I am a PhD Candidate in the Department of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University. I am also a non-resident fellow at the Stratbase-Alberto Del Rosario Institute (ADRi) in the Philippines and the Paramadina Institute for Public Policy (PIPP) in Indonesia. From Spring to Summer 2019, I was a Global China Initiative Fellow at the Global Development Policy Center (GDPC) at Boston University. 

I am a scholar of international development,  examining how recent shifts in the global economy, particularly China’s rise, shape the institutional trajectory, political competition, and socio-ecological conditions in the Global South.  Using mixed-methods approaches and focusing on maritime Southeast Asia, my research explores three interrelated themes: (1) capital inflows and environmental change, (2) elite collective action (3) institutions and development.

My dissertation, “China’s Structural and Instrumental Powers: Systemic Compulsion and Elite Coalitions in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia,” examines how the developing world’s political and economic elites are reacting to changes in the global political economy, particularly the surge of Chinese capital. Specifically, I examine how coalitions of Chinese firms and host country elites wield structural and instrumental powers to instigate a realignment of economic policies toward the opportunities that China presents. I also look at the attendant ramifications of realignment on the development strategies, economic growth, and environmental sustainability of host countries. Since 2017, I have done extensive fieldwork in the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, conducting long-term visits in provinces and project sites and over 250 interviews with politicians, oligarchs, civil society organizations, and representatives of Chinese firms. I have also generated an original dataset on elite conflict and firm-level data on Chinese FDI. The project has been funded by the Southeast Asia Research Group, the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, The Smith Richardson Foundation, the National Endowment of Democracy, and a number of other academic networks.

My research has been awarded multiple best graduate research paper awards by sections of the American Sociological Association (ASA), published in academic journals (e.g. Development and Change, Environmental Policy and Governance, and Journal of Agrarian Change), and consulted by Southeast Asian politicians and technocrats. Apart from academic publishing, I also contribute to popular outlets and think tank reports. I have been cited and/or interviewed by The Financial TimesBloomberg, the South China Morning Post, the Wall Street JournalNikkei Asian Review, NPR, and other news outlets. I have been invited to speak at universities, think tanks, international organizations, state institutions, and political risk firms (e.g. World Bank, US Embassy Manila, and AidData). 

For general inquiries, please email me at acamba1@jhu.edu or aacamba@gmail.com

Follow me on twitter @alvincamba

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Department of Sociology, 533 Mergenthaler Hall, 3400 North Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland, 21218