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Faculty Workshops

In FY 2001, the Provost, the Dean, and the Head of the Political Science Department generously agreed to provide the CIS with seed funds for three years. The funds were to be used to stimulate a number of new initiatives at CIS, including faculty workshops and conferences that will lead to the publication of books and journal articles. So far, four faculty workshops and conferences have received support:

  • “Modeling Constructivist Approaches to Ethnic Identity,” Professor Kanchan Chandra, Department of Political Science.

    Professor Chandra has conducted a series of two workshops on the topic of “modeling constructivist approaches to ethnic identity and incorporating them into new research agendas.” As Professor Chandra notes: “Although there is now a remarkable interdisciplinary consensus on the constructed origins of ethnic groups, this consensus remains unincorporated in new research agendas in political science and political economy that seek to explain the impact of ethnic group mobilization on outcomes including not only democratic consolidation, but also economic growth, civil war, party politics, and state failure. The purpose of this project is to write a collaborative volume that incorporates constructivist propositions explaining the origin of ethnic groups into new research agendas that investigate the impact of ethnic group mobilization.”

    Scholars from MIT and elsewhere gathered for the first workshop at MIT in December 2002. The participants approached the topic from a variety of perspectives, including agent-based modeling, civil war, state failure, party politics, economic growth, ethnic riots, and democracy. Copies of the materials presented, together with additional information on the project, may be found at the project’s website at A draft manuscript was discussed at a second workshop held in August 2003.

  • “War and American Democracy: Competing Approaches to Costs and Benefits,” Professor Daniel Kryder (now at Brandeis University).

    Professor Kryder proposes to hold a symposium in spring 2004 and produce an edited volume on the topic of “War and American Democracy: Competing Approaches to Costs and Benefits.” He intends to examine disparate—and apparently contradictory—social histories of the effects of war on American democracy, some emphasizing the social and economic benefits that may result from war (for example, the extension of rights and privileges to out-groups in order to ensure their compliance), others emphasizing the ensuing social and economic damage (for example, increases in authoritarianism in response to wartime political instability). The project will examine a number of past instances of war from a variety of disciplinary and methodological perspectives (for example, historical-institutionalist, statistical and behavioral approaches) and attempt to systematically describe and explain the patterns of political and institutional change with a view to positing some general rules.

  • “The Collective Memory of War,” Professor Roger Petersen, Department of Political Science.

    Professor Petersen held a workshop, and is producing an edited volume, on the collective memory of war. The aim of the workshop (held in January 2003) was to determine whether or not the memory of war was qualitatively different from other forms of collective memory, because of the particularly violent and traumatic nature of the events associated with war. The workshop probed various aspects of memory—for example, the role of texts, narratives, symbols and psychological mechanisms in translating and transforming the experience of war into collective memory. It also examined how the memory of war and violence affects political outcomes in terms of reconciliation and reduction in conflict. It brought together scholars from a variety of disciplines (political scientists, psychologists, ethnographers, and historians) from several countries (Italy, Netherlands, Russia, Estonia, Ukraine, as well as the US). It engaged MIT students and faculty members (Nobles and Van Evera, as well as Petersen) whose work is directly relevant to the topic of the workshop. The agenda and overview, descriptions of participants, list of panels, abstracts of papers, and the papers themselves can be found on Professor Petersen’s web page at

  • “The Comparative Politics of Vote Buying,” Frederic Charles Schaffer, Research Associate of the CIS, and Lecturer on Social Studies at Harvard University.

    In August, 2002, Dr. Schaffer organized a conference on the comparative politics of vote buying. Ten scholars from the US, UK, Mexico, and Venezuela presented new research on vote buying, with a focus on conceptualization, measurement, causation, and consequences. Dr. Schaffer has decided to produce an edited volume, titled Elections of Sale: The Causes and Consequences of Vote Buying which will be published in 2006.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology