Fall 2018, Volume 33 Number 1

Image of Fall 2018 Centerpiece coverThis fall, the Weatherhead Center celebrates its sixtieth anniversary! Center Director Michèle Lamont summarizes just how far the WCFIA has come over the years—and where it's headed in the future—in her Message from the Director. The fall 2018 issue also highlights the Center's recent activities, including the Samuel L. and Elizabeth Jodidi Lecture on "Democracy’s Crisis: On the Political Contradictions of Financialized Capitalism," delivered by Professor Nancy Fraser of the New School. We share engaging summer thesis reports from four of our undergraduates, who traveled to Siberia, Indonesia, Switzerland, and Kenya, in our annual feature Dispatches. Several of our programs, initiatives, and clusters take stock of their recent events and provide insight to their vision looking forward. And as per usual, we share new books written by WCFIA faculty and affiliates, and include just a sampling of our affiliates' accolades in our Of Note section. Finally, make sure to click through our Photo Gallery to see what an eventful semester we have had. 

Message from the Director
By Michèle Lamont

The Weatherhead Center has played a capital role in the development of the social sciences at Harvard and nationally at various historical periods. The leadership of those who have preceded me has left its indelible mark on the research agenda in international relations early on, as detailed in the book, In Theory and In Practice: Harvard’s Center for International Affairs 1958–1983. Three years into my term as director of the Weatherhead Center (with a half-year as acting director in 2014), I take the opportunity of this anniversary edition of Centerpiece to take stock and discuss possible paths for the future...

Democracy’s Crisis: On the Political Contradictions of Financialized Capitalism
By Nancy Fraser

We are currently facing a crisis of democracy. That much is beyond dispute. What is less well understood, however, is that this crisis is not freestanding, and its sources do not lie exclusively in the political realm. Contra bien-pensant commonsense, it cannot be solved by restoring civility, cultivating bipartisanship, opposing tribalism, or defending truth-oriented, fact-based discourse. Nor, contra recent democratic theory, can our political crisis be resolved by reforming the political realm—not by strengthening “the democratic ethos,” reactivating “the constituent power,” unleashing the force of “agonism” or fostering “democratic iterations.”1 All these proposals fall prey to an error I call “politicism.” By analogy with economism, politicist thinking overlooks the causal force of extra-political society. Treating the political order as self-determining, it fails to problematize the larger societal matrix that generates its deformations...

Dispatches: Undergraduate Researchers in the Field

Last spring, sixteen Harvard College students received travel grants from the Weatherhead Center to support their thesis field research on topics related to international affairs. Since their return in September, the Weatherhead Center has encouraged these Undergraduate Associates to take advantage of the Center’s research community by connecting with graduate students, faculty, postdocs, and visiting scholars. Early in the spring semester on February 7–8, 2019, the students will present their research in a conference that is open to the Harvard community. Four Undergraduate Associates write of their experiences in the field last summer...

At the Center

Centerpiece Fall 2018, Volume 33 Number 11.2 MB