DR. JULIA AZARI
MAY MEMBER OF THE MONTH
Member since 2002
WHY DID YOU BECOME A POLITICAL SCIENTIST?
Weirdly, my interest in political science was sparked in two courses that have nothing to do with my substantive research interests now. First, I got interest in the idea of applying theory to specific cases in an introductory international relations class. I didn’t really know that theoretical frameworks were a thing before that, and I was really drawn to the idea. I also learned in a class on the political economy of development that problems with hunger and suffering around the world were about politics, not resources. So I became motivated to become an expert on politics. In grad school, I ended up getting interested in political rhetoric because it seemed like words were such an important part of the Bush presidency, and I was interested in how effectively the administration had framed different aspects of the post-911 environment. I am also interested in elections and so I ended up writing a dissertation on how presidents interpret elections rhetorically.
WHY DID YOU JOIN APSA AND WHY DO YOU CONTINUE TO STAY INVOLVED?
APSA is a great way to connect with scholars who share my research interests and as well as the broader scholarly community. Over the years I’ve been heavily involved with the Presidents and Executive Politics section. I’ve served on numerous awards committees over the years, and while it can be a lot of work, it’s great to see what other people are working on.
WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECT OF BEING A POLITICAL SCIENTIST? HOW?
Well, people do make a range of faces when I tell them what I do for a living. Right now I think it is particularly important to communicate what we do to a broader public. There are a lot of dimensions to this, but I think it’s especially important to base our research on questions and concepts that are recognizable to practitioners and to politically engaged citizens who want to know more, but don’t study politics for a living. One of the challenges I’ve been heavily involved with as a scholar who also writes for public outlets coming up with rigorous ways to analyze politics as it unfolds in real time.
IF YOU COULD GIVE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE TO SOMEONE IN THEIR GRADUATE/UNDERGRADUATE YEARS, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
OUTSIDE OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, TELL US SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOURSELF.
I blog at Mischiefs of Faction on Vox.com and I am a contributor for FiveThirtyEight.com. In my non-work time, I knit a lot, mostly socks.