Yekaterina Oziashvili

BA, Barnard College. PhD, Graduate Center, City University of New York. Research and teaching interests include ethnic conflict, ethnofederalism, political parties and electoral systems in multinational states, constitutional and electoral engineering, American constitutional law, and, more broadly, American political development. Recent awards include Fulbright/IIE Dissertation Fieldwork Fellowship and the Social Science Research Council’s International Dissertation Research Fellowship. Conducted field research in Russia. Taught courses in comparative and American politics at City University of New York’s Hunter College and Baruch College. SLC, 2012–

Undergraduate Courses 2018-2019

Politics

Breakin’ Up Is Hard To Do: Secession and Exit in the “End of History”

Open , Seminar—Year

The end of history will be a very sad time. The struggle for recognition, the willingness to risk one’s life for a purely abstract goal, the worldwide ideological struggle that called forth daring, courage, imagination, and idealism will be replaced by economic calculation, the endless solving of technical problems, environmental concerns, and the satisfaction of sophisticated consumer demands. In the posthistorical period, there will be neither art nor philosophy, just the perpetual caretaking of the museum of human history. I can feel in myself, and see in others around me, a powerful nostalgia for the time when history existed. —Francis Fukuyama, The End of History.

In 1989, as liberal capitalist democracy appeared to be the only game in town, Francis Fukuyama predicted the end of history. For him, it was bound to be an age of boredom. Meanwhile, liberal and neoliberal theory proponents predicted greater economic interdependence and cooperation among states and other actors in the international system. They argued that as states accepted liberal democracy and capitalism, opened their borders to trade, and embraced the free market, everyone would benefit from economic prosperity and “liberal peace.” Ironically, the end of history has proven surprisingly eventful. The collapse of the Eastern Bloc has resulted in multiple armed conflicts in postsocialist Eastern Europe. Some observers have dismissed these conflicts merely as the price for joining the posthistorical world of liberal democracies. Yet, increasing disappointment with mainstream (neo)liberal parties and the growing popularity of antiestablishment parties, both on the right and on the left, do not fit comfortably with the narrative of postideological boredom. Neither are Brexit and heated debates over Grexit and separatist movements in Scotland and Catalonia compatible with (neo)liberal theories of convergence and of growing importance of international alliances. What is evident is that many of the tensions and fundamental contradictions of liberalism are far from having been resolved. The end of history has turned out to be a time of major political and economic upheavals. From global financial crises to the growing popularity of the radical right and the illiberal fascination with nativism, xenophobia, and racism, the West seems to be in the very midst of history after all—and the future looks more chaotic than ever. In this yearlong class, we will study the new rise of competing ideologies, nationalist movements, and exit from liberal alliances that threaten to tear Europe apart and attempt to understand their sources and potential implications. We’ll discuss how nationalist movements and the eventual collapse of the Eastern Bloc were associated, paradoxically, with the rejection of nationalism as a serious challenge to liberalism. We’ll ask why Eastern European secessionist and other nationalist movements were praised as liberalism- and democracy-promoting, while their Western counterparts are seen as reactionary, anti-democratic, and illiberal. Overall, we will attempt to understand the challenges that contemporary politics pose to liberal predictions of growth, peace, and international cooperation after the so-called end of history.

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Previous Courses

American Politics and the Constitution

Intermediate , Seminar—Spring

This course examines the development of American constitutional politics. It begins with an exploration of the impact of American political culture and early historical events on the Constitution’s text and its later interpretations. We will place special emphasis on the shifting meaning that Americans have attached to fundamental rights and liberties. Next, we will address some of the theoretical debates about the impact of the Constitution on our lives, its existence as both a written and unwritten document, and its intended and unintended effect on American democracy. Finally, we will examine some of the most visible contemporary political debates, including states’ rights, sexual and reproductive freedoms, equal access to education, and voting rights and electoral rules by learning about the politics of constitutional lawmaking and by reading some of the key Supreme Court opinions that shaped these issues. Throughout the duration of the course, we will attempt to answer the following questions: How does the Constitution shape our everyday lives? What effect, if any, do the Supreme Court justices’ political views have on American politics? How democratic is the US Constitution?

Faculty

International Political Economy: The Rise (and Fall) of Neoliberal Hegemony.

Open , Seminar—Spring

It is often said that all politics is economics. The aim of this course is to show that all economics is politics. Though economists and policymakers often present their economic policy decisions and views as neutral—based solely on abstract mathematical models, guided by the laws of nature (or the "invisible hand" of the market)—they are, in fact, driven by sometimes surprisingly transparent political ends and ideology. In this class, we will question the frequently proclaimed universality, neutrality, and inevitability of economic principles and policies through a close examination of neoliberal ideology and the ways in which it limits political discourse, reforms, and development. Specifically, we will examine the economic and political origins and consequences of shock therapy in Latin America and Eastern Europe, structural adjustment policies in countries suffering from economic crisis, and austerity measures imposed by the Troika on Greece and other states in the European Union. We'll also look at socioeconomic explanations for the recent rise of populist parties and political candidates. Some of the questions that we will explore include: What is the role of international economic institutions in domestic and international affairs? How do the interactions between international and domestic institutions and actors determine the production and distribution of scarce resources? And what is the relationship between capitalism and democracy, conditional lending and democratization, and international institutions and national sovereignty?

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Introduction to International Relations

Open , Lecture—Fall

War made the state, and the state made war. —Charles Tilly

This course will take a critical approach to the study of international relations. First, we will study the main theories (e.g., realism, liberalism, constructivism, Marxism), concepts (e.g., the state, anarchy, sovereignty, balance of power, dependency, hegemony, world order), and levels of analysis (systemic, state, organizational, and individual) in the field. Then we will apply those various theoretical approaches and levels of analysis to current international conflicts and crises in order to better understand the many ongoing debates about war and peace, humanitarian interventions, international institutions, and the international political economy. Some of the questions that we will explore include: Why do states go to war? Why do some humanitarian interventions succeed while others fail or simply never materialize? Why are some regions and states rich while others are poor, and how do these inequalities shape international relations? How do international organizations help to reinforce or moderate existing interstate political and economic inequalities?

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International Politics and Ethnic Conflict

Open , Seminar—Spring

Writing about the democratic transitions and ethnic conflicts that followed the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Holocaust survivor and writer Elie Wiesel pessimistically declared in his 2002 novel, The Judges, that “the malevolent ghosts of hatred are resurgent with a fury and a boldness that are as astounding as they are nauseating: ethnic conflicts, religious riots, anti-Semitic incidents here, there, and everywhere. What is wrong with these morally degenerate people that they abuse their freedom, so recently won?” Although written from a perspective of moral outrage, one would be hard-pressed to find a quote that more accurately illuminates both the sense of severity associated with ethnic conflict, broadly defined, and the absolute lack of understanding of its causes. Indeed, the end of the Cold War was seen by many conservative and liberal thinkers as “the end of history” and the beginning of a steady march toward global political stability and peace. Yet, despite an explosion in the number of electoral democracies, the frequency and intensity of bloody and brutal scenes of ethnic violence seemed to belie all expectations. The proliferation of such violence over the last 30 years has thus caused many scholars and policymakers to more critically examine their assumptions about the sources and potential solutions to the issue of ethnic conflict as an international problem. Despite significant evidence to the contrary, commentators like Wiesel—and even many politicians—still frequently attribute the sources of such strife to the existence of “morally degenerate people,” ethnic diversity, or the history of animosity between various ethnic communities. Looking at the problem from a more holistic perspective—which engages with the economic, cultural, and political motivations underlying ethnic conflict—this course will challenge these commonly-held assumptions about the cause of ethnic violence and explore some possible solutions for preventing further conflicts or resolving existing ones. We will devote special attention to the relationship/s between democratization and ethnic conflict, because democracy promotion is one of the key foreign policy goals embraced (at least rhetorically) by many democratic states, including the United States. Some of the questions that this course will address include: What are the main sources behind political conflicts deemed “ethnic”? What is the role of the international community in managing ethnic conflicts? What is the effect of democratization on territorial integrity and political conflict between ethnically divided communities? What constitutional designs, state structures, and electoral systems are most compatible with ethnically divided societies? What is the role of humanitarian interventions, and are they successful?

Faculty

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Russia and Its “Near Abroad”

Open , Seminar—Fall

The world is closing in | Did you ever think | That we could be so close, like brothers | The future's in the air | I can feel it everywhere | Blowing with the wind of change.

In 1991, just two years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the German rock band, Scorpions, recorded their famous single, “Wind of Change,” and the world cheered. Ten years later—despite the fact that Russia and most of the former states of the Soviet Union had suffered years of dispossession, poverty, declining populations, and plummeting life expectancy rates—the West continued to cling to the narrative of the triumph of democracy and liberalism. In 2001, George W. Bush said about Vladimir Putin: “I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul, a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country.” Today, however, this optimism is a thing of the past. Russia’s often contentious relations with its neighbors are one of the main sources of concern. The post-Soviet region remains unstable and, some argue, unpredictable. From the civil war in Georgia to more recent conflicts between Eastern and Western Ukraine and Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the region continues to be haunted by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the transitions that followed. Russia’s involvement in most of these conflicts is increasingly evident, yet reasons for its involvement remain disputed. More than 25 years after the breaking up of the Soviet Union, Russia remains a mystery to the West. This course will begin by examining the last years of the USSR. We will discuss different explanations for the Soviet breakup and transitions that followed. We will pay special attention to Russia’s transformation from one of the 15 Soviet republics to an independent state surrounded by 14 state-nations. We will trace Russia’s relations with the West and its post-Soviet neighbors through the era of the “crazy ’90s” to today. Using leading theories of international relations and various levels of analysis, we will attempt to understand Russia’s relations with its neighbors and the West.​

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International Political Economy: The Rise (and Fall) of Neoliberal Hegemony

Open , Seminar—Spring

It is often said that all politics is economics. The aim of this course is to show that all economics is politics. Though economists and policymakers often present their economic policy decisions and views as neutral—based solely on abstract mathematical models, guided by the laws of nature (or the “invisible hand” of the market)—they are, in fact, driven by sometimes surprisingly transparent political ends and ideology. In this class, we will question the frequently proclaimed universality, neutrality, and inevitability of economic principles and policies through a close examination of neoliberal ideology and the ways that it limits political discourse, reforms, and development. Specifically, we will examine the economic and political origins and consequences of shock therapy in Latin America and Eastern Europe, structural adjustment policies in countries suffering from economic crisis, and austerity measures imposed by the Troika on Greece and other states in the European Union. Some of the questions that we will explore include: What is the role of international economic institutions in domestic and international affairs? How do the interactions between international and domestic institutions and actors determine the production and distribution of scarce resources? And what is the relationship between capitalism and democracy, conditional lending and democratization, and international institutions and national sovereignty?

Faculty
Related Disciplines