Faculty: Power, Culture, and the State

Coordinating Faculty: 


Greg Anderson, John Brooke, Alice Conklin, David Hoffmann.

Affiliated Faculty:


Greg Anderson is a historian of ancient Greece whose work explores articulations between culture, politics, and the production of material life.  His first book, The Athenian Experiment (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2003), addressed the cultural implications of the shift from a narrow oligarchic regime to a more socially inclusive political formation in pre-classical Athens.  Among his more recent publications, one article reconsiders the cultural construction of "tyranny" in archaic Greece, while another makes a case for seeing the classical Greek "state" as a cultural "effect," the product of a complex entanglement between the material and the ideational.  His current book project (Illiberal Athens) offers a heterodox political economy of classical Athens, with a particular focus on the exploitations and the inequalities on which the production of a "free" social order was premised.  He is a co-editor with John Brooke and Julia Strauss of State Formations: Global Histories and Cultures of Statehood, in production with Cambridge University Press for March 2018 publication; this volume is made up of papers presented at the 2013-2015 CHR Program on State Formations, organized by the PCS Constellation, for which he was a co-chair.

Paula Baker is a historian of the 19th and 20th century United States, with a focus on politics, institutions, and political cultural and ideas.  Her work includes cultural analyzes of politics, gender, and the state.  Her current work deals with questions of how changes in political rules have shaped political participation and confidence in government.  She is completing two books, Reform and Revenge, a book that takes a contested Senate election between Henry Ford and Truman Newberry in 1918 to explore the investigative culture of 20th century politics, and The American Political History, which traces the history of campaign finance and political parties in the United States.

Nicholas Breyfogle explores the political, social, and cultural history of Russia in the 18th and 19th centuries.  He is the author/editor of Heretics and Colonizers:  Forging Russia’s Empire in the South Caucasus (2005) and Peopling the Russian Periphery: Borderland Colonization in Eurasian History(2007), as well as articles on the public sphere and empire-building in Russia.  His current research focuses on the links between the environment/nature and the politics, society, and culture of Eurasian history. 

John Brooke has worked for some time on the problems posed by politics and public life in Early America.  His first book, The Heart of the Commonwealth: Society and Political Culture in Worcester County, Massachusetts, 1713-1861 (1989), was an effort to use emerging approaches in of cultural history to bridge the methods and traditions of “community study” and the “new political history.”  As this book was being published he began to focus on the theoretical framework of the public sphere, as theorized by Jürgen Habermas, work that has produced a series of articles and reviews on the shape of public life in early America.  His most recent book, Columbia: Civil Life on the Upper Hudson from the Revolution to the Age of Jackson (2010), explores the dynamics of civil society, the public sphere, and revolutionary settlement through a microhistory of one small part of post-revolutionary America.  Taking the problem of the public sphere in a different direction, he currently completing a book-manuscript titled There is a North: Political Crisis, Cultural Rupture, and the Coming of the Civil War.  He is a co-editor of  State Formations: Global Histories and Cultures of Statehood, in production with Cambridge University Press for March 2018 publication.   

Joan E. Cashin is a specialist in nineteenth-century American history, focusing on the antebellum and Civil War eras.  She is most interested in social, economic, and cultural history.  She is the author of A Family Venture; Men and Women on the Southern Frontier (1991) and First Lady of the Confederacy:Varina Davis's Civil War (2006), and the editor of Our Common Affairs: Texts from Women in the Old South (1996) and The War Was You and Me: Civilians in the American Civil War (2002); she has published numerous articles on the period.  Her current research project is the struggle for material resources between armies and civilians in the wartime South (monograph), as well as articles on the material culture of the antebellum and Civil War era.  She teaches courses on Antebellum America; the Civil War and Reconstruction Era; History of Slavery; and History 2800, the gateway course.  

Alice L. Conklin, an historian of modern France and its empire. She has recently published In the Museum of Man: Race, Anthropology and Empire in France, 1850-1950 (Cornell, 2013). By focusing on the Musée de l'Homme, an ethnographic museum that opened in Paris in 1938 with funding and artifacts from France's colonies, this work challenges the notion that a newer "culture concept" displaced an older biological concept of "race" in the human sciences in the era of the two World Wars. She is also the co-author of France and Its Empire since 1870 (2010), and her first book A Mission to Civilize: The Republican Idea of Empire in France and West Africa, 1895-1930 (1997) examined French colonial ideology and practices on the ground in Sub-Saharan Africa. She teaches courses on the History of the Idea of Race in Europe 1500 to the Present, on Colonial Encounters, and on Modern France and its Empire.

Alcira Dueñas is Assistant Professor of Colonial and Modern Latin America, Women’s History in Latin America and World History at the Newark campus. Her first book Indians and Mestizos in the Lettered City: Reshaping Justice, Social Hierarchy and Political Culture in Colonial Peru examines Andean political culture and notions of ethnicity and race promoted by early modern Spanish chroniclers, missionaries, and colonial officials, and how such notions were contested, reformulated, and redeployed by Indian and Mestizo intellectuals in the colonial Andes to strengthen their own agenda for ethnic autonomy. She also teaches the process of state formation in South America after Independence. In her teaching in both Latin America and World History she emphasizes religious, gender, political and art cultures as important factors shaping and shaped by people’s life experience.

Theodora Dragostinova studies state- and nation-building in eastern Europe through the examination of population management policies and cultural practices in a comparative and global perspective. Exploring the dynamic relationship between official policies and ordinary people’s demands, she claims that state practice and ideology underwent constant adjustment to reflect the needs of people on the ground. Adopting a comparative methodology, she refutes the existence of a typically Balkan model of state-building and situates eastern European state practices in a wider European context.  Prof. Dragostinova is the author of Between Two Motherlands: Nationality and Emigration among the Greeks of Bulgaria, 1900-1949 (Cornell, 2011), which applies comparative and transnational methodology to the study of minorities and refugees in the Balkans and dissects the interplay between state demands and ordinary people’s priorities in the articulation of national policies. She is also the co-editor of Beyond Mosque, Church, and State: Alternative of the Nation in the Balkans (Central European University Press, 2016), which further contextualizes the alleged special role of the Balkan nation-state in the development of nationalism in the Balkans. Prof. Dragostinova is currently working on a book-length study of the Bulgarian communist state in a comparative global cold war perspective. The Cold War from the Margins: Bulgarian Culture and the Global 1970s examines the use of mass celebrations and cultural practices as means of mobilization, legitimation, and control during the period of late socialism in Eastern Europe, but also claims that viewed from a global perspective, those international cultural practices became the basis of contemporary cultural globalization as we know it today.

Jane Hathaway is an expert on the Ottoman Empire before 1800.  She received her Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1992.  She has published five books; the most recent (currently in press with Cambridge) is The Chief Eunuch of the Ottoman Imperial Harem:  Head of the African Eunuchs at the Sultan’s Court.  Her other books include The Arab Lands under Ottoman Rule, 1516-1800 (Pearson/Longman, 2008), winner of the Turkish Studies Association’s M. Fuat Köprülü Book Prize; A Tale of Two Factions:  Myth, Memory, and Identity in Ottoman Egypt and Yemen (SUNY Press, 2003), winner of the 2005 Ohio Academy of History Publication Award; and The Politics of Households in Ottoman Egypt:  The Rise of the Qazdağlıs (Cambridge, 1997).  She has also published four edited volumes and many articles.  In addition to Ottoman eunuchs and the Ottoman Arab provinces, she has expertise on Jewish communities under Muslim rule, the Mamluk Sultanate, and world history.  Her research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the Social Science Research Council. 

David Hoffmann is a specialist in Russian and Soviet history, with a particular focus on the political, social, and cultural history of Stalinism. He is the author of two monographs, Peasant Metropolis: Social Identities in Moscow, 1929-1941 (Cornell University Press, 1994) and Stalinist Values: The Cultural Norms of Soviet Modernity, 1917-1941 (Cornell University Press, 2003). He is also the editor of Stalinism: The Essential Readings (Blackwell Publishers, 2002), and co-editor of Russian Modernity: Politics, Knowledge, Practices (Macmillan Publishers Ltd., 2000). His Cultivating the Masses: Modern State Practices and Soviet Socialism, 1914-1939 (Cornell, 2011), compares Soviet policies on welfare, public health, reproduction, surveillance, and state violence with developments in other countries.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries specializes in 20th century African American history and has an expertise in the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements. He is the author of Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama’s Black Belt (NYU Press, 2009), which tells the remarkable story of the local people and SNCC organizers who ushered in the Black Power era by transforming rural Lowndes County, Alabama from a citadel of violent white supremacy into the center of southern black militancy by creating the Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO), the first Black Panther Party. He teaches a range of courses in African American and American history, including graduate courses on 20th century African American history (752 and 757), upper level undergraduate courses on the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements (555), surveys in African American history (323), and surveys in American history (151-152). He holds a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity.

Robin Judd is a historian of modern European and Jewish history, whose teaching and research interests have focused on politics, the state, and religion in the 19th and 20th centuries.  Her first book, Contested Rituals: Circumcision, Kosher Butchering, and the Making of German-Jewish Political Life (Cornell University Press, 2007) considered the ways in which debates over Jewish rituals served as arenas in which German Jews and non-Jews could consider citizenship, integration, and state-formation. Her current project examines the ways in which post World War II marriages in Europe reflected perceptions of postwar reconstruction.  Her courses in European and Jewish history include the history of Nazism and the Third Reich; Jews and the Nation State; and the history of Toleration and Intolerance.

Scott Levi is a historian of Islamic Central Asia, with a focus on the early modern social and economic history of the region.  He is the author of The Indian Diaspora in Central Asia and its Trade, 1550–1900 (2002), as well as a number of journal articles and book chapters.  He has also edited India and Central Asia: Commerce and Culture, 1500–1800 (2007) and co-edited (with Ron Sela) Islamic Central Asia: An Anthology of Sources (2010).  His current research focuses on the Khanate of Khoqand (1799–1876), a short-lived but dynamic Islamic polity that emerged, flourished and collapsed in the century preceding Russian colonial expansion into the region.

Margaret Ellen Newell studied History and Spanish at Brown University, and received her Ph.D. in Early American History from the University of Virginia.  Prof. Newell's research and teaching interests include colonial and Revolutionary America, Native American history, slavery, the history of early modern capitalism, and comparative colonial American/Latin American History. Her most recent book, Brethren by Nature: New England Indians, Colonists, and the Origins of American Slavery won the 2016 James A. Rawley prize for the best book on race relations in America from the Organization of American Historians, and the Peter J. Gomes Memorial Prize from the Massachusetts Historical Society.  Other works include From Dependency to Independence: Economic Revolution in Colonial New England (Cornell University Press, 1998; new edition 2015); “The Birth of New England in the Atlantic Economy, 1600-1770,” in Peter Temin, ed., Engines of Enterprise: An Economic History of New England (Harvard University Press, 2000); a review of American economic history through 1800, "The Colonial Economy," in The Blackwell Companion to Colonial America, ed. Daniel Vickers (2002); and “Putting the `Political’ Back in Political Economy (This is Not Your Parents’ Mercantilism),” William and Mary Quarterly, (2012)

Chris Otter has broad research interests in the intersections between power, technology and the environment, particularly in Britain. He is particularly interested in the histories of liberalism and neoliberalism. He is the author of The Victorian Eye: A Political History of Light and Vision in Britain, 1800-1910 (2008), and several articles on liberalism and the material world. He is currently finishing a book which looks at Britain's role in the formation of a modern agro-food system between the late eighteenth and mid-twentieth centuries. He teaches courses in British history, the history of science and the history of technology.

Nathan Rosenstein is a specialist in the history of ancient Rome.  His work focuses on political culture in the middle and late Republic, military history, and their intersection with economic, social, and demographic developments.  His first book, Imperatores Victi: Military Defeat and Aristocratic Competition in the Middle and Late Republic, examined the dynamics of aristocratic governance as these confronted the contingencies and risks of warfare in the service of an aggressive imperial expansion.  Several articles also focused on specific aspects of this problem.  A second work, Rome at War: Farms, Families, and Death in the Middle Republic, explored the economic and demographic consequences of Roman imperialism during the later third and second centuries.  He recently published Rome and the Mediterranean 290-146 BC: The Imperial Republic. And is now editing vols. 2-4 of the Oxford History of the Roman World.

Randy Roth is the author of American Homicide (The Belknap Press of the Harvard University Press, 2009), an interregional, internationally comparative study of homicide in the United States from colonial times to the present. American Homicide examines patterns of marital murder, romance murder, and other kinds of murder among adults in an effort to understand how and why the United States has become the world’s most homicidal affluent society. It argues that homicides rates in the United States and elsewhere in the Western world "are not determined by proximate causes such as poverty, drugs, unemployment, alcohol, race, or ethnicity, but by factors...like the feelings that people have toward their government, the degree to which they identify with members of their own communities, and the opportunities they have to earn respect without resorting to violence."  Roth is currently completing Child Murder in America, a study of homicides of and by children from colonial times to the present. Child Murder in America will argue that the causes of murders of children are quite different from the causes of murder among adults.  Professor Roth is co-founder and co-director of the Historical Violence Database. The HVD is a collaborative project to gather data on the history of violent crime and violent death (homicides, suicides, accidents, and casualties of war) from medieval times to the present.

Kristina Sessa is an historian of Late Antiquity and Early Christianity, with a special focus on the culture and society of the western Mediterranean world during the fifth and sixth centuries.  Her work examines the relationship between two concurrent changes in the late Roman political structure, the decline and geo-political fragmentation of the Roman imperial state in the West and the gradual emergence of Christian ecclesiastical institutions, and quotidian religious and social life.  Her first book, Episcopal Authority and the Domestic Sphere in Late Antique Rome (in preparation), shows how distinctly domestic practices and ideals of conduct shaped both the development of the late antique Roman church (i.e. the “papacy”) and the power of its bishops.  Her second project examines the cultural and religious reception of war, political upheaval, pandemic, and environmental disaster in fifth and sixth-century Italy and North Africa.  She is, for example, current writing an article on kidnapping and clerical authority.  She teaches courses on Roman and late Roman history, Early Christianity, sex and gender in the ancient world, and daily life in Late Antiquity.

Stephanie Smith’s work examines the relationships between the state, society, and culture during moments of revolutionary crisis in Mexico.  Central to her first book, Gender and the Mexican Revolution: Yucatán Women and the Realities of Patriarchy (The University of North Carolina Press, 2009), are questions of state formation, gender, and ethnicity during the Mexican Revolution and the subsequent few years. Smith’s second book, The Power and Politics of Art in Postrevolutionary Mexico (The University of North Carolina Press, 2017), incorporates both the study of history and art to analyze the complex interactions between Mexico’s postrevolutionary state and radical artists/intellectuals from Mexico, Europe, and the United States during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. Smith has taught graduate seminars on the theories of the Mexican Revolution and Latin American revolutions. Her undergraduate courses, Revolutions and Social Movements in Modern Latin America and the History of Mexico, both incorporate an analysis of revolutions, and she plans on developing new courses, such as Film in Latin America.

David Stebenne's research focuses on the modern history of the U.S. system of power, broadly conceived.  He has written two major monographs (Arthur J. Goldberg: New Deal Liberal, Oxford University Press, 1996 and Modern Republican: Arthur Larson and the Eisenhower Years, Indiana University Press, 2006) and several articles and essays ("The Military and the Media: The Gulf Conflict in Historical Perspective," 1991; "Media Coverage of American Presidential Elections: An Historical Perspective," 1992; "The Postwar 'New Deal.'" 1996; "The Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower," 2000; "Thomas J. Watson and the Business-Government Relationship, 1933-1956," 2005; and "IBM's 'New Deal': Employment Policies of the International Business Machines Corporation, 1933-1956," 2005), that explore the workings of that system from the 1930's through the 1960's, and especially how the Great Depression of the 1930's and World War II and the Cold War reshaped that system.  He is currently writing a book on the rise of the American middle class during the middle third of the twentieth century, including the state's crucial role in that process.

David Steigerwald is an intellectual and cultural historian of contemporary America.  He is particularly interested in the intersection of consumer capitalism, cultural production, and contemporary ideas about culture itself.  His most pertinent work in this regard is his 2004 book, Culture’s Vanities: The Paradox of Diversity in an Age of Globalization, and a number of essays, including,“Did the Protestant Ethic Disappear?  The Virtue of Thrift on the Cusp of Affluence,” (2008), and “All Hail the Republic of Choice: Consumer History as Contemporary Thought,” (2006). 

Heather J. Tanner specializes in the history of early and high medieval France, Belgium, and England and focuses on politics, governance, and the public roles of women.  Her first book, Families, Friends and Allies. Boulogne and Politics in northern France and England, c. 879-c.1162, presents a new model of political development in a region devastated by the Viking invasions through an examination of the interrelationships among the counts of Boulogne and the neighboring counts of Picardy, Flanders, Normandy and England in the late ninth through mid-twelfth century.  The book is part of the larger debate on feudalism, the rise of government institutions, kinship and identity.  She is currently working on a book concerning female inheritance and governance in late 12th - and early 13th -century Picardy and Flanders.

Ying Zhang’s research focuses on Chinese political and gender history from the 14th to the 18th century. She is particularly interested in studying Confucian ethics, literati-officials and government through gendered analysis of political rhetoric, emotions, and family relations. Her first book, Confucian Image Politics: Masculine Morality in Seventeenth-Century China (University of Washington Press, 2016), examines the emergence of image politics as a result of print culture, religious syncretism, and dynastic change. She has authored articles in both Chinese history and Women’s Studies. Her co-edited book introducing Western scholarship on masculinity studies was published by a Chinese press. She offers undergraduate and graduate courses in early modern Chinese history and gender and sexuality in pre-modern and modern China. 


Other Affiliated Faculty:


Eric MacGilvray (Political Science) has research and teaching interests which center in modern and contemporary political thought, with an emphasis on liberal, republican and democratic theory and the pragmatic philosophical tradition.  He is the author of The Invention of Market Freedom (Cambridge University Press, 2011) and Reconstructing Public Reason (Harvard University Press, 2004).  His articles have appeared in the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Political PhilosophyPolitical Theory, and a number of other journals.  He is currently working on a book entitled Liberal Freedom.  He is one of the core faculty leaders of the OSU Center for Ethics and Human Values.

Benjamin McKean (Political Science) is a political theorist whose research concerns global justice, populism, and the relationship between theory and practice. His work has been published in the American Political Science Review, Political Theory, and the Journal of Politics. His manuscript “Disposed to Justice” argues that people subject to unjust institutions and practices should be disposed to solidarity with the others who are also subject to them, even when those relations cross state borders. A neoliberal global economy characterized by inequality, financialization, and transnational supply chains creates a widely shared interest in resisting injustice, grounded in the way that existing institutions impair freedom. Identifying this interest as the basis for solidarity provides a new perspective not only on the possibility of achieving global justice, but on the nature and limits of contemporary egalitarian liberalism. He is also at work on a second book project tentatively titled “Political Freedom and Resentment” about the relationship between democracy and populism. 

Michael Neblo (Political Science) works on questions in democratic theory, political psychology, political sociology.  His book manuscript, Common Voices: Between the Theory & Practice of Deliberative Democracy, cuts across the deadlock between supporters of deliberative theory and their empirical critics by focusing on the core goals of the larger deliberative political system.  His work has appeared or is forthcoming in a wide range of academic journals, including The American Political Science Review, The Journal of Political Philosophy, Political Behavior, Political Research Quarterly, Perspectives on Politics, Political Communication, Acta Politica, The Journal of Medicine & Law, Social Science & Medicine, as well as in edited volumes.  He teaches courses in deliberative democratic and general political theory from the introductory level up to graduate seminars, as well as graduate seminars on “Social Theory for Social Scientists” and the philosophy of Jürgen Habermas.  He has tertiary interests in applied philosophy of social science, politics and the emotions, race politics, health politics, immigration, politics and technology, and politics and the arts.  With various colleagues, Neblo has been the recipient of a large grant from the National Science Foundation to design and study electronic town-hall meetings with the cooperation of members of the U.S. Congress.

Inés Valdez (Political Science) works centrally on the problem of racial, gender, and religious difference in political theory, with a particular focus on the theorization of migration and cosmopolitanism. Her work on cosmopolitanism engages critically with Immanuel Kant’s Toward Perpetual Peace by examining the social and political context of its writing. In this area of research she also makes the case for bringing anti-colonial thinkers into the set of authors that can be considered properly cosmopolitan. With this goal, she examines W. E. B. Du Bois’s less well-known writings on internationalism, published in the 1920s and 1930s to construct a notion of “transnational cosmopolitanism.” This research is collected in a book manuscript Kant, Du Bois, and Cosmopolitanism in a New Color, under review at the time of writing. Her work on migration examines the ways in which states produce difference along the lines of race, gender, and religion, and considers the roles that violence and humanitarianism play in this realm. Her work has appeared in the American Political Science Review, Political Research Quarterly, and Political Studies, among other outlets. In 2017-18 she held the Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Faculty Fellowship at the Princeton University Center for Human Values.

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