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Work-in-Progress Sessions

Work-In-Progress Sessions

Work-in-Progress sessions allow members of the Kellogg scholarly community to gather valuable, in-depth input on current research through an interdisciplinary discussion of their projects. Begun in 2013 to advance the work of Kellogg visiting fellows, the small, focused sessions are now open as well to faculty fellows, distinguished research affiliates, and dissertation year fellows seeking constructive critique of new scholarship.

A Work-in-Progress Session is limited to no more than 20 faculty members and graduate students, with participants preparing by reading a paper or other material circulated in advance. Guidelines for presenters, discussants, and participants can be found here.

To register for one of the sessions below and receive the pre-circulated paper, write to:

Spring 2017 Work-in-Progress Sessions


Thursday, April 13
4:00 pm

Mariana Candido, Kellogg Institute Faculty Fellow
Land, Slaves, and Textiles: Understanding African Women’s Access to Property in 19th-Century Angola”

This study explores how African women invested in people and property as the transatlantic slave trade came to an end and as the growth of so-called “legitimate commerce” occurred in Benguela and its interior. In the process, African women achieved new social and economic positions in the colonial setting, accumulating dependents and wealth, and altering notions of land access and rights in landed property.

Doctoral Students

Wednesday, March 8
12:30 pm
Reyes Ruiz, Kellogg Institute PhD Fellow
"Early Adoption of the Justice Reform in Mexico: A Violent Learning Curve"

The transition from the old, inquisitorial criminal justice system to the new accusatorial scheme was spearheaded by several states in the Mexican Republic. Those states also experienced a spike in murders in 2009 to 2011, which has usually been attributed to the drug war started by the federal government. This paper argues that while the reform was well intentioned, its early adoption contributed to the increase of homicides that ensued after its implementation.

Past Work-in-Progress Sessions

Spring 2017

Thursday, March 23
4:00 pm

Liang Cai, Kellogg Institute Faculty Fellow
“Confucian Thought and Alternatives to Democracy: Political Elites and Bureaucratic Hierarchy in Early Chinese Empires”

China’s rapid development in the past forty years has led political scientists to reflect on the “China model.” One group of scholars labels the China model as a meritocracy, an alternative to Western democracy that, they claim, is influenced by Confucianism and has deep roots in the Chinese Imperial Examination system. This is a misreading of history. My new book manuscript contends that using bureaucrats who are subject to a rigid hierarchical system to lead the country—the China model—is exactly the political system that Confucians fiercely attacked and successfully changed.

Thursday, March 2
4:00 pm

Wyatt Brooks, Kellogg Institute Faculty Fellow
Eliminating Risk in Market Access: The Impact of New Bridges in Rural Nicaragua 

We study the effects of new footbridge construction in rural Nicaraguan villages that are subject to flash flooding risk. Comparing villages where bridges are built to similar villages where they are not, we find that market incomes rise, agricultural input usage increases, and measures of food security improve.

Thursday, February 16
4:00 pm

Lauren Honig, Kellogg Institute Visiting Fellow
“Land, State-Building, and Political Authority in Africa”

My book manuscript examines the effect of customary institutions on the state’s control over property rights, in an era of booming demand for African agricultural land. Using the cases of Zambia and Senegal, I demonstrate that this modern state-building process is constrained and facilitated differently according to variation in pre-colonial organization. The conventional wisdom that land titling evolves from land values or state choice is incomplete; instead, the spatial reach of the state’s authority over land reflects the geography of customary institutions.

Thursday, February 2
4:00 pm

Tina Lee, Kellogg Institute Visiting Fellow
“Collusion without Corruption: Shifting Frames and Conflicting Rationalities in the Chinese Administrative State”

Corruption is generally defined as the abuse of public power for private gain. It entails the pursuit of illicit private interest and the exchange of cash or gifts in kind that commit civil servants to an undue obligation. I argue that in the absence of corruption, collusion—the coordination between two or more parties to pursue illegal ends or through illicit means—still transpires among public officials, and between these public actors and private citizens. Drawing from ethnographic data collected at a private firm in China, I suggest that collusion is the outcome of conflicting rationalities and organizational redundancy in the Chinese administrative state.

Thursday, January 26
4:00 pm

Hernán Flom, Kellogg Institute Visiting Fellow
“Police, Politicians and the Regulation of Drug Trafficking in Latin America”

This session will focus on the introduction to my book project, tentatively titled “Police, Politicians and the Regulation of Drug Trafficking in Latin America.” My research explains when and how politicians control their police forces, and how the police subsequently administer retail drug dealing in Latin American metropolitan areas by confronting, negotiating with or extracting rents from criminal actors. The resulting regulatory arrangements of drug trafficking vary in terms of police violence, state corruption, and criminal violence. The book illustrates this theoretical framework through the cases of Buenos Aires and Santa Fe in Argentina and Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo in Brazil.  

Fall 2016

Thursday, December 1
4:00 pm
Margaret Triyana, Kellogg Institute Visiting Fellow
"Local Determinants of Gender-based Violence in Indonesia" (with Risa Toha, Yale-NUS College)

Quotas and reservations for marginalized groups have been implemented to enable disadvantaged groups to get the government to address their needs, but the impact of female political representation on gender-based violence—a problem that affects 30 percent of women worldwide—has been understudied. In this paper, we examine the effects of increased representation of female political leadership in Indonesia on gender-based violence.

Thursday, November 17
4:00 pm
Amy Erica Smith, Kellogg Institute Visiting Fellow
"Crosses and Culture Wars: Evangelicals, Catholics, and the Construction of Brazilian Democracy"

How do the citizens of new democracies construct their understandings of citizenship and their own political preferences and mobilize to seek representation? Since Brazil’s transition to democracy in 1985, Catholic and evangelical churches have served as ubiquitous sites of political socialization, improving the quality of representative democracy, yet with mixed impacts on liberal and deliberative visions of democracy.

Thursday, November 10
4:00 pm
Stuart Kirsch, Kellogg Institute Visiting Fellow
“Anthropologist as Expert Witness: Political Dilemmas in the Amazon”

In the final chapter of my book manuscript, “Anthropology Beyond the Text: The Politics of Engaged Research,” I present two affidavits for the Inter-American Commission and Court of Human Rights about indigenous land rights in Suriname and Guyana. I discuss the role of the anthropologist as expert witness, the “backstage” interactions through which affidavits are produced, questions about the validity short-term ethnographic research, and the narrative genre of the expert witness statement.

Thursday, November 3
4:00 pm
Henrique Carlos de Oliveira de Castro, Brazilian Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Democracy and Human Development
“Human Development as a Factor in the Consolidation of the Democracy: A Political Culture Approach”

I plan to conduct a comparative study of countries with different democratic traditions, investigating different patterns of valuing and supporting democratic institutions and their relation to citizens’ quality of life. I hypothesize that democracy is only sustainable in the long term when there is quality of life for its citizens. Thus, human development is not dependent on democracy, but is explanatory of its continuation over time. The project focuses on Latin America, in comparison with consolidated democracies in particular in other regions of the world.

Tuesday, September 20
12:30 pm
Simona Beretta, Former Kellogg Institute Visiting Fellow; Mario A. Maggioni; Domenico Rossignoli; Sara Balestri

"Caring Relations and Behavioral Change: Some Results from Longitudinal Studies"

This session aims to present the first empirical results on the transformative potential of people-centered, caring relationships with reference to two cases: formerly addicted people living in Italian rehab communities and Californian convicts attending GRIP programs. Results are based on a longitudinal analysis of how individual choices and qualitative answers change over a significant period of love-based “treatment,” signaling a transformative impact on behavioral traits and attitudes (altruism, gratitude, sincerity, trust), using a mix of behavioral economics experiments, psychological validated tests, and textual analysis.

Thursday, September 8
4:00 pm
Christopher Ball, Kellogg Institute Faculty Fellow
"Language and Riverscape in Indigenous Brazil”
This paper describes the rationale, methods, and some preliminary data of a collaborative research project on ethnohistorical narrative discourse and riverscapes recently begun with speakers of Wauja, an indigenous language spoken in Brazil’s Upper Xingu. It rethinks the centricity of discourse to culture, showing why a discourse-centered centrifugal approach is a useful way to characterize multiple discourses in connection to multiple places. This is a key goal of the Wauja project, which seeks to map Amazonian riverscapes by drawing connections between speech events.

Recent article on the project here

Thursday, September 15
4:00 pm
Thomas M. Kelly, Kellogg Institute Guest Scholar
“Ecclesiology and Community Agency in Latin America: The Case of Peru”

The field of academic theology has produced many idealized and theoretical constructs for how to understand the Catholic Church. My research aims to investigate to what extent vision and practice cohere through a comparison of two Peruvian communities that, during a time of terrorist violence, responded in very different ways to similar external threats. I posit that their understanding of “Church” and “agency” explains their differentiated response.

Spring 2016

Thursday, January 28
4:00 pm

Olukunle Owolabi, Kellogg Institute Visiting Fellow

“The Bifurcated Colonial State, Indigenous Subjects, and Long-Term Underdevelopment: A Statistical Analysis of 68 Former British, French, and Portuguese Colonies”

To what extent do colonial-era legal institutions affect long-term development outcomes and postcolonial governance? This paper compares the institutionalization of distinct legal codes for indigenous subject populations across former British, French, and Portuguese colonies, analyzing the impact of colonial institutions on levels of educational attainment at the end of the colonial era as well as on governmental performance and socioeconomic development today.

Thursday, February 4
4:00 pm

Ana Arjona, Kellogg Institute Visiting Fellow

“Civilian Choice in Contexts of Organized Violence”

There is great variation in civilians’ responses to the presence and behavior of nonstate armed groups: they can simply obey the mandates of these groups; engage in their activities; become fulltime members; or even turn against them by opposing them directly, helping another armed organization, or cooperating with the state. This project focuses on civilian choices by investigating how the formal and informal rules or institutions that nonstate armed groups establish in areas where they operate impact civilian decision making. 

Thursday, February 11
4:00 pm

Simona Beretta, Kellogg Institute Visiting Fellow

“Human Dignity and Development: The Transformative Power of Love and Truth in Community Life”

This project concerns theoretical and methodological issues related to empirically measuring the transformative power of “love in truth” in restoring human dignity and sustaining human flourishing and societal development. In dialogue with Catholic social doctrine and building on ongoing interdisciplinary research on the effectiveness of rehabilitation communities, we use a behavioral economics framework to measure the restorative and transformative impact of community-based development initiatives on nonmaterial drivers of personal and social development.

Thursday, February 18
4:00 pm

Aníbal Pérez-Liñán, Kellogg Institute Distinguished Research Affiliate

"Can Growth Hinder Democracy? The Politics of Intolerant Progress in Latin America"

Can economic prosperity undermine democracy? In some Latin American countries, the recent commodity boom led to a better quality of democracy but in others it undermined political competition. This study shows that the relation between economic growth and democratic competition is mediated by the quality of public deliberation. Radical governments undermine deliberation by adopting intolerant positions vis-à-vis their opponents and by narrowing the space for dissident voices.

Wednesday, February 24
12:30 pm

Laura Gamboa, PhD Fellow and 2015–16 Dissertation Year Fellow

"Opposition at the Margins: The Survival of Democracy in Colombia"

My dissertation studies the erosion of democracy. I examine democratically elected presidents who try to change the constitution in order to enhance their powers and extend their time in office beyond two terms. Using comparative historical analysis focusing on the case of Alvaro Uribe in Colombia and Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, I show that the opposition’s strategic choices and goals are critical to understand why some of these presidents successfully erode democracy, while others fail. In this paper, I outline the mechanisms by which the Colombian opposition helped prevent the erosion of democracy, using institutional strategies and extra-institutional strategies with moderate goals. 

Wednesday, April 20
12:30 pm

Rodrigo Castro Cornejo, PhD Fellow and 2015–16 Dissertation Year Fellow

"Do Campaigns Matter? Satisficing, Swing Voters, and Party System Institutionalization"

This paper presents an alternative explanation to understand why elections in Latin America report a substantial percentage of swing voters. Relying on survey data from presidential and gubernatorial elections in Mexico, I find that some voters, particularly at the beginning of the campaign, are disinterested and reluctant to take the survey interview seriously and do “just enough” to satisfy the survey request. Specifically, I find that voters who “satisfice” are less likely to connect their vote intention to their political predisposition. Voters’ disposition to respond to the survey—not partisan strength or campaign information—is the most important predictor to understanding why respondents change their vote intentions during the campaign.

Thursday, April 21
4:00 pm

Maria Clara Bingemer, Brazilian Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Democracy and Human Development

“God in America: A Comparative Analysis in Latin American and Latino/a Theology”

In the history of faith in Latin America, politics and economics were united in an expansionist goal: “ to expand the faith and the empire.” To reflect about God in America has been to do a reflection that crosses religion, history, social sciences, and political issues in dialogue with Latino/a theologies in the US. I will focus particularly on liberation theology as well as in the advent of a “ theology of prosperity” that has acquired strength through the activities of new Pentecostalist groups.




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The Kellogg Institute promotes scholarship, learning, and linkages that address issues of critical importance to our world. At the center of our interdisciplinary community’s work are two key themes: democratization and human development. 

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