Ethnic Conflict and Mobilization
University of Toronto, Undergraduate. Fall, 2018.
The class is devoted to understanding the role of ethnicity in violence and conflict regulation. The class takes students through some of the main theoretical families used to understand the political dynamics of ethnic identification and nationalism. In particular, we will address the following questions: Are national or ethnic political stances adopted for rational or non-rational reasons? Is ethnic war rational? Do elites manipulate masses, or do nationalism and ethnic conflict grow from grassroots sentiments? If the elites sell it, why do the masses buy? Are ethnic conflicts different from non-ethnic ones? Why people fight for their ethnic group? When ethnic loyalties in conflict are betrayed? Is it better to partition a war-torn multiethnic territory like Syria or to try to reintegrate it into a single, unified, multicultural state? Is religion different from ethnicity and why does it play such a prominent role in political violence?
Russian Politics and Society
University of Toronto, Undergraduate. Winter 2019.
This course examines critical issues in Russian politics and society. We will use historical and comparative approaches to Russian political development. First, we will question whether history and culture can explain contemporary Russian politics. We will briefly examine attempts to modernize Russia under the tsars, the Russian revolution, Stalinism, the post-Stalin Soviet politics, and Gorbachev’s Perestroika. We will explore whether these historical junctures led to path dependency, or in other words, whether the past has determined the present and the future in Russia. Second, we will analyze the transformations of the political regime and state-society relations in post-Soviet Russia in comparative perspective. We will ask how democratization in Russian was different from Brazil or Spain, why economic reforms in Russia were less successful than in Poland, how tools of control over media and civil society organizations are different in Russia and China, etc. In terms of topics, we will focus on the political logic of economic reforms, the influence of the oligarchs, governance, center-periphery relations, authoritarianism, nationalism, the politics of memory, organized crime, and the media. Finally, we will explore changes in Russian foreign policy and Russia’s involvement in conflicts in Chechnya, Georgia, Ukraine, and Syria.
The (Un)Rule of Law in Comparative Perspective
University of Toronto, Graduate Seminar. Winter 2019.
This advanced seminar is devoted to the exploration of patterns of social ordering beyond the advanced democracies. We will start with the analysis of the concepts and the lines of theorizing of the rule of law, the state, legitimacy, legal mobilization, and legal consciousness. We will discuss what is law, why people obey the law, and how do societies govern themselves in the absence of strong state legal institutions. We then proceed with a discussion of how to measure law and order. We will discuss the relationship between law and colonialism, co-existence of state law with customary and religious legal orders, the functioning of law under the authoritarian governments, and the patterns of social ordering during armed conflict and its aftermath.