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

I bridge the study of comparative political economy, political sociology, and development. Using mixed-methods approaches, my research agenda investigates the relationship between global capital and the structure of elites in the host country. In particular, I examine the underlying social foundations of foreign capital inflows, analyzing oligarchs, political elites, and non-elite coalitions. Focusing on the Philippines and Southeast Asia more broadly, my research can be categorized in three distinct but interrelated themes: (1) Chinese capital in the developing world; (2) the developmental impact of extractive industries; and (3) the political economy of colonial and post-colonial development.

My dissertation, “Contentious Capital: The Political Economy of Chinese investments in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia,” examines when, why, and how host state political and economic elites shape the actualization, form, and impact of Chinese capital (foreign direct investment, development finance, etc). Since 2014, I have done extensive fieldwork in various parts of the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, conducting long-term visits in provinces and project sites, and acquired over 140 interviews with politicians, oligarchs, and Chinese firms. I also generated an original dataset on elite conflict and firm-level data on Chinese foreign direct investments (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 the American Sociological Association (ASA), published in reputable academic journals (Environmental Policy and Governance, Journal of Agrarian Change, Extractive Industries and Society), and appeared in several investigative journalism reports. Apart from academic publishing, I also contribute to popular outlets and policy venues like The Diplomat, New Mandala, and East Asia Forum. I have been previously cited and/or interviewed by Financial TimesBloomberg, the South China Morning Post, The Wall Street Journal, Nikkei Asian Review, NPRPhilippine Star, and other newspapers. I have given talks not only in universities and think tanks, but also in state institutions (military, foreign affairs, and the executive branch), embassies, and political risk firms

For general inquiries, please email me at acamba1@jhu.edu

Follow me on twitter @alvincamba

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