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Comparative and Regional Studies | SIS

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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.

Adam Auerbach's research and teaching interests include the political economy of development, local governance and representation, and comparative political institutions, with a regional focus on South Asia and India in particular. His dissertation and first book project examine informal community governance and development in India's urban slums. The project draws on twenty months of ethnographic fieldwork, archival research, and an original survey he designed and administered across eighty settlements in two north Indian cities. His research has been supported by the Social Science Research Council, Fulbright-Hays, and the National Science Foundation. He received the 2013 Best Fieldwork Award from the Comparative Democratization Section of APSA and the 2014 Best Dissertation Award from the Urban Politics Section of APSA. He received his Ph.D. in political science and M.A. in agricultural and applied economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Keith Darden’s research focuses on nationalism, state-building, and the politics of Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia. His forthcoming book, Resisting Occupation in Eurasia (Cambridge University Press), explores the development of durable national loyalties through education and details how they explain over a century of regional patterns in voting, secession, and armed resistance in Ukraine, Eurasia and the world. His award-winning first book, Economic Liberalism and Its Rivals (Cambridge University Press, 2009) explored the formation of international economic institutions among the post-Soviet states, and explained why countries chose to join the Eurasian Customs Union, the WTO, or to eschew participation in any trade institutions. Prof. Darden is co-editor of the Cambridge University Press Book Series Problems of International Politics and is actively engaged with Russia and Eurasia though the Bilateral Working Group on US-Russia Relations, PONARS Eurasia, the Valdai Discussion Club, and other forums. His analyses and interviews concerning events in Ukraine have been published in Foreign Affairs, Survival, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, LeMonde, National Geographic, Russia in Foreign Affairs, the AP and Reuters, and he has been interviewed on CNN, Washington Public Radio’s Kojo Nnamdi Show, Sirius XM radio, CBS, Voice of America, Echo Moscow, and Ukrainian television (Channel 5). His commentary on the US-Russian relationship was recently covered on C-SPAN.

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.

Agustina Giraudy's book, Democrats and Autocrats (Oxford University Press, 2015), explores the multiple pathways towards subnational undemocratic regime continuity within democratized countries. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Journal of Politics, Journal of Politics in Latin America, Studies in Comparative International Development, Latin American Research Review, Journal of Democracy (en Español), Revista de Ciencia Política (Chile), among others. Before joining AU, Professor Giraudy held a postdoctoral position at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, taught at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella (Argentina) and Universidad de San Andrés (Argentina), and worked as a consultant for the Ford Foundation, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the World Bank.

Austin Hart specializes in political campaigns, public opinion, and statistical analysis. His most recent work analyzes the communication strategies candidates employ in the face of national economic constraints and the effects of these strategies on voters and policy makers. 

Dr. Hart's research has been published in the Journal of Politics and Comparative Political Studies and has been funded by competitive grants from the National Science Foundation and the TESS program

You can read more about Dr. Hart's research and publications at his personal website.

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 focuses on 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 State building. 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.

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.

Jessica Trisko Darden's research focuses on the influence of international actors on intrastate conflict and political violence, particularly within Asia. Professor Trisko is currently working on her book manuscript, entitled Financing Repression: Foreign Assistance, Coercive Capacity and Patterns of State Violence. This research examines the relationship between foreign assistance to the developing world and patterns of state-led violence against civilians in aid recipient countries. It considers how the provision of bilateral foreign aid may exacerbate government repression and potentially trigger violence, thereby raising fundamental questions about the consequences of various forms of foreign assistance. Professor Trisko is also leading a project on Women in Combat Roles (WICR), which aims to collect data on female combatants in national militaries and armed non-state actors. She has published peer-reviewed articles on alliance dynamics, political violence, and human security. Her interviews and commentary on national security in Asia and women's roles in international politics and conflict have appeared on BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 5, CNN, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Today Show. Prof. Trisko was formerly a Visiting Scholar with Yale University's Program on Order, Conflict and Violence (2010-2012) and the Mansfield Foundation (Summer 2010).

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 policy-making 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: