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Elliott School Research Professor wins major Indo-Pacific grants

Deepa Ollapally headshot


Elliott School Research Professor of International Affairs, Associate Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies; and Director of the Rising Powers Initiative, Deepa Ollapally, has been awarded grants from the U.S. Department of State’s Embassy in India and the Smith Richardson Foundation for two projects spanning from 2020-21.

Her project, “Shared Values and Worldviews in US-India Relations,” is the outcome of her Indo-Pacific expertise and the Sigur Center staff’s dedicated research & funding support to its affiliated faculty, scholars, and MA Asian Studies students. The grant is part of the DOS' efforts to strengthen ties between the U.S. and India through exchanges and programming that highlights shared values and promotes bilateral cooperation. American experts on U.S.-India relations will participate in a series of seminars and workshops organized by the Sigur Center and Christ University in Bangalore - India’s Silicon Valley. The partnership will connect both American and Indian experts across a wide swath of industries to reach a more multifaceted understanding of the challenges faced by both countries.  

Dr. Ollapally's other project, “Big Power Competition for Influence in the Indian Ocean Region,” will be administered by the Rising Powers Initiative and result in an eponymous book. Dr. Ollapally will assess the changing patterns of geopolitical influence by major powers in the Indo-Pacific during the 2010s, focusing on the rivalry between the U.S. and China, in addition to the relationships between states, such as India, Japan, Australia, Singapore, and others in the Indian Ocean region. She plans to conduct extensive fieldwork in Asia to decipher the way in which the “balance of influence” is heading, hedging, and China's unprecedented rise in the Indian Ocean. Dr. Ollapally expressed that "There's a profusion of work coming out on the Indo-Pacific, but it is overly focused on the Pacific side, giving short shrift to the Indian Ocean side. I want to fill that gap in the literature and policy orientation.”

New in Research

Harris Mylonas publishes commentary on new book "Nation Building"

Nation Building


In his commentary of Andreas Wimmer’s new book Nation Building, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Harris Mylonas praises the book's effort to explain an “empirical puzzle”: why some states, like Somalia or Belgium, fall apart, while others, like Botswana or Switzerland, strengthen and come together. Moving past the explanatory power of voluntary organizations, public good provision, and linguistic integration, Mylonas applauds Wimmer’s choice to sift through history in order to identify the lasting legacies of state capacity by highlighting the importance of population density and topography. 

However, in the interest of generating spirited debate, Mylonas also provides critical thoughts on the broadness of Wimmer’s definition of successful nation building, and argues that underlying factors make the phenomenon increasingly complex. Mylonas also comments on the contradictions that can be raised from Wimmer’s view of certain mechanisms that, while not necessary, may be sufficient on their own for successful nation-building.

Mylonas’ full commentary can be found here. Andreas Wimmer’s book Nation Building: Why Some Countries Come Together While Others Fall Apart can be found here.

Sharon Squassoni publishes edited volume on nuclear negotiations

Learning from Each Other


In Learning From Each Other: How Iran and North Korea Approach Nuclear Negotiations, Research Professor of the Practice of International Affairs Sharon Squassoni provides a look into the debate revolving policy making through the lens of both Iran and North Korea.

Within a set of essays, Squassoni seeks to provide insight into a variety of questions: Do North Korea and Iran compare and contrast their relations with the United States? How do they view their ability to negotiate positive outcomes with the U.S.? Is there evidence of analysis in North Korean state-run media of Iran’s experience negotiating with the U.S., the EU-three, Russia, China, and the IAEA? And conversely, is there evidence in Iranian media for analysis of North Korea’s negotiations with the U.S., Russia, China, South Korea and Japan? The collection seeks to assess the lessons both states may have learned over time through interactions with the U.S.. The hope of this collection is that future U.S. policies can be crafted with more sensitivity to how they are perceived by countries beyond those targeted in the negotiations at hand. 

The essay collection is part of a broader project funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, under the Nuclear Boundaries Initiative


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