Location: Bowdoin / Barbara Elias

Government and Legal Studies

Barbara Elias

Assistant Professor of Government

Contact Information

Government and Legal Studies

Hubbard Hall - 203

Teaching this semester

GOV 2670. United States Foreign Policy

Examines the development and conduct of United States foreign policy. Analyzes the impact of intragovernmental rivalries, the media, public opinion, and interest groups on the policy-making process, and provides case studies of contemporary foreign policy issues.

GOV 3620. Advanced Seminar in International Relations: Counterinsurgencies

Counterinsurgency warfare -- the political and military struggle to obstruct insurrection -- is complex, variable, and arduous. As one US Special Forces officer in Iraq noted, counterinsurgency is not just thinking man’s warfare, it is the graduate level of war. How do we make sense of the intricate, violent contest between insurgent and counterinsurgent? Why have the United States' wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan been exceedingly drawn out, irregular, and destructive? Connecting classic and critical military texts such as Clausewitz and US Army/Marine Corps operational manuals, with case studies from Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan (contrasting the US and Soviet interventions), entwines political/military theory with battlefield history to deepen understandings of thinking man’s warfare.

Teaching next semester

GOV 1031. Weapons of the Weak

Despite enjoying a preponderance of resources, the rich and mighty don’t always win in life, or in war. Why? How do peasants and insurgents impose their will on more powerful organizations? How do wealthy armies at times lose wars to impoverished rebels? Whereas money and material can be measured, divided and counted in a spreadsheet, less quantifiable factors of conflict such as ideas, identity, legitimacy, will power and fortitude are too often discounted as secondary factors. But these may, in truth, be at the heart of war, and weapons for the weak to bring down the mighty.

GOV 2690. Islam and Politics

Analyzing the intersection of politics and multiple expressions of Islam in both state governments and transnational movements, studies Islam as a social, ethical, and political force in the modern era. Offers a basic introduction to Muslim history and the Islamic religion, explores various Islamic social and political movements, analyzes contending understandings of the interaction between politics and Islam, as well as investigating the tensions between the Islamic and western political traditions, including democracy and Islam. Relying on texts from influential revolutionaries such as Qutb and Khomeini as well as perspectives on political Islam from academic scholars, explores the heart of politics, society, and religion in the modern Muslim world.

Barbara Elias

Personal website: barbaraelias.org


  • B.A. Brown University, Providence, RI, 2002
  • M.A., Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, 2013