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Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies seminars 2021/22

See the schedule of seminars taking place in the Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies.

October 2021 Seminars

All seminars will take place via Zoom from 13.15-14.05.


Tuesday 5 October 2021

  • Speaker: Kate Precious, Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies, University of Bath
  • Time: 13.15-14.05

Title: The Underdog Empowered? A Strategy for Lobbying Influence

Abstract: The underdog theory challenges the characterisation of marginalised groups as politically disempowered. While acknowledging the very real nature of their social and cultural marginalisation, it argues that dominant frames, the actions of governments and researchers, and the actions of marginalised groups themselves conspire to mean that the policy influence of marginalised groups is systematically underestimated and undermeasured. This in turn impacts how others perceive marginalised groups and how marginalised groups perceive themselves, with a corresponding effect on how marginalised groups behave. Through a case study of the adult autistic community in England, I build my ‘underdog theory’ about the hidden potential of marginalised groups and conditions and, crucially, behaviours associated with higher levels of influence.

The underdog theory states firstly that marginalised groups have a potential for a greater level of influence than is usually assumed; and secondly, that marginalised groups can maximise their policy influence to reach that potential through three main behaviours: adopting a positive framing, learning about their policy environment (and using that knowledge strategically) and actively collaborating with others. The term ‘underdog’ is chosen to reflect the disconnect between expectations of marginalised groups and their potential: what they can actually achieve.

This theory has implications for researchers and governments, who should consider changes to the way they measure influence and design institutions and policy, but most importantly for underdogs.

Tuesday 12 October 2021

Title: Jihadist Terrorism Continues to Affect Public Opinion

Abstract: How do recent Jihadist attacks--often more limited in nature--affect citizens' political attitudes? While some authors argue that citizens have become less susceptible or even `numb' to attacks, others argue that attacks continue to significantly affect attitudes. Drawing on mass online surveys, we estimate the causal effects of two recent Jihadist terrorist attacks which have transpired at almost exactly the same location: the 2017 and 2019 London Bridge attacks. Our vast sample sizes and causal identification strategy allow us to detect even small changes in public opinion. We find that both attacks increased public support for tough security measures and restrictive immigration policies, but we find no evidence that these effects were moderated by individuals' political leaning or their proximity to the attacks. These findings are robust to a series of falsification test and suggest that Jihadist terrorism continues to affect public opinion, even if the attacks are relatively minor.


October 2021 Seminars (continued)

All seminars will take place via Zoom from 13.15-14.05.


Tuesday 19 October 2021

  • Speaker: Dr Stephen Hall, Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies, University of Bath
  • Time: 13.15-14.05

Title: Developing Best Practices “Against Terrorists Who Protest”: Regional Organisations as Learning Clubs for Autocracies?

Abstract: Recent literature has stressed the increasing importance of international forces in explaining authoritarian politics and autocratic survival. Researchers have begun to highlight the darker side of regionalism by investigating how regional organisations can play a significant role in stabilising and even strengthening autocracies. This paper argues that these organisations provide avenues to aid authoritarian learning, provide structures to share legislation, meetings to discuss ideas, and training exercises to ascertain what works effectively. These practices go far beyond diffusion, involving direct collaboration and bolstering among member states. I investigate a range of regional organisations where the majority are autocracies, assessing whether and to what extent these institutions provide learning opportunities. Regional organisations analysed are the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Gulf Cooperation Council and ALBA from Latin America. Analysis of these different global organisations will provide clear evidence of whether, and to what extent, these structures help authoritarian learning.

Tuesday 26 October 2021

Title: The Black Mediterranean: Bodies, Borders and Citizenship

Abstract: This newly published volume aims to problematise and rethink the contemporary European migrant crisis in the Central Mediterranean through the lens of the Black Mediterranean. Tracing back to the Black radical tradition and inspired by Paul Gilroy's Black Atlantic, the Black Mediterranean captures the long history of racial subordination and resistance in the Mediterranean region and seeks to answer a set of crucial questions about the racialized production of borders, bodies, and citizenship in contemporary Europe: what is the role of borders in controlling migrant flows from North Africa and the Middle East? What is the place for black bodies in the Central Mediterranean context? What is the relevance of the citizenship in reconsidering black subjectivities in Europe? In this talk, Angelica Pesarini will illustrate her use of the Black Mediterranean intended as a racialised and historicised space deeply influenced by the European colonial expansion in Africa, while Gabriele Proglio will problematize the situation occurring at Europe’s borders by using Frantz Fanon’s conception of violence.


November 2021 Seminars

All seminars will take place via Zoom from 13.15-14.05.


Tuesday 2 November 2021

Title: Rethinking Advocacy as Practice through the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda

Abstract: Studies of networked civil society advocacy have mostly examined advocacy as a textual product, either written or spoken, and thus the study of advocacy has been the study of these texts: reports, briefing statements, monitoring documents, or speeches. However, reading advocacy solely as a product, albeit the result of various and often competing discourses, has meant that little attention has been paid to the ways in which advocacy manifests as practice. By examining advocacy around the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda in the UK, this article asks how we might rethink advocacy as practice, and with what implications for understanding the institutions and mechanisms of global governance? Turning to critical feminist and postcolonial theory, I argue that advocacy is a discursive and embodied practice that is simultaneously intersectional and relational.

Advocacy is intimately connected to the performances and embodiments of gender and race as well as other modalities of social power, with particular effects and affects. This is illustrated through an analysis of around 65 interviews with mostly NGO professionals as well as some UK government officials working in the field of WPS in UK. Drawing from interview data, I propose a typology of three subject positions: the ‘critical friends’, the ‘shouty NGOs’, and the ‘outsider advocates’. I highlight how each subject position is gendered and racialised in different ways and how they function in line with the analytical framework developed. I posit that the successful implementation of the WPS agenda (and perhaps of all policy agendas) is reliant on the gendered and racialised logics of advocacy as an embodied, intersectional, and relational practice. Crucially, by expanding our understanding of advocacy as a distinct category of analysis for International Relations (IR), I argue that this theoretical intervention has relevance and applicability beyond the WPS agenda, offering new insights into how civil society organisations (CSOs) advocate across a diverse range of issues and subsequently navigate and negotiate their relationship with International Organisations (IOs) and states.

Tuesday 9 November 2021

Title: Racialized Burdens: Applying Racialized Organization Theory to the Administrative State

Abstract: This paper develops the concept of racialized burdens as a means of examining the role of race in administrative practice. Racialized burdens are the experience of learning, compliance and psychological costs, which serve as inequality reproducing mechanisms. To develop this concept, we examine the role of administrative burdens in the US state from the theoretical perspective of racialized organizations. Using examples from attempts to access citizenship rights – via immigration, voting and the social safety net – we illustrate some key points. First, racialized burdens combine access to resources and ideas about racial groups in ways that typically disadvantage racially marginalized groups. Second, while still promising fair and equal treatment, racially disproportionate burdens can be laundered through facially neutral rules and via claims that burdens are necessary for unrelated reasons. Third, racialized burdens emerge when more explicit forms of racial bias in policies or administrative practices become illegal, politically untenable or culturally unacceptable. Racialized burdens neatly carry out the “how” in the production of racial inequality while concealing, or providing an alibi for, the “why.”

Tuesday 16 November 2021

  • Speaker: Lotte Hargrave, University College London
  • Time: 13.15-14.05

Title: A Double Standard? Gender Bias in Voters’ Perceptions of Political Arguments

Abstract: That “nasty”, “vicious”, “mad” and “unfeminine” are recent descriptions of the behaviour of prominent women politicians showcases the persistence of sexism in politics. However, causally identifying the presence of gender bias in the judgement of women’s behaviour is challenging. This research assesses whether voters are biased in their perceptions of the ways in which politicians communicate. Through a novel survey experiment, British voters are presented with arguments representative of a range of debating styles that are congruent with stereotypes about men and women (emotion, aggression, and anecdotal or statistical evidence). Crucially, the argument content remains identical, but the gender of the politician delivering the argument varies. I identify: 1) whether voters perceive styles to be more or less prevalent based on a politician's gender alone, and 2) whether there is a backlash effect when politicians violate gender-based stereotypes. Understanding whether voters are biased in how they judge politicians who contravene stereotypical norms has significant implications for democratic practices and processes.


November 2021 Seminars (continued)

All seminars will take place via Zoom from 13.15-14.05.


Tuesday 23 November 2021

Title: Can MPs ‘have it all’? Voter perceptions of parliamentary parents and proxy voting

Abstract: Who our representatives are matters, and is shaped by the institutions they occupy. The lack of family friendly practices in legislatures is a barrier to equal representation in our elected bodies. However, current research overlooks voter attitudes towards these measures despite the electorate’s vital role in pathways to equal representation. This paper examines the importance of family friendly practices in legislatures by centering on the electoral consequences of the recent introduction of ‘baby leave’ for MPs in the UK Parliament. It aims to identify any electoral costs associated with baby leave, and most importantly, who pays the price. Are MP mothers punished for using the system, and father MPs rewarded, for example? Whilst focused on the UK case, the work speaks to global debates and campaigns on parliamentary diversity and reform.

Tuesday 30 November 2021

  • Speaker: Dr Manuel Vogt, University College London
  • Time: 13.15-14.05

Title: Elite Networks and Political Conflict in Post-Colonial States

Abstract: How does the structure of elite networks affect political conflict in ethnically divided post-colonial states? Recent civil war studies have emphasized the importance of ethnic inclusion for maintaining peace in multiethnic societies, but their conceptualization of power-sharing tends to remain limited to elite representation in formal institutions of executive state power, discounting mechanisms of inter-ethnic cooperation outside these institutions. By contrast, we argue that in weakly institutionalized post-colonial states, the structure of the broader elite networks and, in particular, the extent to which ethnic groups are well integrated within them, are crucial for the degree of inter-ethnic elite cooperation and, therefore, peace. We leverage original micro-level data on the pre-independence elite networks of 18 African countries to test the long-term effects of ethnic groups’ network positions on post-independence civil conflict. We find, first, that groups whose leaders were well integrated in the elite network were less likely to engage in civil conflict after independence, irrespective of their inclusion in high-level organs of executive state power. Second, the impact of network integration is particularly relevant for ethnic groups that remained excluded from access to high-level executive power.


December 2021 Seminars

All seminars will take place via Zoom from 13.15-14.05.


Tuesday 7 December 2021

  • Speaker: Dr Andrei Guter-Sandu, Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies, University of Bath
  • Time: 13.15-14.05

Title: Custody, Care and Cost: Quantifying and Valuing Life in the Correctional Services

Abstract: This paper examines the rise, circulation and use of “measures of the quality of prison life” (MQPL) in England and Wales. These measures were enrolled in attempts to moralize prison management by including measures of decency, dignity and rehabilitation alongside measures of security and cost. We follow these measures across different sites of prison management and investigate their implication in different, at times conflicting, quantification and valuation regimes. We unpack the complex interplay between quantification, valuation and governing by attending to the multi-faceted modalities and operations of prison performance measures–from flawed tool of representation, learning device, to powerful ammunition machine–and the conditions under which these different modalities unfold.

Prison performance measures are more than faulty reflectors of what is going on. They change the way prisoners are understood and represented; they alter the capacities of agents and organizations to act and influence; and they reshape the connections and power relations they form and are embedded in. The paper examines how attempts aimed at the quantification of decency can (or cannot) contribute to the transformation of the objects of prison regulation and accountability, with particular attention to objects that are also subjects. We pay attention to the labile nature of valuation through quantification and its relationship with intertwined processes of moralization and economization. The paper is based on six prison visits, 47 interviews with actors involved in the governing of prisoners and prison organizations as well as the study of media and parliamentary data, government and other reports.

Tuesday 14 December 2021

  • Speaker: Dr Naomi Pendle, Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies, University of Bath
  • Time: 13.15-14.05

Title: Conflict After Peace: Learning From Recent South Sudan Since the 2018 Peace Agreement

Abstract: In 2018, the South Sudan government and the main armed opposition party signed a peace agreement that ended their five years of armed conflict. Their conflict had cost at least 400,000 lives and displaced 4.3 million people. This peace agreement did manage to bring these warring parties together into a transitional government, and largely ended open hostilities between them. However, after the 2018 agreement, many South Sudanese experienced an upsurge in deadly conflict and the UN peacekeeping mission reported an increase in incidences of violence. This mimicked previous increases in conflict after the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The geographical distribution of this post-peace armed conflict is not fully explained by the continued presence of other armed opposition groups. This paper looks at armed conflict in Warrap State from 2018 - 2020 to help understand conflict after peace. The paper is based on qualitative and ethnographic research during this period.

Seminar enquires

For further information about our seminars, you can contact the organiser.