I’m a PhD Candidate in the Department of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University, a research affiliate at the Middle East Institute (MEI) at the National University of Singapore, and a non-resident fellow at the Alberto Del Rosario Institute (ADRi).  I’m currently a China Initiative Fellow at the Global Development Policy Center at Boston University. 

I bridge the study of international political economy, political sociology, and development. Using mixed-methods approaches, my research agenda investigates the relationship between the structure of host country elites and foreign capital inflows. In particular, I examine the social foundations of foreign economic policies, analyzing oligarchs, non-elite coalitions, and political elites. 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 potential (or lack) of extractive industries; and (3) the political economy of colonialism.

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 economic capital. Since 2014, I have done extensive fieldwork in various parts of the Philippines, conducting long-term visits in provinces and project sites, and acquired over 140 interviews with politicians, oligarchs, and foreign investors. I also generated an original dataset on elite conflict and firm-level data on Chinese foreign direct investments (FDI).  To compare my findings in the Philippines, I began my fieldwork in Malaysia and Indonesia. The project has been recognized or funded by sections of the American Sociological Association, the Southeast Asia Research Group, the Center for Integrated Private Enterprises, the National Endowment of Democracy, and a number of other academic networks.

Apart from publishing in academic journals and edited volumes, 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 Bloomberg, the South China Morning Post, The Wall Street Journal, Nikkei Asian Review,  the Philippine Star, the Manila Times, 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

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