News Archive

Monday, September 25, 2017

Jack Snyder Is Co-editor of "Human Rights Futures"

Jack Snyder (Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Relations) is co-editor, with Stephen Hopgood and Leslie Vinjamuri, of Human Rights Futures, published in August 2017 by Cambridge University Press. 
 
From the Publisher's Website:
 
For the first time in one collected volume, mainstream and critical human rights scholars together examine the empirical and normative debates around the future of human rights. They ask what makes human rights effective, what strategies will enhance the chances of compliance, what blocks progress, and whether the hope for human rights is entirely misplaced in a rapidly transforming world. Human Rights Futures sees the world as at a crucial juncture. The project for globalizing rights will either continue to be embedded or will fall backward into a maelstrom of nationalist backlash, religious resurgence and faltering Western power. Each chapter talks directly to the others in an interactive dialogue, providing a theoretical and methodological framework for a clear research agenda for the next decade. Scholars, graduate students and practitioners of political science, history, sociology, law and development will find much to both challenge and provoke them in this innovative book.
 
Monday, September 18, 2017

Kimberly Marten Discusses Russian Propaganda on NPR's 1A

Kimberly Marten, Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Political Science at Barnard College; Director, Harriman Institute Program on U.S.-Russia Relations, appeared on NPR's 1A with Joshua Johnson, to discuss Russian propaganda and the RT and Sputnik media networks. You can hear her segment 30 minutes into the program.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Kimberly Marten on Ukraine's Volunteer Militias

Kimberly Marten, Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Political Science at Barnard College; Director, Harriman Institute Program on U.S.-Russia Relations, warns against the dangers posed by Ukraine's volunteer militias in an essay co-authored with Olga Oliker (Center for Strategic & International Studies), published in the War on the Rocks policy blog.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Stanford University Press Publishes Prof. Dennis Tenen's "Plain Text: The Poetics of Computation"

Dennis Tenen (Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Co-Founder of Columbia's Group for Experimental Research Methods in the Humanities) is the author of "Plain Text: The Poetics of Computation," published this summer by Stanford University Press. 
 
From the publisher's website:
 
This book challenges the ways we read, write, store, and retrieve information in the digital age. Computers—from electronic books to smart phones—play an active role in our social lives. Our technological choices thus entail theoretical and political commitments. Dennis Tenen takes up today's strange enmeshing of humans, texts, and machines to argue that our most ingrained intuitions about texts are profoundly alienated from the physical contexts of their intellectual production. Drawing on a range of primary sources from both literary theory and software engineering, he makes a case for a more transparent practice of human–computer interaction. Plain Text is thus a rallying call, a frame of mind as much as a file format. It reminds us, ultimately, that our devices also encode specific modes of governance and control that must remain available to interpretation.
 
 
 
 
Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Program on Russian Studies and Policy

Program on Russian Studies and Policy
 
In the fall of 2016, facilitated by a generous grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Harriman Institute launched an intensive two-year project to expand the study of Russia across the social sciences at Columbia University and the greater New York university community. The New York Russia Public Policy Seminar Series is the centrepiece of this program and builds on Harriman’s rich tradition of policy-outreach to bring scholars and policy-makers together to discuss contemporary issues of critical importance to the U.S. and Russia. The series includes invited talks, panel discussions, and seminars aimed at engaging graduate students and the wider public on topics relating to Russia.
 
To learn more about the program, including information about events, grants, and principal investigators, please follow the LINK.
 
Press Release, September 26, 2016
Friday, September 8, 2017

Kimberly Marten Weighs in On Russia Facebook Story

Kimberly Marten, Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Political Science at Barnard College; Director, Harriman Institute Program on U.S.-Russia Relations, discusses, with dw.com, the online platform for the German newspaper Deutsche Welle, the implications of Facebook's recent disclosure of a possible Russia-linked political advertising campaign.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Columbia-NYU New York Russia Public Policy Series Announces Upcoming Events

Friday, August 18, 2017

Slavic Review Publishes the Work of Two Harriman Faculty Members in the Summer 2017 Issue

Aleksandar Boskovic (Lecturer in Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian) and Jessica Merrill (Assistant Professor), both members of the Columbia University Slavic Department, have articles in the current issue of Slavic Review, the leading journal in the field. Boskovic's "Revolution, Production, Representation: Iurii Rozhkov's Photomontages to Maiakovskii's Poem To the Workers of Kursk," is part of a larger study of  photopoetry books within Slavic avant-gardes. In 2015, Boskovic curated an exhibit at the Harriman Institute of Rozhkov's photomontages. Jessica Merrill's article is titled "High Modernism in Theory and Practice: Karel Teige and Tomáš Bat'a." Merrill joined the Columbia Slavic Department in 2016. Her current book project, Folklore Study and the Rise of Modern Literary Theory: Russian Formalism and Czech Structuralism, presents a new understanding of the origins of the discipline.
Thursday, August 10, 2017

Tarik Cyril Amar, "It’s Americans Who Have Undermined Democracy in America"

Tarik Cyril Amar (Associate Professor of History) addresses Russia-Gate and Russia-Rage in a piece titled "It's Americans Who Have Undermined Democracy in America" (History News Network, 30 July 2017):
 
While Russian meddling is real, we need to face the fact that Putin’s not ultimately responsible for the rise of Trump.
 
Since democracy in America has given the most powerful office in the world to the least plausible candidate, many Americans have been reeling. The spectacle of President Trump is both sadly funny and terrifying. Even worse, that Trump became President not by some seizure of power but through an election is a national humiliation.
 
Small wonder then that there is soul-searching – except that, often, the soul searched is that of Russia. Russia-Gate is real: Russia’s meddling in the last election – to one extent or the other – is a fact. Yet something is still odd about what we can call Russia-Rage, the wider American response to the Russian intervention.
 
There is some simple self-promotion and ignorance – volunteer Western information warriors circulating blacklists of Russia’s “stooges” in a fit of Gonzo McCarthyism; reputable news organizations babbling about the “Cyrillic” regime and its “minarets” on Red Square. There also is some self-righteousness: many observers still have no issue with American meddling, including in recent Russian elections. Others assure us that the Kremlin’s mixing of business, politics, and subterfuge is “not what we do” – as little, presumably, as wars started under false pretexts, torture, or detention in legal black holes. Psychologically, a United States so powerful yet so innocent is a fascinating fantasy. But such biases are just ordinary “patriotic” reflexes common to many countries.
 
 
Sunday, August 6, 2017

TLS Reviews Dictators without Borders by Cooley and Heathershaw

Ricardo Soares de Oliveira reviews Dictators without Borders: Power and Money in Central Asia  (Yale University Press, 2017) by Alexander Cooley and John Heathershaw in the 4 August 2017 issue of TLS. 
 
From the review: 
 
As vilified geopolitical regions go, Central Asia ranks alongside much of Africa or the war-torn Balkans of the 1990s. And yet its landlocked post-Soviet states are scarcely covered by the Western media beyond occasional nods to power struggles over natural resources or the stirrings of radical Islam. Difficult to access during the communist era, Central Asian states saw none of the post-Cold War liberalization that Eastern Europe did and quickly fell under the sway of thuggish and distrustful elites, often the same ones as in the Soviet period. The overwhelming perception is of a region remote and isolated from global trends. In this incisive book, Alexander Cooley and John Heathershaw debunk assumptions about an "unknown and obscure" heartland, arguing that Central Asia is in fact highly, if selectively, globalized. This "offshore" dimension is crucial to understanding the internal politics of Central Asian autocracies. It is also a disturbing vantage point from which to explore the functioning of the Western societies they are inextricably linked to.
 
Central Asian elites may have had little familiarity with the West until a generation ago, but they caught up quickly. From money flows and education to health care and consumption, their global, increasingly anglophone, lives are carried out in London, Paris and New York as much as in Astana or Tashkent. Through the building of international networks of financial expertise, legal protection, PR campaigns and political complicity, a certain type of Central Asian elite uses the fruits of globalization to increase sway at home (the autocrats in power bludgeon civil societies for any hint of such external support). For these new "dictators" and their coteries, the field of action is global, whether it involves laundering stolen money, burnishing cosmopolitan credentials through art acquisition, bogus charity and "corporate social responsibility", or kidnapping and killing exiled opponents. [...] Yet the most fascinating details relate to the wider manners in which "authoritarian actions and networks are systematically embedded in Western institutions, legal spaces and professional practices". Lawyers, estate agents, PR consultants and former politicians are enthusiastic service providers and handmaidens of "status" and respectability for Central Asian elites. Tony Blair's Kazak dealings are inevitably mentioned, but arguably more glaring is Prince Andrew's roving quest for UK business opportunities in Kyrgyzstan and beyond. Meanwhile, faced with funding shortages, think tanks and universities entertain increasingly compromised relations with their new Central Asian donors. The authors go beyond the usual carping about liberal states failing to promote democracy in Central Asia and argue instead that the West is a major contributor to these authoritarian outcomes.
 
This ambitious and eye-opening book shows what political science at its best - based on realworld knowledge, free of jargon and focused on substantive concerns rather than disciplinary marginalia - can contribute to pressing contemporary debates. But two barely addressed dimensions should elicit further interest from anyone working in this area. The first has to do with the authors' parenthetical acknowledgement that the influence-peddling described is not specific to Central Asian regimes but rather the general modus operandi of authoritarian states around the world. Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Angola, Qatar and Gaddafi-era Libya, to name but a few, have also sought to exert their influence in Western capitals. It is now necessary to go beyond individual or regional exposés, important as they are, and understand the systemic nature of this phenomenon. [...]