Here’s the blurb for Superstates: Empires of the Twenty-First Century, forthcoming from Polity in late 2022:
In this century, the world will conduct an extraordinary experiment in government. In 2050, forty percent of the planet’s population will live in just four places: India, China, the European Union, and the United States. These are superstates — polities that are distinguished from normal countries by expansiveness, population, diversity, and complexity.
How should superstates be governed? What must their leaders do to hold these immense polities together in the face of extraordinary strains and shocks? Alasdair Roberts looks to history for answers. Superstates, he contends, wrestle with the same problems of leadership, control and purpose that plagued empires for centuries. But they also bear heavier burdens than empires — including the obligation to improve life for ordinary people and respect human rights.
One axiom of history was that empires always died. Size and complexity led to fragility, and imperial rulers improvised constantly to put off the day of reckoning. Leaders of superstates are doing the same today, pursuing radically different strategies for governing at scale that have profound implications for democracy and human rights. History shows that there are ways to govern these sprawling and diverse polities well. But this requires a different way of thinking about the art and methods of statecraft.
I’ll be the plenary speaker for the closing day of the NASPAA-South Asia conference on November 13, 2021. Title of my talk: “Can democracy work in supersized polities?” Conference details here. Watch the talk here.
I’ll give the keynote address at the Graduate Student Conference on Policy and Global Studies at the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, UMass Boston, on April 16, 2021. The subject of my talk: “Governance and Democracy in Peril.” My Powerpoint slides for the talk are here. Details about the conference here.
I will participate in a panel for the International Seminar on Democracy and Public Policy in India on February 27. The seminar is hosted by the Department of Political Science at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. My topic is “Governing supersized countries.” My Powerpoint is here. Seminar program here.
I gave two talks organized by the Meghalaya Institute of Governance in Shillong on January 9 and 10. Read a story about the meeting with civil society representatives in the Shillong Times. I also gave a public lecture at JK Lakshmipat University in Jaipur on January 14: read the story here. Pic right: JKLU Vice Chancellor R.L. Raina.
I gave a presentation at the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative in Delhi on January 6. The topic: “Governing supersized countries: The challenge of the 21st century.” Slides here.
I spoke with ninety officers of the Indian Administrative Service at Syracuse University’s Lubin House in New York City on November 15. The subject was strategies for governing in superstates. PPT here.
I’ll present at the ASU-SNU BK21 International Conference in Phoenix on January 15-16, 2019. Details about the conference here. My presentation, tied to my new book project, is titled “Can superstates survive?”. PPT for the presentation here.