My current and future research investigate 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. I have advanced my research agenda through eighteen publications divided into eight articles and ten book chapters, focusing on three themes: (1) capital inflows and environmental change; (2) elite collective action; and (3) institutions and development.
Dissertation Research: China’s Structural and Instrumental Powers: Systemic Compulsion and Elite Coalitions in Southeast Asia
My dissertation, China’s Structural and Instrumental Powers: Systemic Compulsion and Elite Coalitions in Southeast Asia, engages with the third themes, analyzing why and how institutions in economic sectors realign in favor of the Chinese market. I combine the concepts of structural and instrumental powers with strands of historical and sociological institutionalisms to develop a theory of institutional change in response to hegemonic shifts in the global economy. I also examine the environmental and developmental ramifications of realignment, which empirically focus on modes of mineral, infrastructure, and real estate regimes in Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines (2016-), Jokowi Widodo’s Indonesia (2014-), and Najib Razak’s Malaysia (2009-2018). This dissertation addresses how institutions change with the view of pursuing environmental justice by shaping rules in favor of pro-climate and inequality-reducing policies.
I have explored questions related to my research agenda in four complimentary dimensions. First, one set of projects explores elite accommodation politics and Chinese capital across different countries. My article at Development and Change (2020) illustrates how Chinese firms in infrastructure and online gambling work with various Philippine elite factions with accumulation- or legibility-driven agendas. I compare Chinese railway projects in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia in a revise and resubmit at Development Policy Review and a previous version at Boston University’s Global Development and Policy Center. In a revise and resubmit at Energy Strategy Review, I examine why Philippine political elites did not oppose Chinese FDI in the energy utilities while those same elites mobilized against investments in infrastructure, mining, agriculture, and banking. Conversely, I explore elite collective action against Chinese capital, particularly in the relationship between on-militarized territorial disputes Chinese foreign direct investments, such as my articles at Singapore Economic Review (2020) and Palgrave Communications (2017).
Second, I explore capital inflows and environmental change. Analyzing Chinese investments specifically, my article at Extractive Industries and Society (2020) shows that Chinese firms in the nickel mining sector invest differently across countries, working with Indonesian national elites in large-scale mining and Filipino local elites in artisanal small-scale mining. Two book chapter at “Mobilities of Labour and Capital in Asia” (published by Cambridge University Press) and “In China’s Backyard” (published by ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute) analyze Chinese capital in Philippine small-scale mining. My other articles at Extractive Industries and Society (2015) examines how global transformations and the subsequent socio-ecological contradictions shape the pattern of mineral resource extraction in the Philippines from the American colonial period (1901-1941) to the current era. My Journal of Agrarian Change (2019) article finds a similar pattern in the Philippine cash crop industries, noting American investment in the draft animal sector allowed the firms and their allies to expand agricultural frontiers from coconut to sugar across the Philippines.
Third, another set of projects elucidates the conditions under which governments can induce foreign capital into distributive-oriented projects. My publications at Environmental Policy and Governance (2020) and the Austrian Journal of Southeast Asian Studies (2016) explore the Philippine mining sector during a more contemporary period (2001-). The former examines how the inclusion of civil society in policy making enables the successful diffusion of global norms, while the latter demonstrates how the neoliberal era allows state-capital collusion to circumvent procedures laid out for responsible mining. My revise and resubmit at Third World Quarterly analyzes the conditions for host country governments to acquire positive spillover effects from Chinese capital in order to bolster industrial policy.
And finally, several articles explore the investment logic of Chinese firms across sectors and regime types, such as revise and resubmits at Journal of Contemporary China, Area Development and Policy, and China Perspectives. Five other papers under review in various development and sociology journals also fit in four dimensions. Some examples of the paper include:
“The Politics of Chinese Investments: Large-Scale Mining and Small-Scale Mining in the Philippines and Indonesia.”
“Examining Divergence in FDI Transmission Channels: Chinese-funded Industrial Parks in Indonesia and Malaysia,” with Kevin Gallagher and Guanie Lim
“The Contentious Politics of Capital: The Political Economy of Chinese Investments in the Philippines.” Honorable Mention, Best Graduate Student Paper Award, American Sociological Association’s Section on the Sociology of Development, 2018.