Portrait picture of Jeffrey T. Checkel

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

Adele Ines Battistini

Working languages


Curriculum vitae

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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 and the populist backlash against them.
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; civil wars; the liberal order and identity politics; international institutions; qualitative methods; and philosophies of social science.

Additional information

Institutions at Bay? The liberal order and the international institutions (IIs) that underpin it are under attack. For some, it is the policies these institutions pursue – facilitating a globalized economy where there are winners but also clear losers. However, for others, the provocation lies not in what such institutions do, but in what they portend – a diminished and diluted sense of national identity. Indeed, it would seem that identity matters, and identity politics are alive and well. The actions of many institutions have become deeply controversial, and the European Union is no exception. This project thus seeks to understand better how IIs shape identity, and what role this plays in 21st century politics.

My core argument is that the identity effects of international institutions are refracted through the domestic politics of their member states, and that daily lived experiences and articulated beliefs interact to shape such politics. Identity, in other words, is constructed by both what we do and what we say. The main case is contemporary Germany. With its own troubled history of violence justified by national identity, Germany has more recently been hailed as a model of post-national consciousness and a champion of the EU. Yet, this carefully nurtured European identity – one crucially influenced by the EU – is being reshaped by a new identity politics spurred by the arrival of over 1 million refugees in 2015-16. Using data from interviews, participant observation and key policy texts, I construct a process-based political ethnography of identity change in Germany at two different points in time, and the EU’s (changing) role in it. The German case will thus shed crucial light on the extent to which institutions – in this case, the EU – are indeed ‘at bay’ in an era defined by a new and deeply national identity politics.

Social Dynamics of Violence. This project explores the group and social dynamics at work in civil war, but places its study within a broader spectrum of conflict forms. Our analytic hook is socialization, where there is evidence of its powerful effects in interstate wars (sociological studies of military socialization), within criminal networks, and in urban gangs (work by anthropologists). The project’s value added is to extend this theoretical frame to studies of civil war, where socialization and group dynamics are potentially operative at all stages, from pre-conflict indoctrination in schools, to insurgent mobilization, to rebel group recruitment and retention, to post-conflict interventions by the international community.

Going beyond the roster of non-coercive mechanisms developed by constructivists over the past decade, we theorize a broader range of socialization processes, including hazing, the use of sexual violence, and strategies of dehumanization. Empirically, we examine socialization in contexts and countries marked by disorder, possible state collapse and institutional instability. Such a focus moves beyond and thus helps to bound the causal claims advanced by earlier international-relations work that primarily studied socialization in peaceful settings and stabile institutional environments.

Our findings were published as a special issue - under my editorship - of the Journal of Peace Research 54/5 (September 2017).

Google Scholar (January 2021): Publications = 69; Citations = 18,338; h-index = 39.

"Process Tracing and International Political Economy," in Jon Pevehouse and Leonard Seabrooke, Editors, Oxford Handbook of International Political Economy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021 - Author

“Methods in Constructivist Approaches,” in Alexandra Gheciu and William Wohlforth, Editors, Oxford Handbook of International Security. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018 - Author

"Socialization and Violence,” Special Issue of Journal of Peace Research Vol.54, No.5 (September 2017) - Editor

“Socialization and Violence: Introduction and Framework,” Journal of Peace Research Vol.54, No.5 (September 2017) - Author

Process Tracing: From Metaphor to Analytic Tool. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015 – Co-editor and Author

"Research Transparency and Open Science: Can We Have Too Much of a Good Thing?" Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Political Science Association (Virtual), 10-13 September 2020

"International Institutions and Domestic Politics: Rethinking the Institutions–Identity Nexus," Paper presented at the European Consortium for Political Research General Conference (Virtual), 24-28 August 2020

“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

“Data Access, Transparency and Open Science: Can We Have Too Much of a Good Thing?” Peace Research Institute Oslo, April 2017

Associate Editor, Journal of Peace Research

Associate Editor, International Relations Theory, Cambridge Elements Series, Cambridge University Press

Member, Editorial Board, Journal of International Relations and Development

European University Institute

Workshop – Philosophy of Social Science (3rd Term, Academic Year 2020-2021)

Seminar – Introduction to Qualitative Methods (2nd Term, Academic Year 2020-2021)

Seminar – International Institutions and Global Governance (1st Term, Academic Year 2020-2021)

Workshop – Process Tracing in Field Research (3rd Term, Academic Year 2019-2020)

Seminar – Introduction to Qualitative Methods (2nd Term, Academic Year 2019-2020)

Seminars and Workshops (External)

Seminar - European Identity (European Integration Summer School, June 2021)

Seminar - Process Tracing (European Integration Summer School, June 2021)

Seminar - Advanced Qualitative Methods in Conflict Studies: Case Research and Process Analytics (Research School on Peace & Conflict, June 2021)

Seminar - Dynamics of Armed Conflict (Research School on Peace & Conflict, May 2021)

Seminar - Process Tracing (Berlin Graduate School of Global and Transregional Studies, Free University Berlin, January 2021)

Workshop - Interpretive Methods (Department of Political Science, Uppsala University, November 2020)

Short Course - Process Tracing (American Political Science Association Annual Convention, September 2020)

At EUI, I run and coordinate four working groups.

IR Theory Working Group - This group meets every two weeks during the academic year; it is for researchers and post-doctoral fellows working with Checkel, and is run by him. 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 Checkel, too :) Further details here.

Qualitative and Fieldwork Working Group - Caitlin Proctor and I are the mentoring professors for this group, which is run by SPS PhD researchers. The Working Group is a 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. The Group meets every three weeks during the academic year; for more information, see their website or click here.

International Relations Working Group - I am the mentoring professor 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. 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.

The Legal and Political Theory Working Group - Martijn Hesselink and I are the mentoring professors for this group, which is again run by PhD researchers. It provides both established academics and researchers an opportunity to discuss and improve their theoretically-oriented work. One of the group’s most cherished traits is its openness. If your work deals with any strand of legal or political theory, or you simply think that your research will benefit from theoretical insights, this group is for you! For more details, click 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.

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