Urban Air Quality Management in the Context of Developmental Constraints: Diverging Approaches to Controlling Particulate Matter Pollution in the Pacific Rim
Rethinking Thuggery: Landed Elites and Agrarian Violence in Chiapas, Mexico
Finance in the Fields: Egypt, Agricultural Credit, and the Age of Global Comparison
In 1882, the British military invaded Egypt to forestall the Egyptian state’s potential default on its debts to private banks in London and Paris. The ensuing occupation coincided with a series of major shifts in the structures and practices of imperial finance. In these decades, a massive extension of international financial networks sought to transform remote rural environments into vital frontiers for the direct investment of metropolitan capital. While the great banks of Europe had once restricted their dealings to government loans and local money-lenders had held a virtual monopoly on agricultural credit, a host of institutional and infrastructural innovations provided new means to channel sources of international finance directly into the fields. My dissertation seeks to situate the socio-economic shifts that occurred during the British occupation within this trans-regional and imperial context of linked transformations that rendered Egypt a key site for both agricultural and financial experimentation. Drawing on an array of little-used sources—agricultural journals, family papers, bank records, court registers, and state archives in Egypt, India, and England—my dissertation will attempt to reconstruct the tangled and shifting webs of credit that enmeshed the Egyptian countryside between the British invasion and the onset of the First World War. I believe the changing system of agrarian finance provides a key vantage from which to reconsider two common features of existing scholarship on modern Egypt. First, rather than treat the occupation merely as the continuation of trends spanning “the long nineteenth century”, I hope to show that this period witnessed eventful transformations in Egypt’s agrarian political economy that cannot simply be deduced from the country’s earlier “peripheralization” as a producer of raw cotton for British mills. Second, departing from traditions of scholarship that either isolate relations between Egypt and the metropole or that treat British rule as the reproduction of existing colonial practices and institutions, I am interested in understanding how Egypt’s incorporation into the British Empire contributed to an ongoing elaboration of financial, discursive, and administrative networks with other colonial territories, most notably northern India.
Delta Forces: Egypt's Agrarian Transformation in Global Comparative Perspective, 1882-1914
Rubens in a New World: Prints, Authorship, and Transatlantic Intertextuality
This dissertation analyzes colonial-era paintings in Latin America that were derived or copied from European prints that crossed the Atlantic and circulated in the New World. My project uses this transatlantic frame to reassess how works of art relate to one another across geographic distances and cultural divides and to rethink the terms through which early modern authorship has been understood: originality, invention, replication, and the slavish copy. Though scholars have long understood the importance of European prints in the Americas, there has been little attempt to devise a methodological apparatus with which to analyze the ways in which this phenomenon mattered to individuals—artists, traders, clerics and religious devotees. My project interrogates the local contexts in which prints circulated to reveal how they functioned within the lives and practices of the artists who chose or were contracted to use them. To do so, I focus on works of art in both Mexico and Peru made from prints that reproduced paintings by the European artist Peter Paul Rubens, an artist who has come to define the art historical standards of authorship and intentionality during the early modern period (equivalent with the colonial/viceregal era in Latin America). In my project, Rubens, the consummate authorial "genius" of Europe's early modernity, becomes a lens through which to understand, often by means of contrast, the much greater range of artists—from similarly famous painters to anonymous craftsmen—who reconstituted his printed compositions in paint across the Atlantic. The project thereby aims to recapture something of the lived experience of using prints and making paintings in colonial Latin America in addition to plotting the routes through which prints moved in the transatlantic empire. In doing so, it proposes new comparative methodologies for an emerging "global" art history. SSRC research to be completed in Mexico City (9 months) and Cuzco, Peru (3 months).
Partnering for Development? Examining diaspora-state interactions in Mexico's 3x1 Program.
"I Think I Could Turn and Live Awhile With the Animals": The Writer's Struggle with Animals in America, 1850-1865
Chronicles of Deaths Foretold?: Farmer Suicides in Chhattisgarh, India
More than a quarter of a million farmers have committed suicide across India since 1995. Since what one report terms the 'largest wave of recorded suicides in human history' (Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, 2011) first received attention in the mid-nineties, the 'farmer's' suicide' has emerged as a potent politically charged symbol for intense public debates on the depredations of neoliberal structural adjustment, and the failures of state and society. Scholarly and activist discourses have attempted to establish causal links between the widespread suicide of farmers and the large-scale industrial transformation of agricultural production in the early 1990s. My dissertation research will focus on the suicides of farmers in the Durg and Mahasamund districts of the central-Indian state of Chhattisgarh in order to examine the means by which suicide is transformed from an exceptional occurrence in peasant life, to entering a culturally available repertoire of action. By examining affects and narratives around suicide deaths among cultivators in Mahasamund and Durg on the one hand, and the ways in which the category of the 'farmers' suicide' is energized as the grounds of new political mobilizations against neoliberalism on the other, my project explores the relationship between conditions of socio-structural marginality, forms of life and political possibility, under conditions of neoliberal precarity.
Transgenic Crops and Transnational Activism: Controversies over Mexican Maize and Canadian Canola
Muslim Epistemologies of Social Transformation in Niger
Complicit Disputes: Islamic and Secular Norms of Political Modernity in Niger
Political Economy of Sino-Africa Infrastructural Development Partnership: A Study of Nigeria
Contesting Islam: Wahhabism, Education, and Muslim Identity in Northern Ghana, 1950-2005
Between Cartridges and Capital: Northeast India and the Indo-Afghan Borderlands in the Long Nineteenth Century
The northeastern and northwestern frontiers of British India entered an imperial economic sphere in the mid-nineteenth century. The British colonial government allied with European and primarily British capitalists to bring large tracts of land under intensive cultivation and offered agricultural advances to native landowners. It sanctioned the construction of rail lines to connect these areas to major towns in British India. It also undertook military expeditions against tribal raids and paid off raiders to ensure the safe passage of commodities through mountain passes. Colonial engagement and the imperatives of an emergent capitalism encouraged the mobility of people and commodities along particular routes while foreclosing others. My dissertation examines how this structuring of circulation, brought to bear by developments within the realm of political economy, shaped northeast India and the Indo-Afghan borderlands in the long nineteenth century. I focus on the appropriation of common lands through waste land and forest laws, extraction of agricultural and mineral resources, and their trade—in the wider neighborhood but specifically in the two frontier markets at Sadiya and Peshawar to analyze how these areas came to be incorporated into an imperial economy. Local communities played a crucial role in this process. They resisted the colonial state, sought to escape itineraries of imperial trade by relying on commercial networks that tied them to populations in Southeast and Central Asia respectively, and contributed to capitalist expansion by serving as laborers, porters and brokers. Drawing on waste land and forest laws, settlement records, trade statements, tour diaries of colonial administrators and route maps of railway companies, I explore how the encounter between the colonial state, private capital and local communities flattened the uneven natural enclaves that were northeast India and the Indo-Afghan borderlands and granted them a spatial coherence.
Elites, Property Rights, and Economic Growth in Developing Countries
How do firms ensure their contracts will be enforced in environments often characterized by weak rule of law? Where does the protection of property rights come from, and who does it exist for? When do economic actors carve out their own rule of law? Answers to these understudied questions have enormous implications for economic growth in the developing world. I argue that domestic political competition among elites can bring about surprising advancements in the protection of property rights. I highlight two specific mechanisms that may spur the development of informal and formal property rights systems: diffuse power networks characterized by clientelism, and the degree of economic complexity. I will use a combination of formal modeling, experimental research, and in-depth case studies of Senegal and Mozambique to illustrate the mechanisms at work. The results of such research have implications for domestic and international policy aimed at encouraging political economic development.
Musical Citizenship: Race, Religion, and the Politics of Belonging among African Gospel Performers in France.”
Linking Global Factors and Local Institutional Diversity: Responses of Small-Scale Fisheries to Globilization
Objects of Veneration: Music, Materiality, and Marketing in the Composer-Cults of Nineteenth-Century Germany and Austria
My dissertation explores the popular veneration of nineteenth-century German and Austrian composers as figures akin to saints. The project's seven case studies focus on material "relics" as encounters with the composer's body, along with the museums that housed relics as sites for these encounters. While the project takes objects and spaces as its focus, I will also draw upon other "sites" of popular reception, such as panegyric poems, memoirs, obituaries, and biographies. An important aspect of my study will be to situate these genres and practices in the growing consumer culture of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, where the Romantic ideal of aesthetic transcendence was transformed into a commodity that combined artistic prestige with personal veneration. I will show that the proliferation of hagiographic biographies, enshrined objects, and mass-produced souvenirs in the nineteenth century were part of a growing tourism industry that promoted "pilgrimage" to birthplaces and gravesites. At its core, this study reveals a critical tension in nineteenth century aesthetics: the seeming incompatibility of the tangible (relics, body, composer) and the intangible (music, genius, the divine). This tension underlies many of the concerns about authenticity and kitsch that dominated nineteenth-century aesthetic debates. My project also contributes to the narrative of canon formation where textual and material objects, pervasive in nineteenth-century popular culture, functioned alongside monumentality and the "work concept" to crystallize the pantheon of (primarily German and Austrian) composers and a core of musical masterworks.
Re-Constructing Blackness in Brazil: Politics, Race, and Modernity in Art and Architecture, 1950s-1980s
Starting in the 1950s, the Brazilian government positioned itself as a leading economic partner for emerging, independent African nations. Through officially-sponsored art exhibitions and academic exchanges, state assertions of "pure" Africanness denied the centuries-long development of Afro-Brazilian culture, which was presented as anachronistic. Responding to the state's essentialization of blackness, an emerging Afro-Brazilian civil rights movement not only exposed the country's pervasive racial inequalities, but also developed a public and modern Afro-Brazilian cultural identity. By depicting Afro-Brazilians, their religions, and their neighborhoods on a monumental scale in paintings, sculptures, and photographs, visual artists challenged persistent stereotypical depictions of "blackness" as backward and folkloric. The connections between art-making, the civil rights movement, and official artistic exchanges with Africa have remained largely unstudied. My dissertation positions artworks and exhibitions as both critical to the civil rights movement and fundamental in constructing the official discourse of Brazilian blackness.
Towards Biomass Sustainability Assurance: Technology, Politics and Governance
Cooperation in Uncertainty: Migration, Ethnicity, and Community Governance in India's Urban Slums
In the face of common threats, why do some vulnerable communities develop institutions that advance their collective interests and security while others fail? Through a comparative analysis of slum communities in urban India, my dissertation will explain how community governance institutions take shape in contexts of ethnic diversity and patronage politics—conditions that describe many cities in the developing world. Two related puzzles motivate my research. First, the level of basic public goods and services—access to drinking water, sanitation and waste removal, public safety, and schools—varies widely across and within slums in India. What causes these developmental disparities? Second, urban slums are among the most densely populated and ethnically diverse areas in India. Slums diverge, though, in their levels of inter-ethnic cooperation and political organization. This complicates a growing and interdisciplinary literature that posits a negative relationship between ethnic diversity and cooperation. Drawing on variation in inter-ethnic organization across India’s slums, my research will illuminate the mechanisms that impede or facilitate collective action in socially heterogeneous groups. It will also provide insight into the origins and formation of informal political institutions. I propose a research design that combines the strengths of sustained qualitative fieldwork, formal theory, and a larger quantitative analysis.
Young Men’s Pathways to Violence and Organised Crime: The Case of Medellín, Implications for Policy and Intervention
The Physical and Virtual Worlds of New Media Firms
Going up? Japan’s race to build the fastest elevators in the world in a slowing China
Rival Diasporas: Cooperation, competition and conflict between the Chinese Mercantile Community and the Dutch East India Company in early modern Japan