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Jeffrey A. Winters

Professor and Director of the Equality Development and Globalization Studies program (EDGS)

Ph.D.: Yale University, 1991


Research Interest(s): Oligarchs and Elites; Wealth Defense, Inequality, and Material Power; Liberal Democracy and Extreme Wealth Stratification; Post-Colonial States

Program Area(s): Comparative Politics; American Politics

Regional Specialization(s): United States; Southeast Asia; Asia

Subfield Specialties: American Political Development; Comparative Historical Analysis

Joint Appointment 

Equality Development and Globalization Studies


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Professor Winters specializes on oligarchs and elites spanning a range of historical and contemporary cases, including ancient Athens and Rome, medieval Europe, the United States, as well as Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines. His book, Oligarchy (Cambridge 2011), won APSA’s 2012 Gregory M. Luebbert Award for the Best Book in Comparative Politics. It has been translated into Indonesian and will also be published in Chinese and Spanish. His research, publications, and teaching focus on the areas of comparative and political economy. In addition to oligarchy, important themes in his work include state-capital relations, capital mobility and the structural power of investors, the World Bank, human rights, authoritarianism, and democratic transitions in post-colonial states. He has conducted extensive research in the region of Southeast Asia. 

His book, Power in Motion: Capital Mobility and the Indonesian State (Cornell 1996), explores the structural power of those who supply and withhold a society’s investment resources. With Jonathan Pincus, he co-edited Reinventing the World Bank (Cornell 2002), a wide-ranging critique of the Bank’s structure and operation. Both books were translated into Indonesian and published in Jakarta. He has also published two other books written in Indonesian: in 1999, Dosa-Dosa Politik Orde Baru [Political Sins of Suharto’s New Order], the best-selling book in Indonesia that year, and, in 2004, Orba Jatuh, Orba Bertahan? [Indonesia’s “New Order” Falls or Endures?]. He was one of three scholars invited in 2014 by the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy to write on the topic of “wealth,” to be published in their journal NOMOS.

In 2006, 2008, 2012, and 2013, Professor Winters was named to the Associated Student Government (ASG) Faculty Honor Roll for teaching excellence (chosen by student nomination and vote). In 2014, the Politics Department awarded him the Farrell Teaching Prize.

Professor Winters is the founder and Director of the Equality Development and Globalization Studies (EDGS) program at Northwestern. He is also the founder and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Indonesian Scholarship and Research Support Foundation (ISRSF), and the Director of the Social Sciences Program at the Center for Public Policy Transformation (Transformasi), both in Jakarta.


  • Oligarchy. (2011). Cambridge University Press.
  • Reinventing the World Bank. (2002). Co-edited with Jonathan Pincus. Cornell University Press.
  • Dosa-Dosa Politik Orde Baru [Political Sins of Suharto’s New Order]. (1999). Djambatan Press.
  • Orba Jatuh, Orba Bertahan? [Indonesia’s “New Order” Falls or Endures?]. (1999). Djambatan Press.
  • Power in Motion: Capital Mobility and the Indonesian State. (1996). Cornell University Press.

Select Publications

  • "Wealth Defense and the Complicity of Liberal Democracy," in Wealth, edited by Jack Knight and Melissa Schwartzberg, NOMOS LVIII, a special issue of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy. NYU Press, 2017.
    “Venturing into the Unknown: The Impact of Trump’s Presidency on Asia.” Strategic Review, Jan-Mar 2017.
  • “Oligarchy.” (2015). Encyclopedia of Political Thought.
  • “Oligarchy and Democracy in Indonesia.” (2014). In Beyond Oligarchy: Wealth, Power, and Contemporary Indonesian Politics, edited by Michelle Ford and Thomas B. Pepinsky (Cornell University Press).
  • “Critical Dialogue on Oligarchy and Machiavellian Democracy.” (2012). Perspectives on Politics.
  • “Oligarchs and Oligarchy in Southeast Asia.” (2011). In The Routledge Handbook of Southeast Asian Politics, edited by Richard Robison (RoutledgeCurzon Press).
  • “Oligarchy in the United States?” (2009). Co-authored with Benjamin Page. Perspectives on Politics.

Places where Professor Winters' work has been discussed across the country:

  • November 16, 2020. WBEZ Chicago with Steve Bynum. “How Policy Failures On The Left And Right Led To The Trump Presidency.” 
  • January 27, 2016.  KCRW radio, Los Angeles. "To the Point" with Warren Olney. "Rising Inequality and the Race for the White House."
  • January 25, 2016. The New Yorker. "New Koch."
  • January 25, 2016. KPFK Radio, Los Angeles. Background Briefing with Ian Masters. "Billionaires in Backrooms and Up Front in the Race."
  • January 19, 2016. New York Times. "Wealth Inequality Rising Fast, Oxfam Says, Faulting Tax Havens."
  • January 15, 2016. WBEZ Radio, Chicago. WorldView. "Suicide Bombing in Indonesia."
  • January 21, 2016. WCPT Radio, Chicago. "Jeffrey Winters Talks Income Inequality on the Wayne Besen Show.
  • December 30, 2015. New York Times. Front page lead story. "For the Wealthiest, a Private Tax System That Saves Them Billions."