Graduate Student Publications & Accomplishments

This page lists recent publications and other significant accomplishments by our Ph.D. students. 

Recent publications and acceptances

Leach, Brittany R. 2021. "At the Borders of the Body Politic: Fetal Citizens, Pregnant Migrants, and Reproductive Injustices in Immigration Detention." American Political Science Review (firstview).

To analyze intersecting power relations in reproductive and immigration politics, I examine Garza v. Hargan (an appellate case regarding unaccompanied immigrant minors’ abortion rights) alongside systemic injustices in immigration detention (e.g., exposure to miscarriage risks, coerced sterilization, shackling). These injustices, I argue, emerge from conflicts and compromises over fetal citizenship within the American radical right. Although pro-life and anti-immigrant discourses assume opposing logics of citizenship, respectively interpreting immigrants’ fetuses as “fetal citizens” or “anchor babies,” these contradictions are neutralized by two techniques. Debilitation (systematic degradation of a disposable population) enables the appearance of fetal protection to coexist with de facto exposure to death, injury, and risk. Paralegality (quasi-legal policy making by enforcement agents) allows situational shifts in the meaning of fetal citizenship and adjustments to the pro-life/anti-immigrant compromise. Both obscure culpability for reproductive injustice, reinforce interlocking oppressions, and control women’s bodies in order to control the body politic’s demographic future.

Leach, Brittany R. 2021. "Abjection and mourning in the struggle over fetal remains." Contemporary Political Theory 20(1): 141–164.

Should the remains of aborted fetuses be treated as human corpses or medical waste? How can feminists defend abortion rights without erasing the experiences of women who mourn fetal death or lending support to pro-life constructions of fetal personhood? To answer these questions, I trace the role of abjection and mourning in debates over fetal remains disposal regulations. Critiquing pro-life views of fetal personhood while challenging feminists to develop richer and more compelling accounts of fetal remains, I argue that embracing the ambiguity and diversity of pregnant bodies can strengthen rather than undermine reproductive autonomy. I conceptualize reproductive autonomy relationally, contending that it entails the pregnant subject’s authority to construct as well as to interpret her lived body, including the fetus. Additionally, because the embodied self is inextricable from social context, reproductive autonomy also requires community support. To support these claims, I develop an account of pregnant bodies as ontologically multiple and advocate embracing abjection rather than suppressing it. Finally, I object to fetal remains regulations because they inscribe fetal grievability into the law.

Lin, Hsuan-Yu. 2021. “COVID-19 and American Attitudes toward U.S.-China Disputes.” Journal of Chinese Political Science

Noting that International Relations scholars have given little attention to the impact of pandemics on interstate relations, Lin's article examines “the extent to which the American public may be prone to favor policies that “punish” China via existing U.S.-China disputes, such as the South China Sea dispute and the U.S.-China trade war.” Using findings from an online survey, Lin finds that Americans who blame China for the outbreak of the novel coronavirus are more likely than those who do not blame China to support aggressive or punitive policies toward the Chinese state.

Kubinec, Robert, and John Owen. 2021. “When Groups Fall Apart: Identifying Transnational Polarization During the Arab Uprisings.” Political Analysis, 1-19. 

It is very difficult to know how international social linkages affect domestic ideological polarization because we can never observe polarization occurring both with and without international connections. To estimate this missing counterfactual, we employ a new statistical method based on Bayesian item-response theory that permits us to disaggregate polarization after the Arab Uprisings into domestic and transnational components. We collected a dataset of Twitter accounts in Egypt and Tunisia during the critical year of 2013, when the Egyptian military overthrew the Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. We find that the coup increased retweets among Egyptian ideological allies by 50% each day following the coup and decreased cross-ideological retweets by 25%. Tunisian Twitter communities also showed stronger intragroup retweeting although at lower levels than in Egypt. Counter-intuitively, our model shows that the additional polarization in Tunisia after the coup appears to have dampened further polarization among Islamists in Egypt.

Richard Burke. 2021. “Nationalization and Its Consequences for State Legislatures.” Social Science Quarterly 102(1)

Objective. I theorize that as nationalization increases, state legislatures will take less legislative ac-tions related to local topics and take more legislative actions on divisive, national issues. Method. Tomeasure nationalization I use election data as well as data on mass partisanship in a state. To mea-sure a state’s legislative agenda, I use data on legislative actions collected from LexisNexis. For mystatistical analysis, I use two-way linear fixed effects regression. Results. I find that as nationalization increases, legislatures take less legislative actions pertaining to education, transportation,and localities. I also find that as nationalization increases, Republican-controlled states increase thenumber of legislative actions related to abortion. Conclusion. Taken together, the article providesevidence that nationalization delocalizes the agenda and places on the agenda issues associated withthe national partisan conflict.


Potter, Philip B.K. and Chen Wang. 2021. “Governmental Responses to Terrorism in Autocracies: Evidence from China.” British Journal of Political Science.

Autocracies are widely assumed to have a counterterrorism advantage because they can censor media and are insulated from public opinion, thereby depriving terrorists of both their audience and political leverage. However, institutionalized autocracies such as China draw legitimacy from public approval and feature partially free media environments, meaning that their information strategies must be much more sophisticated than simple censorship. To better understand the strategic considerations that govern decisions about transparency in this context, this article explores the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) treatment of domestic terrorist incidents in the official party mouthpiece – the People's Daily. Drawing on original, comprehensive datasets of all known Uyghur terrorist violence in China and the official coverage of that violence, the findings demonstrate that the CCP promptly acknowledges terrorist violence only when both domestic and international conditions are favorable. The authors attribute this pattern to the entrenched prioritization of short-term social stability over longer-term legitimacy.

Burke, RichardJustin H. Kirkland, and Jonathan B. Slapin. 2020. “Party Competition, Personal Votes, and Strategic Disloyalty in the US States.” Political Research Quarterly. 

Legislators will sometimes vote against their party’s position on roll-call votes to differentiate themselves from the party mainstream and to accrue a “personal vote.” Research suggests that the use of rebellion to generate a personal vote is more common (1) among majority party members and (2) among ideological extremists. But these majority party extremists only have a strong incentive to rebel in situations where the accrual of a personal vote is electorally useful. In this manuscript, we evaluate variation in rebellion rates of state legislators in the United States conditional on ideological extremism and majority control. Using donation-based measures of ideology and roll call–based measures of party loyalty over a twenty-year period across more than 30,000 legislators, we find that when legislators have little incentive to differentiate themselves from their parties, this “strategic” party disloyalty among majority party ideological extremists is limited. However, when legislators have strong incentives to craft a personal vote, ideological extremists defect from their party more often than their moderate counterparts. In particular, we find greater evidence for this type of strategic party disloyalty in states with high intra-party competition and low inter-party competition and less evidence in states with high inter-party competition.

Leach, Brittany R. (2020). Whose Backlash, against Whom? Feminism and the American Pro-Life Movement’s “Mother-Child Strategy”. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 45(2), 319-328.

The American pro-life movement’s “mother-child strategy,” which emphasizes the alignment of fetal and maternal interests, complicates conceptions of backlash. Pro-life activists claim that it is now feminists who are engaging in backlash against the movement for “fetal human rights.” Although this claim does reflect the troublingly defensive position in which advocates of reproductive freedom currently find themselves, I contend that neither pro-life nor pro-choice activism can be adequately captured by the notion of backlash. I also argue that pro-life discourse has evolved from a backlash into a neopatriarchal campaign for a future that superficially reconfigures but ultimately deepens reproductive oppression. Because the pro-life movement has a complicated relationship with neoliberal feminism, I conclude that feminists should respond by developing new discourses about pregnant bodies and visions of a feminist future that offer an alternative to neoliberalism.

Yannick Dufresne, Anja Kilibarda, André Blais, and Alexis Bibeau. 2019. “Religiosity or Racism? The Bases of Opposition to Religious Accommodation in Quebec.” Nations and Nationalism, 25(2): 673-696.

Though Canada is internationally lauded for the success of its multiculturalism policies, debates about immigrant integration have arisen in recent years. These debates have turned on the extent to which religion should be accommodated in the public sphere. They have also been disproportionately concentrated in the French‐speaking province of Quebec. This paper asks whether this disproportionality is due to the Quebec population being particularly unfavourable to religious accommodation and, if so, whether this disfavour is grounded in racial antipathy toward newcomers or in the province's unique religious history. The findings show that while opposition to religious accommodation is higher in Quebec, and higher among francophones, it is rooted more in the low level of religiosity of the francophone population than in racial animus. These results emphasise the importance of correctly conceptualising distinctions between ethnocentric and culturally based sources of group conflict in multicultural settings such as Canada.