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Reflections on Memory and Democracy
Grindle, Merilee S., and Erin E. Goodman, ed. 2016. Reflections on Memory and Democracy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Publisher's Version Abstract

What is the role of history in the life of new democracies? In this volume, twelve reflections—the work of journalists, writers and poets, literary critics, political scientists, historians, philosophers, economists, and linguists—explore legacies of authoritarian political regimes noted for repression and injustice, questioning how collective experiences of violence shape memory and its relevance for contemporary social and political life in Latin America. The past matters deeply, the essayists agree, but the past itself is debatable and ambiguous. Avoiding its repetition introduces elusive and contested terrain; there are, indeed, many histories, many memories, and many ways they can be reflected in democratic contexts. In much of contemporary Latin America, this difficult past has not yet been fully confronted, and much remains to be done in reconciling memory and democracy throughout the region. As this is done, the lessons of the past must contribute not only to the construction of democratic institutions, but also to the engagement of democratic citizens in the collective work of governance and participation.

The Arab Spring: Pathways of Repression and Reform
Brownlee, Jason, Tarek Masoud, and Andrew Reynolds. 2015. The Arab Spring: Pathways of Repression and Reform. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Publisher's Version Abstract
Several years after the Arab Spring began, democracy remains elusive in the Middle East. The Arab Spring that resides in the popular imagination is one in which a wave of mass mobilization swept the broader Middle East, toppled dictators, and cleared the way for democracy. The reality is that few Arab countries have experienced anything of the sort. While Tunisia made progress towards some type of constitutionally entrenched participatory rule, the other countries that overthrew their rulers Egypt, Yemen, and Libyaremain mired in authoritarianism and instability. Elsewhere in the Arab world uprisings were suppressed, subsided or never materialized.

The Arab Springs modest harvest cries out for explanation. Why did regime change take place in only four Arab countries and why has democratic change proved so elusive in the countries that made attempts? This book attempts to answer those questions. First, by accounting for the full range of variance: from the absence or failure of uprisings in such places as Algeria and Saudi Arabia at one end to Tunisias rocky but hopeful transition at the other. Second, by examining the deep historical and structure variables that determined the balance of power between incumbents and opposition.

Brownlee, Masoud, and Reynolds find that the success of domestic uprisings depended on the absence of a hereditary executive and a dearth of oil rents. Structural factors also cast a shadow over the transition process. Even when opposition forces toppled dictators, prior levels of socioeconomic development and state strength shaped whether nascent democracy, resurgent authoritarianism, or unbridled civil war would follow.

Fallon, Kathleen M, Liam Swiss, and Jocelyn Viterna. 2012. “Resolving the Democracy Paradox: Democratization and Women’s Legislative Representation in Developing Nations, 1975-2009.” American Sociological Review 77 (3): 380-408. Abstract

Increasing levels of democratic freedoms should, in theory, improve women’s access to political positions. Yet studies demonstrate that democracy does little to improve women’s legislative representation. To resolve this paradox, we investigate how variations in the democratization process—including pre-transition legacies, historical experiences with elections, the global context of transition, and post-transition democratic freedoms and quotas—affect women’s representation in developing nations. We find that democratization’s effect is curvilinear. Women in non-democratic regimes often have high levels of legislative representation but little real political power. When democratization occurs, women’s representation initially drops, but with increasing democratic freedoms and additional elections, it increases again. The historical context of transition further moderates these effects. Prior to 1995, women’s representation increased most rapidly in countries transitioning from civil strife—but only when accompanied by gender quotas. After 1995 and the Beijing Conference on Women, the effectiveness of quotas becomes more universal, with the exception of post- communist countries. In these nations, quotas continue to do little to improve women’s representation. Our results, based on pooled time series analysis from 1975 to 2009, demonstrate that it is not democracy—as measured by a nation’s level of democratic freedoms at a particular moment in time—but rather the democratization process that matters for women’s legislative representation.

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When Steven Levitsky talks politics, a boyish enthusiasm takes over. It’s hardly surprising. He fell in love with the topic at the age of 5.

The New York native’s passion for the workings of governments derived from an uncle, a social worker with a keen political eye who liked to discuss the Middle East with his young nephew.

“It’s a passion that I grew up with... and I certainly give my uncle the credit, or the blame,” Levitsky, professor of government at Harvard, said with a laugh.

The intensity is palpable when he discusses his 2003 work, “Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America: Argentine Peronism in Comparative Perspective,” the book that developed out of his Ph.D. dissertation. The work examines Peronism—the political movement created by Juan Peron in the 1940s that incorporates social democracy and nationalism—and the radical shifts in its ideology during the past 30 years.

Traditionally the voice of the poor and of labor and trade unions in Argentina—and largely hated by the middle classes and wealthier sectors of society—the movement switched from a fairly statist populist party in the 1980s to one responsible for carrying out radical free market reforms in the 1990s, said Levitsky. Recently, it has shifted dramatically again, moving back toward the left.

“It’s a party that did a programmatic 180 and I wanted to explain how it did that. Political parties aren’t supposed to go from Reaganism to Ted Kennedy liberalism overnight, and that is basically what the Peronists did.”

To understand the shifts, Levitsky spent a year and a half in Argentina meeting and interviewing party members. He found that both the movement’s massive membership (deeply entrenched in the working class) and its loosely structured organization help explain the recent changes.

“The rules and procedures that structure party life: how to choose candidates, how to make decisions, how to choose a platform—all of that stuff is constantly up in the air,” he said.

But such turbulence, while chaotic, he noted, can be beneficial.

“It makes for quite a bit of flexibility. It allows the party, at least under certain circumstances, to adapt much more quickly than more bureaucratic parties.”

The young professor, who never took an introductory course on comparative politics (the examination of the similarities and differences of governments) as an undergraduate at Stanford because of its “deadly boring” reputation, is dedicated to teaching the subject in a compelling way.

To engage his class, Levitsky examines four topics: revolution, economic development, democracy, and ethnic conflict, all in a contemporary context. Students compare and evaluate different theories in an effort to understand the reasons behind ethnic violence in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, social revolutions in Russia and Iran, and democratic reform in South Africa. His course’s steadily rising enrollment numbers is an indication of the effectiveness of his approach.

“Comparative politics,” he said on a recent afternoon in his cluttered office, “is inherently sexy; it’s really exciting.”

It was global political turmoil occurring in Levitsky’s formative years that drew him toward Central and Latin America.

In high school and early on in college, the drama of the Nicaraguan civil war and events in El Salvador inspired him to get personally involved. His opposition to the United States’ efforts to overthrow the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and U.S. support for the military-backed government in El Salvador led him to take part in protests, join letter-writing campaigns, and participate in what he calls his greatest contribution: “guerilla theater.” Levitsky and his friends would dress in fatigues, storm the college cafeteria, kidnap a diner who was in on the plan, and hand out leaflets that stated such abductions were a regular occurrence in El Salvador.

His interest in the conflict led to a trip to the country in 1989, where he conducted research for his undergraduate thesis; it was a trip that sealed his academic fate.

“Just jumping in the middle of things and talking to people was absolutely decisive in my choice to go on and become a scholar. I had no real training in research, but the experience of being there and sticking my nose in the middle of politics was a very powerful one for me.”

Levitsky entered graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1992, about a year after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The “momentous time,” he recalled, pulled him again toward Latin America as the demise of the socialist model of the USSR forced the region’s labor-based and leftist parties to re-evaluate their approach.

“The world was really being thrown up in the air. I knew from early on that I wanted to study this question of how labor-based parties, particularly in Latin America, were responding to globalization.”

The avid Mets fan who proudly displays a baseball signed by Willie Mays on his desk, met his wife during his graduate school years. After attending one of his talks where he described Peru’s government as an “authoritarian democracy,” Liz, a Peruvian journalist studying at Berkeley for a year, challenged him a week later.

“She started ripping into my talk,” he said, “and I immediately fell in love.”

Today the couple has a daughter, Alejandra, who seems to be following in her father’s passionate political footsteps. During the primary season, when Levitsky and his wife were split about supporting Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, their then 4-year-old adamantly weighed in one morning at breakfast.

“She jumped into the discussion,” said Levitsky, “pounded her fist on the table and said, ‘No! We’re all voting for Obama!’”

Back in class, Levitsky said he hopes to impart his own passion for politics, along with a lesson about critical thinking. Surprised by how many first-year undergraduates enter his class wanting to “know the answer,” he tries to teach them “how to think critically, how to compare and evaluate different arguments.

“The vast majority of the students that I teach are not going to be political scientists,” he said. “They are going to be citizens, and here at Harvard in many cases, fairly influential and powerful citizens, so it means a lot to me to have a small amount of influence into how these guys think, and hopefully get them a little bit more engaged in politics.”

Most studies find that the substantial cross-national variation in women's legislative representation is not explained by cross-national differences in socioeconomic development. By contrast, this note demonstrates that economic development does matter. Rather than looking for across-the-board general effects, we follow Matland (1998), and analyze developed and developing nations separately. We find that accepted explanations fit rich nations better than poor nations, and obscure the effects of democracy on women's representation in the developing world. We call for new theoretical models that better explain women's political representation within developing nations, and we suggest that democracy should be central to future models.
Marks, Stephen, and Kathleen A. Modrowski. 2008. Human Rights Cities: Civic Engagement for Societal Development. UN HABITAT and PDHRE. Publisher's Version Abstract

This publication reviews one strategy that addresses both a broader and a narrower dimension of urban poverty. The Human Rights Cities Program is not directed toward securing legal title as a means of protecting the urban poor from market eviction and gentrification or to catalyze investment in low-income housing. It is rather a broader strategy of empowering inhabitants of communities to find collectively the ways and means of ensuring respect for their human rights, including the right to adequate housing, component elements of which are security of tenure, access to basic urban services, transport and mobility, financial services and credit, women’s empowerment, urban citizenship, income and livelihoods. It is thus a broader strategy than securing legal tenure.

Clark, William C, Michael Devereux, and Henry Lee. 2008. “Biofuels and Sustainable Development”. Abstract

The goals and concerns surrounding the debate over government policies related to the greater use and production of biofuels were addressed in an executive session convened by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the Venice International University on May 19-20, 2008. The session attracted more than 25 of the world's leading experts from the fields of policy, science, and business to San servolo Island for an intensive two day session (see Appendix A for a list of the participants). The discussions were off-the-record, with each participant present in his or her own capacity, rather than representing an organization. The session was one in a series on Grand Challenges of the Sustainability Transition organized by the Sustainability Science Program at Harvard University with the generous support of the Italian Ministry for Environment, Land, and Sea. This particular session was held as part of the Ministry's ongoing work with the Global Bioenergy Program established at the G8 Gleneagles Summit in 2005. This summary report of the session is our synthesis of the main points and arguments that emerged from the discussions. It does not represent a consensus document, since no effort was made at the Session to arrive at a a single consensus view. Rather, we report here on what we heard to be the major themes discussed at the session. Any errors or misrepresentations remain solely our responsibility.

Also CID Working Paper No. 174 and BCSIA Working Paper, July 2008.

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Field, Erica M., Nava Ashraf, and Jean N. Lee. 2007. “Gender, Intrahousehold Decisionmaking, and the Demand for Children”. Abstract

We present evidence from a field experiment in Lusaka, Zambia that male involvement in the decision to seek out family planning services leads to substantial reductions in utilization. This phenomenon appears to be driven by average differences by gender in the demand for children rather than by a general distrust of or lack of information about family planning technologies among men. Study participants were offered a voucher that granted access to an appointment with a family planning nurse without a wait in line. Demand for family planning services is high, as evidenced by the 41 percent overall rate at which these vouchers were redeemed. Women were randomly assigned to receive the voucher either by themselves in private, or together with their husbands. Takeup among women assigned to receive the vouchers with their husbands was 9 percentage points (18 percent) lower than among women randomly assigned to receive the vouchers alone. We find evidence that this reduction in takeup was larger if husbands wanted more children than their wives, and stronger evidence that this reduction was larger among young couples than among older couples with completed fertility. There is no evidence that assignment to couples treatment reduces voucher use for women whose husbands want no more children, and evidence for a 12 percentage point reduction in use in the subsample of women whose husbands do want more children. Taken together, these results suggest that the unitary and collective bargaining models do not sufficiently richly describe the bargaining process over fertility within the household. Furthermore, policies or technologies that shift relative control of contraceptive methods from men to women may significantly increase contraceptive use and reduce average fertility in some contexts.

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Hall, Peter A., and Kathleen Thelen. 2007. “Institutional Change in Varieties of Capitalism”. Abstract

Comparative political economists have become deeply interested in processes of institutional change, and especially in those taking place in response to the opening of world markets associated with 'globalization' (Pierson 2001; Djelic and Quack 2003; Rieger and Leibfried 2003; Campbell 2004). They are asking a number of questions. When do the institutions of the political economy change? What factors drive change? Are changes in the international economy enforcing institutional convergence on the developed economies?

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Newland, Kathleen, and Adrian Fortescue. 2004. “A hard line on visas can only harm America”. Publisher's Version Abstract

Not since the Vietnam war has international public opinion about America sunk so low. US officials praise "American values" when abroad, but they are competing with images of prisoner abuse and torture, and even Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Moore's wildly successful anti-Bush polemic.

The best way to counter such negative views has been to encourage others to come and see for themselves the strengths of American society. But in this particular battle for hearts and minds, the US government is currently engaged in unilateral disarmament. By making admission of foreigners so difficult and intimidating, America is depriving itself of a formidable strategic advantage.

The US State Department issued 36 per cent fewer visas in the 2003 fiscal year than in 2001—cutting total visitors by almost 1m. The fall is almost universally attributed to the more stringent security procedures introduced after September 11, 2001. No one questions the need for measures to prevent terrorists entering US territory, but many question whether new entry procedures meet even minimum standards of efficiency and cost effectiveness.

Foremost among the sceptics are US research and educational establishments. Some 560,000 student visas were issued in 2001, but only 474,000 in 2003. US universities depend heavily on foreign graduate students and scholars - especially in mathematics, the sciences and engineering. In May, more than 20 professional associations representing some 95 per cent of the US research community made an unprecedented joint declaration describing the current visa-processing logjam as a crisis. Larry Summers, Harvard's president, warned in April that if visa procedures remained so complicated and lengthy, "we risk losing some of our most talented scientists and compromising our country's position at the forefront of technological innovation".

American business has been somewhat less vocal than the universities, but the fact remains that immigrants accounted for half the growth of the US labour force in the last decade. In addition, US companies are finding it harder to move international staff in and out of the US for meetings and assignments; potential business partners are discouraged from visiting to make deals and start new ventures. US business leaders say the new obstacles have cost them billions.

Casual visitors are also important to the US economy. The travel and tourism industry, catering to US residents as well as foreign visitors, employs one of every eight people in the US civilian labour force. Visitors spend more than Dollars 80bn (Pounds 43bn) a year on travel to the US and once there generate extra sales and tax revenue in excess of Dollars 90bn.

The State Department has moved to expedite visas for students and scholars. But a much more focused, government-wide effort aimed at all kinds of visitors is needed. Special procedures for "low-risk" repeat visitors should be created. The visa process needs to be streamlined and properly staffed, its costs to applicants reduced, its technological tools upgraded and its consistency assured through clear guidelines.

Issuing visas remains the classic entry-level job for young foreign service officers—a relic of the days when it was considered a function in which one could do little harm. The US needs a professional corps of visa officers, who can accumulate knowledge and experience.

If the steps taken are inadequate, many more potential visitors undoubtedly will decide to go elsewhere—to Australia or Canada or Europe—for leisure, study or business. Universities in the English-speaking world, in particular, have a serious opportunity to fill the gap left by America's obstacle course. Rather than ratcheting up fees for foreign students, they should be courting the world's best and brightest to join their science and engineering faculties and then move on to research institutions and companies.

After the second world war America grew to world-beating prominence in part by attracting talent from all over the world to its critical nodes of scientific research, entrepreneurship and industry. Its post-September 11 failure of nerve may be a moment of high opportunity for Europe and other countries. The US is not the only country to have suffered at the hands of terrorists, but it seems to be uniquely intent on supplementing them with wounds of the self-inflicted variety.

Kathleen Newland is director of the Migration Policy Institute in Washington; Adrian Fortescue, a visiting fellow at Harvard University, was director-general for justice and home affairs of the European Commission until 2003.
Bawn, Kathleen, and Frances Rosenbluth. 2002. “Coalition Parties versus Coalitions of Parties: How Electoral Agency Shapes the Political Logic of Costs and Benefits.” Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. Boston. Abstract

This paper argues that governments formed from post–election coalitions (majority coalition governments in PR systems) and pre–election coalitions (majority parties in SMD systems) aggregate the interests of voters in systematically different ways. We show that the multiple policy dimensional policy space that emerges from PR motivates parties in the government coalition to logroll projects among themselves without internalizing the costs in the way that a majoritarian party would. We further show that, although centrifugal electoral incentives dominate in PR systems, some incentives towards coalescence across groups and across parties exist through the greater likelihood that large parties have in becoming a member of a minimal winning coalition of parties. The model predicts that the size of the public sector should should be larger in PR systems. This prediction is tested using data from the 1970's–90's in 17 European countries.


The first part of this paper critically examines existing explanations for institutional innovation on the one hand and economic reform measures on the other, and offers an alternative, synthetic explanation for understanding the relationship between them. The second section derives hypotheses for disaggregating the political economic dynamics of institutional creation and durability, and illustrates the empirical manifestation of these dynamics through various "observations" 7 of financial institutional innovation in Wenzhou. The final section frames Wenzhou’s apparent exceptionalism in comparative perspective both within and beyond China.

Tsai, Kellee S. "Curbed Markets? Financial Innovation and Policy Innovation in China's Coastal South." Working Paper 98–06, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, May 1998.

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