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K-State Today

August 24, 2016



Political science professor gives conference talk, receives prestigious invitations

By Sarah Hancock

Carla Martinez Machain, assistant professor of political science in the College of Arts & Sciences, is contributing to academic and policy conversations on important international security issues. Her productive summer included both conference travel and important invitations and honors.

In June, Martinez Machain presented "Autocratic State Capacity and Dual Conflict Effectiveness" at the Jan Tinbergen European Peace Science Conference in Milan, Italy, and the CEEISA-ISA 2016 Joint International Conference, in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

The paper was co-authored by Matthew C. Wilson from West Virginia University and argued that military regimes are less likely to become involved in international conflicts when they are facing domestic turmoil because institutional inflexibility does not allow them the capacity to fight simultaneous conflicts. The scientific study of autocratic behavior is a growing focus within the fields of both international relations and comparative politics, and the topic is highly relevant because nondemocratic or partially democratic states such as China and Russia have become more active in the international system.

She also presented her work explaining why democratic states are both able and more likely than autocratic states to carry out surprise attacks during conflict because of the presence of retrospective oversight institutions. Both papers are under review for journal publication.

Martinez Machain's travel was supported by her department and by a Faculty Development Award from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs in the spring of 2016. She said her presence at the conference helped raise K-State's profile.

"This travel allowed me to not only make connections with European scholars, but also to meet in person with the executive director of the Peace Science Society and promote K-State's involvement with the society," Martinez Machain said.

Martinez Machain also was honored by three invitations this summer. She was asked to serve a two-year term on the executive committee of a major section of the International Studies Association, a 6,500 member scholarly organization that is the most respected and widely known academic association focusing on the study of international relations.

She also was tapped to participate in two invitation-only workshops in 2016-2017. The first will be at the University of Southern California in November and will focus on the "Political Economy of Power Projection." Sixteen academics from across the country were invited to examine the relationship between growing economic might and the projection of military capabilities across regional and global settings.

The second workshop, "Lethal Aid and Human Security: Exploring the Impact of Transitional Flows of Military Assistance to Fragile States," will be in June 2017 at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the International Studies Association. The workshop will bring together two dozen academics from around the world plus 10 practitioners from the U.S. State Department, U.S. Army, International Crisis Group, and other agencies to analyze the human security implications of cross-border flows of military aid, military equipment, combat advisors, and other forms of lethal assistance to conflict-afflicted states.

A 2016-2017 Big 12 Faculty Fellowship rounds out Martinez Machain's recent honors. She will travel to Iowa State to work with two colleagues on collaborative research projects that should produce several publications. One project explores the logic behind the placement of international military bases by different countries.

"As her recent invitations to speak at USC and UNC Chapel Hill underscore, Martinez Machain's work is highly regarded in the field and is helping to expand K-State's visibility in the profession," said Jeffrey Pickering, head of the political science department. "She is becoming a respected voice contributing to academic and policy conversations on important international security issues."