Katherine Olsson

SIS Olson Scholars

Research Portfolio Post #4: Article Comparison

“Decolonization and State Building in South Asia” by Sumantra Bose is a small-n case study which analyzes the political development of multiple South Asian countries: India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It concludes that in the initial postcolonial development, trends are established which ensures the future of their political development. These are factors such as a network of elites, “well-rooted indigenous agency” and international support.[1]

On the other hand, “Colonialism and postcolonial development: Spanish America in comparative perspective” by James Mahoney focuses on the economic and social development of postcolonial countries. Similarly, it establishes that the colonial period set trends for the country’s future development. The section of the book I’m analyzing also uses a small-n case study focused on countries that were previously Spanish colonies, in particular; Costa Rica, Chile and Paraguay. This section argues that the development of these countries is contingent on the avoidance of warfare or being able to “[emerge] victorious from fighting on their own terms”.[2]

These articles both are aspects of the conversation on postcolonial development. They agree on the importance of the colonial period and initial postcolonial period in the country’s future development. However, they focus on different aspects of development and state-building: economic and social as opposed to political.

Both are also placed within the context of a larger conversation: belief that development trend is established in the colonial/postcolonial period as opposed to other external factors being more influential, such as the impacts of the Cold War or access to technology.[3]

This relates to my own research because it provides an understanding of the existing analysis of development, and a basis for my own analysis of countries’ development. In addition, the second article connects the violence and warfare to countries’ development, which is an important aspect of my own research. I’m interested in extending and merging some of the variables presented here. The first article informs my postcolonial economic development analysis while the second both informs the political development and provides a starting point for the connection between violence levels in the colonial period and counties’ development.


[1] Bose, Sumantra. “DECOLONIZATION AND STATE BUILDING IN SOUTH ASIA.” Journal of International Affairs 58, no. 1 (2004): 95-113. http://www.jstor.org/stable/24357937.

[2] Mahoney, James. 2010. Colonialism and Postcolonial Development: Spanish America In Comparative Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[3] Levitsky, Steven. “Competitive authoritarianism: Hybrid regimes after the cold war.” Competitive authoritarianism hybrid regimes after the Cold War /(n.d.): 1–517.

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    Katherine — you discuss two articles here that are clearly relevant to your research, and you do a good job of identifying the main claims. With that in mind, though, some more detail on the specific methodological elements that the article analyzes would be good. Are these examples of neopositivist or intepretivist work?
    If neopositivist, what is the DV and what are the key IVs/hypotheses examined? If interpretivist, what are the main symbols/practices that are analyzed? Reading with an eye to the specific methodological elements that we have covered will help you better organize the literature you examine and will also help you further establish the conceptual framework for your own research. Keep reading with an eye to these things as you use these articles as a starting point for continuing your research.


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