Book CoverMy first book, Economic Liberalism and Its Rivals, winner of the 2010 Ed A. Hewett Prize, draws upon the distinctive conditions created by the collapse of the Soviet Union to demonstrate that a set of shared economic ideas underpin states’ support for international economic institutions.  The book examines why the fifteen post-Soviet states, despite the many historical, institutional, and economic commonalities, have pursued such different courses with respect to membership in international trade institutions since they became independent in 1991: The WTO, the regional Customs Union, or autarky.   Relying on extensive use of closed ministerial archives, over 200 interviews with government officials in eight countries, and a novel cross-sectional time-series dataset that I created covering all fifteen countries over the first decade of independence, I chart the ideational changes in the region over time and show in detail how the changes in institutional membership result from shifts in ideas. The book combines a demonstration of historical contingency in the adoption or selection of economic ideas with a rigorous systematic analysis of the effects of those ideas on economic policy and institutional choice.  It makes the case that states’ institutional choices depend on the economic ideas of those who govern them, and that international institutions are formed on the basis of shared ideas. As a dynamic study of ideas and institutions over time, based on a relatively large number of countries in a controlled setting, the book presents both new theory and a distinctive method of research.


Keith A. Darden, Economic Liberalism and Its Rivals: The Formation of International Institutions Among the Post-Soviet States, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009)

Read the reviews in Foreign Affairs, Perspectives on Politics, Slavic Review, International Studies Review, Political Science Quarterly, and the Columbia Journal of International Affairs

Resisting Occupation: Mass Schooling and the Creation of Durable National Loyalties

My second book, Resisting Occupation: Mass Schooling and the Creation of Durable National Loyalties, to be published in 2013 by Cambridge, provides an explanation for the origins, durability, and effects of national loyalty.  Drawing on a nested research design and a broad range of primary sources, the book argues that the national loyalties instilled in a population during the introduction of mass schooling—when a community shifts from an oral to a literate mass culture—produce a powerful and durable national tie.  Once initially established through the schools, national identities are preserved and reproduced over time within families and reinforced by local communities in a way that makes these constructed identities virtually highly resistant to significant change or substitution over time.  Even as material or political incentives change, or as states attempt to assimilate these populations for the purpose of securing their allegiance, schooled populations show a remarkable tenacity in sustaining this initial national identity; and they will vote, conceal, kill, or die if need be, to insure that they and those like them are ruled by those they perceive to be their own kind.  As a result, if one knows the national content of the initial schooling in a community, one knows the most basic political loyalties of that community.  This gives one remarkable power to predict how that community will align even more than a century hence.

Empirically, the book traces political development across Eurasia to show that the national content that a population was originally taught can predict which regions of a country will try to secede, which will engage in insurgencies or resist foreign occupation when others acquiesce, and why some areas vote for nationalist parties when in other districts appeals to nationalism fail to mobilize popular support.

Download the book overview here.

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