Alexander Cooley is the Claire Tow Professor of Political Science at Barnard College and Director of Columbia University's Harriman Institute (2016-18). He also serves on Columbia University's Tenure Review Advisory Committee (2017-18).
Professor Cooley’s research examines how external actors have shaped the development and sovereignty of the former Soviet states, with a focus on Central Asia and the Caucasus. He is author and/or editor of six academic books:
- Logics of Hierarchy: The Organization of Empires, States and Military Occupations (Cornell 2005; cowinner of 2006 Marshall Shulman Prize)
- Base Politics: Democratic Change and the US Military Overseas (Cornell 2008, Reviews: JFQ, APSR, PSQ, and Military Review);
- Contracting States: Sovereign Transfers in International Relations (Princeton 2009), co-authored with Hendrik Spruyt.
- Great Games, Local Rules: The New Great Power Contest for Central Asia (Oxford 2012),
- Ranking the World: Grading States as a Tool of Global Governance (Cambridge 2015), co-edited with Jack Snyder of Columbia University.
- Dictators without Borders: Power and Money in Central Asia (Yale 2017), co-authored with John Heathershaw.
Great Games examines US-Russia-China competition for influence in Central Asia and was described by Asia Policy as "possibly the most cogent critique of post-Cold War orthodoxy published to date." Reviews: NYRB, Asia Policy roundtable, Foreign Affairs, Survival, LSE Review of Books.His most recent book Dictators without Borders explores the rise of "extraterriorial authoritarianism" and how Western professionals support the transnational networks of Central Asian elites. CFR podcast, RFE/RL podcast, Foreign Affairs, Times Literary Supplement.
In addition to his academic research, Professor Cooley serves on several international advisory boards and has testified for the United States Congress and the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Cooley's opinion pieces have appeared in New York Times, Foreign Policy and Foreign Affairs and his research has been supported by fellowships and grants from the Open Society Foundations, Carnegie Corporation, and the German Marshall Fund of the United States, among others. Cooley earned both his MA and Ph.D. from Columbia University.