Alumni (National Fellow)

Boris Heersink

National Fellow
B.A. University of Amsterdam (2005)
M.A. University of Amsterdam (2007)
M.A. The New School for Social Research (2010)
Ph.D. University of Virginia (2016)
Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
Dream Mentor:
Richard Valelly
Swarthmore College
Fields of Interest:
American Political Development
Political Parties


Boris Heersink is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Fordham University. His research focuses on American political institutions - most notably political parties. Additional research interests include the impact of strategic choices and unique events on the outcomes of election campaigns, Southern politics, and qualitative methodology. Dr. Heersink has published in Political Analysis, American Politics Research, and Studies in American Political Development.

Thesis Description:

Beyond Service: National Party Organizations and Party Brands in American Politics
Boris Heersink’s dissertation, “Beyond Service: National Party Organizations and Party Brands in American Politics,” focuses on the historical development of the Democratic and Republican National committees (respectively the DNC and RNC) during the 19th and 20th century.The (limited) existing literature on these institutions has argued that party organizations have developed from powerful 19th century local institutions (dominated by party bosses) which controlled candidate selection, into national institutions which hold no such powers and function as mere ’service providers’ to party members. Additionally, political scientists have noted that this historical development in national committee activities has not been linear and that, while majority parties in the 20th century frequently ignored their national party organizations, minority parties invested heavily in theirs. He argues that we can best explain both phenomena by viewing the national committees as tools political actors use to promote or define their party’s brand. From this perspective, we can explain both why the national committees dramatically expanded their activities in the late 19th and early 20th century as well as explain why, in subsequent decades, minority parties have had more active national committees than majority parties. Additionally, Heersink argues that this perspective forces us to reconsider the image of the national committees as largely irrelevant ’service providers’: he argues that the services the committees provide serve a specific (and important) role to members of the party, and that, in executing this task of brand-building, the national committees have played a crucial role in the creation of parties that share a truly national set of policy preferences.

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