I’m Prof. James Robinson, author of “Why Nations Fail” and “The Narrow Corridor.” I also direct an Institute studying the causes of global conflict. AMA!
EDIT: Thanks everyone for the great questions—I had a great time answering them and really appreciate all of them. Hope to be back soon! -James
My name is James Robinson—I’m a University Professor at the Harris School for Public Policy at the University of Chicago and the director of the Pearson Institute https://thepearsoninstitute.org/.
Last month Penguin published my most recent book (with Daron Acemoglu) The Narrow Corridor https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/555400/the-narrow-corridor-by-daron-acemoglu-and-james-a-robinson/
which provides a simple framework for understanding why societies vary so much in the extent to which their citizens enjoy basic freedoms. The book builds on our previous work on the long-run dynamics of political institutions (lots of things we don’t understand!) and is also an attempt to broaden the discussion about what constitutes a society.
Apart from this I continue to conduct field research and collect data in Africa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria currently, and in Latin America in Bolivia and Colombia where I teach every summer at the University of the Andes in Bogotá. I have also been trying to help the Interamerican Development Bank evaluate their project to help build Haitian state institutions which has been quite a challenge given the political situation there of late (though of course it has been most challenging for the Haitian people).
The Pearson Institute was started in 2016 to examine the roots and causes of violent conflict and to better understand strategies for resolving them. In addition to recruiting top researchers working in these areas, like Chris Blattman, Oeindrila Dube and Nobel Laureate Roger Myerson, we also sponsor a variety of events where we bring together practitioners and people actually involved in resolving conflicts, such as Sergio Jaramillo the Colombian High Commissioner for Peace and Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair’s former chief of staff: https://thepearsoninstitute.org/events/pearson-annual-lecture
Ask me anything—I'll be back to answer your questions around 2PM CT!