IR Seminar: “Wrestling with the Strong: Crisis Bargaining and Authoritarian Politics under Power Asymmetry”, Tusi (Ündes) Wen, 12:30Noon November 28 (EN)

Tusi (Ündes) Wen
Duke University

Title: “Wrestling with the Strong: Crisis Bargaining and Authoritarian Politics under Power Asymmetry”
Date: Tuesday, November 28th, 12.30
Place: A-130

*GE-250/1 points will be given.

Abstract: Conventional wisdom suggests that relative power determines the outcome of conflict and conflict resolution in anarchic or weak institutional settings. Consequently, the weak are at the mercy of the strong in crisis bargaining situations. This paper challenges this assertion and shows that the weak may have substantial bargaining power against the strong by exploiting a deterrence mechanism through the credible threat of destroying the disputed resource. The same mechanism is present in authoritarian politics as a weapon of the weak in intra-elite and elite-mass bargaining. Applying the model to intra-elite power struggles before and after the Cultural Revolution reveals the motivations and conditions for elite-led mass movements, as well as the stabilizing effects on authoritarian power sharing when elite-led mass movements serve as a credible deterrent to purges or coups. Using the model to examine the divergent patterns of regional contentious politics in two of China’s autonomous regions demonstrates the utility of radicalism as a protest strategy and its limitations due to structural constraints.

Bio: Tusi (Ündes) Wen received his Ph.D. in political science from Duke University. His research examines the political economy of authoritarian rule, encompassing domestic politics, international relations, and the linkage between the two.