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Indiana University Bloomington

Woodburn Hall facilities

The World Politics Research Seminar

The World Politics Research Seminar is a regular faculty symposium on research-in-progress in Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Economy, and related fields. It is organized within the Department of Political Science but we are eager for faculty of other units on the Bloomington campus to attend, participate, and present their work. Seminar papers are invited for inclusion in the WPRS Working Paper Series. Faculty members who are interested in joining the WPRS listserv or presenting their work should contact Will Winecoff.


Friday, February 9th, 10:30 a.m. in Woodburn 218

Title: "The Cultural Legacy of Inter-Group Contact on Tolerance: The Case of Ottoman Turkey"

AUTHOR: Avital Livny (University of Illinois)

DISCUSSANT: Brandon Miliate

ABSTRACT: The longer-term effects of inter-group contact on tolerance are difficult to identify empirically because of endogenous sorting: where heterogeneity gives way to homogeneity, it is usually in response to localized inter-group dynamics. The case of Ottoman Turkey, where generations of religious inter-mixing came to an abrupt end as the result of a state-sponsored homogenization process, provides leverage on this critical question. Combining a novel survey dataset from contemporary Turkey with geo-referenced Ottoman censuses, we estimate the impact of living in a once-diverse district on inter-group tolerance today. We find that individuals living in places that once had sizable non-Muslims populations are more trusting of those of other religions, even after controlling for the level of contemporary diversity. Moreover, we find that historical religious diversity boosts inter-ethnic tolerance today, providing evidence of within-community spillovers, from one dimension of identity to another. Unlike existing theories, we argue that the effects of contact on tolerance do not operate through formal institutions in the Turkish case; instead, a culture of tolerance appears to have been passed down from generation to generation, surviving incidents of mass violence, decades of separation, and official rhetoric to the contrary.

Avital Livny is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who researches the politics of religion and ethnicity, as well as electoral dynamics in developing democracies, particularly in the Muslim world. She won the 2017 Juan Linz Best Dissertation Award, selected by the APSA Comparative Democratization Section, for the dissertation that completed her PhD at Stanford University. 

Friday, March 9th, 10:30 a.m. in Woodburn 218

Title: “How Once a Dangerous Idea of Floating Exchange Rates Replaced the Bretton Woods System: Ideas, Interests, and International Institutional Change” 

AUTHOR: Youn Ki (Miami University)


Note: This talk is co-sponsored by the School for Global and International Studies

ABSTRACT: Until the mid-1960s, American political and business elites regarded “fixed exchange rates as graven in stone and beyond the tampering of mere mortals.”  American elites considered floating the dollar as tantamount to a return to U.S. isolationism and the international disorder which characterized the 1930s. However, the United States embraced the idea of currency flexibility by the early 1970s, catalyzing the emergence and development of a new floating exchange regime. This study examines the transition from the Bretton Woods system to a floating regime by focusing on the role of ideas, interests, and temporality. Our extensive archival research demonstrates that a group of neoclassical economists developed an ideational foundation on which American government officials and business leaders could build a policy coalition favoring a switch to a floating system in the 1960s. We further trace how such coalition actually materialized over the late 1960s and early 1970s as the political and business elites bought into the economists’ ideas for different reasons. This paper challenges the conventional wisdom of an unstoppable and abrupt transition of the modern international monetary order in the early 1970s. Instead, it emphasizes a relatively gradual acceptance of new ideas among the American elites over the 1960s and early 1970s. It also highlights how the timing and sequence of events affected political processes. 

Youn Ki is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Miami University of Ohio.

Friday, April 13th, 10:30 a.m. in Woodburn 218

Title: “The Art of the Deal? Capital Mobility, Host Country Political Strategies, and Investment Incentives in Latin America”

AUTHOR: Sarah Bauerle Danzman


ABSTRACT:An increasing number of governments offer tax incentives, especially to globally mobile firms, to induce localized investments. The extent of use of these policy instruments is puzzling because a vast empirical literature finds tax incentives are very rarely decisive factors in firms' locational decision-making. Some scholars have explained incentives as the result of hyper capital mobility, which strengthens multinational enterprises'  bargaining leverage vis-a-vis governments that wish to attract and keep investment. Others have instead emphasized the domestic political institutions and electoral considerations that incentivize politicians to publicly court investors. However, in the absence of data on individual incentive deals, previous research has relied on measures of incentive programs and tax policy at the country level. This had made the task of adjudicating between country- and firm-level effects challenging. We contribute to the literature by examining deal-level data on investment incentives in Latin America from 2010 to 2017, which allows us to estimate the influence of firm and national and subnational institutional characteristics on patterns of tax incentives. We also exploit a change in subnational tax authority in Brazil in 2015 to examine whether and how shifts in fiscal decentralization influence patterns of investment incentive. Our results indicate that domestic political considerations drive incentives far more than do firm-specific bargaining strength.

Sarah Bauerle Danzman is Assistant Professor of International Studies at Indiana University Bloomington, where she researchers the political economy of international investment and finance. Her work has appeared in International Interactions, International Studies Quarterly, and Perspectives on Politics. More information can be found on her website:

Friday, April 27th, 10:30 a.m. in Woodburn 218

Title: Politicization of Humanitarian NGOs: Doctors without Borders during the European “Refugee Crisis” 

AUTHOR: Charlotte Dany (Goethe-University Frankfurt)

DISCUSSANT: Cyanne Loyle

ABSTRACT:Many humanitarian organizations are currently adapting their strategies to more adequately respond to humanitarian crises, for example by politicizing their actions. However, what such politicization entails is not well understood. This paper aims to propose a concept of politicization that embraces the contested actions of humanitarian NGOs in response to the European Union's handling of the recent so-called “refugee crisis”. On the case of Doctors Without Borders (MSF’s) strategies, this paper aims to illustrate how humanitarian organisations politicized in this situation and why. It shows that MSF politicized its repertoires of actions and took a clear confrontational position towards governments and EU institutions, aiming to increase social mobilization. This opposes the common view that the humanitarian organisation’s potential to voice public protest and mobilize wider parts of society is suppressed by the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence, as well as by their overall harmonious relations to national and international policy-elites. Describing how MSF politicized in this situation, the article provides insights into their change towards more politicized strategies and further details the drivers of this process: in particular the proximity of the crisis, and the organisation’s far-reaching financial independence. This sheds new light on the potential of humanitarian organisations to contribute to a transnational movement for refugees and migrants in Europe. 

Charlotte Dany is Assistant Professor at the Goethe-University Frankfurt and currently visiting scholar at Indiana University . Her work focuses on the role NGOs in global governance and humanitarian aid  She holds a PhD in the field of Political Theory and Transnational Relations from Bremen University. More information can be found on her website at




WPRS Archived Presentations