Cyrus Ernesto "Ernie" Zirakzadeh

Professor Emeritus

Political Science

Professional Background

Cyrus Ernesto (“Ernie”) Zirakzadeh received his baccalaureate from the University of Michigan, his master’s degree from Stanford University, and his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley. He has been a member of the Political Science Department at the University of Connecticut for more than thirty years. He has served for five years as Director of the University of Connecticut’s Honors Programs and for five years as Associate Dean for the Social Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and he thrice chaired the University of Connecticut’s Senate Executive Committee.

During the 1980s, Zirakzadeh was a co-founder of the Association of Graduate Student Employees at the University of California, Berkeley. He also was an active member in the Berkeley chapter of the Caucus for a New Political Science. In the late 1990s, Zirakzadeh participated in the Perestroika movement within political science, which sought to encourage a substantively rich, methodologically plural discipline. In addition, Zirakzadeh has served on the Graduate Education and Professional Development Committee of the American Political Science Association, and on the Executive Councils of the Northeastern Political Science Association and the New England Political Science Association.

In 2005, he was honored with the title “University of Connecticut Teaching Fellow” from the University of Connecticut’s Institute for Teaching and Learning. He also received an Outstanding Teaching Award from the American Political Science Association and Pi Sigma Alpha honorary society. His other academic and scholarly awards include a Danforth Foundation Graduate Fellowship, graduation with Highest Honors from the University of Michigan, and membership in Phi Beta Kappa and the Connecticut Academy of Arts Sciences. In 2015, Zirakzadeh received the inaugural University of Connecticut Provost’s Service Award for contributions “to the teaching, research, engagement, and service missions of the University of Connecticut.”

Scholarship and Research

Over the past thirty years, two topics have dominated Zirakzadeh’s research agenda: experiments with grassroots democracy (also known as “participatory democracy” and “direct democracy”) and political thought in art. For several decades, he has examined the origins, activities, and legacies of social movements in Western and Central Europe and Latin and North America. More recently, he has studied representations of U.S. politics in literature, music, and film. In addition, he is interested in theories about workplace democracy, and in the possibilities for and challenges to an interpretive political science.

Zirakzadeh has authored three books: A Rebellious People: Basques Protests and Politics (1991), Direct Democracy and International Politics: Deciding International Issues through Referendums (co-authored with John Rourke and Richard Hiskes, 1992), and Social Movements in Politics: A Comparative Study (1997; updated and expanded second edition in 2006). He also has edited a four-volume handbook on social and political movements (2011), and has co-edited an anthology with Simon Stow on the political experiences and visions of John Steinbeck (2013), and an anthology with Jane Gordon on the political experiences and visions of Richard Wright (forthcoming).

Zirakzadeh has published research articles in numerous journals, among them Polity, Social Movement Studies, West European Politics, Journal of Theoretical Politics, The Review of Politics, and Comparative Studies in Society and History. He has served on the editorial boards of New Political Science, Perspectives on Politics, and Social Movement Studies, and between 2010 and 2015 was the editor-in-chief of Polity: The Journal of the Northeastern Political Science Association.

Zirakzadeh’s “Theorizing about Workplace Democracy: Robert Dahl and the Cooperatives of Mondragon” received the John C. Donovan Prize for best paper at the 1987 New England Political Science Association Meeting. Choice honored the first edition of Social Movements in Politics in 1998 with an Outstanding Academic Book Award. Zirakzadeh wrote a chapter for Edward Schatz’s Political Ethnography: What Immersion Contributes to the Study of Power, which won the 2010 Giovanni Sartori Book Award from the Qualitative and Multi-Methods Section of the American Political Science Association.

Notable Writings in Political Theory

  • “Theorizing about Workplace Democracy: Robert Dahl and the Cooperatives of Mondragon” in Journal of Theoretical Politics, 1990, 2(1): 109-26.
  • “John Steinbeck on the Political Capacities of Everyday Folk: Moms, Reds, and Ma Joad’s Revolt” in Polity, 2004, 36(4): 595-618.
  • “Political Prophecy in Contemporary American Literature: The Left-Conservative Vision of Norman Mailer” in The Review of Politics, 2007 69(4): 625-49.
  • “For What Do We Cheer? Nietzsche, Moral Stands, and Social Movement Research” in New Political Science, 2013, 35(3): 492-506.
  • (co-edited with Simon Stow) A Political Companion to John Steinbeck (University Press of Kentucky, 2013).

Notable Writings in Comparative Politics

  • “Economic Changes and Surges in Micro-Nationalist Voting in Scotland and the Basque Region of Spain” in Comparative Studies in Society and History, 1989, 31(2):318-39.
  • “Traditions of Protest and High-School Student Movements in Spain and France” in West European Politics, 1989, 12(3): 220-37.
  • A Rebellious People: Basques, Protests, and Politics (Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1991)
  • Social Movements in Politics: A Comparative Study (London and New York: Addison Wesley Longman, 1997).
  • “Farm Workers Labor Movements” in Immanuel Ness, ed., The Encyclopedia of American Social Movements, Volume 3 (M.E. Sharpe, 2004), 822-34.
  • (co-authored with Mark Payerhin) “On Movement Frames and Negotiated Identities: Poland’s First Solidarity Congress” in Social Movement Studies, 2006, 5(2): 91-115.
  • “Crossing Frontiers: Theoretical Innovations in the Study of Social Movements” in International Political Science Review, 2008, 29(5): 525-41.
  • “When Nationalists Are Not Separatists: Discarding and Recovering Academic Theories While Doing Fieldwork in the Basque Region of Spain” in Edward Schatz, ed., Political Ethnography: What Immersion Contributes to the Study of Power (University of Chicago Press, 2009), 97-117.
Cyrus Zirakzadeh
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Curriculum Vitae Zirakzadeh-CV