In the land of Fraser

It is exciting to finally visit The Emerald City!

As an East Coast boy, I never got the chance to travel to the west coast of the US until I was in the UK. The Pacific Northwest looks superb and after a week in Wales, it was cool to fly in over the mountains yesterday and enjoy the drive in from the aiport to downtown Seattle with all the trees and water.

Ironically, I found myself in The White Horse pub last night on Post Alley in The Market area of the city.  This is a remarkable little place full of books, traditional ale, wine, and board games. Great place for magician to find himself!

The ambiance was outstanding last night and a barman that had quite a style about him.

For me, Seattle has always been the city of Tom Hanks (Sleepless in Seattle), Fraser and Starbucks. Years of watching the antics of Fraser and Niles in this city from the comfort of our East Bergholt home has always been fun for my family, but it is great to finally see the city for itself.

I am here for the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, which has the overall theme of The Politics of Rights.

I have the honour and good fortune to be taking part in a two round tables (one to celebrate the work of David P. Forsythe and one to commemorate the work of the late Richard Claude who inspired much of my work on human rights measurement), a panel on human rights institutions, and an awards luncheon as Chair of the Committee for the Gabriel Almond Award for the Best Dissertation in Comparative Politics.

It is a welcome development that the APSA recognises the importance of rights as a fundamental concern of political science, as I have long argued that it is possible to have a political science of human rights, where systematic empirical methods can be applied to normative questions such as the relationship between the citizen and the state.

One need only look at the dramatic changes in the Middle East and North Africa in 2011 to see the importance of rights, the language of rights being used by many involved in the struggle against tyranny, and the politics of rights as new governments are formed and countries undergo the next phases in what appear to be significant transitional challenges toward more accountable government.

Catching up with great friends and colleagues here, including some of my PhD students from Essex who are now making their way successfully into the world.

It is good to be back in America.

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