Placement Candidates

Kye Barker - Political Theory, Race, Ethnicity, & Politics

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

kyebarker@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

Modern Politics of Wonder: A Contest of Orders

Dissertation Summary:
  1. Within the supposedly disenchanted politics of modernity, wonder remains as a fundamental emotion. How has wonder, an emotion traditionally tied to religion in premodern European political thought, been used in the context of a supposedly disenchanted politics? In my dissertation I argue that we find from Hobbes to Arendt a subterranean debate on the proper conceptualization and use of wonder in modern political life. The past few decades have seen a dramatic reassessment of the importance of the emotions in the history of political thought. However, this broad reassessment has yet to address systematically how canonical political thinkers have conceptualized and deployed wonder in their theories of politics. Is wonder properly to be experienced toward the awesome structure of the modern state? Or perhaps towards the capacity which human beings have to live rational, and free lives? Might it instead be the seemingly spontaneous order of the market, which either addresses or ignores our basic needs? Finally, might the greatest and proper source of our wonder and admiration be the fact that human beings can radically restructure the institutions and contours of political life according to action? This dissertation project – situated at the intersection of the history of political thought, the history of the emotions, and secularization studies – excavates these different attunements and seeks to understand them from within their own discursive and historical contexts so that we may better understand the appeals which are made to our sense of wonder in contemporary political life.
Research Interests:
  1. My work is situated at the intersection of the history of political thought, the history of the emotions, and secularization studies. Other longstanding interests include continental political theory, the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory, aesthetics and politics, republicanism, American political thought, and the political thought of Hannah Arendt.
Teaching Interests:
  1. I have designed and taught introductory courses in political theory, modern European thought, and in the modern history of republicanism.  In addition to these general courses, I am interested in teaching more specialized classes on the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory, the political history of the emotions, early modern humanism, theories of freedom, and conceptions of property.

Shahin Berenji - Comparative Politics, International Relations

Comparative Politics, International Relations
CV:
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 political pressure.  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 (1985-1988), 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.  I also study how the receivers, or the targets, of these overtures perceive these types of signals in international relations.

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.

Ruth Carlitz - Comparative Politics

Comparative Politics
CV:
Contact Info:

ruth.carlitz@gu.se

Dissertation Title:

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

Dissertation Summary:

My dissertation focuses on Tanzania, a hegemonic party regime where nearly half of the population languishes without access to a clean and safe source of drinking water despite massive investments in this sector in recent years. In order to make sense of this disconnect between spending and improved outcomes, I analyze novel data on financial allocations and infrastructure construction for water provision, contextualized by public opinion surveys, interviews, and focus group discussions that were facilitated by my proficiency in Swahili. I find that Tanzania's strategy of decentralizing water provision to local governments has largely failed to promote responsiveness, due to capture and politicized misallocation. I demonstrate how local politicians have skewed resource distribution in such a way that favors their core supporters at the expense of demonstrably needier constituents.

Research Interests:

My research looks at government responsiveness from the ‘top down’ (how governments distribute public goods) and the ‘bottom up’ (what citizens and non-governmental organizations can do to promote transparency and accountability). I focus primarily on East Africa, inspired by my experience living and working in Tanzania from 2006-2008.

Teaching Interests:

In addition to my passion for research, I am an enthusiastic teacher with experience designing and teaching my own courses. These include a first-year seminar on Political Economy of Health in Latin America and an upper-division course on Research Methods for International Development Policy and Practice. I am prepared to teach a broad range of courses in Comparative Politics, the Political Economy of Development, and Research Methods at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Safia Farole - Comparative Politics, International Relations

Comparative Politics, International Relations
CV:
Contact Info:

safiaf@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

Local Elections and Opposition Mobilization in South Africa’s Dominant Party System

Dissertation Summary:

What explains the growth of opposition parties in a political system that is dominated by one party?  My dissertation focuses on the sources of electoral competition in South Africa’s dominant party system. A dominant party system occurs where a single political party wins an absolute majority of votes in at least three consecutive elections, has a monopoly on state resources, and receives support from societal elites and a broad coalition of voters. I argue that local elections are the key to generating competition in this type of party system, and in particular the confluence of three factors makes party alternation at the local level possible: 1) opposition party’s ability to establish a reputation for good governance at the local level, 2) opposition candidate recruitment strategies, and 2) ethnic diversity at the local level that makes it difficult for the ruling party to maintain its traditional coalition. In the dissertation I focus on the Democratic Alliance (DA), which is the largest opposition party in South Africa.

 

I use data from a range of sources to examine the strategies that the DA uses to succeed in local elections. To test the argument that effective service delivery in local government contributes to the DA’s electoral performance I created a panel dataset that merges census and electoral data. I find that support for DA-incumbent local governments increases when access to basic services improves. In addition, I have collected original survey data from 700 black South Africans living in Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay municipalities to test the hypothesis that support for the DA among black voters is driven by the party’s reputation for good governance at the local level.

 

In my dissertation I also find that in local elections the DA earns more support in areas where there is more ethnic diversity among black communities. Finally, I find that the DA strategically nominates black candidates to predominantly black areas in local elections. In order to test this explanation, I created a unique dataset of 8,000 DA candidates for local government that includes information on their race, ethnicity, and gender for all local government elections in South Africa. The sources of electoral competition in Africa’s dominant party systems is understudied, and my dissertation contributes to this literature by leveraging unique sources of data to examine how local government is an important site for party mobilization.

Research Interests:

My primary research interests are local elections and voting behavior in Africa. I am also interested in democratization and ethnic politics.

Teaching Interests:

I am interested in teaching courses on political development in Africa, elections in the developing world, introduction to Comparative Politics, and International Relations. I can also teach methodology courses, specifically data analysis and research design.  

Richard Hanania - International Relations, Comparative Politics, Methods

International Relations, Comparative Politics, Methods
Contact Info:

Richard2@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

 Moral Psychology and Support for War in the International System

Dissertation Summary:

My dissertation argues that, contrary to what some have claimed, public opinion with regards to foreign policy is far from self-interested or strategic. Rather, I use survey data and experiments, including the use of mediation analysis, to show that the main determinants of foreign policy preferences are a desire for a positive self-image and moral values.

Research Interests:

I research American grand strategy, particularly how the social sciences can inform foreign policy decision making. My interests also include international law, nuclear weapons policy, the causes of civil war, and foreign policy attitudes from the perspective of moral psychology.

Teaching Interests:

International relations, foreign policy, international law, research methods, Middle East politics, civil war, terrorism

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

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

jcjackson@uchicago.edu

Dissertation Title:

Equality Beyond Debate: John Dewey's Pragmatic Idea of Democracy (forthcoming with Cambridge University Press, October 2018)

Dissertation Summary:

While many current analyses of democracy focus on creating a more civil, respectful debate among competing political viewpoints, this study argues that the existence of structural social inequality requires us to go beyond the realm of political debate. Challenging prominent contemporary theories of democracy, the author draws on John Dewey to bring the work of combating social inequality into the forefront of democratic thought. Dewey's 'pragmatic' principles are deployed to present democracy as a developing concept constantly confronting unique conditions obstructing its growth. Under structurally unequal social conditions, democracy is thereby seen as demanding the overcoming of this inequality; this inequality corrupts even well-organized forums of political debate, and prevents individuals from governing their everyday lives. Dewey's approach shows that the process of fighting social inequality is uniquely democratic, and he avoids current democratic theory's tendency to abstract from this inequality. (from Cambridge University Press website)

Research Interests:

Contemporary Democratic Theory, American Pragmatist Philosophy, Continental Political Thought, Philosophy of Education, American Political Thought, Modern and Postmodern Political Thought, Social Movements, Progressive Politics, Racial and Gender Inequality, Universal Basic Income

Teaching Interests:

Interdisciplinary Topics in the Social Sciences, History of Political Thought, Continental Political Thought, Democratic Theory, American Political Thought, Political Economic Theory, 20th Century Political Theory, Politics of Education, Race and Ethnicity, Liberalism and Its Critics, Ancient Greek Thought, American Political Development and Government, Game Theory

Anita R. Kellogg - International Relations, Comparative Politics

International Relations, Comparative Politics
CV:
Contact Info:

arkellogg@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

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

Dissertation Summary:

The literature on the commercial peace — economic interdependence reduces interstate militarized disputes — has yet to explain how international commerce impacts domestic politics to produce pacific foreign policy. I argue that the effectiveness of economic interdependence to reduce international conflict depends on the degree of influence the business community has on national policy-making. My findings demonstrate that the interaction of bilateral trade with the size of the private sector substantially decreases the use of military force and the escalation of hostilities. Detailed process tracing studies of the Colombia - Venezuela and China - Japan rivalries further explore the nuanced effects of the domestic bargaining process between commercial elites and the state on security policy.

Research Interests:

My research examines the relationship between complex economic interdependence and interstate conflict, particularly the management of militarized disputes. Although business and economic interest groups tend to be overlooked in national security policy, my investigation highlights the importance of business as a causal actor influencing interstate conflicts as part of the policy-making process. I address these issues through a multi-method approach that enables the examination of this controversial hypothesis from multiple perspectives, including detailed process tracing case-studies and large-n statistical analysis.

Teaching Interests:

I have experience teaching courses on International Political Economy, the Politics of Latin American Economic Development, and Economic Statecraft. My research and 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 the politics and economics of East Asia due to my fieldwork and extensive time living in the region.

Zsuzsanna Magyar - Comparative Politics, Methodology

Comparative Politics, Methodology
CV:
Contact Info:

zmagyar@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

Opposition Structure and Government Policy Making in Parliamentary Democracies

Dissertation Summary:

In my dissertation I examine the question of how small parties in the government achieve representation that exceeds their sizes. I argue that if a coalition government is facing a unified opposition, in contrast to a fragmented opposition, the government will increase spending on the political demands of their smaller coalition partner.  This could potentially explain why some parties remain small. The argument of  my dissertation grew from my in-depth knowledge of the Japanese and Hungarian political systems and the interviews I conducted with members of those countries’ elite. The fragmented opposition in both of those countries, at different times, has been cited as the reason for the success of the governing party (LDP in the case of Japan and Fidesz in the case of Hungary).

Research Interests:

My research focuses on how societal groups achieve political representation within different political systems.  I first focus on how and why politicians choose their form of representation: why they form big or small parties, why they form coalitions or alliances. Second, I study how conflict and cooperation between these different political actors within the system influences policy outcomes.

Teaching Interests:

Teaching Interests: Comparative Politics, European Politics, Japanese Politics, Statistics, Political Methodology.

Manoel Gehrke Ryff Moreira - Comparative Politics, Quantitative Methods

Comparative Politics, Quantitative Methods
CV:
Contact Info:

manoelgrm@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

How Politicians React to Anti-Corruption Interventions: Investigations in Brazilian municipalities.

Dissertation Summary:

My dissertation is a theoretical and empirical investigation of how political elites react to anti-corruption initiatives. I focus on how anti-corruption interventions affect the local political game and how politicians react to judicial punishment of other public officials because of corruption charges. I shed light on these questions using randomized anti-corruption audits of local governments, tens of thousands of judicial cases about corruption and detailed data on politicians' assets declarations from the world’s fourth largest democracy: Brazil.

I find that anti-corruption audits led to abnormal increases in wealth accumulation of politicians in critical positions for the mayors' political survival: the vice-mayor and councillors in municipalities where the mayor's party holds a smaller proportion of the seats in the local council. These findings reveal an important reason why so many anti-corruption initiatives do not succeed, even in contexts of high electoral competition: the capacity of public officials to re-optimize their political strategies and reward others in exchange for political support. On a more positive note for anti-corruption initiatives, removals from office of corrupt politicians by the judiciary does cause the deterrence of corruption in neighboring municipalities.

Research Interests:

I conduct research on comparative politics, political corruption and accountability, with a regional focus on Latin America. My research combines several months of fieldwork in Brazil and Colombia, quasi-experimental designs, field and natural experiments, an original survey and extensive use of judicial archives. I also collaborate with civil society and governmental organizations in Latin America as part of my research.

Teaching Interests:

I am enthusiastic about designing and teaching graduate and undergraduate courses on Comparative Politics, Political Economy of Development, Politics and Inequality, and Political Corruption, as well as courses Quantitative Methods and on politics in Latin America.

Francesca Parente - International Relations, Methods

International Relations, Methods
CV:
Contact Info:

fparente@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

Past Regret, Future Fear: Why Leaders Comply with Rulings of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Dissertation Summary:

International law has increasingly recognized individuals as rights-holders to whom states owe obligations, and international human rights courts can demand relatively costly changes from their members. For example, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights often orders its members to change domestic laws, reform prisons, and prosecute former military officials. In my dissertation, I ask: why do leaders sometimes follow – but other times ignore – these rulings? I argue that compliance sends a costly signal of the leader’s policy preferences to the public. The public in weak democracies can pose varying levels of threat to the leader’s power. When the public poses little threat to the leader, there is separating behavior: leaders decide whether to comply based on their true preferences. However, when the public poses a greater threat to the leader, there is pooling behavior that reflects the public’s preference for compliance: when the public poses a greater threat and supports compliance, leaders pool on compliance, and when the public opposes compliance, leaders pool on non-compliance.

 

I test my theory using quantitative and qualitative methods. I construct an original dataset of all rulings from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights through 2014 and measure compliance using Court-issued monitoring reports. I combine these data with cross-national survey data on citizen attitudes toward democracy and various domestic institutions from AmericasBarometer and the World Values Survey. I use event history analysis to model the leader’s time to compliance. My results show that leaders are more likely to comply when they face increased domestic threats to their political power, and that these effects are tempered by the popularity of the implicated actors. For example, when the police are at fault for a human rights violation, the probability of compliance decreases as public support for the police increases. I supplement my statistical work with evidence from semi-structured interviews with attorneys, judges, and state officials.

Research Interests:

My research examines how international law and international organizations affect domestic politics in weak and transitioning democracies. My dissertation and book project examine how rulings from international human rights courts are implemented in Latin America. In other work, I examine the effect of exposure to violence on citizen attitudes toward transitional justice.

Teaching Interests:

 I am interested in teaching a variety of courses in International Relations and Quantitative Methodology at both the undergraduate and graduate level. As an instructor, I have taught the undergraduate course in International Law and the Math Review course for incoming graduate students. I enjoy teaching both introductory courses on international relations and statistical inference, and courses on more specialized topics like international law, international organization, international political economy, and advanced research design.

Shawn Patterson - American Politics, Methods

American Politics, Methods
CV:
Contact Info:

shawnpattersonjr@gmail.com

Dissertation Title:

"The Effect of Party Networks on Congressional Primaries."

Dissertation Summary:

The scholarship on political parties has largely focused on their declining influence. Specifically, many claim that through the widespread adoption of the partisan primary, control over the nomination of candidates has been largely relegated to the ambitions and talents of the office-seekers themselves. I challenge this perspective, arguing that networks of partisan interests still play a major role in determining a party’s nominee. To support this claim, I combine field interviews, journalistic accounts, election results, and campaign finance disclosures to demonstrate the systematic effect of political networks on the electoral prospects of primary candidates. I provide a series of case studies to show the impact of party networks and to demonstrate the underlying mechanism – the diverse campaign resources that these networks are able to marshal on behalf of their candidates. To generalize these findings, I use campaign finance data for candidates between 1980 and 2014 to construct a novel measure of group support – existing network density – derived from the degree of coordination present among a candidate’s campaign contributors. I find that greater network support provides a significant benefit to candidates seeking consequential open-seat nominations for the House of Representatives. These effects remain over time and across parties after controlling for measures of candidate viability, such as fundraising and previous elected experience. This suggests that while the party organizations may have fewer formal powers over the selection of candidates for office, the constellation of organized interests constituting these political parties still hold clout over the electoral process.

Research Interests:

My research generally focuses on political parties and the constellation of organized interests surrounding them. My current work focuses on how partisan networks influence candidate emergence and electoral success in congressional primaries.

Teaching Interests:

I am particularly interested in teaching courses on political institutions with an eye toward their behavioral effects. I have taught courses on Congress, the Presidency, and Constitutional Law, in addition to introductory courses in American politics and research methods. At the graduate level, I would be excited to teach more advanced courses on political parties and interest groups, as well as methods courses on social network analysis.

Anton Sobolev - Comparative Politics, Methods

Comparative Politics, Methods
CV:
Website:
Contact Info:

asobolev@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

"Dictators in the Spotlight: What Do They Do When They Cannot Do Business as Usual?"

Dissertation Summary:

My dissertation explores the strategies that modern authoritarian leaders use to survive in office. Unlike many 20th century dictators, todays autocrats must operate “in the spotlight”—new media and information technology enables the political opposition and the public to observe their actions. This greater observability limits the effectiveness of government repression, sometimes forcing the authorities to shift to other tools of political control. I study two of these alternative tools: the staging of pro-government rallies to create an image of invincibility and the recruitment of armies of paid supporters to shape the narrative on the Internet and disrupt online conversation. 

 

To explore these strategies, I focus on the case of Vladimir Putin’s regime in Russia. I argue that, faced with a wave of anti-government protests, an autocrat such as Putin can discourage further demonstrations by organizing pro-government rallies that—perhaps surprisingly—convey credible information to regime opponents about the dictator's popularity. Moreover, this discouragement effect will be stronger—under certain conditions—if the autocrat allows some media freedom. I test this theory using data I collected on which Russian cities had access to broadcasts of the independent radio station, “Echo of Moscow.” Combining matching techniques with a difference-in-differences design, I compare protest dynamics in the cities that received broadcasts and in those that did not. 

 

To better understand the second strategy, I explore the behavior and impact of several hundred “trolls”—paid supporters of the regime who are allegedly employed to leave pro-government comments on social media platforms. Using probabilistic topic modeling, I develop a method to estimate the causal effect of troll interventions in online discussions. I find that trolls are able to successfully divert online discussions from politically charged topics, but are ineffective in promoting a pro-government agenda. In a separate chapter, I develop a methodology for the study of such Internet actors. Specifically, I devise a set of identification methods to detect paid “political commentators” that will work on a variety of social media platforms.

Research Interests:

Applying text analysis, machine learning and causal inference to collective behavior in authoritarian regimes, I explore the strategies that modern autocrats use to survive in office and how citizens respond to these strategies by organizing collective actions. My research interests cover a wide range of questions associated with protest behavior in the broadest sense.

Teaching Interests:

I have experience teaching in Comparative Politics and Political Economy with a focus on Autocracies, Russian Politics, and Internet Politics. I can also teach methodology courses, specifically applied courses on data analysis, research design, and causal inference. While at UCLA, I participated in creating courses at the Department of Political Science and the Anderson School of Management.

Eoghan Stafford - Comparative Politics, Quantitative Methods

Comparative Politics, Quantitative Methods
CV:
Contact Info:

eoghanstafford@gmail.com

Dissertation Title:

Warts and All: Media Freedom in Authoritarian Regimes

Dissertation Summary:

Why do some dictators allow more freedom to journalists than other dictators? Moreover, why does a dictator sometimes allow more media freedom in some years than in other years? I present a novel theory, formalized in a game-theoretic model, in which I argue that allowing greater freedom to the news media can enhance the credibility of an authoritarian ruler’s promises to opposition groups to make future concessions in other policy areas. The model predicts that a dictator will expand news media freedom when a temporary shock enhances the opposition’s ability to mobilize protests and if the regime has limited capacity to repress protests.

I test this theory through a case study of the former Ben Ali dictatorship in Tunisia, based on interviews I carried out there with Tunisian journalists, former regime officials, and former opposition activists. I also conduct cross-national comparative statistical tests of the theory using an original dataset on the legalization and banning of opposition media in Arab countries during the post-Cold War era.

Research Interests:

My research is in Comparative Politics, with a focus on authoritarian regimes. I explore why authoritarian governments sometimes embark on political reforms and the wide variety of regime outcomes to which political reforms can ultimately lead. I also investigate the strategies that opposition activists use to promote change in authoritarian regimes. My research involves quantitative methods, such as formal modeling and machine learning, and qualitative approaches, such as field interviews. I am currently working on two projects that use machine learning to measure pluralism in media content in Arab authoritarian countries.

Teaching Interests:

I have extensive experience creating and teaching courses in Comparative Politics. I have also taught in American Politics and Political Theory courses, as well as in the Communications department. I have taught statistics and game theory to both undergraduate and graduate students. I am prepared to teach courses in Comparative Politics, authoritarian politics, the Middle East, the role of the media in politics, Political Economy, game theory, and statistics. I am committed to creating inclusive and interactive learning environments.

Cody Trojan - Political Theory

Political Theory
CV:
Contact Info:

codytrojan@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

Republican Authority: Political Legitimacy, Aristocratic Virtue, and Demotic Judgment in Early Modern Republican Thought

Dissertation Summary:

My dissertation explores republican thought in the early modern period in order to rethink how we regard authority in contemporary political life.  I analyze the nature of political legitimacy by evaluating early modern iterations of republican exclusivism, the claim that only republican government is legitimate.   For some, the republic’s unique claim to legitimacy lies in its political constitution: the entwinement of aristocratic virtue and popular liberty that improves upon the ancient model of the mixed constitution.  For others, republican authority hinges on the psychic and bodily constitution of the citizen rather than the political constitution of the state.  I demonstrate how competing images of authority respond to the specific contexts of political illegitimacy facing early modern authors, crises both historically distant and thematically proximate to our own.

Research Interests:

History of political thought (Enlightenment, republicanism, American political thought, African American political thought), Contemporary political theory (democratic theory, liberalism, postcolonial studies, feminist studies, critical theory), and American political development (Reconstruction era, constitutional law)

Teaching Interests:

Andrea Vilan - International Relations, Methods

International Relations, Methods
CV:
Contact Info:

avilan@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

The Domestic Incorporation of Human Rights Treaties

Dissertation Summary:

When a state joins a human rights treaty, it usually must incorporate its international treaty obligations into its domestic laws by creating domestic regulations and legislation that match international standards. Why do some treaty members change their domestic laws to align them to treaty standards, while other members do not? I theorize that incorporation---the adoption of specific treaty provisions containing human rights standards into domestic laws---is the result of political battles between domestic interest groups. Most research in political science emphasizes how civil society uses human rights treaties to hold governments accountable for rights violations. Instead, I argue that many human rights treaties activate conflict within societies over distribution and competing moral values. As civil society groups have different policy goals, treaty incorporation generates winners and losers. When groups that oppose incorporation of human rights treaties are strong they can delay or block treaty incorporation. Thus, treaties might not be incorporated because of the government's response to domestic pressure from groups that oppose incorporation. 

I test this argument by examining legislation adopted in Latin America to incorporate treaties against child labor and marriage. I analyze two original datasets of the national legislation adopted in the region pertaining to these practices, including the loopholes that are often included in legislation. I complement this analysis using qualitative evidence from over 60 semi-structured interviews with policymakers, civil society advocates, and representatives of international organizations across six Latin American countries.

Research Interests:

My research interests include human rights, international law, international organizations, and the impact of domestic politics on international cooperation, particularly in Latin America.

Teaching Interests:

Courses in international relations, international institutions, human rights, international law,  Latin American politics, and research methods.

Kathryn Wainfan - Comparative Politics, Political Institutions, UK and Western European Politics

Comparative Politics, Political Institutions, UK and Western European Politics
CV:
Contact Info:

kwainfan@ucla.edu

Dissertation Title:

The Party Politics of Political Decentralization

Dissertation Summary:

Since the 1970s, several Western European democracies have devolved substantial decision-making powers to sub-national governments, some for the first time. Why do central governments voluntarily give away power? More precisely, because modern democracies are organized around and run by political parties, why do parties that wield national-level power ever choose to reduce the scope of that power? I argue that nationalized parties sometimes devolve power to regional governments when voters in different regions cannot be satisfied through a single, national-level policy alone. This occurs when policy preferences in one or more regions are incompatible with those in the rest of the country. By devolving some decision-making authority to regional governments, a party may be able to accommodate differing policy preferences in different parts of the county and limit the damage to the party’s electoral fortunes such differences could create.

I primarily focus on the case of Scottish devolution in the United Kingdom, tracing the evolution of the British Labour Party's attitudes towards the issue. I argue that New Labour made devolution an integral part its platform in the mid-1990s because doing allowed the party to shift its economic policies rightward to compete with the Conservatives for English votes without losing Scottish votes to the left-leaning Scottish National Party. I develop a formal model representing the challenges a nationalized party faces when trying to win votes in more than one region of a country. I show that, as the preferences of voters in different regions diverge, a party may be able to win votes using a combination of policy and political decentralization when it would be unable to do so using a single national-level policy alone. After applying this model to the United Kingdom, I explore some if its implications using the cases of decentralization in Spain and Belgium.

Research Interests:

My research explores the relationship between political parties and political institutions—the rules and structures that make up a political system. In particular, I explore how political institutions influence disagreements among members of the same political party and how political leaders solve these disagreements. I focus primarily on the United Kingdom and Western Europe.

Teaching Interests:

I have experience preparing and teaching my own courses and am prepared to teach a broad range of courses in Comparative Politics at both the undergraduate and graduate level. I have taught UCLA’s Introduction to Comparative Politics course for four summers and will be teaching upper-division undergraduate courses in Constitutional Design, Nationalism and Separatist Movements in Western Europe, and Comparative Political Parties this year.

Ryan Weldzius - International Political Economy, Comparative Politics

International Political Economy, Comparative Politics
CV:
Contact Info:

ryan.weldzius@wustl.edu

Dissertation Title:

The Chains That Bind: Global Value Chain Integration and Currency Conflict

Dissertation Summary:

My dissertation asks: how do global value chains influence currency politics? I argue that global value chain integration shifts the traditional exchange rate preferences of exporting firms away from a desire for a competitive, undervalued exchange rate. As firms increasingly rely on the cross-border exchange of intermediate inputs, they will tend to prefer exchange rate stability over competitiveness, thus alleviating currency conflict. Currency undervaluation is a costly venture by policymakers. Global value chain integration decreases the benefit of an undervalued currency beyond its cost, thus binding policymakers from manipulating their exchange rates for competitive gain. Additionally, as countries move up the value chain and specialize in complex intermediate inputs, concern over exchange rate stability exceeds interest in exchange rate competitiveness due to pricing effects, i.e., exchange rate pass-through. All else equal, further global value chain integration will tend to increase firm preferences for exchange rate stability and weaken preferences for an undervalued exchange rate.

I test these arguments with cross-sectional time-series data that cover 62 countries (accounting for over 80% of global trade) between 1995 and 2011. Utilizing two distinct measures of currency misalignment, I show that the more integrated a country becomes in global value chains the weaker its commitment to an undervalued exchange rate. Moreover, as a country moves up the value chain, producing highly-specialized inputs, there is a similar revaluation of the exchange rate towards its equilibrium level. These effects tend to be strongest in the manufacturing sector. I also include a policy recommendation for combating currency manipulation. Utilizing a causal inference approach, I find that a regional trade agreement between partner countries increases global value chain trade by up to 57% — controlling for other gravity model covariates. Together, my dissertation shows that global value chains bind governments from engaging in competitive exchange rate policies and that regional trade agreements offer an inclusive approach to combating currency conflict rather than the punitive measures considered in the foreign policy community.

Research Interests:

My research interests lie in international and comparative political economy, focusing on the sources and distributional effects of trade and monetary policy. I am also interested in how economic geography influences political outcomes, particularly in the European Union and the United States.

Teaching Interests:

I am particularly interested in teaching courses in international political economy, European politics, U.S. foreign policy, and research methods. I am tooled to teach introductory courses in international relations and comparative politics (at both undergraduate and graduate levels). In the spring at Washington University, I will teach an undergraduate seminar on European integration and the rise of populism as well as a graduate seminar on the political economy of financial crises.