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AIAS Seminar: Nicholas Semi Haas, AIAS-Shape Fellow

Evaluating the Effect of Inclusive Historical Narratives on Support for Undemocratic Measures: Evidence from India and the United States

Credit: Nash Weerasekera, Illustration for Foreign Policy.

Info about event


Monday 29 April 2024,  at 11:00 - 12:00


AIAS, Building 1630 room 301

Nicholas Semi Haas, AIAS-Shape Fellow


What explains citizens’ willingness to forego democratic norms and principles, and what can be done about it? In this project, we first argue that the dismissal of some voters as “lesser members of the nation” allows individuals to justify placing restrictions on those voters’ democratic rights. Consistently, findings from original surveys in the world’s two largest democracies – India and the United States – show strong, positive associations between perceiving rigid hierarchies of national identity, associating the political opposition with ethnic minorities, and embracing undemocratic policy measures. Second, we investigate whether inclusive historical narratives can counteract the notion that minorities are lesser members of the nation and thus, the ease with which individuals can justify trespassing on their democratic rights. To evaluate our theory, we carry out incentivized online experiments in which we randomly assign participants inclusive educational content sourced from real history textbooks. Our findings highlight the important role of national identities in shaping support for democratic principles and indicate that battles over history education may carry consequences for democratic resilience. 

Short Bio

Nicholas Semi Haas is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Aarhus University, which he joined following his PhD at New York University. His research investigates causes, consequences, and potential solutions to inter-group inequality, polarization, and conflict. A central focus of his research is group identity. He draws on experimental and advanced statistical methods, qualitative fieldwork, and insights from economics and psychology to answer substantive and methodological questions sourced from these interests.

What is an AIAS Seminar?

The AIAS Seminar is a session of seminars held by the AIAS fellows, AIAS Visiting or Tandem Fellows or by other speakers proposed by the fellows. In each seminar, a fellow will present and discuss her/his current research and work-in-progress for 30 minutes, closing off with 30 minutes for questions, comments and discussion.

All seminars are held in English.