Dead But Not Gone: Contemporary Legacies of Communism, Imperialism, and Authoritarianism

34 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2017

See all articles by Alberto Simpser

Alberto Simpser

ITAM

Dan Slater

University of Chicago

Jason Wittenberg

University of California, Berkeley - Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 27, 2017

Abstract

A profusion of recent research has focused on historical legacies as key to understanding contemporary outcomes. We review this body of research, analyzing both the comparative-historical analysis (CHA) and modern political economy (MPE) research traditions as applied to the study of communism, imperialism, and authoritarianism. We restrict our focus to the sizeable subset of arguments that meets a relatively strict definition of legacies: i.e. they locate the roots of present-day outcomes in causal factors operative during an extinct political order. For all their differences, the CHA and MPE approaches both face the challenges of convincingly identifying the sources of historical persistence and of reckoning with alternative channels of causation. We find that mechanisms of persistence in legacies research generally belong to one of three main categories. While both traditions acknowledge the role of institutions in historical persistence, CHA research tends to emphasize the lasting power of coalitions, while work in MPE often argues for the persistence of cognitions. We argue that, at their best, CHA and MPE approaches yield complementary insights. Further progress in legacy research will benefit from greater cross-fertilization across research traditions and deeper recognition of commonalities across communist, imperialist, and authoritarian regimes.

Keywords: Historical legacies, comparative historical analysis, political economy, cognitions, coalitions, institutions

Suggested Citation

Simpser, Alberto and Slater, Dan and Wittenberg, Jason, Dead But Not Gone: Contemporary Legacies of Communism, Imperialism, and Authoritarianism (June 27, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2993580 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2993580

Alberto Simpser (Contact Author)

ITAM ( email )

Rio Hondo 1
Mexico City, CDMX 01080
Mexico
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HOME PAGE: http://www.albertosimpser.com

Dan Slater

University of Chicago ( email )

Jason Wittenberg

University of California, Berkeley - Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science ( email )

210 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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