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Comparative and Regional Studies | SIS

Faculty Research

The Comparative and Regional Studies (CRS) program has a world-class faculty dedicated to excellence in teaching and scholarship. Research interests among CRS faculty range from Islam and globalization to the political economy of East Asian countries and the role of ethnicity and identity in the Caribbean. Our faculty also work closely with students in their research.

Akbar Ahmed is currently working on a book on knowledge and how it is conceived in Islam and other world civilizations. His other research project is on tribes in Islam and their relationships with the state. His most recent book is Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam, which is the most comprehensive study ever done on the American Muslim community. Journey into America explores and documents how Muslims are fitting into U.S. society, seeking to place the Muslim experience in the U.S. within the larger context of American identity. In doing so, it is a major contribution to the study of American history and culture.

Kristin Diwan works in both Comparative Politics and International Political Economy and specializes in the subjects of Arab and Islamic Politics. Her particular interests revolve around the political economy of Islamism: specifically how Islamic political movements build support and further social Islamization through the economy. Theoretically, she is motivated by questions about culture and power, the relationship between culture and economics, and the role of culture and religion in international politics and political economy. Empirically, she holds expertise in the politics and policies of the Arab Gulf. Current research topics include the politics of Islamic finance in the Gulf; the role of Gulf municipal councils in democratic transition; and youth movements and reform in the GCC states.

Michelle Egan’s research interests focus on market reform and economic governance, comparative regional integration, transatlantic relations, state-building and democratization with a primary regional focus on Europe. She has conducted field research in various European countries, held a number of fellowships and scholarships including a German Marshall Fund, Robert Bosch, and Jean Monnet Fellowship, and serves as co-editor of the Palgrave Series on European Union Politics. She is currently Vice President of EUSA (the European Union Studies Association) and is finishing two projects on the state of the European economic union and multinationals.

Carolyn Gallaher's research focuses on two issues: the role of paramilitaries in irregular warfare and the influence of the religious right on U.S. foreign policy. Her work on paramilitaries includes two books--one about the U.S. Militia Movement (On the Fault line: Race, Class, and the American Patriot Movement, Rowman and Littlefield 2003) and the second about Loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland (After the Peace: Loyalist Paramilitaries in Post-accord Northern Ireland, Cornell University Press 2007). Her research on the religious right examines the rise of evangelical universities in the U.S., the influence of premillennial dispensationalist theology in U.S. foreign policy, and the politics of missionary work among indigenous communities in Mexico. This work has appeared in academic journals and edited volumes. In spring 2009, she was the faculty sponsor for an alternative spring break to Northern Ireland, and in summer 2011 she led a study abroad course in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Pek Koon Heng’s research interests have focused on identity politics, ethnic relations, governance and economic development, with particular reference to Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. She also studies the nexus between Islam, democracy and militant movements, as well as Islam and gender relations in Southeast Asia. Other current research interests include ASEAN and regionalism in East Asia, particularly the impact of the U.S. and China in the region, and the increasing salience of non-traditional/human security issues, such as transnational labor flows and trafficking in persons in Southeast Asia. In addition, Professor Heng examines free trade arrangements in the region, giving particular attention to the realization of an ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, and the expanded Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations. 

Ji-Young Lee’s research interests include international relations theory, East Asian security and foreign policy (the Korean peninsula, China and Japan), U.S. national security, the nexus between international political economy and security, and international institutions. She is currently working on a manuscript that compares Korea and Japan’s differing responses to the China-centered hierarchy in early modern East Asia. Her policy analyses on U.S. alliances with ROK and Japan and on Japan-Korea relations have appeared in Asia-Pacific Bulletin, Issues and Insights, and CSIS Comparative Connections.

Carl LeVan focuseson comparative political institutions, democratization, and African security. His 2013 article “Sectarian Rebellions in Post-Transition Nigeria” is one of the most downloaded articles of all time in the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding. He also published influential critiques of power-sharing in Africa (Governance 2011) and of the U.S. Africa Command (Africa Today 2010). His 2011 article “Questioning Tocqueville in Africa,” appearing in Democratization, won the Frank Cass Award from Taylor & Francis for the Best Article on Democratization Published by a Young Scholar in 2011.  He is co-editing a book (with Todd Eisenstadt and Robert Albro) about the political impact of different constitution-making processes, and a separate volume on state legislatures in Africa (edited with Joseph Oleyinka Fashagba). His manuscript on Nigerian government performance since independence is under review. He publishes the blog Development4Security at carllevan.com.

Linda Lucia Lubrano conducts research on Russian science communities, European social enterprise, and cross-cultural medical practices. She has done interdisciplinary field research in Russia, Ukraine, Italy, and the United States with particular emphasis on the close ties of political philosophy to human psychology, history, sociology, literature, and anthropology.

Clarence Lusane researches the discursive nature of race relations and racism on a global scale in comparative and internationalist terms, and global human rights polices, human security, and social movements. He is currently doing research in four areas. First, he is preparing a manuscript on the political manifestation of jazz from the perspective of International Relations. Second, he is studying the evolution of racial discourse on a global scale in response to the UN World Conference Against Racism, the September 11th attacks, and the campaign and election of Barack Obama. Third, he is writing several articles examining the evolution of race relations and public policy in Brazil in the era of former President Lula da Silva. Fourth, he is co-authoring a manuscript analyzing the impact of disaster capitalism on communities of color in the United States.

James Mittelman The world’s predicament is a confluence of crises in finance, development, and the environment. Resolution of this triple crisis requires knowledgeable analysis. To meet the challenge, universities are globalizing. But are universities fulfilling their missions of nurturing democratic citizenship, developing critical judgment, educating future policymakers, and generating new knowledge? Or does the knowledge structure itself constitute a fourth crisis? This inquiry is grounded in multisited research: comparative cases of universities in the global North and global South.

Another book project focuses on the restratification of global governance. Drawing on my experience in Africa, Asia, and Europe and work at international agencies, I am tracing the shifts in institutions, hierarchies, and practices constituting global order. Increasingly, boundaries between international institutions and informal bodies, such as global forums, are blurred. Global governance is being reconstituted as a hybrid system, reflecting more influence by diverse groupings and different visions.

Randolph Persaud studies human security in the Americas and on the foreign relations of Caribbean countries. Persaud also studies problems of ethnicity and identity in the Caribbean. He is currently editing a book on international security and co-authoring a book on human security in the United States.

Rachel Sullivan Robinson researches the politics of population, reproductive health, and HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the determinants of birth timing in the United States. Her most recent work on Africa explored the process of population policy adoption by African governments and the emergence of reproductive health NGOs. She has conducted fieldwork in Senegal, Nigeria, Malawi, and Namibia. She is currently working on a book project, entitled Intimate Interventions, which extends her research on population policy to examine how countries’ political and organizational efforts to slow rapid population growth impacted their ability to combat HIV/AIDS. This project focuses on Senegal, Nigeria, and Malawi.

Cathy Schneider is a specialist on comparative social movements, urban politics and political violence. Her first book, Shantytown Protest in Pinochet's Chile, looked at the protests that toppled the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile, protests she also helped organize. Her most recent book project, Police Power and Race Riots: Urban Unrest in Paris and New York 1960 - 2010, looks at the relationship between police violence and riots in France and the United States.

Schneider's work is based largely on ethnographic field research in the poorest neighborhoods of Santiago, Paris and New York. Her methodology includes snowball interviewing, participant observation, and political process tracing. Schneider has also done extensive work on immigration; race, ethnic and gender discrimination; and on the impact of drug wars, racial profiling and police violence on the spread of HIV in poor minority neighborhoods.

Mireya Solis is currently doing research on the political economy of East Asian regionalism. She is working on a book project about the domestic politics of Japanese free trade agreements (FTAs) that examine the impact of corporate lobbying and policy-making patterns on the quality of Japan's FTAs.

Quansheng Zhao researches comparative politics and international relations of East Asia with a specific focus on Chinese politics and foreign policy, Japanese politics and foreign policy, as well as East Asian security, international relations and analysis of the policymaking process.

Associated Research Centers

Members of the CRS faculty chair a number of university-wide councils including:

These councils conduct a wide range of activities including lecture series, academic certificate programs, and conferences that provide interdisciplinary approach for learning in each field.

Other useful councils at American University include: