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Authoritarian Politics and International Relations (APIR)

This new workshop series on Authoritarian Politics and International Relations offers a forum for systematic debate about authoritarianism in world politics by bringing together scholars from comparative politics and international relations. We are convinced that studies from both sub-disciplines will greatly benefit in terms of theory development and empirical analysis by discussing the international consequences of authoritarian rule and how developments abroad affect dictatorships domestically. All too often, relevant contributions to one discipline miss important debates from the other. Empirically, both the relevance of authoritarianism and of the international level is growing and become increasingly related. It is therefore important to integrate insights into the specifics of authoritarian rule and international politics in order to develop more accurate theories and analyses.

We invite papers combining comparative authoritarianism and IR, but are open to contributions that help clarify important theoretical concepts and empirical patterns in either discipline that can shed novel light on the seminar’s overall theme. Also, we encourage presentations on normative political theory with a focus on regime type and international affairs. Colleagues interested in presenting in the workshop series should email Alex Tokhi (alexandros.tokhi [at] wzb.eu) or Alex Schmotz (alexander.schmotz [at] wzb.eu).

When: Once a month on a Tuesday afternoon (see dates below)

Where: WZB Berlin Social Science Center, Reichpietschufer 50, 10785 Berlin

What: A classic format: 90 minute research seminar with one paper presentation (15 min), one discussant (10), and plenty of time for Q&A

Who: All scholars from WZB and the Berlin area and anyone interested in authoritarian politics and/or international relations

Organized by Alexandros Tokhi (Department Global Governance) and Alexander Schmotz (Department of Democracy & Democratisation)

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Upcoming sessions



Past sessions

February 18, 2020

Trying just enough or promising too much? The problem-capacity-nexus in Tunisia’s transitional justice process
Mariam Salehi (WZB)

January 28, 2020

Obstacles to a Green Democracy and the Appeal of Ecoauthoritarianism
Didem Aydurmus (Bilgi University Istanbul)

January 7, 2020

Communist Regime Travel Controls as State Capacity in Everyday World Politics: The East German Example
Astrid Hedin (Malmö University) 

December 10, 2019

Beyond the Narrative of Authoritarian Turn: Labour Politics in Turkey
Ezgi Pinar (Freie Universität Berlin); discussant: İrem Ebetürk (WZB)

November 19, 2019

Two Faces of Authoritarian Populism: Evidence from China
Sarah Eaton (Göttingen) and Armin Müller (Bremen)

October 29, 2019

Why Governments Censor: Comparing Content Removal Requests Between Regimes
Daniëlle Flonk (Hertie School of Governance)

October 15, 2019

Understanding the Chinese communist Party's Global Outreach
Christine Hackenesch (DIE) and Julia Bader (University of Amsterdam)

September 24, 2019

Narratives, Emotions, and the Contestations of the Liberal Order
Jelena Cupać (WZB)

July 9, 2019

Political Activism in Authoritarian Regimes: Does Trust Matter? Evidence from the MENA
Nadine Sika (American University, Cairo); discussant: tba

May 28, 2019

Autocracy from the Outside-In? Regional Organizations and Authoritarian Resilience
Maria Debre (Maastricht University); discussant: Alexandros Tokhi (WZB)

April 30, 2019

Insult and Charisma: Deployment of an Obsolete Law in Turkish Democratic Backsliding
Defne Över (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen) and İrem Ebetürk (WZB); discussant: Kriszta Kovács (WZB)

March 26, 2019

Regulate or Restrict? Classifying Legislation on Foreign Funding for Civil Society Organisations
Thomas Richter (GIGA Hamburg)

February 26, 2019

BLACK BOX. Donors, Activists, and the Global Spread of Human Rights
Álvaro Morcillo Laiz (WZB)

January 8, 2019

Content Control Contestations: Russia and China as Norm Entrepreneurs of Information Security Norms?
Daniëlle Flonk (Hertie School of Governance)

December 11, 2018

Comparing authoritarian publics: The benefits and risks of three types of publics for autocrats
Florian Töpfl (FU Berlin); discussant:

November 20, 2018

Beyond Authoritarian Threat: The Variety of Populist Challenges to the Liberal International Order
Cedric Koch (WZB); discussant: Roberto Frega (
Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris)

October 30, 2018

Democratization vs Militarization. The Politics of Welfare in Tunisia and Egypt after the Arab Spring
Roy Karadag, Saara Inkinen & Kressen Thyen (Bremen University); discussant:
Friederike Luise Kelle (WZB)

October 9, 2018

Democracy under Pressure. Investigating the nature and origins of democratic backsliding in Europe’s new democracies?
Julia Langbein (Freie Universität Berlin); discussant: Alexander Schmotz

Cancelled - postponed - new appointment coming soon!!!

July 17, 2018

Russian Norm Entrepreneurship in Crimea: Serious Contestation or Cheap Talk?
Christoph Stefes (University of Colorado Denver); discussant: Alexandros Tokhi

June 19, 2018

International Authority and the Emergency Problematique. IO Empowerment Through Crises
Christian Kreuder-Sonnen (WZB); discussant: Alexander Schmotz