Visiting Faculty for Spring Semester 2019

Professor Sebastian Bitar, Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor

Professor Sebastian Bitar is joining Amherst College from the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia.  Sebastian is the author of US Military Bases, Quasi-bases, and Domestic Politics in Latin America (Palgrave) and The first steps to human rights in Colombia (Universidad de los Andes press, in Spanish).  He is also co-editor of "New approaches for the study of Colombia's international relations".  Sebastian completed his PhD in International Relations from American University in Washington, DC.  He is teaching POSC 121 Happiness Across Civilizations.

Professor Constantine Pleshakov, Visiting Assistant Professor

Professor Constantine Pleshakov will be teaching POSC 301 Terrorism and Revolution:  A Case Study of Russia.

Professor Manuela Picq, Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor

Professor Picq will be teaching POSC 160 Sexualities in International Relations and POSC 411 Indigenous Women in World Politics.

Professor Masha Gessen, John McCloy '16 Professor of American Institute & Int'l Diplomacy

Professor Gessen will be teaching POSC 120 Trump and the Media.


New Political Science Courses Offered for Spring 2019

COLQ 238, Propaganda During Wars, Professor Mattiacci

POSC 120, Trump and the Media, Professor Gessen

POSC 121, Happiness Across Civilizations, Professor Bitar

POSC 152, Guns in American Politics, Professor Obert

POSC 215, Democratic Backsliding, Professor Corrales

POSC 230, Nuclear Structures and Political Leaders, Professor Mattiacci


International Relations Certificate Courses in Political Science Offered for Spring 2019

POSC 121, Happiness Across Civilizations, Professor Bitar

POSC 160, Sexualities in International Relations, Professor Picq

POSC 215, Democratic Backsliding, Professor Corrales

POSC 230, Nuclear Structures and Political Leaders

POSC 270, European Union Politics, Professor Paul

POSC 301, Terrorism and Revolution:  A Case Study of Russia, Professor Pleshakov

POSC 407, Contemporary Debates:  Gender and Right-Wing Populism, Professor Basu

POSC 411, Indigenous Women in World Politics, Professor Picq

POSC 470, International Migrations and Politics, Professor Paul

POSC 486, US-Latin America Relations, Professor Corrales



Professor Taubman Visits Gorbachev in Moscow

William Taubman, Bertrand Snell Professor of Political Science emeritus, recently traveled to Moscow where the Russian translation of his new book, Gorbachev:  His Life and Times, has just been published.  Invited by his Russian publisher, Corpus, Taubman spoke in Russian about his book at the "Non-Fiction" Book Fair (a mammoth multi-day gathering that proves that the Russian intelligentsia still can't get enough of books) and at the Mermorial Society ( a non-governmental organizaiton that tries to keep alive the memory of Stalin's victims).  Although Gorbachev tried to democratize the USSR and did more than any other world leader to end the Cold War, he was forced from power in 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed.  Since then he has been far more popular in the West than in Russia, but the audiences at Taubman's Moscow talks still regard Gorbachev warmly.  Interviewers on two leading Russian radio stations (Ekho Moskvy and Mayak) also treated Gorbachev with great respect, and so did young staffers at Taubman's hotel who, upon hearing about his book, said they didn't think they had been told the truth about Gorbachev in Russia.

The most touching event Taubman and his wife, Jane, Amherst professor of Russian emerita, attended was a luncheon at the Gorbachev Foundation hosted by the man himself, who left the hospital to be there.  The Taubman's had been wondering about Gorbachev's reaction to the book, which he has been reading in Russian.  Given his age and frailty, they thought that Gorbachev might be particularly likely to recoil at the criticism in the book (limited though it is).  A photo of Gorbachev and Taubman, taken at the lunch, revealed that he is pleased with the book.

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Amherst in Cartagena, Winter 2019

Professor Javier Corrales and Karl Loewenstein Visiting Professor Sebastián Bitar took eight students to Cartagena, Colombia, for one week during Interterm 2019.  Working with our local partner in Colombia, the University of los Andes (Cartagena campus), students attended lectures on:

  • The political economy of oil and the environment
  • Peace, security and the future of democracy 
  • The crisis in Venezuela and its impact on Colombia and U.S.-Latin America Relations
  • LGBT rights in the Americas
  • Drug trade, macroeconomic stability, and economic development.  

They stayed at a colonial house in Cartagena's historic center and enjoyed tours of the of the city, led by an architecture historian, a visit to the Cartagena oil refinery, one of the largest in South America, a boat tour of the harbor, and a guided visit to Cartagena's naval history museum.

The trip was sponsored by the Office of the Dean, in conjunction with the Global Education Office, as part of a new initiative at Amherst to supplement the classroom experience with education opportunities abroad led by Amherst faculty.   

Please view the video of Amherst in Cartagena, Winter 2019 at

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Professor Sebastian Bitar Radio Interview

Karl Loewenstein fellow Sebastian Bitar was interviewed by one of Colombia’s top news radio stations, RCN Radio, about his class Happiness Across Civilizations at Amherst College. Professor Bitar emphasized the multiple and diverse approaches to happiness in different cultures, religions, and scientific disciplines, and how they all can inform one another about what makes life better and happy.


 Professor Manuela Picq, Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor

In 2018, Professor Manuela L. Picq guest edited a special issue of the journal New Diversities on Indigenous Politics of Resistance: From Erasure to Recognition for the Max Planck Institute. She also launched a new book, Vernacular Sovereignties: Indigenous Women Challenging World Politics (University of Arizona Press, 2018). The book argues that Indigenous women have long been dynamic political actors shaping state sovereignty. Her research on Ecuador shows that although Kichwa women face overlapping oppressions, they are achieving rights unparalleled in the world and successfully shaped the first constitution in Latin America to explicitly guarantee the rights of Indigenous women, and the first worldwide to require gender parity in the administration of justice. This book weaves feminist perspectives with Indigenous studies as it expands conceptual debates on state sovereignty. Picq’s book was discussed in a book salon with Amrita Basu (Amherst College), Kiran Asher (UMass), and Ashley Smith (Hampshire College) at the Center for Humanistic Inquiry, then on a podcast of Imagine Otherwise. It is currently in its second edition.

Picq was nominated among a new generation of twenty public intellectuals across the Western Hemisphere by the New York based organization Global Americans. Her public engagement, which led her to be detained then expelled from Ecuador in 2015, was taken to the big screen with full feature documentary film by Director Clara Linhart: “La Manuela” is touring a variety of film festivals worldwide. In 2018, the government of Ecuador finally reversed the ban against Picq; she now alternates semesters at Amherst College and Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador. Last fall, she did fieldwork collaborating with the Legal Office for Indigenous Rights in Guatemala and taught a course on political ecology in the Galapagos islands. This semester she teaches Sexualities in International Relations and Indigenous Women in World Politics at Amherst College.