Democracy and the Thousand Little Horrors that are Tolerated in its Maintenance


Wednesday, April 20, 2011, 4:10pm to 5:30pm


124 Mt. Auburn Street, Suite 200-North, Cambridge, MA

Christian DavenportChristian Davenport, University of Notre Dame

About the Seminar
Most researchers have identified that political democracies are generally less repressive in their treatment of those under their rule relative to autocracies. This finding is robust across time, space, measurement, and methodological technique. What this work has missed, however, is how various forms of discrimination are perpetuated within democracies but in a different manner-they take place on a local level and are prevented from creating a “master” cleavage. When activities begin to aggregate these are framed in the only legitimate way that democracies can repress with the support of the citizenry: for example, in defense of the polity from politically threatening behavior. What this work also misses is the externalization (or exporting) of coercion from democracies to other locales in an effort to avoid domestic scrutiny. This seminar will lay out this argument and provide evidence from the United States, India, and Northern Ireland.

About Christian Davenport
Christian Davenport’s research interests include political conflict (from genocide to domestic spying), measurement, and racism. Between 1999 and 2008, he was on the faculty of the University of Maryland, where he directed the Minorities at Risk Data Project. He continues to direct two projects: the Radical Information Project and Stop Our States. He earned his Ph.D. in political science from Binghamton University in 1992.

Among Davenport’s publications are State Repression and the Domestic Democratic Peace (Cambridge University Press, 2007) and Media Bias, Perspective and State Repression: The Black Panther Party (Cambridge University Press, 2010). He also is the editor of two books: Repression and Mobilization with Carol Mueller and Hank Johnston (University of Minnesota Press, 2004), and Paths to State Repression: Human Rights Violations and Contentious Politics (Rowman & Littlefield, 2000). His articles have appeared in the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, Political Research Quarterly, Comparative Political Studies, and the Monthly Review.

Democracy Seminar Series
The Democracy Seminar Series brings distinguished speakers to Harvard Kennedy School for the academic year to address critical challenges facing democratic governance.