Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Politics and Global Studies, Arizona State University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2014
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Political Science, Ohio State University
Property Rights, Land, and Rule in Central Asia

What explains variation in property rights security in developing autocracies? My dissertation addresses this question by focusing specifically on land rights, which directly impact the approximately 70% of the developing world's population that is rural and agricultural. Most political and economic literature either takes secure property rights as given, or relies on assumptions that property rights are uniformly secure within states and regime types, or among kinds of property. These assumptions rarely reflect reality. Instead, property rights vary cross- and sub-nationally, with cross-national variation reflecting average country conditions; they also differ among autocracies or democracies and by property type. I draw on approaches from economics, anthropology, and political science to examine conditions which influence the security of land rights between and within two developing Central Asian autocracies, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. I hypothesize that two overarching factors influence political elites' incentives and ability to secure land rights: the economic resources on which they can draw to fund patron-client networks; and the nature of ethnic and kinship ties between central and local government leaders. I propose to test these hypotheses using survey experiments and qualitative data from interviews, media analysis, and ethnographic observation during ten months of fieldwork.