What’s Happening / What Happened? Reflections on the Election and Its Aftermath

November 6, 2020 - 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm (already occurred)
Virtual

This reflection on the post-election picture will feature Lawrence Douglas, the James J. Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought; Jakina Debnam Guzman, assistant professor of economics; and Eleonora Mattiacci, assistant professor of political science. Attendees will have the opportunity to share their reflections and ask questions.

Lawrence Douglas, chair of the Department of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought, is the author of seven books, including The Memory of Judgment: Making Law and History in the Trials of the Holocaust and The Right Wrong Man: John Demjanjuk and the Last Great Nazi War Crimes Trial, a New York Times “Editor’s Choice.” His most recent book is Will He Go? Trump and the Looming Electoral Meltdown in 2020. Douglas’ two novels are The Catastrophist, one of Kirkus' “Best Books of the Year,” and The Vices, a finalist for the National Jewish Book Prize. His commentary and essays have appeared in Harper’s, The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times; and he is a regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement and The Guardian (U.S.). Douglas is also a recipient of major fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Institute for International Education and American Academy in Berlin, and the Carnegie Foundation.

Jakina Debnam Guzman, assistant professor of economics at Amherst, uses econometric, experimental and network methods to explore questions in behavioral economics and public policy. Guzman works to understand the impact of economic policies and events on human thriving, where human thriving is broadly defined. To do this, Guzman introduces social and psychological features into existing economic frameworks and quantify the extent to which these features matter for economic outcomes and well-being. Their current projects address three themes: 1) consumer responses to anti-soda legislation and campaigns, 2) the primary science of subjective well-being measures and 3) learning and peer effects in social networks. Throughout their work, their methodological choice is question-driven—they use text analysis, survey experiments, laboratory experiments and network analysis methods in addition to more traditional econometrics. In teaching, Guzman prioritizes constructive critical inquiry into economic knowledge and methods, and particularly enjoys teaching behavioral economics both the introductory and the advanced levels.

Eleonora Mattiacci, assistant professor of political science at Amherst, focuses on international politics, with a special emphasis on security studies. Mattiacci’s research sheds light on an unexplored puzzle: under what conditions do technological advancements influence the competition between both state and non-state actors to achieve their preferred political outcome in the international arena? Grasping the role of technological change challenges our understandings of how this competition unfolds and sheds light on the increasingly volatile nature of its outcomes. In a recent publication, Mattiacci investigated why rebel groups spend precious resources on using social media during conflict, arguing that the rapid pace of communication made possible by access to social media technology uniquely empowers these actors to reach out internationally for support against the government. Mattiacci’s research aims at elucidating one crucial aspect of the contemporary international system, namely how, in a time and place when traditional inter-state conflict is perceived as less legitimate and effective, competition for the definition of the international political landscape has shifted to the dimension of technology.

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