Project on the Political Economy of Security
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The past decade has been rife with economic crises, austerity measures, and increased financial globalization. This economic climate has had serious and sometimes counterintuitive ramifications for national and international security. The study of the intersection of economics and security requires an interdisciplinary approach, involving insights and tools from the fields of Political Science, Economics, History, Sociology, and Anthropology, among others. Our goal is to expand and promote the study of the relationship between economics and security by fostering a network of academics and supporting policy-relevant academic research and teaching.
A research program of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, the Project on the Political Economy of Security (PPES) was founded in 2014, with the goal to advance academic and policy-relevant knowledge regarding the intersection of economics and security. Since then, PPES has invited numerous academics and graduate students from regional and international universities to present their ongoing research. These events have centered on presentations of academic work at various stages of completion, ranging from final papers to early manuscript workshops.
The unifying ethos of the subfield of political economy of security is that to understand security one must include political economy. In recent years, especially accelerating after the impact of the 2008 Financial Crisis, this intersection of study has grown in significance. In an era when many states face ballooning deficits, austerity measures, and increased financial globalization, understanding the relationship between political economy and international security is more important than ever. Currently, the subfield includes numerous distinct topics such as mobilization for war, the defense industrial base and defense spending, various forms of statecraft the most notable being economic sanctions, the rise and fall of major powers, the capitalist peace, peacemaking, migration, and climate change. The subfield has also expanded to incorporate many works in which security variables are used to understand the realm of political economics such as state building, tax structure, the distribution of wealth, and financial crises.
Kaija Schilde (Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania) is Assistant Professor at the Boston University Pardee School of Global Studies. Her primary research interests involve the political economy of security and transatlantic security. Her book, The Political Economy of European Security (Cambridge University Press, 2017) investigates the state-society relations between the EU and interest groups, with a particular focus on security and defense institutions, industries, and markets. Her research interests span multiple dimensions of the historical institutionalism of security organizations, including the causes and consequences of military spending; the relationship between spending, innovation, and capabilities; defense reform and force transformation; the politics of defense protectionism; and the international diffusion of internal and border security practices. She has published articles in the Journal of Common Market Studies, European Security, and the Journal of Peace Research.
Rosella Cappella Zielinski (Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania) is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Boston University who specializes in study the political economy of security. Her primary research interests include the mobilization of resources for war, defense spending, and conflict dynamics. She is the author of How States Pay for Wars (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2016) winner of the 2017 American Political Science Association Robert L. Jervis and Paul W. Schroeder Best Book Award in International History and Politics. Her other works can be found in the Journal of Peace Research, Conflict Management and Peace Science, and the Air and Space Power Journal.
Boston Area Working Group on the Political Economy of Security
There are a number of well-established scholars in the Boston area whose research lies at the intersection of political economy and national security including Sue Eckert at the Watson Institute at Brown University and Peter Dombrowski at the U.S. Naval War College.
To propagate the study of political economy of national security and facilitate courses at the graduate and senior undergraduate level we provide syllabi and general teaching materials, both from Boston University and other institutions, for interested scholars and graduate students.
General Political Economy of Security
- Rosella Cappella Zielinski, Boston University: “The Political Economy of National Security”
- Rosella Cappella Zielinski and Kaija Schilde, Boston University: Guns, Money, and Power
- Cindy Williams, MIT: U.S. Budgets for National Security
Foreign Economic Policy
General Political Economy of Security Teaching Materials
There are a myriad of works that review the subfield for graduate students. Jonathan Kirshner’s “Political Economy in Security Studies after the Cold War” and Norrin Ripsman’s “The Political Economy of Security: A Research and Teaching Agenda” both provide an excellent review of the subfield with the goal of drawing attention to the false distinction that political economy and security studies have existed separately. Susan Strange’s “International Economics and International Relations: A Case of Mutual Neglect” and Michael Mastanduno’s “Economics and Security in Statecraft and Scholarship” both explore why security studies and international political economy progressed as separate activities. Norrin Ripsman, Rosella Cappella Zielinski, and Kaija E. Schilde’s Oxford Handbook chapter “The Political Economy of Security” provides an overview of he key economic dimensions of contemporary United States security policy dilemmas in an age of austerity, movement towards multipolarity, and global popular discontent.
Ethan Kapstein’s The Political Economy of National Security: A Global Perspective, provides an overview of topics covered within the subfield that is excellent for undergraduates.
- January 29, 2020: Jonathan D. Askonas, The Catholic University of America, “Money is not a Weapons System.”
February 26, 2020: Peter Andreas, Brown University, “Killer High: A History of War in Six Drugs.”
April, 13 2020: Jairus Victor Grove, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, “Savage Ecology: War and Geopolitics at the End of the World.”
April, 15 2020: Michael Brenes, Yale University, “Defense Spending and Economic Inequality in the United States: A Historical Assessment.”
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- September 20, 2019: Jeffery Friedman “The Strange Political Logic of Defense Spending: Issues and Images in U.S. Foreign Policy.“
- October 2, 2019: Danielle Gilbert, George Washington University, “The Logic of Coercive Kidnapping.“
- November, 12 2019: Linda Bilmes, Harvard University, “War Finance.“
- December 4, 2019: Michael Beckley, Tufts University, “Red Flags: Assessing the Security Implications of China’s Economic Slowdown.“
- April 24, 2019: Neta Crawford, Boston University, “Blood and Treasure: Reconceptualizing the Costs of War.“
- April 10, 2019: Mariya Grinberg, University of Chicago, “Planning for the Short Haul: Trading with the Enemy in Wartime.“
- April 3, 2019: Jose Velasco, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, entitled “Why Mexico’s Illegal Drug Business Became So Violent? The Role of Market Overcrowding and State Regulation.“
- February 13, 2019: Andres Gannon, University of California San Diego, “Use Their Force: Interstate Security Alignments and the Distribution of Military Capabilities.“
- October 19, 2018: Jayita Sarkar, Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, “The Economics of American Nonproliferation Policy.“
- October 5, 2018: Xiaodon Liang, Fletcher School at Tufts University, “Arms Trade, Corruption and Political Finance.“
- September 28, 2018: Paul Musgrave,University of Massachusetts Amherst,”Federation of Liberty: International Society and Hierarchy Among United States.“
- June 5, 2018: Sascha Lohmann, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, “Unilateral Economic Sanctions in Transatlantic Relations.“
- April 25, 2018: Rosella Cappella Zielinski, Boston University, “Forged By War.“
- April 20, 2018: Andrea Gilli, Belfer Center, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and Mauro Gilli, Center for Security Studies, ETH-Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), “Run Loud, Run Shallow: Does North Korean Ballistic Missile Submarine Program Hold Water.“
- April 13, 2018: Nancy Hite-Rubin, The Fletcher School, Tufts University, “A Corruption, Military Procurement and FDI Nexus?“
- December 13, 2017: Sanne Verschuren, Brown University, “The Messy Politics of Arms Exports.”
- October 6, 2017: Andrew James, University of Manchester, “Assessing the Link between Dependence and Vulnerability: China in the U.S. Defense Supply Chain.”
- April 22, 2016: Stephen G. Brooks, Dartmouth University, “Evaluating Eight Middle-Range Theories from Smith’s Wealth of Nations.”
- April 8, 2016: Jonathan Caverley, MIT, “Who’s Arming Asia and Why it Matters.”
- February 26, 2016: Jonathan Kirshner, Cornell University, “Political Economy and International Security: The State of the Art.”
- April 24, 2015: Jennifer Erickson, Boston College, “The Politics of Arms Export Control.”
- April 22, 2015: Boston Area Working Group Launch, Boston University, Pardee School of Global Studies.
- April 17, 2015: International Studies Association Annual Conference, New Orleans, “The Political Economy of National Security: A New Research Agenda of Military Power, War and Peace in an Era of Austerity.”
- April 9, 2015: Mai’a K. Davis Cross, Northeastern University, “European Security Integration: The Role of a Military Epistemic Community.”