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Jeffrey T. Checkel

Full-time Professor

Department of Political and Social Sciences

Contact info

[email protected]

[+39] 055 4685 231


Villa Sanfelice, SF002

Office hours

Mondays, 12.00-14.00

Administrative contact

Pia Dittmar

Working languages


Curriculum vitae

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EUI Publications Repository

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Jeffrey T. Checkel

Full-time Professor

Department of Political and Social Sciences


Jeffrey T. Checkel joined the Department of Political and Social Sciences in January 2020, as Chair in International Politics, moving from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, where he held the Simons Chair in International Law and Human Security. He had previously taught at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Oslo.

After a first degree from Cornell University in applied physics, Checkel received a PhD in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A consistent theme in his scholarship has been to bridge divides of discipline, epistemology, and subfield. After a start in Sovietology and arms control, Checkel turned to the study of institutions and norms; to European politics and identity; to transnationalism, civil wars and political violence; and - most recently - to international institutions, the populist backlash against them, and processual methods in the social sciences.

Checkel's research interests include international relations theory (domestic-international linkages, international institutions, constructivism, governance), conflict studies (civil war), European integration (Europeanization, identity) and qualitative methods (process tracing, bridging positivist-interpretive techniques). He has published broadly on these topics, including four books from Cambridge University Press and one volume from Yale University Press. At EUI, he offers seminars on international-relations theory; international institutions; qualitative methods (introductory and advanced seminars; workshops); and a foundational seminar on philosophy, cause and theory.

Post-Doctoral Fellows

Additional information

Institutions at Bay? Regional Integration and Identity. Identity politics are back, and often paired with a rejection of the norms and institutions of the liberal order. Economics and power are insufficient to explain today’s illiberal and nativist trend. To understand this phenomenon, we need to explore the interplay between local and national identities and the broader senses of community which international institutions and regional organizations (ROs) promote. Drawing on both political science and social anthropology, the project argues that international institutions do shape identity, but this process is mediated by local politics, daily experiences, and articulated beliefs.

Our theory-building explores these identity and community building dynamics across a diverse set of cases in three regions: Europe and the European Union, with a focus on Germany; Africa and the Africa Union, considering the Republic of South Africa; and Asia and the Association of South-East Asian Nations, examining Singapore.

The project harnesses an interdisciplinary set of theories and methods to understand better the practices and mechanisms through which identities change, and the role RO’s play in this process. From political science and international relations, we draw upon institutional theory, process tracing and standard interview methods; from social anthropology, we utilize practice theory, ethnography and interpretive interviewing. This epistemological, theoretical and methodological pluralism is the project’s backbone – one that results in new theory for explaining identity and identity change in today’s globalized yet increasingly inward-looking world.

Our findings will provide novel insights on the tools and policies that RO’s and states can mobilize to counter the populist backlash against the institutions of the liberal order. These institutions are indeed increasingly ‘at bay’ – be it over the global economy, climate change or identity. To reverse or at least slow this trend, we must first understand it.

This project is funded by EUI's Research Council and included in the Institute's Research Hub.

Google Scholar (April 2024): Publications = 99; Citations = 22,969; h-index = 42; i10-index = 61

"Process Analytics in Political Science: Why, How & Where Next". Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Political Science Association (Philadelphia, PA), 4-8 September 2024

"Identity Politics and Deep Contestations of the Liberal International Order: The Case of Europe". Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the International Studies Association (San Francisco, California), 3-6 April 2024

"International Institutions and Identity". Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the International Studies Association (Montreal, Quebec), 15-18 March 2023

"Process Tracing - Towards a New Research Agenda". Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Political Science Association (Seattle, Washington), 29 September - 3 October 2021

"Process Tracing: To Deepen or to Broaden - and Why It Matters," Methods Seminar, Department of Sociology and Social Research, University of Trento, October 2023

“Identity is Everywhere ... But How Should We Study It?” School of International Studies, University of Trento, October 2023

“Democracy and Peace in Europe: What Went Wrong?” Keynote Address, Swiss Summer School in Democracy Studies, University of Zuerich, September 2023

“Domestic Politics and Peace … or Conflict? The Soviet Union in 1991 and Russia Today,” Swiss Summer School in Democracy Studies, University of Zuerich, September 2023

Process Tracing - Between Broadening and Deepening,” Methods Seminar, Department of Social Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford, May 2023

“Identity and (International) Institutions,” Berlin Social Science Center (WZB), December 2019

“Institutions at Bay? Rethinking the Connection between International Institutions and Identity,” University of Potsdam, December 2019

“Research on Norms: Thinking beyond Institutions,” Keynote Address, Conference on “Liberal Biases in IR Norms Research,” University of Giessen, December 2019

“Social Science in an Era of Transparency,” Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam, November 2019

President, Qualitative and Multi-Method Research Organized Section, American Political Science Association (2025-2027)

President Elect, Qualitative and Multi-Method Research Organized Section, American Political Science Association (2023-2025)

Associate Editor, Journal of Peace Research (2017-Present)

Associate Editor, International Relations Theory, Cambridge Element in International Relations, Cambridge University Press (2017-Present)

Member, Editorial Board, Journal of International Relations and Development (2003-Present)

European University Institute


Seminars and Workshops (External)

At EUI, I co-chair and coordinate three working groups.

IR Theory Working Group - I co-chair this group, which meets every two weeks during the academic year, with Stefano Guzzini. It is for researchers and post-doctoral fellows working with us. We utilize it as a forum for presentations of work-in-progress (prospectuses, thesis chapters, drafts of conference papers); discussing current trends and controversies in IR theory, be they over ethics, data, meta-theory, theory or method; and critically evaluating arguments in the literature (journal articles, book chapters). The focus is on helping researchers and fellows make better arguments in their projects; skill building; and a bit of professional socialization. For more information, click here.

Qualitative and Fieldwork Working Group - This Working Group is a student-led knowledge exchange and community hub for researchers, post-doctoral fellows and faculty members with an interest in fieldwork, ethnography, interviewing and qualitative methodology more broadly. It serves as a forum to learn about, debate and discuss different aspects of fieldwork as well as to learn from each other’s experiences and practices. I am the mentoring professor for the Group, which meets regularly during the academic year. For more information, click here.

International Relations Working Group - Professor Guzzini and I are the mentoring professors for this group, which is run by PhD researchers. It is a critical - but collegial - forum where researchers working on international relations broadly defined get feedback on their work.  The group also sponsors lectures and seminars with leading IR scholars, including Dr. Ayse Zarakol, Prof. Robert Keohane and Prof. Christian Reus-Smit. Members come from across the EUI community - Political and Social Sciences, other departments, as well as the Schuman Centre. Its website can be found here

I welcome PhD proposals on a broad range of topics.

In terms of IR theory, I am especially interested in new theories built on inter-disciplinary grounds or that cut across epistemological boundaries. While I have long-standing interests in constructivism, I am equally at home working with other theoretical schools.

Aside from IR, I welcome projects on peace & conflict studies (rebel group mobilization, international interventions, civil wars), international institutions and organizations (governance, domestic-international linkages, legitimacy), identity politics, and European integration.

Methodologically, I can advise best on qualitative methods, but am open to other approaches. Whatever the method chosen - qualitative, quantitative, mixed, positivist or interpretive - the goal is for students to master a set of techniques that can be used in an operational, applied and ethically-sound way to explain-understand-critique the world around us.

I work with each researcher to produce a cutting-edge thesis, one that excites you and that promises in some way – theory, methods, ethics, or data – to push social science in new directions. I will insist that you are trained broadly. This means that during the first two years, you will take seminars in your area of specialization, but you will also enroll in courses in other subfields and disciplines. In addition, you will take one or more theory seminars – ‘Philosophy of Social Science, Theory and Ethics’ or ‘Power,’ for example. The purpose of all this out-of-area training is to ensure you are a well-rounded social scientist, one with considerable expertise on a particular topic/area.

The goal is to find that sweet spot that avoids two extremes. You are neither an abstract theorist whose work connects weakly to the troubled, turbulent world in which we live; nor are you a skilled technician who is content to attack any theoretical puzzle with the same method or experiment.

In my advising relationships you, the researcher, have the agency. We meet when you request it, or I provide feedback when you ask for it. However, during your first two years, I will intervene a bit more. Specifically, in September of your first and second years, we will meet and agree a series of goals for the coming year and – equally important – deadlines for reaching those goals.

General Rules

  • Respect: I strive to treat you with respect, always. If you feel something is amiss in the advising relation, please reach out; I am always approachable on such matters.
  • Letter Writing: If you require a letter of recommendation from me, I must have all material for writing the letter three weeks before the deadline.
  • Providing Feedback: When you send me a chapter or essay on which to comment, please specify by when you need the feedback. I will reply, agreeing to the date or suggesting a new one. This is then my contract for getting you comments in a timely manner.
  • IR Theory Working Group: Attendance at all sessions is mandatory.
  • Residency: Your doctoral grant requires you to be in residence in San Domenico di Fiesole during all four years of the grant. The only exceptions – and very good ones indeed – are when you are in the field collecting data, or participating in an academic exchange.
  • No E-Mails on Weekends: Finally, here is a very practical rule, one to help us all (Checkel too!) maintain a healthy work–life balance. It is simple: No work-related e-mails between 18.00 on Fridays and 7.00 on Mondays.

PhD Researchers

Marius Ghincea: Dr. Ghincea was a PhD student at EUI in 2019-24, working with Checkel. He defended his thesis, Manufacturing Consensus: The Domestic Politics of Foreign and Security Policy, in March 2024. Marius is an international-relations specialist, with a particular focus on the domestic politics of foreign policy in advanced democracies. In September 2024, Ghincea will start a three-year position as Postdoctoral Researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zuerich), working on Frank Schimmelfennig's European Research Council project 'Bordering Europe: Boundary Formation in European Integration.' 

Wolfgang Minatti: Dr. Minatti was a PhD student at EUI in 2019-24, working with Checkel and Stephanie Hofmann (co-supervisor). He defended his thesis, A Theory of Legitimation in Civil War: The Justification of Power and Governance in the Colombian Conflict, in February 2024. Wolfgang is an international-relations theorist, with a focus on conflict dynamics, researched through the rigorous application of a broad range of qualitative methods. His publications include articles in Review of International Studies and the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (co-authored with Selma Kropp). Currently, Dr. Minatti is a Visiting Fellow at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin / Berlin Social Science Center.

Melanie Sauter: Dr. Sauter was a PhD student at EUI in 2017-22, working with Checkel and Diego Gambetta (co-supervisors). She defended her thesis, Humanitarians under Attack, in September 2022. Melanie is a specialist on conflict dynamics, humanitarian aid and peacekeeping. Her research and publications (International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Peace Research) employ rigorously executed mixed-method designs. From September 2022 through December 2023, Sauter was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Oslo, working on Jana Krause’s European Research Council project, ‘Resilience Building: Social Resilience, Gendered Dynamics, and Local Peace in Protracted Conflicts.’ In January 2024, Melanie will move to the University of Oxford, taking up a three-year Levin Junior Research Fellowship in Peace Studies at Lady Margaret Hall College.


Post-Doctoral Fellows

Sam Ritholtz: Dr. Ritholtz is currently (2022-24) a Max Weber Post-Doctoral Fellow, working with Checkel. In the 2023-24 academic year, he will assist with teaching and advising, as a Part-Time Professor in Qualitative Methods, in the Department of Political and Social Sciences at EUI. Sam defended his thesis at the Department of International Development, University of Oxford, in February 2023. Ritholtz’s research on marginalized social groups, gender and sexuality sits at the intersection of comparative politics, international relations and political theory. Sam has published in the American Political Science Review and is the co-author (with Rebecca Buxton) of Toward a Queer Theory of Refuge (University of California Press, forthcoming). In January 2024, Sam will take up a Lectureship in International Relations at the Department of Politics & International Relations, University of Oxford.

Ben Mueser: Dr. Mueser was a Max Weber Post-Doctoral Fellow, working with Checkel, in 2020-22. Mueser received his PhD in Political Science from Columbia University, New York, in 2021. In his research, publications and teaching, Ben works across and integrates insights from both international relations theory and political theory – a rare combination in today’s hyper-specialized disciplinary milieus. Since leaving EUI in August 2022, Ben has been a Core Lecturer in Contemporary Civilization, Department of Political Science, Columbia University.

Shubha Prasad: Dr. Prasad was a Max Weber Post-Doctoral Fellow, working with Checkel, in 2020-22. In addition, during the 2021-22 academic year, she was a Part-Time Professor in Qualitative Methods, in the Department of Political and Social Sciences at EUI. Shubha’s 2020 PhD is from the Department of Political Science at Georgetown University, Washington, DC. She is an international relations theorist, with a focus on the domestic sources of foreign policy, spanning substate conflict to diaspora mobilization. In September 2022, Shubha began a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor of International Relations, Hertie School, Berlin, Germany.

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