Publications

Forthcoming
Collective memories of war and suffering have been crucial to the development of European integration since 1945. My basic thesis is that remembrance has also played an important role in the subsequent expansions of the organization that has come to be known as the European Union (EU). As the EU expanded into new regions of Europe, particularly the postdictatorial south and the postcommunist east, continental institutions and existing member-states have been confronted by conflicting understandings of the past. Although the past has continued to push states towards membership in the EU, the nature of these remembered experiences has changed through the various rounds of expansion. In addition to tracing the role that memory has played in the widening of Europe, I argue that these confrontations have sparked important debates about the meaning of the past for Europe today.
The broad outlines of contemporary American immigration policy date back to the early Cold War. This article focuses on the screening process designed to prevent infiltration by communist agents posing as migrants from East-Central Europe. I argue that the development of these measures was a driven by geopolitical concerns and show how the vetting criteria favored the admission of hardline nationalists and anticommunists. The argument proceeds in two steps. First, I show geopolitics influenced immigration policy, resulting in the admission of extremist individuals. Second, I document how geopolitical concerns and the openness of American institutions provided exiles with the opportunity to mobilize politically. While there is little evidence that the vetting system succeeded in preventing the entry of communist subversives into the US, it did help to create a highly mobilized anticommunist ethnic lobby that supported extremist policies vis-à-vis the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
2014
Collective memory is an important source of social stability, allowing human beings and political communities to integrate new experiences into existing narrative frameworks. In addition to sustaining individual and group identities, remembrance can also maintain cycles of hatred. Building on Arendt’s political theory, I present an alternative interpretation of memory as a resource for political change following historical ruptures. This constructive reading focuses on the ability of communities to create new futures out of the shattered pieces of the past. For Arendt, the experience of totalitarianism was a caesura that made nationalist histories, and the nation-state that came with these interpretations of the past, untenable. Following such breaks, communities must reconstruct the past into new narratives. Arendt’s unexpected early support for European integration—despite its supranational, technocratic, and economistic qualities—is an example of how memory can function as a resource for political transformation in the aftermath of historical ruptures. 
Since 1945 Europeans have able to draw on shared memories of war and suffering to create the European Union. Recently, a new generation born after Europe’s age of total war has taken over leadership of the continent. Since 2010 this cadre has been unable to solve the problems underlying the Eurozone crisis. I argue that generational dynamics – which have been especially pronounced in Germany – help to explain the economic nationalism exhibited during the crisis. Following the methodology of the Frankfurt School, I offer an empirically grounded diagnosis of the situation and the pathologies revealed in the passing of the generations of memory. I then chart paths for future transformation by reflecting on the role that the past can continue play in the future. I focus on how Europe’s violent twentieth century can help bolster continental solidarity by becoming part of the broader European social imaginary. 
2012
Although Jürgen Habermas is widely recognized as a philosopher and social theorist, his political philosophy is often accused of excessive formalism. Habermas has not only responded to these critiques in his theoretical writings, but also by showing how his critical theory can be applied to concrete situations in his Short PoliticalWritings (Kleine politische Schriften). Using his political commentaries on the future of Europe and the European Union (EU), I explore Habermas’ melding of abstract principles with concrete political developments. The case of Europe reveals an ongoing process of adjustment, where Habermas’ theoretical insights and the place of the EU in his political thought have to respond to political developments. I argue that this process of ‘meeting halfway’ (Entgegenkommen), a concept I borrow from Habermas’ social theory, demonstrates how the formalism of his theoretical commitments may be applied to politics. This approach also allows me to critique Habermas when he does not go far enough in adjusting his theory to account for concrete developments in European politics. 
2010
Benhabib, Seyla, Roy Tsao, and Peter J Verovšek, eds..

Politics in Dark Times: Encounters with Hannah Arendt

. Cambridge UK: Cambridge, 2010. Publisher's Version Abstract
This outstanding collection of essays explores Hannah Arendt’s thought against the background of recent world-political events unfolding since September 11, 2001, and engages in a contentious dialogue with one of the greatest political thinkers of the past century, with the conviction that she remains one of our contemporaries. Themes such as moral and political equality, action and natality, and judgment and freedom are reevaluated with fresh insights by a group of thinkers who are themselves well known for their original contributions to political thought. Other essays focus on novel and little-discussed themes in the literature by highlighting Arendt’s views of sovereignty, international law and genocide, nuclear weapons and revolutions, imperialism and Eurocentrism, and her contrasting images of Europe and America. Each essay displays not only superb Arendt scholarship but also stylistic flair and analytical tenacity.