In this seminar we will discuss and seek to complicate frequently held assumptions about the particular characteristics of state power in history. How have states exercised their coercive powers in distinct historical moments and in different places? Why and how have some states exercised highly "legible" forms of power while in other places state power has remained less visible? How useful is it to characterize some states as strong and others as weak when we know that "strong" states have been weak in significant ways and states often understood as weak have exercised colossal forms of power.
Taking an example from your regional area of expertise (perhaps honing in on a grand, failed state-building experiment—an ostensible project for "human improvement" in James Scott's words) discuss how we might want to complicate our understanding of how states have exercised power and coercion and built their authority. How and in what ways have states been both strong and weak at the same time?
This seminar is made possible through generous funding from the Gochman Dean's Fund for Innovation and Development.