Latino politics, political behavior, Race Ethnicity Politics, American politics
Latino tú Latino yo: The Activation of a racialized Latino Identity
survey research, field experiments, precinct level data analysis, web scraping
At UCLA I taught; minority movements social progress and resistance, introduction to American Politics, Latino identity politics, and teaching pedagogy in political science. I could also teach courses on political behavior, Congress, the presidency, parties and interest groups, immigration, introduction to REP and a number of other REP related courses.
My dissertation focuses on the activation of Latino identity in the United States. I argue that political threat may be one way in which an identity can become salient and politicized. I start by examining identity in California during the 1990s as an example of how identity can become politicized due to the political climate. The second section of my dissertation examines three common identity measures in the political science literature; group consciousness, identity centrality, and linked fate and seeks to answer how these measures relate to the political attitudes and behavior of Latino voters. I conduct a number of survey experiments to examine how threat mediates the relationship between identity and political participation, and provide a nuanced analysis of how this relationship varies by generation.
Comparative Politics, Formal Theory, Public Opinion
The problems facing democracy.
I am interested in Comparative Politics, in particular, in how democracies work. Methodologically, I am interested in game-theoretic models of domestic politics and in the empirical tests of these models. My first paper employs a bargaining game similar to the Baron-Ferejohn model and tests its results using the Ethnic Power Relations dataset. In my second project, I model the information exchange between the politician, media, and voters in a Bayesian persuasion framework. In the future, I plan to further look at how signaling games can help us understand politics.
I am interested in teaching game theory, quantitative methods, and comparative politics. I was an instructor in the latter two at Moscow State University and the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences.
My dissertation focuses on the problems facing democracy. First, I am interested in the representation of ethnic minorities. In my first paper, I show that a higher level of democracy is not always better for minorities in terms of their representation. In particular, several small ethnic groups can form the ruling coalition in an autocratic country. Syria under the Assads may serve as an example. By contrast, in certain democracies, it is enough for the leader to get the support of the ethnic majority, so minorities are excluded. An example is Turkey in its democratic period. Second, I look at how citizens in advanced democracies learn about politics. Using a simple game-theoretic model, I show that politicians can manipulate the media by supplying the more loyal of them with information. Because media need this information to attract consumers, some of them become slanted in favor of the politician. The citizens are free to choose their information source. In equilibrium, the voters who support the politician consume the slanted media while others prefer the unbiased media. This paper contributes to the literature on media in politics. First, it provides a model of media capture without direct payments. Second, it shows how rational citizens self-segregate into different ideological camps.
Political learning, racialization and socialization among Asian American immigrants
American public opinion, Asian American politics, immigrant political incorporation, psychology of partisanship and ideology, opinion reliability measurement
American public opinion & voting behavior, political psychology, Asian American politics, immigrant political incorporation, introduction to statistics, regression analysis, structural equation modeling, factor analysis, item response theory, reliability measurement
My dissertation examines the acquisition of partisan attitudes among Asian American immigrants in the United States. It is an empirical inquiry into the processes in which Asian American immigrants learn about American politics, adjust their attitudes, prioritize their issue concerns, and develop political conceptions of the Democratic and Republican Party. This dissertation engages theories of social and cognitive psychology by examining individual-level partisan opinion formation as mediated by political conceptualization, partisan schemas, policy preference, and psychological attachment to the parties. Evidence is drawn from a series of original in-depth interviews, surveys, and survey experiments conducted as part of the dissertation, as well as from large, publicly available national surveys. The development of partisanship among Asian American is a multi-stage process. It begins with pre-migration predispositions which lay the foundation for post-migration learning. But while Asian American immigrants arrive in the United States with distinct political leanings, they tend to have weak understandings of how they relate to American political parties, candidates, ideologies, and standard political debates. Hence, they tend to be uncertain, ambivalent and inconsistent in their partisanship. As Asian Americans spend more time in the U.S., they develop increasingly sophisticated conceptions of American politics. Their growing understanding comprehends more than just the parties and the candidates; it also includes their notion of themselves as Asian Americans and how this group fits into the political system and American ethno-racial categories. At its highest level of development, their conceptualization merges personal and political identities into a profound guide to action in politics. Taken together, coherent cumulative experiences and gradual exposure to American politics lead to stronger and more sophisticated political conceptualization and greater consistency in partisan preference. In most cases this process nudges Asian Americans to identify with the Democratic Party. In certain cases, however, different life experiences, such as experience running a personal business, result in different partisan trajectories.
Political Theory: History of Political Thought; History of the Emotions; Environmental Political Thought; and Secularization Studies
A Political Theory of Wonder: Feelings of Order in Modern Political Thought
My work is situated at the intersection of the history of political thought, the history of the emotions, and secularization studies. Fundamentally, my research is directed towards understanding how our emotional habits condition our responses to political phenomena. Beyond my book manuscript on wonder in modern political thought, I am extending my work to environmental political thought.
I have designed and taught introductory courses in political theory, modern European thought, and environmental political thought. In addition to these courses, I am able to teach more specialized classes on the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory, Continental political thought, the political history of the emotions, early modern humanism, theories of freedom, and conceptions of property.
My dissertation answers the following question: How has wonder, an emotion tied to religion and philosophy in premodern European political thought, been used in the context of a modern, supposedly disenchanted politics? I argue that we find in the writings of Thomas Hobbes, Immanuel Kant, Karl Marx, and Hannah Arendt a subterranean debate on the proper conceptualization and political use of wonder in modernity. When Western political thought departed from a vision of the world as pre-structured by a divine, admirable order, there was no longer a readily available interpretation of the meaning of the potentially disruptive experience of wonder. Competing individuals and groups could make claims for wonder to be directed towards emerging aspects of political life as the foundation of political order. By using wonder to channel disruptive feelings of novelty into the cognition of order, these claims could structure the realm of possible actions. Moreover, a feeling of wonder could be used to secure the temporal stability of a political order within the fundamentally precarious conditions of modernity. In their respective political interventions, I show how Hobbes, Kant, Marx, and Arendt reconceptualized and redeployed wonder by using ancient Greek and Roman texts as a resource for rethinking wonder. The ultimate contribution of this work is in revising the understanding of modernity for political theory by viewing reason and the emotions as not in opposition to one another, but as intertwined by wonder.
Accepting Risks and Making Bold Gestures: Why Decision-makers Initiate Conciliation in Rivalries
My research interests are in international security, diplomacy/diplomatic history, trust-building, conflict resolution, foreign policy decision-making, and political psychology. My historical focus is on the Cold War and my regional expertise is in the international relations of the Middle East.
I can teach introductory and advanced courses on a range of topics in international relations, comparative politics, and research methods. These include, but are not limited to, international relations theory, international security, conflict resolution, American foreign policy, the Cold War, the Middle East, diplomacy/diplomatic history, and qualitative methods.
The conventional argument in the international relations and social-psychological literature maintains that states should employ an incremental, or step-by-step, approach to initiate conciliation with their adversaries. Decision-makers are cautioned against making large, costly conciliatory gestures since they denote weakness, embolden rivals, and expose them to political pressure back home. Given these risks, it is puzzling why some leaders undertake bold conciliatory gestures when smaller, less radical avenues exist to engage rivals.This project applies theories and approaches from political psychology to examine why, and the conditions under which, decision-makers extend these types of olive branches in international relations. I employ a least-similar cases research design and select several rivalries – Egypt-Israel (1973-1979), the U.S.-the Soviet Union (1985-1988), and India-Pakistan (1998-2004) – to examine these questions. I found that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee undertook bold moves when they confronted strong, hawkish governments; when they found the rivalry costly to sustain; and when negotiations reached a deadlock. In each case, the leaders were personally involved in shaping and deciding on these initiatives since they were disillusioned with either their foreign policy bureaucracy or with third-party intermediaries. Showing considerable empathy, they were motivated to undertake such gestures to mitigate their rivals’ insecurity and remove the psychological barriers such as fear and mistrust that, they believed, had stalemated negotiations.
American political institutions, behavior, and public policy
The Power – and Limits – of the Purse
My work spans the study of American political institutions and behavior, showing how government resources and public goods are allocated, and whether and how these decisions affect voters and election outcomes. Taken together, my research speaks to the quality of democratic representation and accountability in the U.S.
I am prepared to teach Introduction to American Politics, as well as undergraduate- and graduate-level courses on campaigns and elections, representation, local politics, interest groups, Congress, and the bureaucracy. I can also teach undergraduate-level courses in research design and data analysis.
My dissertation, The Power – and Limits – of the Purse, includes a series of empirical papers exploring the fundamental political question of “who gets what” from government, why, and how it matters. Two papers explore whether politicians deliver government resources to political supporters, swing voters, or other demographic and economic groups at the expense of others; and two papers estimate whether receiving government benefits increases voter participation and whether voters reward and punish incumbent politicians at the ballot box for delivering or failing to deliver government benefits. To address these questions, I draw on a variety of historical and contemporary data, including data on New Deal-era economic relief spending, FEMA disaster relief aid recipients, 311-initiated requests for city goods and services, and city block grant spending. All told, I analyze the distribution of over $14 billion dollars in benefits and aid to more than 10 million Americans. The central takeaway from my work is that though government benefits can sometimes powerfully (and permanently) affect voting behavior and election outcomes, there are also limits to the “power of the purse” as a predictor of political action and as tool for political gain. In particular, I show how voter characteristics condition the mobilizing effects of receiving benefits, and how administrative decision-rules and constraints limit whether elites can deliver benefits with political or demographic groups in mind.
International Relations, American Politics, and Political Methodology
Shirking in Congress: How Legislators’ Portfolios and Firms’ Lobbying Affects Support for Trade and Immigration
I employ a variety of methods to study the consequences of money in politics, with a particular focus on foreign economic policy.
I can teach courses on international relations, political economy, American politics, immigration, and special interest politics, as well as undergraduate methods, maximum likelihood estimation, and Bayesian statistics.
What role does the personal wealth of legislators play in influencing US trade and immigration policy? Previous research has emphasized that firms use campaign contributions to purchase access to legislators and provide private information to legislators about the overall impact of policies on economic outcomes. My dissertation emphasizes an alternative (yet complementary) explanation: firm lobbying provides information to legislators about the likely influence of policies on the legislators' financial self-interest. Legislators vary in their private assets, which often include ownership in private and public companies. For technical policy issues, like trade and immigration, legislators will be uncertain about the likely impact of policy choices on the individual firms within their portfolios. Lobbying activities therefore reveal information to legislators about not only general economic outcomes, but also how policy affects the legislators’ financial self-interest. Testing my theory in the U.S. Senate, I leverage dual-member districts to compare legislators from the same state and political party, finding that financial self-interest predicts legislators' roll call votes on trade and immigration. I further find evidence that lobbying informs legislators of their interests and that firms strategically account for this when deciding whether to lobby.
Race and Ethnic Politics, American Politics, Political Psychology, Survey Research Methods, Class and Inequality
No Strangers to Hardship: African Americans, Inequality, and the Politics of Resilience
I specialize in the study of political psychology and political behavior of racial, gendered, and class-subjugated groups within American politics. My working papers address the impacts of intergenerational and contextual poverty on African American political behavior. My research was published in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law, and research currently under review examines intersectionality in electoral and non-electoral politics among African American women, women, and sexual minorities.
I am interested in teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in American Politics, Race and Ethnic Politics, Black Politics, Survey Research and Research Design. I have designed courses on African American Politics, and The Politics of Class and Inequality in America.
This dissertation will use original survey experiments and observational data, to examine the role of “racial resilience” on African American political behavior. While the psychological trait of resilience is a longstanding measure in the social psychology literature, I extend this measure to examine the conditions under which African Americans, who experience prolonged socioeconomic adversity (such as intergenerational poverty) overcome these barriers towards engagement in the political process, versus their white counterparts. I develop the theoretical racial resilience framework alongside long-standing theories of Black political behavior, such as socioeconomic status, group consciousness, and linked-fate. I hypothesize that African American racial resilience is tightly bound to the cultural practices developed in response to their perceived hardships, versus their white counterparts. Examining two outcomes of interest, participating in higher stress, and greater risk contexts, I find that racial resilience is a distinguishing factor among participants. Preliminary findings from surveys suggest that African Americans higher in racial resilience are more likely to wait in line to vote, and attend protests with known risks. In addition to the Community Preferences and Participation Study, I intend to field a portion of the racial resilience scale on the nationally representative 2020 Collaborative Multiracial Post Election Survey (CMPS) to examine a host of participation and attitudinal outcomes. This research on African Americans’ racial resilience, and their ability to overcome hardships to participate, is significant in the study of racial politics, with specific attention to how past and current systemic and persistent inequality shapes political behavior and engagement.
Past Regret, Future Fear: Compliance with International Law
I study the role of law and institutions in the aftermath of violence and human rights abuses. My substantive research includes work on compliance with international law, consequences of institutional design, and development of human rights regimes. My methods research focuses on making inferences from observational data and modeling duration.
I can offer an introductory course on international relations as well as courses on more specialized topics like international law, international organizations, international relations theory, international political economy, human rights, and Latin America. I can also offer courses on research design, data analysis, and causal inference.
Why do democratic governments that support human rights sometimes defy the rulings of international human rights courts? My dissertation examines this question in the context of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. I argue that non-compliance results from (1) high capacity constraints that limit leaders’ ability to comply; and from (2) democratic leaders responding to voter preferences against compliance. Although human rights scholars generally assume that voters support compliance, I find that attitudes toward compliance vary when the military is implicated. Despite the abuses committed by military officials in recent dictatorships, the military is still a trusted institution in many Latin American states, and some voters would prefer to leave the past alone. Leaders thus face a dilemma when they receive judgments from the Inter-American Court: do they follow international law, or do they choose the policies that voters want? I show that the leader’s decision to comply is a function of the public’s attitudes toward the military and the leader’s need to match the public’s preferences to remain in power. I test my theory using an original dataset of all Court orders from 1989 to 2014. My results show that leaders become more responsive to the public’s preferences as their need for democratic accountability increases, but this does not necessarily result in more compliance. Rather, the public’s attitude toward the military moderates the effect by dictating the direction of the leader’s response. I supplement my statistical work with a qualitative study on overturning amnesty laws.
Comparative Political Theory, East Asian Political Thought, Critical Theory, Translation Studies
Translational Moments: Citizenship in Meiji Japan
My first book, entitled Translating the World: Translational Moments and Social Transformation in Meiji Japan, is currently undergoing peer review with Oxford University Press. I am working on a new essay that will be part of a second book project on performative translation and gender politics in Japan’s 18th century.
To address the eurocentrism of the traditional political theory canon, my teaching is focused on comparative political theory. introductory course on CPT, a follow-up course on translation and non-European political thought, courses on the history of pre-modern and modern East Asian political thought, and a specialized course on Confucianism.
I argue that translational thinking is a vital mode of political thinking which harbors a basic democratic potential. I theorize translations as metaphorical relations which do not referentially link terms. Rather, I contend that translation creates an indeterminate relationship which allows words and images to appear where they are not supposed to. In this way, translation verifies the contingency of social order and reaffirms the axiom of equality. I argue that translation is therefore a political practice which creates moments of radical democratic potential. I demonstrate this by examining four historical episodes, or what I call “translational moments,” in the intense period of cultural and political change that followed Japan’s mid-19th century Meiji Restoration. Focusing on the translation of the word “citizen,” I examine how translation broke down or reinforced Tokugawa worldviews and assess the historical consequences of these disruptions. Moments one and two concretize my theoretical claims by focusing on the intertextual translation of the words “citizen” and citoyen from English and French into Japanese for the first time. I examine Fukuzawa Yukichi’s translation language for “citizen” in Conditions in the West, and Nakae Chōmin’s translation of citoyen in Rousseau’s Social Contract. Moments three and four demonstrate the expansiveness of translation as a poetic activity by examining the translation of the language of citizenship into actual social practice. I first look at the spread of rhetoric in the debating associations of the Freedom and Popular Rights Movement to understand the ways in which they transformed standards of valid public speech. Finally, I explore the appearance of women in the public sphere through Kishida Toshiko’s speeches and the growth of women’s employment in silk and cotton mills. I show how the Confucian discourse of the family constrained the democratic potential of their appearances in public.
Propaganda after Prophecy: The Politics of Truth in Contemporary Iran, 1941-2009
Modern and contemporary political theory; comparative political theory; the history of political thought; media studies; race, ethnicity, and politics; religious studies; Middle East Studies; and Iranian Studies.
Religion, secularism, and politics; history, historiography, and politics; political rhetoric; media theory; theories of nationalism, populism, and cosmopolitanism; theories of subjectivity and subject-formation; race and racialization.
Propaganda After Prophecy examines how literary, aural, cinematic, televisual, and digital media ecologies in Iran have emerged as informal pedagogical spaces and sites of collective subject-formation. It contributes to contemporary political theory by providing an understanding of mediated conceptions of political life and thought. It argues that political media in contemporary Iran restored faith in political order during crises of legitimacy. I address how media ecologies shape and inform conceptions of political life and thought by examining four distinct periods of existential and political crisis. In each period, a novel political technology emerged as a predominant medium of truth-telling. Over the course of these periods, there was not only a decline of trust in institutions but a crisis of faith in traditional paradigms of belief. Propaganda after Prophecy begins with Shi’a clerical elite during the interwar period who reflected upon “religious propaganda,” tracing its history through the Counter-Reformation to the Prophet Muhammad. They popularized a narrative of decline in which modernity signaled the culminating end of the prophetic tradition when Iranians were denied the capacity to bear witness to and speak the truth. Clerical elite saw in propaganda the potential to revive and re-enact the prophetic tradition. In the interwar period, clerical elite propagandized alternative visions of political order. It tracks the afterlife of interwar discourse through to the Islamic Republic of Iran and its criminalization of “propaganda against order.”
Political behavior, racial and ethnic politics, public opinion, political psychology
White Fight: Papers on Racial Context and Political Behavior
I research the causes and consequences of identity politics. I am particularly interested in how attitudes toward out-groups are formed and subsequently influence political attitudes and behaviors.
I am looking forward to teaching courses on political behavior, racial and ethnic politics, political psychology, political communications, campaigns and elections, survey research, and research methodology/data visualization/computational social science.
The four papers in my dissertation examine the relationship between demographic context and mass and elite political behaviors. The first paper leverages a demographic shock---the movement of massive numbers of African Americans from the American south to California during the “Second Great Migration” in the early 20th century---to assess the impact of proximity to demographic change on voting for a racial ballot proposition in 1964. The second paper argues that racial threat can also operate prospectively before demographic shifts occur, what I call racial threat as “potential outgroup entry.” To study this, I examine how a vote for a bond funding the expansion of the BART train in the Bay Area in 1962 was shaped by the fear of the potential outgroup entry of a sizable number of black riders from the East Bay into San Francisco. In the third paper I apply theories of demographic change and racial threat to contemporary voting by looking at how both symbolic attitudes and contexts correlate with vote-switching toward and away from Donald Trump in 2016. Finally, in the fourth paper, I examine the role that context plays in shaping elite behavior. More specifically, I examine how both stable and changing demographics in a state shape electoral incentives and thus the content of campaign appeals by U.S. Senatorial candidates in 2010, 2012, and 2014.
Race and Ethnic Politics (REP), American politics, and political psychology.
But Where Are You Really From? How Subtle Discrimination Politicizes Racial Identity
My research interests are centered in American politics, especially when it comes to political behavior, voting rights, representation, elections, immigrant incorporation, and political psychology. I am also interested in cross-racial studies comparing the experiences and differences among different racial groups in the United States.
I am interested in teaching at the intersection of American politics, behavior, and race. I am especially interested in making the university classroom accessible to first-generation college students and folks from underserved communities. I have taught courses in American politics, comparative politics, and international relations.
How do experiences with discrimination impact minority group identity and behavior? Although discrimination has been found to be an important explanatory variable in minority political behavior, this work has been overwhelmingly focused on experiences with structural discrimination. There is no comprehensive theoretical framework that examines how experiences with interpersonal (i.e. peer to peer) more casual forms of racism lead individuals to identify more strongly with their racial group. I argue that experiences with microaggressions (a form of casual racism and discrimination) are commonplace in the day to day lives of minorities and influence identity attachment and behavior. These experiences can be categorized by their stereotypical content on a positive to negative spectrum based on the stereotype at the heart of the microaggression. I focus exclusively here on the experiences of Asian Americans, a group that receives microaggressions on the basis of a ‘positive’ stereotype (the model minority) and a ‘negative’ stereotype (the forever foreigner) and how these racial microaggressions shape their behavior. I aim to show that experiences with racial microaggression form a point of commonality for Asian Americans who then utilize these experiences to reinforce their panethnic group identity and sense of racial group consciousness. Using an original panel study, survey experiment, and a lab experiment, I also investigate how different stimuli can shift attachment to the racial group identity and the frequency of political engagement.