Kevin R. Anderson is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at Eastern Illinois University where he teaches courses in American government, political theory and African American politics. Anderson was recently honored as the 2018 Distinguished Faculty member for the Eastern Illinois University Sandra and Jack Pine Honors College.
Here we ask him a few questions about his experiences:
Who has had the greatest influence on your research and/or career?
The most influential scholar in terms of my research and teaching is Adolph Reed Jr. I first met him as an undergraduate at the Ralph Bunche Institute and his insights into race and American Political Thought helped shaped the questions that I came to explore in Graduate School. The nuance of his perspective on urban politics, African American Electoral Politics and African American Political Thought (showcasing democratic impulses within minority groups) inspired me to think of the differences among African Americans as essential to understanding political behavior across groups. This insight became the foundation of my dissertation, my first book, and continues to provoke research questions that I seek to answer.
Do you have a favorite writing resource or process to keep you motivated?
My writing process is to begin with a central question and then commit to working everyday until I believe I have covered every aspect of that first question. Once I review the literature, I try to start with a series of smaller questions that I think contribute to the research question and then I start writing at the same time of the day (early afternoon), on the same computer, and for the same amount of time (approximately two hours) in order to develop a routine. I find that this method tends to keep me consistently thinking about the research and focused on getting as much of it written as possible.
Words of wisdom for first-time MPSA conference attendees?
My advice to first-time attendees at the MPSA? Feel free to explore panels and talks that you are curious about beyond your specific area of interest. Listening to scholars presenting and debating research in a subfield is not only illuminating but it can spark insights into your own research. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and participate in the discussions, as they help to establish the context of the research presented and give you a guide to understanding the essential questions that contemporary research is trying to answer.
This post is part of a series of interviews with our members. Read more MPSA Member profiles.