Department News

The Department of Political Science carries on a long and pioneering tradition in the study of politics in North America. Founded in 1901, the Department's distinguished faculty is actively involved in a wide variety of ongoing research projects, and is committed to achieving a high level of academic excellence in research, graduate, and undergraduate education.

Books Published

Megan Bradley's book is published: Refugees' Roles in Resolving Displacement and Building Peace: Beyond Beneficiaries (Georgetown University Press, June 2019).

Megan Bradley, James Milner, and Blair Peruniak, Editors
How are refugee crises solved? This has become an urgent question as global displacement rates continue to climb, and refugee situations now persist for years if not decades. The resolution of displacement and the conflicts that force refugees from their homes is often explained as a top-down process led and controlled by governments and international organizations. This book takes a different approach. Through contributions from scholars working in politics, anthropology, law, sociology and philosophy, and a wide range of case studies, it explores the diverse ways in which refugees themselves interpret, create and pursue solutions to their plight. It investigates the empirical and normative significance of refugees' engagement as agents in these processes, and their implications for research, policy and practice. This book speaks both to academic debates and to the broader community of peace building, humanitarian and human rights scholars concerned with the nature and dynamics of agency in contentious political contexts, and identifies insights that can inform policy and practice.

Arash Abizadeh's book is published: Hobbes and the Two Faces of Ethics (Cambridge University Press, 2018).

Reading Hobbes in light of both the history of ethics and the conceptual apparatus developed in recent work on normativity, this book challenges received interpretations of Hobbes and his historical significance. Arash Abizadeh uncovers the fundamental distinction underwriting Hobbes's ethics: between prudential reasons of the good, articulated via natural laws prescribing the means of self-preservation, and reasons of the right or justice, comprising contractual obligations for which we are accountable to others. He shows how Hobbes's distinction marks a watershed in the transition from the ancient Greek to the modern conception of ethics, and demonstrates the relevance of Hobbes's thought to current debates about normativity, reasons, and responsibility. His book will interest Hobbes scholars, historians of ethics, moral philosophers, and political theorists. (Click here for a more detailed overview of the book.)


T.V. Paul’s book is published: Restraining Great Powers: Soft Balancing from Empires to the Global Era (Yale, 2018).

At the end of the Cold War, the United States emerged as the world’s most powerful state, and then used that power to initiate wars against smaller countries in the Middle East and South Asia. According to balance-of-power theory—the bedrock of realism in international relations—other states should have joined together militarily to counterbalance the U.S.’s rising power. Yet they did not. Nor have they united to oppose Chinese aggression in the South China Sea or Russian offensives along its Western border. This does not mean balance-of-power politics is dead, argues renowned international relations scholar T.V. Paul, but that it has taken a different form. Rather than employ familiar strategies such as active military alliances and arms buildups, leading powers have engaged in “soft balancing,” which seeks to restrain threatening powers through the use of international institutions, informal alignments, and economic sanctions. Paul places the evolution of balancing behavior in historical perspective from the post-Napoleonic era to today’s globalized world.


Michael Brecher’s book is published: A Century of Crisis and Conflict in the International System: Theory and Evidence (Palgrave, 2018).

This book is designed to present a fully developed theory of international crisis and conflict, along with substantial evidence of these two closely related phenomena. The book begins with a discussion of these topics at a theoretical level, defining and elaborating on core concepts: international crisis, interstate conflict, severity, and impact. This is followed by a discussion of the international system, along with two significant illustrations, the Berlin Blockade crisis (1948) and the India-Pakistan crisis over Kashmir (1965-66). The book then presents a unified model of crisis, focusing on the four phases of an international crisis, which incorporate the four periods of foreign policy crises for individual states. Findings from thirteen conflicts representing six regional clusters are then analyzed, concluding with a set of hypotheses and evidence on conflict onset, persistence, and resolution.


Yves Winter’s book is published: Machiavelli and the Orders of Violence (Cambridge University Press, September 2018).

Niccolò Machiavelli is the most prominent and notorious theorist of violence in the history of European political thought—prominent, because he is the first to candidly discuss the role of violence in politics; and notorious, because he treats violence as virtue rather than as vice. In this original interpretation, Yves Winter reconstructs Machiavelli’s theory of violence and shows how it challenges moral and metaphysical ideas about political violence. Winter attributes two central theses to Machiavelli: first, violence is not a generic technology of government but a strategy that tends to correlate with inequality and class conflict. Second, violence is best understood not in terms of conventional notions of law enforcement, coercion, or the proverbial “last resort” but as performance. Most political violence is effective not because it physically compels another agent who is thus coerced; rather, it produces political effects by appealing to an audience. As such, violence is designed to be perceived, experienced, remembered, and narrated.


Fernando G. Nunez-Mietz’s book is published: The Use of Force under International Law: Lawyerized States in a Legalized World (Routledge, September 2018).

The international system is becoming increasingly legalized, with legal arguments and legal advisors playing an increasingly important part in the state policymaking process. Presenting a practice-oriented theory of compliance with international law, this book shows how international law affects the behavior of increasingly lawyerized states in an ever more legalized world. By highlighting the legalization of international legitimation and the lawyerization of policymaking as the new engines of compliance, the book’s analytical framework rethinks the relationship between state behavior and international law, and provides an empirical focus on security through the study of NATO’s military intervention in Yugoslavia in 1999 and the changes in the US detention and interrogation programs in the "War on Terror." Relying on primary sources, the author demonstrates the effect of lawyerized decision making on international law compliance, reconstructing the strategies of (de-)legitimation used to show that international law is the hegemonic frame of reference in interstate debates.


Hamish van der Ven’s book: Beyond Greenwash: Explaining Credibility in Transnational Eco-Labeling, will be forthcoming soon (Oxford University Press, April 2019).

From green frogs and blue angels to white bunnies, modern consumers are confronted by a growing array of colorful eco-labels on everything from coffee to computers. When eco-labels are credible, they can lead to dramatic change in environmental practices broadly and quickly by leveraging the purchasing power of corporate clients (e.g., Walmart and McDonalds) to influence global supply chains. But the credibility of such labels is highly variable; and despite the existence of established practices for eco-labeling, many labels remain little more than superficial exercises in "greenwash." How can consumers separate greenwash from genuine attempts to address environmental challenges?

Beyond Greenwash addresses this question by systematically investigating the credibility of transnational eco-labeling organizations across countries and commercial sectors. Using an innovative proxy measure for credibility that examines adherence to established best practices, Hamish van der Ven proposes a novel theory of rigor and credibility in transnational eco-labeling that upends conventional wisdom. He argues that the credibility of an eco-label does not depend on who creates or manages it-whether a government, industry association, professional standard setter, or environmental NGO. Rather, it depends on which types of businesses use the label. More specifically, eco-labeling organizations that target bigger, consumer-facing retailers tend to create credible eco-labels out of a desire to insulate their clients from critical scrutiny and gain acceptance in new markets. This theory challenges the conventional wisdom that only governments or environmental NGOs can create meaningful environmental governance and suggests that who is being governed matters as much, if not more, than who is doing the governing.


Juan Wang's book is published: The Sinews of State Power (Oxford University Press, 2017).

The Sinews of State Power seeks to explain why rural China has been so unstable since 2000, despite numerous national reforms. Using original fieldwork, it traces the rise and demise of cohesive local states in rural China since the Maoist era. It shows that, the county, township, and village levels of government, when in alliance, have facilitated economic growth and caused social grievances. However, national reforms redressing local deviation, together with individual responses from each level of administration, have dismantled elite alliances, and consequentially undermined the extractive, coercive, and responsive capacity of the state.

This book forms dialogue with two fields of inquiry in China studies and comparative politics. First, researches on farmer protest often either focus on farmers' grievances, organizations, and strategies, or examine responses from the state as a uniform entity. This book, instead, highlights the anthropology of the state by looking into elite cohesion across administrative levels that determines the exercise of state capacity. Second, studies of regime stability or endurance have stressed holistic factors, such as institutional adaptability, political culture, or epidemic corruption. The Sinews of State Power instead revisits the fundamental components of a capable government - a coherent and robust local leadership that enables the function of a state.

Honours and Awards

Krzysztof Pelc has won the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize for his story Green Velvet.  It was selected out of over 3,000 entries!


Catherine Lu has won the International Studies Association’s 2019 International Ethics Section Book Award for her Cambridge volume, Justice and Reconciliation in World Politics.  The award recognizes a book that excels in originality, significance and rigor in the broadly defined field of international ethics.


Leo Baccini’s paper with Stephen Weymouth, entitled “Gone for Good: The Electoral Implications of Plant Closures and Mass Layoffs", won the 2018 David A. Lake Award for the best paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Political Economy Society (IPES).


Leo Baccini will be spending his 2019-2020 sabbatical on a Jean Monnet Fellowship at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute.


Catherine Lu has been awarded The International Studies Association-Northeast 2018 Yale H. Ferguson Award in recognition of her Press-published book, Justice and Reconciliation in World Politics.

The Yale H. Ferguson Award is given annually to the book that most advances the vibrancy of international studies as a pluralist discipline.

Out of the 28 nominations received this year, the prize committee unanimously decided to award Lu, noting: “Justice and Reconciliation is a remarkable scholarly achievement. The book takes seriously the challenge of working through a complex field of contested terms and concepts (‘justice,’ ‘reconciliation,’ etc.), but without subjecting them to depoliticizing, once-and-for-all characterizations, or removing them from their generative historical contexts.”

Justice and Reconciliation in World Politics has previously received the APSA International History and Politics Section Robert L. Jervis and Paul W. Schroeder Best Book Award as well as the University of Sussex Centre for Advanced International Theory (CAIT) Theory Prize.


T.V. Paul has been inducted into the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) in 2018, elected by his peers for outstanding scholarly, scientific and artistic achievements. Recognition by the RSC is the highest honour an individual can achieve in the Arts, Social Sciences and Sciences.

T.V. Paul focuses on puzzles and paradoxes in International Relations. A major advocate of eclecticism and building bridges across theoretical paradigms, his works have had a significant impact on the development of policy in the areas of peacebuilding, security planning and nuclear arms control. The concepts he pioneered, ’asymmetric conflicts’, ’soft balancing’, ‘complex deterrence’, ‘geostrategic curse’, and ‘status accommodation’ have become part of the lexicon of international relations theory and foreign policy.


Vincent Pouliot has been inducted into the College of New Scholars of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC), Class of 2018.  The College provides the RSC with a multigenerational capacity to help Canada and the world address major challenges and seize new opportunities including those identified in emerging fields.

Vincent Pouliot is nationally and internationally known for his leadership in developing a new approach to the study of world politics, often referred to as the practice turn in International Relations. He is widely recognized as one of the main contributors to this innovative research program, which has now spread across subfields ranging from security studies to global governance through environmental politics, international law, and political economy.


Juliet Johnson winner of the 2018 David Thomson Award for Graduate Supervision and Teaching. This award acknowledges outstanding contributions to promoting graduate student excellence through supervision and teaching by a faculty member who has been supervising for 10 years or more.


Catherine Lu has been awarded the 2018 Robert L. Jervis and Paul W. Schroeder Best Book Award by the International History and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association for her book, Justice and Reconciliation in World Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

Justice and Reconciliation in World Politics is a study in normative and critical theory of how to conceptualize practices of justice and reconciliation that aim to respond to colonial injustices in international and transnational contexts. Examining cases of colonial war, genocide, forced sexual labour, forcible incorporation, and dispossession, this book highlights the structural injustices involved in colonialism, based on race, class, and gender, and shows that interactional practices of justice and reconciliation have been inadequate in redressing these structural injustices. The book argues that contemporary moral/political projects of justice and reconciliation in response to the persistent structural injustices of a colonial international order entail strategies of decolonization, decentering, and disalienation that go beyond interactional practices of accountability and reparation, beyond victims and perpetrators, and beyond a statist world order.


William Clare Roberts was awarded the 2017 Deutscher Memorial Prize for his book Marx's Inferno: The Political Theory of Capital.  

"William Clare Robert’s book is unique in its combination of a close re-reading of Marx’s Capital through the lens of contextual political theory. He brings to the study of Capital all the verve, passion and erudition of Marx’s own invocation of classical literature to unmask the hellish realities of contemporary capitalism."


Juliet Johnson was awarded the 2017 Davis Center Book Prize in Political and Social Studies, the 2017 Ed A Hewett Book Prize, the 2017 Marshall Shulman Book Prize, and the 2017 CPSA Prize in International Relations for her book "Priests of Prosperity: How Central Bankers Transformed the Postcommunist World(Cornell University Press, 2016). The Davis Center Book Prize in Political and Social Studies, established in 2008 and sponsored by the Kathryn W. and Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University, is awarded annually for an outstanding monograph published on Russia, Eurasia, or Eastern Europe in anthropology, political science, sociology, or geography in the previous calendar year. The Ed A Hewett Book Prize, established in 1994 and sponsored by the University of Michigan Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, is awarded annually for an outstanding monograph on the political economy of Russia, Eurasia and/or Eastern Europe, published in the previous year. The Marshall D. Shulman Book Prize, established in 1987 and sponsored by the Harriman Institute of Columbia University, is awarded annually for an outstanding monograph dealing with the international relations, foreign policy, or foreign-policy decision-making of any of the states of the former Soviet Union or Eastern Europe published the previous year. The Canadian Political Science Association Prize in International Relations is awarded biennially to the best book published, in English or in French, in the field of international relations.


Éric Bélanger has been inducted as a new member of The College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, Class of 2017 by the Royal Society of Canada. As a member, Professor  Bélanger will represent the emerging generation of scholarly, scientific and artistic leadership in Canada. 

Éric Bélanger’s core research focuses on the motivations that explain voting behaviour. He provides new insights into variations in economic voting and challenges conventional wisdom on the question of issue ownership. His work on the circumstances under which minor parties achieve electoral success and disrupt the normal patterns of party competition in advanced democracies highlights the role the rise of public cynicism towards politics plays worldwide.

Appointment News

TBA