Dissertation Abstract

September 27, 2012

Security or Identity? Narratives of State & Nation in International Territorial Conflict Protraction

My dissertation explores how popular domestic beliefs regarding the meaning and value of disputed lands contribute to the protraction and resolution of international territorial conflict. Using comparative historical analysis and artefactual field experiments, I find in Israel and Serbia that persistent popular unwillingness to relinquish claims to a “United Jerusalem” and “Kosovo and Metohija” have resulted from the extraordinary position of these territories in their respective national homeland narratives. These outcomes stand in stark contrast to Israel’s largely popular withdrawals from the Sinai Peninsula, Southern Lebanon, and Gaza Strip, dominantly valued as strategic rather than cultural assets. They also contrast with Serbia’s acquiescence to the political independence of both Bosnia and Montenegro, spaces of high concern for Serb political self-determination but relatively low territorial-cultural priority. The Golan Heights and the West Bank are also analyzed as disputed spaces wherein strategic and cultural narratives continue to contribute to conflict protraction. In doing so, I demonstrate how particular strategic and cultural narratives come to dominate public discourse over disputed spaces and, in turn, how these narratives constrain the policies states can legitimately pursue in these spaces. Ultimately, I find that popular perceptions of national identity can be as powerful a force in determining government policy as state security prerogatives.

Dissertation Committee:
Will Reno (Chair), Hendrik Spruyt, Jason Seawright


Presentations at ISA and MPSA

April 19, 2012

mpsa-isa

Over the last month, I have been traveling in the United States visiting friends and family and attending academic conferences. In particular, I spoke at this year’s annual International Studies Association conference in San Diego and gave a poster session at the Midwest Political Science Association meeting in Chicago.

For both conferences, I presented what will hopefully become a chapter of my dissertation. It examines the results of an experiment I conducted last year in Israel on political narratives and popular attitudes toward territorial compromise in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Those with access to the MyISA database can read the paper here. If you do not have access but would like to read it, please contact me by email. If you would like to see the post, contact me by email for a copy in compressed form. The abstract can be viewed after the jump.

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2011: A Blog Year in Review

January 1, 2012

2012

Hey Folks, happy new year! If you believe the Mayans, this might be our last one, so listen up.

I have not been posting much of late which is the bad news. The good news is that I have been making slow but steady progress on my dissertation and, despite my lack of regular updates, the readers just keep coming.

Here’s a summary of some of the more interesting statistics from the past year. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more posts about politics, history, culture, and academia in the near future.

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Panel and Paper Accepted for ISA 2012 in San Diego

September 25, 2011

I am thrilled to report that I will be attending next year’s annual International Studies Association Conference in San Diego as a panel chair and presenter. This conference brings me full circle from my first ISA conference in San Diego in 2006, when I was doing my Master’s degree at the University of British Columbia, to what I hope will be my final year as a Ph.D. candidate at Northwestern University in Chicago.

The panel, entitled “Nationalism, International Recognition, and Domestic Legitimacy,” will will take place on the first day of the conference, Sunday, April 1, at 1:45 p.m. Participants include senior and junior scholars as well as advanced graduate students who have an interest in the place of nationalism in global and domestic politics. My paper, “Security or Identity? State and Homeland in Israeli Politics and Public Opinion” will draw on the research I have been conducting over the last year in Israel. I have included abstracts for the panel and my own paper after the jump. My colleagues’ abstracts can be viewed through the ISA conference website panel link here.

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Last Night in Kikar HaMedina

September 4, 2011

kikar-hamedinah-protest

Yesterday evening, after my first Shabbat living in Tel Aviv, I joined 250,000 to 300,000 other people in the “March of Millions” at Kikar HaMedina. The Tel Aviv protest was one of several large protests held yesterday evening across the country, totaling some 400,000 to 450,000 people, demanding that the Israeli government readjust its agenda to dealing with socioeconomic and welfare problems which many believe to be the most pressing issues in Israeli society today.

The rally follows two months of widespread protest, largely in the form of tent cities which have cropped up all over Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, and other towns across the country. Although the tents have been largely broken down and the daily protests have reduced to a trickle, last night’s rallies were meant to demonstrate that the demands of “the people” had not been silenced. Since I have addressed the basic substance of protesters’ demands in my previous post covering a recent poll of national priorities, I will not rehash them here. Rather, I will share my reflections from the rally itself.

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Poll: A Question of Priorities

September 1, 2011

rothschild-protest

The summer here in Israel has been eventful to say the least. With the Arab world in turmoil, conversations here have often turned of late to the regional implications of protest, government repression, and revolution in two of Israel’s four immediate neighbors. Yet by mid-July, these discussions largely melted away with the emergence of large domestic protests over a host of social issues including high housing and consumer goods prices, low wages, eroded social services, and the current government’s free-market approach to managing the Israeli economy.

With thousands of protestors across the countries organizing marches, rallies, and tent cities particularly in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the government too largely shifted its focus from the Palestinian diplomatic front to these pressing domestic concerns. Unfortunately the distance between the government and the protesters remains quite large, with representatives of the various organizations which have joined the protest dismissing early initiatives put forward by the government appointed Trajtenberg committee.

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Conference: Israeli Sovereignty in Judea and Samaria

July 26, 2011

ribonut-yisrael-byosh

On Thursday, I attended a conference put on by the Women in Green in cooperation with Arutz 7Professors for a Strong Israel, and the Machpela Visitors’ Center in the Machpelah Visitors’ Center next to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. The conference was entitled “Regaining the Initiative: Applying Israeli Sovereignty Over Judea and Samaria” or in Hebrew: היוזמה בידינו: ריבונות ישראל ביהודה ושומרון, meaning “The Initiative is in our Hands: Israeli Sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.” 

The event was attended by hundreds of people from all around the country, largely of a religious demographic, to explore the idea of how and why formal Israeli sovereignty should be extended over the entire contested West Bank. Speakers included Ministers of Knesset Tsipi Hotovely (Likud) and Aryeh Eldad (Ichud Leumi), journalists Caroline Glick (Jerusalem Post) and Eran Bar-Tal (Makor Rishon), former diplomatic Consul to the United States Yoram Ettinger, and Professors Dr. Rafi Yisraeli, Dr. Yitzhak Klein, and Dr. Gabi Avital, and was moderated by Women In Green co-chairs Nadia Matar and Yehudit Katsover.

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