EUI MWP Newsletter 14
Winter 2018

Welcome to the Winter 2018 issue of the
Max Weber Programme Newsletter

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Feature Articles

Tine GadeWhy do some Islamist groups pursue their political and religious project within the state to which they belong – while other Islamist groups refuse to accept these borders, seeking instead to establish new polities, such as restoring the Islamic Caliphate? This is the main question asked in my new research project, Hybrid pathways to resistance in the Muslim world: Iraq, Lebanon, Libya and Mali (HYRES). The project studies the interaction between Islamist movements and the state in the cases of Iraq, Lebanon, Libya and Mali.

HYRES began in October 2017 and will last three years. It is funded by the Research Council of Norway (RCN) through the research programme FRIPRO, ‘independent projects’. I wrote the project proposal before I started at the Max Weber programme, and the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) in Oslo is therefore the lead institution. The partner institutions of the project include the European University Institute in Florence, Chr. Michelsen Institute in Bergen, Middle East Research Institute in Erbil and Alliance pour Refonder la Gouvernance en Afrique (ARGA) in Bamako).

In concrete terms, HYRES studies the political pathways – medium- and short-term goals and strategies for political action – that Islamist groups can pursue. We follow Olivier Roy’s classic definition of Islamism as being ‘a contemporary political movement, which conceives Islam as a political ideology’ and ‘a political system’. It is a very heterogeneous movement which includes but is not limited to, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis. Of course, most Islamists are peaceful and do not resort to the use of violence. Jihadism can be seen as a sub-category of Salafism, which as Stéphane Lacroix writes, in turn is part of the broader Islamist field.
Islamist groups and individuals in practice have to choose whether to focus on the state level or on the transnational level (the Umma, or the community of Muslims worldwide). Islamists following the state-centred pathway do not put state borders into question, but call for an increased reference here and now to the Islamic Sharia. They may or may not present candidates for national elections and may or may not vote. They tend to focus on domestic political issues; that is, they seek political and symbolic power for Muslims within the framework of the domestic political system. This may lead them to create pragmatic alliances with non-Islamists at the domestic level. They may also sing the national anthem or wave the national flag during religious celebrations to show symbolic attachment to the territorial state.

The transnational pathway, on the other hand, implies turning the back on the state, either by calling for the redrawing of state borders or by ignoring the state. Islamist groups or individuals who follow the transnational pathway identify more with the Islamic Umma than with the territorial state. Moreover, their political behaviour and rhetoric focus on transnational issues, such as morality, foreign policy or solidarity with oppressed Muslims abroad. Symbolically, transnationally oriented Islamists will attempt to avoid nationalist symbols, such as flags or national anthems. The idea is that Muslims, to maintain their power and influence, should not be divided by any other cleavage than religion.

Although solidarity with believers across borders is part of most religions, Pan-Islamism in its modern form emerged in the late-19th century and was then promoted by the Ottoman sultan Abdel-Hamid II, who ruled between 1876 and 1909. Pan-Islamism was later re-actualized with the spread of modern communication technology, from satellite TV in the 1990s to social media in the 2010s. An example of pan-Islamism is when a Lebanese religious leader told me during an interview in 2016 that  ‘If a Muslim is oppressed in the Philippines, Burma or in Kenya, this is relevant to me as a Muslim.’ (interview, Tripoli, October 2016).

Groups certainly follow several political pathways at the same time, but one generally leads over the others. We presume that pathway choice is constantly discussed inside groups, and we hope to access some discussions through our contacts. Moreover, actors are constantly moving between and transcending categories. In our research, we will however use our categories not as empirical cases but as ideal types between which real-life actors move. (For similar accounts, see my former supervisor Bernard Rougier’s work). We will assess how and why changes occur, and expect this to occur partly as a result of a modified balance of power within sub-groups.

Moreover, we expect that Islamist groups and individuals tend to be more transnational in their ideological production than in their day-to-day work and behaviour. However, although it is possible to identify both with the territorial state and with the Islamic Umma at the same time, one of the identifications generally tends to supersede the other. We will assess this through a thorough analysis of a number of indicators, including symbol use, political priorities and issue areas in focus, extent of voting and candidacy in national elections, explicit mention of the territorial state.

Importantly, we consider that both pathways can be expressed in a peaceful and in a violent version. Schematically, the four possible choices can be represented as follows:

  State-centred (SC) Transnational

This is an academic research project, and it does not, as such, depart from any pre-conceptions about the ‘state-oriented’ pathway being more desirable than the transnational. We acknowledge that religion per se goes beyond state borders, and that a function of this is that practicing believers will associate and identify with other believers abroad. However, in the same way as communists maintained their ideological association with Moscow or China but acted mainly within the framework of the state, we expect most Islamist groups and individuals to situate their day-to-day workings within the framework of the state.

Our contribution to the literature
We wish to remedy insufficiencies in the literature on the relationship between Islamist movements and the state, which has focused too much on either domestic variables such as the degree of inclusion/exclusion of certain population groups or on Islamic theology, and not on actual behavior of Islamist groups. We see that a reference to Salafism is not enough to explain the actual behaviour of Islamist groups. Salafism is, in theory, transnational, but since 2011 Salafi groups have entered parliament in many Arab countries, including Egypt and Kuwait. Moreover, we consider that, in one country, different Islamist groups pursue different political pathways, meaning that the degree of inclusion or exclusion is insufficient to explain these groups’ choice of political pathway.

Moreover, we wish not only to generate empirical knowledge about contemporary Islamist groups, we also aim at theory-building. Most of the literature so far has been generated by area scholars, who have applied mainstream political science concepts to their case studies. This literature analyses Islamist groups not as monolithical groups driven by a theological reference, but as contentious political actors that face similar dilemmas as other non-religious groups. We wish to build on this literature, but to use our systematic analysis to generate more theoretical knowledge about why Islamist groups chose one political pathway rather than another and how pathways interrelate.

In terms of our hypotheses, we will explain why some groups choose to be part of the state or to identify with competing polities with reference to 1) intra-Islamist rivalries, 2) logics of (inter)action and situation and 3) transnational diffusion of ideology. First, we believe that internal competition may induce Islamist groups to seek external resources by allying with transnational actors as a means to improve their own position within the Islamist field.

Secondly, we observe that today’s borders in Near East, Mali and Libya were drawn by colonial powers (in 1920-1921, 1890 and 1911). Yet, we do not believe this is a sufficient condition to explain refusal of state borders more than a century later. Instead, we believe that negative interaction with state security services can lead an Islamist group to turn its back on the state. Thus, we will look precisely at how the state reacts to social movement claims and how movements interpret state reactions. We will adapt this framework for each case. For instance, in the Mali case, we will assess how actors interpret, comment upon and situate themselves vis-a-vis the current crisis.

Thirdly, local Islamist groups may adopt transnational slogans as a result of transnational diffusion, networking and learning. Moreover, transnational mobility and social media often facilitate transnational activism. Yet, transnational hybridization is more likely if global claims have a local resonance. Thus, part of our research will be to analyse the transnational mobility of activists and how Islamists use social media. In addition, we will look at how Islamists re-interpret and mobilize local history in order to be perceived as legitimate in the population.

Our case studies: Lebanon, Iraq, Mali and Libya
We will examine four cases, structured in two work packages (WP). WP1 consists of the two cases of Lebanon and Iraq, while WP2 includes the cases of Mali and Libya. Our empirical analysis takes our two-by-two table as a common point of departure. We have chosen a minimum of four groups in each case, that is, one group for each of our four possible choices of action : non-violent and state-centred (NSC), non-violent and transnational (NVT), violent and state-centred (VSC), violent and transnational (VT). I am responsible for the Lebanon and Iraq cases, and in the following I will specify only how we intend to research these two. My colleagues Virginie Collombier (EUI) and Morten Bøås (NUPI) are responsible for the Libya and Mali cases, respectively.

On the Iraq case, we study both Sunni and Shia groups, but separately, since we consider these to be partly in competition with each other. My collegue Kjetil Selvik (NUPI) will analyse Shia movements in Iraq.

When analysing the Iraqi Sunni case, we will limit our analysis to Islamist groups in the cities of Mosul and Sleimani. Mosul, Iraq’s second city, located in the north, was seized by the ‘Islamic State’ (or ‘Daesh’) in June 2014 and liberated by the Iraqi army, Kurdish Peshmerga militias and Shia militias three years later. Sleimani, in the northeast near the Iranian border, is the largest urban centre in the Kurdish region of Iraq, and has a tradition of peaceful Salafi activism. We will study Naqshbandi Sufi groups, peaceful Salafi activists, and Iraqi jihadis who supported or still support Daesh. I will work alongside the Middle East Research Institute (MERI) based in Erbil, and conduct my second fieldwork journey in Iraq in April and May 2018.

In the case of Lebanon, we will select four different groups, one for each category of political pathway (SCV, SCNON, TV, TNV), and attempt to understand why each group chose their particular pathway. The actors studied will include actors who changed political pathway over time, thanks to internal or external pressure. One example to be studied, by Are J. Knudsen, is Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir, a charismatic religious leader who moved from peaceful political protest to armed confrontation with the Lebanese army and Hizbullah.

In both our Lebanon and Iraq cases, we will study Islamist movements in specific cities rather than in the country as a whole. I will study Islamist groups based in Tripoli, Lebanon, and Mosul, Iraq. This micro-approach will make it easier for us to study individual militant trajectories and to account for conflict within groups, which seems essential to understand movement change over time. We will connect with the urban sociology literature (our two favourites are both French – Michel Seurat’s classical account of Bab al-Tebbaneh in Tripoli and Patrick Haenni’s description of Embaba in Cairo. Among newer books, we can cite Pascal Ménoret’s analysis of car-sharing in Riyadh). Moreover, we use the the contentious politics literature, especially authors such as Donatella della Porta, Janine Clark, Quintan Wiktorowicz and Olivier Fillieule.

In my study, I will compare how the cities of Tripoli and Mosul have related to their territorial states since the 1920s. Indeed, secondary cities, such as Mosul and Tripoli, have resented the new states because they have been dominated by new capitals, in our cases Baghdad and Beirut. Moreover, secondary cities may have more homogenous Islamic identities than capitals, which tend to be more cosmopolitan. Mosul and Tripoli are both known as the capital of Sunnism in their respective states.

All in all, HYRES will propose a general conceptual framework and apply a systematic, comparative analysis, informed by recent advances in the literature on contentious politics. By identifying variations across the cases studied, we aim to contribute to the broader literature on social movements in non-democratic/semi-democratic contexts. To conclude, I am very eager to begin this new research project, which is a natural continuation of my PhD research as well as the postdoctoral research conducted in the context of the Max Weber Programme.

Tine Gade is a Max Weber Fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre at the EUI. She is a political scientist by training and an Arabist. Her research interests include Sunni Islamism and sectarianism in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, as well as the regional struggle between Iran and the Gulf monarchies.


Nevena KulicSome decades ago, the movement for gender equality faced a challenging goal: calling for greater gender equality, the feminists pushed for women’s education and paid work. Women were looking for equal opportunities, the right to economic independence and a career, sexual freedom, and an appreciation of their potential in the workplace and in the family. Since the ‘female revolution’ began in the early 1960s, the changing role of women has become one of the greatest achievements of economically developed modern society. Yet, these changes are neither complete nor fully successful, inspiring the title of a rather well-known book published by Gosta Esping-Andersen in 2009, The Incomplete Revolution.  

Last year and this, the Max Weber Programme and the European University Institute hosted a number of lectures and seminars with gender scholars in sociology, political theory, and economics who talked about the persistent ‘problem’ of gender in our society. Barbara Petrongolo, Claudia Goldin, Hadas Mandel, Gosta Esping-Anderson, Nancy Fraser and Cecilia Ridgeway, gave us their views on gender inequalities, their persistence and the mechanisms that reproduce them, and their future development. Here, I summarize their positions, aiming to show how we stand at a moment when women in different parts of world are returning to the streets, calling for more rights and protesting against political regimes that withhold the achievements of the gender revolution.

Barbara Petrongolo examined long-term trends and the historical development of women’s participation in the labour market. She showed that women achieved enormous progress in entering employment, but failed to converge fully with their male counterparts in pay and working hours. She listed several potential explanations for these trends, ranging from women’s preferences and intrinsic characteristics, to the role of social norms and gender identity. Yet, the major reason why women have not matched men is, in her opinion, the burden of care work: ‘Women remain the major providers of care; this feeds into the investment of women in the labour market, it feeds into gender norms and the formation of stereotypes, and it feeds into employers’ beliefs’. Finding the right form of political intervention to support care work is an uneasy job, as the policies ideally need to lead to reconciliation without fostering existing gender norms.

Esping-Andersen relied on statistics in some European countries (e.g. Denmark) to show that the most egalitarian households are to be found when women work full-time. He argues that de facto equality is only possible when women fully converge with the ‘male’ model, and this is the equilibrium that can also bring more ‘family’ and fertility. Again, the question is: what happens to the care work? Is it possible to change the equilibrium of employment if we do not resolve who handles the care work? As Nancy Fraser pointed out in her talk at the EUI, economic production could not exist without social reproduction as ‘unwaged activities that produce and socialize human beings’, which are, however, considered secondary to production and as such undervalued. However, the equilibrium between the two is crucial. There are many pressures on this delicate balance, because women went to work in very large numbers, and because current cuts in public spending in many countries made it more difficult for families to find a substitute for a mother’s care.  Gender inequality persists because capitalist society has not been able to solve the contradiction between economic production and social reproduction.

It is also Claudia’s Goldin view that the collision between work and family remains the major problem withholding women’s convergence in the labour market: employment, pay and prestige. One way to reorganize economic production would be to decrease the costs of so-called ‘temporal flexibility’, which enables workers to choose days and hours of work. If the costs of temporal flexibility are high for employers, those who work flexible hours are more penalized and face a higher pay gap. Sectors that managed to decrease the cost of flexibility, such as science and technology, show less of a gender pay gap in contrast to highly penalizing sectors such as business and consultancy. If overtime and  9-to-5 jobs are valued and rewarded most, these jobs will be of a higher value, creating and perpetuating a constant gap between those who are not able to fulfill these criteria (e.g. women) and those who are (e.g. men). In other words, the problem of ‘gender’ is related to costs but also to the dominant values about what matters in economic production.

Hadas Mandel, instead, points out that we need to differentiate between individual and structural inequalities in work and occupations. On the one hand, it is important to study the average achievement of individual men and women, and observe the current gaps; on the other hand, it is also necessary to analyze whether and how structural inequality has changed over time. Have the economic rewards of certain professions changed with their feminization or masculinization? Does the gender gap remain because women continue to be over-represented in lower paying ‘female’ industries, or is this also due to depreciation in pay in industries that become female over time? The problem may lie in system inequality, rules and regulations that are set beyond individual powers, which as such might be responsible for persisting inequality, particularly when it comes to pay gaps.

This final point brings us to gender seen as a status characteristic. According to Cecilia Ridgeway, gender inequality is still an issue because men continue to be more esteemed than women in most situations. This leads to an underestimation of women in everyday situations and is responsible for an underestimation of care work and female friendly professions at the aggregate level. The current political and economic structure supports these beliefs, and is shaped by them. Should we then change the beliefs first or do we need to act on the structure? To cite Cecilia Ridgeway, ‘It’s hard to change a belief with a belief, you often need to create experiences that make people think differently, and these come through technological change, economic and political changes, also resistance, feminist and social movements’.  Beliefs will slowly adapt to such change.

The views of these scholars about what gender inequality is and how it should be approached are articulated at a time when women are marching for their rights in the USA and many other countries, massively for the second year.  The prevailing sentiment for many women is that the time has come to campaign again for social change. Have we reached a point when it is no longer realistic to expect that women continue to adjust to the economic and political system that is reinforcing individual inequalities? The gender revolution has stalled because institutions that regulate our behaviour have not changed enough, but also because men have failed to converge in accompanying women on their journey. We need the increasing political engagement and political representation of women, and why not, a new gender movement. Time will show whether current political setbacks followed by the new wave of protests and resurgence of feminist movements will contribute to a ‘complete revolution’.

Nevena Kulic is a Max Weber Fellow at SPS. She is a sociologist interested in social and gender inequalities, particularly in a comparative perspective. Her research focuses on a range of topics such as intra-household dynamics, educational inequality in childhood, and women in the labour market and education.


Robin MarkwicaWhy do states often refuse to yield to military threats from a more powerful actor, such as the United States? Why do they frequently prefer war to compliance? International Relations scholars generally employ the rational choice logic of consequences or the constructivist logic of appropriateness to explain this puzzling behavior. Max Weber, however, suggested a third logic of choice in his magnum opus Economy and Society: human decision making can also be motivated by emotions.

Drawing on Weber and more recent research in sociology and psychology, my new book introduces the logic of affect, or emotional choice theory, into the field of International Relations. Emotional choice theory posits that individual-level decision making is shaped by the dynamic interplay between norms, identities, and five key emotions: fear, anger, hope, pride, and humiliation. While norms and identities represent important long-term underlying conditions in decision processes, emotions function as essential short-term catalysts for change.

The logic of affect is not an oxymoron. After two decades of research, neuroscientists and psychologists have shattered the orthodox view that “passions” stand in opposition to rationality. Their work indicates that the capacity to feel is a prerequisite for reasoned judgment and rational behavior. Moreover, they have found that each discrete emotion, such as fear, anger, or sadness, has a logic of its own. They are associated with specific ‘appraisal tendencies’ and ‘action tendencies’ that guide judgment and choice selection in systematic ways.

An emotion’s appraisal tendencies influence what and how we think, while its action tendencies affect what we want and do. People who are angry, for example, tend to make optimistic risk estimates and feel impulses to confront the source of anger with the aim of removing it. On the basis of these tendencies, the book puts forward a series of propositions that specify the affective conditions under which leaders are likely to give in to or to reject a coercer’s military threats.

To assess emotional choice theory’s analytic power, I apply it in two historical case studies: Nikita Khrushchev’s response to the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 and Saddam Hussein’s decision making during the Gulf conflict in 1990-91.

The Cuban missile crisis, 1962
On October 16, 1962, President John F. Kennedy learned that Moscow was clandestinely furnishing nuclear missiles to Cuba. After a week of secret deliberations with his senior advisers, he announced a naval quarantine of the island, demanding the removal of the weapons.

Nikita Khrushchev’s response was defiant. He refused to withdraw the missiles and accused the White House of precipitating a third world war. The ensuing confrontation between the two countries is widely seen as the most dangerous moment in recorded history. Five days later, however, Khrushchev agreed to take the rockets out. What had led him to change his mind?

The book shows that Khrushchev’s initial defiance was not only shaped by his hope that his technicians in Cuba would soon complete all missile installations. It was also influenced by his sense of humiliation and anger at what he saw as the Kennedy administration’s refusal to recognize him as leader of a power equal to the United States.

In the last four days of the crisis, however, the decline of Khrushchev’s hope, anger, and humiliation, the absence or low level of pride, and a growing fear of nuclear war shaped his preference for giving in to US demands. His fear was not triggered by JFK’s alleged resolve to attack Cuba, as most existing accounts imply. Rather, it was elicited by a growing belief that the US president might lose control over bellicose hardliners in his administration.

Khrushchev’s identity dynamics help to explain why he did not experience any humiliation when he finally decided to withdraw the missiles from Cuba. He interpreted a message from Washington at the height of the crisis to mean that Kennedy was at long last recognizing him as leader of an equal power. This perceived validation of his identity enabled him to preserve his self-esteem in retreat.

The Gulf conflict, 1990-91
On August 2, 1990, Saddam Hussein caught the world off guard when he invaded the neighboring emirate of Kuwait. The George H. W. Bush administration pursued a strategy of coercive diplomacy to get him to withdraw from the emirate. It assembled more than 700,000 US and allied troops in the Gulf region and threatened to attack if Baghdad did not pull out. Nevertheless, Saddam Hussein refused to comply, and the United States went to war. Why did he not back down in the face of this array of military power?

The documentary record suggests that Saddam Hussein’s behavior was shaped by a complex set of emotions: he found it difficult to give up on Kuwait because its conquest served as a continuous source of pride for his narcissistic self. He also came to nourish hope that he would be able defeat the American troops with the support of foreign volunteer fighters from across the Middle East and North Africa. Moreover, he tried hard to down-play his fear of a US attack, partly because his identity as the ‘Arab knight’ placed a taboo on the experience of this emotion.

Toward the end of the crisis, any fear that Saddam Hussein may have felt came to be overlaid by a deep sense of humiliation and anger at what he saw as the Bush administration’s degrading behavior. The combination of these emotions and identity dynamics influenced his desire to resist in the face of all adversity.

The emotional construction of social reality
The case studies show that emotions can guide decision makers in subtle and profound ways. The acceleration of politics and policymaking that instant communication has brought about is bound to make the role of affective experience even more salient. As leaders are facing growing volumes of information, time pressures, and distraction, they are more likely to be under the influence of strong emotion when they assess potential courses of action. Furthering our understanding of how affect shapes behavior is thus more important than ever. If we wish to better comprehend this world of our making, we need to take into consideration that it is not only socially but also emotionally constructed.

Robin Markwica is a Max Weber Fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies. His book is entitled Emotional Choices: How the Logic of Affect Shapes Coercive Diplomacy and will be released by Oxford University Press in March 2018.


Hanna KleiderDramatic changes in the structure of government have taken place since the end of the Second World War, with functions and competencies not only being transferred upwards from national governments to International Organizations, but also downwards to regional and local governments. Examples of this downward transfer of authority are plentiful: in the 1970s Italy created 15 new regional governments and endowed them with primary responsibility for a diverse set of problems ranging from healthcare to vocational education; Spain, upon adopting its 1978 constitution, established autonomous communities equipped with powers that rival those of regional-level governments in federal systems; Belgium, long considered a unitary state, adopted a federal structure in 2001. Indeed, even the famously centralized United Kingdom and the Scandinavian countries dabbled with decentralization. This trend is not limited to Europe and extends to many other regions of the world, so much so that the last 60 years have been dubbed an ‘era of regionalization’. With the majority of countries now having directly elected regional governments, the old distinction between federal and unitary countries has increasingly lost its usefulness.

The move towards decentralization has been promoted by numerous international actors, including the European Union and the World Bank, who believe it brings government ‘closer to the people’ and to encourage more cost-efficient policies. This expectation was rooted in the idea that citizens – and, to an even greater extent, businesses – would always move to the region with the lowest tax rates, resulting in an intense tax competition among regional governments. This, in turn, would put a strong downward pressure on regional expenditure so that ultimately only those policies ‘that citizens are willing to pay for will survive’ (Weingast 1995: 5).

Heralded by some as a constraint on ‘big government’, this scenario worried social policy experts. They feared that expenditure on social issues would be the first to be cut, not being the priority of those tax-payers that regions seek to attract – corporations and wealthy citizens. They believed that decentralization would fuel a race to the bottom in social provision, producing rudimentary social policies.

Given the hopes and fears connected with decentralization, social scientists have surprisingly little systematic knowledge about whether any of the expected consequences have materialized. What we do know is based mostly on the analysis of individual countries, often not generalizable beyond specific institutional contexts.

The article‘Redistributive policies in decentralised systems: The effect of decentralisation on subnational social spending’, forthcoming in the European Journal of Political Research, is one of the first to take a truly comparative approach and to systematically evaluate the effect of decentralization across time and across different countries. The article reports findings of an analysis of social expenditure in 334 regions in 14 OECD countries from 1990 to 2010.

A central finding is that decentralization does not motivate subnational governments to converge on low levels of social spending, as one would expect under intense tax competition. Instead, the results show that decentralization is associated with greater regional differences in social expenditure within countries. By providing regional governments with the necessary authority and fiscal resources, decentralization allows them to spend their money in the way they see fit, with some regional governments reducing their social spending, while others increase it. The decision of whether to increase or decrease social expenditure has more to do with the policy preferences of the particular regional government and the respective socio-economic context, than with concerns about losing tax-payers to neighboring regions. This does not mean that regional governments are immune to concerns about losing valuable tax-payers to low tax regions, but the factors that push them towards lower social expenditure seem to be eclipsed by factors that generate more variability. The article shows that statements about a race to the bottom in social provision resulting from decentralization, at least in their purest form, might not be generalizable beyond very specific institutional contexts.

A second finding is that the broader institutional context influences the extent to which decentralization generates greater regional differences. Several institutions can mitigate the centrifugal effects of decentralization in social expenditure. Perhaps most obviously, fiscal equalization – achieved through horizontal transfers between regional governments or through vertical payments from the central government – allows regional governments to provide citizens with similar sets of social services regardless of their fiscal capacity. Third, institutions that incentivize a mutual coordination of policies, such as routine meetings among regional executives, may also limit regional differences. Lastly, the structure of the political party systems plays an important role, particularly the extent to which the localized voting behavior of the 19th century has been replaced by a homogenizing left-right cleavage. In places where localized politics have survived, political conflicts over public expenditure are more likely to be carried out among regional units rather than between social classes, which amplifies the centrifugal pressures of decentralization. Summing up, decentralized countries where these institutions are present exhibit slightly smaller regional differences in social expenditure than decentralized countries that lack them.

What are some of the implications of these findings? Overall, the findings presented in this article may assuage the concerns of those who feared that decentralization would undermine the welfare state by generating a competitive race to the bottom in social provision. At the same time the article raises the question of whether greater regional differences in social expenditure are something to be concerned about? After all, regional differences could be a sign of social policies being tailored to specific regional needs and preferences. On a less optimistic note, however, regional differences could result from differences in fiscal capacity, with regions that have greater tax bases providing more and better social services than poorer regions.

Hanna Kleider (MWF SPS 2017-18) received her doctorate in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2014. Her research centres on different aspects of comparative political economy, with a particular interest in transformations of the welfare state and issues related to political and fiscal decentralization.

This blog post is a summary of the article by the same title forthcoming in the European Journal of Political Research.


Francesca LagioiaAccidents involving Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) raise difficult ethical dilemmas; legal issues emerge from hypothetical accident scenarios, where AVs have to make decisions involving human lives.

A classic example with which to introduce such an ethical dilemma is based on the following scenario: in a dangerous and unavoidable accident situation, your AV must decide between staying on course and hitting several pedestrians, or swerve, thus killing one passer-by or maybe endangering and killing you. In such a critical scenario, would the AV sacrifice one person to save the lives of many? And what about your life?

Imagine, for instance, an AV carrying a family of three on a one-lane highway. As the AV moves forward, four children run out in front of the car to retrieve a ball, crossing the street without realizing they are about to get hit, and it is too late for the car to stop. Should the AV swerve to the side causing a guardrail collision and risking its passengers’ lives? Or should the AV continue on its path, ensuring its passengers’ safety at the children’s expense?

According to a recent study by the MIT LAB, conducted through three on-line surveys, people are comfortable with the idea that AVs should be programmed to minimise the death toll. However, participants showed, at the same time, a preference for riding in cars that would protect their passengers. Paradoxically, it appears that most participants would prefer others to use impartial AVs – for which all lives have equal importance –, while each of them, as a passenger, would make a more selfish choice.

Who should select the criteria the AV should follow in making such choices: should the same mandatory ethics setting (MES) be implemented in all cars or should every driver have the choice to select his or her own personal ethics setting (PES)?

This paradoxical situation shows that it would be difficult to pre-program a fixed ethical approach in AVs. People could be unwilling to buy a car that could sacrifice his/her life in order to save others. Moreover, if the choice of a fixed ethical setting were to be made by the manufacturer, market pressures would encourage pre-programmed AVs not to refrain from choices harming pedestrians whenever such choices may contribute to the safety of passengers.

Our research team – myself, Giovanni Sartor and Giuseppe Contissa – has explored the legal and ethical implications of using pre-programmed autonomous cars; we then came up with the idea of the so-called Ethical Knob (‘The Ethical Knob: ethically-customisable automated vehicles and the law’, AI&LAW n.25, 2017), shifting the base of moral choices to the AVs’ passengers rather than pre-programming them. In this work – which sparked animated discussion in the general media as well as in the research community – we assume that AVs may be designed in such a way that the passenger has the task of deciding what ethical approach should be adopted in unavoidable accident scenarios.

This novel design approach proposes an additional control to those of the AV, the ‘Ethical Knob’. It tells the vehicle the value that the driver gives to his/her life relative to the value of others. Hence, this control can be set by the owner/driver by choosing a linear continuous value from a range of three:

1) Altruistic mode (-1), preference for third parties
2) Impartial mode (0), equal importance to all parties involved
3) Egoistic mode (1), preference for passengers of the vehicle.

Ethical Knob

Respectively, in the altruistic mode, the AV is more likely to favour other persons than its own passengers; in the intermediate ‘impartial’ position the AV assigns equal importance to the life and health of the involved parties; finally, in the ‘egoistic’ mode the AV would operate assigning more importance to the lives of passengers, likely favouring them over pedestrians. The car would use this information to calculate the action to be executed, also taking into account the probability that the passenger or other parties suffer harm as a consequence of the driving decision, as well as the individual amount of probable damage for each person involved.

In comparison to the opportunity of purchasing AVs with different pre-programmed and fixed ethical settings, an Ethical Knob would provide the user with a greater set of choices that can vary over time, depending on age and number of passengers, life expectancy and other factors.

Our legal analysis has shown that, with regard to their legal regime, ethically customisable AV in life and death dilemmas would significantly differ from both pre-programmed AV and human driven cars.

With manned cars, in a situation in which the law cannot impose a choice between lives that are of equal importance, such a choice rests with the driver, under the protection of the state-of-necessity defence, even in cases in which the driver chooses to save him or herself at the cost of killing many pedestrians.

The pre-programmed choices could be considered both morally and legally unacceptable in some scenarios, ‘With pre-programmed AVs, such a choice is shifted to the programmer, who would not be protected by the state-of-necessity defence whenever the choice would result in killing many agents rather than one’.

However, the fact that the settings on the knob must be selected in advance of the accident can affect some contexts, particularly where the distinction between action and omission could justify a non-consequentialist approach for a human driver. In this regard, ethically customizable AVs would be treated similarly to pre-programmed AVs.

If, on one hand, this approach is a promising solution to some problems, on the other it leaves open some important issues. First, people could be unwilling to take on legal and moral responsibility; secondly, this large amount of pre-emptive control could lead to an unbalanced situation, where everyone sets the most self-protective mode, causing an increase in risk in road security. Thus we could have a ‘Tragedy of Commons’ type scenario. This is currently under investigation – using numerical agent-based simulations – to assess and verify all the possible scenarios.

Francesca Lagioia is a Max Weber Fellow at the EUI Law department. Francesca’s research interests lie at the intersection of law and computer science, with a focus on the legal issues related to the development of artificial intelligence systems.


Julia McClure and Julija SardeličThe workshop was hosted by the Cultural and Informational Centre in Kamenci, a Roma settlement in the north east of Slovenia. This was one of five workshops being held around the world for the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) project ‘Beyond Development: Local Visions of Global Poverty’. The project is part of the poverty research network (a cross-institutional and interdisciplinary collaboration based at the University of Warwick and the University of Glasgow). ‘Beyond Development: Local Visions of Global Poverty’ aims to use the insights and methodologies of the arts and humanities to critically analyse constructions of poverty and narratives of poverty alleviation (especially ‘development’) within a cross-cultural and diachronic framework. Studies of poverty have often been dominated by econometric approaches, which can be flattening and do little to increase our understanding both of the multi-dimensional nature of poverties around the world and how ideas of poverty and its solutions have been conceptualised in different times and different places. Further, quantitative approaches to poverty have not offered insights into the ways people have experienced poverty. The project is a collaboration between history, law, and sociology, and considers the way in which history can be used as a tool of social justice regarding poverty alleviation, subverting mainstream narratives by indicating how they are historically constructed.

The format of the workshops contributes towards finding new methodologies in poverty studies. In an attempt to de-centre the loci of enunciation, workshops have been held outside of UK universities, in universities in Bangladesh and Brazil, at a Roma settlement in Slovenia, and in an indigenous language centre in Mexico. Reports of these workshops have been produced by people living and working in these contexts. Academics, activists, and people who are normally the object of discourses of poverty have been invited to participate. The aim of the workshops is to bring these different actors together outside ‘ivory towers’ and give voice to the perspectives that are often marginalized.

The workshop in Slovenia, ‘Marginalized Perspectives from South East Europe: Between/Beyond Poverty and Empowerment?’, was organised by Dr Julija Sardelić, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at the KU Leuven International and European Studies Institute (LINES). The title of this workshop struck at the core of the project’s aims, to investigate processes of power and narrativity in relation to poverty.  One of the aims of the workshop was to explore how global narratives of poverty and empowerment echo in the specific context of South-East Europe, an area struck by armed conflict two decades ago and which also had multi-layered experiences with marginalization(s) and forced migration. Through the lived experiences of some members of the local Roma community, intertwined with presentations made by academics and representatives of international organizations, the workshop contextualized both the discourses on poverty and empowerment in the region. 

We began with a tour of the museum at Kamenci, presented by Mr Ludvik Levačić, the informal leader of the settlement, and President of the NGO Romano Pejtausago (which means Romani Friendship in the local Romani language). The museum was developed as one of the projects by the NGOs in the beginning of the 2000s and has been visited by many people, including contemporary Council of Europe Commissioner of Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg, former Slovenian President Milan Kucan and many other international political representatives who supported the efforts of multiple NGOs and local authorities in the development of Kamenci. Beginning with this tour of the Roma museum at Kamenci was an excellent way to physically, emotionally, and intellectually experience how history can be used a tool of social justice. The museum shows that history is not monopolised by academics based in universities but is a malleable resource. The museum also aims to signal something important: outside academia, history should not be only in the hands of museum curators, who aim to reconfirm the greatness of national heritage, but it should also show counter-narratives brought by people and communities, who the state positions as marginalized minorities.  This museum showed not only the value of history for communicating cultural heritage and gaining recognition for different communities, but also the importance of historical narratives as a tool against oppression.

On the wall in the museum is a picture of Tito; Mr Levačić recounted his experiences of being part of a Roma community in Yugoslavia and the discrimination that intensified in the breakup of this state that, officially, had a multicultural discourse in its Constitution. The museum captures the values of the community and its objects are testament to the layered meanings of what it meant to be positioned as Roma in the Yugoslav state and also in states that were established on its territory afterwards.

Mr Levačić explained that in its early conception socialist Yugoslavia had a different perspective on freedom of movement and hence the state did not control movement to such a great extent, compared to control in later years. Levačić felt that he, and also other Roma, had much more freedom in Yugoslavia and were also very respected, despite being a non-territorial minority.  He emphasized that the non-territoriality did not come from the sense of non-belonging, but from the different connection to the territory that is non-ownership of the land.  This perspective is similar to those of some other indigenous tribes around the world. The display in the museum emphasises the importance of connection with the environment, displaying collections of local botanical products that have traditionally been used in local medicinal practices. The museum, and many aspects of Roma history, were brought to life by Mr Levačić’s lively tour.

The first presentation was given by Dr Julia McClure, who introduced the project and her own work on poverty and charity in the making of the Spanish Empire. McClure highlighted how there was a shift in attitudes towards poverty and strategies of poverty alleviation in the sixteenth century, which resulted in increasing criminalisation of poverty and its association with social disorder and contagion. New methodologies for managing the poor were advocated by humanists, such as Juan Luis Vives, who developed new models of ideal societies based upon the invisibility and exclusion of the poor. These humanists were the policy writers of their day and advocated new forms of poor relief based upon the institutionalisation of charity, and greater discrimination of who could receive this charity. Divisions between the deserving and undeserving poor developed, and these were linked to the capabilities of the bodies of the poor, especially their capacity to work. There was also a dramatic shift in the emphasis on caring for neighbours, the poor of local communities, and not strangers. Inclusion of citizens into new systems of charity were measured against multiple exclusions. Los Gitanos, as Roma communities in the Hispanic world are still known today, increasingly found themselves excluded from the forms of citizenship that were taking shape in early modern Spain, losing access to systems of poor relief that were increasingly linked to these notions of citizenship. McClure also summarised how the legal category of the poor facilitated the construction of the Amerindians as colonial subjects, the theme of her current book project Poverty and Charity in the Making of the Spanish Empire. This historical example from sixteenth-century Spain provided a framing for the AHRC project’s aim to conduct cross-cultural and diachronic analysis.

The following presentations were given by a range of specialists on marginalised minorities and migrants in South-East Europe, especially the Roma community and including experts from the Romani community itself.  Samanta Baranja, a PhD Student in Romani Linguistics at the University of Ljubljana, as well as the former President of Roma Academic Club and Project Manager at the Centre for School and After School Activities, spoke about the projects for reducing educational inequality between Romani children and their non-Romani counterparts. We discussed the problems with discourses of integration and the empowerment of Roma and the need to address the structural discriminations faced by Roma minorities. This raised lively debates about the limitations of welfare state models of social assistance, and the way in which discourses of charity have been re-conceptualised by NGO projects. One of the questions raised by Baranja’s presentation was this: why is it that Romani intellectuals are usually pushed to work with Romani populations and often do not get an opportunity to take their knowledge beyond this, where it can carry valuable lessons for the whole population? The reasons why Roma do become marginalized do not come predominantly from the Romani community itself, but from the way the broader society positions them.

Dr Paul Stubbs, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Economics Zagreb, began his presentation by engaging with the ‘local-global’ framework of the AHRC project. He noted how the local and the global are not two distinct or distant levels but that, in fact, the two coordinates are often in dialogue. He used the example of Kamenci, which might be thought of as a hyper-local location but, instead, intersects with global discourses and institution. The building we sat in was built with international funds, and the money of the UK’s AHRC had brought us together. Stubbs then turned his example on its head to describe how we need to see the sites of global discourse, such as the World Bank, as villages. This perspective would enable us to construct ethnographies of international institutions, to assess how normative behaviours and narratives emerge. Stubbs then used this position to reflect upon the narrative that has dominated global discourse, including trans-national approaches to poverty in the form of ‘development’, since, it could be argued, the fall of the Berlin Wall. Development discourse has been underpinned by neoliberal economic theory, which is grounded in a notion of trickledown economics and sees the state as something which interferes with economic growth. Stubbs highlighted the narrative of de-growth, the need to increase equality and reduce poverty without increasing production, which endangers the planet, and the need to acknowledge the limitations of the formal labour market to provide the means of existence for all. This led to a lively debate on the future of the Universal Basic Income Movement and the future of welfare states.  

Jasmina Papa, a Social Inclusion Advisor for the United Nations Development Programme, gave an overview of her project on people’s narratives of the migration cycle. Papa gave insights into the new methodologies for thinking about narratives being designed and used by NGOs today. She used the programme ‘sense maker’ to turn the qualitative data of micro-narratives into quantitative data that can be used to inform future policy decisions. The participants offering their stories also engaged in the deconstruction of these narratives, a method called ‘framework analysis’. The data revealed the reasons why people migrated (and returned), and the obstacles they faced in terms of accessing basic resources. It showed that many people would have preferred not to migrate, but were forced by the extremely limited possibilities of employment in the formal labour market. It showed the problems people faced accessing resources, both in the places to which they migrated, and the places to which [some of them] returned.

In her presentation, Dr Julija Sardelić linked together the findings on Romani individuals who became forced migrants or legally invisible during the post-Yugoslav wars to her current Marie Curie research project on broader theoretical questions on the invisible edges of citizenship and Romani minorities in Europe. She argued that to look for causes of marginalization, the researcher should look in the broader societal constellations and not simply find a reason for it in the alleged isolation of the Romani community. 

The final presentations reminded us again of the significance of the location of our workshop, in the Roma settlement of Kamenci, which is also the site of the two NGOs established by Agata Sardelič and Ludvik Levačić respectively. Agata Sardelič provided us with an oral account of the history of the settlement. It began as she became involved in designing the pathways for new cycle paths in the region. A. Sardelić had suggested that these cycle paths should not only take a tour around famous monuments, but should connect historically marginalised communities. With this in mind, she designed a project for regional cycle paths that included the Roma settlement of Kamenci, where she was met with the tremendous hospitality with which anyone who has visited Kamenci will be familiar. Lasting friendships were forged and the Kamenci NGO was established. A. Sardelić has now been dedicated to projects at Kamenci for nearly two decades. These projects have not only improved the infrastructure and cross-community relations, but established Kamenci as a global meeting point. The projects were co-designed and co-implemented both by the Romani community itself as well as the local authorities. Such an equal partnership has proven to bring the most effective results, not only in soft activities, but also in bringing the relevant infrastructure to the Roma communities and changing their image from a segregated ghetto to an international juncture where different people meet and also live. The workshop ended with the oral testimony of Levačić, who gave his own account of growing up in a Roma community, and of living through the transition of the breakup of Yugoslavia. He also reflected upon his experiences of the development of the NGO.

The workshop provided the opportunity to reflect on the structural dimensions of inequality, and the problem with empowerment discourses that don’t address the systemic issues that prevent poverty alleviation, especially the limitations of the formal labour market to provide a living wage, the construction of migration cycles that are as disadvantaging as they are advantaging, the prevalence of racism, and the problem of the obstacles presented by structures of citizenships. However, what proved to be the added value of the workshop was the multitude of different voices, including those that were previously silenced: that is, not just from academics and representatives of different organizations, but also the lived experience of individuals who found themselves in between the narratives of poverty and empowerment.

Julia McClure (MWF at HEC 2014-15) is Lecturer in Late Medieval/Early Modern History at the University of Glasgow and specialises in the global history of poverty and charity, with a particular focus on the Spanish Empire.

Julija Sardelič (MWF at SPS 2014-16) is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at the KU Leuven International and European Studies Institute (LINES).  Her research encompasses broader themes of citizenship and migration, but she focuses particularly on the position of marginalized minorities and migrants in Europe (such as Romani minorities, refugees and other forced migrants, legally invisible and stateless persons).


Marta MussoProf. Kaldor, the Brexit referendum campaign was based on the problem of ‘take back control’ – of national borders, of the budget, of the spaces where decisions are taken. Deep down, aren’t they right?
The ‘take back control’ of the referendum referred to a small right-wing élite led by Theresa May, Boris Johnson, David Davis – absolutely nothing to do with democratic participation. Brexit was indeed at the basis of the relation between democracy and globalisation. We must separate between ‘procedural democracy’ and ‘substantive democracy’: the first is given by the elections, the rule of law, and all the tools that characterise the democratic system. The second one is about political equality; the capacity of the single citizen to influence the decisions that concerns his life. However, the decisions that today are of vital importance are not taken on a State-level: they are taken in the headquarters of large multinationals, on the laptops of financial speculators, or they are not taken by anyone, like with climate change. The reason for this is not globalisation per se, but the sclerosis of States that are becoming smaller. Therefore, the answer to the crisis of substantive democracy is not shielding within the borders of States that are in a crisis, but in the great novelty represented by the European Union, because it is big enough to implement decisions on a world scale. If we want to tax international corporations, act against climate change, put an end to financial speculations, we cannot operate on a State level. Brexit did not give us back control, it further took control away from us: in a sclerotic State, power ends up in the hands of a small élites. The 8 June elections were a rebellion against this situation.

Let’s talk about the elections. Corbyn was strongly criticised by most British media, right and left leaning, as well as by his own party. Even though officially against Brexit, he did not campaign strongly for the Remain vote; since the referendum he has said that the result should be respected, and he is blocking attempts to safeguard Britain’s position in the common market. On the Brexit issue, the Labour party is divided, and the first opinion polls seemed to announce the end of Corbyn – perhaps even of the Labour Party. How do you explain his success on the 8th of June?
I was on the side of Corbyn since the beginning, for the simple reason that if the Labour Party had kept mimicking the neoliberal policies of the others, it would have eventually imploded – like it happened with Hollande’s Socialists in France. Without Corbyn, my fear is that Labour votes would switch to some extreme right-wing forces such as the UKIP. We are in a transitional phase, when people are tired and look for alternatives – similar to the 1930s, when the failures of the Left brought to Fascism. Corbyn is a bit ‘old left’, especially in his outlook within the national borders, and his ambiguous approach to Europe; however, this allowed him to take back many votes that had gone to the far right. It is also important to notice that these elections were dominated by social issues, and that the problem of austerity is not separated from Brexit. I think that lots of people on the left were turned off the EU because of the Greek crisis, and there is an idea that the EU is this unreformable, neoliberal organization. Corbyn was successful because he became a symbol against austerity, a message that I hope will spread abroad.  However, the Labour Party is not a Brexiters’ party, the Remainers identified more with Labour than the Conservatives. One of the most interesting tactical campaigns was ‘Best for Britain’, which focused on the exclusion from the Parliament of advocates of a hard-Brexit; this almost always translated in voting for the Labour candidate. Furthermore, it is important to stress that this campaign was not won by Jeremy Corbyn himself, but thanks to the engagement of thousands of thousands of people, especially young people, in a truly astonishing way. As a matter of fact, many of these young people who determined the electoral outcome started to be politically active because of Brexit, they feel robbed of their future.

You seem to describe the end of an era of political disengagement, and you suggest that democracy can revitalise itself in the global world through very localised actions.
We need to think of a model of ‘layered democracy’. One of the reasons I am so pro-Europe is that the European Union represents a new formula: it is not a new State, like the US, nor an intergovernmental organisation, such as the UN. It is a new model, which counterbalances some of the negative aspects of the States, from human rights to having the mass for taking global-level decisions. What Europe needs to understand is that in a globalised world, the importance of taking decisions on a local level, more than on a national level, is fundamental. In order to do so we need an ‘internationalised’ civil society; perhaps thanks to Brexit, these European-level movements are now emerging. A real democratisation of the EU, especially of the Eurozone, is the crucial issue to get out of this mess – and I am not referring to Brexit, I mean the global mess. Europe is the experiment that the world needs in this historical conjuncture to be able to tackle the global issues; and the young people, starting with the Britons, are in majority pro-European. They want to be in Europe to change it.   

Mary Kaldor is Professor of Global Governance at the LSE, where she is Director of the Civil Society and Human Security Research Unit. She is the author of works on globalisation, cosmopolitan democracy, new wars. We met her for a conversation on Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn, and the state of democracy in Europe.

Marta Musso (MWF HEC 2016-17) is the President of Eogan (European Oil and Gas Archives Network). She is particularly interested in the study of energy policies, international development and the digital world. Since 2015 she has supervised undergraduate students at the University of Cambridge on World History and on Methodologies of Historical Research.

*The reference is to Ignazio Silone’s “Fontamara” rather than Lenin’s work.

This article is based on an Italian version that appeared in the Italian cultural journal “L’Indice dei libri del Mese”,


Bilyana PetkovaIn a recent exhibition of Mark Tobey at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice, the curators beautifully invoke Tobey’s fascination with the City – “its dizzying, towering architecture, thoroughfares and pervasive whirl of electric light”. There are many reasons to be fascinated with modern urban centers – above all, their dynamic ambiguity – the controversial middle space they occupy between catalysts of both inequality and equality, of hope and hopelessness. But as new technologies are eroding the famed anonymity of city life, are our cities becoming also final bastions of privacy protections?

Associated with a Republican agenda at least since the days of Jim Crow in the United States, in the aftermath of the last election, state and local autonomy has become the new stomping ground for progressives. From so- called sanctuary cities that oppose anti-immigration federal policies to L.G.B.T. rights to environmental protection and healthcare, the push back against the Trump administration in the U.S. now comes from the bottom-up. Federalism academics have long noted the trend but what has gone under the radar is a new area of state and mainly local activism: call it “privacy localism”. Republican commissioners on the Federal Communications Commission have started pursuing the reversal of many Obama administration privacy and other policies, and legislation repealing such policies is under way (the latest offshoot being the announced repeal of net neutrality rules).

Populous “blue” states, such as New York, California and Washington, and especially local administrators within New York City, San Francisco and Seattle have countered by promoting ad-hoc privacy-friendly initiatives. At the state-level, officials were resistingrequests by the Trump administration to access state voter registration databases, often seen as an ill-masked attempt to restrict voting rights. At the city level, the increased availability and use of data by both private providers and the law enforcement sector has resulted in a host of initiatives that aim to either limit access to the data or promote its accountable use. In competing for qualified labor and capital, US cities naturally aim at interconnectedness that fosters innovation through “smart city” and open data policies. Simultaneously, municipal executives have called for city data to be “open by preference” only or subject to principles that guide decisions about the use of open data in a way that does not create privacy harms. City ordinances are also being drafted to require local police departments to publish surveillance impact reports describing the capabilities and safeguards of powerful new surveillance technologies as a condition of deploying them.

In the face of Congressional backlog, states, and to some extent localities have been filling in the vacuum of federal privacy regulation even before Trump took office, but their role is becoming critical now. What can states and localities actually do? In the U.S., when Stephen Goldsmith and Susan Crawford wrote  “The Responsive City: Engaging Communities Through Data-Smart Governance" little did they know about the extent of the tug-of-war between the local and the federal tier that would unravel. And when Richard Schragger spoke of “City Power”, he likely did not suspect that only a few years later he would have to add to his thesis that “what is striking about city power is how constrained it actually is.” Legally speaking, state pre-emption under US law is to municipal power what federal pre-emption is to state power. In other words, states are constrained in important ways by federal laws that set not only regulatory floors but also ceilings. Similarly, if a “blue” city in a “red” state passes an ordinance, the state legislature can follow up by passing sweeping laws that curb local authority. In practice, states and localities can do little to remedy serious federal shortcomings such as in, say, credit reporting. The city of San Francisco is however currently litigating against Equifax, after a privacy breach committed by the credit-reporting agency that exposed the Social Security Numbers of millions of Americans. Cities are not toothless: large urban centers in “blue” states can be influential, pedalling new experimental policies and good practices that can be later emulated by other states and localities.

In the sharing economy, US cities are on the forefront of developments too. Scholars argue that firms such as Airbnb and Uber, from being opponents of local governments will turn into their valuable partners, reducing regulatory risk and gaining local subsidies in exchange for addressing public goals. The potential symbiosis of local government and the private sector in the sharing economy does not seem too far-fetched. Sharing platforms such as Uber have clashed with local regulators over employment issues concerning the status of drivers, and some European cities have started regulating Airbnb rentals due to the displacement of local residents that Airbnb may provoke. But Airbnb and Uber have had many positive externalities for urban residents, too. Airbnb has attracted tourists and spurred the economic development of less advantageous areas, and in recent deals US cities have contracted with Uber or Lyft to allow train riders get a discount for transportation (saving cities the cost and congestion of building parking lots). When Airbnb collects data on guests or Uber – on GPS location, rich troves of information are produced. As scholars have recently argued, being indeed an urban phenomenon that addresses city concerns of density, proximity and anonymity, the sharing economy generates vast amounts of data that can help cities improve their services. For example, Boston has partnered with Uber to use aggregated traffic data from Uber to alleviate city congestion; and anonymized data from Airbnb can serve local authorities to identify housing shortages; in sum, shared data can help localities modernize their policies and regulations. Sharing practices can however have vast implications for the privacy of consumers and city dwellers. Thus, public-private partnerships on the local level can succeed only if this new drive toward responsible data use in US cities and localities is here to stay.

Bilyana Petkova (MWF LAW 2015-16) is an Assistant Professor at the European and International Law Department of Maastricht University and a Visiting Fellow at the Yale Law School Information Society Project. You can reach her by e-mail at bilyana.petkova at  

Reprint from a blog on Balkinization originally posted on 29 November 2017



The MWP Annual Report 2016-17This report covers the first year of the Max Weber Programme since moving to its new home in Villa Paola. As the report shows, it also coincided with yet another high number of applications to the Programme, and the largest intake of new Fellows so far. As we had anticipated, the move to Villa Paola has been positive in having the MWP team and most of the Fellows in one place with its own facilities. That has facilitated interchange among the Fellows themselves and between them and the team. Having a dedicated seminar room as well as priority in the use of the Emeroteca for events involving all the Fellows has also been a huge boon to the Programme, while we remain close to the Library and the Badia’s facilities. Unfortunately, there is insufficient space for us to accommodate all Fellows, with the RSC and second year ECO Fellows located with their departments and second year SPS and some other Fellows in the tower corridor of the Badia. However, our proximity to the Badia and the RSC, along with the fact that second year Fellows get fully integrated with other Fellows in the first year and actively seek to retain close contact with the MWP thereafter, have all meant that this dispersal has not been too problematic. The past academic year was once again rich in intellectual creativity and activity among Fellows, and a real privilege to be a part of. During 2016-17 we conducted a major self-assessment of the Programme and I am grateful to all the Fellows – especially the departmental representatives – for the support they gave us in compiling the relevant data and contributing valuable ideas for improvement. A particular thank you is owed to Tine Gade who, as the Academic Council (AC) representative of the postdoctoral Fellows and the Fellows’ representative on the Steering Committee (SC), helped considerably in involving other Fellows in the self-assessment process and in putting forward their views at meetings with the Research Council as well as the AC and SC. Three important changes have been or will soon be introduced as a result. First, we have arranged for Fellows to have the same reduction as researchers for meals at the EUI. Already, this has led more Fellows to use these facilities regularly, aiding intellectual community building among them and with the EUI as a whole which is such a core aspect of the Programme. Second, as of next year we shall be introducing a maternity leave policy – part of our on-going efforts to make the MWP more family friendly and to promote gender equality. We see this as a key part of our ethos in supporting early career researchers. Third, we have decided to experiment with increasing the second year stipend for ECO Fellows who do teaching and mentoring within the department. Again, we see this as a way whereby Fellows can play an important role as junior faculty within the EUI, offering an important resource to departments and researchers while gaining experience and enhanced mentoring themselves. We also had a long deliberation over whether to extend the Fellowship to two years for all Fellows. Here, the conclusion was that there are really two reasonable views. On the one hand, Fellows by and large do as well on the job market after one year as after two, so that keeping the Fellowship to one year increases access to this resource to more people. On the other hand, one year is highly stressful for those Richard Bellamy (Director MWP) 6 ANNUAL REPORT ACADEMIC YEAR 2016-2017 Fellows on the job market; it means that they have little time to put into practice many elements of the training we offer until after they leave, or to do any additional research beyond writing up with our support work they had already done before coming to the EUI. Both points of view are important, but so long as the budget of the MWP remains fixed at its current level there is no alternative to choosing between them. So for the present LAW and HEC have chosen to adopt the first perspective, while ECO and to a degree SPS and RSC feel it more appropriate to take the second. As ever, I am extremely grateful for the work done by all the members of the Max Weber Team – they truly are the Max Weber Programme, as all Fellows soon appreciate. The self-assessment was a major exercise and without their willingness to go beyond the call of duty would not have been concluded so fully, efficiently and successfully as it was. So once again a big thank you to all my colleagues. A special mention goes to Fiona Wong, the latest of a number of trainees who have played such a crucial role in the Programme. It is always a pleasure to see these talented, young recruits develop their skills during their time with us – something from which we also greatly benefit. We were sad to see her go, but happy that it was not so far, as she has moved more or less next door to the new School of Transnational Governance.

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Download the full Report (pdf)


Facts and Figures on Applications to the Max Weber Programme in 2017On 25 October 2017 the call for applications for the Max Weber Fellowships closed for all departments but Economics, which continues to receive applications into Spring 2018. The programme received 1,124 applications from 92 countries, lower than the 1,346 applications from 99 countries the previous year (Figure 1). Still, the large number in 2016 was an outlier in the general trend of applications since 2006, whilst applications in 2017 are much more in line with it. The main drop in applications regards the United Kingdom (-34), Turkey (-29), Canada (-23) and India (-16).

Figure 1:

Among the 92 countries of origin of applicants the lion’s share goes to Italy (167) and the United States (159), followed at a distance by Germany (67) and the United Kingdom (64), which, in spite of a consistent drop, still figures among one of the main pools of applicants at country level (Figure 2).

Figure 2:

The gender ratio (Figure 3) is skewed in favour of male applicants (58%). The Robert Schuman Centre and LAW, however, have attracted more applications from women than men, while ECO registered the lowest percentage of female applicants (31%), followed by History and Civilization (37%) and Political and Social Sciences (44%).

Figure 3:

SPS, once again, received the largest share of applications (470), followed by HEC (364) and at a great distance by LAW (118), ECO (95), and finally the Robert Schuman Centre (77) (Figure 4).

Figure 4:

As in the previous calls, applicants had the opportunity to choose a Thematic Research Group (TRG) as an interdisciplinary forum to discuss their common research interests. Alternatively they could opt out of the thematic frame. This year the number of those opting out was much reduced (270) and only marginally higher than that of those choosing the most popular group (232) (Figure 5).

Figure 5:

The composition of preferences for a TRG by department shows that each TRG attracts from all disciplines, although some received more applications from a given department (Figure 6). Applications to the RSC, for instance, are highly concentrated in the group Citizenship and Migration, whilst applicants to ECO are split between the Tommaso Padoa Schioppa group and the newly formed Experimental Methods in Social Sciences group. The largest number of applicants to ECO however still chooses to opt out altogether (Figure 6).

Figure 6:



12th Max Weber June ConferenceEach year, the Max Weber June Conference presents an opportunity to enhance academic exchange and collaboration between different generations of fellows. At a time of perceived global upheaval and crisis, we seek to bring together an eclectic group of scholars to discuss some of the major transformations that states and societies have undergone across time and space. The aim is to develop multidisciplinary perspectives on key current, past and likely future challenges faced by local, regional, national and transnational communities.  These include, but are not limited to, issues related to income, employment, markets, finance, trade, education, health, mobility, migration, security, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, race, citizenship, religion, the workplace and the environment.

We invite applications for the 2018 June Conference from current and former Max Weber Fellows as well as from current Jean Monnet and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellows at the EUI or at other institutions.

We encourage submissions – theoretical, empirical and methodological – from scholars across the social sciences, humanities and law.

Conference participants are cordially invited to attend the EUI’s June Ball on the last day of the conference.

We accept three types of submission:

a) Regular presentations: a 10-15 minute oral presentation
b) Poster presentations: a poster to be displayed in the Badia’s Lower Loggia: participants can view it and discuss it with the presenter during the first lunch break of the Conference
c) Panel proposals: 3-5 regular presentations on a common theme

Pre-circulation of papers among panel members is voluntary.

Please complete the submission form and include an abstract of up to 250 words per presentation (including 4-5 keywords).
Please email the submission form to
Deadline: Thursday, 15 March 2018

Funding for Max Weber Programme alumni
The Max Weber Programme can cover accommodation for up to 4 nights during the conference, up to €250.00 for flights within Europe and up to €400.00 for flights outside of Europe for former Max Weber Fellows.

Provisional Conference Schedule

Wednesday, 13 June 2018:
08:45-09:00 Registration
09:00-10:30 Keynote lecture I
10:30-11:00 Coffee break
11:00-12:30 Morning session
12:30-14:00 Lunch break
14:00-15:30 Afternoon session I
15:30-16:00 Coffee break
16:00-17:30 Afternoon session II
18:00- Barbecue

Thursday, 14 June 2018:
09:00-10:30 Morning session I
10:30-11:00 Coffee break
11:00-12:30 Morning session II
12:30-14:00 Lunch break
14:00-15:30 Afternoon session
15:30-16:00 Coffee break
16:00-16:45 Presentation by the Max Weber Alumni Association
17:00-18:30 Keynote lecture II

Friday, 15 June 2018:
09:00-10:30 Morning session
10:30-11:00 Coffee break
11:00-12:30 Plenary session
12:3 Conference ends
Evening June Ball

2018 Organising Committee:
Per Andersson (SPS), Matthew Canfield (HEC), Alexandra Fotiou (ECO), Vivian Gerrand (RSC), Valentin Jentsch (LAW), Robin Markwica (RSC), Francesco Molteni (ECO), Mishka Sinha (HEC), Cyrille Thiebaut (SPS) and Christos Tsakas (HEC)

If you have any questions, please contact Francesca Grassini (


Teaching Experience AbroadThe teaching experience abroad module that is at the core of the Max Weber Programme Teaching Certificate has attracted five main European universities this year: von Humbolt University, Masarik, Trinity College Dublin, UCL, and UPF.

Twenty-nine MW Fellows will travel to these destinations between February and May to put into practice what they have learned in the Academic Practice Workshops in the first half of the year.

Learn who they are and where they are going on the Max Weber Programme website.


Conference: How European Is European Private International Law? On behalf of Gisela Rühl (MWF LAW 2007-2008), we are happy to announce this conference, organized by Jürgen Basedow, Jan von Hein, Eva-Maria Kieninger and Giesela Rühl

Over the course of the last decades the European legislature has adopted a total of 18 Regulations in the area of private international law (including civil procedure). The resulting substantial degree of legislative unification has been described as the first true Europeanisation of private international law and even as a kind of “European Choice of Law Revolution”. However, until today it is largely unclear whether the far-reaching unification of the “law on the books” has turned private international law into a truly European ”law in action”: To what extent is European private international law actually based on uniform European rules common to all Member States rather than on state treaties or instruments of enhanced cooperation? Is the way academics and practitioners analyse and interpret European private international law really different from previously existing domestic approaches to private international law? Or is the actual application and interpretation of European private international law rather still influenced or even dominated by national legal traditions, leading to a re-fragmentation of a supposedly uniform body of law?

To answer these and related questions Prof. Dr. Jürgen Basedow, Prof. Dr. Jan von Hein, Prof. Dr. Eva-Maria Kieninger and Prof. Dr. Giesela Rühl kindly invite you to the conference “How European is European Private International Law?” that will take place on 2 and 3 March 2018 in Berlin.  Bringing together academics and practitioners from all over Europe the conference will provide a platform to shed light on the present lack of „Europeanness“of European private international law and to discuss how European private internaitonal law can become more truly European in the future.

More information is available on the conference website:
Contact: Prof. Dr. Giesela Rühl (


Challenges To EU Law And Governance In The Member States

Conveners: LAW MW Fellows Anna Wallerman and Clara Rauchegger 
Deadline for submission of abstracts 18 February 2018
Download the full call (pdf)

Eurosceptic and nationalist forces have been gaining ground in many Member States. The ideal of an ever closer union, built on fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, has been shaken by the UK’s decision to leave the EU and by illiberal democratic developments in Hungary and Poland. The free movement of citizens, economic migration and the influx of third-country refugees tend to be particularly controversial in the Member States.

Against this backdrop, we are pleased to invite submissions for a conference that will examine to what extent the EU is being politicised and its law challenged in the Member States. The focus will not only be on Member States that are known to be highly critical of the EU; for a complete picture, the aim is rather to find out whether challenges to EU law and governance are frequent occurrences or merely highly visible exceptions.

The conference has two objectives. The first is to establish whether Euroscepticism takes the form of specific criticism of EU legislation and case law. Do governments and/or political parties criticise particular pieces of EU law and policy, and do they propose, or take, initiatives that are incompatible with those of the Union? Second, the conference will explore to what extent criticism of the EU is translated into actual changes in national law. Is Eurosceptic rhetoric made manifest in the domestic legislation or case law of the Member States?

The conference will be held on 8 June 2018 at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy under the auspices of the Max Weber Programme.

Keynote speaker
The keynote address will be delivered by Michal Bobek, Advocate General at the Court of Justice of the EU and author of numerous works on the interaction of EU law and national legal systems. He was previously Professor of European Law at the College of Europe, Research Fellow at the Institute of European and Comparative Law of the University of Oxford as well as legal secretary to the Chief Justice and head of the Research and Documentation Department at the Supreme Administrative Court of the Czech Republic.


The Max Weber Lectures and the MW Fellows Interviews are on podcast now. Take them for a run!

And if you are comfortably at home or at your desk do not forget that new lectures and interviews are also on video!

Max Weber Lectures


MW Fellows Interviews


Upcoming Events

Max Weber Lectures 2018

  • Wednesday  14 March 2018
    Rachel Kranton (Professor of Economics – Duke University)
    Thematic Group: IEELM
  • Wednesday  18 April 2018
    Alex Aleinikoff (Director of the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility, The New School for Social Research, New York)
    Thematic Group: Citizenship and Migration
  • Wednesday  16 May 2018
    Debra Satz (Professor of Ethics in Society, Philosophy and Political Science, Stanford University)
    Thematic Group: Legal, Political and Social Theory 

Check the Max Weber Programme website closer to the dates for updates on the lectures


Multidisciplinary Research Workshops 2018

  • 1-2 March 2018, time tbc 
    ‘Picking up after Brexit: Will the EU’s global power shrink after Britain’s exit?’
    Badia, Emeroteca 
    Organizers: Aydin Yildirim, Robin Markwica, Marina Henke
  • 13 March 2018, time tbc
    ‘Peace from Locals’  
    Badia, Emeroteca 
    Organizers: Akisato Suzuki, Tine Gade, Vivian Gerrand
  • 27 March 2018, 14:00-16:00
    ‘Regulatory Governance Colloquia’ – first seminar session
    Villa Paola, Seminar Room 
    Further seminar sessions (same venue and time): 
    16 April 2018, Cedric Ryngaert (Universities of Utrecht and Leuven)
    25 April 2018, Anton Hemerijck (EUI-SPS)
    8 May 2018, Colin Scott (University College Dublin)
    22 May 2018, Alessandra Arcuri (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
    Organizers: Bernardo Rangoni, Matthew Canfield, Ioanna Hadjiyianni, Marta Morvillo, Gemma Scalise
  • 6 April 2018, time tbc
    ‘Moving (between) Cultures: Theories and Practices of Transfer’ 
    Badia, Emeroteca
    Organizers: Matthew Canfield, Naoko Hosokawa, Mishka Sinha, Blake Smith
  • 20 April 2018, time tbc
    ‘Trust Matters’ 
    Badia, Emeroteca
    Organizers: Raquel Barradas de Freitas, Sergio Lo Iacono, Marta Morvillo, Carolin Schmitz
  • 23 April 2018, time tbc
    ‘"Science without Conscience is but the Ruin of the Soul”. When Practical Challenges Meet Ethical Expectations’ 
    Badia, Emeroteca
    Organizers: Cyrille Thiebaut , Mirjam Dageförde, Francesca Lagioia, Jamil Mouawad
  • 2 May 2018, time tbc
    'European Security in an Age of American Restraint'
    Organizers: Marina Henke, Paul van Hooft
  • 4 May 2018, all day
    ‘Modern Epicureanism - Political Receptions and the Politics of Reception’
    Badia, Theatre
    Preparatory seminar sessions: 
    1 March , Villa Paola, Seminar Room, 14:00-16:00
    5 April (same venue and time)
    Organizers: Jared Holley, Mirjam Dageförde, Jamil Mouawad
  • 4 May 2018, time tbc 
    ‘Fears of Trolls and Green Men: Does Hybrid Warfare Work, for Whom, and Where?’
    Badia, Emeroteca
    Organizers: Stefano Marcuzzi, Akisato Suzuki, Paul Van Hooft
  • 7 May 2018, time tbc 
    ‘The Role of  Image-Making in the Prevention of Violence’
    Badia, Emeroteca 
    Organizers: Vivien Gerrard, Saeed Bagheri, Tine Gade, Katherina Maria Motyl
  • 28 May 2018, time tbc 
    ‘Taxation and Fiscal Policy’
    Badia, Emeroteca
    Organizers: Per Andersson, Alexandra Fotiou, Hanna Kleider, Andrea Papadia, Tomasz Zawisza, Zbigniew Truchlewski
  • 8 June 2018, time tbc
    ‘Challenges to EU Law and Governance in the Member States'
    Badia, Emeroteca 
    Organizers: Clara Rauchegger and Anna Wallermann, Mirjam Dageförde, Cyrille Thiebaut, Aydin Yildirim
  • 12 June 2018, time tbc
    ‘National Political Communities and International Institutions’
    Badia, Emeroteca
    Organizers: Leon Castellanos, Madeleine Dungy 

Check the Max Weber Programme website closer to the dates for updates on the MRW


Max Weber Programme Conferences 2018

  • 11th JMU-MWP Symposium, 
    10 April 2018
    Badia, Emeroteca
  • 12th Social Issues for Social Sciences Conference
    13-15 June 2018
    Badia Fiesolana

Check the Max Weber Programme website closer to the dates for updates on the conferences


Sam Moyn

  • 11 June 2018, 17:00-18:30
    Samuel Moyn (Yale Law School)
    Badia Emeroteca

Check the Max Weber Programme website closer to the dates for updates on the occasional lectures


Past Events

11 October 2017,
Badia, Refettorio

Introduction: Stefan Grundmann (EUI LAW Professor)
Chair: Valentin Jentsch (MWP LAW Fellow)

Since the principle ‘no taxation without representation’ became a formative feature of modern statehood in the 18th century, taxation and democracy seem to sit happily next to each other.

This pre-stabilized harmony looks particularly convincing when ‘congruence’ of those who vote in fiscal matters, those who pay the taxes and those who enjoy the benefits of public spending is given. But more and more situations become visible where the democratic process in fiscal policy does not guarantee a fully acceptable outcome.

On the one hand, protection of the individual taxpayer might require additional constitutional constraints, in particular in majority-minority conflicts.

On the other hand, powerful private players can encroach upon the democratic process, e.g. when factor mobility and tax competition put pressure on the nation state and its policy goals in the area of redistribution and the provision of public goods.

Last, but not least, one can ask whether the mere existence of substantial (direct) taxation is necessary to fuel political activism and to strengthen the citizens' identification with ‘their’ community.

About the speaker
Wolfgang Schoen studied law, business, and economics at the University of Bonn, 1979-1984, a doctorate in 1985, legal training 1985-1988, Graduate Assistant at the Institute for Tax Law of the University of Bonn 1988-1992, habilitation in 1992, Full Professor at the University of Bielefeld, Co-Director of the Institute for German, European, and International Commercial Law 1992-1996, Full Professor at the University of Bonn, Director of the Institute for Tax Law, Co-Director of the Center for European Commercial Law 1996-2002, offered a professorship by the Freie Universität Berlin in 2000 (declined), offered a directorship by the Max Planck Society in 2001 (accepted). Since 1 February 2002 a Scientific Member of the Max Planck Society and Director at the Institute; Vice President of the Max Planck Society (1 July 2008 - 5 June 2014); since 2 July 2014 Vice President of the German Research Foundation (DFG).


8 November 2017,
Badia, Refettorio

IntroductionKlarita Gërxhani (EUI SPS Professor)
ChairNevena Kulic (MWP SPS Fellow)

Status, which is based on differences in esteem and honor, is an ancient and universal form of inequality which nevertheless interpenetrates modern institutions and organizations. Given its ubiquity and significance, we need to better understand the basic nature of status as a form of inequality. 

Cecilia Ridgeways argues that status hierarches are a cultural invention to organize and manage social relations in a fundamental human condition: cooperative interdependence to achieve valued goals with nested competitive interdependence to maximize individual outcomes in the effort.

She considers this claim in relation to both evolutionary arguments and empirical evidence.  Evidence suggests that the cultural schema of status is two-fold, consisting of a deeply learned basic norm of status allocation and a set of more explicit, variable, and changing common knowledge status beliefs that people draw on to coordinate judgments about who or what is more deserving of higher status. 

The cultural nature of status allows people to spread it widely to social phenomena (e.g., firms in a business field), well beyond its origins in interpersonal hierarchies.

In particular, she argues, the association of status with social difference groups (e.g., race, gender, class-as-culture) gives inequalities based on those difference groups an autonomous, independent capacity to reproduce themselves through interpersonal status processes.  

About the speaker
Cecilia L. Ridgeway is the Lucie Stern Professor of Social Sciences in the Department of Sociology at Stanford University.

She is particularly interested in the role that social hierarchies in everyday social relations play in the larger processes of stratification and inequality in a society.  

A recent book on this theme is Framed By Gender: How Gender Inequality Persists in the Modern World (Oxford, 2011). 

She is Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a recipient of the American Sociological Association’s Cooley-Mead Award for career contributions to social psychology as well as its Jessie Bernard Award for contributions to gender scholarship. She is also a past President of the American Sociological Association.  


13 December 2017,
Badia, Refettorio

Chair: Victor Petrov (HEC)
Introduction: Federico Romero (EUI HEC Professor)

In The Cold War: A New History, Odd Arne Westad offers a new perspective on a century when great power rivalry and ideological battles transformed every corner of our globe. From Soweto to Hollywood, Hanoi, and Hamburg, young men and women felt they were fighting for the future of the world. The Cold War may have begun on the perimeters of Europe, but it had its deepest reverberations in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, where nearly every community had to choose sides. And these choices continue to define economies and regimes across the world.

This lecture sketches a new history of the global conflict between capitalism and communism since the late 19th century, and it will provide the larger context for how today’s international affairs came into being.

About the speaker
Odd Arne Westad is the S.T. Lee Professor of U.S.-Asia Relations at Harvard University, where he teaches at the Kennedy School of Government.  He is an expert on contemporary international history and on the eastern Asian region. 

Before coming to Harvard in 2015, Westad was School Professor of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).  While at the LSE, he directed LSE IDEAS, a leading centre for international affairs, diplomacy and strategy.

Professor Westad won the Bancroft Prize for The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times. The book, which has been translated into fifteen languages, also won a number of other awards.  Westad served as general editor for the three-volume Cambridge History of the Cold War, and is the author of  the Penguin History of the World (now in its 6th edition).  His book, Restless Empire: China and the World since 1750, won the Asia Society’s book award for 2013.

Professor Westad’s new book, The Cold War: A World History, has been published in 2017 by Basic Books in the United States and Penguin in the UK.  



17 January 2018,
Badia, Refettorio

Chair: Raquel Barradas de Freitas (LAW)
Introduction: Richard Bellamy (Director MWP)

The lecture addresses the question how best to understand populism and also what structural changes in modern democracies might facilitate its emergence. 

It then asks how professional politicians and citizens at large should deal with the challenge of populism.

Finally, it makes some suggestions as to how the structural problems associated with contemporary democracies might be addressed.

About the speaker:
Jan-Werner Mueller is a Professor of Politics at Princeton University, where he also directs the Project in the History of Political Thought. 

His most recent publication is What is Populism?, which has been translated into more than twenty languages.


14 February 2018,
Badia, Refettorio

Chair: Aydin B. Yildirim (RSC)
Introduction: Jean Pisani-Ferry (Tommaso-Schioppa Chair, RSC)

Populism may seem like it has come out of nowhere, but it has been on the rise for a while.

Economic history and economic theory both provide ample grounds for anticipating that advanced stages of economic globalization would produce a political backlash. While the backlash may have been predictable, the specific form it took was less so.

Rodrik distinguishes between left-wing and right-wing variants of populism, which differ with respect to the societal cleavages that populist politicians highlight.

The first has been predominant in Latin America, and the second in Europe. These different reactions appear to be related to the relative salience of different types of globalization shocks.

About the speaker
Dani Rodrik is Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy at the Harvard Kennedy School.

He has published widely in the areas of economic development, international economics, and political economy.

His current research focuses on the political economy of liberal democracy and economic growth in developing countries.

He is the recipient of the inaugural Albert O. Hirschman Prize of the Social Sciences Research Council and of the Leontief Award for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought.

Professor Rodrik is currently President-Elect of the International Economic Association.

His newest book is Straight Talk on Trade: Ideas for a Sane World Economy (2017). He is also the author of Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science (2015), The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy (2011) and One Economics, Many Recipes: Globalization, Institutions, and Economic Growth (2007).


Andrea Sangiovanni

22 November 2017, 17:00-18:30
Badia, Emeroteca

We often hear that the free movement of persons in the EU is ‘non-negotiable’, a ‘foundational pillar of the European project’. But why? Andrea Sangiovanni considered some common answers to this question and pointed out some of the difficulties they face. He then argued that the free movement of persons is best understood as a demand for justice and, indeed, for solidarity among member state peoples. 

About the speaker
Andrea Sangiovanni received his BA and PhD from Harvard University. Before joining the Philosophy Department at King’s College London (in 2007), he was a Randall Dillard Research Fellow at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge (2005-2007).

Professor Sangiovanni's main areas of research are in contemporary moral, legal, and political philosophy, though he also has interests in the history of early-modern and modern political thought. Current research interests include: international justice and law; human rights and the idea of dignity; the relation between principles and social practices; justice, legitimacy, and solidarity in the European Union; ‘Scottish’ constructivism; moral equality.


European Hobbes Society Workshop

14 December 2017, 17:00-18:30
Badia, Emeroteca

Interpretation is a process of reasoning to support an answer to a question as to the meaning of some object. 

How, then, can we explain the modern practice of lawyers and judges, who sometimes offer something that they call an ‘interpretation’ in support of a conclusion that is incompatible with the meaning of the object that they purport to interpret?

In such a case, whether the interpreter is (1) aiming to help the lawmaker to achieve the lawmaker’s real purpose, or (2) opposing the policy of the lawmaker, it would be accurate to describe what they are doing as reasoning to support a departure from the act of the lawmaker.

But I will argue that the common modern practice of calling such reasoning processes ‘interpretation’ is not necessarily deceitful or misconceived. It is to be understood by the analogies between such reasoning processes, and the core instances of interpretation. That is, the word ‘interpretation’ is used analogically, or homonymously.

The implication, which I will address, is that the word ‘meaning’ is, likewise, homonymous.

About the Speaker
Timothy Endicott has been Professor of Legal Philosophy since 2006, and a Fellow in Law at Balliol College since 1999. Professor Endicott writes on Jurisprudence and Constitutional and Administrative Law, with special interests in law and language and interpretation. He served as the Dean of the Faculty of Law for two terms, from October 2007 to September 2015. 

He is the author of Vagueness in Law (OUP 2000), and Administrative Law, 3rd ed (OUP 2015).

After graduating with the AB in Classics and English, summa cum laude, from Harvard, he completed the MPhil in Comparative Philology in Oxford, studied Law at the University of Toronto, and practised as a litigation lawyer in Toronto. He completed the DPhil in Law in Oxford in 1998. He was appointed by Universidad Carlos III de Madrid to a Cátedra de Excelencia during 2016.

He has been General Editor of the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies since 2015.


MWP ACO Conference 2018The MWP-ACO Conference gathered together representatives of European and national funding agencies, professors and young academics to discuss research schemes and grants available to international researchers in the Social Sciences and Humanities.

The speakers provided the audience with information about opportunities that are directly aimed at early-career scholars.

The last part of the conference focused on top tips for grant-writing. The presenters shared with the audience the details about application procedures and some practical tips to successfully apply for research funding.

Details of the schemes are uploaded on the ACO website.

Download the programme (pdf)



We are glad to receive and announce former and current MW Fellows’ publications. Due to restricted space this is but a selection of publications received in the last few months.

  • Sylvanus AfesorgborSylvanus Afesorgbor (RSC 2015-16) moved to a position as Assistant Professor at the Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics (FARE), University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada
  • Silvia CalòSilvia Calò (RSC 2015-17) moved to a position as Economist at the Central Bank of Ireland in Dublin
  • Emmanuel Comte Emmanuel Comte (HEC 2014-15, RSC 2015-16) has moved to a position as Research Fellow at the Department of Contemporary History, Vienna School of International Studies
  • Elise M. DermineurElise M. Dermineur  (HEC 2010-11) became Associate Professor of History at Umeå University, Sweden
  • Joannis GalariotisJoannis Galariotis (SPS 2015-17) has moved to a position as Teaching Assistant at the School of Transnational Governance at the EUI, Fiesole
  • Gisela HirschmannGisela Hirschmann (SPS 2015-17) has moved to a position as Assistant Professor at Leiden University
  • Robert LepeniesRobert Lepenies (Law 2013-15) has moved to a position as Research Scientist at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig, Germany
  • Annika Wolf Annika Wolf (LAW 2013-15) was appointed Professor for Corporate Finance and Project Finance, University of Applied Science Emden/Leer, and will be a Catalyst Capital Fellow in Insolvency Law, Western Law, Canada in January 2018.
  • Martina BozzolaMartina Bozzola (RSC 2015-16), with R. Finger and S. Di Falco, was awarded the prize for the best paper at the EAAE Congress in 2017, for their paper titled ‘Time variant risk preferences of farmers’.
  • Guillemette CrouzetGuillemette Crouzet (HEC 2015-16), Genèses du Moyen-Orient. Le Golfe Persique à l'âge des impérialismes (c. 1800-c.1914), Ceyzérieux, Champ Vallon, 2015 has been awarded the 2017 ‘Guy Lasserre’ book prize by the Académie Nationale des Sciences, Belles-lettres et Arts of Bordeaux (France).
  • Jane GingrichJane Gingrich (SPS 2008-09), has been awarded a five year ERC Starting Grant for her project titled SCHOOLPOL
  • Tobias LenzTobias Lenz (SPS 2015-16) was awarded a five year Leibniz-Junior Research Group Grant on ‘Sources and Consequences of Legitimation Strategies of Regional Organizations’. 
  • Gisela RühlGisela Ruehl (LAW 2007-08) was awarded the Certificate of Merit for high technical craftsmanship and utility to practicing lawyers and scholars for Jürgen Basedow, Giesela Rühl, Franco Ferrari, and Pedro de Miguel Asensio, Encyclopedia of Private International Law (Edward Elgar) by the American Society for International Law (ASIL).
  • Mavi RosaFirat Cengiz (LAW 2008-09) brought into this world super cute Mavi Rosa last year
  • Yarine Fawaz (ECO 2011-12) and Agustin Casas (ECO 2011-12) welcomed into this world the lovely Zakaria
  • JonasRobert Lepenies (SPS 2013-15) and Anna auf dem Brinke and siblings Louisa and Samuel welcomed with collective love Jonas (and his teddy) on 30 September 2017
  • OlgaLine Rennwald (SPS 2016-18) and Adrian Zimmermann brought into this world lovely smiley Olga born on 27 September 2017

The MWP Newsletter is a platform for current and former Fellows to share their news and short articles about their academic experience. Please send them to