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Betsy Hartmann

Director, Population and Development Program;
Professor, Development Studies
Hampshire College


Special Podcast Series: Reflections on Kaplan’s The Coming Anarchy
Over the next 4 months, ACUNS will be releasing a special series of Current Issues podcasts that feature interviews with the leading scholars and experts from a variety of disciplines and professional backgrounds. These conversations examine the ideas and debates generated by Robert Kaplan’s “The Coming Anarchy” (The Atlantic, February 1994), and discuss how his images and analysis subsequently shaped, affected and perhaps precluded policy choices and behaviors in Western capitals, in international organizations, NGOs and elsewhere – and for several of these experts, directly in their own work. The interviewees all participated in a recent workshop, “20 Years after The Coming Anarchy: Assessing the Legacy of Robert Kaplan’s 1994 Analysis” held at the Balsillie School of International Affairs.

Episode Summary
Dr. Betsy Hartmann joins co-host Alistair Edgar to focus on the “six D’s” that she argues characterize the assumptions and perspective found in “The Coming Anarchy”: dehumanization, demonization, dystopianism, degradation, de-politicization, and disinformation. In addition, Hartmann explores why the article was so prominent in Washington, why she believes the Atlantic Monthly chose to publish it, and how journalism functions in shaping informing national intelligence and security strategies. Hartmann and Edgar then look at the context in which Kaplan’s article was written, and why environmental conflict models became increasingly popular in the 1990’s.

Additional Resources
Robert Kaplan, “The Coming Anarchy“, The Atlantic
Robert Kaplan, “Why So Much Anarchy?“, A 20 year reflection by Kaplan on “The Coming Anarchy”
20 Years after The Coming Anarchy: Assessing the Legacy of Robert Kaplan’s 1994 Analysis

About Betsy Hartmann
Betsy Hartmann, professor of development studies and director of the Population and Development Program, received her B.A. from Yale University and her Ph.D. from the London School of Economics.  She is a longstanding activist in the international women’s health movement. Her research and teaching focus on the intersections between population, migration, environment and security issues.  She is the author of Reproductive Rights and Wrongs: The Global Politics of Population Control and The Truth about Fire, a political thriller about the Far Right. She is the co-author of A Quiet Violence: View from a Bangladesh Village and co-editor of the recent anthology Making Threats: Biofears and Environmental Anxieties.


Recorded April 2014.