bvanwassenhove's blog

Reservation Wages, Skill Prices, and Nonemployment

The 2007-2009 recession caused unemployment rates to increase, GDP growth to falter, and housing prices to collapse. High unemployment was originally caused by the destruction of the recession, but lingering high unemployment suggests that a larger structural change may have occurred. In research pursued over the summer of 2013, I estimated a multidimensional stock of skills, and the prices of those skills over time.

Looking for the Historical Origins of the Modern American Drug Dealer

To most contemporary observers, the War on Drugs is a central issue in the history of the United States through the 20th and now, 21st century. The struggle to control the distribution and consumption of “drugs” has provided historians of the United States a fascinating focal point of study because it is a struggle that interconnects so many conflicts.

"Checkpoint photo!"

The terms of my SSD grant called for a photograph, but the woman with the gun was adamant that I delete the picture I had just taken. The photo captured a giant globe and a banner: “Welcome to the Library of Congress.” The image seemed—loosely—to link the archive with my research into the moral and ethical justifications of coercion and violence in mid-20th century American liberal internationalism. Globe = internationalism. A little lame, but I was running out of time.

Do Child Support Laws Affect Contraceptive Use and the Fertility Behavior of Couples?

In the last forty years, federal and state laws in the U.S. have dramatically strengthened the enforcement and collection of child support from non-resident parents. Beginning in 1975 with Part D of the Social Security Act, and followed by key pieces of federal legislation including the 1984 Child Support Enforcement Amendments, the 1988 Family Support Act, and the 1996 Welfare Reform Act.

The Impact of Childhood Experience on Neural Correlates of Race Perception

The amygdala, a brain region that responds to biologically and socially salient stimuli (Aldophs, 2010), has been shown to preferentially respond to the perception of outgroup members, that is, Black individuals for White perceivers. It has been suggested that negative evaluations of Black individuals by White perceivers account for the preferential recruitment of the amygdala (Kubota, Banaji, & Phelps, 2012). Indeed, preferential amygdala activity in response to Black targets tends to be apparent in perceivers with more prejudicial attitudes (Phelps et al., 2000).

Asymmetries in Semantics and Ontology: When Doctors Speak to Patients

Patients often have different understandings of medical practice from those of their healthcare providers. Such asymmetries can have significant implications for decision-making. How, then, do patients manage to give what counts as ‘informed consent’ to participate in medical treatment and research? This is not meant as a rhetorical question. Communication does take place in spite of the incomplete sharedness of concepts. In fact, it must take place; the stakes for both parties can be very high.

Tradition and Community During the Easter Service at St. Giragos Armenian Church, Diyarbakır

Almost immediately after our group of three deacons and a priest were picked up from the airport in Diyarbakır in the southeast of Turkey, the conversation turned to preparations for the second Easter celebration at the recently renovated St. Giragos Armenian Church in almost thirty years. Der Hayr (the Armenian term for a married priest) turned to the driver and asked, “Were you able to make choreg?” Choreg is an Armenian sweet pastry made especially for Easter.

Institutionalizing Incorporation: Foodways, Sectarian Pluralism, and Royal Authority at the Capital Āśramas of Angkor, Cambodia

Through the generous support of a Division of the Social Sciences Short-Term Research Grant, I was able to successfully complete the last phase of my dissertation fieldwork at archaeological sites in northwestern Cambodia.  Centered in the ancient royal capital of Angkor, my research consists in the use of archaeological and paleoethnobotanical analyses to investigate the dynamics of religious institutionalization and the politics of kingly patronage through the medium of foodways at royal hermitages, or āśramas, during the incipient phase of the Khmer Empire dating to the late 9th

A Stranger in a Strangely Familiar Land

Although I have studied Chinese for the better part of a decade, my life situation had colluded to prevent me from visiting China. Finally, this fall, I was able to visit Beijing, and see the country I spent so much time studying. Although I never felt Chinese, I was surprised at how "non-foreign" my surroundings felt as I strolled around the alleys of this ancient city. The sights, sounds and especially smells were different than anything you would find anywhere else, and yet I was comfortable there.