Spruyt, Hendrik 1956–
Spruyt, Hendrik 1956–
Office—Department of Political Science, Northwestern University, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Scott Hall, 501 University Pl., Evanston, IL 60208. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer, political scientist, and educator. Columbia University, Institute of War and Peace Studies, New York, NY, assistant professor, 1991-99; Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University, member, 1997-98; Arizona State University, instructor, 1999-2003; Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, Norman Dwight Harris Professor of International Relations and chair, department of political science, 2003—.
J. David Greenstone Award, American Political Science Association History and Politics Section, 1996, for The Sovereign State and Its Competitors; grants from the Josephine de Karman Foundation and the Smith Richardson Foundation.
The Sovereign State and Its Competitors: An Analysis of Systems Change, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1994.
Ending Empire: Contested Sovereignty and Territorial Partition, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 2005.
Contributor to books. Contributor to periodicals and journals, including International Organization, Review of Political Economy, European Journal of Public Policy, Acta Politica, Pacific Review, Review of International Studies, International Studies Review, and the Journal of Peace Research.Acta Politica, member of editorial board; Review of International Political Economy, former coeditor.
Hendrik Spruyt is a writer, political scientist, and educator based at Northwestern University, in Evanston, Illinois. Spruyt serves as the Norman Dwight Harris Professor of International Relations and chair of the department of political science. He was educated at the University of Leiden, in the Netherlands, where he received a Ph.D. in 1983. Spruyt also earned a Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego, in 1991.
Spruyt's academic research "centers on the evolution of nation-states, exploring the historical, economic and political ramifications of models of social organization," reported a biographer on the Observer Online. He investigates the point where comparative politics and international relations intersect. Among the subjects of Spruyt's research and writing are the formation and disintegration of politics, international organization and regionalism, domestic institutions and their relationship with foreign policy, and comparative political economy, the biographer stated. Spruyt also conducts research on the rise and fall of sovereignty. He frequently publishes in prominent international studies journals and has contributed several chapters to books and essay collections.
In The Sovereign State and Its Competitors: An Analysis of Systems Change, Spruyt explores the emergence of nation-states and territorially sovereign powers after the economic renewal that occurred in the late Middle Ages. In the book, he "covers the evolution of domestic and international political institutions and relations in Europe from the late Middle Ages until the seventeenth century," commented Boudewijn Bouckaert in an Independent Review critique. Spruyt argues that these forms of political organization were not the only ones available or possible in this time period, and that the "end of the Middle Ages saw the flowering of a variety of alternatives," observed Francis Fukuyama in Foreign Affairs. Driven by the dramatically improved economic conditions throughout Europe, sovereign states as well as city-states and city leagues emerged and evolved as potential forms of political organization. Spruyt explains how these "political structures emerged from feudalism," then "considers why one of them, the sovereign nation-state, achieved dominance," Bouckaert reported. Within the context of the economic and political climate of the late Middle Ages, the sovereign state proved to be superior to the alternatives because it could "better mobilize the resources of society and make credible commitments to other international actors," remarked Josh Baron, writing in the Journal of International Affairs.
In modern times, Spruyt "emphasizes that the system of nation-states is now more strongly established than ever before. It embraces the whole world, including the former colonies," Bouckaert stated. "The only exception to the predominance of nation-states appears in Europe, where the European Union can be characterized as neither a new superstate nor a mere extension of the existing member states," Bouckaert noted.
"The bulk of the text is devoted to the generation and selection of the new state forms, in which the interdisciplinary character of the book is most evident—combining history, sociology, and political science," stated Journal of Interdisciplinary History contributor Jan De Vries. Bouckaert concluded that Spruyt's book "provides us with penetrating insights into the emergence of the nation-state and the international system of which it forms the unit," further commenting that the volume "deserves a wide readership, especially by those seeking a better understanding of institutions to guarantee liberty and peace in the future."
In Ending Empire: Contested Sovereignty and Territorial Partition, Spruyt considers the factors that ultimately drove all European empires to give up their colonial holdings, overseas holdings, and other far-flung satellite locations. Yet even as the empire felt the increasing effects of resource drain caused by their colonies, others involved in the process had a vested interest in keeping the colonies alive while continuing to benefit from empire. Settlers in the colonies were a major group, as were colonial armies and businesses that served the colonies. In the book, Spruyt "argues that political fragmentation in the imperial center allows more opportunities for these groups to delay territorial withdrawal," commented Peter Liberman in the Political Science Quarterly.
"Spruyt argues that polities fragmented by multiparty parliamentary coalitions, weak parties, checks and balances, or cartelized authoritarian regimes provide more veto points" to delay, stop, or alter plans for withdrawal from colonies, Liberman reported. Fragmented or conflicted parliamentary systems allow pro-empire forces greater leverage to prevent colonial withdrawal or change. This prevents conservative political parties from moving toward the political center for fear of losing right-wing support. In cases such as this, Spruyt notes that presidential democracies or two-party parliamentary democracies fulfill the needs median voters, while authoritarian states should be able to resist any factions that want to preserve imperial interests at the same time the governmental center wants to abandon them. Spruyt offers a number of case studies addressing these points.
"This is a well-written, superbly researched, and thought-provoking book, and a valuable contribution to the literature on imperial decline," remarked Liberman. Richard Bertrand Spencer, writing in the Virginia Quarterly Review, concluded that "Spruyt is a welcome voice in the theorizing of the postcolonial world."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Journal of International Law, July, 1996, Harold K. Jacobson, review of The Sovereign State and Its Competitors: An Analysis of Systems Change, p. 526.
American Journal of Sociology, November, 1995, Ivan Ermakoff, review of The Sovereign State and Its Competitors, p. 792.
Choice, April, 1995, P. Rutland, review of The Sovereign State and Its Competitors, p. 1372; December, 2005, L.O. Imade, review of Ending Empire: Contested Sovereignty and Territorial Partition, p. 738.
European History Quarterly, October, 1996, H.G. Koenigsberger, review of The Sovereign State and Its Competitors, p. 591.
Foreign Affairs, July-August, 1995, Francis Fukuyama, review of The Sovereign State and Its Competitors, p. 132.
Independent Review, March 22, 1998, Boudewijn Bouckaert, review of The Sovereign State and Its Competitors, p. 605.
International History Review, August, 1996, Janice E. Thomson, review of The Sovereign State and Its Competitors, p. 744; June, 2007, John Darwin, review of Ending Empire, p. 444.
Journal of Economic History, December, 1995, Avner Greif, review of The Sovereign State and Its Competitors, p. 972.
Journal of Economic Literature, September, 1995, review of The Sovereign State and Its Competitors, p. 1493.
Journal of Interdisciplinary History, December 22, 1997, Jan De Vries, review of The Sovereign State and Its Competitors, p. 504.
Journal of International Affairs, September 22, 2004, Josh Baron, review of The Sovereign State and Its Competitors, p. 276.
Journal of Politics, February, 1996, Edward S. Cohen, review of The Sovereign State and Its Competitors, p. 279.
Journal of the History of Ideas, April, 1995, review of The Sovereign State and Its Competitors, p. 349.
Medium Aevum, fall, 1996, M.S. Kempshall, review of The Sovereign State and Its Competitors, p. 351.
Political Science Quarterly, September 22, 2006, Peter Liberman, review of Ending Empire, p. 506.
Political Studies, September, 1996, Krishan Kumar, review of The Sovereign State and Its Competitors, p. 768.
Review of Politics, summer, 1995, Brian M. Downing, review of The Sovereign State and Its Competitors, p. 565.
Sixteenth Century Journal, spring, 1996, Elizabeth A.R. Brown, review of The Sovereign State and Its Competitors, p. 253.
Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies, July, 1996, Benjamin Arnold, review of The Sovereign State and Its Competitors, p. 766.
Survival, summer, 2006, Richard Caplan, review of Ending Empire, p. 170.
Virginia Quarterly Review, fall, 2005, Richard Bertrand Spencer, review of Ending Empire, p. 298.
Northwestern University Political Science Department Web site,http://www.polisci.northwestern.edu/ (April 22, 2008), author profile.
Observer Online,http://www.northwestern.edu/observer/ (April 22, 2004), author profile.