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The following advanced Ph.D candidates and recent graduates of our Ph.D program are currently on the academic job market (2016-2017):
Abstract: While decades have passed since 1994’s Violence Against Women Act, do we still see American judges employing inaccurate, though widely held, myths about rape? In recent years sexual assault has become an increasingly contested social and political issue, yet both inside and outside academia this question remains unsettled. This dissertation resolves this issue by undertaking a critical analysis of judicial opinions discussing violence against women in the American states. It explores the demographic, institutional, and political correlates of this discourse, and uses the results of these examinations to explore how rape myth use by judges can be reduced.
XIAODONG FANG (Website)
"Anti-China Rhetoric, Presidential Elections and U.S. Foreign Policy Towards China"
Abstract: My dissertation addresses two fundamental questions: (1) what is the effect of anti-China rhetoric on American presidential elections? And (2) what is the effect of anti-China rhetoric on American foreign policy towards China? To answer these questions, I build a time-series-cross-sectional model of campaign effects and conduct a qualitative analysis of foreign policy. My statistical and qualitative analyses generate three findings. First, airing ads using anti-China rhetoric increases a presidential candidate’s voter support in target states; second, the administration is more likely to develop tough foreign policy towards China when there is more anti-China rhetoric by presidential candidates; and third, anti-China rhetoric during an election year negatively affects American opinions of China but produces a positive impact on U.S.-China relations.
Abstract: Does segregation help or hurt support for public education? Previous literature has identified diversity, and more recently segregation, as key predictors for spending less on public goods. Because of schools' historical legacy with segregation, segregation could play a very different role in funding public education. The first article in my dissertation tests this with data on 11,000 school districts in the United States from 1995 to 2011. Using multi-level models with a state-school district nested design, I find that white-black segregation leads to more investment in public education while white-Hispanic segregation, as well as segregation by income, has no effect. This result is robust across a broad array of alternative specifications, including an instrumental variable analysis using the number of years after an overturned court desegregation order as an instrument for school segregation. The results imply that segregation is still shaping public education. In addition to looking at the contact and proximity of different racial/ethnic groups, my dissertation looks at the role of the state in mediating the effect of diversity and the effect of segregation on voter turnout.
Abstract: My current project is on the party-factional dynamics behind election reform. I focus on proportional representation (PR) in American cities, 1915-61. Working from the perspective of policy-seeking party factions, I analyze PR's adoption, repeal, and implications for coalition stability. Mixed-method comparison of rule-change episodes shows that PR enactment requires an alliance between ruling-party defectors and one or more opposing parties. Using roll-call scaling techniques and archival records from three representative cities (Cincinnati, Ohio, 1929-57; New York City, 1938-47; and Worcester, Massachusetts, 1950-61), I show how PR fell when large, non-plurality factions lost bargaining power. I then combine the roll calls with electoral data to show how PR let insurgent factions reshape legislative coalitions. Legislative behavior matters for voting-rule change, and PR's price is a veto for the second-largest faction.
"Political Institutions and the Populist Syndrome: Latin America and Post-communist Europe in Comparative Perspective"
Abstract: While the recent rise of mainstream populism around the world has received abundant scholarly and media attention, analysis has mostly remained focused on intra-regional comparisons instead of seeking to identify and explain, more generally, patterns that are similar across regions. Addressing this gap, my dissertation first proposes that there are analogous political dynamics behind the rise and modalities of Bolivarian populism in Latin America and national populism in post-communist Europe, two distinct parts of the world that democratized their polities and liberalized their economies simultaneously. Using a mixed methods research design and drawing on over 100 interviews conducted during fieldwork in four countries, I then analyze the variation between populist radicalism and populist moderation in the two regions by highlighting historical path dependencies. I argue that while populist radicalism in Ecuador and Poland is a consequence of the radicalization of key societal forces – such as organized and illiberal farmers – whose discontent became prominent in the context of political democracy in the 1990s, populist moderation in Peru and Slovakia followed a logic of “social-liberalization” in the aftermath of competitive authoritarianism during the same period. Overall and differently from most recent literature, which focuses on the illiberal outcomes associated with personalistic populist phenomena, the dissertation analyzes the political and societal factors behind the modalities of contemporary populisms.
Abstract: Democratization after civil war has a mixed record, frequently resulting in renewed violence or thinly-veiled authoritarianism. This dissertation examines variation in political actors’ wartime capabilities to explain why post-conflict elections facilitate political competition in some cases, but become a vehicle for political dominance in others. Using cross-national statistical analysis and mixed-method studies of Sierra Leone and Mozambique, I find that competitive elections are most likely after conflicts in which multiple actors develop capabilities that can be converted from military to electoral use. The project has implications for how scholars study the political outcomes of conflict, as well as the prospects of success for practitioners trying to foster democratization as a strategy of sustainable peacebuilding.
Abstract: Why do politicians seek the support of citizens residing abroad when those citizens often do not, or cannot, vote? My dissertation explores transnational linkages between diaspora communities and political actors in their countries of origin, using a mixed methods approach. I engaged in archival research, conducted an original survey of Dominican voters in New York, and carried out interviews with politicians, party officials, and campaign strategists in Mexico, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic. Through analyzing the resulting data, and developing a series of hierarchical models of Latin American voter activity, I seek to examine why and how parties in migrant-sending countries engage migrants as a matter of electoral strategy. What advantage do migrants lend parties in elections—particularly if, as evidence shows, their impact through direct voting is minimal—and how do parties seek to exploit and maximize this advantage? I find that politicians seek migrant support not primarily for their votes or for campaign contributions, but rather for the influence they are believed to have over family members in home countries. My statistical models, however, suggest politicians' perceptions of this influence are exaggerated.
Abstract: How do longstanding authoritarian legacies impact political change in the wake of mass uprisings? Much of the scholarship on the Arab political rebellions around 2011 focused on the short-term dynamics of contentious politics rather than the deeper authoritarian structures that shaped political trajectories throughout the Middle East. My dissertation addresses this by examining how institutions of semi-authoritarian governance facilitated “re-autocratization” in Egypt. Drawing on two and a half years of fieldwork, I examine how the military and its allies rallied public support for a new and even more repressive form of governance. I argue that the military’s success at legitimating repression hinged in part on the role of semi-independent media personalities and intellectuals, many of whom served as more credible defenders of reactionary politics than official state mouthpieces. More broadly, the case of Egypt illustrates how limited media liberalization under autocracy can be a double-edged sword for leaders, potentially both justifying repression and enabling contentious politics.
The Gloves Came Off: Lawyers, Policy-Makers, and Norms in the Debate on Torture (forthcoming 2017, Columbia University Press)
Abstract: The 2014 U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report (hereafter “SSCI Report”) detailing the gruesome and counter-productive nature of U.S. detainee treatment in the Global War on Terror (GWOT) raised significant questions about the government’s decision-making around the use of torture. How the Gloves Came Off answers the question of how torture became an acceptable tactic in the GWOT, assessing the legal and national security debates around the treatment of al-Qa‘ida and Taliban detainees. The book explores the contestation of norms from the 1970s to the present, specifically focusing on how the United States went from being the standard-bearer of humane prisoner of war (POW) treatment in the post-Vietnam era to becoming the perpetrator of shocking levels of detainee torture under the guise of “enhanced interrogation techniques” (EITs). Relying on recently declassified memoranda and internal U.S. government documents, How the Gloves Came Off demonstrates that once norms—such as those embodied by the Geneva Conventions—are embedded in society, law, identity, and policy, it is not the end of the story. In fact, it is only the beginning of a new story about domestic contestation and norm struggles. Using the theory of the life cycle of norms, this book will provide a framework to evaluate not only how the United States came to torture captured Taliban and al-Qa‘ida fighters, but also to examine what is next for the United States regarding detainee treatment and international legal compliance.
Abstract: Though nearly all states in the international system are signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the same cannot be said of the more recent nonproliferation agreements meant to advance the goals of the NPT. The project asks: what explains variation in NPT members’ commitment to the nuclear nonproliferation regime? Contrary to recent research that largely points to domestic political variables (such as regime type) to explain institutional commitment, the nuclear nonproliferation regime is best conceptualized as a hegemonic order in which states’ foreign policy preference alignment with the United States explains commitment to the nuclear nonproliferation regime. This research employs quantitative analysis drawn from an original dataset of nuclear nonproliferation commitment indicators and three case studies drawing upon archival sources and expert interviews. The findings suggest this particular regime may be unsustainable without a superpower-backer, leading to questions about the future of nuclear proliferation amidst the relative decline of U.S. economic power.
“Talk Is Not Cheap: China's Assurance and Reassurance Strategy in East Asia"
Abstract: My dissertation investigates whether China’s rhetorical discourse with its neighbors, rather than being “cheap talk,” helped prevent the rise of a regional balancing coalition against China from 1990 to 2010. I argue that China’s rhetoric indeed helped forestall strategic encirclement up until 2010 because its assurances constituted “costly signaling” that raised the price of any future Chinese aggression. When China then became more assertive in the contested waters of the South China Seas in 2010, it started to pay those costs. China’s neighbors started to form a balancing coalition against China rather than bandwagoning with it, beginning to create exactly the kind of encircling coalition that China had worked for decades to prevent. My work examines the discourse between China and six of its neighbors: Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia. I focused on the specific issue areas of domestic politics, foreign policy, defense/military deployment, and Asian leadership.
Abstract: The ‘band of brothers’ that emerges from combat experience and enters the policymaking elite is assumed to share distinct views, and exert specific effects, on U.S. foreign policy. Yet, why those views may emerge remains one of the most significant unasked questions of contemporary policymaking and civil-military analyses. If combat service affects foreign policy preferences, how does it do so? Might it change other policy preferences and behaviors as well, and how might such changes impact U.S. policymaking? This interdisciplinary dissertation introduces a theory of combat-related autonomic nervous system dysregulation to specify a systemic shift in the processing of information that may accompany combat experience. It explores the concepts of hyper- and hypo-aroused ANS dysregulation, and argues that these two powerful states may alter the relationship between the brain’s key decision-making structures such that they predict specific policy preferences and behaviors among veterans better than do prior preferences, party affiliation, or familiarity with combat operations. It tests these hypotheses using an original survey of U.S. Army officers and qualitative case vignettes of veterans in the U.S. policymaking elite, and considers the powerful implications this argument may have as veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan increasingly enter the political sphere.
Abstract: There is a wide degree of variation in how countries behave with respect to international dispute settlement. This includes the time they wait before initiating a dispute, as well as their actions with the dispute settlement process itself. Through a series of three papers, I argue that this variation is influenced by politics that result from the flexible design of these institutions. I tackle three puzzles, focusing on the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement mechanism (DSM): why does the time countries wait to initiate disputes after trade violations vary so widely, why do countries frequently abandon WTO disputes despite their costs, and why is there such a wide degree of variation in the legal strength of disputes at the WTO? First I argue that countries initiate disputes at the WTO as they approach domestic elections, in an effort to gain support from major industries. Second, I argue that countries abandon disputes at the WTO when they are confronted with countersuits. Third, I argue that countries “stack the deck” with weak claims for disputes initiated heavily for political reasons. I test these theories through statistical analysis and find evidence that politics do play a role in all three puzzles. I suggest that the DSM becomes a political escape clause in itself, and show that the design of the WTO DSM allows for unintended politics, while adhering to the overall goals of the institution.
IRENA L. SARGSYAN
"Discourse and Emotion in Sustaining Violent Social Movements during Military Occupations: Iraq, Northern Ireland, and the Palestinian Territories"
Abstract: My dissertation examines seven movements in Iraq (2003–2011), Northern Ireland (1969–1998), and the Palestinian territories (1987–2015) to address the question of how some leaders are able to overcome the collective action problem and sustain violent campaigns that require voluntary risky actions, but others are not. Departing from extant scholarship, this study looks beyond structural opportunities and material incentives that violent actors use to attract followers at the outset and focuses instead on the discursive and emotional motivators of sustained collective violence. I argue that favorable microstructural conditions and emotional appeals from credible leaders with legitimacy among domestic audiences are necessary and jointly sufficient to sustain violent collective action. It is the interaction of discursive psychological variables and microstructural conditions through emotional mechanisms that enables only some leaders to sustain what I term violent social movements (VSMs). I develop a theory of VSMs, using the methods of case- and mechanism-oriented comparisons, within-case process-tracing, discourse analysis, and archival research, while also drawing on my fieldwork in Iraq, Northern Ireland, Israel, and the Palestinian territories. Understanding causal mechanisms that sustain violence and recognizing the attributes that lend legitimacy to leaders and resonance to their messages is crucial to devising effective strategies and counternarratives to delegitimize and defeat VSMs.
"The Timing of Trade Politics"
Abstract: How did the U.S. government liberalize trade despite public opposition? Over the last three decades, the United States forged free trade agreements with countries on five continents, pursuing a strategy of bilateral liberalization while working within GATT/WTO to further reduce trade barriers. But throughout the same period, a majority of Americans opposed efforts to increase trade openness. My dissertation examines this question through three research projects. The first paper reviews the central finding of the trade opinion literature, that individual interests and attitudes shape personal preferences about trade, and finds that only a small subset of voters, the highly politically aware, have settled opinions about trade because they adopt the views of political elites. The second paper demonstrates that, rather than claiming credit for liberal trade policies as prior research would predict, pro-trade politicians either avoid the issue entirely on the campaign trail or actively feign support for protectionism. However, because trade is rarely locally salient, politicians do not suffer electorally for their pro-trade votes, even when those positions conflict with the economic interests of their districts. The third paper finds that exporters from developing states that are strategically important to the United States – democracies, allies, major aid recipients, and countries that are wedded to the U.S.-led liberal order – are more likely to use the Generalized System of Preferences. This is due to conditionality: the U.S. can remove beneficiary countries for a range of reasons, and exporters from states that are not tied to the U.S. fear being suspended from the program.
Abstract: Militant groups exist in a complex system in which they both cooperate and compete. This creates dynamic networks that shape group incentives and behavior. By understanding the complex system, we uncover how local interventions impact global violence. My dissertation comprises three papers.
Paper 1: “The Effects of Militant Networks on Group Behavior” – The structure of the militant group alliance network shapes the ways that goods and vulnerabilities flow between groups. I find that more centralized networks with well-connected groups at the center and poorly connected groups at the periphery produce greater tactics diffusion and lethality. Moreover, central groups in centralized networks are more capable than central groups in decentralized networks.
Paper 2: “Militant Network Evolution” -- Using an EITM approach, I model how tensions between groups aggregate into network evolution, then look for evidence of this occurring in real data on militant networks. I hypothesize that different strategies to resolve network commitment problems will result in either centralized or decentralized networks.
Paper 3: “Transnational Sponsorship of Local Groups” – I examine transnational group sponsorship of local beneficiaries. Sponsors prefer strong
Abstract: My dissertation considers the role of the nation in the modern, liberal political order. While much of contemporary liberal theory ignores or even excoriates national ties, I draw on the philosophies of four individuals in the history of political thought to highlight the nation’s salutary characteristics. Joseph de Maistre, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Benjamin Constant, and Alexis de Tocqueville turned to the language of nationhood as a way to reject the homogenizing theories of the social contract and popular sovereignty advanced during the French Revolution. They sought to recover the relationality, particularity, historical depth, and pluralism of political community through reference to the nation. I conclude with observations on how these thinkers’ vision of the nation as particular political community can further current scholarship on the nation.
Abstract: Questions regarding the qualities and activities for democratic citizenship permeate contemporary politics. Recent debates over immigration reveal as much, and suggest that the problem of establishing criteria for citizenship remains an ongoing part of political discourse. Embedded within these debates is a perennial question: which individual capacities and qualifications should we expect from our fellow citizens, and on what basis should we allocate membership in a given political community? This project turns to the French liberal tradition for insight into these questions. I examine how expectations of economic activity structured standards for political inclusion. Within this tradition, ideals of legal citizenship and social belonging were predicated upon commercial values – property ownership, market participation, and industriousness among them. Drawing on the writings of François Guizot, Alexis de Tocqueville, and Édouard Laboulaye, I argue that liberals presented a flexible, expanding vision of political capacity in relation to economic participation, whereby the very definition of the citizen evolved alongside changing social and economic conditions. This project highlights the tension between the inclusionary promise of liberal theory and liberalism’s failures in practice, but avoids dismissing the tradition as merely opportunistic. In drawing our attention to the relationship between informal, social membership and formal, legal inclusion, I argue that French liberal thought can speak to persistent questions surrounding the extension of citizenship in liberal democracies.
Abstract: This dissertation examines the contested issue of religious accommodation in pluralist societies from the vantage of stability: what degree of accommodation is permitted (or required) in order for a political order to be reasonably stable? Legal theorists and political philosophers have tended to frame the issue as one of formal and/or substantive equality, but I argue that the end of stability is better able to provide a determinate framework for religious exemptions. I draw on Rawls’s conception of “stability for the right reasons” and develop a Hobbesian account of liberal impartiality that supports a presumption of uniform political obligation but supplies parameters for exceptions in accommodation of religious difference.
JOSEPH E. HARTMAN
"In His Image: God and Man in the Political Philosophy of Reinhold Niebuhr”
Abstract: Political theories inescapably present anthropological questions; there is no such thing as a political theory without an anthropology. Political action requires political actors, and the accounts offered to describe, explain or justify such action themselves incorporate some understanding of the nature of those actors. Every political or moral theory therefore necessarily incorporates an anthropology, whether that anthropology is fully theorized or, as is often the case, merely presupposed. This dissertation seeks to penetrate the anthropological question in political theory through an investigation of Reinhold Niebuhr’s incisive critique of what he determines to be the prevailing philosophical anthropologies undergirding modern political theory as well as a consideration of Niebuhr’s own theologically grounded account. It evaluates the merits of both his critique and his proposed alternative as well as their consequences for politics, and concludes that if we find the realism of Niebuhr’s political theory compelling and persuasive, we must take seriously its theological and anthropological foundations.
"Exile in America: Political Expulsion and the Limits of Liberal Government”
Abstract: “Exile,” as a concept, remains largely neglected by political theory. Of the few pieces addressing it, most approach exile as a phenomenon peculiar to ancient cultures, or as a tool of the illiberal, even authoritarian, regime. But a survey of American history indicates that although communities may not openly ostracize, outlaw, or exile, they have not suppressed the desire to purge their membership rolls. Rather, they have become more adept at disguising it, draping illiberal exile practices in the language of law, consent, and contract. Perhaps it is the complexity of defining, and consequently recognizing, exile in the twenty-first century that leads us to regard it as a fringe occurrence. Nonetheless, exile is alive and well in the present day. This project has three aims. First, to offer a working conception of "exile" that clears away rhetorical confusion and returns the idea to the realm of the political. Second, to demonstrate that although it may have taken on a more mundane appearance in the democratic age, exile still exists at the sub-national (and, less commonly, at the national) level in the professedly liberal communities that make up the United States. Finally, the project situates exile in the particular context of America, where it continues to thrive despite its seeming incompatibility with liberal commitments. Analyzing specific cases of political expulsion, both historical and current, reveals the purposes exile serves in liberal communities. The continued existence of exile in America, and its concealment in the depoliticizing contexts of civil, administrative, and criminal law reveals deep tensions within the idea of “liberal community.” However, it also suggests the persistence of a strong sense of community in twenty-first century America.
"The Possibility of Religious Freedom: Natural Law in Ancient Greek, Early Christian and Medieval Muslim Sources"
Abstract: This dissertation examines whether and how theories of unwritten and natural law can provide a better basis for religious freedom than prevailing concepts. I argue first that the fundamental problem of religious freedom is the perennial conflict of human and divine law. I then present theories of unwritten and natural law, including those present in Sophocles’ Antigone, Ibn Rushd’s Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s Rhetoric, and Tertullian’s various writings, arguing that expanding our notion of law to incorporate such theories can mediate the human and divine law and provide a rich foundation for religious liberty, even in modernity’s pluralism.
Abstract: Most scholars assume Aristotle wrote straightforward, systematic treatises, but I argue that his writings are better interpreted as dialogic in that they provoke their readers and listeners to ask certain questions. In particular, I argue that the Metaphysics, which according to the standard interpretation is the theoretical foundation of Aristotle's doctrinal system, in fact provokes his audience of devoted young students of philosophy to ask what philosophy is and whether or not it is the best life, and so is in fact a profoundly political work. Aristotle's implicit suggestion is that philosophy is knowledge of ignorance--a stance that has political consequences insofar as it limits the ability of reason to advise political life, and political life to accord with the life of reason.