Miller Center

Miller Center Fellows, 2013 - 2014

The Miller Center National Fellowship Program has awarded nine fellowships for the 2013–2014 academic year. The Fellowship grants each Fellow a one-year $22,000 stipend to support her or his research and writing which may focus on American politics, public policy, foreign policy, or the impact of global affairs on the United States. Along with the fellowship grant, the Miller Center helps the fellow choose a senior scholar who serves as a "Dream Mentor" throughout the fellowship year.

“The New Politics of Taxation: The Republican Party and Anti-Tax Positions”

Laura Blessing

Laura Blessing, Politics, University of Virginia

Mentor: Andrea Louise Campbell, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Laura Blessing’s dissertation investigates the development of our current tax politics.  In the mid-1950s to mid-1970s a balanced budget consensus and low levels of politicization were apparent.  Since then, these have changed, with profound consequences.  This transformation has been caused, not by ideological or economic factors, but rather by a national Republican party-building strategy.  This is evident in a number of different measures, both qualitative and quantitative, from roll call votes and party platforms to the coordination strategies of national party leaders.  The party has used an explicitly anti-tax strategy to win elections and build a powerful coalition of many otherwise disparate groups. 

These developments will be addressed in several chapters that highlight different institutional venues as well as outside drivers and enablers of this change.  This policy evolution begins on the state level with the tax revolts, providing an opportunity for supply-side politicians and academics to claim a new anti-tax mantle for Republican electoral gain.  In the Presidency and Congress, stark, not gradual, Republican shifts are evident by 1980.  The Democrats do not follow an equal and opposite pattern, making the GOP formidable agenda-setters in this arena. Finally, the incredibly diverse anti-tax coalition the GOP has built includes those who wish to shrink the welfare state, economic populists, libertarians, and a number of socially conservative groups, particularly the Christian Right.  This GOP position-taking is no mere rhetorical flourish.  Republicans have been very successful at lowering taxes, a policy that has profound consequences for governance, democratic accountability, and the polity.

“Constitutional Resistance in the States, 1880–2010”

Sean Beienburg

Sean Beienburg, Politics, Princeton University

Mentor: John Dinan, Wake Forest University

Sean Beienburg is a graduate student in Politics at Princeton University.

States’ rights claims and efforts to evade, ignore, and resist federal constitutional development are playing an increasingly central role in our political climate. Should we see such state activity as a normal part of American political development, or a dangerous aberration recalling the divisions before the Civil War? Are such efforts primarily the seeds of southern resistance to racial integration, or do they have a more honorable, broader legacy?

This dissertation seeks to understand such developments by providing an account of state constitutional resistance since 1880. Specifically, it asks three related questions:  First, which issues provoke constitutional backlash among legislators, governors, and electorates- how often does it happen? Second, what kind of resistance occurs within these issues—from cheap resolutions all the way to much rarer instances of nullification? Third,  what drives the intensity of such resistance?  Interest groups? Parties? Particular states or regions? Idiosyncratic political figures? In short, this project aims to better understand the historical legacy of state participation in constitutional politics in order to make sense of its current manifestations.

“From the Un-Mixing to the Re-Mixing of Peoples: Understanding U.S.-Led Support for Minority Returns Following the Ethnic Conflict in Bosnia”

Rebecca Brubaker

Rebecca Brubaker, International Politics, University of Oxford

Mentor: Susan Hyde, Yale University

Rebecca Brubaker’s dissertation focuses on the U.S.-led response to the 1990s ethnic conflict in Bosnia.  Her work illuminates the multilateral attempt to reverse the ethnic conflict through the return of displaced people.  The policy emphasis on “re-mixing” people, interpreted through a policy of minority returns, and supported and coordinated on an international scale, is unprecedented in contemporary history.

Brubaker’s dissertation asks: why did international actors, especially the U.S., pursue a return policy in the Bosnian case?  At first glance, the choice seems counterintuitive.  The policy was expensive.  Post-1989, the West no longer needed to “keep Yugoslavia afloat.” Furthermore, reversal required a degree and duration of U.S. and international involvement that, at the time, was thought to be politically, militarily, and financially impossible.

Brubaker argues that the reversal-through-return policy emerged as a practical fix to a series of pressing political problems.  The re-mixing policy was justified, however, on normative grounds, or, in other words, on generally held expectations about what was right and good.  Though not the original incentive for action, these normative justifications took on a life of their own and ended up constricting future policy options regarding displacement and return in Bosnia.

Rebecca is a doctoral candidate at the University of Oxford and a Fellow at Yale University’s International Security Studies center.

“The Rise of Antigovernment Governance: The Politics of Federal Economic Development and Local Business Mobilization, 1938–1994”

Brent Cebul

Brent Cebul, History, University of Virginia

Mentor: James Sparrow, the University of Chicago

Cebul’s dissertation is a social and political history of local business leaders’ perceptions of the federal government’s proper role in fostering community and economic development from the New Deal through the early 1990s. The project explores how business constituencies in the rural Sunbelt and deindustrializing Rustbelt created kindred public-private institutions that benefited from and sought to expand local, state, and federal developmental capacities. While they increasingly wielded antigovernment or free market rhetoric to attack certain forms of public intervention, the project suggests how, in contrast to their national lobbying associations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, local business leaders consistently called for a vigorous public role in stimulating free markets, private enterprise, and economic growth. By illuminating the intertwined themes of localism and the evolution of fiscal federalism through the lens of the development policies of the New Deal, the Great Society, and Nixon and Reagan’s New Federalisms, the dissertation challenges assumptions about the decline of liberalism, the rise of conservatism, and business leaders’ embrace of neoliberal policy prescriptions. 

Cebul is a PhD Candidate in the University of Virginia's Corcoran Department of History. He is also an associate fellow at UVa's Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture where he is helping to develop the Thriving Cities Project. His writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Shadowing the Hegemon? National Identity, Global Norms, and the Military Trajectories of Rising Powers

Adam Liff

Adam Liff, Politics, Princeton University

Mentor: Alastair Iain Johnston, Harvard University

Liff is a Ph.D.  candidate in the Department of Politics at Princeton University, where his primary fields of academic inquiry are International Relations Theory and Security Studies. His recent publications include peer-reviewed articles in Journal of Strategic Studies and The China Quarterly; articles in Foreign Policy, The Diplomat, PacNet, and Asia-Pacific Bulletin; and several book chapters in edited volumes. Liff’s previous affiliations include visiting academic posts at Peking University and the University of Tokyo; as well as professional affiliations at the RAND Corporation and Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE). He is professionally proficient in Mandarin Chinese and Japanese. Liff received his B.A. from Stanford University (with Distinction, With Honors, and Phi Beta Kappa) and his M.A. in Politics from Princeton University.

Liff’s dissertation seeks to develop a general theory of great power emergence by explaining variation in the military trajectories of rising powers in the modern era, past and present. By analyzing data gathered on seven cases of rising powers, including during eighteen months of field work in mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, and the United States, Liff argues against the prevailing materialist conventional wisdom that rising powers’ major strategic choices are in all cases shaped primarily by shrewd calculations of the state’s economic and security interests. Rather, he shows that in many cases of historical and theoretical significance, non-material variables—above all, national identity and prevailing contemporaneous global norms of appropriate ‘great power’ behavior—have powerful and independent effects on rising powers’ decisions about military policy

“Science, Technology and Diplomacy: American, British, and French Efforts to Extract German Science and Technology During and Following the Second World War”

Douglas O’Reagan

Douglas O’Reagan

O’Reagan is the Ambrose Monell Foundation-funded Fellow.

Mentor: James G. Hershberg, George Washington University

Following the Second World War, the United States, United Kingdom, and France operated cooperative yet competitive efforts to extract technology, industrial machinery, and scientific personnel from Germany. The United States and United Kingdom began these efforts in a joint study of German military technology for use against Japan, yet they quickly expanded to cover all aspects of civilian industrial technology, and the newly-established Gaullist French government eagerly joined in, each nation anticipating great value from these "intellectual reparations." Some aspects of these programs have become something like common knowledge - the most famous case being the German aeronautical engineers led by Wernher von Braun drafted into American space research through "Operation Paperclip" – but they have rarely been considered in a wider context, as a phenomenon international in character but with key differences in the programs' implementation and goals in each national context. The comparative perspective of O'Reagan's dissertation allows analysis of the possibilities and difficulties of international technology transfer, including the role of access to shared technology in postwar international economic integration; how each nation's postwar challenges, and a growing perception of the importance of science and technology in overcoming them, impacted early Cold War diplomacy; and how these local circumstances shaped each country's experience of the broader phenomenon of the drawing together of industry, academic institutions, and governments experienced by each nation during and quickly following the war.

“The Other Revolution: Politics, Culture, and the Transformation of U.S.-Mexican Relations after the Mexican Revolution, 1919–1930”

Jose Luis Ramos

Jose Luis Ramos

Mentor: Frank Ninkovich, St. John's University

José Luis Ramos is a PhD Candidate in History at the University of Chicago, where he specializes in U.S.-Latin American history.

Luis’ dissertation is a revisionist interpretation of 20th century United States-Mexican history. He examines the origins of a rich and unacknowledged history of collaboration that began during the 1920s, the decade after the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Due to assumptions that political and cultural conflict has determined US-Mexican history, there is no historical explanation for the remarkable improvement of US-Mexican relations after the Mexican Revolution, the persistence of Mexican sovereignty, and the increasing influence of American culture. To answer these questions, his project traces how Americans and Mexicans collaborated in the reconstruction of post-Revolutionary Mexico and US-Mexican relations in six areas traditionally examined as evidence of conflicting interests: the oil controversy, inter-American politics, the external debt, rural reconstruction, immigration, and public health. Luis argues that in the aftermath of World War I and the Mexican Revolution, a political and cultural transformation in how Americans and Mexicans understood each other encouraged mutually beneficial political arrangements that leveraged power asymmetry, sustained Mexican sovereignty, and spurred common networks of progressive reformers that connected the political and intellectual agendas of American progressivism and Mexican revolutionary nationalism. This marked an exceptional embrace of revolutionary nationalism and the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship unlike any other in Latin America, what he calls the other revolution. His work contributes to studies of US-Mexican history and to broader debates on the relationship between international politics, culture, and nationalism.

“Uneasy Border State: The Politics and Public Policy of Latino Illegal Immigration in Metropolitan California”

Kelly Kelleher Richter

Kelly Kelleher Richter

Richter is the immigration policy fellow funded by John and Rosemary Galbraith Fellow

Mentor: Meg Jacobs, Masschusetts Institute of Technology

Kelly Kelleher Richter is a Ph.D. candidate in United States History at Stanford University. She earned her B.A. in History with Honors at the University of Chicago. During 2012-2013, she was a dissertation fellow at Stanford’s Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity.
Kelly’s dissertation is the first academic work to comprehensively examine the emergence of modern American illegal immigration politics and policy in the state with the largest Latino undocumented immigrant population. She explores how and why Latino illegal immigration became so controversial in California over the final quarter of the twentieth century.

By bringing a historian’s skills, techniques, and sensibilities to a topic thus far dominated by social scientists and lawyers, Kelly aims to increase the depth of interdisciplinary understanding of modern American debate over immigration federalism and immigration policy reform as well as offer non-specialists an accessible topical introduction. Focusing a lens on major California metropolitan counties and the state and federal governments and looking back to the early 1970s, when Latino illegal immigration first substantially emerged as a national political issue, she analyzes evolving debates over labor market impacts, social and fiscal policy, local and state immigration policy, immigration law enforcement, and culture. She outlines underexplored historical relationships between policymakers at various levels of government and diverse political advocates. She makes use of several dozen largely untapped archival collections of local, state, and federal officials, agencies, and legislative bodies, and private individuals and organizations, as well as published media, government, and legal sources.

“The Ownership Society’: Mortgage Securitization and the Metropolitan Landscape Since the 1960s”

Anthony Ross

Anthony Ross

Mentor: Kimberly Phillips-Fein, New York University

Anthony Ross is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at the University of Michigan.

“The Ownership Society” examines the systematic transformation of the U.S. home finance industry between the 1960s and the 1990s.  During the early postwar era, a federal-local system of home finance compromised between the capital mobility required for suburban growth and the barriers that sustained localized financial relationships.  In the late 1960s, this system began to change.  To attract new sources of capital to a tightening mortgage market, policymakers partnered with financial elites to create a state-supported institutional network that would transform illiquid mortgages held by local financial institutions into liquid securities marketable on national and international capital markets.  By abstracting the value of place-bound mortgages and consolidating circuits of capital, mortgage securitization transformed the political economy of home finance.  Other policy changes during the 1970s and 1980s, such as the liberalization of branching regulations, contributed to the growth of securitization and the de-segmentation of the industry.  By the end of the 1980s, the  securitized home finance system had replaced the federal-local system of the early postwar era. “The Ownership Society” explores the causes and effects of this transformation through policy history and local case studies.  Its approach combines an economic history of home finance with a cultural history of homeownership.