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New Books in Political Science

Author: Marshall Poe

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Interviews with Political Scientists about their New Books

863 Episodes
Brian Greene is a Professor of Mathematics and Physics at Columbia University in the City of New York, where he is the Director of the Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics, and co-founder and chair of the World Science Festival. He is well known for his TV mini-series about string theory and the nature of reality, including the Elegant Universe, which tied in with his best-selling 2000 book of the same name. In this episode, we talk about his latest popular book Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe (Random House, 2020) Until the End of Time gives the reader a theory of everything, both in the sense of a “state of the academic union”, covering cosmology and evolution, consciousness and computation, and art and religion, and in the sense of showing us a way to apprehend the often existentially challenging subject matter. Greene uses evocative autobiographical vignettes in the book to personalize his famously lucid and accessible explanations, and we discuss these episodes further in the interview. Greene also reiterates his arguments for embedding a form of spiritual reverie within the multiple naturalistic descriptions of reality that different areas of human knowledge have so far produced. John Weston is a University Teacher of English in the Language Centre at Aalto University, Finland. His research focuses on academic communication. He can be reached at and @johnwphd. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Political Scientist Mary-Kate Lizotte’s new book, Gender Differences in Public Opinion: Values and Political Consequences (Temple University Press, 2020) helps us to understand the concept of the gender gap in American politics and how this gap looks across a host of different policy areas. Lizotte examines four different policy umbrellas: the use of force, environmental policy, social welfare policy, and policy around issues of equality. Making use of American National Election Studies (ANES) data, the research in Gender Differences in Public Opinion digs into these policy umbrellas to tease out distinctions within these policy areas, examining where the gender gap is broader and where it narrows, both in comparison to other issue areas and in context of the issues themselves. While the gender gap is often discussed during election cycles, particularly around presidential vote preferences and the different choices men and women make, Lizotte’s work is much broader and theoretically encompassing, arguing that there is a values gap between men and women and their thinking about policy, and this is connected, then, to their political choices. There is a need to better and more comprehensively explain the gaps (which do range in size) across policy areas and not analyze each particular distinction independently. Lizotte posits that “values offer a novel and comprehensive approach to understanding gender differences in policy preferences.” Values, as such, reflect how an individual conceives of the proper role of the government in society. And thinking about different perspectives on values in this context, according to Lizotte’s thesis, helps to explain the gender gap and the way that it traces through different policy areas. Gender Differences in Public Opinion teaches us how men and women approach policy and political decisions from different perspectives and how that surfaces in specific policy choices. Lizotte also explains that these policy choices are important for candidates and parties to consider—since they need to recruit both male and female voters in order to win elections, and they have to understand the basis for choices made by these voters.   Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
When we think of democracy, we typically think of voting; and when we think of voting, we ordinarily have elections and campaigns in minds. In this intuitive sense, voting is a matter of casting a ballot. After Election Day, votes are counted, and, typically, the majority rules. But things really aren’t so simple. For one thing, citizens bring differing levels of information and ignorance into the voting booth. What’s more, famous mathematical analyses cast doubt on the very idea of a majority will. Given this, what are we to make of democracy? In Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom (Oxford University Press, 2020), Ilya Somin defends the idea that foot voting is an essential element of political freedom and democratic governance. Foot voting is the capacity of individuals to move to the jurisdiction or nation whose government most suits their preferences, or to select their favoured providers of various services. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Statelessness and Contemporary Enslavement (Routledge, 2020) bridges current policy debates around citizenship, states, and nations, and theoretical analysis of issues of belonging, consent, and freedom. Jane A. Gordon, Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Connecticut, weaves together the complexities of statelessness, emphasizing that those who are often stateless are so within the nation in which they live, and contemporary enslavement, which is often connected to and the result of labor exploitation and neoliberal economic shifts. These two frameworks of vulnerability are also woven together through changes in western approaches to political and economic policies, the results of which have led to more pronounced precarity and inequality. Gordon’s analysis digs into the concept of exclusion, and through this lens, she is able to consider these parallel but distinct positions in which individuals find themselves. For the stateless, the issue is often that a nation has changed or shifted policies that then create stateless individuals of those who had been citizens. Refugees and immigrants are also part of this analysis, but Gordon highlights the particular difficulty of those who experience a change in their status within their home country, thus leaving them stateless and vulnerable to exploitation. Contemporary enslavement, which follows and mirrors the global political economy, is coupled with statelessness in Gordon’s analysis because these same forces that create statelessness also provide opportunities to exploit equally vulnerable individuals, often entrapping and enslaving them for their labor. Statelessness and Contemporary Enslavement explores the intersectionality of those most often found to be enslaved or stateless: women, and racial and ethnic minorities. This book helps to guide the reader through political theory and political economy to understand the current situations and to unpack the policy changes—both public and private—in the global north and west that gave rise to these conditions. The analysis of both statelessness and enslavement compels us to consider the concept of consent—a fraught idea which is itself controversial in so many contemporary conversations—which should be the foundation of our thinking of constructive alternatives, especially institutions of political belonging. Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
I spoke with Dr Simon Bowmaker, Professor of Economics at New York University, Stern School of Business. He has recently published When the President Calls: Conversations with Economic Policymakers (MIT Press, 2019). His book is a very original and timely contribution on the relationship between US presidents and their economic advisers. The book, 674 pages, is divided into nine sections (one for each president from Nixon to Trump) and 35 chapters (one for each economic adviser of those nine presidents). The book covers 50 years of US history, 1969 to 2019 and is enriched by amazing pictures of the advisers ‘in action’ with their presidents. What is it like to sit in the Oval Office and discuss policy with the president? To know that the decisions made will affect hundreds of millions of people? To know that the wrong advice could be calamitous? These 35 officials worked in the executive branch in a variety of capacities but all had direct access to the policymaking process and can offer insights about the difficult tradeoffs made on economic policy. The interviews shed new light, for example, on the thinking behind the Reagan tax cuts, the economic factors that cost George H. W. Bush a second term, the constraints facing policymakers during the financial crisis of 2008, the differences in work styles between Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and the Trump administration's early budget process. We started our conversation talking about the origin of the book and its development. Simon explained how he managed to reach such an impressive number of interviewees. We then discussed the background of the advisers, their relationship with ‘their’ presidents and how they managed to receive their ‘call’. I have asked him if he thinks that in the 50 years covered by the book, the relationship between presidents and advisers has evolved in some direction. He offered a very interesting answer about the alternative sources that today politicians can use to make their own minds. When the President Calls offers a unique, behind-the-scenes perspective on US economic policymaking. This is a great new book, original, well written, enjoyable. Many readers would find it interesting and helpful: to begin with, economists, historians, and politicians. Andrea Bernardi is Senior Lecturer in Employment and Organization Studies at Oxford Brookes University in the UK. He holds a doctorate in Organization Theory from the University of Milan, Bicocca. He has held teaching and research positions in Italy, China and the UK. Among his research interests are the use of history in management studies, the co-operative sector, and Chinese co-operatives. His latest project is looking at health care in China. He is the co-convener of the EAEPE’s permanent track on Co-operative economy and collective ownership. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
When advocacy organizations are forbidden from rallying people to take to the streets, what do they do? Diana Fu’s nuanced ethnography of Chinese labor organizations demonstrates how grassroots non-governmental organizations (NGOs) mobilize under repressive political conditions. Instead of facilitating collective action through public protests or strikes, Fu demonstrates how Chinese activists innovatively coach citizens to challenge authorities – in private spaces. Activists work with individual workers to help them understand and assert their rights in labor negotiations. Activists use individual conversations with workers to create a sense of belonging to a larger community of migrant workers. These “pedagogies of contention” foster collective identity and consciousness: mobilization without the masses. Mobilizing Without the Masses: Control and Contention in China (Cambridge University Press, 2017) is divided into two parts. First, Fu examines the structural conditions of above and underground groups in Beijing and the Pearl River Delta. She reveals and interrogates how the CCP’s policy of “flexible repression” provided opportunities for mobilization without the masses. Second, she looks at the tactics that allowed activists to inspire participants to take individualized and discursive action. Throughout, she describes the contours of a remarkable political compromise in which local authorities do not fully repress activisists (for fear of driving them further underground) yet attend to the PRC’s goal of stability and fear of collective action. The books demonstrates that Chinese civil society organizations can and do play an active role in shaping state-society relations – more than delivering social services or providing policy consultation – by coaching participants to make rights claims against the state. The podcast concludes with a brief discussion of Dr. Fu’s recent article in Foreign Policy regarding the challenges that COVID19 poses to the CCP’s concerns with social stability. Mobilizing Without the Masses was awarded the Gregory Luebbert Prize for the best book on Comparative Politics from the American Political Science Association, the International Studies Association International Political Sociology Section’s Best Book Award, and the American Sociological Association’s Charles Tilly Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book Award (co-winner). Susan Liebell is associate professor of political science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She is the author of Democracy, Intelligent Design, and Evolution: Science for Citizenship (Routledge, 2013). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Polarization, a disaffected and frustrated electorate, and widespread distrust of government, media, and traditional politicians set the stage in 2016 for an unprecedented presidential contest. For many, Donald Trump’s campaign speeches and other rhetoric seemed on the surface to be simplistic, repetitive, and disorganized. In Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump (Texas A&M University Press, 2020), Jennifer Mercieca shows that Trump’s rhetoric was anything but. As a political communication expert, Mercieca describes the Trump campaign’s expert use of the common demagogic rhetorical techniques. These strategies were meant to appeal to a segment of an already distrustful electorate. Mercieca analyzes Trump’s rhetorical strategies, including argument ad hominem, reification, and paralipsis, to reveal a campaign that was morally repugnant to some, but that was also effective and that may have fundamentally changed the discourse of the American public sphere. Carrie Gillon received her PhD from the Linguistics program at the University of British Columbia in 2006. She is currently an editor and writing coach and the cohost of the Vocal Fries Podcast, the podcast about linguistic discrimination. She is also the author of ​The Semantics of Determiners and the co-author of Nominal Contact in Michif. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In this episode of the podcast, Vaneesa Cook discusses her new book Spiritual Socialists: Religion and the American Left (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019). The book shows that there is a deep religious strain within the American Left despite contrary common perceptions. Leftists Cook calls spiritual socialists believed the basic expression of religious values—caring for the sick, tired, hungry, and exploited members of one's community—was key to creating a functioning and more equal society. They emphasized these aspects of socialism and sought to implement them through their own actions and through a bottom up approach to activism. The book discusses a group of activists who practiced and shaped this intellectual tradition. In the episode, Cook discusses what she means by the term “spiritual socialists,” some of the individuals she discusses in her book, and how they distinguished themselves from communists both in their belief system and in the context of multiple American Red Scares. Cook also talks about her research process and some ways her book might be useful for thinking about the contemporary American political landscape. Christine Lamberson is a historian. Her research and teaching focuses on 20th century U.S. political and cultural history. She’s currently working on a book manuscript about the role of violence in shaping U.S. political culture in the 1960s and 1970s. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Richard Lachmann’s First Class Passengers on a Sinking Ship: Elite Politics and the Decline of Great Powers (Verso, 2020) is a two-for-one deal. The first half of the book is a historical analysis of why some empires transform their geopolitical power into global hegemony while others fail to do so, and why hegemons eventually lose their global predominance. Focusing on the great European empires (Spain, France, Britain, and the Netherlands), Lachmann argues that while imperial expansion can deliver more resources to their centers, they can also create dynamics of elite conflict and complacency that can either prevent an empire from attaining global preeminence, or prevent hegemons from undertaking reforms that would be necessary to maintain their power advantages over emerging rivals. His theoretical framework breaks from internalist theories of state formation and regime change by demonstrating how imperial expansion affects political development in the metropole. In the second half of the book, Lachmann uses his theory of elite politics to analyze the decline of US geopolitical power from its post-World War II heights, which has manifested itself in rising inequality, increasing economic instability, and the failure to win wars despite its massive military budget. He shows how financialization has fostered predatory, short-termist accumulation strategies for economic elites, as they prioritize maximizing shareholder value over long-term investment. At the same time, military officers and weapons contractors team up to prevent reorganization of the military away from expensive high-tech conventional weapons towards resources that would be more useful for fighting insurgencies. In both cases, elites have been able to use their organizational resources to secure their own interests at the expense of the national interest. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered colleges and universities across the globe. With that, collaboration has been stalled, frustrated, or interrupted. In this episode of the Co-Authored podcast we focus on collaboration and loss, on the way collaboration in political science transpires during some of the most difficult times. We hear from three people. First, Ken Sherrill, emeritus professor from Hunter College CUNY, who talks about his experiences during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. The second, Dave Hopkins from Boston College, explains how he came to know Nelson Polsby and co-author a textbook with him. And the third, Julia Azari from Marquette University explains the loss of a good friend and co-author. Each shares deeply personal stories about how they’ve collaborated in the past and coped with loss and grief. The Co-Authored podcast is supported by the American Political Science Association, the John Jay College, and the New Books Network. The series is produced and edited by Sam Anderson. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Kevin Duong, a political theorist in the Politics Department at the University of Virginia, has written a fascinating analysis of the way that violence has been used, in a sense, to create or promote solidarity during the course of the “long nineteenth century” in France. Duong explores four separate periods and experiences in France, starting with the French Revolution and the trial of Louis XVI, moving to the long military engagement in Algeria, then to the Paris Commune in later half of the century, and finally to the preparations and the run up to World War I. And while The Virtues of Violence: Democracy Against Disintegration in Modern France (Oxford University Press, 2020) is about the French engagement with violence, it is a much broader analysis of the role that violence plays, particularly the concept of redemptive violence, in constructing democracy and establishing a cohesive social body among the citizenry. Duong makes a complex and important argument that the establishment of democracy is built on an often-violent overthrow of an old order, and instead of the move from the state of nature that social contract theorists like Hobbes and Locke argue for in their texts, the democratic state comes into existence not in the welcome transition from the cruelty of the state of nature, but in the violent convulsions of bloody revolution more like the French experience. In order to create a democratic people, violence is often implemented as the means to pulling people together, and it is a kind of collective violence. Duong’s analysis posits that modern society is held together by social cohesion, which comes out of unifying violent experiences that bring people together. While mass violence is often associated with anarchy and disorder, The Virtue of Violence makes a different case, compelling us to consider how violence solves a kind of social solidarity problem, and is a means of knitting together potentially disparate members of society. While this is a book that explores the French experience, France provides the case studies to consider how violence works constructively within democratic thought, and, how redemptive violence has a kind of revitalizing power in these political contexts. Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015).   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
What demobilizes a once mobilized society? How does international involvement amplify or suppress these dynamics? In Polarized and Demobilized: Legacies of Authoritarianism in Palestine (Oxford University Press, 2020), Dana El Kurd’s new book uses a case study to interrogate how the Palestinian Authority – as an indigenous institution – more successfully demobilized Palestinian society than Israeli occupiers. Despite Israel’s greater resources and international backing, the Palestinian Authority, paradoxically, was able to accomplish what the Israelis could not: the polarization and demobilization of the Palestinian population. The Palestinian Authority (PA) -- insulated from domestic constituents and consumed with addressing international pressures rather than negotiating with Palestinian society – strengthened authoritarian practices. The use of authoritarianism polarized the public over both international involvement and the practice of authoritarianism. El Kurd’s rich case study illustrates how certain authoritarian strategies used by the PA increased societal polarizing – and that polarization negatively affected mobilization and the capacity for collective action. El Kurd uses a mix of survey data, interviews, and field research to demonstrate how international involvement results in insulation that may increase authoritarianism. She not only provides a nuanced look at the Palestinian Authority but applies her findings to Iraqi Kurdistan and Bahrain in one of the concluding chapters. The podcast concludes with incisive comments about how the Trump administration’s disengagement may ironically open opportunities for rebuilding the capacity for Palestinian collective action. Susan Liebell is associate professor of political science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She is the author of Democracy, Intelligent Design, and Evolution: Science for Citizenship (Routledge, 2013). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
What is truly at stake in politics? Nothing less than how we should live, as individuals and as communities. This book goes beyond the surface headlines, the fake news and the hysteria to explore the timeless questions posed and answers offered by a diverse group of the 30 greatest political thinkers who have ever lived. Notably, they blur boundaries of ancient and modern, Western, Chinese and Islamic thought, religious and seculary thinkers to provide a much wider survey than normally is the case in such overviews. Are we political, economic, or religious animals? Should we live in small city-states, nations, or multinational empires? What values should politics promote? Should wealth be owned privately or in common? Do animals also have rights? There is no idea too radical for this global assortment of thinkers, which includes: Confucius; Plato; Augustine; Maimonides; Machiavelli; Burke; Wollstonecraft; Marx; Nietzsche; Gandhi; Qutb; Arendt; Mao; Nussbaum, Naess and Rawls. In How to Think Politically: Sages, Scholars and Statesmen Whose Ideas Have Shaped the World (Bloomsbury, 2019), the authors paint a vivid portrait of these often prescient, always compelling political thinkers, showing how their ideas grew out of their own dramatic lives and times and evolved beyond them. Now more than ever we need to be reminded that politics can be a noble, inspiring and civilising art, concerned with both power and justice. And if we want to understand today's political world, we need to understand the foundations of politics and its architects. This is the perfect guide to both. James Bernard Murphy is Professor of Government at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, USA where he has taught since 1990. His newest book is titled Your Whole Life: Childhood and Adulthood in Dialogue (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020). Graeme Garrard has taught political thought at Cardiff University, UK since 1995 and at the Harvard Summer School, USA since 2006. He has lectured at colleges and universities in Canada, the United States, Britain and France for 25 years. He is the author of two books:  Rousseau’s Counter-Enlightenment (2000) and CounterEnlightenments: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present  (2006). Kirk Meighoo is a TV and podcast host, former university lecturer, author and former Senator in Trinidad and Tobago. He hosts his own podcast, Independent Thought & Freedom, where he interviews some of the most interesting people from around the world who are shaking up politics, economics, society and ideas. You can find it in the iTunes Store or any of your favorite podcast providers. You can also subscribe to his YouTube channel. If you are an academic who wants to get heard nationally, please check out his free training at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
This podcast was recorded on May 21st, 2020 – the same day that the Chinese government proposed new national security laws that would give China greater control over Hong Kong. What motivates these laws and what is at stake for Hong Kong, China, and the rest of the world if they go into effect? In the podcast, Wasserstrom draws on examples from modern Chinese history and politics – such as the role of local press in reporting on SARS – to connect on the ground reporting in Hong Kong and the exercise of rights by the Hong Kong people with practical policy-making during a pandemic. He offers both stark realism and optimism about the ability of the public, heads of state, and policy makers to fully comprehend the meaning of political protest – and the freedom it represents – in Hong Kong. Jeffrey Wasserstrom's Vigil: Hong Kong on the Brink (Columbia Global Reports, 2020) provides a nuanced yet accessible overview of the struggle between Hong Kong and China over self-governance and civil liberties. This historical and political context is essential for understanding why – and how – 2 million people (in a country of 7 million) took to the streets in 2019 and 2020 to protest against Chinese control over Hong Kong in what was promised to be “one country, two systems.” Wasserstrom’s “history of the present” provides insights into sovereignty, colonialism, rule of law, national security, freedom of the press, authoritarianism, and the politics of protest. This beautifully written – and remarkably short – book provides the political background necessary for concerned citizens, engaged students, and scholars of modern China. Susan Liebell is associate professor of political science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She is the author of Democracy, Intelligent Design, and Evolution: Science for Citizenship (Routledge, 2013). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In his classic essay on the fear of breakdown, Donald Winnicott famously conveys to a patient that the disaster powerfully feared has, in fact, already happened. Taking her cue from Winnicott, Noëlle McAfee’s Fear of Breakdown: Psychoanalysis and Politics (Columbia University Press, 2019), explores the implications of breakdown fears for the practice of democracy. Democracy, as you may dimly recall, demands the capacity to bear difference, tolerate loss, and to speak into the unknown. Meanwhile we have come to live in a world where, if my clinical practice and personal life are any indication, people often prefer writing to speaking. Patients who want to make a schedule change--never a neutral event in psychoanalysis—write me. I say, addressing the resistance, “This is a talking cure. Get your money’s worth. Speak!” Among intimates, bad news is something I too often read about. I surmise that in speaking desire or conveying pain, a fantasized recipient is sought, an ideal listener, who, like a blow up doll lover can be invoked, controlled and then deflated at will. Circling back to difference and loss, ideas that do not mirror our already existing thoughts find themselves batted out of the park to an elsewhere not worth enunciating. Cultivating a protective bubble—such a heartbreak right?  It seems there is something about democracy that frightens the shit out of us. Deploying the work of Winnicott, Klein, Green and Kristeva, Mcafee reminds us of our original loss—what she calls “plenum”. That loss, to the degree it is recognized, initiates our undoing. Mother’s other—be it her lover, her piano lessons, a visit to the dentist for a cavity—tears a hole in our emotional shield. In her wake, we cling to seemingly strong leaders, a father, or failing that potent ideologies reeking of misogyny, all the while hoping for compensation for an unfathomable loss. Embedded within democracy lies the demand that we see other than ourselves. This demand challenges the thin-skinned among us. And all of us are thin-skinned from time to time. How to manage? Mcafee adds her voice to the popular chorus of those practicing applied psychoanalysis and suggests we embrace mourning. It is an inarguable position yet also nice work if you can get it! Of course, with the original disaster elided, like sleepwalkers in our night fog, we will helplessly seek it out; worse, we will make it manifest, with a vengeance. What is not remembered gets repeated. Trapped in America, as I am, one wonders about democracy. What might lure us to revisit the sight of the disaster, “the thing itself’,” to quote Adrienne Rich, “and not the myth?” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Did Donald Trump win the U.S. presidency in 2016 because he was a master of character work – able to sum up opponents in pithy epithets that encourage the public to see them as weak or immoral? What is character work and how do characters with roots in ancient crease help us understand 21st-century politics? While many scholars of politics focus on plots, James M. Jasper, Michael P. Young and Elke Zuern encourage us to look at the characters – particularly the simplified packaging of the intentions, capacities, and actions of public figures. In Public Characters: The Politics of Reputation and Blame (Oxford University Press, 2020), Jasper and his colleagues show how political figures often allocate praise and blame, identify social problems, cement identities and allegiances, develop policies, and articulate our moral intuitions. Democracies need to understand where characters -- heroes, villains, victims, and minions – come from in order to keep their influence within proper bounds. Although part of a Western rhetorical tradition, character work is often done through dress, posters, facial expressions, statues, paintings, photos, and music. In the podcast, Jasper discusses Trump’s conveying of ancient rhetorical symbols through Twitter, the gendered nature of “strength” or “heroism,” and the uncomfortable use of stereotypes that shape group “characters.” Susan Liebell is associate professor of political science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She is the author of Democracy, Intelligent Design, and Evolution: Science for Citizenship (Routledge, 2013). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
What does it mean to be a political subject? This is one of the key questions asked by Massimo Modonesi in ​The Antagonistic Principle: Marxism and Political Action (2019)​, published as part of the Historical Materialism book series from Brill and Haymarket books. The book takes on the theories of Marx and Gramsci to develop a philosophical triad of subalternity-antagonism-autonomy as a way of studying political subjectification under oppressive conditions and the potential for resistance. The book then looks at political developments in South and Latin America, trying to understand the underlying dynamics of both where it’s coming from, and what its possibilities are for anticapitalist resistance. Massimo Modonesi is professor and chair of the Political and Social Sciences Faculty at the Autonomous National University in Mexico, and is the author of numerous books on political theory and history in Latin America, his most recent in English being ​Subalternity, Antagonism, Autonomy: Constructing the Political Subject.​ He is a member of the coordinating committee of the International Gramsci Society. Maria Vignau served as a research assistant under Modonesi, and now teaches while working on her PhD at the University of Washington in Seattle. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
How can we make sense of the elections of Barack Obama and Donald Trump? What forces moved American politics from the first African-American president and an all-Democratic Congress (2008) to ethno-nationalist rhetoric and GOP control of Congress (2016)? What do the reactions to these political events – the rise of the Tea Party and the Anti-Trump resistance – tell us about these, and future, presidential elections? In there new book Upending American Politics: Polarizing Parties, Ideological Elites, and Citizen Activists from the Tea Party to the Anti-Trump Resistance (Oxford University Press, 2019), Theda Skocpol and Caroline Tervo focus on changing organizational configurations – such as voluntary local citizens’ groups, elite advocacy organizations, consortia of wealthy donors (e.g., Koch’s Americans For Prosperity), and candidate-led political campaigns – to explain these radical shifts. The book has a unique methodology: a rich mix of quantitative and qualitative data analyzed by a collaborative team of authors from political science, sociology, and history. The range is extraordinary, combining what is best about both field work and big data in the social sciences. The authors document the changing organizational configurations – at both the national and state levels – with an emphasis on the states that were pivotal in the 2016 election: Wisconsin, North Carolina, Michigan, Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania. The book offer insights about national trends while capturing the importance of federalism – and attending to unique factors in swing states. The authors excavate how top-down efforts (ultra-free market fundamentalism funded by groups like Americans For Prosperity) combined with bottom-up organizations (popular, local, and diverse groups who often channeled ethno-nationalist resentment) to push Republican politics to the right. Their analysis of progressive groups reacting to the Trump presidency reveals grassroots organizing that is both similar and different to the Tea Party movement. Rather than pushing the Democratic party to the left, the resisters work within the Democratic party (often energizing moribund organizations). Susan Liebell is associate professor of political science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She is the author of Democracy, Intelligent Design, and Evolution: Science for Citizenship (Routledge, 2013). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
State Formation in China and Taiwan: Bureaucracy, Campaign, and Performance (Cambridge University Press, 2019) by Julia C. Strauss is a comparative study of regime consolidation in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (Taiwan) after 1949. It examines the ways in which bureaucratic and campaign modalities were deployed in the regime consolidation of the PRC and the ROC by focusing on three paired case studies: state personnel, terror unleased by the state against domestic enemies, and land reform. Throughout it shows that while there were striking similarities in what policies the PRC and ROC implemented, how the polices were conveyed and above all how they were performed differed radically. Meticulously researched and wonderfully nuanced, it is both a fascinating read and an elegant model for how to do comparative history. Sarah Bramao-Ramos is a PhD candidate at Harvard University in the History and East Asian Languages program. She is interested in translation, Manchu books, and anything with a kesike. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
China is a veto-holding member of the UN Security Council yet Chinese officials have been skeptical of using the powers of the UN to pressure nations accused of human rights violations. The PRC has emphasized the norm of sovereignty and rejected external interference in its own internal affairs. Yet they have supported UN intervention when states have been accused of mass human rights abuses. Why has China acquiesced and supported intervention? Neither realism or liberalism offer complete explanations for China’s seeming inconsistency. Courtney Fung finds that social constructions by way of public discourse of regime change matter when embedded in wider material conditions. She argues that anxieties about loss of status help explain China’s choices. In her new book China and Intervention at the UN Security Council: Reconciling Status (Oxford University Press, 2019), Fung explores three cases involving mass atrocities: Darfur (2004-2008), Libya (2011-2012), and Syria (2011-2015). China’s focus on status requires thinking about China’s twin statuses as both a great power and a developing state. China focuses on recognition from its intervention peer group: the Western, permanent members of the UN Security Council, US, UK, and France (P3). But China is also concerned with the Global South, which includes geographic-specific regional organizations and often the host state. Fung urges political scientists (and foreign policy experts implementing policy) to take “status triggers” in both peer groups seriously. Susan Liebell is associate professor of political science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She is the author of Democracy, Intelligent Design, and Evolution: Science for Citizenship (Routledge, 2013). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Comments (1)

JL gqsith89

awesome! very informative!

Jul 2nd
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