Mylonas, Harris, and Keith Darden. 2015. “Threats to Territorial Integrity, National Mass Schooling, and Linguistic Commonality,” Comparative Political Studies, , 1-34.Abstract
Why are some countries more linguistically homogeneous than others? We posit that the international environment in which a state develops partially determines the extent of its linguistic commonality and national cohesion. Specifically, the presence of an external threat of territorial conquest or externally supported secession leads governing elites to have stronger incentives to pursue nation-building strategies to generate national cohesion, often leading to the cultivation of a common national language through mass schooling. Comparing cases with similar levels of initial linguistic heterogeneity, state capacity, and development, but in different international environments, we find that states that did not face external threats to their territorial integrity were more likely to outsource education and other tools for constructing identity to missionaries or other groups, or not to invest in assimilation at all, leading to higher ethnic heterogeneity. States developing in high threat environments were more likely to invest in nation-building strategies to homogenize their populations.
Artifacts and Allegiances: How Museums Put the Nation and the World on Display
Levitt, Peggy. 2015. Artifacts and Allegiances: How Museums Put the Nation and the World on Display. Oakland, California: University of California Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
What can we learn about nationalism by looking at a country’s cultural institutions? How do the history and culture of particular cities help explain how museums represent diversity? Artifacts and Allegiances takes us around the world to tell the compelling story of how museums today are making sense of immigration and globalization. Based on firsthand conversations with museum directors, curators, and policymakers; descriptions of current and future exhibitions; and inside stories about the famous paintings and iconic objects that define collections across the globe, this work provides a close-up view of how different kinds of institutions balance nationalism and cosmopolitanism. By comparing museums in Europe, the United States, Asia, and the Middle East, Peggy Levitt offers a fresh perspective on the role of the museum in shaping citizens. Taken together, these accounts tell the fascinating story of a sea change underway in the museum world at large.
Ferguson, Niall, and Andrew Roberts. 2015. “Book Review of Niall Ferguson’s Kissinger. Volume I. 1923-1968: The Ideal­ist.” New York Times. Publisher's VersionAbstract
It is very rare for an official biography to be also a revisionist biography, but this one is. Usually it’s the official life that the revisionists attempt to dissect and ­refute, but such is the historical reputation of Henry Kissinger, and the avalanche of books and treatises already written about him, that Niall Ferguson’s official biography is in part an effort to revise the revisionists. Though not without trenchant criticisms, “Kissinger. Volume I. 1923-1968: The Ideal­ist” — which takes its subject up to the age of 45, about to begin his first stint of full-time government service — constitutes the most comprehensive defense of Kissinger’s outlooks and actions since his own three-volume, 3,900-page autobiography, published between 1979 and 1999.
Kissinger: 1923-1968: The Idealist
Ferguson, Niall. 2015. Kissinger: 1923-1968: The Idealist. Penguin Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The definitive biography of Henry Kissinger, based on unprecedented access to his private papersNo American statesman has been as revered or as reviled as Henry Kissinger. Once hailed as “Super K”—the “indispensable man” whose advice has been sought by every president from Kennedy to Obama—he has also been hounded by conspiracy theorists, scouring his every “telcon” for evidence of Machiavellian malfeasance. Yet as Niall Ferguson shows in this magisterial two-volume biography, drawing not only on Kissinger’s hitherto closed private papers but also on documents from more than a hundred archives around the world, the idea of Kissinger as the ruthless arch-realist is based on a profound misunderstanding.The first half of Kissinger’s life is usually skimmed over as a quintessential tale of American ascent: the Jewish refugee from Hitler’s Germany who made it to the White House. But in this first of two volumes, Ferguson shows that what Kissinger achieved before his appointment as Richard Nixon’s national security adviser was astonishing in its own right. Toiling as a teenager in a New York factory, he studied indefatigably at night. He was drafted into the U.S. infantry and saw action at the Battle of the Bulge—as well as the liberation of a concentration camp—but ended his army career interrogating Nazis. It was at Harvard that Kissinger found his vocation. Having immersed himself in the philosophy of Kant and the diplomacy of Metternich, he shot to celebrity by arguing for “limited nuclear war.” Nelson Rockefeller hired him. Kennedy called him to Camelot. Yet Kissinger’s rise was anything but irresistible. Dogged by press gaffes and disappointed by “Rocky,” Kissinger seemed stuck—until a trip to Vietnam changed everything. The Idealist is the story of one of the most important strategic thinkers America has ever produced. It is also a political Bildungsroman, explaining how “Dr. Strangelove” ended up as consigliere to a politician he had always abhorred. Like Ferguson’s classic two-volume history of the House of Rothschild, Kissinger sheds dazzling new light on an entire era. The essential account of an extraordinary life, it recasts the Cold War world.
Cohen, Dara Kay. 2015. “Do States Delegate Shameful Violence to Militias? Patterns of Sexual Violence in Recent Armed Conflicts,” Journal of Conflict Resolution, 59: 877-898. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Existing research maintains that governments delegate extreme, gratuitous, or excessively brutal violence to militias. However, analyzing all militias in armed conflicts from 1989 to 2009, we find that this argument does not account for the observed patterns of sexual violence, a form of violence that should be especially likely to be delegated by governments. Instead, we find that states commit sexual violence as a complement to—rather than a substitute for—violence perpetrated by militias. Rather than the logic of delegation, we argue that two characteristics of militia groups increase the probability of perpetrating sexual violence. First, we find that militias that have recruited children are associated with higher levels of sexual violence. This lends support to a socialization hypothesis, in which sexual violence may be used as a tool for building group cohesion. Second, we find that militias that were trained by states are associated with higher levels of sexual violence, which provides evidence for sexual violence as a ‘‘practice’’ of armed groups. These two complementary results suggest that militia-perpetrated sexual violence follows a different logic and is neither the result of delegation nor, perhaps, indiscipline.
Mylonas, Harris. 2015. “Review of Onur Yıldırım's Diplomacy and Displacement: Reconsidering the Turco-Greek Exchange of Populations, 1922-1934,” Journal of Cold War Studies, 17 (3): 268-270. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This book will be of interest to students of the Cold War because it examines the antecedents of the many population movements not only during the interwar period but also after World War II. The Turco-Greek population exchange was not the first exchange in the Balkans (a Greek-Bulgarian voluntary population exchange was signed in 1919, as discussed by Theodora Dragostinova in Between Two Motherlands: Nationality and Emigration among the Greeks of Bulgaria, 1900-1949, published by Cornell University Press in 2011), but because of the large scale of the Greek-Turkish exchange—resulting in more than a million refugees in Greece and half a million in Turkey—its obligatory character, and its relatively organized nature, it has become a reference point for the “transfer of large ethno-religious groups by means of which minorities were forcibly uprooted under the aegis of international law to contribute, in turn, to the reconstitution of ethnically ‘pure’ homogeneous states” (p. 10). Many of the examples that are discussed, however, are hardly comparable to the TurcoGreek population exchange and instead constitute instances of disorderly exoduses or unilateral ethnic cleansing.
Chu, Victor. 2015. “China Politics Vs Economy: Which is a Bigger Worry?.” CNBC. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Interview with Victor Chu, chairman and CEO of First Eastern Investment Group.
The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa
Juma, Calestous. 2015. The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
African agriculture is currently at a crossroads, at which persistent food shortages are compounded by threats from climate change. But, as this book argues, Africa faces three major opportunities that can transform its agriculture into a force for economic growth: advances in science and technology; the creation of regional markets; and the emergence of a new crop of entrepreneurial leaders dedicated to the continent's economic improvement. Filled with case studies from within Africa and success stories from developing nations around the world, The New Harvest outlines the policies and institutional changes necessary to promote agricultural innovation across the African continent. Incorporating research from academia, government, civil society, and private industry, the book suggests multiple ways that individual African countries can work together at the regional level to develop local knowledge and resources, harness technological innovation, encourage entrepreneurship, increase agricultural output, create markets, and improve infrastructure.
Hager, Sandy Brian. 2015. “Corporate Ownership of the Public Debt: Mapping the New Aristocracy of Finance,” Socio-Economic Review, . Publisher's VersionAbstract
In various writings Karl Marx made references to an ‘aristocracy of finance’ in Western Europe and the USA that dominated ownership of the public debt. Drawing on original research, this article offers the first comprehensive analysis of public debt ownership within the US corporate sector. The research shows that over the past three decades, and especially in the context of the current crisis, a new aristocracy of finance has emerged, as holdings of the public debt have become rapidly concentrated in favour of large corporations classified within Finance, Insurance and Real Estate. Operationalizing Wolfgang Streeck's concept of the ‘debt state’, the article goes on to demonstrate how concentration in ownership of the public debt reinforces patterns of social inequality and proceeds in tandem with a shift in government policy, one that prioritizes the interests of government bondholders over the general citizenry.
Mylonas, Harris. 2015. “Methodological Problems in the Study of Nation-Building: Behaviorism and Historicist Solutions in Political Science,” Social Science Quarterly, 96 (3): 740-758. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The goal of this article is to highlight the methodological problems involved in the study of nation-building and propose solutions. I identify three categories of methodological problems that flow from respective practices in social science research: (i) inferring intentions from observed behavior or outcomes; (ii) relying on census data to infer a country's ethnic diversity; and (iii) arbitrary periodization and anachronism, that is, attributing certain actions to concepts and/or phenomena that were not politically salient or even understood by the actors under study.
King, Gary, Konstantin Kashin, and Samir Soneji. 2015. “Systematic Bias and Nontransparency in US Social Security Administration Forecasts,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 29 (2): 239-258. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The financial stability of four of the five largest U.S. federal entitlement programs, strategic decision making in several industries, and many academic publications all depend on the accuracy of demographic and financial forecasts made by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Although the SSA has performed these forecasts since 1942, no systematic and comprehensive evaluation of their accuracy has ever been published by SSA or anyone else. The absence of a systematic evaluation of forecasts is a concern because the SSA relies on informal procedures that are potentially subject to inadvertent biases and does not share with the public, the scientific community, or other parts of SSA sufficient data or information necessary to replicate or improve its forecasts. These issues result in SSA holding a monopoly position in policy debates as the sole supplier of fully independent forecasts and evaluations of proposals to change Social Security. To assist with the forecasting evaluation problem, we collect all SSA forecasts for years that have passed and discover error patterns that could have been—and could now be—used to improve future forecasts. Specifically, we find that after 2000, SSA forecasting errors grew considerably larger and most of these errors made the Social Security Trust Funds look more financially secure than they actually were. In addition, SSA's reported uncertainty intervals are overconfident and increasingly so after 2000. We discuss the implications of these systematic forecasting biases for public policy.
King, Gary, Matthew Blackwell, and James Honaker. 2015. “A Unified Approach to Measurement Error and Missing Data: Overview and Applications,” Sociological Methods and Research, , 1-39. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Although social scientists devote considerable effort to mitigating measurement error during data collection, they often ignore the issue during data analysis. And although many statistical methods have been proposed for reducing measurement error-induced biases, few have been widely used because of implausible assumptions, high levels of model dependence, difficult computation, or inapplicability with multiple mismeasured variables. We develop an easy-to-use alternative without these problems; it generalizes the popular multiple imputation (MI) framework by treating missing data problems as a limiting special case of extreme measurement error, and corrects for both. Like MI, the proposed framework is a simple two-step procedure, so that in the second step researchers can use whatever statistical method they would have if there had been no problem in the first place. We also offer empirical illustrations, open source software that implements all the methods described herein, and a companion paper with technical details and extensions (Blackwell, Honaker, and King, 2014b).
Kertzer, Joshua D, and Brian C Rathbun. 2015. “Fair is Fair: Social Preferences and Reciprocity in International Politics,” World Politics, . Publisher's VersionAbstract
Behavioral economics has shown that people often diverge from classical assumptions about self-interested behavior: they have social preferences and are concerned about issues of fairness and reciprocity. Social psychologists show that these preferences vary across actors, with some displaying more prosocial value orientations than others. Integrating a laboratory bargaining experiment with original archival research on Anglo-French and Franco-German diplomacy during the interwar period, the authors show how fairness and reciprocity matter in social interactions. That prosocials do not exploit their bargaining leverage to the degree that proselfs do helps explain why some pairs of actors are better able to avoid bargaining failure than others. In the face of consistent egoism on the part of negotiating partners, however, prosocials engage in negative reciprocity and adopt the same behaviors as proselfs.
King, Gary. 2015. “Preface: Big Data is Not About the Data!.” Computational Social Science: Discovery and Prediction. Cambridge University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
A few years ago, explaining what you did for a living to Dad, Aunt Rose, or your friend from high school was pretty complicated. Answering that you develop statistical estimators, work on numerical optimization, or, even better, are working on a great new Markov Chain Monte Carlo implementation of a Bayesian model with heteroskedastic errors for automated text analysis is pretty much the definition of conversation stopper. Then the media noticed the revolution we’re all apart of, and they glued a label to it. Now “Big Data” is what you and I do. As trivial as this change sounds, we should be grateful for it, as the name seems to resonate with the public and so it helps convey the importance of our field to others better than we had managed to do ourselves. Yet, now that we have everyone’s attention, we need to start clarifying for others—and ourselves—what the revolution means. This is much of what this book is about.
Is the American Century Over?
Nye, Joseph S., Jr.. 2015. Is the American Century Over?. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.Abstract
For more than a century, the United States has been the world's most powerful state. Now some analysts predict that China will soon take its place. Does this mean that we are living in a post-American world? Will China's rapid rise spark a new Cold War between the two titans? In this compelling essay, world renowned foreign policy analyst, Joseph Nye, explains why the American century is far from over and what the US must do to retain its lead in an era of increasingly diffuse power politics. America's superpower status may well be tempered by its own domestic problems and China's economic boom, he argues, but its military, economic and soft power capabilities will continue to outstrip those of its closest rivals for decades to come.
Kertzer, Joshua D, and Ryan Brutger. 2015. “Decomposing Audience Costs: Bringing the Audience Back into Audience Cost Theory,” American Journal of Political Science, . Publisher's VersionAbstract
According to a growing tradition in International Relations, one way governments can credibly signal their intentions in foreign policy crises is by creating domestic audience costs: leaders can tie their hands by publicly threatening to use force since domestic publics punish leaders who say one thing and do another. We argue here that there are actually two logics of audience costs: audiences can punish leaders both for being inconsistent (the traditional audience cost), and for threatening to use force in the first place (a belligerence cost). We employ an experiment that disentangles these two rationales, and turn to a series of dispositional characteristics from political psychology to bring the audience into audience cost theory. Our results suggest that traditional audience cost experiments may overestimate how much people care about inconsistency, and that the logic of audience costs (and the implications for crisis bargaining) varies considerably with the leader's constituency.
Cohen, Roger. 2015. “Counterrevolutionary Russia,” New York Times, . Publisher's Version
New York Times op-ed written by Roger Cohen on June 25, 2015 from the 2015 WCFIA Talloires Conference that was held on June 19–21, 2015.
Dookeran, Winston. 2015. Crisis and Promise in the Caribbean. London: Ashgate. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The Caribbean is made up of a complex, enigmatic region, characterised by great disparities in size, population, geography, history, language, religion, race and politics. This is a region in which harmony and discord work in tandem, trying to link economic logic with political logic. This book is a useful tool not only for those specialists and students of regionalism but for all those putting their hands to the task of nation-building and those interested in the development processes of small states and economies. At the same time, this book is a comprehensive historical record especially highlighting hindrances to development in this region. This study raises two important issues: the ‘political imperative of convergence’ and the need for ‘appropriate correcting mechanisms’ that align the needs of the local with the regional. It is a volume that underlines the need for a change in strategy and makes proposals as to how to go about making those changes.
Barcia, Daniel. 2015. “Restless Liberty: The Fall of Florida's Maroon Haven and the Largest Slave Rebellion in US History, 1835-1838.” Harvard University.Abstract
For more than two years, the United States waged war on Florida’s black rebels and lost. In 1835, a group of fearless and visionary runaway slaves, or maroons, living in Florida’s swamplands entered into an alliance with their enslaved brethren on plantations to rebel against white authority. Together, the blacks waged a successful guerilla campaign to secure their own freedom. Twenty-five years prior to the Emancipation Proclamation, the U.S. government’s decision to “set forth all Negroes . . . who delivered themselves up to the Commanding Office of the Troops . . . free” confirmed the rebels’ triumph over a nation still dominated by the pernicious and peculiar institution of slavery.  By the spring of 1838, the blacks rebels “felt themselves restored to that liberty of which they had so long been unjustly deprived . . . [and] were thoroughly convinced of the perfect safety and propriety of immediate emancipation.”  Amid an intensifying national debate over the status of slavery, this band of more than one thousand black rebels built—and fought for—a free society of their own. It was a rare and unheralded antebellum victory for liberty.
The Cultural Matrix: Understanding Black Youth
2015. The Cultural Matrix: Understanding Black Youth. Edited by Orlando Patterson and Ethan Fosse. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The Cultural Matrix seeks to unravel a uniquely American paradox: the socioeconomic crisis, segregation, and social isolation of disadvantaged black youth, on the one hand, and their extraordinary integration and prominence in popular culture on the other. Despite school dropout rates over 40 percent, a third spending time in prison, chronic unemployment, and endemic violence, black youth are among the most vibrant creators of popular culture in the world. They also espouse several deeply-held American values. To understand this conundrum, the authors bring culture back to the forefront of explanation, while avoiding the theoretical errors of earlier culture-of-poverty approaches and the causal timidity and special pleading of more recent ones. There is no single black youth culture, but a complex matrix of cultures—adapted mainstream, African-American vernacular, street culture, and hip-hop—that support and undermine, enrich and impoverish young lives. Hip-hop, for example, has had an enormous influence, not always to the advantage of its creators. However, its muscular message of primal honor and sensual indulgence is not motivated by a desire for separatism but by an insistence on sharing in the mainstream culture of consumption, power, and wealth. This interdisciplinary work draws on all the social sciences, as well as social philosophy and ethnomusicology, in a concerted effort to explain how culture, interacting with structural and environmental forces, influences the performance and control of violence, aesthetic productions, educational and work outcomes, familial, gender, and sexual relations, and the complex moral life of black youth.