Neil DeVotta

Associate Professor

Office: Kirby 318
Phone: 758-3242
Email: devottn@wfu.edu

Neil DeVotta is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Wake Forest University.  His research interests include South Asian security and politics, ethnicity and nationalism, ethnic conflict resolution, and democratic transition and consolidation.  He is the author of Blowback: Linguistic Nationalism, Institutional Decay, and Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004).  In addition to coauthoring and editing books on Sri Lanka and India, respectively, his publications have appeared in Nations and Nationalism, Journal of Democracy, Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, Pacific Affairs, Asian Survey, Civil Wars, Journal of International Affairs, and Contemporary South Asia.  His current research examines the links between nationalist ideologies and communal violence in South Asia.

Education

BA     1992, Brigham Young University, Provo
MA    1994, Brigham Young University, Provo
PhD    2001, University of Texas at Austin

Professional Appointments

2009-Present     Associate Professor, Wake Forest University
2007-2009        Associate Professor, Hartwick College
2007-2008        Visiting Associate Professor, University of Texas at Austin
2003-2006        Assistant Professor, Hartwick College
2001-2003        Visiting Assistant Professor, James Madison College, Michigan State University

Selected Publications

“When Individuals, States, and Systems Collide: India’s Foreign Policy toward Sri Lanka.” In India’s Foreign Policy: Retrospect and Prospect, ed., Sumit Ganguly (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2010): 32-61.

Understanding Contemporary India, ed., 2nd ed. (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2010).

“Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Lost Quest for Separatism in Sri Lanka.” Asian Survey 49, no. 6, (November/December 2009): 1021-51.

Sinhalese Buddhist Nationalist Ideology: Implications for Politics and Conflict Resolution in Sri Lanka, Policy Studies 40 (Washington D. C.: East-West Center, 2007).

Blowback: Linguistic Nationalism, Institutional Decay, and Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004).

Pol 114   Comparative Politics

This course covers the major issues in the field of Comparative Politics and analyzes the political types, systems, and structures of some important countries:  it addresses the concepts and theories undergirding the study of comparative politics, differentiates among the various political regimes and the possible reasons for their varied institutional arrangements; and evaluates how globalization and political violence impact their societies.

Pol 242 Contemporary India

Contemporary India is in many ways a paradox.  It is both a young state and one of the world’s oldest civilizations; it is supposedly a potential superpower yet nearly 350 million of its citizens live in abject poverty; it is the proud land of Mahatma Gandhi yet brandishes nuclear weapons and hosts one of the world’s largest militaries; its rivers are revered for embodying deities yet are among the world’s most polluted waterways; its infrastructure in many areas is abysmal yet its IT technicians, engineers, scientists, and academics are in demand the world over; it is a country led by powerful women at many levels, yet its women are among the most marginalized in the world; and it is a mind-boggling polyethnic society prone to secessionist movements and periodic communal violence yet is also the world’s largest and most vibrant democracy.   This course is thus designed to provide students with a broad overview of India and introduce them to the opportunities, challenges, and contradictions facing this important country.  The topics covered include politics, international relations, communal conflict, religion, caste, and the economy.    

Pol 245  Ethnonationalism

This course introduces students to the most fundamental approaches informing the scholarship on ethnonationalism and thereby examines questions dealing with ethnic identity formation, group mobilization, and the challenges facing ethnic conflict resolution.  It also evaluates the relationship between globalization and ethnonationalism and examines how certain ethnic conflicts impact the regions beyond their borders and the consequences of such diffusion.  The course incorporates case studies from both the developed and underdeveloped countries.

Pol 246 Politics and Policies of South Asia

This course principally covers the political institutions and processes of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh and further evaluates the failed state of Afghanistan.  The class seeks to better understand these countries individually and comparatively by studying their experiences dealing with state formation, institutional development, governance, and future domestic and regional trajectories.

Pol 252 International Relations of South Asia

This course examines foreign policy decision making among South Asia’s states (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka), with a special focus on the latter three.  In doing so, it evaluates (i) the historical dynamics influencing these states’ foreign policy making (ii) the systemic sources facilitating strategic opportunities and constraints and (iii) the domestic factors shaping foreign policy in each country.  From a comparative standpoint, the course evaluates foreign policy decision making with regard to each country’s perceived regional imperatives and their relations with the world’s great powers, especially the United States, China, and Russia.