autocracies. Transparency attracts investment and makes democracies more resilient to breakdown. But transparency has a dubious consequence under autocracy: political instability. Mass-unrest becomes more likely, and transparency can facilitate democratic transition - but most often a new despotic regime displaces the old. Autocratic leaders may also turn these threats to their advantage, using the risk of mass-unrest that transparency portends to unify the ruling elite. Policy-makers must recognize the trade-offs transparency entails.
Partisans, Antipartisans, and Nonpartisans: Voting Behavior in Brazil
(Cambridge University Press, 2018)
Conventional Wisdom suggests that partisanship has little impact on voter behavior in Brazil; what matters most is pork-barreling, incumbent performance, and candidates' charisma. This book shows that soon after redemocratization in the 1980s, over half of Brazilian voters expressed either a strong affinity or antipathy for or against a particular political party. In particular, that the contours of positive and negative partisanship in Brazil have mainly been shaped by how people feel about one party - the Workers' Party (PT). Voter behavior in Brazil has largely been structured around sentiment for or against this one party, and not any of Brazil's many others. The authors show how the PT managed to successfully cultivate widespread partisanship in a difficult environment, and also explain the emergence of anti-PT attitudes. They then reveal how positive and negative partisanship shape voters' attitudes about politics and policy, and how they shape their choices in the ballot booth.
Wars of Law: Unintended Consequences in the Regulation of Armed Conflict
(Cornell University Press, 2018)
This book assesses the unintended consequences of the proliferation of the laws of war. In the mid-19th century there was one codified law of war. In 2018, there are over 70 such laws, and they place increasing constraints on belligerents. I argue that this increase has generated significant consequences for the commencement, conduct, and conclusion of both interstate and civil wars. States fighting interstate wars today prefer not to step over any bright lines where the laws of war would apply unequivocally. Thus, these states have stopped declaring war and concluding peace treaties. Rebel groups – particularly, secessionists that seek their own independent state – by contrast, have increasingly engaged with the laws of war. Secessionists are relatively unlikely to target civilians, and there is an increasing rate of peace treaty usage in civil wars that contrasts with the decline in interstate war. This research is based on two major original datasets as well as a series of case studies, and is particularly unusual in combining analysis of interstate and civil wars.
Open versus Closed: Personality, Identity, and the Politics of Redistribution
(Cambridge University Press, 2017)
Debates over redistribution, social welfare, and market regulation are central to American politics. Why do some of us prefer a large role for government in the economic life of the nation while others prefer a smaller role? In Open Versus Closed, the authors argue that these preferences are not always what they seem. They show how deep-seated personality traits underpinning the culture wars over race and immigration, sexuality, gender roles, and religion influence debates about economics, binding cultural and economic preferences together in unexpected ways. Integrating insights from both psychology and political science—and twenty years of observational and experimental data—the authors reveal the deeper motivations driving attitudes toward government. The book concludes that for the politically engaged these attitudes are not primarily driven by self-interest but by a desire to express the traits and cultural commitments that define their identities.
Articles and Book Chapters
Anuja Bose, "Frantz Fanon and the Politicization of the Third World as a Collective Subject," Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, August 21, 2019.
During the postwar conjuncture of the twentieth century, decolonization movements across the world made it possible to imagine collective politics anew. In this essay I center Frantz Fanon as an important theorist who can help us think about the collective dynamics of the Third World project. I argue Fanon articulates the Third World as a collective subject that was not bound to the confines of the nation-state, but based on a conception of intercontinental populism. He conceives of the Third World as a collective subject that stretched between Africa, Asia, and the Americas. In doing so, he shifts the locus of political action and mobilization around postwar transnationalism and internationalism to the masses of the Third World, and thus decenters the exclusive focus on political elites as the main protagonists who struggled to unseat imperialism and institute a more democratic and egalitarian global order. I give more concrete shape to how Fanon is conceptualizing intercontinentalism as a form of political community that emerges out of dialectical tension and conflict, which was crucial to ensuring that intercontinentalism does not ossify into exclusionary forms of political affiliation.
Cosette Creamer and Zuzanna Godzimirska, "Trust in the Court: The Role of the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights," European Journal of International Law, Vol. 30 (2019) No. 2.
The growing impact of European institutions on the daily lives of citizens has stimulated greater attention to the public's trust in these bodies. Existing research on trust in the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) tends to focus on the role of judges and their rulings. In contrast, this article examines the role of the ECtHR's Registry. We argue that the civil servants of the ECtHR serve a critical function for the court's operation and have the potential to play an indispensable trust-building role. Drawing on interviews with court officials and survey responses from government agents, we identify and discuss the practices and features of the Registry that contribute to, or undermind, member states' estimations of trust in the ECtHR. In light of repeated and mounting criticism by member governments, our findings have important implications for the continued relevance of, and political support for, the Court moving forward.
Jane Lawrence Sumner and Ellen M. Key, "You Research Like a Girl: Gendered Research Agendas and Their Implications," Political Science & Politics, July 10, 2019, 1-6.
Political science, like many disciplines, has a "leaky-pipeline" problem. Women are more likely to leave the profession than men. Those who stay are promoted at lower rates. Recent work has pointed toward a likely culprit: women are less likely to submit work to journals. Why? One answer is that women do not believe their work will be published. This article asks whether women systematically study different topics than men and whether these topics may be less likely to appear in top political science journals. To answer this question, we analyzed the content of dissertation abstracts. We found evidence that some topics are indeed gendered. We also found differences in the representation of "women's" and "men's" topics in the pages of the top journals. This suggests that research agendas may indeed be gendered and that variation in research topic might be to blame for the submission gap.
Christopher Federico and Hui Bai, "Collective existential threat mediates White population decline's effect of defensive reactions," Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, May 20, 2019, 1-17.
We present evidence from two studies probing into whether perceived numerical deline in the White population translate into collective existential threat to Whites, leading in turn to defensive reactions. In Study 1, we used correlational data to show whether collective existential threat mediates the relationship between perceptions of White population decline and defensive political reactions (i.e., racial biases and conservatism among Whites. In Study 2, we replicate the results of Study 1 experimentally manipulating perceptions of White population decline and growth. Our results suggest that Whites' perceptions of the ingroup's numerical decline have a unique effect on their racial and political attitudes via heightened feelings of collective existential threat.
Helen M. Kinsella, "Sex as the secret: counterinsurgency in Afghanistan," International Theory, March 2019, 26-47.
I explore the construction of women as the secret for the 'successful' prosecution of war in Afghanistan. To do so, I take up the mobilization of gender in the US counterinsurgency doctrine as deployed in Afghanistan. I draw on the 2006 Counterinsurgency Field Manual, human rights and humanitarian reports, an dscholarly works to identify and analyze this mobilization, paying attention to the colonial histories upon which COIN explicitly and implicityly relies. By critically integrating these sources and the paradigmatic moments that exemplify COIN, I demonstrate the constitutive relationship of gender and COIN. The valence of the secret - of women as concealing, revealing, being, and bearing the secret - is still a lesser explored element in the analysis of the gendering of COIN and of its 'military orientalism'. Even as scholars have powerfully shown how, in the case of Afghanistan and elsewhere, the veil fuctions as an overdetermined and 'multilayered signifier' in its own right, symbolizing the 'tension between disclosure and concealment that defines the dominant conceptionof the secret', less subject to detailed analysis in case of Afghanistan is the ways in which Afghan women are constituted through COIN in polysemous relation to the notion of the secret.
Teri Caraway and Stephanie Rickard, "International demands for austerity: Examining the impact of the IMF on the public sector," The Review of International Organizations, March 2019, 35-57.
What effects do International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans have on borrowing countries? Even after decades of research, no consensus exists. We offer a straightforward explanation for the seemingly mixed effects of IMF loans. We argue that different loans have different effects because of the varied conditions attached to IMF financing. To demonstrate this point, we investigate IMF loans with and without conditions that require public sector reforms in exchange for financing. We find that the addition of a public sector reform condition to a country's IMF program significantly reduces government spending on the public sector wage bill. This evidence suggests that conditions are a key mechanism linking IMF lending to policy outcomes. Although IMF loans with public sector conditions prompt cuts to the wage bill in the short-term, these cuts do not persist in the longer-term. Borrowers backslide on internationally mandated spending cuts in response to domestic political pressures.
Mark Bell, "Defending the "Acquisition-Use Presumption" in Assessing the LIkelihood of Nuclear Terrorism," International Studies Quarterly, March 9, 2019, 1-5.
In an important article, McIntosh and Storey (2018) challenge the "acquisition-use presumption" that a terrorist organization with a nuclear weapon would inevitably seek to detonate it in an attack. They argue that a terrorist organization with nuclear weapons has more attractive options than conducting a direct nuclear attack, that organizational politics mean that a terrorist organization with a nuclear weapon would be unlikely to seek to detonate it, and that a nuclear attack would escalate the threats the terrorist organization faced. I argue that these arguments are ultimately unpersuasive and that the acquisition-use presumption remains a valid basis for theorizing about the liklihood of nuclear terrorism.
Kathryn Pearson, Ashley English, and Dara Z. Strolovitch, "Who Represents Me? Race, Gender, Partisan Congruence, and Representational Alternatives in a Polarized America," Political Research Quarterly, October 21, 2018, 1-20.
The belief among citizens that their views are represented is essential to the legitimacy of American democracy, but few studies have explicitly examined which political actors Americans feel best represent them. Using data from the 2006 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, we ask new questions about whether respondents who share a partisan, racial, or gender identification with their members of Congress (MCs) feel those members best represent them. Although the framers designed the House so that individuals' own MCs would be their closest and most responsive representatives, a majority of respondents turn to other actors for representation. Partisanship is a key reason for this attenuated connection, as respondents who do not share a partisan identification with their MCs are more likely than those who do to rely on their party's congressional leaders or advocacy organizations for representation instead. Sharing a racial identification with one's own MC can strengthen representational connections as respondents who share a racial identity with their MCs are significantly more likely than respondents who do not to indicate that their MC represents them "the most." These results shed light on enduring questions about the significance of symbolic representation and its link to partisanship and descriptive representation.
James Hollyer, Eric Arias, and B. Peter Rosendorff, "Cooperative Autocracies: Leader Survival, Creditworthiness, and Bilateral Investment Treaties," American Journal of Political Science, August 30, 2018, 1-17.
Capital accumulation is essential for economic development, but investors face risk when putting their capital to productive use. Bilateral investment treaties (BITs) commit leaders to limiting their takings of foreign assets and the revenues they generate. We offer theory and evidence that BITs enhance leader survival more in autocracies than democracies. BITs improve the "investment climate" in signatory states, and they do so by more in autocratic polities. Hazard models offer supporting evidence of improved autocratic leader survival. The improvement in the investment climate is evidenced by improvement of creditworthiness scores and higher sovereign bond prices, again with greater effect in autocratic states. Autocratic leaders have the most to gain from importing property rights-enhancing institutions.
Ronald Krebs and Jennifer Spindel, "Divided Priorities: Why and When Allies Differ Over Military Intervention," Security Studies, July 9, 2018, 1-32.
Scholars have vigorously debated whether adversaries carefully scrutinize if states have, in the past, demonstrated toughness and whether adversaries base present and future crisis-bargaining behavior on this record. If they do--as a central strain of deterrence theory, and its contemporary defenders, maintain--hard-line policies, including limited military interventions, can bolster deterrence. We know much less about a second audience that is presumably attentive to demonstrations of resolve: allies. A common view, derived from the same logic, and which we call Hawkish Reassurance Theory, suggests that states should support and find reassuring their allies' faraway military interventions. In contrast, we argue that such interventions call into doubt the intervener's will and capacity to fulfill its core alliance commitments, undermind the credibility of the alliance, and threaten allies' security in both the short and long run. Allies thus ultimately oppose powerful partners' hawkish postures in distant conflicts, and they may even consequently explore routes to security beyond the alliance. To assess this argument, we examine the varied stances leading US allies took from the start of the US intervention in Vietnam through its end. Allied behavior was largely consisten with our expectations. We conclude that, if one reason to deploy force is to signal to allies that you will come to their aid when they call, states should not bother.
Christopher Federico, Allison Williams, and Joseph Vitriol, "The Role of System Identity Threat in Conspiracy Theory Endorsement," European Journal of Social Psychology, April 18, 2018: 1-38.
Anoop Sarbahi and Ore Koren, "State Capacity, Insurgency, and Civil War: A Disaggregated Analysis," International Studies Quarterly, February, 24, 2018: 1-15.
Scholars frequently use country-level indicators such as gross domestic product, bureaucratic quality, and military spending to approximate state capacity. These factors capture the aggregate level of state capacity, but do not adequately approximate the actual distribution of capacity within states. This presents a major problem, as intrastate variations in state capacity provide crucial information for understanding the relationship between state capacity and civil war. We offer nighttime light emissions as a measure of state capacity. It allows us to differentiate the influence of local variation on the outbreak of civil wars within the country from the effect of aggregate state capacity at the country level. We articulate pathways linking the distribution of nighttime light with the expansion of state capacity and validate our indicator against other measures at different levels of disaggregation across multiple contexts. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we find that civil wars are more likely to erupt where the state exercises more control. We provide three mechanisms that, we believe, account for thie counterintuitive finding: rebel gravitation, elite fragmentation, and expansion reaction. In the first scenario, state presence attracts insurgent activities. In the second, insurgents emerge as a result of the fragmentation of political elites. In the third, antistate groups react violently to the state penetrating into a given territory. Finally, we validate these mechanisms using evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa.
Tanisha Fazal, "Rebellion, War Aims & the Laws of War," Daedalus, Winter 2017: 71-82.
Most wars today are civil wars, but we have little understanding of the conditions under which rebel groups might comply with the laws of war. i ask three questions in this essay: What do the laws of war require of rebels, or armed nonstate actors (ansas)? To what extent are rebels aware of the laws of war? Under what conditions do rebel groups comply with international humanitarian law? i argue that the war aims of rebel groups are key to understanding their relationship with the laws of war. In particular, secessionist rebel groups – those that seek a new, independent state – are especially likely to comply with the laws of war as a means to signal their capacity and willingness to be good citizens of the international community to which they seek admission.
Mark Bell, "Nuclear Opportunism: A Theory of How States Use Nuclear Weapons in International Politics," Journal of Strategic Studies, November 2017: 1-26.
How do states use nuclear weapons to achieve their goals in international politics? Nuclear weapons can influence state decisions about a range of strategic choices relating to military aggression, the scope of foreign policy objectives, and relations with allies. The article offers a theory of explain why emerging nuclear powers use nuclear weapons to facilitate different foreign policies: becoming more or less aggressive; providing additional support to allies or proxies, seeking independence from allies; or expanding the state's goals in international politics. Bell argues that a state's choices depend on the presence of severe territorial threats or an ongoing war, the presence of allies that provide for the state's security, and whether the state is increasing in relative power. The conclusion discusses implications of the argument for our understanding of nuclear weapons and the history of proliferation, and nonproliferation policy today.
August Nimtz, "'The Bolsheviks Come to Power': A New Interpretation," Science & Society, Vol. 81, No 4, October 2017: 478-500.
In the weeks leading up to the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917 Lenin engaged in an intense debate with his comrades. Should and could the provisional government be overthrown? If so, when should it be done? And could the new regime hold power? Lenin, often in the minority, insisted that the Bolsheviks not only should but could successfully lead Russia's workers and peasants to power-- and that that conquest could be sustained. He also insisted on determining when best to make the overturn. Defending his position, Lenin frequently made reference to "objective facts," such as "elections to the city councils... and soviets" where "the Bolsheviks have majorities." What exactly was he referring to and what did he mean? What were the assumptions and framework underlying his argument that eventually won over the majority of the Bolshevik Central Committee to his position? To fully understand Lenin's stance it is necessary, Nimtz contends, to turn to Marx and Engels.