Blog Archives

An Interpretive Ethnography of Interpretive Ethnography

While reading Lisa Wedeen‘s “Reflections on Ethnographic Work in Political Science” I was struck by this description of ethnography due to my grad school friend Tim Pachirat*: Ethnography as a method is particularly unruly, particularly undisciplined, particularly celebratory of improvisation,

Posted in Research, Teaching

This Is the Best Time Ever to Study Political Science

Here are ten questions that might be interesting to Americans these days. 1. Is the Trump administration’s immigration executive order constitutional? 2. Is the United States a democracy? How do we know? 3. How does presidential leadership style affect U.S.

Posted in Current Affairs, Research, Teaching

Democracy is not Government by Democrats, and Authoritarianism is not Government by Authoritarians

In a post from October 2015, “Democratic Disappointments, Authoritarian Reformists, and Political Equilibria,” I mused about a seemingly ironic feature of contemporary Malaysian politics. The former dictator Mahathir Mohamad, a staunch defender of ruling party hegemony who happily jailed opponents

Posted in Current Affairs, Malaysia, Politics, Research

International Relations Theory and the Trump Administration

Yesterday afternoon, a student asked me in office hours what International Relations Theory has to say about the new Trump administration. There has been some discussion of realism and Mr. Trump’s foreign policy, and some musings about the Trump administration’s

Posted in Politics, Research

Interests, Ideas, and Identity

Nothing is more productive for stale academic debates than a momentous yet unexpected political event. 2016 has seen at least two such events: Brexit and Trump. As a sometime-participant in a stale political debate on ideas versus interests in political

Posted in Politics, Research

Inferring Whether the Polls Were Correct

Let’s say we want to estimate a quantity . We form an estimate of that quantity , with a 95% confidence interval of . Let’s say we form another estimate , with a confidence interval of . And then it

Posted in Current Affairs, Politics, Research

A Job Talk Talk

One of the best things I ever did in graduate school was to attend a presentation by a new assistant professor about what the job talk is, what it is for, and best practices. It was critical for me to

Posted in Research, Teaching

Five Hurdles in Academic Writing

I have thought quite a bit recently about academic writing. Not so much about what makes writing successful, but rather what stands in the way of academic writing. Part of this is in advance of this year’s meeting of the

Posted in Research

When China’s Growth Ends, What Next?

At the 2016 Davos World Economic Forum, George Soros issued a stark prognosis about the future of the Chinese economy: “A hard landing is practically unavoidable.” Although few China watchers are willing to make such bold predictions, many observers suspect

Posted in Asia, Politics, Research

Democratization by Elections in Southeast Asia?

One of the most important recent theories of democratization is known as democratization by elections—the idea that elections themselves can bring about democratic change in electoral authoritarian regimes. Surprisingly, this literature almost entirely ignores Southeast Asia, even though Southeast Asia

Posted in Asia, Politics, Research
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