Student Research Blog

10/13/14

Wine Made in China: An Experiment of Industrial Agriculture and Transformation of Farmland Ownership

Whenever I explain about my research topic to American friends, they are usually surprised by the fact that wine is actually produced in China. As a matter of fact, China is now the sixth largest producer of wine by volume, surpassing Chile and Australia. Since the early 2000s, the Chinese government has been promoting the wine industry as a model of rural development and agricultural industrialization. Supported by local governments, major wine companies are expanding their vineyards by leasing farmland from village collectives and employing villagers as contract farmers.

10/7/14

Spatial and Temporal Fluctuations in German and Austrian Gasoline Prices

This work uses spatial and temporal fluctuations in gas station retail prices to study the price effects of competition and how government-mandated price restrictions impact consumer welfare.  Gas stations present a large, spatially differentiated market:  consumers have close substitutes, but the cost of choosing a competitor is measurable with distance; prices are publicly displayed and are adjusted dynamically; station owners are highly heterogeneous and employ different pricing strategies; and potential demand can be directly observed through traffic counting stations.  Competition take

10/3/14

The Credibility Cartel: Forging the National Security Establishment During the Cold War

Outside interest groups and similarly constituted outside organizations have played an important role in U.S. national security politics since World War II.  However, this role is not understood as well as the conventional wisdom would have us believe.  My dissertation examines in detail the source of interest group influence, building on the literature of American Politics and International Relations. 

9/29/14

A Journey through Caribbean Culture(s)

As the sun began to set and offered a slight break from the Caribbean heat, the percussive sounds of a tassa band filled the air before the start of the Diwali motorcade.  While we waited for the parade to begin, the youth of this particular tassa band entertained the growing crowd standing outside the Shri Krishna Mandir in the Campbellville neighborhood of Georgetown, Guyana.  Diwali – or the Hindu festival of lights – celebrates the triumph of good over evil and has been celebrated as a motorcade in Guyana since at least the 1970s.  As night fell and the procession began, the streets fil

9/25/14

States of Care and Corruption

            Security check cleared, required entry permit in hand, I head to the Lower House building at the Jordanian Parliament to start my SSD-funded summer research on public discourse on corruption in Jordan since the late-1980's.  I find Rula, the last remaining librarian that day, a 17-year old who had started working there two months prior to her completing her high-school examination (General Certificate of Secondary Education).

9/16/14

Social Conditioning: The Politics of Transracial Adoption and White Care for Black Hair

I am writing a dissertation on private agency adoption in Chicago, which involves the circulation of predominantly black infants and children from the South and West sides of the city (as well as international “sending countries” such as Haiti and Liberia) to primarily white adoptive families.

9/10/14

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.

8/25/14

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.

8/25/14

"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.

8/25/14

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.