Political Science
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A new book by Professor Corey Brettschneider explores the history of presidents who abused their constitutional power and the citizen movements that stopped them. There’s a lesson for a second Trump administration.
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Law professor Leah Litman and political science professor Corey Brettschneider join Chris Hayes to discuss the fallout of the Supreme Court granting Trump immunity for official acts. In particular, Brettschneider discusses his new book, "The Presidents and the People: Five Leaders Who Threatened Democracy and the Citizens Who Fought to Defend It."
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Corey's forthcoming book, The Presidents and the People: Five Leaders Who Threatened Democracy and the Citizens Who Fought to Defend It, is featured in the NYTs article detailing his account of Patrick Henry's warning about a criminal president.
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Department News

Notes From The Brink

Creators publishing house is publishing Jeff Robbins collection of columns from 2019 to 2024. Blurbed among others by former Mass governors Patrick and Weld. 
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Alexander Delaney ‘26 represented his home state of Massachusetts this spring, securing a prestigious Hill internship in Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s office. He participated in the Brown in Washington program as a second semester sophomore and will return to Providence in the fall.
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Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Is southern Europe now powering the EU economy?

During the eurozone crisis of the 2010s, southern European countries like Greece and Spain often faced criticism from northern Europeans, because of their perceived economic 'mismanagement'.

In 2024 the tables have turned - with Greece, Portugal and Spain now growing faster than Germany, the traditional economic powerhouse. And with the Eurozone only recently exiting a shallow recession, the EU's economic recovery has been aided by the southern countries.
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Trending Globally podcast: From Black Lives Matter to January 6, how ‘Black grief’ and ‘white grievance’ shape our politics — Political scientist Juliet Hooker explains how these movements are linked, and can only be understood together.
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Oxford University Press is excited to announce that By the People, 6th Edition is a recipient of the Textbook & Academic Authors Association's Textbook Excellence Award! The Textbook Excellence Award recognizes excellence in current textbooks and learning materials. This trusted text engages American Government students in the rich and important debates of our time to ensure they become thoughtful and informed citizens.
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Several OPEC+ countries will reduce oil production by a combined 2.2 million barrels per day through June. Jeff Colgan, director of the Climate Solutions Lab at Brown, discusses how the decreased output could affect the U.S.
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Journal of Democracy

Hindu Nationalism and the New Jim Crow

While the histories of white supremacy and Hindu supremacy are different, their political objectives are much the same. The BJP is forging a regime of exclusion and oppression as brutal as the Jim Crow South. Only India’s voters can reverse its advance.
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The federal government’s budget deficit has soared to $2 trillion— effectively double what it was a year ago. And rising interest rates have increased the cost of financing the nation’s ever-accumulating debt, which now stands at about $33.7 trillion.

But there is also concern on the left, where some worry that growing interest payments could squeeze out more productive spending and pose long-term risks to the economy.

“Serious deficit reduction, a bad idea a decade ago, is a good idea now,” wrote Krugman,the liberal economist and New York Times columnist, in a recent newsletter.

So, what does the man who wrote the book on the subject think? Has Blyth shifted his position? In a word, no.
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Harvard Magazine

A “Scholar’s Scholar”

“We were glad to admit her,” recalled Katherine Tate, assistant and then associate professor of government at Harvard from 1989 to 1993, a member of the department’s admissions committee. Among many talented applicants, “She soared,” Tate said recently, and “turned out to be a very talented student.”
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The abstract for Patrick Heller and Ashutosh Varshney's paper states: "Research on democracy has shed much light on two kinds of democratic politics: patterns of voting and patterns of associational or movement politics. But there is growing recognition that in order to better understand the quality or depth of democracy, we need to move beyond this dualistic focus to better understand the everyday practices through which citizens can effectively wield their rights; these practices often diverge from the formal equality enshrined in laws and constitutions. We study this question through a large, unique sample survey carried out in a South Indian city. We find that effective citizenship is refracted through the institutional specificities of urban India and that, as a result, the poor access the state through political participation and the rich through particularistic connections to persons of influence. But unlike the conventional celebration of participation as a citizenship-deepening activity, we also find that a substantial part of participation is associated with forms of brokerage that compromise democratic citizenship."
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Karra McCray Gibson (Brown University)

The New Congressional Black Caucus: Differentiating Divisions within the CBC

By investigating ideological heterogeneity among the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, this project seeks to understand the interaction between intersectional representation of individual members and the collective voice of the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington.
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Gemma Dipoppa's paper on “Fascist Ideology and Migrant Labor Exploitation”, coauthored with Mario Carillo and Shanker Satyanath is the 2023 winner.

The McGillivray Best Paper Award is given for the best paper in Political Economy presented at the previous year’s APSA Annual Meeting.
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The Barbara Sinclair Legacy Award is new LSS award designed to honor the work of a scholar or set of scholars who have contributed a lifetime of significant scholarship to the study of legislative politics. In the tradition of Professor Sinclair’s body of work, recipients of this award have focused on individual legislative behavior, institutional rules, or the role of party in shaping legislative politics. This award is also intended to recognize scholars who employ a range of methods in their research.
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International Studies Association

Mark Blyth EARNS IPE Distinguished Scholar Award from the ISA

The International Political Economy (IPE) Distinguished Scholar Award recognizes outstanding senior scholars whose influence and path-breaking intellectual work will continue to impact the international political economy field for years to come.
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In the aftermath of the refugee crisis caused by conflicts in the Middle East and an increase in migration to Europe, European nations have witnessed a surge in discrimination targeted at immigrant minorities. To quell these conflicts, some governments have resorted to the adoption of coercive assimilation policies aimed at erasing differences between natives and immigrants. Are these policies the best method for reducing hostilities? Native Bias challenges the premise of such regulations by making the case for a civic integration model, based on shared social ideas defining the concept and practice of citizenship.

Drawing from original surveys, survey experiments, and novel field experiments, Donghyun Danny Choi, Mathias Poertner, and Nicholas Sambanis show that although prejudice against immigrants is often driven by differences in traits such as appearance and religious practice, the suppression of such differences does not constitute the only path to integration. Instead, the authors demonstrate that similarities in ideas and value systems can serve as the foundation for a common identity, based on a shared concept of citizenship, overcoming the perceived social distance between natives and immigrants.

Addressing one of the most pressing challenges of our time, Native Bias offers an original framework for understanding anti-immigrant discrimination and the processes through which it can be overcome.
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Brown University’s Wendy Schiller and Coastal Carolina University’s Kaitlin Sidorsky call for more targeted laws and federal/state cooperation to address a widespread problem of gun-based domestic violence against women.
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When a plan to coerce another state is devised, it’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming the state’s leader is rational, has access to good information, and is responsive when the country as a whole suffers. Rose McDermott of Brown University, however, points out that many states are led by personalistic dictators. They are often willing to allow their countries to undergo hardship, and their foibles and vanities make coercion far harder.
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ANNOUNCING THE 2023 GUGGENHEIM FELLOWS

Bonnie Honig - 2023 Guggenheim Fellowship in Literary Criticism

(New York, NY) On April 5, 2023, the Board of Trustees of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation approved the awarding of Guggenheim Fellowships to a diverse group of 171 exceptional individuals. Chosen from a rigorous application and peer review process out of almost 2,500 applicants, these successful applicants were appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise. To see the full list of new Fellows, please visit www.gf.org.

“Like Emerson, I believe that fullness in life comes from following our calling,” said Edward Hirsch, President of the Guggenheim Foundation and 1985 Fellow in Poetry. “The new class of Fellows has followed their calling to enhance all of our lives, to provide greater human knowledge and deeper understanding. We’re lucky to look to them to bring us into the future.”

In all, 48 scholarly disciplines and artistic fields, 72 different academic institutions, 24 states and the District of Columbia, and two Canadian provinces are represented in this year’s class of Fellows, who range in age from 31 to 85. Close to 50 Fellows have no current full-time college or university affiliation. Many Fellows’ projects directly respond to issues like the lasting effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, democracy and policing, scientific innovation, climate change, and identity.
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IASOC Annual Prizes

David Skarbek - 2022 IASOC Book Award Winner

The International Association for the Study of Organized Crime is dedicated to advancing the study of organized crime and illegal enterprise. They are a network of academics, professionals and students, whose focus lies in these fields.
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News WWC

Why Wages Fell and Profits Surged

February has been punctuated by record shattering profit announcement, and its becoming increasingly obvious corporations are using emergencies — such as the pandemic, supply chain disruption, or gas shortages — as an excuse to raise gains.

Analysts are only just beginning to lay out the pattern, but in case you were wondering why stuff like peanut butter and cola got so expensive: it’s because big corporations are hiking prices by double-digit figures and making record profits, not because people are buying too much of it.

To those who actually buy stuff this may not seem like a groundbreaking insight, and yet for the past nine months, the European Central Bank (ECB), responsible for keeping prices level, has increased interest rates, making it even harder for people to buy things, while letting corporate profits — the main driver of inflation — off the hook.

This puts further pressure on disposable income, which despite massive government support schemes — estimated at €800bn in 2022 alone — fell by 2.9 percent last year; 6.9 percent in Greece and 3.1 percent in Germany, where it fell for the third year in a row.

The question is, why? Why do we suppress wages while letting let profits rip? To put it in historical perspective: in the 1970s, nearly 70 percent of economic output went to employees, with just over 20 percent going to profits. Now, labour’s share stands at 56 percent with a third going to profits.
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During testimony at a Thursday hearing held by the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement and Intelligence, Assistant Professor of China Studies and Political Science Tyler Jost addressed tensions between the U.S. and China.
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News from Brown

2023 Seed Award Robert Blair

Violence against land and environmental activists has increased dramatically in recent years, with countries in Latin America registering by far the highest number of deaths. What are the causes of this violence and what can be done to prevent it? In this study, we propose to systematically explore the political determinants of environment-related violence and identify potentially promising interventions to mitigate it. We focus on the Amazon, which accounts for half of the remaining tropical forest on the planet. The project consists of two components. First, we propose to build a quantitative dataset of killings of environmental activists (including, e.g., indigenous leaders and community representatives involved in environmental protection initiatives) in Brazil over the past twenty years using reports from NGOs and other sources. Second, we will complement our quantitative data with qualitative interviews with local communities and environmental defenders to better understand the variety of threats they face, and to identify factors that might help explain variation in the timing and intensity of those threats. We will also explore the possibility of running a rigorous impact evaluation (e.g. a randomized controlled trial) to evaluate interventions aimed at reducing environment-related violence. The Amazon has a major influence on the world’s climate and hydrological cycles; as such, preserving it and the people who protect it is key in the fight against climate change. This project will advance Brown’s ongoing commitment to support sustainability research and interventions to combat environmental degradation in one of the world’s most environmentally precarious regions.
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Dædalus Journal

All (Cautiously) Hail—and Scale—Community!

In her essay, Jenna Bednar makes a powerful case and sets out a persuasive framework for refocusing public policy away from the market toward “human flourishing.” In this response, I build on one of the pillars of her framework—community—to showcase its potential to promote human flourishing at scale. I show how communities can promote human flourishing not just locally, but also at the national level. And yet, a focus on the progressive power of nationalism at once also cautions against the dangers inherent in the concept of community itself: that is, that all communities are necessarily bounded and unequal. In laying bare the exclusion and violence that communities can inflict on those beyond their boundaries, and/or down the ladder of “prototypicality,” nationalism is a dark, stark reminder for all communities, including at the local level, to be consistently vigilant to both their boundaries and gradations of belonging. The task that Bednar emphasizes of building mutuality and trust within communities must proceed apace with a commitment to both expanding and building healthy relations with those beyond their boundaries, and ensuring the web of solidarity encompasses all equally within the community.
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The Russian invasion of Ukraine brought with it the specter of nuclear conflict—and that was not by chance. Drawing on their longer article in International Security, Reid Pauly and Rose McDermott of Brown University argue that states have many reasons to engage in nuclear brinkmanship. However, Pauly and McDermott warn that things can easily get out of control and that individual and small group psychology, not cold reason, may prove most important during crises.
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Post45

Grammars of Refusal

In one of Wittgenstein's examples in Philosophical Investigations, a so-called "aberrant pupil," instructed to add by twos, does so for a long while and then begins to add by fours. The question posed is whether the pupil has mastered the rule (such that he can confidently innovate on it) or whether he failed to understand it (suggesting he errs when he adds by fours but has been instructed to add by twos)....
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Scope Conditions Podcast

Overcoming the Hijab Penalty, with Donghyun Danny Choi

Today on Scope Conditions: what drives discrimination against immigrants – and what can be done about it?

When social scientists have sought to explain anti-immigrant bias, they’ve tended to focus on one of two possible causes: the perceived economic threat that migrants might pose to the native born or the cultural threat driven by differences in race, ethnicity, or religion.

In a new book with Mathias Poertner and Nicholas Sambanis, our guest Donghyun Danny Choi, an assistant professor of political science at Brown, uses an innovative set of field experiments to test an alternative possibility: that the native-born perceive migrants as a threat to longstanding civic norms.

Could anti-immigrant bias be shaped by fears – often unjustified – that newcomers don’t share the same ideas about the meaning and practice of citizenship? Can misperceptions about norm-divergence be corrected? And are there interventions that can actually lead native-born citizens to adopt more cooperative behaviors across ethnic and cultural divides?

In their book Native Bias, Danny and his coauthors try to get at these questions using a wonderfully creative set of experiments, carried out across Germany shortly after the arrival of over a million Syrian refugees. You’ll have to listen to find out how the experiments worked – but for now we’ll just say that they involved dropping thousands of lemons on train platforms.

We talk with Danny about how the team came up with their experimental designs, how they carried them out, and what they found. One of their most interesting findings is that native German women tend to be more accepting of Muslim female migrants who signal that they hold progressive gender norms. But we also push Danny on the implications of the book’s findings. The treatments in the experiments involve immigrants demonstrably signaling their adherence to dominant German values. Even if this signaling works to dampen discrimination, we wondered how exactly this kind of intervention can be scaled up to the societal level. We also talk with Danny about who the book is saying bears the onus of reducing discrimination: is it up to immigrants to “fit in” better or up to natives to examine their own prejudices?

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Journal of Democracy

How India's Ruling Party Erodes Democracy

India's democratic backsliding began with the rise to power of Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2014 elections. Five years later, the party won an even bigger parliamentary majority. The BJP now runs not only the central government, but also all but ten of the 28 states, whether on its own or allied with other parties. Though India has not regressed democratically by the criteria of electoral contestation and participation, it has failed to ensure that the rights of Muslims and other minorities are respected. It has also impaired freedom of expression and freedom of association. Electoral democracy is thus coming into conflict with the broader notion of democracy, electoral as well as nonelectoral, that India's 1950 Constitution enshrines.
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Two studies (one preregistered) of Americans (N = 2200) drawn from a nationally representative panel show that both Democrats and Republicans personally value core democratic characteristics, such as free and fair elections, but severely underestimate opposing party members’ support for those same characteristics. Democrats estimate that the average Democrat values democratic characteristics 56% (in Study 1) and 77% (in Study 2) more than the average Republican. In a mirror image, Republicans estimate that the average Republican values democratic characteristics 82% (in Study 1) and 88% (in Study 2) more than the average Democrat. In turn, the tendency to believe that political ingroup members value democratic characteristics more than political outgroup members is associated with support for anti-democratic practices, especially among Republicans. Results suggest biased and inaccurate intergroup perceptions may contribute to democratic erosion in the United States.
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Heidelberg Center for American Studies and the Department of Theology

Professor Melvin Rogers WINS the James W.C. Pennington Award

The James W.C. Pennington Award is given to scholars who have done distinguished work on topics important to Pennington: slavery, emancipation, peace, education, reform, civil rights, religion, and intercultural understanding. The award encompasses a month-long stay in Heidelberg to engage in research on and discuss these topics. On the occasion of the award ceremony, recipients give a public lecture exploring new avenues in their respective fields of research.
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