Books Published

Daniel Douek's book is published: Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in South Africa (A Hurst Publication, Oxford University Press, October 2020).

South Africa's transition to democracy took place against a backdrop of shadow war between the apartheid regime's counterinsurgency forces and the African National Congress' armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK). This book analyses in unprecedented detail the hidden history of MK's struggle and its contribution to South Africa's liberation, while exposing new dimensions of clandestine apartheid-era violence. Drawing on interviews with former MK guerrillas, Daniel Douek traces the evolution of MK's operations across southern Africa from the 1960s, culminating in the 1990-4 negotiations between the ANC and the white supremacist regime. As political violence escalated, the battle waged in the shadows became nothing less than a struggle to shape South Africa's future. Counterinsurgency forces recruited spies, deployed death squads, engaged in psychological warfare, and targeted ANC leaders, including MK chief Chris Hani. Even once ANC elites had come to power, apartheid counterinsurgency operations continued to undermine South Africa's new democracy by marginalizing MK guerrillas within the 'new' security forces, leaving legacies of violence and instability still felt today.


Megan Bradley's book is published: Refugees' Roles in Resolving Displacement and Building Peace: Beyond Beneficiaries (Georgetown University Press, June 2019).

Megan Bradley, James Milner, and Blair Peruniak, Editors
How are refugee crises solved? This has become an urgent question as global displacement rates continue to climb, and refugee situations now persist for years if not decades. The resolution of displacement and the conflicts that force refugees from their homes is often explained as a top-down process led and controlled by governments and international organizations. This book takes a different approach. Through contributions from scholars working in politics, anthropology, law, sociology and philosophy, and a wide range of case studies, it explores the diverse ways in which refugees themselves interpret, create and pursue solutions to their plight. It investigates the empirical and normative significance of refugees' engagement as agents in these processes, and their implications for research, policy and practice. This book speaks both to academic debates and to the broader community of peace building, humanitarian and human rights scholars concerned with the nature and dynamics of agency in contentious political contexts, and identifies insights that can inform policy and practice.


Hamish van der Ven’s book is published: Beyond Greenwash: Explaining Credibility in Transnational Eco-Labeling (Oxford University Press, April 2019).

From green frogs and blue angels to white bunnies, modern consumers are confronted by a growing array of colorful eco-labels on everything from coffee to computers. When eco-labels are credible, they can lead to dramatic change in environmental practices broadly and quickly by leveraging the purchasing power of corporate clients (e.g., Walmart and McDonalds) to influence global supply chains. But the credibility of such labels is highly variable; and despite the existence of established practices for eco-labeling, many labels remain little more than superficial exercises in "greenwash." How can consumers separate greenwash from genuine attempts to address environmental challenges?

Beyond Greenwash addresses this question by systematically investigating the credibility of transnational eco-labeling organizations across countries and commercial sectors. Using an innovative proxy measure for credibility that examines adherence to established best practices, Hamish van der Ven proposes a novel theory of rigor and credibility in transnational eco-labeling that upends conventional wisdom. He argues that the credibility of an eco-label does not depend on who creates or manages it-whether a government, industry association, professional standard setter, or environmental NGO. Rather, it depends on which types of businesses use the label. More specifically, eco-labeling organizations that target bigger, consumer-facing retailers tend to create credible eco-labels out of a desire to insulate their clients from critical scrutiny and gain acceptance in new markets. This theory challenges the conventional wisdom that only governments or environmental NGOs can create meaningful environmental governance and suggests that who is being governed matters as much, if not more, than who is doing the governing.


Arash Abizadeh's book is published: Hobbes and the Two Faces of Ethics (Cambridge University Press, 2018).

Reading Hobbes in light of both the history of ethics and the conceptual apparatus developed in recent work on normativity, this book challenges received interpretations of Hobbes and his historical significance. Arash Abizadeh uncovers the fundamental distinction underwriting Hobbes's ethics: between prudential reasons of the good, articulated via natural laws prescribing the means of self-preservation, and reasons of the right or justice, comprising contractual obligations for which we are accountable to others. He shows how Hobbes's distinction marks a watershed in the transition from the ancient Greek to the modern conception of ethics, and demonstrates the relevance of Hobbes's thought to current debates about normativity, reasons, and responsibility. His book will interest Hobbes scholars, historians of ethics, moral philosophers, and political theorists. (Click here for a more detailed overview of the book.)


T.V. Paul’s book is published: Restraining Great Powers: Soft Balancing from Empires to the Global Era (Yale, 2018).

At the end of the Cold War, the United States emerged as the world’s most powerful state, and then used that power to initiate wars against smaller countries in the Middle East and South Asia. According to balance-of-power theory—the bedrock of realism in international relations—other states should have joined together militarily to counterbalance the U.S.’s rising power. Yet they did not. Nor have they united to oppose Chinese aggression in the South China Sea or Russian offensives along its Western border. This does not mean balance-of-power politics is dead, argues renowned international relations scholar T.V. Paul, but that it has taken a different form. Rather than employ familiar strategies such as active military alliances and arms buildups, leading powers have engaged in “soft balancing,” which seeks to restrain threatening powers through the use of international institutions, informal alignments, and economic sanctions. Paul places the evolution of balancing behavior in historical perspective from the post-Napoleonic era to today’s globalized world.


Michael Brecher’s book is published: A Century of Crisis and Conflict in the International System: Theory and Evidence (Palgrave, 2018).

This book is designed to present a fully developed theory of international crisis and conflict, along with substantial evidence of these two closely related phenomena. The book begins with a discussion of these topics at a theoretical level, defining and elaborating on core concepts: international crisis, interstate conflict, severity, and impact. This is followed by a discussion of the international system, along with two significant illustrations, the Berlin Blockade crisis (1948) and the India-Pakistan crisis over Kashmir (1965-66). The book then presents a unified model of crisis, focusing on the four phases of an international crisis, which incorporate the four periods of foreign policy crises for individual states. Findings from thirteen conflicts representing six regional clusters are then analyzed, concluding with a set of hypotheses and evidence on conflict onset, persistence, and resolution.


Yves Winter’s book is published: Machiavelli and the Orders of Violence (Cambridge University Press, September 2018).

Niccolò Machiavelli is the most prominent and notorious theorist of violence in the history of European political thought—prominent, because he is the first to candidly discuss the role of violence in politics; and notorious, because he treats violence as virtue rather than as vice. In this original interpretation, Yves Winter reconstructs Machiavelli’s theory of violence and shows how it challenges moral and metaphysical ideas about political violence. Winter attributes two central theses to Machiavelli: first, violence is not a generic technology of government but a strategy that tends to correlate with inequality and class conflict. Second, violence is best understood not in terms of conventional notions of law enforcement, coercion, or the proverbial “last resort” but as performance. Most political violence is effective not because it physically compels another agent who is thus coerced; rather, it produces political effects by appealing to an audience. As such, violence is designed to be perceived, experienced, remembered, and narrated.


Fernando G. Nunez-Mietz’s book is published: The Use of Force under International Law: Lawyerized States in a Legalized World (Routledge, September 2018).

The international system is becoming increasingly legalized, with legal arguments and legal advisors playing an increasingly important part in the state policymaking process. Presenting a practice-oriented theory of compliance with international law, this book shows how international law affects the behavior of increasingly lawyerized states in an ever more legalized world. By highlighting the legalization of international legitimation and the lawyerization of policymaking as the new engines of compliance, the book’s analytical framework rethinks the relationship between state behavior and international law, and provides an empirical focus on security through the study of NATO’s military intervention in Yugoslavia in 1999 and the changes in the US detention and interrogation programs in the "War on Terror." Relying on primary sources, the author demonstrates the effect of lawyerized decision making on international law compliance, reconstructing the strategies of (de-)legitimation used to show that international law is the hegemonic frame of reference in interstate debates.


Juan Wang's book is published: The Sinews of State Power (Oxford University Press, 2017).

The Sinews of State Power seeks to explain why rural China has been so unstable since 2000, despite numerous national reforms. Using original fieldwork, it traces the rise and demise of cohesive local states in rural China since the Maoist era. It shows that, the county, township, and village levels of government, when in alliance, have facilitated economic growth and caused social grievances. However, national reforms redressing local deviation, together with individual responses from each level of administration, have dismantled elite alliances, and consequentially undermined the extractive, coercive, and responsive capacity of the state.

This book forms dialogue with two fields of inquiry in China studies and comparative politics. First, researches on farmer protest often either focus on farmers' grievances, organizations, and strategies, or examine responses from the state as a uniform entity. This book, instead, highlights the anthropology of the state by looking into elite cohesion across administrative levels that determines the exercise of state capacity. Second, studies of regime stability or endurance have stressed holistic factors, such as institutional adaptability, political culture, or epidemic corruption. The Sinews of State Power instead revisits the fundamental components of a capable government - a coherent and robust local leadership that enables the function of a state.

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