News & Stories

Inside the Authoritarian State: Journal of International Affairs

Posted Dec 08 2011

The Fall/Winter 2011 issue of the Journal of International Affairs is now on bookshelves and Kindle.

After a year that saw the rise of the Arab Spring and the fall of several authoritarian rulers, this issue examines the factors of regime durability.

Editor-in-Chief Paul Fraioli (MIA ‘12) shares his insight on the selection of this topic.

Why is it important? Why now?

We chose this topic to provide context to what we’ve been seeing in the headlines for the last year—-demonstration after demonstration against authoritarian leaders calling for an opening of the political process. Rather than focus on the call for democratization, we wanted to focus on how these leaders manage to stay in power for so long.

There are authoritarian rulers all over the world. They come to power in different historical and cultural contexts. But when it comes to staying in power, they use many of the same tools. This issue of the Journal is important because it looks at regimes around the world and discusses these common threads. These are good things to know for countries that want to advance democracy, and also for those who live under authoritarian rulers and want to spur regime change.

What do you hope this Journal issue will add to the discourse and literature on international affairs?

This issue makes a unique contribution to the literature on authoritarianism, because some of our articles take a theoretical approach and use up-to-the-minute case studies. We also were lucky enough to recruit authors with first-hand knowledge of these regimes who present a detailed account of authoritarianism that is not typically available to readers in the West.

The Journal of International Affairs has been published since 1947 by students at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Each issue brings together a diverse group of scholars and practitioners to debate a topic of global concern.

Past contributors include Hannah Arendt, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Condoleezza Rice, Jimmy Carter, Noam Chomsky, Francis Fukuyama, and other leading thinkers in the field of international affairs.

Michelle Chahine (JIA Book Review Editor), December 9, 2011