New op-ed: ‘Putting democracy’s troubles in context’



I have a new op-ed in The Japan Times, which is based on my research on democracy and its trajectory. Without wanting to downplay or understate the many problems democracy is currently facing, with this piece I wanted to provide some historical perspective to suggest things are not quite as bad as some are suggesting. It is important we are realistic about what we can hope from democracy, and on a more fundamental level, not lose hope in its promise.

You can read the full article here.

Perspectives on Politics pieces


Perspectives on Politics is a journal that I have long admired, so I am very happy to now appear in both the September and December 2017 issues. In the September issue I have a full length article that argues democratic peace scholarship is not looking enough at changes within established democracies, specifically how trends like populism and neoliberalism are changing how democracy operates, which has consequences for thinking about their international behaviour. This is followed by a review on two important recent books on democracy: Breaking Democracy’s Spell, by John Dunn and Politics Against Domination, by Ian Shapiro. And in the December issue, there is a review of my book, The Rise of Democracy, by Michael Thompson. Links below.

Millennium article available

milldemocThis year’s annual Millennium conference is on the politics of time in IR. Unfortunately I am not able to make it this year, but an older article of mine relevant to the conference has been available for free this month. The article is entitled ‘Beyond the End of History: The Need for a “Radical Historicisation” of Democracy in International Relations’. I argue that there is a tendency to remove democracy from the historical context in which it developed, which has had negative consequences for how we understand its current role and future potential. This was a precursor to what I explore in much greater length in my 2015 book with Edinburgh University Press, The Rise of Democracy. I think the arguments I make in the article and book have some extra relevance in light of the recent travails of established democracies exemplified by Brexit and the Trump presidency. The perspective I develop tries to chart a course between excessive confidence and equally misleading pessimism.

Click on this link to read the article for free. Thanks to SAGE and Millennium for making the piece available more widely.

Political Studies Review: OnlineFirst


My forthcoming article in Political Studies Review, ‘Democracy: Trap, Tragedy or Crisis?’ is now available through SAGE’s OnlineFirst. It is a synthesis review of a series of recent books considering whether democracy is in crisis, or experiencing multiple crises. This is a topic that will presumably only be increasing in significance. Here is the abstract:

A quarter of a century after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the confidence once surrounding liberal democracy has been replaced with increasing concerns over its health. Reflecting this change of mood, there has been a proliferation of books examining whether democracy may be in crisis. This review surveys some of these recent contributions, which are united by a much more pessimistic tone. As these books detail, democracy now confronts major problems in essentially every sphere, with changes in the economic realm arguably being the most consequential. Rather than theorising more expansive forms of democracy, the challenge increasingly seems to be one of holding onto what we already have.

If you have access, you can download the article here, otherwise the original version (before revisions) can be downloaded here.

2016 Millennium conference


I’ll be heading back to London this week for the 2016 edition of the annual Millennium conference at the LSE. This year the theme is race and racism in world politics. I must admit, this is relatively new territory for me, so I am looking forward to listening and learning a lot over the weekend. My contribution will be further developing my critical engagement with the Responsibility to Protect doctrine. It builds on my paper from last year, which was recently published in the conference special issue of the journal. This year I’ll be thinking about R2P through the lens of the conference theme, and focusing specifically on the limits in the way that R2P proponents conceive of violence. A draft of the conference program can be found here.

Fukushima Global Communication Programme Final Report


I am very happy to see that the United Nations University has published the final report from the Fukushima Global Communication Programme. The report provides a comprehensive summary of the main findings from the joint research project, as well as information about all the different activities associated with it. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to participate and contribute to the project, and I hope the findings might be of some use. The full report is available here. Two working papers I wrote for the project are also still available: ‘Rethinking Human Security after the March 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Accident’ (March 2014) and ‘Rebuilding Trust After Fukushima’ (March 2015).

‘Western democracy needs humility to step beyond its own shadow’


Following on from my earlier contribution to the Democratic Futures series over at The Conversation, I have a new piece that further explores the value of humility for democracy. Focusing mainly on democracy support, I argue that there is a need to be more aware of the flaws of democracy, while also maintaining confidence in it as a form of rule. The important of reflexivity and an awareness of limits are points I emphasise. You can read the article here.

Seminar at NUS

NUS talk

I am very excited to be visiting the National University of Singapore for the first time next week. I’ll be giving a seminar about my ongoing research on the concept of humility and its relevance for politics. Details above.