Amanda Sahar d'Urso
is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at Northwestern University. She will defend her dissertation, In the Shadows of Whiteness: Middle Eastern and North African Identity in the United States, in June 2022. Her work investigates how politics informs, shapes, and maintains identities using the case of Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) individuals in the US. In contrast to scholarship on how ethnoracial identities shape politics and political engagement, she shows that politics—including state institutions and societal perceptions—also shape racial and ethnic identities. The case of MENA individuals is particularly useful because this group has been legally classified as White since the early 20th century but has also experienced racialization from the mid-20th century onward. Her work invites us to problematize Whiteness along with studying an ethnoracial group that has hitherto not received much scholarly attention in American race and ethnic politics. The funds from the APSA DDRIG will be spent on a survey experiment with MENA participants in the US. This task is especially difficult to accomplish because most firms only collect racial and ethnic data using the US Census categories, which subsumes MENA individuals as White.
Amanda’s work also focuses on non-MENA, non-Hispanic White attitudes toward immigrants with co-authored work published in the Journal of Race and Ethnic Politics. She is also involved in scholarship on race and methodology. Prior to joining Northwestern University, she received her MA from the University of Illinois, Chicago and BA from the University of Virginia.
is a PhD candidate in political science at the University of California, Berkeley. His research examines the links between norms and behavior with applications to religious conservatism and gender. Using a range of qualitative and quantitative methods, his dissertation investigates how political parties seek to mobilize women in public spaces, the effectiveness of these methods, and their implications for women's personal and political agency. Anirvan has previously studied economics and public policy at the University of Delhi, the Madras School of Economics and Georgetown University. He has worked at the International Food Policy Research Institute, the World Bank, and the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi, India.
Apekshya Prasai is a PhD candidate in the department of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she studies gendered processes of civil war. Her research examines gendered practices, women’s activism and women’s inclusion within rebel organizations and interrogates how women’s agitation influences gender dynamics within rebel groups. Her scholarship focuses on South Asia, particularly Nepal, where she has conducted fieldwork among former Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) rebels. Previously, she has conducted field-based research on the impact of disaster aid on women’s economic empowerment post-2015 earthquake in Nepal and has also designed and implemented programs to support violence affected communities in the country.
In addition to the APSA-DDRIG, her research has received support from United States Institute of Peace, MIT’s Center for International Studies, MIT India Program, MIT Governance Lab and the Jeanne E Guillemin fund. Apekshya holds a B.A. in Government and Legal Studies with honors from Bowdoin College.
is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at Yale University whose research interests revolve around military and security studies. His dissertation focuses on how a country’s military recruitment system affects the performance of its armed forces on the battlefield. The consensus of military leaders, policymakers, and scholars is that conscript armies are inferior to volunteer armies in terms of military effectiveness. His dissertation, however, turns the conventional wisdom on its head, providing reasons why conscript armies should outperform volunteer armies in modern battles. His work employs a large-n cross-national statistical analysis of an original battle-level dataset from 1939 to 2011 (with plans of extending the period range to 1914–2015) and detailed case studies of American battlefield performance in three major U.S. wars where conscription was relied on (World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War) and in three major U.S. wars where volunteerism was relied on (the 1st Gulf War, the Afghanistan War, and the Iraq War). His dissertation shows that how countries recruit men and women for war has profound implications for civil–military relations and body politics.
Changwook holds an M.A. and M.Phil. in Political Science (en route to a Ph.D.) from Yale University. Before Yale, Changwook earned his M.P.P. from the University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy. He also spent two years in the Republic of Korea Marine Corps, beginning as a private and then becoming a sergeant, and has dual undergraduate degrees in public policy and political science from Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, South Korea.
Donald (Don) Grasse
is a PhD candidate in political science at Emory University. His research is in comparative politics and political economy, with a focus on conflict and historical legacies. His dissertation surveys the consequences and causes of unequal or coercive economic structures, ranging from the oil palm sector in modern Indonesia to the long-term effects of state repression during the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. His research on the legacy of the Khmer Rouge, generously supported by the American Political Science Association Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, seeks to understand when, where, and why state repression has lasting impacts on economic development. Combining qualitative historical information, archival maps, and fine-grained administrative data over a long period of time, his research examines how exposure to more intense state violence can impact families and communities long after state terror stops, and the degree to which effects accumulate, persist, decay, or morph overtime. By unpacking how historical regimes shape development in the modern day, his research shows the ways that the past endures in the present, providing a guidepost for how policy practitioners can confront historical injustices.
is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Notre Dame. His research focuses on electoral politics, violence, and political attitudes in Latin America, particularly in Brazil. His dissertation research explains the emergence, behavior, and performance of electoral candidates with professional backgrounds in the security sector and the ways that politicians use tough on crime “iron fist” messages while campaigning and governing. This project combines diverse methodologies from survey experiments, statistical analysis of municipal elections, and semi-automated text analysis of official campaign documents and social media posts to uncover how military and police candidates campaign, under which conditions they find electoral success, and how their participation affects voter attitudes toward criminal justice policies, the proper role of the military in politics, and the quality of democracy.
Jacob received his BA in International Studies from Rhodes College in Memphis, TN and his MS in Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics from Notre Dame. He previously received a Fulbright ETA grant to Río Cuarto, Argentina and observed the 2016 Colombian plebiscite on the peace accord with the FARC as a member of the Carter Center.
Jasmine Carrera Smith
is a Ph.D. candidate at Duke University in political science. Her work examines how Black Americans’ racial identity shapes political attitudes, behavior, and interactions with political institutions. Her dissertation “Electability Politics: How and Why Black Democrats Vote in Primary Elections” asks: How do Black Americans make vote choice decisions in primary elections? To answer this question, Jasmine goes beyond the literature that focuses on the racial and partisan considerations that guide Black voting behavior. Instead, she suggests that Black Americans are highly strategic voters and vote for the candidate that is perceived to win the general election. She then suggests that because strategic voting influences decision making in primary elections, Black voters often forego candidates that fulfill their desire for racially descriptive representation to elect a candidate that is, by their collective estimation, likely to defeat the Republican candidate in the general election. Her work has strong implications for understanding Black voting behavior and the ways in which candidates can win the influential Black voting bloc in primary elections.
Other research of hers includes investigating how Black identity shapes political behavior, how interactions with the carceral state shape individuals’ willingness to participate in politics, and a comparative analysis of participation in response to social movements between white and Black Americans during the 1960s and 2020. Jasmine received her B.A. from Indiana University in political science in 2017.
is a PhD candidate in political science at MIT. Her research focuses on religion, racial and ethnic politics, political engagement, and activism. Her dissertation project, “Dilemmas of Accommodation: Diversity and Local Church Involvement in Politics,” examines how congregational diversity shapes the political activities of local churches. The project uses ethnographic and statistical methods to investigate how churches respond to diversity, and to draw out the implications of those responses for their political involvements. Jasmine will use the APSA DDRIG to support the collection of in-depth interviews with clergy and congregants.
Methodologically, Jasmine is interested in the potential for synergy between positivist and interpretive methodological approaches. Her coauthored research with Bernardo Zacka is forthcoming in the American Political Science Review. Jasmine’s work has been supported by APSA and MIT GOV/LAB, and she is a recipient of a Walter A. Rosenblith Presidential Fellowship at MIT. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Jasmine graduated summa cum laude from UCLA with degrees in political science and economics.
is a PhD candidate in political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His dissertation project focuses on the role of political campaigns in the statebuilding of China in the 1950s and 1960s. In the first three decades of the People's Republic of China, Chairman Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched a series of mass-mobilized, coercive political campaigns aiming to alter China's socioeconomic structure and eliminate alleged enemies of the regime. How have these campaigns shaped China's political trajectory?
The dissertation will analyze the short- and long-term effects of Mao’s coercive political campaigns on various political actors. More specifically, Jingyuan hopes to answer the following questions: how could participation in coercive campaigns affect an official's loyalty and dependence on the ruler? Did harsher implementation of repressive campaigns make them more or less reliant on the ruler later in their careers? Furthermore, what role did ordinary citizens play during Mao’s mass-mobilized campaigns? Was their participation involuntary and passive, or could they somehow leverage those campaigns to restrain local officials and advance their collective interests? Could the experience of mass mobilization pass down inter-generationally and shape the political participation patterns of contemporary Chinese citizens? The dissertation will propose a theoretical framework for understanding those questions, and will focus on three major campaigns in Maoist China – the Land Reform (1949 – 54), the Anti-Rightist Movement (1957 – 59), and the Cultural Revolution (1966 – 76) – to validate his theory.
John David Minnich
is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research interests include international relations, political economy, and Chinese foreign policy. His dissertation, "Re-Innovation Nation: Economic Security and Technology Transfer in Post-WTO China", examines China’s use of policy tools that “trade” access to the Chinese market for transfers of foreign technology to Chinese firms. Using a combination of statistical analysis of an original dataset on Chinese technology transfer policies and qualitative case studies of technology transfer in individual industries, he finds evidence that top-down strategic interests drive Chinese technology transfer policymaking, but that the salience of these motives varies with the degree of bureaucratic fragmentation within China. In addition to providing one of the first systematic analyses of foreign technology transfer in China in the post-WTO period, the dissertation sheds light on the strategic sources of economic policy in China and the importance of multinational enterprises as international political actors. In addition to the ASPA Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, John’s research is supported by the Smith Richardson Foundation World Politics & Statecraft Fellowship and MIT’s Center for International Studies. Previously, John was a Senior Asia-Pacific Analyst at Stratfor. He holds a BA summa cum laude in History and Asian Studies from Cornell and an MA with honors in International Relations from the University of Chicago.
is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science and a M.S. student in Statistics at the University of Chicago. Her research interests include state-society relations under authoritarianism, media control, censorship, popular protest, and grassroot movements, with a regional focus on the People's Republic of China. In her dissertation, Politics of the Administrative Litigation System in China, she examines how administrators and citizens interact within a state-controlled dispute resolution institution. As a part of her dissertation, she is creating a dataset on Chinese administrative rulings using text parsing and machine learning techniques. Jongyoon is also striving to advance research methodologies that overcome the problem of unreliable data in authoritarian countries. In her other project, she uses a public opinion survey to identify individuals who exaggerate their support for the regime and retrieve their true levels of support. Before joining the University of Chicago, she received an M.A. in Political Science and International Relations and a B.A. in Chinese Language and Literature from Seoul National University in South Korea. She also spent a year at Peking University in Beijing as an exchange student. Visit her website (https://voices.uchicago.edu/baik/) for more information.
is a PhD candidate in political science at University of Illinois Chicago. Her research focuses on comparative urban politics, political representation and participation of immigrant groups. Her dissertation is a comparative study of Chinatown developments in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago within the past three decades. Her research asks why Chinatowns in different cities have different trajectories of development. Her dissertation examines how different types of political interaction between different Chinatown community groups and local governments affect the Chinatown development. It provides a more comprehensive understanding of how post-1965 immigrants participate politically in both traditional and nonelectoral ways. It proposes a theoretical framework that can be applied to analyze the development of other ethnic minority groups in the United States. Her research will help policy makers to better understand the dynamics within Chinese-American communities and come up with better strategies for community engagement and better policy to promote ethnic integration. A comparison between Chinatowns and other ethnic enclaves will provide a better understanding of ethnic complexity and ethnic integration. Her research also helps to facilitate the policy learning process between different Chinese American groups and other immigrant groups to promote the wellbeing of their community.
is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at The Ohio State University and will defend her dissertation in June 2023. Her research interests include feminist peace studies, postcolonial feminisms, and the Women, Peace, and Security agenda. Her dissertation, “Violence as Peace: Masculinities and Everyday Violence in Post-Conflict Spaces,” explores the relationship between war-linked masculinities and the persistence of everyday violence in spaces where the concept of ‘positive peace’ has been at the heart of peacebuilding efforts in the aftermath of conflict. She argues that socialization into particular gender scripts during war, especially militarized masculinities, plays a key role in the proliferation of violence in the post-conflict moment. These gender scripts underlie the shared understandings of violence and peace through which both the conflict and its possibilities for resolution are imagined. Supported by two case studies, her project treats peace as a daily practice; that is, the everyday practices and experiences of ordinary people are where peace is made and unmade. Funds from the APSA-DDRIG will be used to conduct fieldwork, namely interviews and focus groups, in Northern Ireland and Burundi. Prior to OSU, she earned her MA in International Relations and a Graduate Certificate in Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies from St. Mary’s University at San Antonio, as well as her BA, with distinction, from North Carolina State University.
is a PhD candidate in political science at Cornell University. Her research focuses on African politics, state-building and military-society relations. Drawing on archival research, interview material and survey data, her dissertation broadly explores the role of the military within state-building processes in West Africa. Lindsey utilizes survey experiments embedded within a representative survey in Senegal to understand how military-led civic action programs influence public opinion, including views towards the regime, security forces, and tolerance for the use of force and military influence in domestic politics. Alongside an in-depth theory-building case study of how and why the Senegalese army has utilized civic action programs, this survey data draws attention to a commonplace, though often overlooked function of militaries around the world.
Additionally, her other projects examine the historical development of armies within colonial French West Africa, with a focus on how ordinary people responded to conscription, with ramifications for the development of state-capacity and sub-regional integration. Lindsey received her undergraduate degree from Colby College, and she currently serves as a graduate fellow at the Gender and Security Sector Lab.
is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of California, San Diego and a Research Fellow at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies. His research focuses on organized crime and its links with politics. Marco is a Mexican immigrant, has previously worked for various NGOs and the US Federal Government, and has an M.A. in International Security from George Mason University and a B.A. in Political Science from Southwestern University.
Marco’s dissertation investigates how government policies can push criminal organizations (COs) into deciding to expand their geographic presence, and then explores how COs establish themselves in new territories by building networks with government officials and what political ramifications this has. To analyze these dynamics, the dissertation focuses on Mexico and relies on a series of novel datasets on COs and a multi-method research design.
First, the dissertation finds that government crackdowns meant to contain and dismantle COs can backfire and push COs to expand their geographic presence, leading to increased levels of criminal activity and violence. Second, it provides a theory outlining how COs establish themselves successfully in new territories by building networks with different types of government officials. The dissertation then tests the electoral and policy implications of the theory using original datasets on COs and explores the mechanisms linking COs to electoral and policy outcomes through in-depth qualitative case studies.
The dissertation contributes to the growing literature on the links between COs and politics, a phenomenon affecting countries around the world. It also contributes more broadly by creating new systematic datasets on COs that other scholars can use to advance our understandings of the causes and effects of COs.
Mary A. Shiraef
is a Ph.D. Candidate in political science at the University of Notre Dame. Her work examines identity transmission outcomes of border policies, with a focus on collective memory, migration, and sites of memorialization during and after periods of authoritarian rule. With an MLitt degree in International Relations theory from the University of St Andrews and an M.A. degree from the University of Notre Dame specializing in comparative politics, her PhD dissertation draws from historical and contemporary data to address the questions: how are minority identities transmitted under authoritarian institutions and under which conditions are they linked to political beliefs and behaviors? Her population of interest is those born in Albania 1913 to now. Her research connects with post-Soviet literature on identity and to broader migration and authoritarianism literatures. Her work is also supported by a Boren Fellowship.
She is also a recent contributor to #openscience efforts, having led a team which hand-coded an original dataset of border policies introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The project covers 200+ countries and associated island territories and was published in the open access journal Scientific Data under the Nature Portfolio.
is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Her research interests revolve around migration, transnationalism and diasporas, and Middle East and North African politics. Her dissertation asks how migrants’ economic contributions to and political involvement in their home countries affect political and social outcomes in those countries, and conceives of migration as a complex process involving the continuous transfer of people, ideas, norms, and money across borders. Her dissertation focuses particularly on the MENA region, examining the effects of diaspora engagement on both sending households and states. She is particularly interested in how diaspora representatives in state legislatures see their roles in the domestic politics of their home countries, and how they affect social, economic, and political change in those countries. She will use the APSA Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant to fund interviews with diaspora politicians and activists.
Nadia’s other research interests include climate change and how migration and related phenomena, such as remittances, mitigate and/or exacerbate its effects on contention and conflict. She is also interested in how social and political conditions in the country-of-origin affect the ways in which migrants and their descendants integrate into host societies. Prior to UNLV, Nadia received a BA in Mass Communication from the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, and an MA in Political Science from the University of Toronto in Canada.
is a PhD candidate in political science at the University of Notre Dame. His research interests lie at the intersection of criminal violence, political psychology, and intergroup conflict, with a regional focus on Latin America. His dissertation, “The Political Psychology of Criminal Violence and Solidarity with Victims,” uses experiments and field research to understand the causes of out-group discrimination and prejudice in violent societies, primarily in Mexico’s Drug War. In crime-ridden settings, hostility toward victims of human rights abuses is often rooted in the (mis)perception that targets are also involved in criminal activities, although data from multiple sources do not support this belief. This misperception widely stigmatizes victims of forced disappearance, torture, and internally displaced people, among others.
This project integrates and contributes to the literatures on prejudice and crime reduction by examining novel theoretical insights that explain animosity toward victims and empirical interventions for increasing solidarity, including donations, volunteering, and positive attitudes. From a policy perspective, probing which strategies and narratives are more effective at promoting prosocial behaviors will help human rights organizations design more effective campaigns in settings rife with criminal violence. In addition to benefiting NGOs and victims directly, combating stigma can strengthen accountability mechanisms and impose constraints on state repression by intensifying public scrutiny of elected authorities and security forces. While many security reforms to build trust in the police and reduce crime have largely failed, reducing hostility toward victims may help implement successful public safety strategies. Prior to coming to the United States, Natán studied in Argentina: he received an M.A. in Political Science from Universidad Torcuato Di Tella and a B.A. in Political Science from Universidad de Buenos Aires.
is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania and a graduate affiliate of the Center for the Study of Contemporary China. International law and institutions are attributed as significant forces shaping international cooperation, but how does common understanding develop? Her research studies the forces shaping the creation of international order in a novel global domain: the internet.
Contrary to most existing issue areas, internet governance is highly decentralized. The United States’ efforts were instrumental in establishing institutions that privilege the decision-making power of private actors to limit government interference with a global communications network. China has emerged as a significant advocate of binding rules and treaties within the United Nations. Using a mixed-methods approach, she examines how China uses normative tools to influence government preferences for formal treaties in cyberspace. By collecting the text of government submissions to internet governance negotiations, Rachel produces an original dataset documenting government preferences for legal design and institutions under the influence of China’s normative strategies and cyber sovereignty foreign policy, producing original insight on how international order develops around emerging technologies.
is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University. She holds an MS in Global Affairs from Rutgers University and an MSc in International Development Studies from the University of Amsterdam. Prior to embarking on her doctoral studies, she worked at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Her research interests include migration, comparative racial politics and inquiries into policing, prisons and the carceral state. Sabrina’s doctoral thesis, “Arresting Movement: The Political Economy of Immigration Detention in Germany, Swede and the United Kingdom” compares the emergence and evolution of immigration detention in Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Designed to deprive people of their freedom to move due to their immigration status, immigration detention is a central component of global efforts to curb migration.
Drawing on research that traces the emergence of migration control to colonialism and the control of the rural poor in the United States and Europe, Sabrina examines the historical context of mobility control of citizens and non-citizens. In doing so, she studies immigration detention in its relation to the prison to better understand how the two have been conceptually linked from early on and when, why and with what consequences immigration detention emerged as a stand-alone phenomenon. She further examines the historical social and economic processes that gave rise to immigration detention and how its use is justified. Sabrina’s thesis thus folds into debates around the role of punishment, political economy and racism in political science and contributes to scholarship on migration control, citizenship and criminal justice. Through her research, she makes three theoretical contributions: She develops an analytical framework generalizable to other countries to more effectively theorize what shapes the character of immigration detention in different national contexts. Second, she further theorizes the relationship between migration control and prisons. Here, she interrogates how racial constructions of delinquency and deservingness undermine the protections citizenship is supposed to provide. By interrogating these dynamics in three European countries, she broadens this field of inquiry by assessing how US-specific frameworks can apply to other contexts. Thirdly, by placing the evolution of immigration detention within broader national and global societal and economic contexts, her research can help us better understand which crises immigration detention responds to.
is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Government at Cornell University. His research examines the impact of wartime civilian harm and anti-war messaging on American public support for war. His dissertation, “The Moral Public: Intent, Wartime Civilian Harm, and American Public Support for War,” argues that U.S. military harm to foreign civilians affects American public support for war and that the mechanism responsible for this effect is moral intuition, or the natural readiness of the human mind to evaluate the morality of actions resulting in harm to bystanders. Focusing on the intent behind wartime civilians, he uses original survey experiments and a case study to examine whether moral intuition explains American public sensitivity to the distinction between intentional, foreseeable but unintentional, and accidental harm in war. His project challenges the prevailing views among IR scholars that concern for winning wars and complying with international law dominate American public attitudes towards war.
Stephen’s other research projects examine experimental survey methodology and the relationship between strategic communications from civil society organizations and American public attitudes towards U.S. foreign policy. He has a co-authored article with Sarah Kreps in International Interactions that explores the effect of survey format on internal and external validity of survey experiments. He also has a working paper with Sarah Maxey that explores the conditions in which anti-war messaging can successfully challenge presidential justifications for war. Prior to Cornell University, Stephen received a master’s at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy and BA in Literature and Language from Morgan State University, a historically Black university in Baltimore, Maryland.
is a PhD candidate at the School of Government and Public Policy (SGPP), University of Arizona. His research interests center on political violence and political institutions. He has a particular regional interest in Sub-Saharan Africa. His dissertation “Chiefs, Elections, and Violence” seeks to understand how traditional institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa (and in Ghana particularly) affect the risk of pre-election violence at subnational level. Traditional institutions are rules based on local customs. He argues that robust traditional institutions effectively reduce the risk of pre-election violence. His project adopts a mixed-methods approach, and draws from a variety of data sources, including original data collected through archival research and interviews in Ghana.
Prior to his doctoral studies, Xiran received his undergraduate degree from Beijing Foreign Studies University, and an MA degree from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science at University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. His research broadly focuses on political behavior in developing countries, determinants of democratic backsliding, and authoritarian survival. He is primarily interested in quantitative and experimental methods. He holds a MA in Political Science from the Istanbul Sehir University.
His dissertation project, “The Road to Democratic Backsliding: How Affective Polarization Increases Support for Illiberal Politicians?,” asks why voters vote for illiberal politicians in developing countries? He develops and empirically assess a theoretical framework to discover this puzzling support, highlighting the tradeoffs associated with punishing leaders. Yunus argues that affective polarization has become a primary factor driving democratic backsliding. To rigorously test this argument, the proposed design delineates a unique effort to manipulate affective polarization, undemocratic actions, and policy positions simultaneously. Yunus will conduct an original survey experiment on approximately 1500 respondents in Turkey in November 2021. In the treatment, he will deploy a two-stage process: (1) randomly assign a task that aims to manipulate respondent’s level of affective polarization; and (2) probe the likelihood that respondents would vote for a hypothetical candidate engages in undemocratic behavior in the next municipal election. He expects that greater levels of affective polarization will increase voters’ willingness to tolerate undemocratic positions of their party. This research will provide a deeper understanding of the factors that motivate people to support illiberal politicians and how to secure democracy.