"Ever-Widening Circles”: U.S. Private Voluntary Development in Palestine/Israel and Jordan, 1930-1967

Francis Bonenfant-Juwong

History & Peace Studies

Using U.S. religiously-affiliated voluntary groups as my primary vehicle, my dissertation centers on the historical variations of U.S. social and economic development efforts in Palestine/Israel and Jordan, their connection to British colonial models of social welfare, and their “on the ground” implementation between 1930 and 1967. I suggest that although they were complicit with the expansion of British and American power in the region, groups such as Catholic Relief Services, the American Friends Service Committee, Near East Foundation, and International Voluntary Service were not neo-imperialists but rather flawed innovators who pushed the boundaries of Western relations with the non-Western world by seeking to correct power asymmetries in a peaceful, humane, and cooperative spirit. Linking into emergent research on alternative visions of socioeconomic development that were not necessarily Weberian “modernization,” private agencies (and some British officials) advocated visions and projects mirroring agricultural extension. Prefiguring contemporary concepts such as participatory action research and empowerment, proponents advocated the adaption of small-scale demonstrations, sensitivity to and knowledge of local culture, and self-help through intimate human-relationship building. Their experiences are valuable not only for understanding the history of U.S. power, but also for informing the present state of development and peacebuilding practice.

Checking Escalation: The Effect of Third-Party Intervention on State-Sponsored Violence

Jessica Brandwein

Political Science & Peace Studies

How do international interventions influence a government’s decision to escalate, continue, or de-escalate political violence? I use a theoretical framework to argue that the effectiveness of an intervention in limiting further political violence depends on the target government’s perceptions of its own security. I hypothesize that interventions that impose costs for the use of violence will be counterproductive when levied against governments with a tenuous hold on power. These interventions will magnify the insecurity of the target government, prompting it to escalate violence against perceived domestic threats in order to avoid the possibility of losing further power.

People Power and Peacebuilding: Civil Resistance and the Cultural Processes of Contentious Politics in Egypt, 2010-2015

Matthew J. Chandler

Sociology & Peace Studies

The Egyptian revolution in 2011 was a stunning example of people power, but the subsequent rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and the military coup against it in 2013 point to a shortcoming of research on civil resistance—namely, insufficient explanation of the mechanisms that help or hinder the transition from anti-regime campaigns to peaceful, democratic governance. Prior studies have shown that civil resistance succeeds more often and leads more reliably to democracy than violent insurgency, the general explanation being that nonviolent tactics prefigure democratic outcomes. My dissertation examines the mixed outcomes of civil resistance in Egypt, comparing the cultural processes that contributed to the mobilization of civil resistance campaigns with those that precipitated social discord and destructive political contention afterward. Evidence derives from a large collection of digital documents and interviews with Egyptian activists, analyzed using historical process tracing and a fuzzy-logical adaptation of semantic networks. 

Building and Burning Bridges through Talk: Contention and solidarity among civil society groups in Mindanao

Hyunjin Deborah Kwak

Sociology & Peace Studies

How do individuals and groups in post-conflict settings perform their identity and their organizational loyalties in public deliberative spaces as members of an identity group or a complex set of identities? My dissertation project examines divisions and conflict potential due to identity differences among civil society actors in post-conflict Mindanao, the Philippines. This study analyzes the communication styles and skills that civil society groups employ to mediate or exacerbate these tensions in deliberative spaces. Further, it theorizes the conditions that allow groups to talk across identity divisions and find joint solutions that promote just and peaceful settlement, amid continuing differences in perspectives, experiences, resources, and power. I use interviews and ethnographic research methods in to conduct a multi-level qualitative analysis of civil society networks. Rich analyses of civil society networks will provide scholars and practitioners a more complex understanding of the role of civil society in post-conflict settings—how civil society groups and networks succeed or fail to talk across identity divisions and coalesce in critical stages of post-conflict reconstruction.

Transformation’s Self: Articulating Intra-personal Change through John of the Cross and Judith Butler

Heather DuBois

Theology & Peace Studies

Though transformation of the self is often presumed or prescribed by theories of change, it is under-theorized in peacebuilding and systematic theology. This relative silence about the dynamics of subjectivity leaves untouched root causes of harmful behavior and potential resources for growth and healing. Combining research on spirituality and political theory, my dissertation enables greater reflection on how intra-personal change occurs, under whose agency, with what impact. Specifically, I gather insights from sixteenth century Carmelite John of the Cross and contemporary critical theorist Judith Butler to describe a self that is capable of intentional change. My thesis is as follows: Joining Butler’s performativity theory, which discerns the effects of inter-personal relations and socio-political discourse on the self, and John’s mystical anthropology, which foregrounds the role of contemplative practices, provides a conceptual basis for nonviolent transformation toward subjectivities and epistemologies that enable peacebuilding.

Good and Bad Apologies: Determinants of Successful State Apologies

Ji Un Kim

Political Science & Peace Studies

State apologies addressing past injustices have dramatically increased over the past few decades and many have argued their important role in political reconciliation. My dissertation examines the conditions of successful state apologies, apologies which recipients find more satisfactory and acceptable. My theory tests the importance of four factors which can lead to various apology receptions: the ways of expression (who speaks what, when, where, and how), behavioral consistency of the apologizer, conspicuous opportunism of the apologizer, and the gap between apologizer and recipients’ perceptions regarding past injustice conveyed in prior communicative interaction. My dissertation looks at both interstate and domestic apologies in the aftermath of government-sponsored human rights violations and combines cross-case comparison research and within-case studies. By identifying important causal conditions of apology reception, this project aims to contribute to our empirical knowledge of state apologies and to further specify the relationship between apology and political reconciliation.

Communities of War and Peace: Arendt, Political Association, and International Relations

Shinkyu "James" Lee

Political Science & Peace Studies

My dissertation examines contemporary issues relating to cosmopolitanism through the lens of Hannah Arendt’s views on political associations. I argue that her thought provides a rich source of guidance for addressing the changing aspect of international politics. By investigating her engagements with different institutional models (the nation state, the ancient polis, and the modern republic), I articulate her concerns about anti-political forces and their implications for the broad question of dealing with otherness. This project will show how Arendt’s call for the spatial limit for freedom and the right to membership in a political community sensitizes cosmopolitan theorists to the need to reflect the concrete context of humanity. It will also be made clear that her thought helps us to explore how we both accommodate and overcome the risk of politics, rather than merely conceding to the Realpolitik of international anarchy.

Interpreting Islam: US Relations with Iraq and Indonesia, 1956-1968

Laura Weis

History & Peace Studies

Policymakers and pundits today frequently discuss the state of U.S. relations with “the Muslim world.” How have ideas about Islam historically informed U.S. foreign policy? My dissertation examines how and when Islam became salient in U.S. relations during the height of the Cold War. Using a comparative framework, I analyze U.S. relations with two Muslim majority societies, Iraq and Indonesia, between 1956 and 1968. I scrutinize policymakers’ interpretations of religion; U.S. engagement with religious actors abroad; and how particular conceptions of Islam oscillated in influence over time. Detailed case studies of U.S. relations with Iraq and Indonesia can offer important historical context to guide the development of constructive relationships with these countries in the present. And, more broadly, understanding the ways in which policymakers have perceived religion—both as a catalyst for violence and as a potential resource for peacebuilding—offers insight into how the United States can better engage with religious actors today.