Government and International Relations Colloquium Series

The Department of Government and International Relations Colloquium Series aims to showcase recent research by members of the Department, visiting scholars and international and interstate guests in an informal setting, conducive to lively debate. It is an open event and everyone is welcome to attend. If you would like to be informed of future events then please contact who will add your name to our email list. The Series is coordinated by .

Semester 1, 2016

Thursday 3 March 2016, 12-1.30pm
Speaker: Professor Brian Woodall
Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, Georgia Institute of Technology
Topic: Energy Security, Environmental Angst, and Japan’s Evolving Developmental State

Many assumed that the Fukushima nuclear crisis would dictate a swift, dramatic reconfiguration of the institutional infrastructure of Japanese energy policy. Yet, to date, changes have been surprisingly modest. Moreover, despite compelling reasons to do so, Japanese policymakers and business leaders have yet to embrace a strategy that fully exploits renewable energy resources, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and expands cleantech capabilities and use. Why not? The central thesis of this study is that these and other puzzling counterfactuals of Japanese energy policymaking derive from institutional hangover, structural rigidities, and path dependence that are by-products of Japan’s postwar approach to economic development. Although the basic institutional architecture of Japanese energy policy has been overhauled only a handful of times, each instance was precipitated by mounting discontent over the environmental consequences – and other “social costs” – of energy policy choices. This research employs an unique brand of institutionalist theory to explain the ongoing saga and broad implications of Japan’s energy policy choices and their environmental consequences.

About the speaker: Prof Brian WoodallBrian Woodall is a professor in Georgia Tech’s Sam Nunn School of International Affairs. He received his PhD in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley, and has held faculty positions at the University of California at Irvine and at Harvard University as well as visiting appointments at the University of Tokyo, Tokyo Institute of Technology, and Tōhoku University. His major publications include Growing Democracy in Japan: The Parliamentary Cabinet System Since 1868, Japan Under Construction: Corruption, Politics, and Public Works, and Japan's Changing World Role, and, as co-editor and contributor, Elections in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan Under the Single Non-Transferable Vote. He has received funding support from the Fulbright Commission (U.S. Japan Educational Commission), Coca-Cola Foundation, U.S.-Japan Friendship Commission, the Abe Fellowship Program of the Social Science Research Council, the University of California Pacific Rim Research Program, and the Japan Foundation. His current research explores issues related to Japanese and East Asian energy and environmental policies.
Venue: Darlington Centre Conference Room [map]


Thursday 24 March 2016, 12-1:30pm
Speaker: Professor Gideon Aran
The Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Topic: Three Comments on Suicide Terrorism

Terrorism research is monopolized by Political Scientists. International Relations Academics, and to a lesser degree, specialists in Strategy, Intelligence, Military Affairs, Psychology, Law, Communication, and Area Studies.

I would like to propose an alternative perspective – an Anthropological one. The distinct contribution of my discipline's outlook is not only theoretical but rather also methodological. Hence, the data and arguments that I will present in the seminar were drawn from a field-study that drew evidence from primary sources. The latter involved extensive observations and in-depth interviews.

I will discuss the case study of Palestinian suicide terrorism within 1967 Israel during the Second Intifada, 2000-2005. My study focuses on the actual arena where the explosions took place. An attempt was made to get as close as possible – in time and place – to the encounter of the perpetrator of the violent act with his/her target community. The complex linkage between the perpetrator and the victims of the attack is the empirical as well as analytical focus of my study.

The insight and data I bring are drawn from my forthcoming book titled Accidental Monsters and the Cult of Dismembered Limbs: a Study of Suicide Terrorism (Columbia University Press).

About the speaker: Professor Gideon_AranGideon Aran is a professor of sociology and anthropology at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. His field of expertise is the social scientific study of religion, on the one hand, and extremism, militancy and violence, on the other hand. In recent years he focused his teaching and writing on the intersection where the above two meet, namely fundamentalism and contemporary as well as historical forms of ultra-religiosity; oppositional underground cells; political (Ethno-National) charismatic radical cults; and religious terrorism, in various Western and Middle Eastern contexts, especially in the Jewish/Israeli one and with regard to the conflict with the Palestinians in particular.
Venue: Darlington Centre Conference Room [map]


Thursday 7 April 2016, 12-1.30pm
Speaker: Dr Ryan Griffiths
University of Sydney
Topic: Between Eurocentrism and Babel: A Framework for the Analysis of States, State Systems, and International Orders

Mindful of the growing interest in non-Western forms of political order, we propose a framework for the analysis of states, state systems, and international orders. We posit a culturally neutral definition of the state and outline a method for assessing variation in political organization both within and above the state. This framework cleanly delineates hierarchy from anarchy and can be applied to a diverse set of state systems. We then show how the content of international orders is inter-related with state and system structure and the local density (interaction capacity) of the region. We argue that our framework captures the similarities and exposes the differences between different systems and orders over time and space. It strikes a balance between the traditional focus on the Western experience and the current trend toward regional studies in which it is difficult to accumulate knowledge across systems.

About the speaker: Griffiths_RyanGriffiths' research focuses on two related areas. The first examines the dynamics of secession with a particular emphasis on the international and domestic causes of secessionist conflict over time. He has recently begun a second book that looks at the relationship between democracy and secessionist outcomes, a project that is being funded by an ARC Discovery Early Career Research Award. The second research area investigates the organization of the international system, with a specific interest in sovereignty and different types of political order, historically and in the future. Griffiths is one of the lead investigators on the International System(s) Dataset (ISD) Project, an effort supported by an ARC Discovery Grant.
Venue: Room 397 Merewether building, H04 [map]


Thursday 14 April 2016, 12-1:30pm
Speaker: Dr Alex Prichard
University of Exeter
Topic: Occupy Anarchy! A reply to Jack Donnelly's 'The Discourse of Anarchy in IR'

Jack Donnelly recently argued that because anarchy is not a transhistorical feature of international systems, and because research geared around the concept has produced no new insights, that anarchy fails as a key concept for the field. IR should, he argues, revert to using anarchy in its common or garden sense, to mean peril and disorder. I disagree. I argue that Donnelly's literalist approach to concept analysis closes down how we might understand the use of anarchy in IR theory. Deploying a contextualist approach to concepts, I re-read Waltz to show that anarchy is fundamentally about freedom and security, not a variable or 'demarcation criteria'. I use this re-reading of Waltz to lead into discussion of anarchist accounts of anarchy and argue that for anarchists anarchy is the ontological precondition of politics and freedom as such. For anarchists, like Waltz, defending anarchy is central to defending an account of freedom and security. Where anarchists and Waltz part company is around the relative merits of the state and capitalism to that end. Reverting to an account of anarchy as peril and disorder plays into the hands of the statist, Hobbesian discourse that Donnelly nominally rejects.

About the speaker: alex_prichardDr Alex Prichard was appointed lecturer in International Relations at the University of Exeter in 2012. He was previously LSE Fellow in International Political Theory (2010-2012), an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Bristol (2009-2010), and before that a Teaching Fellow and Research Officer at the University of Bath (2008-2009). In 2005 he co-founded the PSA Anarchist Studies Network, and in 2012 he co-founded and now co-edit the monograph series 'Contemporary Anarchist Studies', published by Manchester University Press and distributed in the USA by Oxford University Press. The series is the only one dedicated to contemporary writing on anarchist theory and practice. Full details on how to submit manuscript proposals can be found on the MUP website.
Venue: Room 397 Merewether building, H04 [map]


Thursday 5 May 2016, 12-1:30pm
Speaker: Associate Professor Robert Mickey
The University of Michigan
Topic: Why American Efforts at Nation-Building Usually Fail: Evidence from Iraq and the Post-Civil War Reconstruction of the U. S. South

Proponents of American nation-building haven’t gone away. Rather, they argue that by avoiding strategic and tactical missteps, nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan would have succeeded.

This presentation offers a different, and structural, view of nation-building. First, it provides a more comprehensive conceptual understanding of five core components of nation-building, each of which is very difficult to accomplish. Second, it highlights the importance of sequencing, and suggests why progress on some dimensions of nation-building may imperil success on others. Third, it explores how nation-building is rendered extremely difficult by agrarian structures based upon large landholdings and the coercive recruitment and deployment of agrarian labor. Fourth, when labor-repressive agriculture impedes nation-building, it does so in ways that lower the likelihood of future success.

These claims are advanced by comparing efforts to reconstruct the post-Civil War U. S. South as well as the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.

About the speaker: FeldmanI teach and study U.S. politics in historical (and occasionally cross-national) perspective. I'm interested in the contemporary politics of American economic inequality, racial politics, and American political development. At the undergraduate level, I teach the department's introductory course to U.S. politics, as well as courses on the politics of economic inequality, America's political economy, U.S. policymaking, race and American political development, urban politics, southern political development, and slavery. I have also helped run the department's honors thesis program. For graduate students, I teach the department's pro-seminar in U.S. politics, American political development, U.S. political economy, organized interests, and race and American political development. I have also taught seminars on U.S. parties, urban politics, and regimes and regime change, as well as causal inference in small-n research (with Anna Grzymala-Busse). Since 2008, I have served as a core faculty member of the University of Michigan site of the RWJ Scholars in Health Policy Research Program.
Venue: Room 397 Merewether building, H04 [map]


Thursday 12 May 2016, 12-1:30pm
Speaker: Professor Stanley Feldman
Stony Brook University
Topic: Compassionate Policy Support: The Interplay of Empathy and Ideology

Empathy is a basic human ability and a critical foundation of social cooperation and caregiving. In modern societies it is a likely motivator of support for social welfare programs. Drawing on data from two studies, we examine the power of empathy to shape support for social welfare policies across the U.S. political spectrum and examine the consequences of potential conflicts between empathy and political ideology. We draw on recent research on the dynamics of empathy to explain how people control their feelings of sympathy when it becomes too costly or conflicts with their values. We assess empathic ability with Baron-Cohen and colleagues’ (2001) “Reading the Mind in the Eyes” task and find that it powerfully increases support for an individual welfare recipient and social welfare policies among political liberals in the U.S. In contrast, empathy decreases support for the same welfare recipient and a range of social welfare policies among political conservatives. We also show that conservatives are more willing to express support for needy individuals when empathy does not conflict with their ideological views. In essence, empathy drives support for social welfare policies among many Americans but creates a difficult conflict for those who most strongly endorse individualism and other conservative values. We discuss the political implications of our findings.

About the speaker: FeldmanMy research focuses on the origins of political preferences. I am particularly interested in the structure of political ideology and values, and the psychological bases of attitudes and opinions. I am currently working on projects to better understand the nature and complexity of ideology and the implications of this complexity for explanations of core political attitudes and beliefs. My work has examined the impact of personality characteristics on political attitudes, particularly authoritarianism. I am developing a new research project to look at the effects of oxytocin on political orientations. I am also interested in the role of emotions in politics.
Venue: Room 397 Merewether building, H04 [map]


Thursday 26 May 2016, 12-1:30pm
Speaker: Associate Professor Anne McNevin
The New School for Social Research, The New School
Topic: Human Displacement and the Crisis of Hospitality: Reflections on the Spirit of Refugee Law and the Example of Acehnese Fishermen

Pointing to the proliferation of non-entrée strategies amongst states that are signatories to the Refugee Convention, I suggest in this paper that the current ‘refugee crisis’ is better understood as a crisis of hospitality. Drawing on Jacques Derrida’s reflections on the subject, I argue that hospitality, rather than compliance with international law, provides a better register through which to assess the desirability of various (prevailing and extraordinary) responses to human displacement. The focus then shifts to a particular arena of the crisis of hospitality in the South East Asian context. I draw attention to the rescue of Rohingya in the Andaman Sea by Acehnese Fishermen in May 2015. I engage this specific example as evidence of the hospitality and normative pluralism that exist beyond the compulsions of law with respect to human displacement and that play a part in shaping wider responses. I engage this example, also, in a mode of critique. The actions of the Acehnese fishermen can be read on one hand as an implicit critique of the technical rationality of the international refugee regime, and on the other, as a resource for renewing the spirit of international refugee law.

About the speaker: AnneAnne McNevin is Associate Professor of Politics at The New School. Her research interests include critical and post-colonial International Relations; theories of citizenship; radical democratic theories; migration studies, border studies, and governmentality. She is author of Contesting Citizenship: Irregular Migrants and New Frontiers of the Political (Columbia UP, 2011) and associate editor of Citizenship Studies. Anne is currently collaborating with anthropologist Antje Missbach on a project about “Migration Management” in the Indonesian context.
Venue: Room 397 Merewether building, H04 [map]