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This Month's Centennial Center Visiting Scholars

This month, the Centennial Center Visiting Scholar Program is pleased to support the following scholars as they pursue their research in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. This program has hosted a diverse array of APSA members from every field of study, and from the United States and abroad. Check back each month to learn more about what our current Visiting Scholars are researching and teaching during their stay with the Centennial Center.

The Centennial Center, its facilities, and research support programs have been made possible since 2003 by the generous donations of APSA friends and members. 

Interested in becoming a Visiting Scholar? Learn more about the Visiting Scholar Program here.

MOHAMED-ALI ADRAOUI, National University of Singapore
Dealing with Islamists and Reframing American National Interest: Studying the United States’ Foreign Policy towards Islamist Movements

Does America need a foreign policy designed to address the challenge posed by Islamist movements? The aim of this project is to contribute to the analysis of American political thought and foreign policy in relation to the changes and events affecting the Arab world since 2010. More precisely, I will conduct a rigorous assessment of the foundations and modalities that underpin both America’s historical policy towards Islamic political movements, as well as it policy as regards the developments of the “Arab Springs”, through the prism of the relation and strategy of the United States vis-à-vis Islamist actors.

This effort requires focusing on three research topics and asking ourselves about the way they interact as a result of the profound changes that have affected the Arab world: the logic of American foreign policy over the long term;  the logic behind American foreign policy with regards to political Islam; and the discourse and the actions of US leaders towards militant Islam. The study of the relations between America and political Islam will allow us to place in perspective an important part of the changes that have characterized US diplomacy towards a region of the world that is vital to its interests.

TAKESHI AKIBA, Akita International University
Comparative Study of Judicial Policy-making in Japan and the United States

The research seeks to understand the factors that support the active role of courts on issues with significant policy impact (judicial policy-making) and conditions for a successful and legitimate exercise of such powers. It examines the process and impact of judicial policy-making through a series of case studies in U.S. and Japan, starting with: 1) how advocates “found” plaintiffs and brought the case, 2) how judges deliberated both the merits of the case
and the role of courts as it relates to the case, and, finally, 3) legislative responses and implementation of the court’s decision.

This study seeks to contribute to the discussion over the role of the judiciary in democracies by adding a detailed case-based analysis of recent developments in Japan as well as assessing the impact of legal / political cultures and systems through a comparative study with the U.S., a country that has traditionally stood in contrast with Japan in the activism / visibility of courts.

SHARAN GREWAL, Princeton University
Coup-Proofing and Democratization

Perhaps the most frequented topic in comparative politics has been the study of democratization. Despite this widespread interest, the critical role of the military has been largely neglected. A recent account laments that nearly 25 years after Stepan's (1988) observation that the military has probably been the least studied of the factors involved in new democratic movements," the situation has not changed drastically." The absence of the military is a significant omission in theories of democratization, as empirically the leading cause of collapse of a democratic transition is a military coup (Svolik 2015).

Understanding what drives militaries to thwart democratic transitions could provide an important piece of the puzzle of why some transitions succeed and others fail. This dissertation argues that a military's decision to thwart or accept a democratic transition is shaped by its former autocrat's coup-proofing strategies. It first develops a new typology of coup-proofing strategies, noting that autocrats can manipulate the military's corporate interests (through counterbalancing or cooptation) and its composition (through stacking or favoritism). The dissertation then examines the downstream consequences of these coup-proofing strategies on the prospects for democratization. It finds that counterbalancing and favoritism are particularly conducive to democratization, while cooptation and stacking are more problematic.
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