Douglas Joseph MacKay

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Columbia University
1207 International Affairs Building, Harriman Institute
212 854-4623

Joseph MacKay completed his Ph.D. in Political Science, specializing on international relations and political theory, at the University of Toronto, in July 2015. His postdoctoral research will focus on the role of legitimacy in inter-imperial relations, during periods of imperial expansion. The project develops a typology of ways in which empires claim legitimate rule over their peripheries, defining empires as either universalist, asserting a unique right to rule; competitive, asserting membership in an elite club of imperial powers; or mimetic, making no such systematic claims, and instead mirroring the authority claims of others. Since empires will lose legitimacy if their actions are inconsistent with these claims, such claims made before subordinates likely constrain imperial policymaking. Consequently, interactions between imperial cores will likely be shaped by imperial commitments at the periphery. The project explores these ideas in the context of imperial expansion into Central Asia, with a focus on the British, Russian, and Chinese empires, interacting with one another and with the region’s indigenous power structures. Previously, MacKay’s doctoral research, entitled “Experimental Wars: Learning and Complexity in Counterinsurgency,” concerned individual-level foreign policy learning processes, in the context of complex policy problems, with a focus on counterinsurgent warfare. His research has appeared or is forthcoming in the Review of International Studies, International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, Central Asian Survey, and Social Science History, and with co-authors in the Journal of International Relations and Development, International Studies Review, Terrorism and Political Violence, International Peacekeeping, International Politics, and International Theory.