Statue of Saparmurat Niyazov, Ashbagat, Turkmenistan. Credit: Flickr/davidstanleytravel

In the latest installment of the IISS Survival seminar series, Dr Andrea Kendall-Taylor examined the evolution of authoritarianism since the end of the Cold War. The event focused on Dr Kendall-Taylor and Erica Frantz's recent Survival article, The Evolution of Autocracy: Why Authoritarianism is Becoming More Formidable.

Globalisation, shifting great power dynamics, and the growing accessibility of internet and communication technology have changed the environment within which autocrats operate. Many analysts have noted these changes and concluded the masses now hold the upper hand and dictators’ days are surely numbered. It may be true that 21st century autocrats face more and increasingly complex challenges to their rule. But current accounts of dictatorship seriously underestimate the adaptability of authoritarian systems.

Since the end of the Cold War, dictators have evolved to survive and even thrive amid changes in their domestic and international environments. Since 1991 there have been substantial changes in the ways that dictators assume power and in the ways in which they lose power. These changes have implications for the political dynamics in today’s autocracies and made authoritarianism a more formidable challenge.

Dr Kendall-Taylor works at the National Intelligence Council, where she is a deputy national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia. During her eight years in the United States government, she has focused her research and analysis on the political dynamics of authoritarian regimes, political stability, democratisation, and civil society, with a particular focus on Russia and Eurasia. Dr. Kendall-Taylor is also an adjunct professor in political science at Georgetown University. Her work has been published in numerous political science journals, including the Journal of Peace Research, Democratization, and Journal of Democracy, as well as a number of policy outlets such as Foreign Affairs, the Washington Quarterly, Survival, and Foreign Policy. Dr Kendall-Taylor received her BA in politics from Princeton University and her PhD in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles. She was also a Fulbright scholar in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, where she conducted her dissertation research.


Matthew Harries

Dr Matthew Harries is Managing Editor of Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, and Research Fellow for Transatlantic Affairs at the IISS. Before joining the institute Matthew was a postdoctoral research associate at the Centre for Science and Security Studies in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. His PhD, on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), was supervised at King’s by Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman.

Back to content list

Event details

Wednesday 1 November 12.30–1.30pm EDT
IISS–Americas, Washington DC
Dr Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Russia and Eurasia, National Intelligence Council
Matthew Harries, Managing Editor, Survival; Research Fellow for Transatlantic Affairs, IISS