Spring 2007 Colloquia


Colloquia during Spring 2007




Monday, January 22, 2007


Workshop Collaborative Initiatives with Liberia and Mali


Presented by Professor Amos Sawyer, Workshop Codirector and Research Scholar, and Charlotte Hess, Workshop Director of Library and Information Services, Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, IUB


Summary: The Workshop maintains close cooperation with African colleagues and organizations that are engaged in a range of capacity building and institution development programs. Amos Sawyer and Charlotte Hess have recently returned from working visits to West Africa and will discuss some of the issues in focus during their visit to Liberia and Mali. Their presentation on Liberia will focus mainly on the challenges of organizing for land reform and the establishment of local government as part of Liberia’s ongoing governance reform program. On Mali, they will provide an update on the Workshop’s collaboration with the Centre Universitaire Mande Bukari in Bamako. They will also discuss visits to the ancient village of Segou Koro, the Niger irrigation system around Markala, and a women’s textile cooperative in Segou.




Professor Amos Sawyer is Codirector and Research Scholar at the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University, Bloomington. Among his activities at the Workshop is his role as coordinator of the Consortium for Self-Governance in Africa (CSGA), an association of research and teaching centers and research-action organizations in Africa and the United States dedicated to the study of Africa’s governance challenges and promotion of self-governing institutions. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from Northwestern University and taught for many years at the University of Liberia, becoming dean of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities in 1981. He was chairman of the Liberian constitution commission in 1981 and president of the Interim Government 1990-1994, during Liberia’s civil war. He is now Chairman of the Governance Reform Commission in Liberia (Feb 2006-). He is actively involved in peacebuilding and conflict resolution initiatives in Africa and frequently serves in advisory capacities to African regional organizations and the UN on questions of African governance and conflict resolution. He has published extensively on such issues. His recent works include his book on Liberia titled Beyond Plunder: Toward Democratic Governance in Liberia (Boulder and London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2005).


Charlotte Hess is Director of Library and Information Services at the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis and Director of IU’s Digital Library of the Commons One of her primary research areas is information collaboration in Africa. In 2005, as part of an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation planning grant, she visited colleagues at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, and at the Kenyan Forest Research Institute, Maguga, Kenya, to investigate the possibility of developing new ways of collecting, organizing, preserving, and disseminating research information by building a collaborative digital library. During the recent visit to West Africa, she investigated ways to improve collaborative research, including testing new videoconferencing software. Hess and Elinor Ostrom have recently published Understanding Knowledge as a Commons: From Theory to Practice with MIT Press.


There will not be a formal paper for this session.


Monday, January 29, 2007




Presented by Dr. Regina Smyth, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, IUB (Coauthors: Brandon Wilkening and Anna Urasova, Department of Political Science, IUB)


Abstract: Since 2000, Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin has constructed a strong set of informal mechanisms to ensure political control within a democratic regime structure.  Together with Putin’s personal popularity, these tools enabled the Kremlin to dominate both the factional infighting and electoral competition that are endemic to semi-authoritarian polities.  However, constitutional term limits set to unseat Putin in 2008 challenge this model of managed democracy and raise the specter of a succession crisis.  To meet this challenge, the Kremlin expanded its program of institutional reform designed to limit electoral competition and concentrate political resources in the dominant party, United Russia.  These efforts signal an attempt to move from a personalist regime that is dependent on Putin as the guarantor of political bargains to a single party authoritarian regime in which shared power is vested in party leaders.  A Monte Carlo experiment shows that the reforms will bolster the success of United Russia and create an environment in which single party dominance is likely.  Overall, the effect of the reform program has been to rationalize formal and informal institutions and make it possible for Putin to abide by the constitution without endangering the incumbent political order.


BIO: Professor Smyth's research explores the relationship between democratic development and electoral competition by focusing on candidates, political parties and party systems in post-Communist states. Her work is based on original data collection that has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Social Science Research Council, Smith Richardson Foundation, and the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research. Her book Candidate Strategies and Electoral Competition in the Russian Federation: Democracy without Foundation (Cambridge 2006) explains the failure of Russian democracy in terms of the factors that impeded cooperation among candidates and party leaders and failed to produce a viable opposition to the ruling party. Her study of Russian party organizations examines the inability of parties' to articulate coherent policy positions or frame policy debates. Her current work on party and party system consolidation across the post-Communist states examines the processes that produce congruence between key political alignments or power centers and partisan competition. Professor Smyth's work has been published in Politics and Society, Comparative Politics, and Comparative Political Studies.  She has taught at Penn State University and Harvard University before coming to Indiana University in 2006.


Paper in PDF


Monday, February 5, 2007




Presented by Jeffrey Stake, Professor of Law, Professor of Law and Louis F. Niezer Faculty Fellow, School of Law, and Affiliated Faculty, Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, IUB


Abstract: Governments around the world expropriate land from their citizens. The 2005 decision of the United States Supreme Court brought this power into view of the public and raised the issue of what constraints ought to be placed on the power. The heated public debate and reactions in the state legislatures have failed to take full advantage of the opportunity for reform. In particular, insufficient attention has been given to the question of how much an owner ought to be compensated when her land is taken. This paper uses economics, biology, and psychology, to suggest specific ways in which the law of just compensation might be helpfully reformed.


BIO:  Jeff Stake is the President of the Society for Evolutionary Analysis in Law (SEAL) and is a co-founder of the Midwest Law and Economics Association (MLEA). His research applies economics, psychology, and evolutionary theory to topics ranging from family law to the first amendment, but focusing primarily on various aspects of property law. He recently published an article titled “the property ‘instinct’” in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society-B, and “Evolution of Rules in a Common Law System: Differential Litigation of the Fee Tail and Other Perpetuities,” links to both of which may be found on his IU website.


Professor Stake earned his B.A. in Mathematics and Psychology from the University of Illinois in 1975 and his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 1981.  He clerked for the Honorable Oscar H. Davis, U.S. Court of Claims, during the 1981-82 term and was an Associate at Covington & Burling in Washington D.C. from 1982 to 1985. He currently teaches Property, Wills and Trusts, and Land-Use Controls at Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington. He is a member of the Advisory Council for the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis.


Paper in PDF


Monday, February 12, 2007


Rationality, Rule-Following and Emotions: On the Economics of Moral Preferences

Presented by Professor Viktor Vanberg, Professor of Economic Policy, University of Freiburg; Director, Walter Eucken Institut, Freiburg, Germany; and Visiting Scholar, Liberty Fund, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana


Abstract: The long-standing critique of the ‘economic model of man’ has gained new impetus not least due to the broadening research in behavioral and experimental economics. Many of the critics have focused on the apparent difficulty of traditional rational choice theory to account for the role of moral or ethical concerns in human conduct, and a number of authors have suggested modifications in the standard model in response to such critique. This paper takes issue with a quite commonly adopted ‘revisionist’ strategy, namely seeking to account for moral concerns by including them as additional preferences in an agent’s utility function. It is argued that this strategy ignores the critical difference between preferences over outcomes and preferences over actions, and that it fails to recognize that ‘moral preferences’ belong into the second category. Preferences over actions, however, cannot be consistently accounted for within a theoretical framework that focuses on the rationality of single actions. They require a shift of perspective, from a theory of rational choice to a theory of rule-following behavior.


BIO: Prof. Dr. Viktor J. Vanberg teaches Economic Policy at the University of Freiburg since 1995. He was born in 1943 and earned his academic degrees at the University of Münster (Diplom-Soziologe 1968), the Technical University of Berlin (Dr. phil. 1974) and the University of Mannheim (Dr. phil. habil. 1981). Before joining the Economics Department at the University of Freiburg he taught from 1984 to 1995 as Professor of Economics at George Mason University, Fairfax, USA. In addition to his university appointment he directs since 2001 the Walter Eucken Institut, Freiburg. His main research interests are in the areas of constitutional political economy, institutional and evolutionary economics, and the behavioral foundations of the social sciences. His publications include Rules and Choice in Economics, London and New York 1994, and The Constitution of Markets, London and New York 2001.


Paper in PDF


Monday, February 19, 2007



Presented by Professor Gustavo Gordillo, Visiting Scholar, Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, IUB


Abstract: Due to a mix of democracy, poverty, and inequality—fuelled by demographic change, economic and social reforms, and cultural transformations—Latin America is experiencing enormous changes.  This creates a context in which social movements, protests, and civic engagements confront authorities and reject formal institutional arrangements representing a permanent source of instability.


On the one extreme, one could argue that coercion is not only a last resort but instead a regular way of governing weak democracies. On the other hand, one might take expressions of civic disobedience as faits accomplis for which opportunistic accommodation is the answer of politicians with a short-term vision.  Alternatively, however, one can address the various manifestations of societal discontent as anticipatory strategies based on the actors’ expectations of the impact that changes might bring to them.  As such, one might envision the interactions amongst them as part of a process that contributes to the creation of new common understandings and new rules of governance.


Presidential elections held in 11 out of the 18 Latin America countries in 2005-2006 have changed the political map. Drawing from two major public opinion surveys measuring  Latin American citizens’ values, moods and visions on the present and future of democracies in Latin America I explore answers to a most pressing question: how strong and imminent are the dangers of populist regimes in this region? In fact are populists regimes a real danger and for whom?


BIO: Gustavo Gordillo has been a practitioner, academician, politician and policymaker. As a practitioner, he has been co-founder of a 75 rural organizations network in Mexico. From 1974 to 1988, he has participated as a technical advisor to Credit Unions, Agriculture Insurance Funds and Rural Housing Programmes with Cooperatives and Municipal Governments.


As academician, he holds a “Doctorat de troisième cycle” in the Ecole Practique des Hautes Etudes, Paris, France. He has been Visiting Professor at various Universities in Mexico and USA and is author of more than 20 books and 80 articles. Some articles and books in English are: “The New Axle of Food Security”, Global Environmental Change, Globalization and Food Systems, IAI-IHP Global Environmental Change Training Institute on Globalization and Food Systems(2005), Catalysts for regional development: putting territorial coordination in practice (with Rodrigo Wagner)  presented at the Tenth Annual World Bank Conference on Development in Latin America & the Caribbean(2004), From Policy Lessons To Policy Actions: Motivation To take Evaluation Seriously(with Krister Andersson), Public Administration and Development  24-1-16 (2004), Access to Land, Rural Poverty and Public Action”, co-editor con Alan De Janvry, Elisabeth Sadoulet y Jean Philippe Platteau, Oxford University Press(2000) and with A. de Janvry y Elisabeth Sadoulet "The Second Agrarian Reform in Mexico", Center for Mexico-United States Studies, University of California en San Diego(1998).


As a policymaker, he has been Deputy Secretary for Rural Policies and Concertation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources (SARH) in Mexico (1988 to 1991) and Under-Secretary for the Agrarian Organization and Development in the Ministry of Agrarian Reform in Mexico (1991 – 1994). He joined the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 1995 as a Director of the Rural Development Division at FAO Headquarters in Rome and served since 1997 until 2005 as Assistant Director-General, Regional Representative of FAO for Latin America and the Caribbean based in Santiago de Chile.


In 2006 Gordillo was chief manager of the presidential campaign of candidate Ms Patricia Mercado in Mexico.


PowerPoint Presentation in PDF


A formal paper will not be available at the time of this session.


Monday, February 26, 2007


The Linguistic Digital Divide and Machine Translation

Presented by Professor Michael Gasser, Associate Professor, School of Informatics, IUB


Abstract: The Linguistic Digital Divide is the relative advantage of a small number of privileged languages over the thousands of other languages with respect to the availability of material on the Internet and the biases inherent in the computational tools that are part of life in the digital world. There is nothing new about these disparities; in most ways they are just a continuation of the advantages enjoyed by a same small set of languages for hundreds of years. And the origins of the Linguistic Digital Divide are also familiar from history: lack of access to technology, linguistic imperialism, and illiteracy in the disadvantaged languages. Digital utopianists had hoped that the Digital Revolution would lead to a new democratization of knowledge, given the ease with which information can be created and shared on the Internet. Far from alleviating the inequities, it could be argued that the situation is now even worse. First, along with the Digital Revolution has come the global Knowledge-Based Society in which economic success depends more than ever on access to information. Second, people interact with each other in new ways, through email, chat, and blogs, and it is the privileged languages that are taking on these new functions even for many native speakers of the disadvantaged languages. The consequences of the LDD are the continued exclusion of millions of people, including the majority in some regions, from participation in an increasingly globalized world and in many cases in their own countries.

In the history of the spread of ideas, translation has played a crucial role. In the current context, translation could help to make more material available in the disadvantaged languages, provide access to the larger world to knowledge that is currently available only in these languages, and facilitate contacts between communities speaking closely related disadvantaged languages. The task is unusually daunting, however: translation of millions of documents into and out of the scores of languages that are spoken by sizable populations. I will discuss some ways in which machine translation can aid in this process. Although machine translation will probably never reach the level of human translation, it can save considerable time and effort when the translation process is seen as a collaboration between humans and computers. The computational components making up these systems could also serve other functions. Together with suitable user interfaces, they could support first- or second-language instruction in the languages. They could also function as cultural/linguistic databases for families of related languages or members of linguistic areas, providing their speakers and others with new tools for understanding what is and is not shared within these groups. Finally I will discuss the specific linguistic situation in Guatemala and the role that we hope to play there in supporting Mayan languages and the communities where they are spoken through the development of computational tools and rudimentary machine translation systems.

BIO: Michael Gasser is an associate professor of Computer Science and Cognitive Science at Indiana University. He earned his PhD in Applied Linguistics at UCLA in 1988. His background is a combination of linguistics, language teaching, artificial intelligence, and cognitive science. Until recently his work focused on computational, especially connectionist, modeling of linguistic and cognitive development, including second language learning, morphology, phonology, rhythm, conceptual relations, and word meaning. In order to bring his research in line with his politics, he is now looking into the application of techniques and concepts from computational linguistics and artificial intelligence to the development of tools that further the democratization of knowledge.

There will not be a formal paper for this session. However, there is a background paper, "Machine Translation and the Future of Indigenous Languages."


Background Paper in PDF


Monday, March 5, 2007




Presented by Professor Elinor Ostrom, Codirector, Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, and Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science, IUB


Abstract: Moving beyond panaceas to develop cumulative capacities to diagnose the problems and potentialities of linked social-ecological systems requires serious study of the complex, multivariable, non-linear, cross-scale, and changing SESs. We need to clarify the structure of a SES so we understand the niche involved and how a particular “solution” may help to improve outcomes or make them worse. And, solutions may not work the same way over time. As structural variables change, participants need to have ways of learning and adapting to these changes.


Many variables have been identified by researchers as affecting the patterns of interactions and outcomes observed in empirical studies. After undertaking a careful analysis of the extensive research examining the factors likely to affect self-organization and robustness of common-property regimes, Agrawal identified more than 30 variables that had been posited in major theoretical work to affect incentives, actions, and outcomes related to sustainable resource governance.  Agrawal raises challenging questions about how research can be conducted in a cumulative and rigorous fashion if this many complex and potentially important variables needed to be identified in every study.  While scholars do need to learn how to identify and measure the variables that Agrawal identified, all of these variables are not relevant in every study because SESs are partially decomposable systems.


Paper in PDF


Monday, March 19, 2007



Presented by Eric Coleman, PhD Candidate in Public Policy, Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, IUB


Abstract: In this paper we develop a strategic model of common pool resource management where individuals in a community forest place random utility weights (norms) on the act of harvesting from the forest. We then build a statistical model to test and assess the affects of monitoring and management type (i.e., government, private, or community managed) on forest community norms and the probability of successful management. We estimate this model in a Bayesian framework using data augmentation. We find that different institutional forms can be successful for different management objectives. Forest planners are cautioned to consider management objectives before deciding on any particular institutional form.


BIO: Eric Coleman is a Ph.D. student in public policy at Indiana University. He currently is a research assistant in the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis and the International Forestry Resources and Institutions program. His research explores the dynamics of institutional change and their effects on policy outcomes in transitional and developing economies.


Paper in PDF


Monday, March 26, 2007




Presented by Professor Robert Goldstone, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and Director, Cognitive Science Program, IUB


Abstract: Just as ants interact to form elaborate colonies and neurons interact to create structured thought, groups of people interact to create emergent organizations that the individuals may not understand or even perceive. My laboratory has begun to study the emergence of group behavior from a complex adaptive systems perspective. We have developed an internet-based experimental platform (for examples, see that allows groups of 2-200 people to interact with each other in real time on networked computers. The experiments implement virtual environments where participants can see the moment-to-moment actions of their peers and immediately respond to their environment. Agent-based computational models are used as accounts of the experimental results. I will describe three collective behavior paradigms. The first concerns competitive foraging for resources by individuals inhabiting an environment consisting largely of other individuals foraging for the same resources. The second concerns the formation of path systems when people can take advantage of the paths forged by others. The third concerns the dissemination of innovations in social networks. Across the three scenarios, the group-level behavior that emerges reveals influences of exploration and exploitation, bandwagon effects, population waves, and compromises between individuals using their own information and information obtained from their peers.


BIO: Since receiving his Ph.D. in psychology from University of Michigan in 1991, Robert Goldstone has been a professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University. His research interests include concept learning, collective behavior, and computational modeling of human cognition. He was awarded the 2000 APA Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology in the area of Cognition and Human Learning, and a 2004 Troland research award from the National Academy of Sciences. He served as editor of Cognitive Science from 2001-2005. In 2006, he became the director of Indiana University's Cognitive Science Program.


There will not be a formal paper for this session. However, there is a background paper, "Collective Search in Concrete and Abstract Spaces." This is an earlier version of a chapter that will appear in: Kugler, T. and C. Smith, and T. Connelly (Eds.). Decision Modeling and Behavior in Uncertain and Complex Environments, Springer Press (in press).

Background Paper in PDF


Monday, April 2, 2007




Presented by Travis Selmier, FLAS Fellow, Department of Political Science, IUB


Abstract: A huge worldwide wave of bank acquisitions in developing countries by industrialized countries’ banks occurred in the 1990’s. Latin America provided the most active gameboard on which bank acquisitions played out, in terms of value of acquisitions, but Asia, Central Europe and countries in other regions also saw bank sales. Some thirty developing countries were affected. Analyzing these waves of bank privatization and acquisition solely by using financial economics underplays important political aspects of this phenomenon, which include significant foreign pressure and domestic politics in the host country.


Banks are monitored and governed by national and international organizations established for that purpose and they lobby these organizations. Banks are also “privately monitored” by investors and other interested parties. In short, banks and financial systems operate in a complex web of politics. Governmental actors are pulled and pushed toward banks and banks’ power. They are pulled by banks’ ability to deploy liquidity in productive ways, and pushed by the perceived need to regulate and monitor banking activity. These government officials experience an additional tug of war in that they face a conflict between acting for the public good and pursuing their private gain in their dealings with banks and banking regulation. In this conflict between private gain and public benefit, these officials sometimes make decisions which are sub-Pareto-optimal to the society and nation they serve. Insisting on more effective governance alone cannot change these rent-seeking tendencies nor will it create a more autonomous government. Significant foreign holding of local bank assets, as measured at a national level, is more likely to lead to better governance, private monitoring, and stronger banking systems.


While individual bank acquisitions may be empirically explained through regional expansion strategies of the acquiring banks, cultural affiliation between acquirer and target bank, size of country or type of government or international-level interactions, national-level variations are not explained. One can come much closer to an all-encompassing explanation of the pattern of cross-border bank acquisition by analyzing the power of private interest groups and the autonomy of government actors in the target countries. This paper sketches a preliminary model.


BIO: Travis Selmier is a fourth-year PhD candidate in Political Science at Indiana University focusing on international and comparative political economy. His regional interests in issues concerning North and Southeast Asia, Latin America and North-South stem in part from his experience running one of the 10 largest U.S.-based emerging markets equities funds for most of the 1990's. He spent 17 years working in international equities, on and off Wall Street, after receiving an MBA in Finance from Indiana University in 1986. A bit of an odd duck in investments, his philosophy to investing includes learning as much as possible about the countries’ cultures in which he invested. A taste of this philosophy can be found in his interview in the Financial Times, July 31, 1999, "Mixing rhyme and reason: Travis Selmier takes a cultural approach to investing" on his website.


His PhD thesis is entitled: "Storming the Commanding Heights: The Politics of Cross-border Bank Acquisitions," and considers East Asia and Latin America countries’ outcomes through the process of financial liberalization and the sale of their local banks to foreigners. He is a poor, but persistent, linguist speaking in descending order Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese (which he is studying now under a FLAS Fellowship) and bits of 6-8 other languages. He’s traveled to nearly 60 countries and has loved the food, drink and art in every one. He was born a Hoosier and, after nearly 30 years outside the state, is glad to be back in his favorite place in the state, Bloomington.


Paper in PDF


Monday, April 9, 2007




Presented by Professor James Walker, Department of Economics, and Affiliated Faculty, Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, IUB

(Coauthors: Professor James Cox, Director, Experimental Economics Center, Department of Economics, Georgia State University; and Professor Elinor Ostrom, Co-Director, Workshop, and Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science, Indiana University) (Collaborators: A.M. Jaime Castillo, University of Granada; Eric Coleman, Indiana University; Robert Holahan, Indiana University; Michael Schoon, Indiana University; Brian Steed, Indiana University)


Abstract: We report the results from a series of experiments designed to investigate behavior in two settings that closely parallel earlier experimental studies of the investment or trust games. The primary research question relates to what extent behavior is dependent upon how experimental endowments are induced. We find that endowments which are induced as joint ownership lead to marginally greater cooperation or trust. Subjects' decisions are also shown to be correlated with attitudes toward trust and fairness measured in post-experiment questionnaires.


BIO: James M. Walker, Professor of Economics, (Ph.D., Texas A&M University, 1978), Experimental Economics, Public Choice. Professor Walker is a past chairman of the Department of Economics and is also a member of the Affiliated Faculty of the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University. His principal research focus is the use of experimental methods in the investigation of individual and group behavior related to the voluntary provision of public goods and the use of common pool resources. Professor Walker is a recipient of the Indiana University “Student Choice Award,” and was selected for participation in FACET (Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching ) and FLP (Freshman Learning Project).


Paper in PDF


Monday, April 16, 2007




Presented by Dr. Beverly Stoeltje, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, IUB


Summary: Among the Asante people of Ghana traditional courts serve as important venues for the resolution of disputes, especially those derived from the social interactions of everyday life. Conflicts arise as individuals go about farming their plots, seeking and maintaining partnerships, trading in the markets, and raising their children. The courts of chiefs and queen mothers provide the venue for litigants who wish to pursue a conflict as a case. These courts operate according to Custom, the term applied by the Asante to refer to the jural procedures laid down by the powerful priest, Komfo Anokye, when the precolonial Asante state was founded in 1701.  


Though the British modified the system and utilized it for “indirect rule,” chieftaincy is recognized today as an institution in the Constitution of Ghana and by the government. Through the institution of chieftaincy and the courts, ordinary people have a voice and a public venue for transforming conflicts into litigation which is heard by traditional authorities, and chiefs have an opportunity to pursue political issues. The paper discusses the significance of chieftaincy as a powerful political institution and the courts as a recognized indigenous legal system, both of which serve elites and commoners alike in the larger context of modern Ghana.


BIO: Beverly Stoeltje, Department of Anthropology, Indiana University, is an anthropologist whose research is located in Ghana. Concentrating on the anthropology of law, she works with Asante custom and chieftaincy. A hierarchical political organization based on a dual gender  system, the Asantehene and Asantehemmaa are the king and queen mother of all of Asante, but paramountcies are led by paramount chiefs and queen mothers, and every village and town has its own chief and queen mother. Professor Stoeltje has published on the Asantehemaa’s court, on Asante Queen Mothers, on the Juaben court, and on narrative and curse as it figures in the courts and in social life. She is currently writing a book on Custom, Courts, and Everyday Practices in Asante. She organized a conference on Women, Language and Law in Africa at Indiana University. The papers were published in Africa Today. She teaches courses on Law and Culture, Performing nationalism, Ritual, Festival and Public Culture, and Gender. 


There will not be a formal paper for this session. However, there is a background paper, "The Performance of Litigation: Asante Custom and the Juaben Court." This paper will be published in the Research Review.


Background Paper in PDF


Monday, April 23, 2007




Presented by Professor Michael McGinnis, Department of Political Science, and Affiliated Faculty, Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, IUB


Abstract: In times of great need, religious faith can inspire life-transforming acts of charity and mercy. Yet in other circumstances that same faith might justify acts of unspeakable brutality towards non-believers. The entire range of religion’s effects has been evident throughout the countries of the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, and Kenya). Because of the many inter-related conflicts and fundamental failures of governance suffered by these diverse peoples in recent decades, locally-based and international religious organizations have undertaken tasks of humanitarian relief, conflict resolution, and political mobilization for reform or governance that in more settled countries are typically handled by explicitly political institutions.


This presentation summarizes my plans to re-organize a draft book manuscript on the Horn of Africa that I have been working on for several years now. As currently envisioned, this book will focus on a series of examples of effective political action by faith-based organizations (FBOs) or religion-inspired organizations (RIOs) in the countries of Horn. Particular attention is given to religious contributions to rebellion and reform in Uganda and Kenya and governance in the Sudan, as well as the delivery of humanitarian assistance, mobilization for human rights, and the facilitation of peaceful reconciliation among warring peoples throughout the region.


Strategic innovations of religious organizations are especially noticeable in this region precisely because the record of national governance and international intervention has been so abysmal. This book demonstrates what lessons political leaders, policy advocates, and concerned citizens might learn from the politically-relevant activities of religious organizations. I conclude that despite inherent limitations in the capacity of religion to directly organize effective forms of political governance, religion can make unique contributions towards sustainable self-governance, primarily by maintaining cultural ties among diverse peoples living in disjointed political jurisdictions and by reminding institutional analysts that all types of organizations have significant roles to play in the constitution of order in human societies.


BIO: Michael McGinnis is Professor in the Department of Political Science at Indiana University, Bloomington. In 2003-05 he served as Co-Director for the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, an inter-disciplinary research group focused on the study of institutions, development, and governance. McGinnis received a B.S. in mathematics from the Ohio State University in 1980 and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Minnesota in 1985. In his early research he used game theory to model arms races, alliances, wars, peace negotiations, and other interactions between domestic and international politics. He has published several articles in political science and international relations journals, as well as chapters in edited volumes. He is co-author, with John T. Williams, of Compound Dilemmas: Democracy, Collective Action, and Superpower Rivalry (University of Michigan Press, 2001) and editor of three volumes of readings on governance issues written by scholars associated with the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis. He was co-editor of International Studies Quarterly (1994-98).


There will not be a formal paper for this session.


PowerPoint Presentation in PDF


Monday, May 14, 2007 (Special Session)




Presented by Maksim Barbashin, Senior Research Fellow, Ph.D, South Federal University, Rostov-on-Don, Russia, and Visiting Scholar, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, and Research Fellow of the 2007 U.S.-Russia Experts Forum, IREX, Washington, DC


Abstract: A number of methodological problems in relation to the study of the situation in Ethnic Identity Studies are analyzed. The author considers ethnicity as a dynamic process of macrohistorical changes in institutions in the neo-institutional sense. Such changes are depended on the characteristics of the social structure and institutional disintegration processes. The author believes that ethnic macronorm construction and the social norm transformation are connected to the norm disintegration which leads to institutional exceptions.


BIO: Maxim Barbashin is Visiting Scholar at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University and Research Fellow of the 2007 U.S. – Russia Experts Forum, a Program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, implemented by IREX ( He is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for System and Regional Studies and Prognosis at the South Federal University in Rostov-on-Don (Russia). Barbashin received a master’s degree from the Philology and Regional Studies Departments at Rostov State University in 2003 and his Ph.D. from the Department of Sociology at Rostov State University in 2005. Barbashin has received multiple rewards for his work, including a gold medal from the Russian Academy of Sciences for a series of publications that he authored on the topic of ethno-political conflicts. He was a recipient of a Carnegie Research Fellowship in 2004-2005 and has experience working on the World Bank South Russia Service Delivery Project and on a series of Caucasus Academic Projects under the patronage of the Critical Sociology Network in Georgia. Barbashin has published extensively on various topics dealing with social structure, institutional and ethnic conflicts.


A formal paper is not available at this time, but will be up on our website the day of the presentation. Also available is a background paper titled "Methodological Foundations of Ethnopolitical Conflict Studies."


Paper in PDF


Background Paper


Friday, May 18, 2007 (Special Session)




Presented by Dr. George Varughese, Deputy Country Representative, The Asia Foundation, Shahr-e-Naw, Kabul, Afghanistan


Abstract: The Asia Foundation’s Deputy Country Representative for Afghanistan and Indiana University alum, George Varughese, will provide first-hand insight and analysis of recent political developments. The discussion will include a presentation on findings from a recently-released poll of Afghan public opinion on democracy, security, religion, and their future.


BIO: George Varughese is The Asia Foundation’s Deputy Country Representative for Afghanistan, resident in Kabul since 2005, and responsible for governance-related program development and management. He directed the recently completed Afghanistan in 2006: A Survey of the Afghan People and State Building, Political Progress, and Human Security in Afghanistan: Reflections on a Survey of the Afghan People (2007).


During 2000-2005, Dr. Varughese served as The Asia Foundation’s deputy country representative for Nepal, working on programs that strengthen the capacity of state institutions to assure accountability; provide access to justice, particularly through alternate dispute resolution; and encourage greater respect for human rights, particularly during conflict.


Prior to joining the Foundation, he was Country Program Advisor for the United Nations Development Program in Nepal, responsible for program research, development, and management related to local governance, remote- area development, and basic services delivery.  Dr. Varughese apprenticed at the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University.


There will not be a formal paper for this session.


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