Social Sciences Blog
This talk was presented at the Spring Student Research Conference on May 29th, hosted by the Emerging Leaders Initiative in the Division of the Social Sciences.
Marcus Board is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science.
The SSD Summer Grant helped to support me whilst I was writing the central chapter of my thesis. My research seeks to uncover governments' motives for default from patterns in the prices that they pay to borrow. Most current explanations of sovereign default rely on changing government circumstances to explain why defaults happen; the economy deteriorates, tax revenues fall, and the outstanding debt becomes unaffordable.
Wu yue guilai bu kan shan, huangshan guilai bu kan yue. “If you have seen the five famous mountains, you don't need to see any other mountain. [But] if you have seen Yellow Mountain, you don't need to see the five famous mountains.” This Chinese saying describes the legendary beauty of Yellow Mountain, which is located in southern Anhui province. Although Yellow Mountain (Huangshan) is spoken of as a singular 'mountain,' it actually is the highest peak of a low-lying and widespread mountain range which covers almost 3,800 square miles.
For anyone studying the ancien régime society of eighteenth-century France, the Archives Nationales in Paris provide an invaluable but not unproblematic perspective. Fastidiously classified and organised, the archives help the uninitiated to navigate and make sense of foreign world. Yet they also impose a sense of order on to a society that was made up of a patchwork of corporations, customs and loyalties that were often resistant to the centralizing and rationalizing aspirations of reformist ministers in the service of the monarchy.
Being able to infer what other people might be thinking is an essential skill for successfully navigating social interactions, allowing us to explain and predict others’ behavior and helping guide our interactions with social partners. The basic beliefs people have about how others’ minds work is called “theory of mind,” and developing theory of mind skills is an important component of children’s social cognitive development.
Sometimes it seems that no matter how hard we study for a test or prepare for an interview, we find ourselves completely failing when the pressure leans on us. We blank on test answers that we were sure we knew, or we get tongue-tied when our interviewer asks what our greatest weakness is. But why? Why exactly is it that these high-stakes situations cause us to fail? Past research within my lab has provided an initial explanation for the phenomenon: cognitive resources that could be used for one task are co-opted by thoughts pertaining to personal performance.
Fin-de-Siecle Austria (1882-1914), famous for its artistic and cultural luminaries, was also home to a natural scientific tradition of tremendous achievement in a wide variety of fields, including geology, physics, physiology, meteorology, and evolutionary biology.
Most people are aware that the Ancient Egyptians believed that an individual could transport amenities like food, liters, and slaves from the world of the living to the world of the dead through the construction of representational votives. Far fewer realize that the Romans and their predecessors, the Etruscans, performed similar actions but for different reasons. This summer, I spent time in Southern Italy trying to gain a deeper understanding about what the world of the dead can tell us about the world of the living.
Most ethnographers never utter phrases like, “I'm about to show you a nine-point scale…” but my ethnography is far from normal. I study how different groups of people understand what religion “is” and how their understandings change in different settings. Revealing the various shapes of religion as a social category is imperative considering the continuing prominence of religion in our society and around the world. For example, when politically liberal and conservative individuals in the United States argue over the role of religion in public life, how do we know that they’re even talkin