Peter Andreas recounts a childhood traveling with his mother through Latin America and participating in left-wing movements.
How do academics choose what they study? Many of my political-science colleagues will offer professional answers: what they work on is “at the core of the scholarly debate in the field,” or alternatively, the subject has been “undertheorized” and there is a “gap in the literature”; or they will give the increasingly common response, “there is a great data set to work with.” Usually, that’s where the conversation stops. Push a little more, though, and some will confess that the initial spark of interest may have been more personal — a particular life experience or event that left a lasting impression. But for the most part, professors strain to depersonalize what they do, maintaining the veneer of professional detachment and scholarly objectivity.