The rise to global predominance of Western civilization is the single
most important historical phenomenon of the past five hundred years.
All over the world, an astonishing proportion of people now work for
Western-style companies, study at Western-style universities, vote for
Western-style governments, take Western medicines, wear Western clothes,
and even work Western hours. Yet six hundred years ago the petty
kingdoms of Western Europe seemed unlikely to achieve much more than
perpetual internecine warfare. It was Ming China or Ottoman Turkey that
had the look of world civilizations. How did the West overtake its
Eastern rivals? And has the zenith of Western power now passed? In Civilization: The West and the Rest,
bestselling author Niall Ferguson argues that, beginning in the
fifteenth century, the West developed six powerful new concepts that the
Rest lacked: competition, science, the rule of law, consumerism, modern
medicine, and the work ethic. These were the "killer applications" that
allowed the West to leap ahead of the Rest, opening global trade
routes, exploiting newly discovered scientific laws, evolving a system
of representative government, more than doubling life expectancy,
unleashing the Industrial Revolution, and embracing a dynamic work
ethic. Civilization shows just how fewer than a dozen Western
empires came to control more than half of humanity and four fifths of
the world economy. Yet now, Ferguson argues, the days of Western
predominance are numbered-not because of clashes with rival
civilizations, but simply because the Rest have now downloaded the six
killer apps we once monopolized-while the West has literally lost faith
in itself. Civilization does more than tell the gripping
story of the West's slow rise and sudden demise; it also explains world
history with verve, clarity, and wit. Controversial but cogent and
compelling, Civilization is Ferguson at his very best.
Agriculture on the American Great Plains has been constrained by historical water scarcity. After World War II, technological improvements made groundwater from the Ogallala aquifer available for irrigation. Comparing counties over the Ogallala with nearby similar counties, groundwater access increased irrigation intensity and initially reduced the impact of droughts. Over time, land-use adjusted toward water-intensive crops and drought-sensitivity increased; conversely, farmers in water-scarce counties maintained drought-resistant practices that fully mitigated higher drought-sensitivity. Land values capitalized the Ogallala's value at $26 billion in 1974; as extraction remained high and water levels declined, the Ogallala's value fell to $9 billion in 2002.
NEBR Working Paper #17625.Co-Author Pinar Keskin is a Professor of Economics at Wellesley College.Download PDF
The man whom Indian nationalists perceived as the “George Washington of India” and who was President of the Indian National Congress in 1938–1939 is a legendary figure. Called Netaji (“leader”) by his countrymen, Subhas Chandra Bose struggled all his life to liberate his people from British rule and, in pursuit of that goal, raised and led the Indian National Army against Allied Forces during World War II. His patriotism, as Gandhi asserted, was second to none, but his actions aroused controversy in India and condemnation in the West.
Now, in a definitive biography of the revered Indian nationalist, Sugata Bose deftly explores a charismatic personality whose public and private life encapsulated the contradictions of world history in the first half of the twentieth century. He brilliantly evokes Netaji’s formation in the intellectual milieu of Calcutta and Cambridge, probes his thoughts and relations during years of exile, and analyzes his ascent to the peak of nationalist politics. Amidst riveting accounts of imprisonment and travels, we glimpse the profundity of his struggle: to unite Hindu and Muslim, men and women, and diverse linguistic groups within a single independent Indian nation. Finally, an authoritative account of his untimely death in a plane crash will put to rest rumors about the fate of this “deathless hero.”
This epic of a life larger than its legend is both intimate, based on family archives, and global in significance. His Majesty’s Opponent establishes Bose among the giants of Indian and world history.
Fareed Zakaria is one of our most perceptive analysts of
America's role in the world, and I generally agree with him. But in the case of
his new special essay for Time, "Are
America's Best Days Behind Us?," I think he paints too gloomy a picture of
American decline. Americans are prone to cycles of belief in decline, and the
term itself confuses various dimensions of changing power relations.
the American problem as imperial overstretch (though as a percentage of
GDP, the United States spends half as much on defense as it did during
the Cold War); some see the
problem as relative decline caused by the rise of others (though that
could still leave the United States more powerful than any other
country); and still
others see it as a process of absolute decline or decay such as occurred
fall of ancient Rome (though Rome was an agrarian society with stagnant
economic growth and internecine strife).
Such projections are not new. As Zakaria notes, America's Founding
Fathers worried about comparisons to the decline of the Roman Republic.
A strand of cultural pessimism is simply very American, extending back
the country's Puritan roots. English novelist Charles Dickens observed a century and a half
ago: "[I]f its individual citizens, to a man, are to be believed, [America]
always is depressed, and always is stagnated, and always is at an alarming
crisis, and never was otherwise."
In the last half-century, polls showed
Americans believed in their decline after the Soviet Union launched
1957, after Richard Nixon's devaluation of the dollar and the oil shocks
in the 1970s,
and after the closing of Rust Belt industries and the budget deficits of
Reagan's administration in the 1980s. At the end of that decade, a
majority of Americans believed their country was in decline; yet within
the next 10
years they believed that America was the sole superpower. And now, after
the 2008 financial crisis and recession, polls show a majority believes
decline again. These
cycles of declinism tell us more about Americans'
collective psychology than underlying shifts in power resources, but as
journalist Gideon Rachman argued
in these pages recently, maybe this time decline is real. After all, as the
Congressional Budget Office warns, on current trends the U.S. national debt
will be equal to its GDP in a decade, and that will undermine confidence in the
Zakaria lists other worrying
indicators related to education and infrastructure. According to the OECD,
American 15-year-olds rank 17th in the world in science and 25th in math. The
United States is 12th in college graduation rates, 23rd in infrastructure, and
27th in life expectancy. On the other side of the ledger, America ranks first among
rich countries in guns, crime, and debt.
All these are very real problems,
but one could also note that the United States is still first in total R&D
expenditures, first in university rankings, first in Nobel prizes, first on
indices of entrepreneurship, and according to the World Economic Forum, the
fourth-most competitive economy in the world (behind the small states of
Switzerland, Sweden, and Singapore).The
United States remains at the forefront of technologies of the future like biotechnology
and nanotechnology. This is hardly a picture of absolute economic decay, ancient
Rome style. The truth is that one can draw a picture of the United States today
that emphasizes either dark or bright colors without being wrong. No one can be
sure which shade better portrays the future because the number of potential
futures is vast, and which one comes to pass will depend in part on decisions
not yet made.
Drawing on the thinking of Mancur
Olson, the late great political economist, Zakaria believes that America's very
success has made its decision processes sclerotic, like that of industrial Britain. But
American culture is far more entrepreneurial and decentralized than that of Britain,
where the sons of industrial entrepreneurs sought aristocratic titles and
honors in London. If Olson is right, Zakaria says, the solution is to "stay
flexible." And despite recurrent historical bouts of concern about it,
immigration helps keep America flexible. In 2005, according to Forbes, foreign-born immigrants had
participated in one of every four technology start-ups in the previous decade.
As Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew once put it, China can draw on a talent pool of 1.3
billion people, but the United States not only draws on a talent pool of 7
billion, but can recombine them in a diverse culture that enhances creativity
in a way that ethnic Han nationalism cannot.
Zakaria also worries about the
inefficient American political system. But the Founding Fathers created a
of checks and balances precisely to preserve liberties at the price of
efficiency. Moreover, just because we are now going through a period of
partisan politics and mistrust of government doesn't mean the American
political system is in decline. Some aspects of the
current mood are probably cyclical and related to unemployment, while
represent discontent with the bickering and deadlock in today's
process. Compared with the recent past, party politics has indeed become
polarized, but nasty politics is nothing new and goes all the way back
to the Founding Fathers. Supporters of John Adams reputedly once called
Jefferson "a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a
half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father."
the problem of accurate assessment is that faith in government became
abnormally high among the generation that survived the Great Depression and won World
War II. Over the long view of American history, it was overconfidence in
government in the 1950s and early 1960s, not low levels thereafter, that was
the anomaly. American government and politics have always had problems,
sometimes worse than today's. In assessing political decline, one must beware of
the golden glow of the past. It is easy to show decline if one compares the
good in the past with the bad in the present.
addition, we sometimes mistakenly idealize the efficiency of the
process in authoritarian countries like China. When it comes to
for example, it is far easier to build high-speed rail lines where there
weak property rights and few lawyers. But if one looks at the important
question of how Chinese leaders are struggling to implement their 12th
five-year plan -- reducing dependence on exports, shifting to internal
reducing regional inequality by moving industry to the west -- China is
efficient. Although central bankers and economic planners know that
yuan would promote these goals and help head off inflation, a strong
of coastal export industries and associated local party bosses seeks to
preserve the status quo.
notes that one Asian country after another is learning the secrets of Western
success, and he is right. In The Future
of Power, I argue that one of the two great power shifts of this century is
the recovery of Asia to what it represented before the Industrial Revolution
led to the ascendance of the West: more than half the world's population and its
economic production. We should herald Asia's recovery -- it has brought
millions out of dire poverty-- but
those with excessive fear of China should remember that Asia is not one entity.
In his important book Rivals, Bill
Emmott reminds us that Japan, India, and others that are concerned about the
rise of China welcome an American presence. Can anyone similarly imagine Canada
and Mexico seeking a Chinese alliance to balance American power in their
Nor is China likely to surpass
America anytime soon. Yes, barring political uncertainties, China's size
high rate of economic growth will almost certainly increase its strength
to that of the United States. Still, China won't necessarily become the
powerful country as a result. Even if China suffers no major domestic
setback, many of the current projections based on GDP growth alone are
too one-dimensional. They ignore what are likely to be enduring U.S.
military and soft-power advantages, as well as China's geopolitical
disadvantages in the internal
Asian balance of power.
is correct that the United States faces serious problems. But issues that
preoccupy us today, such as long-term debt, are not insoluble; see for example,
of the Simpson-Bowles commission, and remember that only a decade ago some
people worried about the government surplus.
Of course, such solutions may forever remain out of reach. But it is worth
distinguishing situations for which there are no solutions from those that could,
in principle, be solved.
danger to America is not debt, political paralysis, or China; it is parochialism,
turning away from the openness that is the source of its strength and resting
on its laurels. As Zakaria says, in the past, worrying about decline has helped
avert it. Let us hope that his intelligent though darkly drawn picture will yet
again start that healthy process.
The rugged Sanriku Coast of northeastern Japan is among the most
beautiful places in the country. The white stone islands outside the
port town of Miyako are magnificent. The Buddhist monk Reikyo could
think of nothing but paradise when he first saw them in the 17th
century. “It is the shore of the pure land,” he is said to have uttered
in wonder, citing the common name for nirvana.
Reikyo’s name for the place stuck. Jodogahama, or Pure Land Beach, is
the main gateway to the Rikuchu Kaigan National Park, a crenellated
seashore of spectacular rock pillars, sheer cliffs, deep inlets and
narrow river valleys that covers 100 miles of rural coastline. It is a
region much like Down East Maine, full of small, tight-knit communities
of hardworking people who earn their livelihoods from tourism and
fishing. Sushi chefs around the country prize Sanriku abalone,
cuttlefish and sea urchin.
Today that coast is at the center of one of the worst disasters in
Japanese history. Despite the investment of billions of yen in disaster
mitigation technology and the institution of robust building codes,
entire villages have been swept out to sea. In some places little
remains but piles of anonymous debris and concrete foundations.
I taught school in Miyako for more than two years in the 1990s, and it
was while hiking in the mountains above one of those picturesque fishing
villages that I came across my first material reminder of the intricate
relationship between the area’s breathtaking geography, its people —
generous and direct — and powerful seismic forces.
On a hot summer day a group of middle-school boys set out to introduce
me to their town, a hamlet just north of Pure Land Beach. While I
started up the steep mountainside the children bounced ahead of me,
teasing me that I moved slowly for someone so tall. “Are you as tall as
Michael Jordan, Miller-sensei?” yelled one boy as he shot past me up the
“Not quite,” I told him, pausing on a spot of level ground to look out
over the neat collection of tile roofs and gardens that filled the back
of a narrow, high-walled bay.
“What is this?” I asked, pointing to a mossy stone marker that occupied
the rest of the brief plateau. A chorus of young voices told me that it
was the high-water mark for the area’s biggest tsunami: more than 50
feet above the valley floor.
“When was that?” I asked, but the boys couldn’t say. They had learned
about it in school, they said, but like children everywhere they had
little sense of time. Everything seemed like ancient history to them,
but the thought of a wave reaching so high over the homes of my friends
sent a chill down my spine, and I began to investigate the region’s
A major tsunami has hit the Sanriku Coast every few decades over the
last century and a half. Waves swept the area in 1896, 1933 and 1960.
The small monument was put there, high above the village, to mark the
crest of the 1896 tsunami. The wave killed more than 20,000 people. The
boys’ village, a place called Taro, was almost entirely destroyed.
Seventy-five percent of the population died.
The force of those waves was amplified by the area’s distinctive
geography. The same steep valley walls and deep inlets that make Sanriku
so beautiful also make its villages and towns especially hazardous. The
valleys channel a tsunami’s energy, pushing swells that are only a few
feet high in the open ocean up to stunning heights. Fast-moving water
topped 120 feet in one village in 1896.
In a landscape where earthquakes are a regular occurrence but major
tsunamis happen irregularly, people naturally forget. The small monument— one of several commissioned for towns up and down the coast — was a
mnemonic whose purpose was not commemoration but vigilance. “When there
is an earthquake, watch for tsunami,” reads the rather practical poem
engraved into one such slab.
Japan became a modern industrial state between the 1896 tsunami and the
next major one, in 1933. The country’s radio and newspapers brought the
story of rural fisher-folk swept out to sea to metropolitan audiences.
Three thousand people died in the disaster and the humanitarian crisis
elicited strong feelings of sympathy. The Sanriku region was portrayed
as the nation’s heartland, a place where tradition remained intact, and
the disaster threatened that preserve. Once again, Taro was particularly
hard hit: all but eight of its homes were destroyed and nearly half of
the village’s population of 1,800 souls went missing. The hamlet became
an embodiment of agrarian loss.
It is paradoxical that the response to this threat to traditional ways
was the application of cutting-edge engineering and technology. A huge
concrete seawall was planned for Taro. Completed in 1958, that wall, 30
feet high at points, stretches over 1.5 miles across the base of the
Faith in technology over nature appeared to be vindicated in 1960 with
the great Chilean earthquake, a 9.5-magnitude quake that remains the
largest ever recorded, which set off a Pacific-wide tsunami that killed
61 people in Hilo, Hawaii, before surging unannounced into the Sanriku
Coast seven hours later. More than 120 Japanese died, but Taro remained
largely unaffected, safe behind its sluice gates and concrete wall.
Based in part on this success, a new program of coastal defense was
The Sanriku Coast is now one of the most engineered rural coastlines in
the world. Its towns, villages and ports take shelter behind
state-of-the-art seawalls and vast assemblages of concrete tetrapods
designed to dissipate a wave’s energy. The region is home to one of the
world’s best emergency broadcast systems and has been at the forefront
of so-called “vertical evacuation” plans, building tall, quake-resistant
structures in low-lying areas.
In 2003 Taro announced that it would become a “tsunami preparedness
town.” Working with teams from the University of Tokyo and Iwate
University, the town instituted a direct satellite link to accelerate
the arrival of tsunami warnings. Public education was expanded and
mayors from other towns visited to study this model village. Detailed
maps showing projected maximum tsunami heights — using 1896 as a
baseline — informed the selection of evacuation markers: a reassuring
thick line defined the projected maximum reach of a tsunami. Evacuation
sites were placed above that line on the maps. Similar calculations were
made up and down the coast.
The lines were drawn in the wrong place. Despite the substantial
infrastructure and technological investments in Sanriku, the wave on
March 11 overwhelmed large portions of Taro and Miyako. Some of the
evacuation points were not high enough. The walls were not tall enough.
And the costs are still being tallied.
Thousands of people are missing along this beautiful, injured coast,
hundreds in the town that I called home. I am still waiting to hear from
one of the groomsmen from my wedding, the owner of Miyako’s best coffee
shop and a sometime reader of this newspaper. Google’s people-finder
app tells me he is alive, but I have no idea where he is or how our
other friends fared. As for those rambunctious boys and all of my other
students, I can only hope for the best.
Technology allowed me to learn my friend’s fate. It has also helped to
inspire a worldwide humanitarian response. It may be, however, that a
greater application of technology in the same direction is not the
answer to the problems posed by the March 11 tsunami. As a historian, I
am forced to recognize that there is nothing purely natural about this
catastrophe. It is the result of a far longer negotiation between human
culture and physical forces. Disasters have the counterintuitive
tendency to reinforce the status quo. As the terrifying events at the
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant continue to underline, there are very
real costs to an uncritical application of technology.
I look forward to returning to my old Japanese home, but I also look
forward to finding something new and different when I make that journey.
ongoing nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in the town of
Ohkuma continues, and plant engineers and first responders endanger
their lives to keep fuel rods and containment units cool, it is critical
to consider how Japan’s commitment to nuclear power arose in the first
place. It was no twist of fate or invisible market-hand that created 55
nuclear reactors in a seismically active country smaller than the state
of California. Japanese bureaucrats and politicians have made it a
priority to create an indigenous source of power that provides an
alternative to imported oil and coal.Despite this understandable rationale, it’s
still surprising that the only nation in the world against which atomic
weaponry has been used—twice, no less—has created the world’s most
advanced commercial nuclear program. It is especially surprising when
you consider that countries like France, Germany, and the United States
have given up their attempts at fast breeder reactor technology because
of concerns about proliferation and hazard. What has driven Japan to
pursue its advanced program of nuclear power, and why have nuclear power
plants ended up in incredibly vulnerable positions along Japan’s
coasts?While the United States
has provided some support for nuclear power (for example, the
Price-Anderson Act, which commits the federal government to absorbing
some of the financial costs of potential nuclear accidents), as a source
of alternative energy, it has never been fully embraced. This tradition
of fence-sitting continues today, as seen in the Obama administration’s
decision to end funding for the planned high-level radioactive waste
repository at Yucca Mountain after two and a half decades of struggle
over the site. Completion of the facility would have helped pro-nuclear
groups convince skeptics that offsite waste disposal was possible. (The
difficulty in securing permanent storage sites for nuclear waste is what
leads U.S. and Japanese nuclear power plants to store their used fuel
rods on site where they are most vulnerable.)In contrast, the Japanese government has gone far beyond this approach.
The origins of its enthusiasm can be traced to the postwar period. In
1955, at the urging of then-Diet Memberand later Prime Minister
Yasuhiro Nakasone, the Japanese government granted more than 5 billion
yen—about $14 million in 1955 currency—to the Japan-based Agency for
Industrial Science and Technology to begin research under the aegis of
the “atoms for peace” banner raised by Dwight Eisenhower.
In recent decades, the Japanese central government has supported the
regional power utilities—including Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO),
which runs Fukushima, and its counterparts—through research funding,
risk amortization, and financial and logistical support. Unlike France,
for example, which explicitly nationalized and then partly privatized
their main nuclear-power-promoting utility company, Japan did not
nationalize its energy industry, and some Japan experts have
characterized the relationship between the state and utility firms as
contentious. Yet both sides got what they wanted over the past 50 years:
The government guided Japanese firms to produce nearly one-third of the
nation’s power through nuclear plants, and the utilities obtained
credible commitment against risk and financial backing for their
expensive investments. The Japanese people, as readers might imagine, have not been solid
supporters of these government-initiated policies. Just as the
government hoped to start its nuclear program in 1954, a highly
publicized accident—in which crewmates onboard the poorly named Lucky
Dragon Number 5 ship were exposed to radioactive fallout from an
American hydrogen bomb test—resulted in the death of a radioman from
radiation exposure. This spurred the creation of one of the world’s
first national anti-nuclear movements (known as Gensuikyō)
and a petition against nuclear weapons that obtained more than 20
million signatures. Attempts to build a number of plants around the
country since the mid-1950s have resulted in petitions, public outcries,
demonstrations, sit-ins, marches, and the occupation of town councils
by anti-nuclear activists. While the anti-nuclear movement has not
demonstrated the kind of violence shown by the anti-Narita Airport
protests in the 1960s—during which a number of police officers and
anti-airport farmers and students were killed in struggle over land
expropriation—the success rate for the building of nuclear power plant
has been roughly 50 percent. (That is, for every two attempts to
construct a new plant, only one has gone forward.)
To minimize these fights over nuclear power in a society where people
are deeply sympathetic to victims of atomic energy, the government has
taken a two-pronged approach. First, it has worked tirelessly with the
regional utilities to map out villages and towns that are the best
locations for plants, according to the utilities’ needs. Bureaucrats
within MITI (the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, which
became METI, the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry,
as of 2001) provided funding for geographical and demographic surveys
of potential grounds. Power companies have often targeted rural,
depopulated coastal communities, where the population of local fishermen
are declining. But, while legitimate criteria, such as distance from
high-population areas, shock-resistant bedrock, and access to cooling
water, have played a role in such plant site selections, the inability
of the local population to coordinate anti-nuclear mobilization has
often been the dominant factor.Second, the government has created an extensive framework of
policy instruments to manage and dampen anti-nuclear contestation. Where
the Japanese authorities have been content to use standard, Weberian
tools against anti-facility movements in other areas—such as dam
construction and airport building—they have never resorted to
land-expropriation in struggles over nuclear power plants, despite clear
legal precedent for them to do so. Rather, the government has created a
series of hard- and soft-control tools alongside deep incentives for
communities willing to take on nuclear reactors. For example, students
in Japanese middle schools may take science courses emphasizing the
safety and necessity of nuclear power plants, with curricula written by
government bureaucrats rather than teachers. Farmers and fishermen in
these communities are regularly offered jobs at government-sponsored
facilities to compensate for signing away sea rights in the surrounding
fishing area. To further assuage the resistance that fishermen and
farmers have shown in the past (because of concerns over “nuclear
blight”—potential customers avoiding crops or fish because of fears of
nuclear contamination), the government sponsors a yearly fair in
Yokohama, in which only communities that host nuclear power plants can
display and sell their goods. Finally, the government has created a
monumental program called The Three Power Source Development Laws (Dengen Sanpō),
which funnels roughly $20 million per year to acquiescent host
communities. The money—which comes not from the politically vulnerable
and annually vetted budget, but, instead, from an invisible tax on all
electricity use across the nation—purchases roads, buildings, job
re-training, medical facilities, and good will. In these far-flung rural
communities that are, by and large, dying through depopulation and
aging, these funds can provide vital support.
Japan’s choices—to sway public opinion through subsidies, social control
tools, and manipulation—have left little room for public debate on the
issue of nuclear power. The local residents—whom we see bearing the
heaviest burden of the ongoing crisis in Fukushima and who have been
exposed to radiation by past accidents at the Monju FBR, the fatal
accident at Tokaimura, and elsewhere—are seen not as partners, but as
targets for policy tools. A plan-rational approach, as Chalmers Johnson
might have called it, has placed reactors in areas vulnerable to the
threat of tsunami and pushed rural communities into dependence on the
economic side payments which accompany these facilities. Now, as Japan
struggles to avert catastrophe, it is the time for a real discussion
between civil society and state over the future of nuclear power.
Daniel P. Aldrich is a former Advanced Research Fellow (2006–2007) of the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations and a former Graduate Student Associate of the Weatherhead Center (2002–2005).
The South African Chinese have long labored to manipulate their racial position to advance their individual and collective economic and political interests. Their negotiation reached its peak under apartheid, the oppressive system of segregation instituted by the National Party in 1948. Under various concurrent tenets of apartheid law, the Chinese were classified as non-white, Coloured, Asian, and Chinese. Like other non-white groups, the Chinese were subject to discrimination because of their race. Yet over the course of apartheid, the Chinese slowly gained more rights. By the late 1970s, they were still Chinese but had won many of the privileges reserved for Whites. The Chinese population managed this success through their small size and specific political strategies intended to portray their community as diligent, law-abiding citizens. Instead of protesting the existing social order, they sought to manipulate the apartheid apparatus to their advantage. Ultimately, the South African Chinese managed to manipulate racial policies to their advantage because of the apartheid state’s overarching concerns about its political and economic relations with the Republic of China’s government. Chinese South Africans represent a miniscule fraction of South Africa’s population and have received a commensurately small amount of historiographic attention. However, their experiences offer a privileged vantage point into the connections between South Africa’s domestic racial policies and international relations during the apartheid years. Ultimately, this study demonstrates that the international context deeply shaped the construction and reconstruction of racial and ethnic categories in apartheid South Africa—a regime too often dismissed as exceptional and divorced from a changing international order. This work not only engages the literature on the experiences of the South African Chinese, but also provides a critical case study for the larger literature on the functional utility of race in the policy formation of apartheid.
Using state-level variation in the timing of political reforms, we find that an increase in female representation in local government induces a large and significant rise in documented crimes against women in India. Our evidence suggests that this increase is good news, driven primarily by greater reporting rather than greater incidence of such crimes. In contrast, we find no increase in crimes against men or gender-neutral crimes. We also examine the effectiveness of alternative forms of political representation: large scale membership of women in local councils affects crime against them more than their presence in higher level leadership positions.
Harvard Business School Working Paper No. 11-092, March 2011.Download PDF
My thesis explores the ethics behind assisted reproductive policy in China by examining how ethical issues are identified, framed, and implemented among three groups of professionals: academic bioethicists, policymakers, and medical personnel. I will then examine how these issues are transferred across groups and identify the factors that shape their formation. Finally, I argue that while ethical priorities are heavily shaped by traditional cultural structures and definitions, they are simultaneously being altered by international influences. My research draws on ethnographic data collected through in-depth qualitative interviews and is supplemented with non-participant observation conducted at field sites in Beijing.
This thesis seeks to analyze what would have to change in American discussions of global environmental sustainability for population growth to assume its rightful place in the discussion. The amount of carbon that people consume times the number of consumers determines the total carbon emissions and thus environmental impact, yet most environmentalists avoid any mention of population growth. I examine the common sources of opposition—religious, feminist, capitalist, ethical, and even environmental—to understand what specific element of population stabilization each group reacts against and whether there are ways to address those concerns while still discussing population growth in environmental terms. To do this, I conducted informational interviews with people in the population and/or environment movement, observed a population organization and did archival research there, and read population-ethics theory. I suggest that sustainability discussions can include population growth, within certain important bounds, and in doing so, create the space for more effective policy.
This thesis asks how uses of city space among a minority demonstrate engagement and identification with the city overall. Research focused on ethnographic interviews with second-generation Turkish women in Copenhagen, about their use of the city throughout different stages of their lives. This was supplemented by participation observation across Copenhagen’s public spaces and interviews with urban planners and leaders of various women’s centers. I find that the second-generation Turkish women demonstrate multiple uses and understandings of city spaces based on their multiple, fluid identities, so that through a particular identity a physical space becomes a meaningful place. Because people are situated and related through space, space and place play an important role in an individual’s identification with and against others. I define space as composed of the built and physical environment across all scales. Place, on the other hand, is space made especially meaningful, interpreted by individuals based on their histories, use, and perceptions of the space. Place is thus a product of a particular identity and its respective ways of being in the city. Different contexts and spaces become the platform for enacting different identities. The result is to conceive of space as dynamically constructed into different places as different identities play out across the city. I demonstrate this first by describing how Turkish immigrants claim and appropriate urban space in Copenhagen, recreating their cultural uses of space within the context of Copenhagen. I continue by contextualizing these Turkish practices within the diverse repertoire of identities of second-generation Turkish women and their accompanying diverse understandings of place. Ultimately, allowing for an open, fluid sense of identities and place creates a more inclusive framework for belonging in a multicultural, transnational city. Download PDF
Climate change is predicted to have huge impacts on rural farmers in
developing countries, as small-scale farmers are particularly vulnerable
to climatic stresses and shocks. Agroforestry, or the use of trees in
the cropping system to improve farm productivity, has been put forth as a
potential strategy to improve farmers’ ability to adapt to future
climate changes. Through a case study in western Kenya, I examine
agroforestry’s role in helping subsistence farmers adapt to climate
change through both qualitative and quantitative analyses. My results
show that farmers are unable to cope with current climatic shocks in a
sustainable way. By examining household responses to the most recent
floods and droughts I find that often households are forced to engage in
erosive coping strategies that threaten their farm’s long-term
productivity. Farmers and the general literature agree that the most
effective way to cope with future climate variation and shocks will be
to improve general livelihoods through increasing farm productivity and
enhancing non-farm incomes. My statistical analyses support my
qualitative observations that agroforestry techniques can improve farm
productivity and household wealth. From these results I conclude that
agroforestry practices have the potential to help farmers adapt to
climate change through improving general household wellbeing in rural
western Kenya. My findings also stress the importance of
location-specific evaluations of effective development strategies and
the need for enhanced community participation in development practices.
When NAFTA went into effect in 1994, many feared it would intensify animosity among North American unions, lead to the scapegoating of Mexican workers and immigrants, and eclipse any possibility for cross-border labor cooperation. But far from polarizing workers, NAFTA unexpectedly helped stimulate labor transnationalism among key North American unions and erode union policies and discourses rooted in racism. The emergence of labor transnationalism in North America presents compelling political and sociological puzzles: How did NAFTA, the concrete manifestation of globalization processes in North America, help deepen labor solidarity on the continent? In addition to making the provocative argument that global governance institutions can play a pivotal role in the development of transnational social movements, this book suggests that globalization need not undermine labor movements: collectively, unions can help shape how the rules governing the global economy are made.
Three weeks of peaceful street protests; a couple of Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) members of parliament resigning this week; a few more PASOK members of parliament challenging the leadership qualities of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou; rampant unemployment; violent clashes with the police; and one of the worst financial crises in modern Greek history culminated today in...a cabinet reshuffle.
Prime Minister Papandreou is facing the most intense criticism since his election in October of 2009, both from his party and from Greek society. What on Wednesday night looked like a grand coalition government with the main opposition party, Nea Demokratia, was transformed on Thursday into an intra-party “reshuffling for elections.”
The new government was sworn in on June 17 and will be up for a confidence vote on June 21. The opposition parties are not impressed with the reshuffle. Most citizens reacted by saying “same old, same old.”
Not much is expected from this new government. Why is that? To begin with, Papandreou's effort to regain the confidence of the Greek public began with the ambitious idea of a coalition government including many technocrats but ended up with a mild cabinet reshuffling satisfying the narrow interests of the ruling political party rather than effectively tackling the mounting problems.
For example, his efforts to recruit Lucas Papademos, an experienced economist that has served as vice president of the European Central Bank, as a Minister of Finance did not bear fruit. This is just one example of the failure of Papandreou to bring technocrats into the government. Instead, Evangelos Venizelos, a professor of constitutional law and until today defense minister, took up the burden.
Moreover, Theodoros Pangalos remained deputy prime minister despite the fact that he has been the target of most of the chants of the street protesters for the past three weeks. Most ministers were not changed and three important ministers were demoted but not fired—the Ministers of Finance, Interior, and Justice. However, there is a more positive way to read the news. Papandreou managed to build a team that agrees with him, to improve the internal cohesion of the party, and to share the burden with the rest of PASOK.
One step was to remove Katseli, who was probably a victim of her disagreements with the Troika (European Central Bank, IMF, European Commission), from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security. To appease the political base of PASOK and silence a wave of internal criticism that has been mounting within his party he removed from the government some of his close friends that had been intensely criticized and included some of his personal critics in the government. Last but not least, by promoting Venizelos—his party rival and contestant for the leadership of the party just a few years ago—to deputy Prime Minister. Adding a second deputy Prime Minister position for Venizelos, Papandreou significantly changed the dynamic within PASOK.
Party cohesion is a arguably a precondition for the government to pass the new bundle of austerity measures required to secure more loans from the EU/IMF. Despite these cooptation tactics, however, the new government has already found its critics from within the party. A few minutes after the new government was sworn in, PASOK MP Voudouris argued that the reshuffle was unsatisfactory. Regardless, as a result of this reshuffle, the whole political party is seen as an “accomplice” of Prime Minister Papandreou in this effort.
There are also important changes in the functioning of the government. The Prime Minister re-created a “Government Committee”—something that has been a demand of many party members—where the most important policies are normally decided. The irony is that it is both oversized, with ten Ministers participating, and lacks the key Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense.
These changes aim to enhance Papandreou’s ability to delegate responsibility and for the government to coordinate more efficiently. Another important fact is that Pangalos will not be part of the “Government Committee” — something that might appease some of his many critics.
Turning to the Ministry of Finance—the hot potato of this affair—most people believe that Venizelos may be better in the negotiations than the previous Minister of Finance, Papaconstantinou. Venizelos is an experienced politician and charismatic speaker. He has served as minister of culture, justice, transportation, and development. Nevertheless, he is not an economist and thus he will have to rely on the advice of others.
Finally, two promising new faces in the government are Stavros Lambrinidis, (BA from Amherst, JD from Yale), the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, and LSE Professor Elias Mossialos, the new government spokesman and Minister of State.
In the meantime, this Sunday the Eurogroup is meeting in Brussels to decide on the next installment from the EU/IMF bailout package. It seems that the developments in Greece have also alarmed Sarkozy and Merkel to the point that they rushed to declare that they will provide further assistance to Greece and that the private sector can also participate in this scheme on voluntary basis — a highly contested point so far.
Nevertheless, with few exceptions, the changes have not impressed the Greek people—who are still waiting for social justice, more just redistribution, and have grown impatient with political parties— and it is unlikely that they will restore the confidence of our foreign creditors.
If this new government fails to regain the confidence of the people then we will have early elections. And one thing is certain. From these elections a one party government will not emerge.
As the world struggles to emerge from the greatest financial crisis since the Depression, the institution at the heart of the global economic system is facing a profound crisis of governance. Since the International Monetary Fund’s inception at the end of World War II, Europe and the United States have dominated decision-making. Incredibly, and possibly dangerously, decisions are now being made to keep the backward-looking status quo for at least another five years.True, the final stage of the race for the top job at the I.M.F. still offers the possibility that a Mexican candidate might beat out the French front-runner. Unfortunately, with Europe still controlling an excessive voting share, the outcome has all the suspense of a Soviet-era election. Worse, the I.M.F. board does not seem to feel the need to establish even a pretext of legitimacy for the powerful No. 2 position; everyone takes for granted that the board will rubber-stamp whomever the Obama administration nominates.In a world where markets already pay more attention to what happens in China than in Europe, and where loans from emerging economies are keeping the debt-challenged United States economy on life support, the I.M.F.’s outdated governance practices have become an accident waiting to happen. The I.M.F. has long been the last line of defense in emerging-market debt crises, combining big short-term loans with technical assistance that has proven effective far more often than not. Today it is on the front lines of the European debt crisis, with Greece, Ireland and Portugal teetering on the brink. Given Japan’s huge debts and demographic implosion, and China’s runaway growth boom, it is not hard to imagine a vast I.M.F. program in Asia in the next decade. Even the United States is a potential customer if it continues for another 10 or 15 years to neglect its soaring debt burden.If the fast-growing economies of Asia and Latin America feel disenfranchised from the I.M.F. — there is still a strong undercurrent of hostility in Asia over the fund’s handling of the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis — it will be difficult for the I.M.F. to raise money to deal with Europe and potentially Japan and to credibly do its work in emerging markets now and in the future. And because American and European leaders do not want to hear when their monetary, fiscal or regulatory policies are out of whack, the I.M.F. is really the only strong voice that can deliver the message; a non-European is best-equipped to deliver it.Until a few weeks ago, everyone seemed to agree that it was high time for a change. The presumption was that the I.M.F. board would choose its next managing director from the handful of supremely qualified candidates from emerging markets, thereby strengthening its claim to be a truly global institution. The incumbent, Dominique Strauss-Kahn of France, was on record supporting a transparent, merit-based approach for choosing his successor. Given the prestige he had amassed leading the I.M.F. during the crisis, it was assumed that he would use his influence to shepherd in the new era.Everything changed in mid-May. Mr. Strauss-Kahn was forced to resign after being accused of sexually assaulting a hotel housekeeper. Suddenly, the I.M.F. became tabloid fodder and the plans for an open and meritocratic selection process were tossed out the window. With the I.M.F.’s legitimacy now under unexpected attack on a second front, gender inequality, European leaders inventively coalesced around the French finance minister, Christine Lagarde.Just a short while ago, the fact that Ms. Lagarde is French would surely have been disqualifying, given that the French have held the I.M.F. leadership for most of the last three decades. Ms. Lagarde’s training as a lawyer, rather than as an economist, might also have been an obstacle. The head of the I.M.F. is like the head of a central bank, and is frequently confronted with difficult judgments on the sizing and timing of debt programs, not to mention on monetary policy and regulation. Ms. Lagarde has provided a strong and clear voice on the need for dramatic financial sector reform. But weighed against Mexico’s candidate, Agustín G. Carstens, she might have come up short, at least prior to the Strauss-Kahn debacle. Mr. Carstens, who has a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, has a golden C.V. for the job. The head of the I.M.F. routinely deals with central bankers as well as finance ministers, and Mr. Carstens had held both positions in Mexico. He has also served as a deputy managing director of the I.M.F. and knows the institution inside and out.Mr. Carstens has rightly argued that a European is going to be hugely conflicted in managing the central challenge facing the I.M.F. today: Europe. Soon, the I.M.F. will likely have to help manage government debt defaults in more than one European nation, starting with Greece. European leaders want to kick the can down the road by bribing the Greeks with more loans to prevent them from defaulting. This is where the I.M.F. normally preaches tough love.The I.M.F. board has given itself until June 30 to decide. The circumstances of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s departure have to be taken into consideration, and the fallout on gender issues is not over. There has never been a woman as head of a major multilateral lending institution, and Ms. Lagarde is a highly credible candidate. It seems a done deal, though perhaps there is some way to cap the length of her tenure and improve the selection process next time.And the managing director is not the only position that matters. At the end of August, John P. Lipsky, the first deputy managing director, who was named to the job by the Bush administration, is due to step down. Why not see if one of the top emerging-market candidates can be a replacement? An effective No. 2 would also be well-positioned to take over when Ms. Lagarde herself steps down. (The last three I.M.F. managing directors have departed without completing their terms.)There is still time to set in place a merit-based selection process that could eventually form the basis for filling the top job. The I.M.F. may be a poorly understood institution, but it does not have to be a poorly governed one.
You probably missed the recent special issue of China Newsweek, so let me bring you up to date. Who do you think was on the cover—named the “most influential foreign figure” of the year in China? Barack Obama? No. Bill Gates? No. Warren Buffett? No. O.K., I'll give you a hint: He's a rock star in Asia, and people in China, Japan and South Korea scalp tickets to hear him. Give up?It was Michael J. Sandel, the Harvard University political philosopher.This news will not come as a surprise to Harvard students, some 15,000 of whom have taken Sandel's legendary “Justice” class. What makes the class so compelling is the way Sandel uses real-life examples to illustrate the philosophies of the likes of Aristotle, Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill.Sandel, 58, will start by tossing out a question, like, “Is it fair that David Letterman makes 700 times more than a schoolteacher?” or “Are we morally responsible for righting the wrongs of our grandparents' generation?” Students offer competing answers, challenge one another across the hall, debate with the philosophers—and learn the art of reasoned moral argument along the way.Besides being educational, the classes make great theater—so much so that Harvard and WGBH (Boston's PBS station) filmed them and created a public television series that aired across the country in 2009. The series, now freely available online (at http://www.JusticeHarvard.org), has begun to stir interest in surprising new places.Last year, Japan's NHK TV broadcast a translated version of the PBS series, which sparked a philosophy craze in Japan and prompted the University of Tokyo to create a course based on Sandel's. In China, volunteer translators subtitled the lectures and uploaded them to Chinese Web sites, where they have attracted millions of viewers. Sandel's recent book—Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?—has sold more than a million copies in East Asia alone. This is a book about moral philosophy, folks!Here's The Japan Times describing Sandel's 2010 visit: “Few philosophers are compared to rock stars or TV celebrities, but that's the kind of popularity Michael Sandel enjoys in Japan.” At a recent lecture in Tokyo, “long lines had formed outside almost an hour before the start of the evening event. Tickets, which were free and assigned by lottery in advance, were in such demand that one was reportedly offered for sale on the Web for $500.” Sandel began the lecture by asking: “Is ticket scalping fair or unfair?”But what is most intriguing is the reception that Sandel (a close friend) received in China. He just completed a book tour and lectures at Tsinghua and Fudan universities, where students began staking out seats hours in advance. This semester, Tsinghua started a course called “Critical Thinking and Moral Reasoning,” modeled on Sandel's. His class visit was covered on the national evening news.Sandel's popularity in Asia reflects the intersection of three trends. One is the growth of online education, where students anywhere now can gain access to the best professors from everywhere. Another is the craving in Asia for a more creative, discussion-based style of teaching in order to produce more creative, innovative students. And the last is the hunger of young people to engage in moral reasoning and debates, rather than having their education confined to the dry technical aspects of economics, business or engineering.At Tsinghua and Fudan, Sandel challenged students with a series of cases about justice and markets: Is it fair to raise the price of snow shovels after a snowstorm? What about auctioning university admissions to the highest bidder? “Free-market sentiment ran surprisingly high,” Sandel said, “but some students argued that unfettered markets create inequality and social discord.”Sandel's way of teaching about justice “is both refreshing and relevant in the context of China,” Dean Qian Yingyi of Tsinghua’s School of Economics and Management, explained in an e-mail. Refreshing because of the style and relevant because “the philosophic thinking among the Chinese is mostly instrumentalist and materialistic,” partly because of “the contemporary obsession on economic development in China.”Tsinghua's decision to offer a version of Sandel's course, added Qian, “is part of a great experiment of undergraduate education reform currently under way at our school. …This is not just one class; it is the beginning of an era.”Sandel is touching something deep in both Boston and Beijing. “Students everywhere are hungry for discussion of the big ethical questions we confront in our everyday lives,” Sandel argues. “In recent years, seemingly technical economic questions have crowded out questions of justice and the common good. I think there is a growing sense, in many societies, that G.D.P. and market values do not by themselves produce happiness, or a good society. My dream is to create a video-linked global classroom, connecting students across cultures and national boundaries—to think through these hard moral questions together, to see what we can learn from one another.”
Line in the Sand details the dramatic transformation of the western US-Mexico border from its creation at the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848 to the emergence of the modern boundary line in the first decades of the twentieth century. In this sweeping narrative, Rachel St. John explores how this boundary changed from a mere line on a map to a clearly marked and heavily regulated divide between the United States and Mexico. Focusing on the desert border to the west of the Rio Grande, this book explains the origins of the modern border and places the line at the center of a transnational history of expanding capitalism and state power in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.Moving across local, regional, and national scales, St. John shows how government officials, Native American raiders, ranchers, railroad builders, miners, investors, immigrants, and smugglers contributed to the rise of state power on the border and developed strategies to navigate the increasingly regulated landscape. Over the border's history, the US and Mexican states gradually developed an expanding array of official laws, ad hoc arrangements, government agents, and physical barriers that did not close the line, but made it a flexible barrier that restricted the movement of some people, goods, and animals without impeding others. By the 1930s, their efforts had created the foundations of the modern border control apparatus.Drawing on extensive research in US and Mexican archives, Line in the Sand weaves together a transnational history of how an undistinguished strip of land became the significant and symbolic space of state power and national definition that we know today.
In recent decades Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) emerged into an en vogue investment philosophy. Originating from religious and moral considerations, SRI evolved in the wake of socio-political deficiencies and corporate social conduct. In the global rise of financial social conscientiousness, differing national legislations and regulatory traditions have led to various SRI practices, which are harmonized by the United Nations (UN). Building on the historic advancement of Financial Social Responsibility in the wake of socio-ethical deficiencies, this paper highlights the future potential of SRI in the aftermath of the 2008/09 World Financial Crisis as a means to avert economic market downfalls. During the current financial market reform, additional micro- and macro-research on financial social conduct could foster the idea of Financial Social Responsibility and aid a successful implementation of SRI.
Julia Puaschunder is a faculty associate at the Center for the Environment at Harvard University.Download PDF