Nov. 18, 2020

UCalgary Political Science Interview with: Mark Machacek!

On rock & roll, UN agencies and big business actors, market-based authority in global politics, and pronouncing Machacek

Mark Machacek is a Sessional Instructor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Calgary


Your work is broadly in International Relations. How did you become interested in this area?

Rock & roll! There was a big wave of politically driven punk rock music in the period around the 1999 Seattle protests and America’s 2003 invasion of Iraq that dealt with international issues including war, the abuse of authority and global economic justice that I really got into. At that time, I was young (an angsty teenager) and very impressionable. But instead of committing myself to music, I decided to go the academic route where I could gain a better understanding of these issues (plus I was never really that good at playing guitar, no matter how hard I tried).

You are working on your PhD at Simon Fraser University, can you tell us about?

At the moment, I’m neck deep in writing my dissertation, The Political Economy of UN-Business Partnerships. This research considers the differences in rules, practices and political relations between big business actors and different United Nations agencies and demonstrates the relevance of regime-specific economic and political factors for understanding these varying outcomes. I am also awaiting the release of a forthcoming book chapter with lead co-author Dr. Curtis Riep (University of Alberta) that interrogates the privatization of primary education in Liberia. Generally speaking, my research interests revolve around private (market-based) authority in global politics.

Mark Machacek

What are your plans for the future or the next big thing you are planning to work on?

I’m really interested in pursuing research on how the current global pandemic and economic downturn are impacting the roles and importance of private authority in global governance—that is, once my dissertation is (finally) completed. What roles has the international private sector played in the pandemic response? Has the current crisis impacted the configurations of public-private authority and power internationally? What are the institutional and policy implications of these changes? I also intend to conduct a comprehensive survey of international law on the private sector in light of the UN’s on-going draft treaty on business and human rights.

Finally, anything you would you like to add?

I would like to give a shout out to my current and former students who have been remarkably engaged, thought provoking and insightful. It’s been incredible how much I’ve learned up to this point in the teaching process through the questions you pose and the ideas you offer. Also, it’s pronounced Ma-caw-check (Machacek).


Our thanks to Mark Machacek for sharing with us.


You can follow Mark Machacek on Twitter at @MarkistPolitics