Nitsan Chorev

261 Watson

Research Interests

Global Health, International Political Economy, Global and Transnational Sociology, Development, Comparative Historical Sociology, International Organizations, Social Theory


Nitsan Chorev is the Harmon Family Professor of Sociology and International Studies at Brown University. She was a Member at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and a Global Fellow at the UCLA International Institute. She specializes in the politics of globalization and neoliberalism, global health and foreign aid. She  teaches on development, global and transnational sociology, comparative historical sociology, classical social theory, and contemporary social theory.

Her first book, Remaking U.S. Trade Policy: From Protectionism to Globalization (Cornell University Press, 2007), looks at the globalization as a political, rather than a merely economic, project and investigates what political conditions made globalization possible. The book offers a political history of trade liberalization in the United States and at the GATT (later, the WTO) from the 1930s to the 2000s by tracing the political struggles and institutional transformations that allowed supporters of liberal trade to successfully win free-trade policies against what was initially an influential protectionist opposition. The book won the ASA Political Economy of the World-Systems book award.

Her second book, The World Health Organization between North and South (Cornell University Press, 2012) looks at the transformation of international health policies from the 1970s to the present. The book investigates how the WHO bureaucracy was able to transcend political turbulence and avoid having its agenda co-opted either by the small minority of wealthy nations, who fund the organization, or by poor nations, who hold the majority of votes, through astute strategies of reframing countries' demands before responding to them. The book shows that through such strategies the WHO bureaucracy was able not only to reach consensus among member states but also to reach agreements that fit the bureaucracy's own principles and interests. The book assesses the response of the WHO bureaucracy to member-states' pressure during two particularly contentious moments. The first occurred in the 1970s-1980s, when developing countries – angered by the deepening gap between the haves and the have-nots – called for a more equal international economic order. The second, which started in the late 1990s, involved WHO's efforts to adjust to neoliberal policies in the United States and other wealthy countries that affected the amount of money they were prepared to give to global causes and the types of programs they were willing to fund.

Her most recent book, Give and Take: Developmental Foreign Aid and the Pharmaceutical Industry in East Africa, looks at local drug manufacturing in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, from the early 1980s to the present, to understand the impact of foreign aid on industrial development. While foreign aid has been attacked by critics as wasteful, counterproductive, or exploitative, the book makes a clear case for the effectiveness of what I call “developmental foreign aid.” Against the backdrop of Africa’s pursuit of economic self-sufficiency, the battle against AIDS and malaria, and bitter negotiations over affordable drugs, the book offers an important corrective to popular views on foreign aid and development. The book shows that when foreign aid has provided markets, monitoring, and mentoring, it has supported the emergence and upgrading of local production. In instances where donors were willing to procure local drugs, they created new markets that gave local entrepreneurs an incentive to produce new types of drugs. In turn, when donors enforced exacting standards as a condition to access those markets, they gave these producers an incentive to improve quality standards. And where technical know-how was not readily available and donors provided mentoring, local producers received the guidance necessary for improving production processes.