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Interviews with Political Scientists about their New Books
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    • Science

Interviews with Political Scientists about their New Books
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    Amy Fried and Douglas B. Harris, "At War with Government: How Conservatives Weaponized Distrust from Goldwater to Trump" (Columbia UP, 2021)

    Amy Fried and Douglas B. Harris, "At War with Government: How Conservatives Weaponized Distrust from Goldwater to Trump" (Columbia UP, 2021)

    Political Scientists Amy Fried (University of Maine) and Douglas B. Harris (Loyola University Maryland) have a new book, At War with Government: How Conservatives Weaponized Distrust from Goldwater to Trump (Columbia UP, 2021), that looks at the question of distrust within American politics and how that distrust has moved from healthy skepticism to a weapon to be used to divide citizens and undermine the entire governmental system in the United States. Part of this is an historical examination, starting with the basic skepticism about power that was present in North America even before the Founding period. But the thrust of the book traces this distrust of government over the past half century, and highlights how it has become more overt, and more of a rhetorical tool used, in particular, by members of the Republican Party and the conservative movement.
    Fried and Harris explain how this narrative of distrust in government has been used as an organizing umbrella for the contemporary Republican Party, as the strategic glue that holds together social conservatives, economic conservatives and libertarians, and national security hawks. This is the same organizing umbrella that was also implemented by politicians, especially in the use of the Southern Strategy, to pull the southern states into the Republican coalition over the past half century. This weaponization of distrust has been used, as the authors, note, in four different areas that can be seen again and again across historical periods during the last fifty years; these four areas include building organization, winning elections, securing policy gains, and moving functional power into the political institutions when they are controlled by the GOP. This use of distrust has also been woven into the conservative political identity, pulling in racial components and advocacy against the government itself to continue to build this political coalition. Fried and Harris make use of a lot of different archival sources to examine and explain how conservative elites have used this distrust strategically to help turn out voters, build the political organization, and construct a rhetorical narrative that indicts the American political system. At War with Government: How Conservatives Weaponized Distrust from Goldwater to Trump helps to explain not only the rise of Donald Trump, but also the asymmetrical polarization in which voters now find themselves in the U.S. system, and how Trump and those who preceded him capitalized on American distrust of and skepticism towards government.
    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). Email her comments at lgoren@carrollu.edu or tweet to @gorenlj.
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    • 1 hr 2 min
    Till F. Paasche and James Derrick Sidaway, "Transecting Securityscapes: Dispatches from Cambodia, Iraq, and Mozambique" (U Georgia Press, 2021)

    Till F. Paasche and James Derrick Sidaway, "Transecting Securityscapes: Dispatches from Cambodia, Iraq, and Mozambique" (U Georgia Press, 2021)

    In this interview, I speak with Till F. Paasche and James D. Sidaway about their new book, Transecting Securityscapes: Dispatches from Cambodia, Iraq, and Mozambique (University of Georgia Press, 2021). In addition to the book's methodological and theoretical contributions, we also discussed the extensive field research and important personal experiences informing this project.
    This is an innovative book on the everyday life of security, told via an examination of three sites: Cambodia, the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and Mozambique. The authors' study of how security is enacted differently in these three sites, taking account of the rich layers of context and culture, enables comparative reflections on diversity and commonality in "securityscapes."
    The book puts into practice a diverse and contextual approach to security that contrasts with the aerial, big-picture view taken by many geopolitics scholars. In applying this grounded approach, Paasche and Sidaway develop a method of urban and territorial transects, combined with other methods and modes of encounter. The book draws on a broad range of traditions, but it speaks mostly to political geography, urban studies, and international relations research on geopolitics, stressing the need for ethnographic, embodied, affective, and place-based approaches to conflict. The result is a sustained theoretical critique of abstract research on geopolitical conflict and security-mainstream as well as academic-that pretends to be able to know and analyze conflict "from above."
    Please note: the second half of this podcast includes discussion of combat, death and loss.
    Till F. Paasche is Associate Professor of political geography at Soran University.
    James D. Sidaway is Professor of political geography at the National University of Singapore.
    Catriona Gold is a PhD candidate in Geography at University College London, researching security, subjectivity and mobility in the 20-21st century United States. Her current work concerns the US Passport Office; she has previously published on US Africa Command and the 2013-16 Ebola epidemic. She can be reached by email or on Twitter.
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    • 1 hr 9 min
    Stephen Skowronek et al, "Phantoms of a Beleaguered Republic: The Deep State and the Unitary Executive" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    Stephen Skowronek et al, "Phantoms of a Beleaguered Republic: The Deep State and the Unitary Executive" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    Phantoms of a Beleaguered Republic: The Deep State and the Unitary Executive (Oxford University Press, 2021) powerfully dissects one of the fundamental problems in American governance today: the clash between presidents determined to redirect the nation through ever-tighter control of administration and an executive branch still organized to promote shared interests in steady hands, due deliberation, and expertise.
    As the nation's chief executive, Donald Trump pitted himself repeatedly against the institutions and personnel of the executive branch. In the process, two once-obscure concepts came center stage in an eerie faceoff. On one side was the specter of a Deep State conspiracy-administrators threatening to thwart the will of the people and undercut the constitutional authority of the president they elected to lead them. On the other side was a raw personalization of presidential power, one that a theory of the unitary executive gussied up and allowed to run roughshod over reason and the rule of law. The Deep State and the unitary executive framed every major contest of the Trump presidency. Like phantom twins, they drew each other out and wrestled to light basic issues of governance long suppressed.
    Though this conflict reached a fever pitch during the Trump presidency, it is not new. Stephen Skowronek, John A. Dearborn, and Desmond King trace the tensions between presidential power and the depth of the American state back through the decades and forward through the various settlements arrived at in previous eras. Phantoms of a Beleaguered Republic is about the breakdown of settlements and the abiding vulnerabilities of a Constitution that gave scant attention to administrative power. Rather than simply dump on Trump, the authors provide a richly historical perspective on the conflicts that rocked his presidency, and they explain why, if left untamed, the phantom twins will continue to pull the American government apart.
    Stephen Skowronek is the Pelatiah Perit Professor of Political and Social Science at Yale University. 
    John A. Dearborn is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Carolyn T. and Robert M. Rogers Dean's Faculty Fellow at Vanderbilt University.
    Desmond King is the Andrew W Mellon Professor of Government at the University of Oxford.
    Kirk Meighoo is Public Relations Officer for the United National Congress, the Official Opposition in Trinidad and Tobago. His career has spanned media, academia, and politics for three decades.
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    • 1 hr 13 min
    Avia Pasternak, "Responsible Citizens, Irresponsible States: Should Citizens Pay for Their States' Wrongdoings?" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    Avia Pasternak, "Responsible Citizens, Irresponsible States: Should Citizens Pay for Their States' Wrongdoings?" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    We tend to think that states can act wrongfully, even criminally. Thus, we also tend to think that states can be held responsible for their acts. They can be made to pay compensation to their victims or suffer penalties with respect to their standing in the international community, and so on. The trouble, though, is that when states are held responsible, the cost of moral repair is transferred to the citizens of the offending state, including citizens who objected to the wrongful acts, may have been unaware of them, or were powerless to prevent them. What could justify this?
    In Responsible Citizens, Irresponsible States: Should Citizens Pay for their State’s Wrongdoings? (Oxford University Press 2021), Avia Pasternak develops a new defense of the idea that citizens have a duty to share in the burdens of their state’s wrongdoing. However, Avia also addresses the practical moral complexities of state wrongdoing, and defends a context-sensitive framework for distributing the burden.
    Robert Talisse is the W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University.
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    • 1 hr 5 min
    John D. French, "Lula and His Politics of Cunning: From Metalworker to President of Brazil" (UNC Press, 2020)

    John D. French, "Lula and His Politics of Cunning: From Metalworker to President of Brazil" (UNC Press, 2020)

    Known around the world simply as Lula, Luis Inácio Lula da Silva was born in 1945 to illiterate parents who migrated to industrializing São Paulo. He learned to read at ten years of age, left school at fourteen, became a skilled metalworker, rose to union leadership, helped end a military dictatorship--and in 2003 became the thirty-fifth president of Brazil. During his administration, Lula led his country through reforms that lifted tens of millions out of poverty.
    In Lula and His Politics of Cunning: From Metalworker to President of Brazil (University of North Carolina Press, 2020), John D. French, one of the foremost historians of Brazil, provides the first critical biography of the leader whom even his political opponents see as strikingly charismatic, humorous, and endearing. Interweaving an intimate and colorful story of Lula's life--his love for home, soccer, factory floor, and union hall--with an analysis of large-scale forces, French argues that Lula was uniquely equipped to influence the authoritarian structures of power in this developing nation. His cunning capacity to speak with, not at, people and to create shared political meaning was fundamental to his political triumphs. After Lula left office, his opponents convicted and incarcerated him on charges of money laundering and corruption--but his immense army of voters celebrated his recent release from jail, insisting that he is the victim of a right-wing political ambush. The story of Lula is not over.
    Candela Marini is an Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies and Spanish at MSOE University.
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    • 1 hr 32 min
    Paul Collier, "The Future of Capitalism: Facing the New Anxieties" (Harper, 2019)

    Paul Collier, "The Future of Capitalism: Facing the New Anxieties" (Harper, 2019)

    Deep new rifts are tearing apart the fabric of Britain and other Western societies: thriving cities versus the provinces; the high-skilled elite versus the less educated. As these divides deepen, we have lost the sense of ethical, reciprocal obligations to others that were crucial to the rise of post-war prosperity — and are inherently aligned with how humans are meant to live: in a friendly, collaborative community. So far these rifts have been answered only by ideologies of populism and socialism, leading to the seismic upheavals of Trump, Brexit, and the return of the far-right across much of Europe.
    Sir Paul Collier’s The Future of Capitalism: Facing the New Anxieties (Harper, 2019), winner of the 2019 Handelsblatt Prize, provides a diagnosis for how these anxieties have arrived, alongside a pragmatic and ambitious prescription for how we can address them. In our conversation, we trace these anxieties of 21st century capitalism back to their ethical, economic, and social roots and discuss ideas to rebuild reciprocal obligations in our society, paving the way to more sustainable, more kind, and more successful future of capitalism.
    Paul is currently Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford and a Director of the International Growth Centre in London. He is a world-renowned development economist, working with governments around the world; an award-winning author, notably writing The Bottom Billion, on how the world’s poorest countries can achieve prosperity, and most recently Greed is Dead, with Sir John Kay; and frequently writes for magazines such as Prospect and the New Statesman.
    Host, Leo Nasskau, is an expert on the future of work and interviews authors writing about public policy and political economy — particularly how capitalism can be reformed to deliver sustainable prosperity for all.
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    • 59 min

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