I am an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Amherst College, where I run the IRLab @Amherst College. During the AY 2021-22, I will be on research leave.
My research challenges common wisdom on power in global politics. Too often in the study of international politics we conflate power with material capabilities, concluding that, as per Thucydides, “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” Instead, I research the ways in which actors that we traditionally think of as weak can force actors with greater material capabilities to behave differently, so as to prevail in the international arena. I focus in particular on two of the areas where the conflation of power and material capabilities is perhaps the most deleterious for our understanding of international relations: civil wars and nuclear proliferation.
My book, Volatile States in International Politics (Oxford University Press, Forthcoming), explores how power and interests combine to stir states toward inconsistent behavior, leading them to unpredictably shift toward more cooperation or conflict. Leveraging time series analysis, text analysis, and archival research, the book offers an in-depth account of why countries' treacherous foreign policies have often harmless origins, what this means for international politics, and what to do about it.
My research has been published in outlets such as British Journal of Political Science, International Interactions, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Peace Research, and Perspectives on Politics. My commentary has appeared on New Security Beat and The Conversation.
I earned my PhD in Political Science from The Ohio State University. Previously, I was the Karl Loewenstein Fellow at Amherst College. I tweet @eleomatt.