Burak Kadercan

Assistant Professor of Strategy and Policy, Naval War College


My research agenda is comprised of four interrelated pillars:

Nationalism, Territory, and Interstate War

Based on my dissertation, this pillar explores the evolution of territorial conflict in the modern state system from historical, theoretical, and statistical perspectives. The central question is as follows: how can we explain the fact that territorial war since the Peace of Westphalia (1648) has become an increasingly infrequent but intense enterprise? I argue that the rise of nationalism has made leaders’ political survival calculi extremely sensitive to the preservation of the territorial integrity of their state, rendering it difficult for leaders to risk territorial wars but also to limit the intensity of wars once they broke out. So far, two related articles were published in International Studies Review (2012) and Review of International Studies (2013). Another paper, “Nationalism and War for Territory: Rethinking the Relationship Between Indivisible Territory and Interstate War,” is under review, with two additional papers -- “War is What States Make of Territory: A Territorial Explanation for the Changing Trends in Interstate War" & “Theorizing Clausewitz: The French Revolution and a Neoclassical  Realist Theory of ‘Systems Change’” -- in progress. Feel free to email for unpublished manuscripts.

The "Character" of Territory and IR Theory

The second pillar of my research agenda entails the expansion of my dissertation project on territory to synthesize insights from political geography as well as critical approaches to IR. A paper where I make the case for rigorous interdisciplinary dialogue between international relations theory, critical IR, and political geography is forthcoming at International Theory. Combined with my dissertation research, this second pillar constitutes the foundation of my book manuscript on the relationship between war and territory, tentatively titled Territory, The State and War: A Theoretical and Historical Analysis. I co-edited an interdisciplinary volume (also co-authoring one article and solo-authoring another) on the relationship between territoriality and foreign policy with Boaz Atzili, which includes contributions from Harris Mylonas, Gerry Kearns, Jordan Branch, Nadav Shelef, Ryan Griffiths, Katharine Kindervater, and Ehud Eiran, forthcoming from Territory, Politics, Governance in 2017.

Production and Diffusion of Military Power

This project deals with the ways in which civil-military relations affect states’ approach to both the production of military power and state formation processes. An article associated with this pillar, also my second "big" project, has been published in International Security (2014). At the moment, I am conducting preliminary research for two follow-up articles. The first draws on recent debates in the military history literature concerning the role of military entrepreneurs in European warfare during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, pushing forward a novel interpretation of the relationship between war-making and state-building in the modern state system. The second article scrutinizes the ways in which great powers’ reliance on auxiliaries and local forces affect state-building efforts, comparing the Ottoman and European experiences to generate insights that can be useful for analyzing contemporary cases such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Empires in IR Theory and Historiography 

This pillar deals with the place of “empires” in general, the Ottoman Empire in particular, in the theory and history of international relations. In particular, I make the case that there is much to be gained from exploring non-Westphalian and Westphalian experiences in tandem from unified analytical frameworks, in my case, through comparative analyses of territorial practices and the institutions that affect(ed) ruling elites’ political survival calculus. During International Studies Association’s Annual Meeting in New Orleans in February 2015, I presented two papers on this topic, one titled "The Invisible Empire Strikes Back: Making the Case for Integrating the Ottoman Empire Into IR Theory and Historiography" (in a panel I organised, Bringing the Ottomans Back In: Ottoman Empire in International Relations Theory and Historiography), the other "Seeing Like An Empire In A System of States: Mapping Non-Western Empires in Modern IR Theory and Historiography" (for the Presidential Theme Panel - IR and the non-Western worlds: imagining a globally inclusive ‘we’). Stay tuned for updates.