Work in Progress

Andrea Ghiselli and Joshua Eisenmann. The Lurking Theory: Neoliberalism, Neoconservatism, and the Enduring Influence of Modernization Theory on America’s China Policy (Under review).

Abstract: As the Trump administration has denigrated decades of U.S. engagement with China, many see the dawn of a new era of American foreign policy dominated by realist principles. We integrate constructivism and concepts from foreign policy analysis to develop an analytical framework that questions this thesis, and demonstrates that there is actually much continuity with the past. We explain how, despite its failures, modernization theory’s core concepts became entrenched in American foreign policy thinking and practice under the guise of neoliberalism and neoconservatism; which are now distinguished, not by their intended ends, but rather by their preferred means to bring about U.S.-style liberalization in target countries. Using America’s post-Cold War China policy as an explanatory case study, we reveal modernization theory’s strong and enduring influence on Washington’s international orientation and predict that, despite regular references to realism, that theory is unlikely to play an important role in America’s policy toward China.

Andrea Ghiselli and Mohammed al-Sudairi. Co-opting China’s Rise: Syria’s Strategic Narrative and China’s Participation in Middle Eastern Politics (1st draft completed).

Abstract: The Syrian state articulates a strategic narrative that significantly overstates its relationship with China, well beyond what the words, actions, and presence of Chinese scholars, officials and entrepreneurs would suggest. These findings challenge the mainstream Western scholarly and journalistic imaginings of China as playing a major role in Syria and its civil war. This paper also prompts important considerations about the dynamics of China’s engagement with the Middle East and how scholars should study it.

This manuscript builds on: Andrea Ghiselli and Mohammed Turki Al-Sudairi (2019). Syria’s ‘China Dream’: Between the Narratives and Realities. King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies Commentary. September 17. Link to the article.