Publications

Forthcoming
Viterna, Jocelyn, and Cassandra Robertson. Forthcoming.

New Directions in the Sociology of Development

, Annual Review of Sociology 41. Download Paper
Simmons, Beth A, Volha Charnysh, and Paulette Lloyd. Forthcoming.

Frames and Consensus Formation in International Relations: The Case of Trafficking in Persons

, European Journal of International Relations.Abstract
This article examines the process of consensus formation by the international community on how to confront the problem of trafficking in persons. We analyze the corpus of UNGA Third Committee resolutions to show that (1) consensus around the issue of how to confront trafficking in persons has increased over time; and (2) the formation of this consensus depends on how the issue is framed. We test our argument by examining the characteristics of resolutions’ sponsors and discursive framing concepts such as crime, human rights, and the strength of enforcement language. We conclude that the consensus formation process in international relations is more aptly described as one of “accommodation” through issue linkage than a process of persuasion.
frame_and_consensus_eijr.pdf
Simmons, Beth A, and Richard A Nielsen. Forthcoming.

Rewards for Ratification: Payoffs for Participating in the International Human Rights Regime?

, International Studies Quarterly.Abstract
Among the explanations for state ratification of human rights treaties, few are more common and widely accepted than the conjecture that states are rewarded for ratification by other states. These rewards are expected to come in the form of tangible benefits - foreign aid, trade, and investment - and intangible benefits such as praise, acceptance, and legitimacy. Surprisingly, these explanations for ratification have never been tested empirically. We summarize and clarify the theoretical underpinnings of "reward-for-ratification" theories and test these propositions empirically by looking for increased international aid, economic agreements and public praise and recognition following ratification of four prominent human rights treaties. We find almost no evidence that states can expect increased tangible or intangible rewards after ratification. Given the lack of empirical support, alternative explanations seem more appealing for understanding human rights treaty ratification.
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Simmons, Beth, and Judith Kelley. Forthcoming.

Politics by Number: Indicators as Social Pressure in International Relations

, American Journal of Political Science.Abstract
The ability to monitor state behavior has become a critical tool of international governance. Systematic monitoring allows for the creation of numerical indicators that can be used to rank, compare and essentially censure states. This article argues that the ability to disseminate such numerical indicators widely and instantly constitutes an exercise of social power, with the potential to change important policy outputs. It explores this argument in the context of the United States’ efforts to combat trafficking in persons and find evidence that monitoring has important effects: countries are more likely to criminalize human trafficking when they are included in the US annual Trafficking in Persons Report, while countries that are placed on a “watch list” are also more likely to criminalize. These findings have broad implications for international governance and the exercise of soft power in the global information age.
kelley_and_simmons_ajps.pdf
Asad, Asad, and Tamara Kay. Forthcoming.

Theorizing the Relationship Between NGOs and the State in Medical Humanitarian Development Projects

, Social Science and Medicine: 1-9. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Social scientists have fiercely debated the relationship between non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the state in NGO-led development projects. However, this research often carries an implicit, and often explicit, anti-state bias, suggesting that when NGOs collaborate with states, they cease to be a progressive force. This literature thus fails to recognize the state as a complex, heterogeneous, and fragmented entity. In particular, the unique political context within which an NGO operates is likely to influence how it carries out its work. In this article, we ask: how do NGOs work and build relationships with different types of states and – of particular relevance to practitioners – what kinds of relationship building lead to more successful development outcomes on the ground? Drawing on 29 in-depth interviews with members of Partners in Health and Oxfam America conducted between September 2010 and February 2014, we argue that NGOs and their medical humanitarian projects are more likely to succeed when they adjust how they interact with different types of states through processes of interest harmonization and negotiation. We offer a theoretical model for understanding how these processes occur across organizational fields. Specifically, we utilize field overlap theory to illuminate how successful outcomes depend on NGOs' ability to leverage resources – alliances and networks; political, financial, and cultural resources; and frames – across state and non-state fields. By identifying how NGOs can increase the likelihood of project success, our research should be of interest to activists, practitioners, and scholars.
aasad_ngos.pdf
2015
Simmons, Beth A, and Cosette Creamer. 2015. , in International Studies Association. New Orleans, Louisiana.
Human rights treaty bodies have for many years now been criticized as useless and self-reporting widely viewed as a whitewash. Yet very little research explores what, if any, influence this periodic review process has on governments’ implementation of and compliance with treaty obligations. We argue oversight committees may play an important role by providing information for international and domestic audiences. This paper examines the effects of self-reporting and oversight review, using original data on the quality and responsiveness of reports submitted to the Committee Against Torture (CmAT) and a dynamic approach to strengthen causal inference about the effects of the periodic review process on rights practices. We find that the review process in fact does reduce the incidence of torture in self-reporting states. Furthermore, we find that local media attention to the process in Latin American spikes during the review process, consistent with domestic awareness and mobilization made possible by media attention to torture practices and treaty obligations. Thus, this is the first study to present positive evidence on the effects of self-reporting on torture outcomes, contrary to the many studies that assert the process is basically useless.
creamersimmons_isa2015.pdf
Baum, Matthew, and Yuri M Zhukov. 2015. , Journal of Peace Research.
Reporting bias–the media’s tendency to systematically underreport or overreport certain types of events–is a persistent problem for participants and observers of armed conflict. We argue that the nature of reporting bias depends on how news organizations navigate the political context in which they are based. Where government pressure on the media is limited–in democratic regimes–the scope of reporting should reflect conventional media preferences toward novel, large-scale, dramatic developments that challenge the conventional wisdom and highlight the unsustainability of the status quo. Where political constraints on reporting are more onerous–in non-democratic regimes–the more conservative preferences of the state will drive the scope of coverage, emphasizing the legitimacy and inevitability of the prevailing order. We test these propositions using new data on protest and political violence during the 2011 Libyan uprising and daily newspaper coverage of the Arab Spring from 113 countries. We uncover evidence of a status-quo media bias in non-democratic states, and a revisionist bias in democratic states. Media coverage in non-democracies underreported protests and nonviolent collective action by regime opponents, largely ignored government atrocities, and overreported those caused by rebels. We find the opposite patterns in democratic states.
journal_of_peace_research-2015-baum-0022343314554791.pdf
Beckert, Sven. 2015. Book review: ‘Empire of Cotton: A Global History,’ by Sven Beckert, Washington Post. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Global history is very much the fashion in leading university history departments today. Some of them seek to replace courses in Western civilization with classes in global history—but usually such courses have to be team-taught by a variety of specialists, since so few individual academics have such a broad reach. “Empire of Cotton” proves Sven Beckert one of the new elite of genuinely global historians.
Beckert, Sven. 2015. Insights from the Academy: Review of Sven Beckert's Empire of Cotton: A Global History, MSNBC. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Book review of Sven Beckert's Empire of Cotton: A Global History.
Beckert, Sven. 2015. The Turbulent Reign of King Cotton: The Dark History of One of the World’s Most Important Commodities, The Spectator. Publisher's VersionAbstract
A review of Empire of Cotton by Sven Beckert reveals that while Britain abolished the slave trade in the early 19th century, 50 years later its cotton industry still depended on American slave-labour.
Beckert, Sven. 2015. , The Economist.
Good economic history tells dramatic stories of ingenuity and aspiration, greed and national self-interest. Sven Beckert writes good economic history. But why cotton? Mr Beckert’s answer is that for 900 years, until 1900, it was the world’s most important manufacturing industry. Cotton is relevant now because the story explains how and why an industry goes global. It is a story of wildly fluctuating fortunes, from stunning wealth to dire social disasters.
Pande, Rohini. 2015. , Harvard Magazine.
In December 2012, thousands of protesters flooded the streets of cities across India, demanding a safer environment for women. A 23-year-old female student had died from injuries sustained 13 days earlier, when six men raped and savagely beat her on a Delhi bus. The case gained international attention, and since then South Asian media have reported dozens more horrifying instances of violence against women, several involving tourists: a Danish woman was gang-raped in Delhi after asking for directions back to her hotel, and an American was raped while hitchhiking in the Himalayas.
2014
Harley, Alicia, Sharmila Murthy, Laura Diaz Anadon, Gabriel Chan, Kira Matus, Suerie Moon, Vanessa Timmer, and William C Clark. 2014. Innovation and Access to Technologies for Sustainable Development: A Global Systems Perspective, in Innovation and Access to Technologies for Sustainable Development: A Global Perspective. Cambridge, MA. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This workshop report is a summary of themes discussed by five panels during a daylong workshop on “Innovation and Access to Technologies for Sustainable Development: A global Perspective” at Harvard University on April 24, 2014. The workshop brought together a diverse group of scholars to explore how the technological innovation needed for sustainable development can be promoted in ways that assure equitable access in current and future generations. Three key themes that emerged from the workshop include: (1) The central role of power, politics and agency in analyzing technological innovation and sustainable development—an important aspect of this includes the articulation of the roles of actors and organizations within frameworks and models of innovation systems. (2) The importance of focusing both on supply-push and demand-pull mechanisms in innovation scholarship and innovation policy. (3) The need to focus more innovation scholarship around the goals of sustainable development.
Frieden, Jeffry. 2014.

The Crisis and Beyond: Prospects for International Economic Cooperation

, in Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze and Centre for Economic Policy Research Joint Conference. Harvard DASH repositoryAbstract
An integrated world economy requires cooperation among major economic powers. Without determined cooperation among the principal powers, globalization is unlikely to survive the inevitable shocks to which it is subjected. The world faces a difficult adjustment to reduce the macroeconomic imbalances that were a major cause of the current crisis. This means reducing the surpluses of the major surplus countries in East Asia and Europe, and reducing the deficits of the major deficit countries in North America and Europe. Both processes require substantial domestic economic changes; economies and people will be tempted to turn inward, and governments will be tempted to reduce the priority they give to their external ties. This increases the risks of a breakdown in international cooperation. Historical precedent is instructive. During the interwar period, a global macroeconomic imbalance was a major cause of the eventual economic catastrophe. During the 1920s, Germany borrowed heavily from the United States. But when a crisis hit, it turned out that neither country was politically prepared to maintain cooperative policies. Americans, focused on domestic concerns, were unwilling to help work out a cooperative resolution of the crisis. Germany exploded into social and political unrest and ended up in the hands of rabid nationalists and protectionists. The problem was political: a lack of domestic support for the sacrifices necessary to maintain international cooperation. As the crisis winds down and post-crisis adjustment begins, major governments will be challenged to work together to support a well-functioning international economy. They will need to address the concerns of constituents who will chafe at the economic changes forced upon them. Governments that can build domestic political support for international economic engagement will be in a stronger position to work to sustain an integrated global economy.
jfrieden_crisis_and_beyond.pdf
Airoldi, Adele. 2014. . Copenhagen: Nordisk Ministerråd.
The report analyses the policy statements on Arctic issues released from 2010 by the EU institutions and the EU’s role-building in the Arctic political framework, notably the Arctic Council. It describes how the EU’s role in the Arctic is seen in strategies and policy papers of Member States, and reports on the EU’s relations with other Arctic actors, particularly indigenous peoples. It gives an overall view of the status of the main EU policies with relevance for the Arctic and identifies the main challenges the EU has to face for progressing to an integrated and coherent Arctic policy.
Aberbach, David. 2014. Walt Whitman, European National Poetry, and the Revolutions of 1848-49, in .Abstract
The failure of the 1848-49 European revolutions was crucial in the evolution of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Whitman shared the revolutionary spirit of 1848-49, portraying an ideal America of unique and growing diversity. How does Whitman as an American national poet with revolutionary sympathies compare with his European contemporaries, such as Mickiewicz of Poland, Petőfi of Hungary, or Shevchenko of Ukraine? Whitman sympathized with liberal European revolution, but not with European xenophobia, which after 1848 was increasingly associated with nationalism and the poetry of nationalism. Whitman is spiritually closest not to European national poets but to poets of the East such as Tagore and Iqbal. His identification with America as heir to xenophobic, dying Europe took added force from his father’s death. Whitman, despairing at the reality of American politics in the 1840s and 1850s, sought an idealized freedom of the Self in a universalist mystical vision. The tolerant inclusiveness of Whitman’s poetry found a practical outlet in the Civil War, in his saintly, self-sacrificing behaviour as a hospital nurse and the expression in his poetry of the horror, not glory, of war. Through his inner conflicts, in which his sexual identity was central, Whitman spoke for the uncertainties of American national identity after 1848. Whitman’s poetry revealed his power, and that of the Nation, to contain and resolve painful contradictions and grow through them; and in this way, too, a multicultural America could emerge.
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Currency Politics: The Political Economy of Exchange Rate Policy
Frieden, Jeffry A. 2014. Currency Politics: The Political Economy of Exchange Rate Policy. Princeton University Press.Abstract
The exchange rate is the most important price in any economy, since it affects all other prices. Exchange rates are set, either directly or indirectly, by government policy. Exchange rates are also central to the global economy, for they profoundly influence all international economic activity. Despite the critical role of exchange rate policy, there are few definitive explanations of why governments choose the currency policies they do. Filled with in-depth cases and examples, Currency Politics presents a comprehensive analysis of the politics surrounding exchange rates. Identifying the motivations for currency policy preferences on the part of industries seeking to influence politicians, Jeffry Frieden shows how each industry's characteristics--including its exposure to currency risk and the price effects of exchange rate movements--determine those preferences. Frieden evaluates the accuracy of his theoretical arguments in a variety of historical and geographical settings: he looks at the politics of the gold standard, particularly in the United States, and he examines the political economy of European monetary integration. He also analyzes the politics of Latin American currency policy over the past forty years, and focuses on the daunting currency crises that have frequently debilitated Latin American nations, including Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil. With an ambitious mix of narrative and statistical investigation, Currency Politics clarifies the political and economic determinants of exchange rate policies.
Beckert, Sven. 2014. Capitalism, As Woven Through Cotton, International New York Times. Publisher's VersionAbstract
After a quarter-century of tightly focused studies, historians are addressing extended periods of time and the global dimensions of history. As Thomas Piketty did in “Capital in the 21st Century,”his excellent recent study of wealth and inequality, Sven Beckert takes the long view in “Empire of Cotton: A Global History.” Mr. Beckert’s book is more broadly framed and more readable, but at its heart, as in Mr. Piketty’s book, is inequality.
Beckert, Sven. 2014. ‘Empire of Cotton,’ by Sven Beckert, International New York Times. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The history of an era often seems defined by a particular commodity. The 18th century certainly belonged to sugar. The race to cultivate it in the West Indies was, in the words of the French Enlightenment writer Guillaume-Thomas de Raynal, “the principal cause of the rapid movement which stirs the Universe.” In the 20th century and beyond, the commodity has been oil: determining events from the Allied partitioning of the Middle East after World War I to Hitler’s drive for Balkan and Caspian wells to the forging of our own fateful ties to the regimes of the Persian Gulf.
der Manuelian, Peter. 2014. Semitic Museum Honors Founder in Compelling Exhibition, Boston Globe. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Harvard University’s Semitic Museum, lately undergoing an exciting resurgence, was founded in 1889 by Professor David Gordon Lyon. A southern Baptist from Alabama, Lyon was a charismatic scholar of ancient Mesopotamian scripts, and one of Harvard’s more dynamic and vital figures in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.