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The College of Arts and Sciences' communications office works closely with Cornell's Media Relations Office. As the College's representatives to media, we connect faculty experts and thought leaders to local, regional, national and international media organizations.
Linda Glaser, Publicist
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Tricia Barry, Communications Director
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Current press statements from Arts & Sciences faculty:
Yellow Vest Protests in France
Angry ‘yellow vests’ reject party affiliation - Dec. 6, 2018
France is bracing for a tense weekend, as “yellow vest” protestors have called for their fourth demonstration on Saturday. The movement, which started as a response to a proposed hike in fuel taxes, is continuing to protest despite the government’s decision – earlier this week – to walk back the tax increase.
Mabel Berezin, professor of sociology at Cornell University, is an expert on French politics and the history and development of populism and fascism in Europe. She is the author of “Illiberal Politics in Neoliberal Times: Cultures, Security, and Populism in a New Europe?” and says that what makes the “yellow vest” movement highly worrisome is its lack of affiliation with any political parties.
“Parties can bargain, negotiate and control protest."
“This protest represents a complete rejection of commonly recognized political institutions. It is a worrisome expression of pure anger and the government seems to have no idea how to deal with it.”
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Ironic twist in Brexit aftermath? A more socialist country - Dec. 5, 2018
The UK parliament has started a much-anticipated five-day debate on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit proposal. Lawmakers will vote to reject or accept the deal next week, a decision that will have ripple effects in Europe as well as within British domestic politics. Cornell University experts weigh in on what those effects may be.
Christopher Way, associate professor of government and an expert in European politics and political economy, says that right-wing populism could be re-ignited should the parliament vote down May’s plan.
“In the chaotic Brexit debate, it now looks almost certain that May’s deal will be voted down on December 11. After that, movement is most likely in one of two directions: towards a second referendum or consideration of the ‘Norway Plus’ option, which would leave the United Kingdom in the single market and maintain labor mobility with EU countries.
“The big under-reported problem with either of these paths forward, or any move towards a ‘softer’ Brexit, is that they risk re-igniting right wing populism in the United Kingdom. Populists thrive on the narrative that the ‘corrupt elite’ are ignoring the will of the people.
“Either a second referendum or a Norway Plus option would play into the hands of the populists. They would pound the idea that the elite have ignored the people. They would argue that the elites have deliberately sabotaged the process to frighten the public into backing remain in a second referendum or accepting an extremely soft Brexit.
“The wave of right-wing populism in Europe has not yet crested and it could easily surge to new heights in the United Kingdom if elites are perceived as trying to undo or tame the results of the 2016 referendum.”
Psychology of Holiday Shopping
Seasonal shopping: Pursuit of possessions undermines happiness - November 16, 2018
The National Retail Federation expects consumers to spend $720 billion this holiday season, starting online and in stores Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Thomas Gilovich, professor of psychology, says connecting with other people greatly contributes to happiness, and the pursuit of material possessions undermines it.
“Want a reason to escape the Black Friday insanity? Research shows people get more enduring satisfaction and happiness from experiences than from material goods, so why not give the special people in your life experiences rather than material goods? A gift certificate to a favorite restaurant, concert tickets, or music, art, or trapeze lessons.”
Political parties use China as pawn in battle for 2020
Trade, both with U.S. neighbors Canada and Mexico as well as with China, was a prominent issue in the first two years of President Donald Trump’s presidency, but faded in importance during the midterm election season.
Allen Carlson, associate professor in Cornell University’s Government Department and director of the China and Asia Pacific Studies program, says the midterm election results indicate identity politics will drive attitudes toward China in the coming years, rather than specific policy.
“Most of the post-election analysis is likely to focus on issues with a return to divided government in Washington. This misses a much more fundamental point: the deepening division within the country between red and blue states. The coasts and metro centers remain quite liberal, while the rural center has become even more conservative. This election was largely about identity politics and cultural values much more than it was about any specific policies.
“Despite the fact that they are arguably suffering the most as a result of the President's trade war with China, rural voters widely cast their votes for candidates on the ballot who were most closely aligned with Trump. Within such a climate I suspect China barely registered in the minds of most voters. As a result, moving forward both parties will only deal with China through the prism of what has become a zero-sum battle between them over who will govern the United States now and in 2020.
“For Democrats there is little to be gained by taking a gentler approach to China. For Republicans, China serves as convenient target upon which to project the fears of their core supporters. Above and beyond this, the President's whims, informed by the anti-free trade views of his closest advisors, will then continue to drive China policy. Given his unpredictability, this capriciousness – more than anything else coming out of Washington, D.C. – is what in all likelihood worries China's leaders the most.”