Xu, Sandy. 2013. “Higher Education Reform in China through the Experiences of the 'Class of 1977’.” WCFIA Undergraduate Thesis Conference. Cambridge, MA: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.Abstract

In my thesis, I seek to understand how the dramatic shifts in Chinese educational policy in the transition from the Mao period (1949-1976) to the reform period (1976-present) unfolded in the university students' everyday lives. In particular, I look at the experiences of the "Class of 1977" English majors of Jiangxi Teachers College. These students were part of the 4.7% of the nearly six million exam takers who gained admission to university based on their scores on the college entrance examinations held in 1977, the first truly competitive examinations held since the beginning of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), which virtually shut down all institutions of higher education. The class of 1977 also had diverse educational backgrounds: while most of the older students were high school graduates, many of the younger students had received little formal schooling. During a time of explosive growth in cultural production and whirlwind political change, the motley crew would be trained—through hastily designed and often dysfunctional academic programs—to be agents of the modernization program of the reform era. Through tracing the history of education reform, interviewing the Jiangxi Teachers College students, and delving into primary sources from their time in college, I argue that the students were able to make sense of their unusual university experiences by following academic and political requirements and returning to pre-Mao modes of social relations. In doing so, they fulfilled both the demands of the school and their peers, families, and society at large.

Wilcox, Benjamin. 2013. “Louis Agassiz and the Science of Race between Brazil and the United States in 1865.” WCFIA Undergraduate Thesis Conference. Cambridge, MA: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.Abstract

My project centers on the Thayer Expedition, a scientific undertaking led by Harvard naturalist Louis Agassiz that traveled to Brazil during the closing months of the United States Civil War. In Brazil, Agassiz collected fish specimens, performed geographical analysis of glacial drift, and, most infamously, photographed the “racial hybrids” that he encountered in the Brazilian Amazon. Agassiz and his research assistants – among them a twenty-three-year-old William James – received extensive support from Brazil’s government and elite classes as they journeyed up the Brazilian coast and, eventually, deep into the Amazon rainforest. My thesis tells the story of the Thayer Expedition by placing it firmly in the context of Brazilian history, describing how the Expedition was shaped by nascent Brazilian ideas about science, nation, and race. In doing so, I also reconstruct the pre-Darwinian worldview espoused by Agassiz, a worldview that viewed ichthyology, glacial study, and race relations as intimately linked. In order to understand the way that Brazil shaped – and was shaped by – the Thayer Expedition, it is necessary to understand how Agassiz’s notorious photographs emerged from an expedition that was concerned chiefly with the collection of undiscovered fish species. As I enter the final phase of this project, it remains necessary to narrow my exploration of Agassiz’s influence in Brazil, and to specify precisely how Agassiz engaged with both scientists and politicians in imperial Brazilian society. 

Justin, Eric. 2013. “What is Power in Egypt?: The Welding of Economic and Political Power in an Authoritarian State.” WCFIA Undergraduate Thesis Conference. Cambridge, MA: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.Abstract

In 2004, Egypt surprised the world by unexpectedly embarking upon an extensive program for economic reform. Many other countries in the region and around the world underwent serious structural reforms around the same time, but unlike them, Egypt liberalized its economy during a time of relative prosperity and without the direct influence of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Today’s academic literature for explaining this development falls into three main strains. They are international coercion, the evolution of global economic and financial structures, or rent-seeking opportunities of internal elites. These accounts overlook the role of the international diffusion of economic ideas and its influence upon domestic decision-making. Borrowing concepts from international relations theory, this paper creates a fourth strain based on a social constructivist model for the development of norms and a model for domestic decision making in response to global economic ideas. This new strain supplements the existing strains, creating a comprehensive answer for why Egypt suddenly and rapidly reformed the structures of its economy. After establishing these four accounts, the thesis tests their veracity by analyzing as case studies three parts of Egypt’s reform program—privatization of the private sector, the equity market, and trade policy.

Mhlanga, Dalumuzi. 2013. “The Politics of Identity, Identification and Citizenship in Zimbabwe: A Case Study of Makokoba Township.” WCFIA Undergraduate Thesis Conference. Cambridge, MA: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.Abstract

In Zimbabwe, an usually high number of individuals from low-income families face difficulty in securing identity documentation such as birth certificates, national registration cards and passports. While these individuals are often viewed as casualties of an inefficient bureaucracy that suffers from poor government funding, I principally argue in my thesis that the struggles of individuals relating to identity documentation illuminate and signify contestations over the definition of authentic citizenship in Zimbabwe. These contestations have serious implications for who can make claims on the state and how they can do so; more specifically, they narrow options for many Zimbabweans to exercise their political agency through, for example, voting. This thesis presents and analyzes ethnographic data collected from interviews and participant observation conducted in one of the country’s first low-income townships situated in Bulawayo. Using this data, and situating it within a theoretical framework that builds from and interrogates the work of scholars such as Max Weber, James Scott, Jean and John Comaroff and their ideas on bureaucratization and democracy, state technologies of power and the cleavages associated with modernity, this thesis accentuates critical themes in Zimbabwe’s contemporary moment such as: a) political belonging in an age of transnational mobility, b) identity documents as forms of economic investment into the future by low-income people and c) the emergence of new economies and efficiencies out of bureaucratic structures.

Logogian, Tyler. 2013. “Public Health in Post-Apartheid South Africa: The Treatment Action Campaign and HIV/AIDS as a Notable Exception in the Attainment of the Right to Health.” WCFIA Undergraduate Thesis Conference. Cambridge, MA: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.Abstract

In 2002, South Africa’s Constitutional Court ruled against President Mbeki and his Health Ministry for having refused to distribute medications that prevent the mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS. The Treatment Action Campaign, an HIV/AIDS activist group, brought this particular case before the court, and has since been heralded by many across the globe as a champion of socio-economic rights. In considering other persisting socioeconomic inequalities, some assert that the TAC has created a model that other social movements within South Africa can capitalize on in attempts to affect desired change. Many others feel as though HIV activism has thus far eclipsed these other socioeconomic rights issues, impeding their fulfillment; after conducting ethnographic and secondary-source based research, I concur. The TAC has demonstrated a unique capacity to employ identity politics that are intertwined with the particularities of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. I also examine the relationship between HIV and Tuberculosis, diseases characterized by extremely high rates of co-infection in South Africa. Tuberculosis has uniquely ‘benefitted,’ in terms of access to funding and the attention of policy-makers, from this relationship. Non-communicable chronic health issues remain largely ignored by national health policy makers, perhaps because they lack an objective link with HIV/AIDS. I conclude by discussing the TAC’s influence on Equal Education and the Social Justice Coalition. These two movements, after adapting strategies and activists from the TAC, may have the potential to ensure the fulfillment of other socio-economic rights in the future.

Guenther, Cara. 2013. “Local Barriers to and Perceptions of PIH Malnutrition Programs in Rwinkwavu, Rwanda.” WCFIA Undergraduate Thesis Conference. Cambridge, MA: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.Abstract

The focus of my research is on nutrition programs for children under age five (U-5) living in the Rwinkwavu Hospital catchment area in the Kayonza district of Rwanda’s Eastern Province. Communities in southern Kayonza receive a full package of enhanced primary health care services through a Ministry of Health of Rwanda (MOH) and Partners in Health (PIH) collaboration. The purpose of this study is to qualitatively evaluate the progress of nutrition programs implemented as a component of enhanced primary care services, as well as those implemented as part of the national nutrition policy. The research focuses on four main areas: (1) quality of services; (2) community perceptions of nutrition programs; (3) community perceptions of U-5 malnutrition generally; and (4) barriers to accessing services for families with U-5 children. Results from this study will be used to inform program development and implementation at sites in Rwanda’s Eastern Province supported through the MOH/PIH partnership. Unfortunately, transcribing and translating the data required more time than expected and I therefore made the decision not to write a thesis. I received the translated data in January and have since been reading through and in vivo coding the transcripts. Today, I will present some of the major themes from the data.

Young, Brecia. 2013. “Inequality among Immigrants in France.” WCFIA Undergraduate Thesis Conference. Cambridge, MA: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.Abstract

Traditionally, French academics have not studied racial factors and the French government prohibits the collection of racial data. However, both academic and anecdotal data exists that suggests minorities in France, specifically those of Arab and African descent, face discrimination especially in the work force. My thesis aims to understand how ethnic origin plays in a role in the labor market.  Specifically, I aim to understand whether discrimination plays a role in wage differences observed between Arab/African immigrants and native French. The French Labor Force Survey is unique in that it tracks individual’s country of origin as well as parent’s country of origin, thus providing a quasi-measure of race. Using data on people’s googling habits as a proxy for xenophobia, I estimate levels of xenophobia at the regional level and link them to individual wage data.  Heightened levels of googling for relatively innocuous words such as Blacks and Arabes have little effect on wages. More data is forthcoming on more pejorative words such as meteque. I anticipate that there will be a strong positive effect of these search terms on wage differentials, by region. The narratives of successful French laborers of Arab and African descent have provided important insights into what factors allow individuals in France to flourish economically. At this stage, I have run simple multiple regressions using time and entity fixed effects to gauge the effect of xenophobia on the labor market. I am in the process of exploring different models to better identify how xenophobia affects wages and could use feedback on this aspect of the project. Another challenge is dealing with the presence of omitted variables that vary at both the regional and yearly level. Finally, some aspects of French culture have presented ongoing challenges namely, the hesitation to discuss salary and different internet usage.

Wong, Joanne. 2013. “The Double-Edged Sword of Multiculturalism: Spatial Segregation and Social Distance between Immigrants in Toronto.” WCFIA Undergraduate Thesis Conference. Cambridge, MA: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.Abstract

Multiculturalism is often lauded as the best model—or at least the best alternative to the assimilationist model—of immigrant integration. A response to traditional understandings of Anglo-conformity, it was adopted as official policy by Canada in 1985. This thesis investigates the unintended consequences of the multiculturalistic approach on immigrant settlement patterns, and finds that it enables spatial segregation and social distance between ethnic groups on a city-wide and neighborhood level. Using data from primarily qualitative interviews, I explain the negative side effects of multiculturalism on settlement trajectories and quality of life among recent immigrants in a downtown and an inner-suburban neighborhood of Toronto. More specifically, I explain how ethnic residential clustering facilitated by multiculturalism limits the agency of recent immigrants to choose their dwellings and neighborhoods upon arrival, resulting in their settlement in inappropriate housing. The segregation of ethnic groups on a neighborhood-level perpetuates social and geographic distance between them, and further hinders the immigrants’ subsequent residential decision-making when they seek to get out of the reception neighborhoods. The immigrant settlement experience in this city with a 50 percent foreign-born population is shown to be constrained, and this mosaic that was supposed to create a harmonious picture is turning out to be a cacophonous collection of tiles. I am still working on detailing the settlement aspirations and future outlook of my subjects, which I hope will shed light on long-term consequences of multiculturalism on the immigrant integration process.

Kivel, Lillian. 2013. “Education of the Excluded: The Educational Paths of Chinese Migrant Children.” WCFIA Undergraduate Thesis Conference. Cambridge, MA: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.Abstract

Chinese cities have become sites of unprecedented large-scale migration, as Chinese leave their villages in search of jobs, educational opportunities, and modern lives. Although internal migration has been regulated since 1958 under a house-registration system known as hukou, this influx of migrants has provided the supply of low-wage, low-skill workers key to China's development. Not just laborers are migrating, but entire families are relocating. In 2008 there were more than 140,000,000 migrants living in urban areas with 240,000 migrant children in Beijing alone. Excluded from urban services by the registration system, the children of migrant workers are forced into substandard, illegal schools, which, instead of providing the opportunity for upward social mobility, frequently put them behind their rural and urban counterparts. Studying four schools for migrant children in Beijing, I explored how schools are adapting their curricula to teach morals, nationalism, and English, as well as providing exposure to Western culture and establishing post-graduate networks in the hopes of improving the quality of these students in the eyes of the state. Although it is hard to quantify the effectiveness of their curricula and methodologies, it is clear that some schools are attempting to cultivate qualities seen as necessary to be considered a “productive” member of the modern, global Chinese society for these historically excluded students.

Rafey, William. 2013. “Balancing Climate Change and Energy Policy in South Africa: Negotiations, Economics, and Models.” WCFIA Undergraduate Thesis Conference. Cambridge, MA: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.Abstract

Based on interviews with 51 South Africans (38 with executive leadership responsibilities) representing nearly every major stakeholder on climate change mitigation in the energy sector –government, business, civil society and research – this thesis studies the process, discourse and evidence surrounding the South African government’s engagement with climate change from 2005 to 2012. Chapter one traces the major arguments made by stakeholders for and against mitigation and the way in which they inform policy documents, concluding that there exists no discursive or non-quantitative way to balance the competing discourses. Consequentially, this thesis argues that grasping the history (and future) of South African energy and climate policy requires looking at the specific institutions that create and propagate these ideas. Chapter two traces the history of energy planning within the state-owned utility Eskom, the Department of Energy, and private industrial and mining conglomerates; chapter three describes the origins of arguments for climate mitigation in civil society, progressive economists and scientists, and a small group of international negotiators in the Department of Environmental Affairs, and their accidental stabilization in President Jacob Zuma’s commitment at Copenhagen. Chapter four details the implications of these parallel histories for the role of economic modeling in resolving these disputes; chapter five describes the roles of stakeholder engagement, democratic deliberation and decision-making; and chapter six concludes.

Gewirtz, Julian. 2013. “The Influence of Western Economists on Chinese Reform, 1978-1993.” WCFIA Undergraduate Thesis Conference. Cambridge, MA: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.Abstract

My senior thesis in the History Department reassesses Chinese economic reforms and the crystallization of China's "socialist market economy" in the period 1978-1993 from a new global perspective. In particular, I am studying the ways in which economists from Europe and North America influenced the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) economic thinking and reform policy-making in this period. I argue that this little-known aspect of China’s reform process, which has been largely written out of the dominant narratives of the period, in fact played an important role in the development of both ideology and policy. I give particular attention to the Bashanlun Conference, a September 1985 event organized by the World Bank, which brought a high-level group including James Tobin and János Kornai for an influential week of meetings with top Chinese economists and policy makers on a cruise ship sailing down the Yangtze River. I am also examining visits to China in this period by Ota Sik, Wlodzimierz Brus, and Milton Friedman, with particular attention not only to the ideas discussed on these visits, but also to the political, ideological, and economic context for these ideas’ reception in China. Based on documentary and archival research, including banned writings on Western economic texts and economists’ personal papers, as well as interviews conducted in the summer of 2012, I hope to add to our understandings of how Chinese economic policymakers engaged with international ideas as they managed China’s uniquely successful socialist transition, shedding new light on the CCP leadership’s gradual renegotiation of the boundaries between state and market in this crucial fifteen-year period.

Diaz, Rodolfo. 2013. “Comparative Study of Taiwan and Puerto Rico's Economic Development.” WCFIA Undergraduate Thesis Conference. Cambridge, MA: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.Abstract

My thesis examines the role played by the state in enabling late industrialization in Taiwan and Puerto Rico and seeks to explain a divergence in the success of their developmental trajectories beginning in 1968. It expands on Peter Evans’ theory of embedded autonomy by examining the conditions surrounding the origins of a developmental bureaucracy, and the state’s ability to preempt and adapt to changes in the international economic environment. In doing so it questions assumptions held within the “developmental state” literature about the relationship between authoritarian controls and the long-term stability and effectiveness of developmental policy. It also points to areas where reforms within the state can enhance the successful implementation of economic policy in developing countries regardless of regime type. 

Balasubramanian, Aditya. 2013. “Market Liberal Ideas in India, 1943-1970.” WCFIA Undergraduate Thesis Conference. Cambridge, MA: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.Abstract

This thesis will consider the time period between 1943 and 1970. I will examine the evolution of the ideas of the group that became the Swatantra Party. The thesis is organized as follows. The first chapter considers the original, socialist economic views of the individuals who became India’s foremost market liberals. In the second chapter, I will first provide an extremely brief overview of what happened to India’s economy post-independence as the plans developed and proceed to examine post-independence dissent on socialism. Dissent came from three broad groups; academics, politicians, and industrialists. In the third and final chapter, I will discuss how these dissenters emerged as a semi-united mass and how their ideological departure from the policies of the ruling Indian National Congress party led to the 1959 formation of the Swatantra Party, India’s first truly conservative political party. I will outline mainly the economic ideas of this party, which formed the core of their opposition to Congress and which also influenced strongly other aspects of the party agenda. I will examine the rapid rise and equally rapid fall of Swatantra, over a fifteen year span which saw the party rise to be India’s largest opposition party by 1967 and disintegrate by 1974. Finally, I will draw conclusions.