The Harriman Institute's Incoming Director

Monday, May 4, 2015
We are pleased to announce that Alexander Cooley, Professor of Political Science at Barnard College, will be taking over the Harriman Institute directorship on July 1, 2015. Professor Cooley has deep roots in the Harriman Institute community. As a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia in the 1990s he was a Harriman Institute Mosely-Backer Fellow (1998-1999) and received the inaugural Henry Ergas Prize. After joining the Faculty at Barnard in 2001, he has played an active role in the Institute’s affairs and over the past two years, he has served as the Institute’s Deputy Director for Social Sciences Programming. During this time he has also played a significant role in expanding the Institute’s Central Asia and Caucasus programming.

Professor Cooley is just finishing his term as Chair of the Political Science Department (2012-2015) and is a faculty representative to the Barnard College Board of Trustees. Across the university, he is a Doctoral Dissertation Sponsor in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, a Member of the Saltzman Institute for War & Peace Studies, and has taught at the School of International and Public Affairs.

He has authored five academic books: 
  • Logics of Hierarchy: The Organization of Empires, States and Military Occupations (Cornell University Press, 2005; co-winner of the 2006 Marshall Shulman Prize); 
  • Base Politics­: Democratic Change and the US Military Overseas (Cornell University Press, 2008);
  • Contracting States: Sovereign Transfers in International Relations (Princeton University Press, 2009), co-authored with Hendrik Spruyt of Northwestern University.
  • Great Games, Local Rules: The New Great Power Contest for Central Asia (Oxford University Press, 2012)
  • Ranking the World: Grading States as a Tool of Global Governance (Cambridge University Press, 2015), co-edited with Jack Snyder of Columbia University.
One of his most influential works, Great Games, Local Rules emerged from his research as an inaugural Global Fellow at the Open Society Foundations. The book examines the multipolar politics of US-Russia-China competition for influence in Central Asia from 2001-2011 as a window on the emerging international relations of a post-Western world. Great Games was featured in the New York Review of Books, received an Honorable Mention from the Central Eurasian Studies Society 2014 Book Prize committee and was described by Asia Policy as "possibly the most cogent critique of post-Cold War orthodoxy published to date." You can read an interview with Cooley about Great Games in Harriman Magazine.

Professor Cooley just published an edited volume about the politics surrounding International Rankings and Ratings, co-edited with Professor Jack Snyder, titled Ranking the World: Grading States as a Tool of Global Governance (Cambridge University Press, 2015), and is currently working on a monograph on Central Asia's ties with offshore international financial and legal networks.

In addition to his academic research, Professor Cooley serves on several international advisory and policy committees of organizations engaged with Eurasia; he has also testified before the United States Congress and the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission and briefed US and international officials on Eurasian political trends. An international commentator on Eurasian topics, Cooley's opinion pieces have appeared in the New York Times, Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy. His research has been supported by fellowships and grants from the Open Society Foundations, Carnegie Corporation, Smith Richardson Foundation, and the German Marshall Fund of the United States, among others.

Please join us in welcoming Alexander Cooley as the new Director of the Harriman Institute!