Placement Candidates

Shahin Berenji - Comparative Politics, International Relations

Comparative Politics, International Relations
Website:
Contact Info:

sberenji@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

Accepting Risks and Making Bold Gestures: Why Decision-Makers Initiate Conciliation in Rivalries

Dissertation Summary:

The conventional argument in the international relations and social-psychological literature maintains that states should employ an incremental, or step-by-step, approach to initiate conciliation with their adversaries. Decision-makers are cautioned against making large, costly conciliatory gestures since they denote weakness, embolden rivals, and expose them to audience costs.  Given these risks, it is puzzling why some leaders undertake bold conciliatory gestures when smaller, less radical avenues exist to engage rivals. This project applies theories and approaches from political psychology to examine why, and the conditions under which, decision-makers extend these types of olive branches in international relations. I employ a least-similar cases research design and select several rivalries – Egypt-Israel (1973-1979), the U.S.-the Soviet Union (1985-1987), and India-Pakistan (1998-2004) – to examine these questions. I found that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee undertook bold moves when they confronted strong, hawkish governments; when they found the rivalry costly to sustain; and when negotiations reached a deadlock. In each case, the leaders were personally involved in shaping and deciding on these initiatives since they were disillusioned with either their foreign policy bureaucracy or with third-party intermediaries. Showing considerable empathy, they were motivated to undertake such gestures to mitigate their rivals’ insecurity and remove the psychological barriers such as fear and mistrust that, they believed, had stalemated negotiations.

Research Interests:

I am interested in how decision-makers initiate conciliation in strategies rivalries and the conditions under which they choose to do so. My research specifically examines decision-makers’ motivations for undertaking bold, risky conciliatory gestures. 

Teaching Interests:

I am interested in teaching courses on a range of topics in international relations, comparative politics, and research methods. These include, but are not limited to, international relations theory, international security, conflict resolution, the Cold War, diplomacy, foreign policy decision-making, and qualitative methods.  I would also enjoy teaching survey and/or special studies courses on the Middle East and South Asia. All these courses can be taught at either the undergraduate or graduate level.

John Branstetter - Political Theory, Comparative Politics

Political Theory, Comparative Politics
Contact Info:

jgbranstetter@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

Translational Moments: Citizenship and Community in Meiji Japan

Dissertation Summary:

My research focuses on the relationship between language, translation, and political transformation. I theorize translation not as a narrowly linguistic phenomenon, but as a broader political experience that changes the way people can relate to one another. My dissertation considers the appearance of newly-created language in translations of European political theory in 19th century Japan. I look at four episodes, or what I call “translational moments,” in which translations made it possible for new people to take part in society in new ways. The first half of the dissertation considers the impact of literary translations. The first translational moment I examine occurs in Fukuzawa Yukichi’s work of the 1860s and 1870s. Fukuzawa was the first to systematically translate the word “citizen” from English, yet there was no obvious word in Japanese to translate it into at the time. As a result, he created a neologism made up of previously uncombined Chinese characters helped establish a break with old forms of community. As a counterpoint, I then examine Nakae Chōmin’s 1882 translation of Rousseau’s Du Contrat Social (Minyaku yakkai). Chōmin translates the French word citoyen with the old phrase shūjin, or “common person.” My claim is that this particular word is a metaphor for a transformed Confucian moral community that cuts against the liberalism that Fukuzawa and others had helped cultivate in the 1870s.

In the second half of the dissertation, I examine the translation of established practices into new spaces by new participants. I consider the spread of the practices of speech, debate, and rhetoric in the 1870s and early 1880s. The rapid growth of speaking and debating associations reconfigured the physical spaces in which people came together, rewrote the rituals for exchanging information and ideas, and connected the practices of debate and dialogue with the institutionalization of politics. I argue that the practices of these debating societies were fundamentally democratic, and constituted people as individuals. They propagated a model of knowledge production that made any individual utterance intelligible and publically valid. Finally, I consider how citizenship was embodied in the ways women came to appear in public. I explore women’s taking of new civil rights in the public speeches of Kishida Toshiko and in the rapid growth of women’s employment in silk and cotton mills. Women’s appearance in these spaces rewrote ideas about who could act as a citizen.

Research Interests:

Comparative political theory, continental political thought, politics of aesthetics, history of ideas, Chinese & Japanese Confucianism

Teaching Interests:

Comparative political thought, history of political thought, Marxism, East Asian political philosophy, comparative politics, Japanese language.

Ruth Carlitz - Comparative Politics, Research Methods

Comparative Politics, Research Methods
Contact Info:

 rcarlitz@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

Money Flows, Water Trickles: Decentralized Service Delivery Under Hegemonic Party Rule

Dissertation Summary:

My dissertation interrogates a puzzling disconnect between spending and improved access to clean water in Tanzania. I find that decentralization -- a strategy purported by many to improve responsiveness -- has not led to better development outcomes given the extent of political discretion at the local level.

Research Interests:

My research uses the lens of the political economy to understand international development and global environmental challenges. Using a variety of methodological approaches, my work investigates the mix of incentives, motivations, and capabilities that influence whether and how state actors respond to citizens.

Teaching Interests:

I am prepared to teach a broad range of courses in Comparative Politics and Research Methods at the undergraduate and graduate levels. I am particularly interested in teaching the following courses:

Comparative Politics

• Introduction to Comparative Politics

• African Politics

• Political Economy of Development

• Distributive Politics and Corruption

• Non-Governmental Organizations and Development

Research Methods

• Introduction to Quantitative Methods

• Introduction to Research Design

Megan Gallagher - Political Theory

Political Theory
Contact Info:

UCLA Political Science, 4289 Bunche Hall, Box 951472 Los Angeles, California 90095-1472. EMAIL: mgallagher@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

Republics, Passions, and Patria: Love of Country in Eighteenth Century Political Thought

Dissertation Summary:

The history of republican thought and the history of the passions are two threads that rarely find themselves intertwined, yet political theory finds itself in the midst of both a republican revival and the affective turn. By bringing these two vast subfields into dialogue with one another, we stand to learn about both republican political theory and political passions much that would otherwise remain oblique. I argue that civic virtue (a cornerstone of republicanism) and the passions share important connections to which contemporary republican political thought has not always been attentive. Specifically, neo-republicanism and constitutional patriotism’s inattention, or lack of commitment, to the interplay of civic virtue and emotion is a matter of choice and not a necessary outcome of the tradition. Continued neglect of the emotions' political import is not merely a case of historical inattentiveness but a significant challenge to both neo-republicanism and constitutional patriotism’s sustainability as political projects. This is particularly true if we take seriously their desire to engage with, and influence, concrete political events, as I believe we should, given Philip Pettit’s work with former Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, and Jürgen Habermas’s ongoing engagement with the future of the European Union. Yet the contemporary literature, suffering from what I call an affective deficit, largely fails to account for this emotional dimension of virtue and thus for a central component of republican thought. Building on the theory of emotives developed by historian William Reddy in 'The Navigation of Feeling: A Framework for the History of Emotions' (2001), and through a series of close readings of republican political philosophy from the eighteenth century, I develop a theory of affective practices in order to provide interpretations of Montesquieu on fear; Diderot on despair and respect; and Rousseau on love and sympathy. Through these explorations, we may better understand how the passions, and a “re-politicized” sense of civic virtue, are, and ought to be, employed in the pursuit, maintenance, and critique of republican politics by its contemporary defenders and detractors alike, particularly in the work of Habermas and Pettit.

Research Interests:

Early modern and modern political thought, with an emphasis on the Enlightenment and counter- Enlightenment; affect and emotion; citizenship; cosmopolitanism, nationalism, and patriotism; democratic and anti-democratic theory; feminist political theory; politics and literature; republican political theory; sovereignty; stoicism

Teaching Interests:

History of political thought; American political thought; citizenship; classical political thought; democratic theory; Enlightenment political thought; feminist political theory; international political theory; liberalism; politics and literature; republican political theory; social contract tradition

Richard Hanania - International Relations, Comparative Politics, Political Methodology

International Relations, Comparative Politics, Political Methodology
CV:
Contact Info:

Richard2@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

 Moral Psychology and Support for War in the International System

Dissertation Summary:

My dissertation focuses on three interrelated questions regarding how political psychology affects foreign policy preferences and behavior. First, when and under what circumstances do people become more supportive of aggressive action against other countries? The first chapter argues against folk realist theories of public opinion and, using experimental methods, shows that constructivist theories based on the need to maintain a positive self-image do a better job of predicting when Americans support the use of force abroad. I present four hypotheses derived from the folk realist literature and test them against four hypotheses rooted in constructivism. Second, what are the major differences between conservatives and liberals with regards to foreign policy preferences and the role of prejudice? When conservatives are considering whether to support humanitarian intervention, they show a bias towards helping Christians over Muslims, but no racial prejudice. Conservatives were also more likely to say that the United States had an abstract moral obligation to help those in foreign countries being persecuted by their governments when hearing about the plight of Christians rather than Muslim, implying that prejudice can affect what are often thought of as more basic values. Liberals, in contrast, show little to no religious prejudice but are more likely to want to intervene in the scenario where whites are oppressing blacks rather than the other way around. The final chapter investigates whether psychological and ideological differences between conservatives and liberals actually have foreign policy consequences. To those who explain foreign policy by stressing the importance of bureaucracy or the international balance of power, the ideology of any particular administration may seem unimportant. I use UN voting data from the six major Anglophone democracies to show that, even after controlling for various factors, in each of these countries conservative governments vote less in line with the rest of the world. This work hopes to inspire more research into how findings from political psychology at the mass level can be used to predict outputs in international politics.

Research Interests:

My research focuses on public opinion with regards to foreign policy, international law, the taboo on the use of nuclear weapons, the politics of the Middle East, psychological differences between conservatives and liberals, and using findings from political psychology to predict state behavior in the international arena.

Teaching Interests:

I am prepared to teach a broad range of courses in International Relations, American Politics, and Comparative Politics at the undergraduate and graduate levels. More specifically, I can teach Introduction to International Relations, Advanced Topics in International Relations, the Politics of the Middle East, International Law, Introduction to Game Theory, Introduction to American Politics, and Introduction to Research Design. In addition to those courses, I am willing to devise my own classes based on my interests, including Human Nature and War, Nuclear Weapons in International Politics, and Public Opinion and Foreign Policy. I also have a JD from the University of Chicago and can teach most subjects required as part of a prelaw curriculum.

Jeff Jackson - Political Theory, Race, Ethnicity, & Politics

Political Theory, Race, Ethnicity, & Politics
CV:
Contact Info:

Jeff Jackson University of California, Los Angeles Department of Political Science 4289 Bunche Hall Los Angeles, California 90095 EMAIL: jjack32@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

From Deliberation to Participation: John Dewey's Challenge to Contemporary Democratic Theory

Dissertation Summary:

My dissertation uses John Dewey's pragmatist philosophy to lead contemporary democratic thought away from the principles endorsed by deliberative democracy.  Dewey and pragmatism have been widely cited as providing intellectual support for deliberative democracy, but I argue that Dewey's thought can effectively expose shortcomings in deliberative democracy, and can help turn democratic thought toward the model of participatory democracy (which is widely believed to have been incorporated by deliberative democracy).  Dewey associates democracy with the possibilities for individuals to participate in the governing of their lives, and he highlights how these possibilities are affected no less by social and economic inequality than by political institutions, and how political institutions themselves cannot be isolated from the effects of social and economic inequality.  On Dewey's terms, then, democracy involves a continuous process of overcoming interrelated social and political obstacles to individual self-government, rather than the achievement of a particular kind of deliberation within political forums.  Deliberative theorists, by contrast, must isolate the political and social realms when they indicate that deliberative reason-giving in political forums will neutralize the effects of unequal social status.  Dewey traces the deficiencies of current political debate to these unequal social conditions, and I show how this leads him to endorse non-deliberative practices that seek to overcome social inequality by compelling concessions from advantaged social interests.  Participatory democrats have themselves focused on social democratization rather than on improving policy deliberation, and I show that these thinkers can draw on Dewey's analysis to illustrate how a commitment to specific deliberative practices diminishes democratic theory's capacity to account for the effects of unequal social status on political interactions.  I thus argue that deliberative democracy has not incorporated participatory democracy, and that participatory democracy, when informed by Dewey's insights, is a more suitable model of democratic thought for our unequal social conditions.

Research Interests:

Contemporary democratic theory, American pragmatism, Continental political theory, philosophy of education, Frankfurt School critical theory, poverty, universal basic income, Marxism, psychoanalysis, participatory budgeting, multiculturalism, globalization

Teaching Interests:

History of political thought, American political thought, politics of education, 20th century political theory, ancient Greek thought, liberalism, Continental political theory, democratic theory, American political development and government, game theory

Anita Kellogg - Comparative Politics, Methods

Comparative Politics, Methods
CV:
Contact Info:

akellogg@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

How the Power of Business Affects the Commercial Peace: Commercial Interests, Economic Interdependence, and Militarized Conflict

Dissertation Summary:

For decades, international relations scholars have engaged in a vigorous debate over whether there is substantive evidence showing that economic interdependence decreases the likelihood of interstate conflict. A consensus has grown in favor of the commercial peace thesis due to positive results found across various operationalizations of economic ties, including bilateral trade, FDI and monetary integration, as well as monadic, dyadic, and network model designs. Yet, skeptics are correct to point to the lack of development of a testable causal mechanism that explains how and under what circumstances economic integration reduces militarize disputes. My dissertation, How the Power of Business Affects the Commercial Peace: Commercial Interests, Economic Interdependence, and Militarized Conflict, addresses this problem with the development of a two-level theoretical framework incorporating interest group politics at the domestic level within the interstate bargaining process. I assert the degree of business influence on foreign policy mediates the effectiveness of economic interdependence to reduce conflict. I test this theory through a mixed method approach — (1) quantitatively examining the interaction of private sector size and bilateral trade on the likelihood of violent militarized disputes, and (2) two qualitative case studies tracing the process by which business exerts influence on security policymaking for the rival dyads of Colombia-Venezuela and China-Japan. The results demonstrate why understanding the role of business elites in foreign policy enables a more specific and conditional theory asserting which international relationships are most likely to pacifically benefit from increased economic ties.

Research Interests:

My primary research interest is in understanding how domestic politics affect interstate bargaining; particularly, the conditions that enable business and economic elites to influence foreign policy-making. Additionally, I am interested in how applications of this research can shed new light on longstanding questions in the international conflict literature, such as the propensity for petrostates to be involved in militarized conflict.

Teaching Interests:

I have experience in teaching courses on International Political Economy. My research and educational background have also prepared me to teach courses on Foreign Policy, International Security, and the integration of Quantitative and Qualitative Methods. Additionally, I am qualified to teach courses on Latin America and East Asia, due to my fieldwork in these regions.

Mzilikazi Kone - Comparative Politics, Race, Ethnicity, & Politics

Comparative Politics, Race, Ethnicity, & Politics
Website:
Contact Info:

mkone@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

Sex Worker Political Development in Latin America: from Informal Solidarities to Formal Organizing

Dissertation Summary:

While many accounts of sex workers presume they lack agency, this project studies how people framed as powerless assert positions of power through social interactions, friendships and organizing. I examine sex workers’ politics and power from the perspective of a subset of female Costa Rican sex workers. I engage specifically with sex workers who organize, in order to theorize everyday experiences of politics, including solidarity building and acts of accommodation or resistance vis-à-vis state interventions, health policies, and the police. Central theoretical bases for the project include Michael Hanchard and James Scott on “politics from below.” I also draw on the work of Michele Berger in order to advance Political Science literature and frameworks in regarding everyday and labor – related interactions, challenging and extending the field’s understanding of the politics of work-related interactions. I position sex-work as a form of labor and analyze the role that informal interactions play in organizing. This project also engages a multi-disciplinary set of literatures, including key texts from feminists and gender studies as well as theoretical and empirical approaches to studies of race, ethnicity, discrimination, and social movements. I discuss the political valences of stigma against sex work by extending concepts of discrimination from African- American studies.

            This study examines micro and micro aspects of sex worker activism through resistance politics, empowerment strategies, and organizing. It also provides practical and theoretical insights on sex worker politics that can apply to other communities. The project’s central questions are: 1) what kinds of political actions characterize sex workers’ engagement in Costa Rica? and 2) how are informal and formal strategies used to organize sex workers? Unique among studies of sex work, I present a multi-level analysis of these perspectives in a Latin American context. As a case, Costa Rica highlights the diverse way sex workers organize to resist the status quo. The dissertation examines three distinct but interconnected contexts: individual sex workers working in

San José’s zona roja (red zone); female sex workers who organize with the twenty-year old sex worker project La Sala (The Living Room); and the international network of Latin American sex worker organizations, RedTraSex.

Research Interests:

Research Interests: My scholarly interests include the cross-disciplinary study of race and ethnic politics, women’s groups, community and political organizing, labor politics, sexual education and empowerment in the U.S., Latin America, and the Caribbean.

My research focuses: I study the organizing and actions of sex workers as within the realm of political activities. Sex workers are also on the front lines of mobilizing for political change around prostitution and my project investigates this political engagement in Costa Rica where I explore informal, formal and transnational sex worker organizing.

Teaching Interests:

I am prepared to teach a broad range of courses in Race and Ethnic Politics, American Politics and Comparative Politics at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Specifically, I would be interested in teaching the following courses: Introduction to Government; African American Politics; The Black Experience in Latin American and the Caribbean; Race, Gender and the Sex Trade; Latin American Politics; Black Feminist Perspectives; Introduction to Qualitative Methods; Introduction to Research Design.

Zsuzsanna Magyar - Comparative Politics, Methods

Comparative Politics, Methods
CV:
Contact Info:

zmagyar@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

Opposition Structure and Government Policy Making in Parliamentary Democracies

Dissertation Summary:

My dissertation focuses on how government polices, particularly economic policy change in response to the structure of the party system. I examine how the structure of the opposition influences government spending.  I find that in response to a unified opposition, a coalition government increases spending. In the second half of my dissertation I examine long-term alliances between opposition parties and I find that a coalition government reacts to big alliances in the opposition in a similar way to unified parties.

Research Interests:

My research focuses on the congruence between voter and party interests, how parties position themselves ideologically to potentially become attractive coalition partners, how party alliances (including party blocks) form inside and outside of the government, and the electoral costs and benefits of party alliances and party mergers. I am particularly interested in the strategies that yield representative results. While political actors may have alternative motives for the groups they represent, policy is the ultimate prize. Accordingly, I seek to understand how policy outcomes change in response to the strategy adopted by parties. I am also interested in the measurement of party system size.

Teaching Interests:

I am prepared to teach a broad range of courses in Comparative Politics and Research Methods at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Specifically, I would be interested in teaching the following courses: Introduction to Comparative Politics; Comparative Political Institutions, Electoral Politics, Political Parties and Party Systems, European Politics, Comparative Political Economy, Welfare State Politics,  Research Methodology, Data Analysis, Computational Research Methods and Research Design.

Marcos Menchaca - American Politics, Methods

American Politics, Methods
CV:
Contact Info:

menchaca@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

Who Are the Extremes?

Dissertation Summary:

I investigate which Americans are extreme in their political opinions. I focus on two schools of thought: the political economy school and the public opinion school. The political economy tradition argues that people are mainly interested in their material interest: rich people want less income redistribution and poor people want more. Thus, rich people should be conservative and poor people should be liberal. The public opinion tradition argues that the more politically informed a person is the more likely she is to agree with her partisan affiliation. I extend this to imply that more informed people are more likely to be extreme in their political beliefs. Since Liberal and Conservative ideologies hold policy positions on many different issues (the economy, abortion, immigration, gay marriage, the environment), I do a study of how income and political knowledge effects a person's opinion on specific issues. I find support for both of these schools of thought, but the political economy theory is not very robust to control variables. The public opinion theory is very robust not only to control variable but throughout time. Finally, I find evidence that Americans are actually becoming more polarized (as opposed to just better sorted by party ID).

Research Interests:

Although my research is very broad, I have three main categories that are my focus: public opinion and voting behavior, political parties and ideology, and the American presidency. I study the theories of political polarization, distributive politics, and spatial voting in American politics. Additionally, I use formal modeling to investigate how factions form coalitions in American political parties. Finally, I investigate theories of how the president distributes pork barrel spending across the country to try to influence his reelection (or his co-partisan election) prospects.

Teaching Interests:

My teaching interests include public opinion and voting behavior, the American presidency, political parties, game theory, and political methodology. My teaching experience is very extensive. I have taught an American presidency senior seminar, a legislative process class, a social statistics class, and an introduction to American politics class at California State University, Northridge (I am also scheduled to teach a methods and an American presidency class this upcoming fall semester). I have taught a political methodology and an introduction to American politics class at California Lutheran University. And I have taught an introduction to American politics at Pepperdine University for many semesters. Additionally, I have extensive teaching assistant experience. I was a TA for the game theory class in the political science department for so many quarters that I developed a textbook for the class which is available online, which is utilized by some of the instructors for the class at UCLA.

Yuree Noh - Comparative Politics, Methods

Comparative Politics, Methods
Contact Info:

yureenoh@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

To Rig the Rules or to Break the Rules: The Politics of Electoral Manipulation in Autocracies

Dissertation Summary:

My dissertation examines electoral institutions and manipulation in autocracies using cross-country, time-series statistical analyses accompanied by original surveys and interviews from Algeria and Kuwait. In doing so, my research examines under what conditions dictators refrain from resorting to fraud -- and in turn, how authoritarian elections can facilitate democratization or consolidation of the authoritarian rule.

Research Interests:

Comparative politics, authoritarian elections and electoral institutions, electoral fraud, democratic development and regime change, gender and politics, Middle East and North Africa.

My broader research agenda examines authoritarian incumbent behaviors and strategies – and the differential effects of such strategies on regime (in)stability and citizen welfare. My interests lie in authoritarian countries as well as the processes of democratization in currently democratic countries. More specifically, I seek to answer one of the key questions in the authoritarian politics literature: do elections in autocracies lead to democratization or consolidate authoritarian rule?

Teaching Interests:

I am interested in teaching a broad range of undergraduate and graduate courses in comparative politics and methods such as the following: Introduction to Comparative Politics; Authoritarian Politics; Politics in the Middle East and North Africa; Comparative Electoral Institutions; Introduction to Quantitative Methods and Data Analysis; Introduction to Research Design; Survey Design

Angela X. Ocampo - American Politics, Race, Ethnicity, & Politics

American Politics, Race, Ethnicity, & Politics
Contact Info:

angelaxocampo@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

The Politics of Inclusion: A Sense of Belonging and Latino Political Participation

Dissertation Summary:

How do perceptions of belonging or lack of inclusion to American society influence political interest and political engagement among Latinos? To date, there have been few inquiries that investigate perceived social belonging or lack of belonging to U.S. society and the political ramifications of these predispositions. To address this puzzle, this project develops a novel theoretical framework and original measure of social belonging to understand how feelings of membership to the broader U.S. society are at the core of the political incorporation process for racial, ethnic and religious minorities. This project relies on various methods, including original survey and experimental data as well as in-depth interviews, to determine (1.) what factors influence Latinos to have varying perceptions of social inclusion, and (2.) under what conditions do perceptions of inclusion or exclusion either catalyze or depress political engagement. The findings demonstrate that after accounting for demographics, socioeconomic factors, and other traditional predictors of political behavior, a sense of belonging is a unique and independent driver of political interest and various forms of political acts for Latinos. The results indicate that perceptions of belonging to U.S. society, as well as perceptions that one is respected and valued by other Americans, are associated with higher levels of Latino political engagement.

Research Interests:

My research focuses on the political incorporation of racial, ethnic and religious minorities in the U.S. as everyday participants and also as political elites.  Specifically, my research investigates the factors that mobilize Latinos and other minorities to engage politically at different levels and varying frequencies.  I also explore how members of underrepresented communities become incorporated into American political institutions. On this topic, I examine how institutional, electoral and contextual forces as well as political parties shape the path of minorities to elected office.

Teaching Interests:

I am interested and prepared to teach courses in American Politics, Race, Ethnicity and Politics and Methods at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Specifically, I would be interested in teaching the following courses: Introduction to American Politics; Minority Politics in the U.S.; Latino Politics; The Politics of Immigration; Political Parties and Interest Groups; Political Psychology; Introduction to Quantitative Methods; and Research Design.

Althea Sircar - Political Theory, Race, Ethnicity, & Politics

Political Theory, Race, Ethnicity, & Politics
CV:
Contact Info:

asircar@macalester.edu

Dissertation Title:

Affective Political Community: Michel Henry and the Ontological Subject

Dissertation Summary:

My dissertation attacks the problem of how to build political consensus between people with vastly different life experiences and divergent ideas about what “life” means, especially where such differences stymie negotiation and legislation. I use the thought of Michel Henry to examine how political conflicts around questions of survival, suffering, and existence relate to political actors’ affective attachments and interior life. (I draw on Henry’s critique of the Western “ontological subject,” offering one of the first applications of Henry’s work to Anglophone political theory.) I argue that political communities must take seriously the ways that individuals’ commitments and beliefs remain opaque even to themselves. Doing so, I contend, will allow for “affective political communities” that can address contemporary crises like torture, starvation, state violence, and environmental catastrophe.

Affective Political Community: Michel Henry and the Ontological Subject

Research Interests:

Contemporary Political Theory (Continental and Postcolonial); philosophy and ethics of climate change, science, and technology; affect theory, pain, and the body; protests and social movements; religion and the state in South Asia.

Teaching Interests:

I have experience teaching introductory and advanced undergraduate courses in: political theory (specialties in modern to contemporary political thought, critical theory, and phenomenology); the politics of race, gender, disability and colonialism; political theory approaches to environmental ethics; and South Asian political and social thought from 1850-present. My teaching interests also include: philosophy of social science; revolutionary movements; and democratic theory.

Eoghan Stafford - Comparative Politics, Quantitative Methods

Comparative Politics, Quantitative Methods
Contact Info:

eoghan.stafford@gmail.com

Dissertation Title:

Warts and All: Media Freedom in Authoritarian Regimes

Dissertation Summary:

My dissertation explores why authoritarian rulers sometimes choose to grant some freedom to the news media to cover their regimes critically. I argue that dictators use partial liberalization of the news media to commit themselves to policy reforms by strengthening opposition groups' ability to mobilize protests, and I formalize the argument in a game-theoretic model. As an initial test of the theory, I draw on fieldwork in Tunisia, where I interviewed former officials in the Ben Ali regime, opposition leaders, and journalists, and I conduct a qualitative content analysis of Tunisian newspapers from the Ben Ali era. I also test the theory’s predictions about news media content by analyzing articles from newspapers around the Arab. I develop an extension of capture-recapture methods to measure under-reporting of protest events by Arab newspapers, by comparing patterns of protest reporting in the mainstream, opposition, and international presses. And I use machine learning to measure the share of pro- and anti-government opinion articles in the Arab press and compare them to surveys of public opinion. Finally, I test the theory’s applicability outside the region and to other media with global data on arrests and murders of journalists and on government controls on Web content.

Research Interests:

My research focuses on authoritarian politics, particularly the factors that shape authoritarian leaders’ decisions to pursue or block political reforms. I have focused especially on investigating why censorship of the news media varies widely both within and between authoritarian regimes, and how conflict over the media reflects and influences conflict in other policy arenas.

Teaching Interests:

I have taught undergraduate and graduate students in a wide range of subjects, including comparative politics, statistics, game theory, and media studies. I have led a survey course on comparative politics. As a Collegium of University Teaching Fellow, I proposed and taught a seminar on authoritarian politics entitled “How Dictators Survive.”

William Samuel Stahl - Political Theory, Race, Ethnicity, & Politics

Political Theory, Race, Ethnicity, & Politics
Contact Info:

willstahl@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

Acts of Identity: A Political Theory of Biography

Dissertation Summary:

Acts of Identity considers the genre of biography as a form of political thought and mode of political practice.  I draw from a selection of political theorists who have written biographic works – Hannah Arendt, Giorgio Agamben, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Rancière – to advance two distinct claims: (1) that personal identity is shaped by political action; and (2) that biographizing is itself political insofar as the way that it identifies individuals challenges the identities ascribed to these same individuals by hegemonic institutions such as the state.

Research Interests:

My research concerns the link between identity and action – the “who” and the “how” of politics.  I ask, how do our conceptions of political action affect our conceptions of who we are?  I pose the question this way, rather than vice versa, because I contend that we do not carry our private selves into politics.  Instead, politics carries over into our lives and determines who we are.  In my dissertation, Acts of Identity: A Political Theory of Biography, I demonstrate this approach by utilizing biography as a lens to focus on how individual identities are shaped through political action.  In my future research, I plan to pursue this question within the framework of legal thought, investigating the issues of collective identity and popular sovereignty in modern constitutional states.

Teaching Interests:

I am prepared to teach courses on the history of political thought, contemporary political thought, politics and literature, race and ethnicity, and legal thought.

Cody Trojan - Political Theory

Political Theory
CV:
Website:
Contact Info:

codytrojan@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

Republican Authority

Dissertation Summary:

My dissertation explores early modern republican thought in order to rethink how we regard authority in contemporary political life.  I argue that the diversity of republican literature of the period can be productively understood as various attempts to construct what it would mean to instantiate a Roman conception of auctoritas in modern conditions of commerce and print culture.

Research Interests: Teaching Interests:

Ryan Weldzius - International Political Economy, Comparative Politics

International Political Economy, Comparative Politics
Contact Info:

rweldzius@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

Globalization and its Other Discontents: How Global Supply Chain Integration Undercuts Government’s Ability to Manipulate Currency

Dissertation Summary:

The exchange rate is arguably the most important price in an economy. Due to the distributional effects of exchange rate movements in an open economy, socioeconomic actors may maintain preferences for the exchange regime (fixed vs. floating) and level (depreciated vs. appreciated). Exporting firms (or countries), for example, are assumed to maintain a preference for a relatively undervalued/depreciated exchange rate due to its competitive effect: their goods would be cheaper in foreign markets while competing goods would be more expensive in the domestic market – China being Exhibit A from 1995–2005. However, recent research has shown a disconnect between exchange rates and exports: a depreciation of a country’s exchange rate no longer gives the boost to exports it once did (see, Ahmed, Appendino and Ruta, 2015Ollivaud, Rusticelli and Schwellnus, 2015Cheng et al., 2016). The explanation for this decreased exchange rate elasticity of exports is the increasing role of global value chains (GVCs) in international trade – that is, the cross-border exchange of intermediate inputs that makeup a final good. In this dissertation, I argue that the exchange rate preferences of exporting firms/countries will change conditional on their reliance on global value chains. As more firms become integrated in GVCs, preferences for an undervalued/depreciated exchange rate will decrease while preferences for a stable exchange rate will increase. Moreover, due to the market size of the firms involved in these supply chains, it is assumed that their exchange rate preferences will dominate smaller firms. Since it is costly for governments to maintain an undervalued currency (e.g., foreign exchange market intervention, restricting capital movements, requiring a high savings rate, etc.), as countries become more integrated in global supply chains and exchange rate preferences shift, there will be upward pressure on undervalued exchange rates towards their market equilibrium. I test this theory by modeling the effect trade openness conditional on global supply chain integration on the level of under-/overvaluation of a country's exchange rate using annual data on exchange rates, trade, global supply chains, and government intervention in currency markets from 1995-2011 across 50 developed and developing countries. 

Research Interests:

My research focuses on international and comparative political economy, in particular on the sources of trade and exchange rate policy as well as the distributional consequences of each.

Teaching Interests:

I am prepared to teach a broad range of courses in International Relations and Comparative Politics at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Specifically, I would be interested in teaching the following courses: International Political Economy; Political Economy of European Integration; U.S. Foreign Policy; International Organizations; Introduction to International Relations.