Publications

School for International Studies faculty publications include:

Elizabeth Cooper, University of Wisconsin Press, 2022

Burning Ambition explores how young people learn to understand and influence the workings of power and justice in their society. Since 2008, hundreds of secondary schools across Kenya have been targeted with fire by their students. Through an in-depth study of Kenyan secondary students’ use of arson, Elizabeth Cooper asks why. With insightful ethnographic analysis, she shows that these young students deploy arson as moral punishment for perceived injustices and arson proves an effective tactic in their politics from below.

Drawing from years of research and a rich array of sources, Cooper accounts for how school fires stoke a national conversation about the limited means for ordinary Kenyans, and especially youth, to peacefully influence the governance of their own lives. Further, Cooper argues that Kenyan students’ actions challenge the existing complacency with the globalized agenda of “education for all,” demonstrating that submissive despondency is not the only possible response to the failed promises of education to transform material and social inequalities.

Darren Byler (Eds.), Australian National University Press, 2022

Since 2017, the Chinese authorities have detained hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities in ‘reeducation camps’ in China’s northwestern Xinjiang autonomous region. While the official reason for this mass detention was to prevent terrorism, the campaign has since become a wholesale attempt to remould the ways of life of these peoples—an experiment in social engineering aimed at erasing their cultures and traditions in order to transform them into ‘civilised’ citizens as construed by the Chinese state. Through a collection of essays penned by scholars who have conducted extensive research in the region, this volume sets itself three goals: first, to document the reality of the emerging surveillance state and coercive assimilation unfolding in Xinjiang in recent years and continuing today; second, to describe the workings and analyse the causes of these policies, highlighting how these developments insert themselves not only in domestic Chinese trends, but also in broader global dynamics; and, third, to propose action, to heed the progressive Left’s call since Marx to change the world and not just analyse it.

Jason K. Stearns, Australian National University Press, 2022

Well into its third decade, the military conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been dubbed a “forever war”—a perpetual cycle of war, civil unrest, and local feuds over power and identity. Millions have died in one of the worst humanitarian calamities of our time. The War That Doesn’t Say Its Name investigates the most recent phase of this conflict, asking why the peace deal of 2003—accompanied by the largest United Nations peacekeeping mission in the world and tens of billions in international aid—has failed to stop the violence. Jason Stearns argues that the fighting has become an end in itself, carried forward in substantial part through the apathy and complicity of local and international actors.

Stearns shows that regardless of the suffering, there has emerged a narrow military bourgeoisie of commanders and politicians for whom the conflict is a source of survival, dignity, and profit. Foreign donors provide food and urgent health care for millions, preventing the Congolese state from collapsing, but this involvement has not yielded transformational change. Stearns gives a detailed historical account of this period, focusing on the main players—Congolese and Rwandan states and the main armed groups. He extrapolates from these dynamics to other conflicts across Africa and presents a theory of conflict that highlights the interests of the belligerents and the social structures from which they arise.

Exploring how violence in the Congo has become preoccupied with its own reproduction, The War That Doesn’t Say Its Name sheds light on why certain military feuds persist without resolution.

Megan MacKenzie, Pluto Press, 2021

'War is a man's game,' or so goes the saying. Whether this is true or not, patriarchal capitalism is certainly one of the driving forces behind war in the modern era. So can we end war with feminism? This book argues that this is possible, and is in fact already happening.

Each chapter provides a solution to war using innovative examples of how feminist and queer theory and practice inform pacifist treaties, movements and methods, from the international to the domestic spheres. The contributors propose a range of solutions that include arms abolition, centring Indigenous knowledge, economic restructuring, and transforming how we 'count' civilian deaths.

Ending war requires challenging complex structures, but the solutions found in this edition have risen to this challenge. By thinking beyond the violence of the capitalist patriarchy, this book makes the powerful case that the possibility of life without war is real.

Darren Byler, Columbia Global Reports, 2021

How China built a network of surveillance to detain over a million people and produce a system of control previously unknown in human history. A cruel and high-tech form of colonization has been unfolding over the past decade in China’s vast northwestern region of Xinjiang, where as many as a million and a half Uyghurs, Kazakhs and Hui have vanished into high-security camps and associated factories. It is the largest internment of a religious minority since World War II. Darren Byler, one of the world's leading experts on Uyghur society and Chinese surveillance, draws on a decade of research on the region, examining thousands of government documents and conducting many hours of interviews with both detainees and camp workers. Byler tells the stories of people like U.S. college student Vera, police contractor Baimurat, camp instructor Qelbinur, Kazakh farmer Adilbek, and truck driver Erbakyt, who show how a sophisticated network of facial surveillance, voice recognition, and smartphone tracking technology, built by private corporations, enabled authorities to blacklist Muslims for “pre-crimes” that sometimes consist only of having installed social media apps. Their stories narrate a process of surveillance overwhelming life, and push Byler to examine how technological tools that are being built in locations from Seattle to Beijing are being adapted to create forms of unfreedom for vulnerable people around the world.

Darren Byler, Duke University Press, 2021

In Terror Capitalism anthropologist Darren Byler theorizes the contemporary Chinese colonization of the Uyghur Muslim minority group in the northwest autonomous region of Xinjiang. He shows that the mass detention of over one million Uyghurs in “reeducation camps” is part of processes of resource extraction in Uyghur lands that have led to what he calls terror capitalism—a configuration of ethnoracialization, surveillance, and mass detention that in this case promotes settler colonialism. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in the regional capital Ürümchi, Byler shows how media infrastructures, the state’s enforcement of “Chinese” cultural values, and the influx of Han Chinese settlers contribute to Uyghur dispossession and their expulsion from the city. He particularly attends to the experiences of young Uyghur men—who are the primary target of state violence—and how they develop masculinities and homosocial friendships to protect themselves against gendered, ethnoracial, and economic violence. By tracing the political and economic stakes of Uyghur colonization, Byler demonstrates that state-directed capitalist dispossession is co-constructed with a colonial relation of domination.

Tamir Moustafa, Robert Springborg, et al, Routledge, 2021

Investigating key features of contemporary Egypt, this volume includes Egypt’s modern history, politics, economics, the legal system, environment, and its media and modes of cultural expression. It examines Egypt’s capacities to meet developmental challenges, ranging from responding to globalization and regional competition to generating sufficient economic growth and political inclusion to accommodate the interests and demands of a rapidly growing population.

The macrohistory of Egypt is complemented by the microhistories of specific institutions and processes that constitute separate sections in this handbook. The chapters revolve around political economy: it is shaped by the people and their abilities, political and legal institutions, organization of the economy, natural and built environments, and culture and communication. Politics has been overwhelmingly authoritarian and coercive since the military seized power in 1952; consequently, the contributions address both the causes and consequences of unbalanced civil–military relations, military rule, and persisting authoritarianism in the political society.

This multidisciplinary handbook serves a dual purpose of introducing readers to Egypt’s history and contemporary political economy and as a comprehensive key resource for postgraduate students and academics interested in modern Egypt.

Christopher Gibson, Stanford University Press, 2018

In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, Brazil improved the health and well-being of its populace more than any other large democracy in the world. Long infamous for its severe inequality, rampant infant mortality, and clientelist politics, the country ushered in an unprecedented twenty-five-year transformation in its public health institutions and social development outcomes, declaring a striking seventy percent reduction in infant mortality rates.

Thus far, the underlying causes for this dramatic shift have been poorly understood. In Movement-Driven Development, Christopher L. Gibson combines rigorous statistical methodology with rich case studies to argue that this transformation is the result of a subnationally-rooted process driven by civil society actors, namely the Sanitarist Movement. He argues that their ability to leverage state-level political positions to launch a gradual but persistent attack on health policy implementation enabled them to infuse their social welfare ideology into the practice of Brazil's democracy. In so doing, Gibson illustrates how local activists can advance progressive social change more than predicted, and how in large democracies like Brazil, activists can both deepen the quality of local democracy and improve human development outcomes previously thought beyond their control.

Gerardo Otero, University of Texas Press, 2018

Why are people getting fatter in the United States and beyond? Mainstream explanations argue that people simply eat too much “energy-dense” food while exercising too little. By swapping the chips and sodas for fruits and vegetables and exercising more, the problem would be solved. By contrast, The Neoliberal Diet argues that increased obesity does not result merely from individual food and lifestyle choices. Since the 1980s, the neoliberal turn in policy and practice has promoted trade liberalization and retrenchment of the welfare regime, along with continued agricultural subsidies in rich countries. Neoliberal regulation has enabled agribusiness multinationals to thrive by selling highly processed foods loaded with refined flour and sugars—a diet that originated in the United States—as well as meat. Drawing on extensive empirical data, Gerardo Otero identifies the socioeconomic and political forces that created this diet, which has been exported around the globe, often at the expense of people’s health.

Otero shows how state-level actions, particularly subsidies for big farms and agribusiness, have ensured the dominance of processed foods and made healthful fresh foods inaccessible to many. Comparing agrifood performance across several nations, including the NAFTA region, and correlating food access to class inequality, he convincingly demonstrates the structural character of food production and the effect of inequality on individual food choices. Resolving the global obesity crisis, Otero concludes, lies not in blaming individuals but in creating state-level programs to reduce inequality and make healthier food accessible to all.

Gerardo Otero, Routledge, 2018

Farewell to the Peasantry? questions class-reductionist assumptions in certain Marxist and populist approaches to political movements in twentieth-century rural Mexico, highlighting the interpretation of the process of political class formation.

Re-issue of the 1999 monograph which is avaiable for download here.

Revised and expanded Spanish translation available here.

Tamir Moustafa, Cambridge University Press, 2018

(open access)

Most Muslim-majority countries have legal systems that enshrine both Islam and liberal rights. While not necessarily at odds, these dual commitments nonetheless provide legal and symbolic resources for activists to advance contending visions for their states and societies. Using the case study of Malaysia, Constituting Religion examines how these legal arrangements enable litigation and feed the construction of a 'rights-versus-rites binary' in law, politics, and the popular imagination. By drawing on extensive primary source material and tracing controversial cases from the court of law to the court of public opinion, this study theorizes the 'judicialization of religion' and the radiating effects of courts on popular legal and religious consciousness. The book documents how legal institutions catalyze ideological struggles, which stand to redefine the nation and its politics. Probing the links between legal pluralism, social movements, secularism, and political Islamism, Constituting Religion sheds new light on the confluence of law, religion, politics, and society.

Catherine Dauvergne, Cambridge University Press, 2016

Over the past decade, a global convergence in migration policies has emerged, and with it a new, mean-spirited politics of immigration. It is now evident that the idea of a settler society, previously an important landmark in understanding migration, is a thing of the past. What are the consequences of this shift for how we imagine immigration? And for how we regulate it? This book analyzes the dramatic shift away from the settler society paradigm in light of the crisis of asylum, the fear of Islamic fundamentalism, and the demise of multiculturalism. What emerges is a radically original take on the new global politics of immigration that can explain policy paralysis in the face of rising death tolls, failing human rights arguments, and persistent state desires to treat migration as an economic calculus.

The conference on International Criminal Justice: State of Play was co-convened by The Simons Foundation and the SFU School for International Studies.  Funding was provided by The Simons Foundation and the SFU Endowment for the Simons Visiting Chair in Dialogue on International Law and Human Security.

Megan Mackenzie, Cambridge University Press, 2015

Women can't fight. This assumption lies at the heart of the combat exclusion, a policy that was fiercely defended as essential to national security, despite evidence that women have been contributing to hostile operations now and throughout history. This book examines the role of women in the US military and the key arguments used to justify the combat exclusion, in the light of the decision to reverse the policy in 2013. Megan MacKenzie considers the historic role of the combat exclusion in shaping American military identity and debunks claims that the recent policy change signals a new era for women in the military. MacKenzie shows how women's exclusion from combat reaffirms male supremacy in the military and sustains a key military myth, the myth of the band of brothers. This book will be welcomed by scholars and students of military studies, gender studies, social and military history, and foreign policy.

Elizabeth Cooper and David Pratten (Eds.), Palgrave MacMillan, 2014

This collection explores the productive potential of uncertainty for people living in Africa as well as for scholars of Africa. The relevance of the focus on uncertainty in Africa is not only that contemporary life is objectively risky and unpredictable (since it is so everywhere and in every period), but that uncertainty has become a dominant trope in the subjective experience of life in contemporary African societies. The contributors investigate how uncertainty animates people's ways of knowing and being across the continent. An introduction and eight ethnographic studies examine uncertainty as a social resource that can be used to negotiate insecurity, conduct and create relationships, and act as a source for imagining the future. These in-depth accounts demonstrate that uncertainty does not exist as an autonomous, external condition. Rather, uncertainty is entwined with social relations and shapes people's relationship between the present and the future. By foregrounding uncertainty, this volume advances our understandings of the contingency of practice, both socially and temporally.

Efrat Arbel, Catherine Dauvergne, Jenni Millbank (Eds.), Routledge, 2014

Questions of gender have strongly influenced the development of international refugee law over the last few decades. This volume assesses the progress toward appropriate recognition of gender-related persecution in refugee law. It documents the advances made following intense advocacy around the world in the 1990s, and evaluates the extent to which gender has been successfully integrated into refugee law.

Evaluating the research and advocacy agendas for gender in refugee law ten years beyond the 2002 UNHCR Gender Guidelines, the book investigates the current status of gender in refugee law. It examines gender-related persecution claims of both women and men, including those based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and explores how the development of an anti-refugee agenda in many Western states exponentially increases vulnerability for refugees making gendered claims. The volume includes contributions from scholars and members of the advocacy community that allow the book to examine conceptual and doctrinal themes arising at the intersection of gender and refugee law, and specific case studies across major Western refugee-receiving nations. The book will be of great interest and value to researchers and students of asylum and immigration law, international politics, and gender studies.

Megan MacKenzie, NYU Press, 2012

The eleven-year civil war in Sierra Leone from 1991 to 2002 was incomprehensibly brutal—it is estimated that half of all female refugees were raped and many thousands were killed. While the publicity surrounding sexual violence helped to create a general picture of women and girls as victims of the conflict, there has been little effort to understand female soldiers’ involvement in, and experience of, the conflict. Female Soldiers in Sierra Leone draws on interviews with 75 former female soldiers and over 20 local experts, providing a rare perspective on both the civil war and post-conflict development efforts in the country. Megan MacKenzie argues that post-conflict reconstruction is a highly gendered process, demonstrating that a clear recognition and understanding of the roles and experiences of female soldiers are central to both understanding the conflict and to crafting effective policy for the future.

Jason Stearns, PublicAffairs, 2012

At the heart of Africa is Congo, a country the size of Western Europe, bordering nine other nations, that since 1996 has been wracked by a brutal and unstaunchable war in which millions have died. And yet, despite its epic proportions, it has received little sustained media attention. In this deeply reported book, Jason Stearns vividly tells the story of this misunderstood conflict through the experiences of those who engineered and perpetrated it. He depicts village pastors who survived massacres, the child soldier assassin of President Kabila, a female Hutu activist who relives the hunting and methodical extermination of fellow refugees, and key architects of the war that became as great a disaster as--and was a direct consequence of--the genocide in neighboring Rwanda. Through their stories, he tries to understand why such mass violence made sense, and why stability has been so elusive. Through their voices, and an astonishing wealth of knowledge and research, Stearns chronicles the political, social, and moral decay of the Congolese State.

Catherine Dauvergne, Cambridge University Press, 2009

This book examines the relationship between illegal migration and globalization. Under the pressures of globalizing forces, migration law is transformed into the last bastion of sovereignty. This explains the worldwide crackdown on extra-legal migration and informs the shape this crackdown is taking. It also means that migration law reflects key facets of globalization and addresses the central debates of globalization theory. This book looks at various migration law settings, asserting that differing but related globalization effects are discernible at each location. The ‘core samples’ interrogated in the book are drawn from refugee law, illegal labor migration, human trafficking, security issues in migration law, and citizenship law. Special attention is paid to the roles played by the European Union and the United States in setting the terms of global engagement. The book’s conclusion considers what the rule of law contributes to transformed migration law. • Of interest across a range of disciplines, certainly not just law • Brings together questions that are often treated separately. e.g. refugee law, citizenship law, illegal labor migration etc. • Contributes to the field of globalization theory

The Simons Foundation and the School for International Studies hosted a Dialogue Conference on the Problems of Arctic Security in the 21st Century in April 2008.

Tom Ginsburg and Tamir Moustafa (Eds.), Cambridge Univesity Press, 2008

Scholars have generally assumed that courts in authoritarian states are pawns of their regimes, upholding the interests of governing elites and frustrating the efforts of their opponents. As a result, nearly all studies in comparative judicial politics have focused on democratic and democratizing countries. This volume brings together leading scholars in comparative judicial politics to consider the causes and consequences of judicial empowerment in authoritarian states. It demonstrates the wide range of governance tasks that courts perform, as well as the way in which courts can serve as critical sites of contention both among the ruling elite and between regimes and their citizens. Drawing on empirical and theoretical insights from every major region of the world, this volume advances our understanding of judicial politics in authoritarian regimes.

Gerardo Otero (Eds.), University or Texas Press, 2008

Recent decades have seen tremendous changes in Latin America's agricultural sector, resulting from a broad program of liberalization instigated under pressure from the United States, the IMF, and the World Bank. Tariffs have been lifted, agricultural markets have been opened and privatized, land reform policies have been restricted or eliminated, and the perspective has shifted radically toward exportation rather than toward the goal of feeding local citizens. Examining the impact of these transformations, the contributors to Food for the Few: Neoliberal Globalism and Biotechnology in Latin America paint a somber portrait, describing local peasant farmers who have been made responsible for protecting impossibly vast areas of biodiversity, or are forced to specialize in one genetically modified crop, or who become low-wage workers within a capitalized farm complex. Using dozens of examples such as these, the deleterious consequences are surveyed from the perspectives of experts in diverse fields, including anthropology, economics, geography, political science, and sociology.

From Kathy McAfee's "Exporting Crop Biotechnology: The Myth of Molecular Miracles," to Liz Fitting's "Importing Corn, Exporting Labor: The Neoliberal Corn Regime, GMOs, and the Erosion of Mexican Biodiversity," Food for the Few balances disturbing findings with hopeful assessments of emerging grassroots alternatives. Surveying not only the Latin American conditions that led to bankruptcy for countless farmers but also the North's practices, such as the heavy subsidies implemented to protect North American farmers, these essays represent a comprehensive, keenly informed response to a pivotal global crisis.

Tamir Moustafa, Cambridge University Press, 2007

For nearly three decades, scholars and policymakers have placed considerable stock in judicial reform as a panacea for the political and economic turmoil plaguing developing countries. Courts are charged with spurring economic development, safeguarding human rights, and even facilitating transitions to democracy. How realistic are these expectations, and in what political contexts can judicial reforms deliver their expected benefits? This book addresses these issues through an examination of the politics of the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court, the most important experiment in constitutionalism in the Arab world. The Egyptian regime established a surprisingly independent constitutional court to address a series of economic and administrative pathologies that lie at the heart of authoritarian political systems. Although the Court helped the regime to institutionalize state functions and attract investment, it simultaneously opened new avenues through which rights advocates and opposition parties could challenge the regime. The book challenges conventional wisdom and provides insights into perennial questions concerning the barriers to institutional development, economic growth, and democracy in the developing world.

Gerardo Otero (Eds.), Fernwood Publishing, 2004

Mexico in Transition provides a wide-ranging, empirical and up-to-date survey of the multiple impacts neoliberal policies have had in practice in Mexico over twenty years, and the specific impacts of the NAFTA Agreement. The volume covers a wide terrain, including the effects of globalization on peasants; the impact of neoliberalism on wages, trade unions, and specifically women workers; the emergence of new social movements El Barzón and the Zapatistas (EZLN); how the environment, especially biodiversity, has become a target for colonization by transnational corporations; the political issue of migration to the United States; and the complicated intersections of economic and political liberalization. Mexico in Transition provides rich concrete evidence of what happens to the different sectors of an economy, its people, and natural resources, as the profound change of direction that neoliberal policy represents takes hold. It also describes and explains the diverse forms of resistance and challenge that different civil-society groups of those affected are now offering to a model the downsides of which are becoming increasingly manifest.

A full Spanish translation is avaiable here.

Gerardo Otero (Eds.), Routledge, 1996

Having unilaterally opened its borders to international competition and foreign investment in the mid-1980s, Mexico has become one of the world's leading proponents of economic liberalization. Nevertheless, as the recent uprising of native peoples in Chiapas has made clear, economic reforms are not universally welcomed. This book addresses the challenges brought about by the restructuring of the Mexican economy at a time when-multiple organizations of civil society are demanding a democratic political transition in a system that has been dominated by one party for nearly seventy years. The contributors identify the key social and political actors—both domestic and international—involved in promoting or resisting the new economic model and examine the role of the state in the restructuring process. They explore such questions as: In what ways is the state itself being reconstituted to accommodate the demand for change? How have Canada and the United States responded to the increased internationalization of their economies? What are the challenges and prospects for transnational grassroots networks and labor solidarity? Answers are provided by scholars from anthropology, economics, history, political science, and sociology, all of whom promote interdisciplinary approaches to the issues. Each chapter traces the structural transformations within the central social relationships in Mexican society during the last decade or so and anticipates future consequences of today's changes.

Emeritus and other past faculty