The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water,
and breeds reptiles of the mind.
William Blake (1791)
Ph.D. Political Science (IR), National University of Singapore, 2020
M.A. Geopolitics, Territory & Security, King's College London, 2011
B.A. International Affairs & Philosophy, George Washington University, 2009
My postdoctoral research comprises two strands. The first explores whether and how a state's national identity and interests change as it becomes a rising power in the international system. This project focuses on the case of India from 1980-2020 and involves constructing an original interpretivist dataset of its national interests, which is being funded by the University of St. Gallen. A project abstract is available here.
The second aspect involves applying prudence to rising power grand strategy during power transition. Specifically, the project is framed around the broad question: how can prudence help develop grand strategies that allow rising powers to pursue their interests without destabilizing the prevailing order?
My doctoral thesis develops a fresh understanding of prudence in international relations. I draw upon multiple perspectives in international relations theory and the political theories of Aristotle, Machiavelli, and Hobbes, to develop a thick conceptualization of prudence. I claim that prudence encompasses four core components: reflective reasoning, experience, long-term wellbeing, and moderation. From this conceptualization, I distil a set of prescriptions for guiding decision-making under uncertainty, a process that I name the ‘Prudent Judgment Approach’. I establish the value of this approach by conducting a comparative case study analysis of three US foreign policy decisions: the Marshall Plan (1948), the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962), and the invasion of Cambodia (1970). The case studies are executed using a mixed methods research design comprising inductive discourse analysis, process tracing, and the congruence method.
This research was supervised by Ted Hopf at NUS. My dissertation committee also included Pascal Vennesson, Professor, Nanyang Technological University, and Elvin Lim, Professor, Singapore Management University.
My doctoral studies were funded by a Presidential Graduate Fellowship granted by Singapore's Ministry of Education. I spent a year writing up my doctoral thesis at the University of St. Gallen thanks to a predoctoral Swiss Excellence Scholarship from the Federal Government of Switzerland.
Associate Consultant, Control Risks, New Delhi (2013 - 2014)
Open source business intelligence, integrity and reputation risk analysis, pre-transaction due diligence, and whistle blower investigations
Research Associate, Institute for Defence Studies & Analysis, New Delhi (2012 - 2014)
Strategic foresight and scenario planning for the Indian Ministries of Defence, and External Affairs
More information about my professional experience outside academia can be found on my LinkedIn page.
When I'm not working...
Japan - the most serene and delicious country
Kayaking in Krabi was super fun!
Hiking to the living tree root bridges in Shillong was hard
All these years later, Washington DC still feels like home
All content and pictures are ©Manali Kumar, 2021.