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The Politics of Nation-Building

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Harris Mylonas 

I am an Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University interested in the processes of nation- and state-building, diaspora management policies, the politicization of cultural differences, and political development.

After completing my Ph.D. in political science at Yale University in 2008, I joined the George Washington University faculty in fall 2009. I teach undergraduate courses on Nationalism and European Integration, and graduate courses on Nation-Building in the Balkans, Nationalism and Nation-Building, and Qualitative Research Methods. For 2008-2009 and 2011-2012 academic years, I was an Academy Scholar at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies.

My book,The Politics of Nation-Building: Making Co-Nationals, Refugees, and Minorities was published by Cambridge University Press in 2012 and won The Peter Katzenstein Book Prize for the best first book on International Relations, Comparative Politics, or Political Economy in 2013,
the 2014 European Studies Book Award by the Council for European Studies which honors the best first book on any subject in European Studies published within a two-year period, and an honorable mention by the Rothschild Prize in Nationalities and Ethnic Studies Committee of Association for the Study of Nationalities in 2014.

In The Politics of Nation-Building I identify the conditions under which the ruling political elites of a state target non-core groups with assimilationist policies instead of granting them minority rights or excluding them from the state. I argue that a state's nation-building policies toward non-core groups - any aggregation of individuals perceived as an unassimilated ethnic group by the ruling elite of a state - are influenced by both its foreign policy goals and its relations with the external patrons of these groups. Through a detailed study of the Balkans, I show that the way a state treats a non-core group within its own borders is determined largely by whether the state's foreign policy is revisionist or cleaves to the international status quo, and whether it is allied or in rivalry with that group's external patrons. The theory is tested against a variety of alternative explanations on multiple levels of analysis: a dataset of nation-building policies towards all politically relevant non-core groups in the Balkans after WWI, archival evidence on case studies focusing on the treatment of a few non-core groups over time, and a microlevel subnational study of a religiously, culturally, and linguistically heterogeneous province.

My recent publications include an article in Comparative Political Studies on the impact of the international environment in which a state develops on its linguistic homogeneity and national cohesion (co-authored with Keith Darden); an article in Social Science Quarterly on the methodological problems in the study of nation-building; and an article in
Security Studies on the conditions under which stateless nationalist movements change the area they see as appropriately constituting the nation-state they aspire to establish (co-authored with Nadav G. Shelef).

I am currently working on a second book project - tentatively entitled The Strategic Logic of Diaspora Management Policies - analyzing why some states develop policies to cultivate links with and/or to attract back certain diasporic communities while others do not.

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