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Introduction to Comparative Politics Take-Home Essay #1 – No Credit for La


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Introduction to Comparative Politics
Take-Home Essay #1
– No Credit for Late Submissions; We do not accept technical excuses for non-submissions. It is your responsibility to make sure your essay has been successfully submitted to Moodle before the deadline. – All essays automatically checked by TurnItIn for plagiarism.
– See course syllabus for details on extension policy (basically, there are no extensions; students with a documented accommodation from Disability Services must agree on an extension with their Teaching Assistant within 72 hours of receiving this prompt).
Essay Prompt and Instructions
Read Carefully and in their Entirety Before Beginning your Essay!
In Weeks One through Four of our course, we engaged and closely considered two important critiques of the study of comparative politics. The first critique, exemplified by Robert Marks, is that the study of comparative politics is Eurocentric. The second critique, exemplified by James C. Scott, is that the study of comparative politics is state-­centric.
In a typed, double-­‐spaced essay of no more than 1,500 words (excluding bibliography), clearly explain throughout the body of your essay if you believe the study of comparative politics should be Eurocentric or not, and if it should be State-centric or not. Your argument should critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of the two above critiques, and draw on the material we have covered in weeks 1 through 4 of class to provide reasons for the positions you take. You are not expected or required to draw on outside readings or research beyond what is explicitly covered in Weeks One through Four of the course readings and lectures; in fact, I discourage you from doing so.
You may choose to divide your essay into two separate sub-essays of approximately 750 words each (with each sub-essay addressing one of the two arguments) or you may choose to write a single, unified essay that takes up both arguments synthetically. If you wish, you may use maps, graphs, and other visual aids to support your essay. These visual aids will not count toward the 1,500-word limit. There is no one correct answer that I am looking for in your essays. Rather, they will be evaluated against the following three criteria:
1. Clarity: Does your essay have an argument? Is that argument stated clearly? Is your writing free from grammatical and spelling errors? Do you write in cohesive sentences and paragraphs? Does your essay contain a clear organizational structure? Do you use citations? 2. Incorporation of Key Points from the Readings and Lectures: Does your essay demonstrate a careful, thoughtful reliance on the readings and lectures (both online lectures and in-class lectures)? Some key terms and points that you may want to draw in your essay include, in no special order:
a. Contingency, conjuncture, path dependence, counterfactual analysis, necessary and sufficient conditions
b. Teleology and Teleological Agendas
c. Narrow and expansive definitions of the study of comparative politics
d. Levels and scales of analysis (Zoom, by Istvan Banyai)
e. The history of the social science disciplines
f. Max Weber’s definition of the state
g. The Fragile States Index
h. Discussions of the state by Charles Tilly, Francis Fukuyama, and Mahmood Mamdani
i. The history of state formation in Europe
j. The biological ancient regime
k. Polycentric routes of trade circulation prior to the year 1500
l. Admiral Zheng He
m. Zomia (including but not limited to notions of civilization/barbarian; legibility; distance-demolishing technology; and peoples without histories)
Note that this is not an exhaustive list. Nor are you required to cover every item on this list. 3. Persuasiveness: Is your essay persuasive? Do you convincingly synthesize evidence and points of view from the lectures and readings to support your argument(s)? Do you consider and rebut at least one counterargument that could be raised in response to your argument(s)?
All essays must have the following heading:
First Name Last Name
Introduction to Comparative Politics with Timothy Pachirat
First Name and Last Name of Teaching Assistant, along with date and time of section
Title of your essay
# of Words in your essay (excluding bibliography and visual aids)
All essays should be saved as a Microsoft Word Document and submitted via the “Short Essay Assignment One” link in the Course Resources section before the due date and time. Note as well that “TurnItIn” will automatically check submissions and flag possible cases of plagiarism. Do not submit essays as a PDF or as an Apple Pages Document. Your Teaching Assistants are available to help you as you work on your essays. Please be sure to make good use of their office hours. Do not wait until the last minute to start working on this essay! We wish you every success, and we look forward to reading your essays!


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