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Jake Greear - Political Theory | Noora Lori - Comparative Politics | Michael McCarthy - Comparative Politics | Nobutaka Otobe - Political Theory

Jake Greear

Dissertation Title: Walking, Working and Tinkering: Perception and Practice in Environmentalism

Committee: Jane Bennett, William E. Connolly, Jennifer Culbert, Doug Mao, Anne Eakin Moss

Defense Date: October 11, 2013

Dissertation Summary:
My dissertation examines the privileged status within environmental political thought of certain concrete "practices of the self” that are held up as ways of enacting, restoring, or cultivating a better relationship to the natural world.  Specifically, I read Henry David Thoreau on walking, Wendell Berry on farming, Martin Heidegger on work, and Aldo Leopold on scientific field ecology.  From these traditional eco-philosophical practices I turn to “tinkering” as an alternative mode of ecological praxis, taking inspiration from some contemporary attempts to renegotiate embodied interactions with the built environment, such as parkour, urban agrarianism, and steampunking.  More broadly, my research is focused on exploring the public philosophy of environmental politics, with a particular focus the intertwined histories of scientific ideas, technological innovation, political thought, and environmental consciousness.  My publications include an essay on Hannah Arendt’s political thought and ecological geopolitics (forthcoming in The Ashgate Research Companion to Modern Theory, Modern Power, World Politics: Critical Investigations).

Curriculum Vitae


Noora Lori

Dissertation Title: Unsettling State: Non-Citizens, State Power, and Citizenship in the United Arab Emirates

Committee: Michael Hanchard, Kellee Tsai, Erin Chung, Robert Vitalis (external, University of Pennsylvania)

Defense Date: October 14, 2013

Dissertation Summary: This dissertation examines the development and enforcement of citizenship and immigration policies in the United Arab Emirates to revisit an enduring puzzle in comparative politics: why are resource-rich states more likely to be authoritarian?  The dominant explanation for the ‘oil curse’ assumes that authoritarianism emerges because regimes ‘purchase’ the political acquiescence of their citizens by redistributing rents, ignoring the much more fundamental question of who will be included in the group of beneficiaries. I argue that oil facilitates the creation of authoritarian power structures because when political elites gain control over fixed assets, they can more effectively erect high barriers to political incorporation. By combining stringent citizenship policies with temporary worker programs, political elites can develop their resources while concentrating the redistribution of assets to a very small percentage of the total population. In the UAE this policy combination has been so effective, that after four decades, non-citizens comprise 96 percent of the domestic labor force. Using archival and ethnographic methods, I show how the boundaries of the UAE’s citizenry became increasingly stringent as oil production was converted into revenue. 

Curriculum Vitae


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Michael McCarthy

Information coming soon...

Nobutaka Otobe

Dissertation Title: Stupidity in Politics: Its Unavoidability and Potentiality

Committee: William E. Connolly, Jane Bennett, Paola Marrati (Humanities Center and Philosophy)

Defense Date: December 2012

Dissertation Summary: Stupidity permeates our perception of politics. However, few studies on politics focus on stupidity. My dissertation bridges this gap, exploring the problem and indispensability of stupidity. Drawing upon Gilles Deleuze’s remarks on stupidity in Difference and Repetition, I first locate the problem in politics. I argue that stupidity is an ineluctable problem that conditions our experience of politics and thinking. What stupidity reveals is the political character of thinking. Then, I examine the writings of some thinkers in the history of political thought (Rousseau, Kant, and a Japanese thinker, Kobayashi), who attempt to efface stupidity in their arguments about individuality, judgment, and regret. I show how stupidity problematizes these edifices of thought. Finally, I present a mode of political theorizing that acknowledges the potentiality of stupidity. By doing so, we enrich political theory, democratic moments in politics, and our ordinary lives.

Curriculum Vitae



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