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  • Author: Sunil S. Amrith
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Toynbee Prize Foundation
  • Abstract: “The history of water,” writes Sunil S. Amrith, “shows that nature has never truly been conquered.” Nature is a dynamic presence in Amrith’s oeuvre. As a historian of South and Southeast Asia, his research engages the spaces, movements, and processes of a uniquely Indian Oceanic region. The worlds recounted by Amrith are often ones marked by the ambitions of empires and polities, the mass migration of human labour, and indeed, the furies of nature itself. In his latest book, Unruly Waters, Amrith shows how “the schemes of empire builders, the visions of freedom fighters, the designs of engineers—and the cumulative, dispersed actions of hundreds of millions of people across generations—have transformed Asia’s waters over the past two hundred years.” It testifies to the dreams that societies have often pinned to water, as well as its unwieldy and turbulent nature. In his account of “the struggle for water” and control over the Asian monsoon, we come to understand how climate change exacerbates a problem both already in-progress and connected to histories of “reckless development and galloping inequality.” Sunil S. Amrith is presently the Mehra Family Professor of South Asian History at Harvard University. He was the 2017 recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship. From July 2020, Amrith will be the Dhawan Professor of History at Yale University. His most recent book publications include: Unruly Waters: How Rains, Rivers, Coasts, and Seas Have Shaped Asia's History (Basic Books and Penguin UK, 2018), Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and the Fortunes of Migrants (Harvard University Press, 2013), and Migration and Diaspora in Modern Asia (Cambridge University Press, 2011). In this conversation, we discuss the role of water, nature, and inequality vis-à-vis history; the fields of global and environmental history; and lastly, some of the thoughts and practices that underlay the historian’s craft.
  • Topic: Globalization, History, Water, Oceans and Seas
  • Political Geography: Asia, Global Focus
  • Author: Joy Schulz
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Toynbee Prize Foundation
  • Abstract: With young activists like Malala Yousafzai, Greta Thunberg, and Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez coming to the fore of headlines and social movements, the present has proven itself to be an opportune moment to reassess the role of youths in historical change. In this vein, Dr. Joy Schulz's book Hawaiian By Birth: Missionary Children, Bicultural Identity, and U.S. Colonialism in the Pacific (2017) stands out as crucial reading. Emphasizing the centrality of American missionary children in the domination of the Hawaiian Islands during the second half of nineteenth century, Schulz's analysis exposes the potency of youth power through a series of chapters that trace the development of these young evangelists into colonizers and revolutionaries. In the process, she draws attention to the complexities born at the intersections of childhood and empire and underscores the capacity of children to record their own histories in ways that may complement or complicate adult ambitions. Dr. Schulz and I discuss these themes, and the challenges and opportunities that children present as the subjects of transnational histories.
  • Topic: Religion, Political Activism, Children, Colonialism, Youth, Empire
  • Political Geography: Asia-Pacific, Global Focus
  • Author: David Bateman
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: In his treatise on southern politics, V.O. Key Jr. wrote that “in state politics the Democratic party is no party at all but a multiplicity of factions struggling for office. In national politics, on the contrary, the party is the Solid South; it is, or at least has been, the instrument for the conduct of the ‘foreign relations’ of the South with the rest of the nation” (Southern Politics in State and Nation [New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1949], 315). In an early (and laudatory) review of that book, Richard Hofstadter suggested that Key missed an opportunity to fully consider whether the South had affected national politics in more ways than through the reliable delivery of Democrats to Washington, but he noted that this might require another book (p. 7). David Bateman, Ira Katznelson, and John S. Lapinski have written that book. Southern Nation examines how the South influenced public policy, Congress, and the development of the American state from the close of Reconstruction to the beginning of the New Deal. The authors focus on the region’s role in national politics at a critical juncture when industrialization and a rapidly changing economy required new policy solutions. They show that the white South used this opportunity to rebuild its place in the federal government, secure home rule, and shape the national agenda
  • Topic: Post Colonialism, Race, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: George Hawley
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: Survey data consistently show that large swaths of the American electorate favor restrictionist immigration policies. Politicians at the state and national levels regularly campaign on promises to crack down on undocumented immigration and discuss immigrants as a source of crime and a drain on resources. They are often rewarded at the ballot box for doing so. Yet these facts coexist with another trend: relatively few municipal governments pursue restrictionist policies at the local level. In fact, even in places where the GOP dominates, policies that accommodate immigrants are more common than policies designed to drive them away.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Clarisa Pérez-Armendáriz
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: How do international migrants affect their origin countries’ politics? Drawing on evidence from the cases of Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico, Migrants and Political Change in Latin America argues that migrants gain new attitudes and economic resources as a result of experiences in their receiving countries that they then transmit to their origin countries through economic and social remittances and through return migration. Jiménez claims that by transmitting resources and ideas through these three channels, migrants create changes in the politics of their origin countries that they never intended or envisioned. These effects are mediated by local conditions in origin countries such as levels of education and wealth. Moreover, the social networks in which both types of remittances and return migrants are embedded augment their political effects.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: David L. Wiltse
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: In the study of candidate emergence, the cost term in the utility calculus has been of central concern. In this book, Mary Jo McGowan Shepherd makes a valuable contribution to the study of candidate emergence and campaign finance by considering how legal complexity increases the cost term in the emergence calculus. Grounded in complexity theory, she employs complexity measures of entire sections of state campaign finance laws to test whether candidates are deterred from running for office by the costs incurred in learning and complying with campaign finance law.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Kristen Coopie
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: In this book, former CNN analyst and current George Mason University professor Bill Schneider offers his take on the causes and implications of the growing partisan divide in the United States. Conflict exists between the “New America,” a product of the 1960s that “celebrates diversity in age, race, sexual orientation, and lifestyles” (p. 11), and the “Old America,” consisting of the “mostly white, mostly male, mostly older, mostly conservative, and mostly religious, and mostly nonurban,” (p. 2) which longs for the days when “the country was whiter, men were in charge, government was smaller, and religion was more influential” (p. 117). This rift is reflected in the parties and politics of the nation (it is easy to see how the “New America” is representative of the Democratic coalition and the “Old America” of the Republican Party), ultimately leading to the populist backlash that elected Donald Trump in 2016
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Kenneth Wink
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: FOR DECADES NOW, political scientists, journalists, campaign managers, and pundits have sought to predict the outcomes of elections well in advance of the day the votes are cast. As the ultimate office in the U.S. political system, the presidency has been the focus of much of this activity. Since the late twentieth century, a number of prognosticators in the discipline of political science have used forecasting models to predict presidential elections. These models have become visible in pre‐ and post‐ election coverage, and a sort of competition has emerged to produce the most accurate model whose variables offer the greatest amount of forecasting lead time before the election. Once considered “recreational political science,” forecasting presidential elections has become a cottage industry. Furthermore, the attention paid to the accuracy of these models has led to better explanations of election outcomes and allowed interested persons to see patterns in elections that are stable from year to year and to identify outlier elections and the factors that led to unique election outcomes.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Kay Lehman Schlozman, Henry E Brady
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: Who participates in American democracy? In particular, is it those with high levels of resources who most often vote, protest, contact elected officials, and discuss politics with friends? How unequal is political participation? Political scientists Kay Lehman Schlozman, Henry E. Brady, and Sidney Verba have contributed important answers to these questions over the past few decades. In their first book, Voice and Equality (1995) these scholars traced associations between resource possession and political participation, finding extensive evidence of inequalities in political voice. In their second book, The Unheavenly Chorus (2012), the authors reiterated and updated the analyses of the first. The authors also extended Voice and Equality in a number of ways, primarily by examining organizational-level as well as individual-level participatory inequalities, and by assessing the likely efficacy of various reform strategies.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: F Inglehart
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: Consolidating more than four decades of research, Ronald F. Inglehart elaborates on the enlightenment story that reliance on science and technology enables nations to meet the material needs of their populations. To that story he adds that populations, finding their security needs being met, are increasingly abandoning materialist values for post-material values. The meaning of life satisfaction is changing.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus