Charnysh, V., E. Finkel. 2017. "The Death Camp Eldorado: Political and Economic Effects of Mass Violence." American Political Science Review.
Transfer and redistribution of wealth accompany most violent conflicts throughout the world, yet the local-level political and economic effects of this phenomenon remain unexplored. We address
this omission by examining the long-term impact on the surrounding communities of the Nazi
death camp Treblinka in Poland, where nearly a million Jews were murdered. The assets of murdered
Jews sometimes ended up in the hands of the local population. We are able to identify the enduring
impact of these property transfers on local economic and political outcomes because the exact location
of Treblinka was exogenous to the characteristics of surrounding communities. We find that communities
located closer to the camp experienced a real estate boom but do not exhibit higher levels of economic
and social development. These communities also showed higher support for an anti-Semitic party, the
League of Polish Families. Our findings speak to an important but overlooked challenge to post-conflict
reconstruction and reconciliation.
Charnysh, V., S. Markus. 2017. "The Flexible Few: Oligarchs and Wealth Defense in Developing Democracies". Comparative Political Studies.
Based on an original large-N dataset of individual Ukrainian oligarchs and
qualitative evidence, we test competing perspectives on the political power
of big capital. We find, surprisingly, that neither the assumption of direct
power by the oligarchs, nor the mobility of oligarchic assets, help tycoons
protect their fortunes against shocks. Instead, the indirect strategies of
party support and media ownership significantly enhance business wealth.
Empirically, we profile postcommunist oligarchs by examining the political
and economic activities of 177 Ukrainian oligarchs from 2006 to 2012.
Theoretically, we contribute to the literatures on instrumental and
structural power of capital, and on the interactions between extreme
wealth, rule of law, and democracy. In doing so, we contrast the logic of
flexibility, according to which oligarchs benefit from political adaptability
and deniability, with the logic of commitment compensation, according to
which oligarchs benefit from direct power when the rule of law is weak.
Charnysh, V. 2015. “Historical Legacies of Interethnic Competition: Anti-Semitism and the EU Referendum in Poland.” Comparative Political Studies, 48 (13): 1711-1745.
How do historical legacies shape contemporary political outcomes? The article proposes a novel attitudinal mechanism through which distant interethnic competition can influence political preferences in the present. It theorizes that historically conditioned predispositions at the local level can moderate the effects of national-level framing of a policy issue. Using Poland as a test case, I show that subnational variation in support for EU accession was influenced by populist claims about the increase in Jewish influence in the postaccession period. Anti-Semitic cues resonated with voters in areas with historically large Jewish populations and a contentious interethnic past, where latent anti-Semitism persisted throughout the communist period. To provide evidence for this argument, the article draws on rich historical and contemporary data at the county, town, and individual level of analysis and utilizes novel research methods.
Charnysh, V., P. Lloyd, B.A. Simmons. 2015. "Frames and Consensus in International Relations: the Case of Human Trafficking." European Journal of International Relations, 21 (2): 323-351.
This article examines the process of consensus formation by the international community regarding how to confront the problem of trafficking in persons. We analyze the corpus of United Nations General Assembly Third Committee resolutions to show that: (1) consensus around the issue of how to confront trafficking in persons has increased over time; and (2) the formation of this consensus depends upon how the issue is framed. We test our argument by examining the characteristics of resolutions’ sponsors and discursive framing concepts such as crime, human rights, and the strength of enforcement language. We conclude that the consensus-formation process in international relations is more aptly described as one of ‘accommodation’ through issue linkage than a process of persuasion.
Charnysh, V., C. Lucas, P. Singh. 2015. “The Ties that Bind: National Identity Salience and Pro-Social Behavior.” Comparative Political Studies, 48 (3): 267-300.
At the psychological level, ethnic conflict can be seen as an extreme result of normal group identification processes. Bridging perceived intergroup boundaries is therefore key to improving intergroup relations. In contrast to the dominant association of nationalism with racism, chauvinism, xenophobia, and intolerance, we highlight the constructive potential of national identification. In a survey experiment, we find that the increased salience of a shared (Indian) national identity increases donations by members of a dominant ethnic group (Hindus) to members of a rival, minority group (Muslims). This effect is moderated by social status (caste). We suggest that national identification leads to a greater transformation in the behavior of low-status members of an ethnic group because they are more likely to be drawn to national identity as an enhancement of their social standing. Our study has implications for theories of social identity and interethnic cooperation, as well as for the literature on nationalism.
Charnysh V. 2013. "Identity Mobilization in Hybrid Regimes: Language in Ukrainian Politics." Nationalities Papers, 41 (1) : 1-14.
In 2012, a new language law in Ukraine allowed cities and regions to elevate the status of any minority language spoken by at least 10% of their population to “official” alongside Ukrainian. I argue that the law fails to protect genuine linguistic minorities and is likely to further undermine linguistic diversity in certain Ukrainian regions. More important, the law prolongs the vicious circle between Ukraine's lack of democracy and its politicians' reliance on identity cleavages to gather votes. I argue that the continuing exploitation of identity divides is increasing the popularity of extreme right parties and widening the gap in policy preferences between Ukrainian and Russian speakers. However, the current ethno-regional cleavages do not stand for irreconcilable identity attachments and their impact can be mitigated. The EU could contribute to this outcome by providing expert opinions on minority and language rights; demonstrating a commitment to Ukraine's territorial integrity and independence to de-securitize the minority rights discourse; and increasing individual-level contacts between the EU and Ukraine to promote a broader European identity.
Charnysh, V. "Long-Run Effects of Post-War Displacement: Diversity and Economic Development." (In Preparation)
How do societies develop following an exogenous change in cultural diversity and social
cohesion? This paper proposes that by weakening informal coordination and enforcement mechanisms, an increase in cultural diversity can provide an impetus for greater reliance
on public authority and, in the long run, lead to better economic outcomes. Long-term economic implications of diversity are conditional on the broader institutional
environment, however. Diverse communities outperform homogeneous communities only in the presence of effective formal institutions. I test this argument using an original
historical dataset on the diversity of migrant population in 1,217 communities transferred from Germany to Poland in 1945. I find that homogeneous migrant communities were
more successful in reestablishing traditional private-order institutions, such as volunteer fire brigades, and in resisting the expansion of Communist institutions. In diverse migrant communities, resistance to the state was weaker as it offered public goods that diverse communities struggled to produce on their own in the absence of shared norms and networks. These divergent developmental paths had far-reaching economic implications following the transition to a market economy in 1989. Today communities formed by diverse migrant groups have higher incomes and more private enterprises per capita than communities formed by migrants from the same region. This may be due to the more favorable business environment, as I show using 2005 firm-level survey. Furthermore, residents of diverse communities express higher trust in the government, courts, banks, and the police.
Charnysh, V., D. Ziblatt. "Past Experience with Elections and Democratic Stability: Voting in Imperial and Weimar Germany."
How does past experience with elections affect the probability of democratic survival? We argue that practicing suffrage, even under autocratic rule, can strengthen the organization of political parties and increase partisan loyalty, contributing to democratic stability after the regime change. However, the quality of elections matters: electoral misconduct prevents the development of parties and their electorates, weakening democracy in the long run. We test this argument using an original historical dataset spanning over 60 years of elections in Germany (1871-1933). We demonstrate empirically that the accumulation of experience with clean elections before WWI lowered support for the NSDAP during the Weimar period. We then show that the organizational strength of the conservative and liberal parties and voter loyalty to these parties are the main channels through which the quality of imperial elections influenced the NSDAP rise. The paper offers novel insights into the prospects for democratic stability in societies with histories of authoritarianism and advances our understanding of the structural factors that affect the success of the extreme right in times of economic turmoil.
Charnysh, V., L. Peisakhin. "Mechanisms Behind Persistence of Political Behavior: A Natural Experiment."
An ever-growing body of literature demonstrates that some political identities and behaviors have a remarkable staying power, persisting for decades and even centuries, sometimes in hostile institutional or material environments. While the family and communities within which families are embedded are hypothesized to be crucial to identity persistence, there are few empirical findings about the mechanisms that enable persistence of political behaviors and attitudes. In this paper, we draw on a natural experiment of history by which Poles from western Ukraine found themselves resettled in former German territory in what today is western Poland at the conclusion of World War II. The process by which resettlement occurred resulted in a random draw of communities being moved wholesale (sometimes with the village priest and teacher), while some communities were broken up piecemeal with families being resettled as autonomous units for reasons orthogonal to the nature of these communities. We draw on this variation in resettlement patterns to explore via a public opinion survey what effect the preservation of community bonds had on the preservation of historical political identities among forced migrants. Our findings fill an important gap in the fledgling but influential literature on cultural persistence.
Charnysh, V., R. Paul. "Sécurité, Humanité, Hostilité: The Roma Question And The Electoral Politics Of Racism In France."
Roma are at once the largest minority and one of the most marginalized groups in Europe.
Hostility and racism toward the Roma date back to the beginning of modernity and have been experiencing a violent comeback in the aftermath of the global economic crisis. After the European Union’s enlargement towards Central and Eastern Europe, migrations from the region towards the West have intensified. As European citizens, Roma have the right to free movement on EU territory, but their informal settlements in Western European host countries have turned them into easy targets for discrimination and expulsion. Using new data from France and case studies, we analyze Roma camp expulsions as the most recent episode in the electoral politics of racism. We trace the growing politicization of Roma presence by municipal and national-level politicians to understand how interparty competition influences the temporal and spatial dynamic of Roma expulsions. We find that the intensity of expulsions varies at different stages of the election cycle and draw on the literature on issue ownership to explain this variation.