Welcome! I'm an associate professor of political science at the University of Toronto. My work examines how international forces like war and globalization shape democracy and domestic reforms. I was born in Russia and received my Ph.D. from Columbia University.

Some of my work has appeared in International Organization, International Theory, and Perspectives on Politics. I've also written for the Washington Post's Monkey Cage, The American Interest, Toronto Globe & Mail, and others. See CV or Quick Links to the right.

Aftershocks: Great Powers and Domestic Reforms in the Twentieth Century is now available from Princeton University Press. The book examines how sudden shocks to the global order create powerful waves of domestic reform, both toward and away from democracy.

A Washington Post spring reading recommendation (April 2017) Foreign Affairs review.

Chapter 1 HERE. International Organization article with the quantitative component. More info.

Current & Ongoing Research 

Descriptions and downloads of working papers. See RESEARCH section for publications, abstracts, paper downloads, & more info.

Democratic Waves in Historical Perspective. There have been a number of distinct bursts of democratization since the late 18th century (thirteen, by my count). How do we compare them to each other, and what lessons can they offer about the evolution of democracy? Paper under review.

Competing Visions of Parsimony in IR Theory. The topic seems abstract but the issue is fundamental: why do we expect good theories to be simple? I examine some bad anwers to that question, and some good ones, and argue that the concept of parsimony contains three distinct and often conflated meanings. Paper under review.

American IR and Russian Foreign Policy. With Andrei Tsygankov. We examine some common (and in our view, flawed) assumptions about Russian foreign policy. We argue that it's a mistake to reduce Russia's motivations to Putin's pathologies or to the country's domesic autocracy. Russian foreign policy is driven largely by pragmatism and geopolitical paranoia. Paper under review.

Great Powers and Norm Cascades in Global Politics. How does the rise and fall of great powers shape the evolution of global norms? I argue that international norms involving sovereignty and democracy promotion are often shaped not by bottom-up activism or moral beliefs, but by direct and indirect effects of hegemonic shifts. Working paper. [Rough Draft]

History of Fascism. "These are the three reasons fascism spread in 1930s America — and might spread again today." (Washington Post, Monkey Cage Aug 2017; previous pieces for them here.) Twitter thread.

Trump-Russia money links. "Trump and the Russian Money Trail." (Duck of Minerva, July 2017) Twitter thread. interview.

Democracy and social media. "Social Media as a Tool of Autocratic Resilience." (Perspectives on Politics 2015). Monkey Cage version.

Measuring democracy. Chapter on problems of democratic indices (Cambridge University Press, 2015). Monkey Cage version. Short take: it's pretty bad.

profile pic          @SevaUT



December 1, 2017. Review of my book in Ny Tid (Modern Times Review) [in Norwegian].

November 28, 2017. I have a piece in a new ISQ symposium: "Comparing International Systems in World History."

October 23, 2017. I will be on a panel at NYU on Trump-Russia, with Tim Frye, Julia Ioffe, Joshua Tucker, and Andrei Soldatov.

September 28, 2017. TV interview, The Agenda with Steve Paikin.
CLIP 1  |  CLIP 2  |  ENTIRE

September 20, 2017. Radio interview with Steele & Ungar, Sirius XM.
CLIP 1  |  CLIP 2  |  ENTIRE

August 25, 2017. A profile of my recent work on the Trump-Russia money links, in Haaretz. [in Hebrew]

August 24, 2017. "The Lost Leviathan." My review of Perry Anderson's new book on hegemony, in The American Interest. [PDF]


Google Scholar Profile

100 St. George Street, Suite 3018
Dept. of Political Science
University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3G3

(416) 978-3346

3052 Sidney Smith Hall