I’m a PhD Candidate in the Department of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University and a China Initiative Fellow at the Global Development Policy Center at Boston 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.

I bridge the study of comparative political economy, political sociology, and development. Using mixed-methods approaches, my research agenda investigates the relationship between 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 capital (foreign direct investment, development finance, etc). 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 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 (Journal of Agrarian Change, Palgrave Communications, 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,  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.