Book Project: Defiance and Resistance to International Norms

In the last three decades, scholars and activists have argued that transnational normative pressure can improve human rights conditions around the world. “Naming and shaming” is now the preferred tactic of human rights organizations worldwide, and a number of studies in IR claim that transnational pressure can effectively improve states’ human rights practices. My book manuscript challenges this conventional wisdom. In many cases, shaming not only fails to induce compliance but incites a backlash, provoking resistance and worsening human rights practices. When does shaming lead to an improvement in human rights conditions, and when does it backfire? My research addresses this question with a new theory of norm defiance, along with experimental and qualitative evidence.

The first part of the book manuscript develops my theory of norm defiance. When transnational pressure provokes a defensive reaction in relevant audiences, political leaders face incentives that penalize compliance with foreign norms and reward violations. The theory amends and extends existing models of international norm dynamics by explaining when and how transnational shaming drives resistance and further violations. Subsequent chapters provide support for theory by drawing on survey experiments, cross-national data, and in-depth case studies. Together, these findings cast doubt on the power of international pressure to promote human rights, while upending the received wisdom on the role of norms in world affairs.

Peer Reviewed Articles 

Terman, Rochelle and Erik Voeten. “The Relational Politics of Shame: Evidence from the Universal Periodic Review.” Review of International Organizations 13(1). 2018. [Supporting Information] [Replication Materials]

Terman, Rochelle. “Islamophobia and Media Portrayals of Women’s Rights: A Computational Text Analysis of U.S. News Coverage” International Studies Quarterly 61(3). 2017.
[Supporting Information] [Replication Materials]

Terman, Rochelle. “Islamophobia, Feminism, and the Politics of Critique” Theory, Culture & Society 33(2). 2016.

Terman, Rochelle. “Piety of Public Participation: The Revolutionary Muslim Woman in the Islamic Republic of Iran” Politics, Religion, and Ideology 11(3). 2010.

Terman, Rochelle. “To Specify or Single Out: Should We Use the Term ‘Honor Killing’?” The Muslim World Journal of Human Rights, 7(1). 2010.

In Progress

“Rewarding Resistance: Theorizing Defiance to International Shaming.” (Under Review)

“The Cultural Roots of Islamophobia” With Lisa Argyle and Matti Nelimarkka. (Under Review)

“The Positive Side of Negative Identity: Deviance and Stigma in Backlash Movements.” (Under Review)

“Normative Communities in International Relations.” With Zoltán Buzas. (Under Review)

“Don’t Tell Us What to Do: Human Rights Shaming and Nationalist Backlash.” With Jamie Gruffydd-Jones.

Select Other Publications

Researching Gender & Women in Muslim Contexts: Beyond Orientalism?” in Golder, Matt and Sona Golder (eds.) CP: Newsletter of the Comparative Politics Organized Section of the American Political Science Association 27(1): 1-109. 2017.

Trans(ition) in Iran” World Policy Journal. Spring 2014.

Stoning in Not Our Culture: A Comparative Analysis of Human Rights and Religious Discourses in Iran and Nigeria” Women Living Under Muslim Laws, report for CSW. With Mufuliat Fijabi. 2010