Myron (Mike) Aronoff has devoted his professional career to building conceptual and methodological bridges between political science and anthropology. The core concept that frames most of his work is legitimacy, i.e., the processes through which relationships of power are transformed into relationships of authority and, conversely, processes through which authority is challenged and undermined. Distinguished Professor Aronoff authored the entry for political culture in the International Encyclopedia of Behavioral and Social Sciences (2002) and conceptualizes it as being contested, contingent, and highly contextual. All of his research and teaching explore various aspects of the relationship between culture and politics.
Interest in how fiction can afford insights into political processes that are difficult for researchers to observe first hand resulted in the writing of The Spy Novels of John le Carre: Balancing Ethics & Politics (1999, 2001). This work explores liberal temperament, issues of moral ambiguity, the role of skepticism in balancing excessive optimism and pessimism, weighing ends against means—exploring the limits of raison d’état, human nature, bureaucratic politics (domestic and international), the culture and craft of espionage, and how art imitates life and life imitates fiction in the real world of espionage. The main theme is that balancing ethical and political imperatives requires learning to live with ambiguity.
Distinguished Professor Aronoff has been awarded the First Israel Institute/Association for Israel Studies Lifetime Achievement Award honoring a lifetime of exceptional scholarship and academic achievement in the field of Israel Studies. The award recognizes a senior scholar whose lasting and path-breaking contributions have significantly shaped the field. (June 2013)
Distinguished Professor Aronoff earned his Ph.D. in Political Science from UCLA, his Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from Manchester University (UK), and his B.A. in Government from Miami University.