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Academic Insights for the Thinking World


Tightrope walking: The future of political science

Imagine standing at the edge of a precipice. A combination of forces are pushing at your back, biting at your heels and generally forcing you to step into an unknown space. A long thin tightrope without any apparent ending stretches out in front of you and appears to offer your only lifeline. Doing nothing and standing still is not an option. You lift up your left foot and gingerly step out….

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Putin and beyond: a Q&A on Russian politics

Russian politics has always been a fascinating subject around the globe. Exactly how politics works there, along with Putin’s vision for the country and the world at large is the source of constant debate.

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Baylis 7e

Brexit and Article 50 negotiations: What it would take to strike a deal

In the end, the decision for the UK to formally withdraw its membership of the European Union passed with a reasonably comfortable majority in excess of 1¼ million votes. Every one of the 17.4 million people who voted Leave would have had their own reason for wanting to break with the status quo. However, not one of them had any idea as to what they were voting for next. It is one of the idiosyncrasies of an all-or-nothing referendum.

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The quest for order in modern society

Opening the morning paper or browsing the web, routine actions for us all, rarely if ever shake our fundamental beliefs about the world. If we assume a naïve, reflective state of mind, however, reading newspapers and surfing the web offer us quite a different experience: they provide us with a glimpse into the kaleidoscopic nature of the modern era that can be quite irritating.

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Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History

Where is Mexico going? The obstacles in its rocky road to democracy

In a recently released poll this month, 22% of Mexicans approved of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s performance in office. Data released in the same survey revealed that 55%, more than twice the percentage of those who viewed the president in a positive light, strongly disapproved of his performance. No president since Vicente Fox, who was elected in 2000 and moved Mexico significantly along the path to electoral democracy, has ever received such weak support.

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What should “misundertrusted” Hillary do?

Using his now famous malaprop, the 2000 GOP presidential candidate George W. Bush declared that his opponents had “misunderestimated” him. All politicians suffer from real or perceived weaknesses. For Bush, his propensity to mangle the English language caused some to question his intellectual qualifications to hold the nation’s highest office. Yet his unpretentiousness and authenticity made him the candidate Americans said they would like to have a beer with.

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Journal of Refugee Studies

Scaling the UN Refugee Summit: A reading list

The United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants will be held on 19 September 2016 at the UNHQ in New York. The high-level meeting to address large movements of refugees and migrants is expected to endorse an Outcome Document that commits states to negotiating a ‘Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework’ and separately a ‘Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration,’ for adoption in 2018.

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Britain, Ireland, and their Union: 1800-1921

Historians of both Britain and Ireland have too often adopted a blinkered approach in which their countries have been envisaged as somehow divorced from the continent in which they are geographically placed. If America and the Empire get an occasional mention, Europe as a whole has largely been ignored. Of course the British-Irish relationship had (and has) its peculiarities.

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America’s nuclear strategy: core obligations for our next president

Plainly, whoever is elected president in November, his or her most urgent obligations will center on American national security. In turn, this will mean an utterly primary emphasis on nuclear strategy. Moreover, concerning such specific primacy, there can be no plausible or compelling counter-arguments. In world politics, some truths are clearly unassailable. For one, nuclear strategy is a “game” that pertinent world leaders must play, whether they like it, or not.

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Moral responsibilities when waging war

In his long-awaited report on the circumstances surrounding the United Kingdom’s decision to join forces with the United States and invade Iraq in 2003, Sir John Chilcot lists a number of failings on the part of the then-British leadership.

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Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Wounded religious sentiments and the law in India

We live in world suffused with offended religious sentiments: depictions of Muhammad in newspaper cartoons and hackneyed films spark violent global protests; courthouse officials in the US South refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses in defiance of the Supreme Court; and in India, authors threatened by thugs on the Hindu Right “die” publicly in order to avoid a less metaphorical demise.

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A cautionary tale from the history of NGOs

The contemporary world features more than twenty thousand international NGOs in almost every field of human activity, including humanitarian assistance, environmental protection, human rights promotion, and technical standardization, amongst numerous other issues

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Small donor democracy? Don’t count on it

Hillary Clinton says she wants to get big money out of elections, and one of the ways she wants to do it is to curb the influence of big donors by mobilizing lots of small ones. This reform idea has become very popular recently, thanks to the concern about super PACs and billionaires that has been growing since Citizens United. But the idea is an old one. The first serious small-donor programs began more than 100 years ago, and they have been working more or less continually ever since.

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Baylis 7e

Saying “Black lives matter”

As the political season in the United States heats up, it has become controversial in certain circles to say “Black Lives Matter.” A few (perhaps even many) object because they don’t believe that black lives matter equally. Most, however, it seems to me, are responding out of fundamental misunderstandings of what “Black Lives Matter” means in the USA in 2016. (I will set aside crude partisanship as an explanation that, to the extent that it is true, does not require further comment.)

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14682621 african affairs

Africa-based scholars in academic publishing: Q&A with Celia Nyamweru

In an effort to address current discussions regarding Africa-based scholars in academic publishing, the editors of African Affairs reached out to Celia Nyamweru for input from her personal experiences. Celia Nyamweru spent 18 years teaching at Kenyatta University (KU) and another 18 years teaching at a US university with a strong undergraduate focus on Africa.

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Leibniz and Europe

At the turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, national states were on the rise. Versailles was constructed as a stage on which the Sun King, Louis XIV, acted out the pageant of absolute sovereignty while his armies annexed neighbouring territories for the greater glory of France. At the death of Charles II of Spain in November 1700, the Spanish throne and its extensive possessions in Italy, the Low Countries and the New World passed to his grandson, Philip, Duke of Anjou.

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