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The Department of Politics and International Relations is pleased to have exceptional students who are now on the job market. If you have any questions, please contact the individual candidate.

International Relations PhD Candidates and Recent Graduates 

  • Christine Bianco, PhD in International Relations, Spring 2021


      Curriculum Vitae

      Program: International Relations

      Dissertation Chair: Harry Gould

      Dissertation Committee Members: John Oates, Hannibal Travis, and Susanne Zwingel

    Dissertation Title: The Creation Of International Crimes: How Narratives Shape Our Understanding Of The “Most Serious Crimes Of International Concerns"

    Research Interests: International Criminal Law, Human Rights, International Norms, Law of the Sea, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

    Dissertation Abstract: The Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court labels the crimes within its jurisdiction as “the most serious crimes of international concern.” This characterization creates a hierarchy of international issues in which those under the jurisdiction of the court are portrayed as more important than those that are not. The Statute’s framing implies a permeance and absolutism to the distinction between international issues that obscures the political contestation behind this topic. My dissertation seeks to understand how the international community makes the distinction between what is criminal and what is merely wrong. To do so, I examine the discourse that surrounds the destruction of cultural and religious property, sexual and gender-based violence, and the worst forms of child labour. These three case studies are used to shed light on continuity and change within the “most serious crimes” as well as exclusion from this category. Two different narratives emerge from the discourse. The first is of a rogue and uncivilized governing actor purposely causing suffering in order to harm some ideological, political, or military opposing force. In doing so, they engage in shocking and abnormal forms of violence, violating the old and sacred laws of the international community. The second tells of a benevolent government working with the international community to establish new protections to fight against commonplace suffering to better humanity. The former lends itself to criminalization and the latter lends itself to non-criminalized codification.

    Email Address:

  • Cliff Ubba Kodero, PhD in International Relations, Summer 2021


       Curriculum Vitae

       Program: International Relations

       Dissertation Committee Chair: Dr. John Clark

       Dissertation Committee Members: Dr. Jin (Julie) Zeng, Dr. John Oates, Dr. Hilary Jones

       Research Interests: Global governance, International Organizations, International political economy, Development studies, Africa and African diaspora, International relations theory

    Dissertation Abstract: Using discourse analysis, my dissertation advances new arguments about regional integration in Africa. It sheds light on regional economic communities (RECs) for small-economy states in Africa by examining the benefits and drawbacks of participating in such regional groups for both the small countries themselves and their ruling regimes. The study suggests that RECs, rather than being agents of economic development, facilitate regime-boosting agendas of neopatrimonial regimes, promote a false sense of sovereignty, and entrench the political elite's capture of the states. The significance of my study is threefold. First, it suggests that RECs provide an extension of neopatrimonial networks, which expand state-capture by specific political elites at regional levels. Neopatrimonialism refers to the lack of distinction between private and public interests in the state apparatus. For instance, in Africa's neopatrimonial states, the elites' political and economic interests largely determine state interests. Although the state appears to exist as a stand-alone neutral legal entity, private interest groups, who use their power positions to amass wealth and influence, often engulf it. The political elites' regional interests become the drivers of their states' official foreign policies. Second, my study contextualizes regionalism. It emphasizes that RECs are constructions of a state's new identities, as visualized by the existing regimes. RECs offer opportunities to orient national identities, construct solidarity narratives, and to pursue diplomatic efforts that entrench the governing regimes' ideological legitimacy to rule. Lastly, my research challenges the assumption that RECs will solve the small states' development problems.


    Professional Websites and channels: The Ubba Kodero Show ; LinkedIn; ResearchGate

Political Science PhD Candidates and Recent Graduates 

  • Garrett Pierman, PhD in Political Science, Expected 2021


       Curriculum Vitae

       Program: Political Science

       Dissertation Committee Chair: Dr. Clement Fatovic

       Dissertation Committee Members: Dr. Alexander Barder, Dr. Ronald Cox, Dr. Whitney Bauman

    Title: A Future of Our Own Making: Technological Possibilities For Democracy

    Short Abstract: Early enthusiasm for the potential of digital platforms to invigorate and transform democracy has given way to concerns about whether digital politics is necessarily democratic. Broadly, this study seeks to examine how—and if—the internet functions as a public space conducive to democratic practices. The web offered something new- a means by which people could not only consume media (as was largely the case with radio and television) but could themselves become creators of content, critics, and commentators. This interactivity through the technological marvels of the internet could have resulted in a flourishing of democratic practices across the boundaries of class, race, gender, and geography. However, the construction of platforms such as Facebook and twitter, and the ways in which users inhabit them, may have less democratic results than the optimists hoped. With the increasing extent to which politics is conducted on the internet, through online platforms, scholars have begun to question the democratic potential of the web. The study surveys existing literature on digital deliberative democracy, then reads a history of the internet through Actor Network Theory, Gilles Deleuze, and others to theorize that the contemporary internet is an actor-network with capitalist internal resonances that empowers corporate interests to the detriment of everyday peoples’ ability to empower themselves and each other to participate in democratic deliberation.

    ORCID webpage: https:/orcid.org0000-0003-0157-405X


  • Daniel I. Pedreira, PhD in Political Science, Expected 2022


      Curriculum Vitae

      Dissertation Committee Members

      Dissertation Committee Chair: Dr. Dario V. Moreno

      Dissertation Committee Members: Dr. Tatiana Kostadinova, Dr. Eduardo A. Gamarra, and Dr. Matthew C. Mirow

    Research Interests: Executive branch politics, Cuban Politics, Latin American politics, democratization, authoritarianism.

    Dissertation Title: Semi-Presidentialism in Cuba: Institutionalization and Personalization under the 1940 Constitution

    Dissertation Abstract:

    The drafters of Cuba’s 1940 Constitution codified a semi-presidential system in the hopes of avoiding “the perils of presidentialism” that plagued the Cuban Republic’s early decades. Yet Cuba’s semi-presidential system lasted for less than twenty years. This dissertation seeks to determine the extent to which Cuba’s executive branch was institutionalized or personalistic in nature. Covering each presidential administration during the period, this dissertation takes a quantitative and qualitative approach towards analyzing several defining features of Cuban semi-presidentialism, including presidential and ministerial decrees, mentions of executives and institutions in newspaper and magazine headlines, the different roles of executive branch actors, and caricature themes in relation to different administrations. Notably, this dissertation represents the first study conducted on semi-presidentialism in Cuba. This dissertation will also impact the broader field of political science by contributing to the existing literature on semi-presidentialism. The findings may provide insights into why democracy collapsed in Cuba after only two decades of semi-presidentialism. The functions of semi-presidentialism under both democratic and authoritarian regimes during this period can offer useful comparisons into similarities and differences across regime types. In doing so, they can also shed light on prospects for democracy’s return to Cuba under the current authoritarian regime.

    Professional Website:

  • Jermaine Young, PhD in Political Science, Expected 2022


       Curriculum Vitae

       Dissertation Chair: Dr. Clement Fatovic

       Diseertation Committee members: Dr. Barry Levitt; Dr. Alexander Barder;     and Dr. Percy Hintzen

       Dissertation Title- Normalization of the Exception in Jamaica over time: The Nexus of Emergency Powers and Criminal Justice.

    Short Abstract- Since antiquity, the study of emergency powers has tended to revolve around the dichotomy between norm and exception, suggesting that governments follow established rules of law in ordinary circumstances and resort to extraordinary measures only in times of genuine emergency. My dissertation challenges this dichotomy by analyzing Jamaica’s colonial and post-colonial experiences with emergency powers to show continual legal violations rooted in state violence for upholding the rule of law. Utilizing a qualitative case study methodology consisting of primary and secondary sources, it focuses specifically on States of Emergencies (SOEs) and Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs) for criminal justice ends in the 2010s . This study shows that SOEs and ZOSOs involve unlawful mass extended detentions, renditions, and the derogation of fundamental rights of Jamaicans (primarily those from a lower socio-economic background) and other forms of state violence that echo illiberal colonial practices. Contrary to earlier theorizations, the dissertation demonstrates that the boundaries between norm and exception in Jamaica have eroded in ways that are inconsistent with the country’s stated commitments to the rule of law and democratic values.

     Research Interests- Emergency Powers, Post-Colonial Theory, Prime Ministerial Power, Foundations of Political Thought

     Website: personal one being developed. FIU-